Part 2) The Bat Shawl.
I started this beast three years ago as one of my first lace pieces…oy. Don’t start a shawl for your first lace piece! I only need to do the border. I have started and that damn border 3 or 4 times! It’s the kind of project I have to concentrate on, with all the repeats, which is hard to do with kids and other semi-important things to do like dishes or dinner or something. But all in all this is an amazingly clever design and pattern. The yarn is custom dyed by Jen Lucas, color way is Gotham City at Night, per my request. It is so soft and squishy and the colorway came out beyond my wildest dreams.The pattern is Wa na na na na na na na Bat Shawl! by Emilee Mooney. I’ve since decided that triangular shawls are not my thing, but this one is the exception! Jen is a very talented designer and dyer. Check out her blog at http://knittinglikecrazy.com

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You can (hopefully) see a bat on the left below the ball of yarn. Let’s see, what else…oh! The stitch markers I found online somewhere….they reminded me of Batman and the house colors of Hufflepuff. The needle is ChiaoGoo size 4, 32″ circular. Those are some yummy needles! I bought them specifically for this shawl this year. Lace needles have slightly sharper points than regular needle, so it makes a lot of difference when knitting. It sure is a lot easier! I haven’t gotten to this in a month or so but it’s in the WIP bag anyway. I hope to get some time alone with it soon.
More tomorrow!

I have a serious case of startitis. I also keep finding old projects laying around that suddenly seem very intriguing. I have a ton if WIPs right now and honestly, I love it! I love having them all in one pile/bag/place. I can look in the bag and say, “Hmmm….what should I work on today?” It’s very soothing to have the options and to knit/crochet on the couch, with the boys running around and fall outside my window. A cup of coffee and I am set.
Here is what I have going on at this very moment, not counting the plans I have for another sock and three scarves. (More on that when the yarn gets here next week!)
I’m going to post one a day, for funsies. I love checking projecty blogs every day, don’t you? Oh the pretties!

Part 1) I have the watermelon sock I posted about back in the spring:

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It is Schoppel Wolle Zauberball, watermelon (” Durch die blume”) color. I use size 2 needles, double circulars. The ones pictures are Addi needles. I. Love. Them. Pattern is Circle Socks by Anne Campbell; I found her on ravelery. This pattern is easy and really fun to watch take shape. I love the heel!
This is a fun one to work on during a movie since the pattern is so easy to remember. I love double circs for socks because I don’t have to fumble with double points or magic loops. I don’t know, double circs and I just click!
Zauberball is amazing. The color gradient is ridiculously cool! I have another sock in the works with this brand, too, ugh! So pretty!

I want to finish this WIP in 2013, so help me. My aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary is in 2015 and I’d like to get it sent to them before then.

So here is a picture of my progress. Not much, but I’m getting much farther on the windowsill. I make notes on my patterns. I like to plan out parts of the whole to make it easier to know what to stitch next. I’ll get the grapes and cheese after the window for sure. I like to even list which symbols are next so I can keep on truckin’.

Note the reference pic on the tin's lid. It's nice to see that my project is looking the way it is supposed to.
Note the reference pic on the tin’s lid. It’s nice to see that my project is looking the way it is supposed to.

And one of just the project:

I love it when it starts to come together!
I love it when it starts to come together!

My plan today is to sit around as much as possible and stitch and crochet. Hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

 

How do you get all that thread and stuff organized before you stitch? I admit that getting all that together is half the fun. It’s exciting to think about the work ahead, the beautiful piece as it slowly comes together. A place for everything and everything in its place. If only I could apply that idea to the rest of my house…oh the closets…yeesh…

I like to use cards to organize my colors. Kits will often come with a card (sometimes they are even color-coded for you, swoon!) but index cards work just as well. I use the index cards for projects in books/non-kits.

I’ll start with a WIP that came as a full kit that came with all the supplies needed. Here is Man’s Best Friend by Dimensions Gold. I consider this to be a large project, because the finished piece is bigger than 5×7.

First thing I do is scan the pattern and print out a copy. This leaves the original clean in case I lose the pattern and I can also print out as many copies as I need to if mark-ups make it hard to read. I often scan the pattern and enlarge pages, making them easier to read. Here’s where my mapping skills come in. I so love this. Make one copy for the main stitches and another one later for the backstitching and other details. Mark up that paper as much you want to. No worries! You can print another one! I keep the original pattern and the picture of the piece in a folder. I cut out the picture from the cover of the kit as a reference. I like to attach it to a tin with a magnet (handy for lost needles too) or just stash it in the box.

Maps, patterns, they're all the same principle.
Maps, patterns, they’re all the same principle.

For this particular pattern I separated it into 4 parts to form a square. It helps me to have a plan like this on bigger projects, to help break it into smaller parts that are easier to tackle. It’s much easier to read now that is is bigger. I began in one corner, and plan to go mostly counter-clockwise. Once I’ve started stitching, I tend to pick something out and finish it. You can see I’ve done the dog, then spread out to the grass, now I’m into the forest in the background. Once I finish that, I will even go through and put in the details (backstitching, couching, french knots) before heading to the next section. This is the first project where I have done the details so soon. I usually wait until the end, but this split into 4 squares so nicely, that I think it will work. Plus, that dang forest is pretty daunting, and by getting finishing it once section at a time, it won’t be so daunting anymore. The more I get into it, I may not want to do more green half stitches for awhile, but at least I’ll know that the bottom right section is done, you know? It can be maddening to go so long stitching away, then remember, zomg, I have to freakin detail this guy too.

Anyway. Next I separate the thread and organize it onto the card, where my Sharpies come in! I mark on the index card, or the card provided, the color names of the floss and their symbols, matching them as best I can with the actual pattern. Hence, I use blue, red, black, and green markers. The kits always come with nice instructions on how to organize the thread. I love drawing the little symbols. I recommend sorting the floss in a very well lit room; sunlight is best. Being in a sunny place with stitching is a bonus anyway. Backyard tables are great for this. I let the kids meander and get dirty while I get to sit at the nice table with a cuppa coffee. But watch out on windy days-a box or bag comes in handy. I’ll get to that.

This card came with the kit.  made the colors/symbols match the original. Coloring is fun!
This card came with the kit. made the colors/symbols match the original. Coloring is fun!

Anyway, again. I mark where I have stitched with a highlighter, typically yellow because I can still see what’s going on. Compared to say, blue, which pretty much covers everything. I may need to refer to a finished area again if I mess up, so yellow works best for me. Those highlighter pens are amazing. I know, I totally have pen crushes.

I use the markers again for detailing (backstitch, french knots, etc), but on a fresh copy. I just trace where I’ve been for the outlines, and make dots for the french knots, etc. Man, it made it a lot easier when I just started printing out more copies like that. Now I don’t worry about messing up the pattern. One less thing to worry about is always good.

Here is my progress so far:

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and what my WIP looks like as a whole:

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(yes, that’s a cigarette tin. No, I don’t smoke but those tins are fab!)

I like keeping this one in a metal binder. I used these in school a lot for field exercises, and I use them at work too. They’re fairly indestructable and I love the clip to hold the pattern in place. I like using the colored tabs to mark out a section, like this:

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There are fancy pattern holders out there that are very nice, too, but this has worked for me since about 1999. It ain’t broke, I won’t fix it. These aluminum boxes are available at most office supply stores. I use a lot of different boxes or bags for projects. Whatever is available or the right size will do. I keep most of the supplies I’ll need with the WIP, like scissors, highlighter pen, scrap tin, etc. Everything is there if I get the urge to work on it.

Back to planning: even though I had planned on going counter-clockwise, I think once I’m done with this section I will go clockwise, and stitch the man. Then I can finish the bottom left.

Who knows when I’ll finish this? I got it on sale at a well-known craft store, back when they had nice kits like this. I think this retails for about $30 and I found it for $7. WOOT! I’ll give it to my folks when it’s done and they’ll frame it. I have already done two or three lab projects for them. I have a weakness for labradors, especially tubby yellow ones.

I hope this helps you if you are thinking about getting into something a little more challenging than the tiny ornament sized kits or little charts from a book.

Who knew I could run and enjoy it? Who knew I’d look forward to those weird fun runs with the maniacs all dressed up and, like, -gasp-, running?

I was in the Color Me Rad run last Sunday and it was ridiculously fun. My buddies and my guys showed up to cheer me on and it was… just… really something. I never ever thought I would do these kinds of things, even Ben mentioned that, just after he said he was proud of me. <3

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Next up is the Dirty Dash in August, then another color run in September (with Penny and Will!! squee!), then Day of the Tread sometime in October. AWESOME.

Who is this girl? Who knew? :-)

P.S. If you are curious, I was 200lbs in Dec 2011. I finally decided to do something about that in January 2012. I’ve lost 25lbs so far. The main goal isn’t to fit in a certain size or even be a certain weight, I’m going for healthy and using a weight goal as a basic boring guideline. I know I’ll be much healthier if I keep going to that weight goal (150 based on my doc’s suggestion). I guess my ultimate goal is to see the person in the mirror look the same as the person in my head.