Hello February: Stitching, Knitting & The Olympics

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Last week was SO nice. It rained, which we desperately needed here.

I spent four days watching the entire last seasons of Grimm, Lost Girl & Sleepy Hollow while stitching up a brand new sampler. I absolutely loved stitching every.single.second. of this new pattern. Unfortunately we can’t share any peeks until right before we release it which REALLY bums me out. I personally love seeing lots of in progress photos (don’t worry- I took a million) but sadly, there is another “designer” who has been borrowing large sections of our patterns and including them in hers! Gross! So Ashleigh & I have decided to keep this under wraps until we are ready to release it. It’s currently being framed, we are hoping it’ll be ready to be picked up next week. I shared a little photo of my floss remains, just because I couldn’t NOT share it!

The new pattern is something completely new for us, it has a traditional element that we’ve had a lot of requests for but completely fresh and the colors are unlike anything we’ve done before. I’m not joking when I say I’d be up, coffee in hand and cross stitching by 7 am each morning because I couldn’t WAIT to work on it. It has inspired us to shake things up and try new things. If maybe you want to cross stitch something modern but kawaii isn’t up your alley- be prepared to love this sampler. Ok. No more talking about this project! ;)

February’s Once Upon a Time block is soooo cute! We did The Frog Prince and his little crown kills me. If you are thinking about joining us this year, consider signing up soon because March 1st the price rises to $24.95! We’ve had so many people tell us how much they’ve enjoyed it so far and that totally makes us SO happy.

We also re-released our Owl Always Love You pattern! It is FAST, I stitched it in just a few hours onto perforated paper, I originally was going to make it into a card for Chop but decided to frame it. :):) It’s a good pattern for someone brand new to cross stitching or if you want a little Valentine’s Day decoration.

Once I finished my work for the week, I dove into knitting my Follow Your Arrow shawl. Normally I’ve been finishing the clues early in the week but this week I only knit a few rows per day to really enjoy the process. You’ve heard me say this before but since I normally only knit socks, there is something very comforting and therapeutic about a big knitting project sitting in your lap as you knit. Then on Friday…it was on. All knitting, all the time.

It turns out I *love* watching the Olympics. Like, completely and utterly obsessed. Like, installed the NBC app so I can keep up with the medals. Like, cried when Hannah Kearney got the bronze. Like, bought an Olympic themed knitting bag (you can get one too!!!). So, while it rained all weekend, I camped out on the couch and cheered my little heart out for Team USA. But really, I cheer for everyone. I felt like my stomach was in knots the whole time. I’ve been watching curling today which is less stressful, no helmets to crack open! ;)

Chop surprised me with an early Valentine’s Day present- a skein of Desert Vista Dye Works Somebody Loves Ewe! He totally gets me. I saw Andi mention a thread in her ravelry group…so I went over and saw socks…you know what happened next. Yarn was balled, sock was cast on and started while watching men’s alpine skiing which is terrifyingly awesome. That drop with the lake in the background! oh my glob. The thing about striped socks is it always turns into “just one more stripe”! ;)

:):):)

See you later January!

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I definitely didn’t mean to leave everyone for practically the whole month of January.

I was working through some health stuff last fall, it’s something that has been bothering me for years and I finally decided to get a second opinion. Which turned into twice a week dr’s appointments (lots of knitting time!) and all was going ok-ish until the past few weeks when everything sort of imploded. I’m always trying to look on the bright side of things because there is always someone out there who has it a lot worse than you, but I’ll admit I’m feeling not myself lately! Major GrumpChop Status!

On the bright side, hanging out on the couch has given me a LOT of knitting and stitching time!

I decided to make my own personal yarn club this year, I filled up a Buffy bag with yarns I reallllly want to knit with in 2014. So far I’ve made one pair of socks and cast on for a second. I’m making toe up Monkey socks with Miss Babs Northumbria Deep Sea Jelly Fish! I’ve been keeping this project in my purse and haven’t really been knitting on it during the evenings becauseeeee….

My 2014 big knitting goal was to knit another shawl! I picked two colors: Madelinetosh Sock in Pop Rocks & Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Winter Woods. A few days later Ysolda started sign ups for Follow Your Arrow and I was totally in. I absolutely LOVE where this shawl is going. It’s funny because I don’t ever wear bright colors but knitting this is pure joy. I find it really comforting and relaxing. Each clue has been very achievable, it takes me about two afternoons of knitting. I’d consider myself an advanced beginner in terms of knitting skill level. I’ll admit that every Monday morning I look at the spoilers before I pick my clue, lol. The European folks usually have a few photos up by the time I have lunch. It is really hard to pick though but I keep leaning towards the girl-y lace-y options. Again, not very like me but it’s totally a blast!

In the afternoons I’ve been cross stitching too. I’m working on my Once Upon a Time Sampler. I’m excited for you guys to see February. I think my favorite month is November, I’ve been debating turning that one into a zip pouch or something. I stitched up a little  owl Valentine’s Day pattern too. I’ll have more details on it once we release it :):)

I saw a few people had questions about framing. We have our projects professionally framed. I’m still working on the best way to take photos of finished projects for the pattern covers and how to pick mats that look nice with frames! Sometimes we go to a local framing shop, other times we go to Michaels. Both times (in Chico, CA) we’ve had good experiences. The only thing I recommend is be patient. Maybe have a snack before you go in. ;) Lately I tend to get incredibly overwhelmed very fast and just pick ANYTHING to get out of the store and had my most favorite project, 12 Days of Christmas, framed with a horrid red mat! What on earth was I thinking?! I need to go back and get it switched out. That being said, framing is expensive.

I framed myself above little owl project myself this afternoon because it fit in this frame nicely, it came with the double mats already. I got it at Michaels-abuy one, get one free deal and since I stitched it on perforated paper, I just popped it into the frame and held it to the backing with acid free archival tape. I think it was around $34.00 for two frames, both with double mats. One is wood, one is white. There are all sorts of ways to frame projects yourself, some people use framing fabric adhesive and tape their projects around mat board, there are also mat pins and lacing as options. I’m waiting for a few books from amazon and the library about finishing your cross stitch, once I have more details I’ll report back.

I am not sure why my blog hates firefox, it’s the browser I use! I’ll have Chop look at it this weekend and see if we can get the comments fixed. When in doubt, you can always email me at: thefrostedpumpkinstitchery at gmail dot com :):):)

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Keeping Organized & Inspired for Once Upon a Time Sampler!

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Tomorrow between 12:05 am and 12:30 am Once Upon a Time subscribers will receive their first pdfs!!!! I can’t believe it’s already starting!

Once Upon a Time is a year long stitch a long where the pattern is a mystery but it’s fairy tale themed. Each month on the 1st you’ll receive a piece of the puzzle and at the end of the year, you’ll have a finished heirloom quality project! Sounds fun right? It totally is!

The best parts are:

  • You can sign up at ANY time. We know mystery patterns are hard to commit too so we keep sign ups open year round, you can watch the project as it progresses!
  • You can go at your own pace. With PDF patterns, there is no waiting. Once you download it, you can begin instantly. OR you can download it and work on it whenever you have time!
  • It’s kawaii. Kawaii is Japanese for CUTE! And we designed it based on my collection of Japanese fabrics, it’s inspired by so much in my personal quilting stash.

The project is BIG. It measures 11.5×17.75 inches and it’s 173×246 stitches. Yup! That’s a lot of stitching!

So how do you stay inspired and excited about this project for the next year? I’ve got a few helpful tips and tricks!

  • First & foremost, download your pattern as soon as it arrives. And be sure to read the email! We share tidbits about the fairy tale and  what specifically inspired us.
  • Keep your supplies in one handy spot!

Keeping your supplies organized for this project is super important! We hired two cross stitchers to stitch the entire chart to test it and at the end of the year you’ll have very little left of certain colors.

  • Keep your threads together. Find a method that works for YOU! I find keeping the skeins on O Rings works for me. You can find these rings at Michaels, JoAnns, WalMart, Target, office supply stores, etc. They are simply metal rings that open and close. 
  • Save your thread! This is a huge one! Don’y ply down your floss and throw the other 4 threads away. Keep them with you! I use a really cute cat thread minder and it helps! I always know exactly how much of a color I have.
  • Most of us can’t dedicate an entire room to crafting so find an a way to keep all your Once Upon a Time supplies in one place. I use a metal tin I bought at JoAnn’s two years ago. I keep all my floss for ONE project in it along with the notions. If you keep your supplies always together, you don’t have to worry about losing things during the year. Some people sew project bags or buy them on etsy and even gallon ziplock bags work! There is nothing worse than getting ready to sit down and stitch and realizing your scissors and needles have wandered off. Stitching time is precious.

On that note:

  • Stitch at your own pace. Maybe you can only stitch on your lunch breaks or while your baby naps. That is A-OK! This project isn’t meant to be finished in an half hour. It’s meant to be worked on all year long. It’s designed to constantly inspire you. You’ll find some months you may get the block done the first week the pdf comes out, maybe you’ll fall behind a few months, but honestly- as long as you are having fun and enjoying the process, don’t stress over it. At the same time, there are also people who I know are SO EXCITED that they’ve sent alarms so they can start as soon as the pdf arrives! And that is a-ok too! Don’t compare your stitching journey to someone else’s. We have people who have been stitching for years and we also have people who this is their first project! Cross stitch = happy time!

If you are a technology user utilize apps!

  • When the email arrives you’ll see a button of Sugarloaf saying “Click here to download your pattern”. At this point you’ll be routed to a download, be sure to SAVE it! Depending on your internet connection, it may be slow to show up. Don’t worry, it will show up, if you hit refresh too many times you’ll be locked out. Once you save it, download the Adobe Reader app- it’s free and it allows you to mark directly on your pattern! You’ll hover over the top right hand side of the PDF and you’ll see an arrow with a box. If you click this, you’ll see a box pop up that says “open with” and you can pick Adobe Reader! I like this app because you can write on the pdfs! Meaning, if you need to step away from your project, you can mark where you left off.

If you aren’t a technology user- don’t worry! Ashleigh has specifically designed the patterns so they can be printed in very high quality. You’ll find you can tape the two charts together to make counting super easy. If you are using paper copies, I like using highlighter tape to keep track of where I am.

Be sure to read the stitch guide. You’ll want to start in the center of your fabric and work your way outwards- especially if you aren’t using the recommended fabric. Simply fold the fabric in half horizontally and again vertically and mark where the lines meet. You’ll line this spot up with the center of the chart. I mark mine twice, once with a marking pin & I draw on the fabric using a Clover Air Eraseable Chacopen. I have marked quilts for many, many years with this pen and I’ve never had it stain or not come off. This is a personal preference, some people like to thread baste, some like to use pencil, some measure borders. Ashleigh found it easiest to stitch the monthly dividers first, then stitch the border. I found it easiest to stitch my monthly divider over to the border and stitch the entire border, I haven’t done the monthly dividers yet. It’s totally up to you! I know quite a few people will want to stitch January’s block ASAP and there are others who will want to do the frame first!

Here are some notions I personally use:

  • 11×17 QSnap. Size depends on how often you want to move your fabric around. I’m using an 11×17 but it is heavy and cumbersome. You can find QSnaps at The Cottage Needle & The Workroom.
  • Clover Wonder Clips. I use them to tuck the linen away while I’m stitching.
  • Needleminder. I collect them- they are just magnets that sit on your work so you don’t lose your needle when stitching!
  • Needle Threader!
  • Thread Heaven- I don’t use it as much as I used too but it’s helpful in preventing snags.
  • Bohin needles- I prefer a size 28 tapestry but if you’ve never stitched before, go with a 26. 28′s are smaller and can slip around a little too much if you are just starting out. A tapestry needle has a rounder blunt tip rather than an embroidery or hand sewing needle- this is to avoid snagging and damaging your fabric as you stitch. I use a smaller size because I find it easier when stitching on opalescent fabric.

I like this website for technique tips, it makes the most sense to me personally. When stitching with a solid color, I like to do the loop start method. If you are using Weeks Dye Works for the border, don’t use this method to start, use the running under method we explain in the stitch guide. The loop method will break up the variegated colors and you don’t get as dramatic of a result.

Tension takes some getting used too, it’s something I still need to practice on a regular basis. You’ll want to make nice, neat x’s without pulling the thread too tight and distorting the fabric or too loose. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right away, you have all year to work on it!

I’ll post my Once Upon a Time project, some changes I made and I’ll also post  some of Ashleigh’s project tomorrow! :):)

 

Coffee Break Socks

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If you’ve been following my blog, you may know that I’m obsessed with autumn.

Well, I have a confession to make.

The past two years, I’ve fallen in love with winter. It’s been PERFECT here.

Aside from one very cold week, we are in the 60s during the day and 30s at night. Typically it rains but we are in a drought.

The landscape is very different now, fields that are bright green this time of year because of the rain are muted ochre. It’s pretty much the best palette of colors. Lots of creams, tans, bits of dark brown, tiny spots of greens…I love it.

When I saw Miss Babs had a new Babette (one of a kind!) called Coffee Break, I turned showed Chop & was like “IT LOOKS LIKE GRAY LODGE!!!” That’s where Chop duck hunts and we go birding, it’s very close to our house and I love knitting in the car while he gets a number for morning hunting. I hemmed and hawed about buying it, I realllllly don’t need any new sock yarn and it’s quite different than what I usually get but a week later, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I got Ashleigh obsessed with it.

I love that she ships yarn SO fast. I typically receive my orders within 72 hours. That’s amazing right?! And she’s in Tennessee!

These socks were cast on Christmas Day here in Gridley, I worked on them in Chico. In Vina. In Corning. In Redding. In Ashland. And I finished them this weekend in McCloud. They saw a lot of beautiful winter landscapes and kept me company through my discovery of sugar free s’more flavored coffee syrup (World Market!).

Details:

 

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Sock Book: Keeping track of hand knit socks

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When I knit my first pair of socks, I kept notes. I had a moleskine watercolor sketchbook that I wrote down things like gauge, needles, pattern, the yarn tag, etc.

Unfortunately it was lost along with my original Smashbook. Totally heartbreaking because I had my first 6 pairs of sock notes in there!

But I know, there is ravelry.

And don’t get me wrong, ravelry is awesome! It’s so smart and has a million resources all in one website. But I’m bad at keeping up with it & sometimes I want do something not internet based. Plus, I think it’ll be cool to see all these photos and notes at the end of the year!

I bought a little acrylic book from Jamaica Makes, it has little snowflakes on it and they look like stitches. It is super cute!

I have a small collection of scrapbook paper, so I’m making book pages with it, just cutting each page to fit and hole punching it.

After I finish a pair of socks, I’m taking a photo with my mini camera (uh, they come in pink now!!!), I staple the yarn label and a scrap with my notes onto the paper. It takes 10 minutes tops and I have a cute visual diary of my socks.

Notes I include:

  • Needle brand & size
  • Yarn & if I liked it
  • Sock pattern, heel choice
  • Gauge
  • How many cast on & increased too
  • Foot length & leg length
  • When I started & finished

In 2014 I want to knit twelve pairs of socks! I think it would be cool to do 14 but I don’t want to feel like I’m obligated. I’d be happy with even just six pairs!

Here are some patterns I’m dying to make:

I super want to knit more plain vanilla and ribbed socks, I’ve noticed this winter that those are the ones I’m wearing the most. Plus it’s a good time to let crazy hand dyed yarns shine.

I’m going to knit a lot from my stash, I definitely have a lot of pretty yarns that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. Chop is also taking me to Stitches West in February, I think it’s going to be fun to walk around the marketplace & feel completely overwhelmed by all the options!

I don’t have any huge knitting goals for 2014 except to knit a Color Affection. This winter I’ve been living in my Germinate shawl and I’d *love* another large shawl. I bought three skeins of Yet from Miss Babs after Christmas sale, I’m hoping they’ll look nice together. I’m not sure I really enjoy shawl knitting but I do enjoy shawl wearing, so if I can knit one or two, that would be great.

Do you have any knitting goals in 2014? I’d love to hear them!