Some elements of Christmas crafting were right down to the wire this year! I finished two gifts on the 23rd. Whew!
I started with the best of intentions. In September I began socks for my father-in-law. He is tall, so he has size 12 feet. I always forget and then slowly remember that it takes twice as long to knit a men's size 12 as it does to knit a woman's size 6. Math, I know, but it always comes as a shock to the time budget in my head.
I'm very pleased with the way these came out. It is my own pattern. I started with grey toes and a red foot, but quickly realized that it would be much better to have a grey foot with a red toe. All the color transitions are joggless. It is one of those little touches that make you feel good.
The stripes around the top were the trickiest part. I knit the first round of the color change without purls and then did the next row in the ribbing pattern. The result is that there are no jogs and no purl bumps to disrupt the straightness of the lines. It's the small details that keep this knitter interested. I would just like to mention that the grey yarn is KnitPicks Stroll. I was pleasantly surprised at how soft and pretty this yarn is and I would definitely enjoy making more socks with it.
Two years ago we went on a day trip to Western Massachusetts to visit my brother-in-law. Of course we stopped by to visit Webs, the Northampton brick and mortar location for yarn.com. I had had a small amount of forsight and tried to pre-plan some projects to shop for. One of them was a cute fox hat for my brother-in-law. I've had that yarn sitting in the "ready to go" project area of my stash ever after. This year, I decided that I would bring the project along, and try to complete it before we went home from our holiday visit. Well, surprise! This project was started on the 21st and finished on the 23rd. Maybe my time estimator is just broken. It was wrapped up and under the tree on the 24th and was warmly received! I was worried because the recipient has now moved to New York City, but city living can’t make him fancy and he's still the same guy at heart. He was excited to receive it and I was thrilled at how much he wore it while we were there.
I loved the yarn on this project. It had subtle color changes, but because I was holding the yarn doubled, there really wasn't any pooling and it is nice and thick and squishy. The yarn is now discontinued, which is why it was in the sale room at Webs.
And finally, this is one of the loveliest things I've made in quite a while. I absolutely did not think I had the time. All the time that the fox hat yarn has been staring at me, so has some very fine white cotton crochet thread. This year, I intended to make a crocheted edge on a linen bread cloth for my mother-in-law. I had an antique pattern I loved, but when I finally sat down to work on it, like most antique patterns, I could not get the gauge. My little squares of fillet crochet came out very rectangular. I came to this realization on December 15th, and we were flying out on the 20th. I hope to go back to the project, but at that point in the holiday season, I simply did not have the heart to fret over something that might never work out. I had seen this china doll pattern at the end of October when it was first posted on Ravelry, and immediately knew it would be perfect for my MIL for Christmas, but even then I didn't think I would be able to finish it in time. Well, after the fillet crochet debacle, I decided I was just going to get the doll done. Late nights for a week and I did almost have it finished. Somehow, mine came out slimmer than the pattern must have intended, because the clothes didn't fit. But the construction was simple enough that I was able to decrease stitches around and increase rows so that she has some very nice fitting underthings. The pattern is from Rabbit Hole Knits. She has lots of cute patterns, including a walking suit for the doll.
The main alteration I made to the pattern was to make the doll blonde instead of brunette. For her eyes and mouth I used bits of yarn from my father’s socks from last post. The dyes leaking into each other just made the most beautiful subtle colors, and I’m happy I got to feature them. Her cheeks were painted on with watercolor paint, which seemed like a very authentic touch. I love the use of bobbles around the hairline to give her curls.
And finally, the last of my little projects, Christmas Tree Christmas tree ornaments. Again, this year things were not timed out well, and I had another pattern I wanted to do but ran out of time! I like the ways these came out though. The tree was quick to do, and these used up all my stash of green sport weight yarn. I used a glue gun (not my favorite) to attach tiny buttons for ornaments and lights or garland. They fit nicely into flat mailers.
My goodness, with all the gifts given, I feel like it's a good time to clear my slate for 2013 blogwise. I'm not going to dump everything into one post (not yet), so expect a few posts over the next few days (hopefully), and I'll try to arrange them thematically.
Happily, one of my dear friends is expecting a child in January, and I was able to attend the West Coast baby shower for this East Coast friend over the Thanksgiving holiday.
My first thought was that a winter baby needs layers! I adore the Poppy Hat. It is so easy yet interesting and I recommend it to anyone looking for a pattern for a little girl. I worked all these pieces in newborn size, risky I know, but so cute! I think this hat has the most potential to last for a little while though. The band is very flexible, and the difference between sizes for babies is only a few stitches. I wanted the embellishments for this set to be spring-y so I found a butterfly for the brim from 75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit & Crochet.
I chose a kimono style cardigan for the sweater. The main thing I understand about dressing a baby is that you have to dress and undress them frequently because they expel a lot of bodily fluids all over themselves, and also that their heads are giant. So a sweater that would be easy on and off seemed like a plus. The front panels are worked on the diagonal, which was also a point of interest during the knitting. The arms seem impossibly narrow, but that remains to be seen I guess. The embellishment for this sweater is a little caterpillar from the 75 Birds, etc. book.
Last but not least, because they are so sweet, some little thumb-less mittens with embroidered lady bugs. These also are knit on the bias and they were very quick to make up. I'm pretty much 100% that one of them is going to end up in a pile of dirty slush by the side of the road, but I'm good with that :) I would definitely rather everything I make get used to its fullest and giving stuff to kids seems like the best way to ensure that.
A perfect fit! The yarn is 100% acrylic so that they won't have to worry about washing carefully, and the color choice was inspired by the pink shells, which is just what I think of when I think of little babies.
And to finish off this post, a different gift for another dear friend celebrating a milestone. Though she eloped, I managed to quickly whip up this little bridal hot dog brooch. The pattern comes from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi. I don't think I could have managed another wedding blanket in this calendar year anyway, so I guess I'm thankful for the elopement :) They'll get something later, never fear!
It has become clear to me, (and possibly to you), that I would rather knit than write about it, but then at the same time, I love talking about fiber craft because it is something I love to do, and it is also something I feel like I really understand. I have a friend who is an architect and she can explain how a building is built based on looking at the outside. I find that amazing, and it makes me proud to think that I can do the same thing with a knitted object. I've been reading a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman (knitting sage) and she has a blanket pattern where she intentionally goes out of her way to make it a puzzle for other knitters to understand how it was assembled. I find this idea delightful for the same reason I like cast-offs that look like cast-ons and seamless construction.
Speaking of Elizabeth Zimmerman, I finally got a chance to try out one of her most iconic designs, the Baby Surprise Jacket. The surprise is all for the knitter because the whole jacket it knit in one flat, misshapen piece and then with two seams at the tops of the arms, it becomes a jacket. My cousin and his wife had a beautiful baby girl at the beginning of the year and I was so pleased to make this for her.
I wanted to do a whole outfit, and so I found this free cute little hat pattern on Ravelry.
And since her name is Iris, I found a free Lion Brand pattern for an Iris and sized it down using smaller yarn and a smaller crochet hook.
For my mom's birthday, I knew I wanted to make a pair of socks, and I wanted to make some that would fit. She wanted some more subdued socks she could wear to work, which isn't usually the direction I go in for her. She loves the Skew pattern from Knitty, and after an abortive attempt with another pattern that came out looking like a Viking boot, I adapted the Skew pattern with eyelets so that the skew is still visible, but without using self striping yarn.
It is great to make things that people have asked for. My brother in law requested a knit necktie, which sounded like a fun challenge. I lined the skinny part by the neck with a piece of grosgrain ribbon. Knitting a long skinny strip of moss stitch takes a lot longer than you would think. This is a modified free Lion Brand pattern.
I love Kate Davies' designs. Her photography is beautiful and her designs are historic and modern at the same time. I bought her book, and the design that captivated me immediately was the Puffin Sweater. Did you know Puffins live in Scotland? I didn't, and I love this fact.
This was a quick anniversary gift for my husband. He loves the TV show Adventure Time and this is a character, Jake the Dog, from that show. I had to do it all at work and sneak the car at one point to go buy the yarn, so all of that is more exciting than the actual project, which was fairly simple. The eyes are regular craft eyes you can buy at the store and then I used whiteout to color in Jake's distinctive pupils. The pattern is on Ravelry.
This summer for the most part I've been working on Wedding Blankets. We have so many dear friends that are getting married and we don't have the wherewithal to get to most of the weddings. Only one of the weddings has happened so far, so I'll only post one of the blankets. The pattern is one I bought from Bernat and is worked from the center and I used a slightly obscure Elizabeth Zimmerman cast-off from The Knitters Almanac around the edge with a variegated yarn.
When we were having colder weather, and before I got moving on these wedding blankets, I was slaving away on this monster, a dream sweater for my husband from an out of print Dale of Norway book. I love it and I can't wait to start working on it again in the fall.
My friend has a joke that her blog is a “blog for moms.” Not that she writes for moms, but that her main readership is her mom, a friend’s mom, her boyfriend’s mom, etc. I think it is mostly a way of expressing the confusing feeling of writing for the internet. You don’t really know who you are writing for, besides your mom.
Personally, though I don't always know who all is reading, I know that my mom is my most dedicated reader, and also my most dedicated harasser when I fall behind in my posts. One of the reasons I fall behind is that I get it into my head that I have specific things I want to say about my projects, and I can’t say them to my own satisfaction. My mom always has tons of nice stuff to say about what I’ve made, so I decided to just let her say it this time, and also clean out the backlog of projects I needed to share with you all, and then maybe I can get motivated from here moving forward. I've included links for the patterns. Some are only on Ravelry, one is on Lion Brand and you have to log in to see it.
So, without further ado, here’s my mom:
Sarah just finished making me this beautiful silk shirt. Last February, I took a trip to California to visit the kids and go with Sarah to the Stitches West Show in San Jose. There, we found this pattern and yarn. It sat around until late July when we gathered in Paradise (Michigan), and there, Sarah started working on the project. So soft, so lovely. This pattern can be adjusted for any body size. And of course, Sarah made it so it fits me perfectly. [pattern]
The cute red and white placemat is 100% cotton, and 100% LOVED by Sarah’s cat Mona. I guess you could say that it is a catmat… The pattern is a free pattern from Red Heart. [pattern]
Lovely wool socks for the fisherman. Sarah’s father-in-law loves to fish – and loves to keep warm. These socks work for both! I love the red toes and the heals as well as the ultra cool pattern on the leg. [pattern, though I did a jojo heel, which is not in the book.]
Mom and Mom-in-law both got a pair of these paneled socks. The blended yarn worked in sections really makes for some cool socks. [pattern, above with a short row heel and picot hemmed cuff, below with a heel flap heel and ribbed cuff.]
Having such a talented daughter, I tend to make a lot of special requests. Sarah really went out of her way for a dear friend of mine. With a new German Shepherd in the family, I thought it would be nice for my friend to have a knit German Shepherd for her collection. So I sent photos of the puppy to Sarah, who went through her stash to try to match the markings of the actual dog. She did a fantastic job (of course). The odd thing was that the dog was scared of the knit dog. She wouldn’t stop barking at her miniature. Sarah thought this might have happened because she made the dog while dog sitting. Maybe the dog could smell the other dog on the yarn? Who knows? [pattern]
And the HATS.
My husband has worn a knit hat forever. His mother was an amazing knitter (as is his daughter). When Sarah was researching the perfect hat to make for her Dad, she came into a quandary. There were TWO hats that she liked. The best solution was achieved. Sarah knit two hats for her Daddy. One for really cold weather, one for medium cold weather. Both lovely (although the patterned one is my favorite). Both blue (because that is her Daddy's favorite color). Both wool (because that is what Daddy loves). [and I never got a finished photo of the one on the right! left: pattern, right: pattern]
Okay, thanks Mom! for guest blogging. I’ll be back next week with a post about a new project.
Here is a little something from back in November, but it is still very appropriate. A few years ago (yes, blog posting is not the only thing I’m slow at), I started planning a new hat for my friend. She lives in DC where one needs such things. Since our college days she has evolved into a young professional, but she still maintains her unique style. I knew I wanted to make her a hat that looked home made, but also fashionable, unique, but also grown up. I also had a notion that I wanted to do a cabled band on the hat, but I wasn’t sure how to go about that.
I happened to visit another friend who is a knitter while she was working on a Christmas gift scarf. She used this Lion Brand Yarn pattern, but she was doing it in stripes. The pattern totally had me at reversible cables, but I thought the stripes really gave it something extra.
Stripes! I thought that was perfect, brown and cream stripes to keep things a little more refined. One of my friend’s favorite colors is safety orange, so I thought a small nod in that direction would be nice as well. I did an orange edging at both ends of the scarf and orange fringe. In retrospect for better visual appeal, I wish I had made more fringe, but I also hate pushing fringe into my coat on a cold day.
As I had been thinking about the hat and yammering on to people about it, I kept saying that I wanted the top to look like the top of Santa’s bag. Gathered, with an orange string tying it closed. As I poked around for patterns to see how people did cabled bands on knit hats, I found this pattern on Knitty. I made the whole hat following the directions, but adding stripes. When I finished, I picked up stitches almost at the top, and then just increased in every stitch or every other stitch every few rows till the gathered top was as long as I wanted it. I tied it off with some orange i-chord. I’m glad I went with i-chord instead of just a crocheted chain because it makes it look a little more substantial.
The yarn is a baby alpaca, very soft. I was sad to see this one go, and it may be that I end up with my own alpaca hat if I end up in a colder climate sometime.
Now is the time to reveal what I’ve been working on for the past few months:
Little penguin ornaments. Unfortunately, like a few of my projects, I didn’t get a better photo than this one, but he does look cute here on his way to the post office! I made 8 of these little guys, taking breaks from larger projects. They were made using sock yarn and size 2 needles. They came out nicely, but it wasn’t the most elegant pattern, and I certainly was glad to make the last one. The pattern came from Knitpicks, and in the same pattern book is a pattern for knitted popcorn to string up for Christmas tree decoration. But I’m trying to forget that one. The phrase “make 90” at the beginning of the directions sounds like a warning to stay away and protect my sanity to me.
This little guy is the Zozo alien from Knitty. I made him for a little cousin of mine who is still small enough to not get button eyes on her toys. Similar to the penguins, I like how he came out, but there was so much I-chord involved. I had planned to make another one, but went with a different project instead. Call it craft attention deficit, but once I’ve done a project, especially a fiddly one like this, doing a second, third, etc, becomes pretty onerous. Making two socks or two sleeves can be quite enough of a challenge, I didn't need to spend another week making short little I-chords.
Intarsia knitting before and after weaving in the ends.
Thus, enter the gorilla baby beanie from the mad monkey knitter on Etsy. I made a few alterations in the pattern, so that I had a happy monkey instead. I also started this project on an airplane, a miscalculation, as you can perhaps see. With my lap full of little bobbins of yarn I felt like I needed to explain to the little old lady next to me that I actually did know what I was doing. I was so proud of how clean the back ended up coming out that I immediately took pictures, and then I forgot to take pictures of the finished hat. But I think you can get an idea of how it looks from looking at this pristine back. :)
Here is the mobius shawl that I made for my mother-in-law. I'm modeling it in the photo above, because I never got a chance to get a photo of her in it. I had never knit a mobius before, and it was certainly cool. A mobius strip is a loop of paper, or knitting, or what have you, that has been twisted once so that it has a continuous outer edge. It is knit working from the center out, knitting both edges at the same time. As you can see, when it is on the needles it is a big mess, but during the cast off, it is super rewarding to see it become an un-wadded up piece of fabric. I think it is a great shawl alternative because there is no way it can fall off your shoulders. It is knit with bulky yarn, so it is very warm and cozy.
That tiny sock from the last post was intended as an IOU for my dad. I thought for sure that I wasn't going to have time to complete a full pair of socks for him, so I made that little one. When we came home from Thanksgiving, it seems that one of the cats made off with the tiny sock, and they still aren't saying where they put it. By the time I had finished all my projects, it turned out I still had a week, so I was able to whip these up, thank goodness! I had bought the yarn on a whim during a trip to Switzerland, when I discovered they sold yarn in the department store. I just couldn't resist. Yarn in a department store, how novel. It was even on sale and came with a matching spool of thinner yarn for reinforcing the toe and heel. In order to not completely hide the pattern, I knit the socks in stockinette, which I always worry will be too loose, so I did do some ribbing under the arch as an experiment that I hope made them fit a little more snuggly. Because they were for my dad though, I won't ever know if the ribbing is a good idea or not because he just tells me they are great. :)
I think it was at the beginning of the year, I'm not sure, but at some point my brother-in-law started running barefooted and wearing Vibram Five Fingers "toe shoes". I saw him at the end of May and decided that what this kid needed were some toe socks, or toe slippers. I measured his feet and got started on the first sock, got down to the toe area, and then froze. I had measured his toes already, but I just wasn't confident about my measurements. As luck would have it, my husband and I got a chance to visit with his family again on Labor Day, and I was able to finish the toes on one sock. I started the next one, but I knew I couldn't just hold it up to the first sock, and I was going blind trying to count and compare the rows. Then, hurrah, we saw each other again at the beginning of December, and I was able to finish the toes for the second foot. I used this really cool Riga latex product to make the no skid bottom, because they are slippers after all. That worked great and I would totally recommend the product to anybody, much better than puff paint.
Finally, a felted purse for my mom. This purse was really quite quick and easy. It was lots and lots of stockinette, and then, a row where you picked up the backs of the first row of a color and knit them with the current row, creating the pleat. I ordered the pattern from knitpicks. My only complaint is that they didn't quite calculate the yardage correctly, so that I ran out of the colors in the bottom sections, the grey and the cranberry, before it was time to switch to the next color. It was pretty nerve wracking to have the suspense of not knowing if you were going to be able to finish with the right color or not. Hidden under the pleats are some rogue lines of black and mismatched purple. But all's well that ends well. I made the lining out of some purple batik fabric and put a magnetic closure into it. This was my first foray into felting, but it went well and I'm thinking of working on a felted vest for my father-in-law for next Christmas.
Well, that's all. Christmas was lovely. I got a special gift from my mother-in-law, who secretly has been learning to knit and made me a ruffly scarf! I got to see my little cousin wearing the owl sweater that I made for him. I got a pair of Addi Click interchangeable needles, which have already proven to be quite useful as I sit swatching away on new projects and needing to change up and down needle sizes. Also my husband has promised to buy a kit for me to make the Dale of Norway Polar Bear sweater! 2011 is shaping up pretty well so far!
Really, I seriously have perhaps 5 posts saved up. What am I doing with them? Why haven't I posted them? I couldn't tell you. Well, here is one:
The scale is a little hard to gauge, but this is a little baby hat for a newborn. It would roughly fit a grapefruit, maybe a small cantaloupe. A dear friend of my mother-in-laws is having a baby and so my mother-in-law asked me to make this for her. We visited an alpaca farm (!I know, next post I promise will have details about this!) and we got this yarn there. It is so super soft and will be super warm for this little Fall baby in New England. Also, that pompom on top is 100% alpaca and is certainly the softest pompom I've ever made.
The whole operation only took about two nights, with a third night for adding those faces and making the pompom. The pattern is a free download on ravelry.com if you are a member, which is free, so if you need a quick baby hat, check it out!
So, it has been a little while since I posted last. I know. Sometimes, you just knit a bunch, and then you don't want to knit anymore for a while. And then you find your way back to it. Or sometimes your hands just hurt from working with tiny needles. Now, at some point I thought I wasn't going to post pictures on here of work done from kits. Well, in the end, who am I to belittle work from kits, some of my best friends are kits. No I kid, but seriously folks, when I'm doing work from a kit, that's what I've got to show. So here it is, what has been keeping me from finishing that hat that was in the last post:
My family tree cross-stitch. Now, this thing has spaces for four baby names, so really I have no buisness working on it right now. Also the excuse about my hand hurtting really doesn't hold a lot of water as a reason to work on this thing, because it causes the same problems. For me, though, cross-stitching is quite possibly the most relaxing thing a person could do. And though I don't want a giant cross-stitched portrait of the Pope, or Princess Diana on my wall, a family tree seemed like a really appropriate cross-stitched item. I just have to finish the boarder on the left hand side and put in more little children and then I will start adding the names. That is probably the best part of cross-stitch, the plan of attack. Less Zen, more constant strategy.
The real shame about all this work that I put into the cross-stitch was that the hat from the last post was so close to being done. I know how close it was, because I finially finished the knitting. In 3 days. Well, slack a lot, work a little. Of course now I've gotten it into that dangerous time where it is almost done, but far from finished.
Thinnesses of yarn and changes of needles mid project aside, this will be a warm soft lovely hat if I can get my act together. But then, other projects are beckoning, saying things like "It is too hot for a hat now, he won't need it till winter" and other equally bad things. But I'm pretty dedicated to the idea of this sucker being finished by the weekend. If that comes to pass, then two posts in one week! In this corner of the above picture is a back view of what this hat will look like. The two selvege ends of this, the short ends of the rectangle, get sewn together into the back of the hat, and then the top gets sewn into four corners. My favorite part is that braid stitch, at the bottom and at the top. It looks like it is done after the fact, but it is really just a matter of twisting the yarns as you knit color A and then color B over and over again. I think i mentioned last time, the patterned part is mosaic. Don't know why you would do it another way.
My gosh, I made a list of all the projects, like, full concepts and colors selected, etc, that I would like to work on. There were twelve items on the list. I don't know too much about the life cycle of a crafter, but it must involve forgetting planned projects at some point and just starting the list over. Oh, just a final note about the hat. The grey colored yarn is a lovely hand dye, lots of subtle variation in the color, which comes out more in the ball than in the knitting in the picture. But the dye came off on my hands while knitting. Not a whole lot, but enough. So I got some dye fixative. I'm nervous about using it but also excited to see if it works. Update on that later for sure. Whatever the outcome, I'm sure I'll have something to say about it.
The beaded scarf is finished, looks lovely, and was received with much joy and surprise by my mother-in-law. I highly recommend this sucker as an introduction to bead knitting. Again, I'll just say, I got it from Heartstrings Fiber Arts. They have lots of other lovely patterns which I will some day investigate once I run out of things to do.. ha ha.
In other project news, I will include a photo of a baby blanket I made for my cousin and his wife who are expecting their first child in about two months. I made this blanket during my period of unemployed-craftacular-movie-watching-time. As anyone who has been through a period like this knows, it isn't all it is cracked up to be, but you sure get a lot of crafting done.
This blanket is filet crocheted in panels. Originally it was supposed to have ribbon woven in between these panels, however, what I learned is that ribbon is not stretchy, and yarn things are. This annoying paradox (of course not guessed at until much careful weaving had been accomplished) resulted in a blanket that would either un-weave its ribbons every time you wrapped it around a baby, or a blanket that would try to cinch the baby with its steel-girder like ribbons. So the ribbons removed, the blanket was sent on its way, off to become a useful member of blanket society.
And finally, a little sneak peak of a hat I'm working on for a Boston friend. It is mosaic, so when I do work on it, it is very quick. I only have really two more vertical squares worth of rows to go and then I'll sew this puppy together and send it off to Boston. I'm sure it will still be snowing there. Even if I don't send it till May. No, really, I hope to finish it soon, if only because it seems like I don't find the impetus to post without having finished a project, a practice I would love to remedy, but really, who are we kidding?