Though most of the country is covered in snow, and I'm sure it is ideal knitting time, our house is getting hot enough in the afternoon to make you sweat!  Not exactly motivation to pick up wool.  But I've been able to get several small projects out the door despite the not so conducive temperature.  
My bow tie wearing husband requested a knit necktie like his brother's.  I took to heart the lessons I learned from the first knit necktie I made: a.) it takes a lot longer than you would think to knit a long skinny strip, but b.) what really take a long time is sewing down the ribbon backing!  No, I kid, (but those things are true and should be taken into account if you are planning on knitting a necktie.)  I did the actual knitting for this project over Christmas break, and then stuffed it in a bag, with the already purchased ribbon backing, dreading giving up the knitting time to sew on the backing.  The perfect opportunity presented itself when we hung out with friends on the only cozy rainy Saturday we've had all winter.  I was able to sew on the backing ribbon without thinking too much about what I was doing or how long it was taking due to the good company.  This tie did go faster than the last tie because the yarn was a little heavier weight, a discontinued Knit Picks sport weight, and so, because of the heavier weight yarn, fewer stitches were required to get the same width.
One of my co-workers, who works in rare book preservation, and her husband, who is a sculptor, built a tree-house dollhouse for their granddaughter.  I haven't seen pictures yet,  but she described it to me, and asked if I would make some animal dolls for it, specifically a black cat doll.  My co-worker's granddaughter has a pet black cat named Chubby that she loves very much, and my co-worker had attempted to find a black cat doll, but hadn't had any luck.  I asked her about what size, she said "egg sized."  I'm always happy to make requests, and mostly with this kind of project, I just want to make sure that I'm spending my time making something that the person will like.  I first went to Ravelry and searched for tiny cat, tiny bear, etc, to get a good sense of the patterns already available.  I settled on this cute little bear pattern, which was only slightly annoying for having to seam up the back of the body and the back of the head.  I did i-cord legs and tail, and adjusted the ears and eyes to give them a more cat-like appearance.  Though the legs aren't hinged, the tail provides ballast, so that the cat does sit up.  My co-worker relayed that her granddaughter recognized this little version of Chubby right way, so, mission accomplished! 
A UFO is knitting speak for an Un-Finished Object.  I'm not sure, however, if that label can be applied if the project never got started to begin with.  I had this beautiful madelintosh yarn sitting around since February 2013 to make a cowl for myself.  It was one of those projects where I saw the sample and just had to make it.  I started the project as Christmas knitting on planes and by the fire, etc.  It was a simple to memorize stitch pattern, only one yarn used at a time, and just going around in a loop.  I worked on it off and on, not really sure how wide I was going to make it.  I started noticing that most cowl patterns were 7 1/2 inches wide.  I finally measured the cowl that was just hanging out and realized i was only 1 1/2 inches away from being done.  So I finished it in on sitting.  But then, I just wasn't right for me!  And it really was one of those "not right" situations where you just know it isn't getting better.  I know I picked out green yarn because  I don't wear that much green, but, I still don't wear that much green!  So I sent it off to a friend and it has found a happy home.  
Finally, birthday socks for my sweet Valentine of a mother.  These were a fun pattern, definitely improved by using the Felici yarn from Knitpicks with it's wide stripes.  It's a great yarn for socks, very soft, and excellent for esoteric patterns.  These socks are started at the cuff, then knit the entire back, and then pick up stitches in a U shape around the opening and just knit back and forth, decreasing, until a final long graft closes up the front.  I know that probably sounds like garble, but trust me, picking up the stitches evenly was the only annoying part.  I even got the color repeats to basically match up!  

 
 
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. 
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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.
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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.  
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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.  
 
 
So much to write about!  I know it has been ages since my last post, and actually I've been quite busy.  Oldest projects come first I guess.
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Here is a photo of a sweater I made for my mom.  A very sweet friend chose to de-stash and gave me the proceeds.  This fuchsia mohair was just screaming my mom's name, so I dug around a little and found this pattern.  I have to say I was surprised how hard it was to find a reasonable mohair pattern.  I mean, I know all the arguments against it, it can be scratchy, and too warm, and sheds, but come on.  This was the only modern pattern I could find for worsted weight mohair.  All other patterns are either from the 80s or the 60s, and in either case most closely resemble ottoman covers.  Like I said, I get why mohair isn’t popular any more, but I also don’t get it.  This was truly a weekend long project, knit on size 11 needles.  It went so quickly, and after blocking, it has a very nice drape.  It has been reported to me that it was a success on its maiden outing. 
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Next are some more little mice.  These little mice, commissioned by my mom for a gift, are the country mouse and the city mouse.  I used the same pattern I've been using from Fuzzy Mitten and then used guess work to create some little clothes for them.  The country mouse wears a little hooded cape.  I did try to make an apron for her first, but these little mouse bodies are not really set up for clothes that cover the waist down.  The city mouse wears a little fancy hat. 
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I'm going to crow about the flower on her hat for a second.  It was done with sewing thread and a 0.75mm crochet hook.  I'm quite proud of it.  The city mouse also wears a string of glass beads.  These little mice represent my favorite type of project, riffing on an established pattern by making changes in yarn and embellishment. 
Next on the agenda for sharing are some repair jobs I did.  Both projects were completed for the same friend about five years ago when I was still pretty inexperienced.  I recently took them back to fix them after being unable to withstand the guilt of turning out lousy product any longer.  As I tell everyone, my projects are guaranteed.  If they fall apart, send them back.  I’ll fix them or make something else. 
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First, pictured above are the ill effects of whip stitching a granny square blanket together that was made from soft acrylic yarn.  The effects are quite ill.  The poor thing was washed once or twice and went all to pieces. 
Now here is my repair job.  I took the whole blanket apart and single crocheted the squares together using a yellow that was pretty close to the original yellow.  I think it looks better than before and I kind of want my own now. 
The second "repair" was blocking this poor scarf.  This is really my first successful knitted garment.  I chose the pattern and the boarder pattern from a book of 500 (or some such number) knitting patterns.  I didn't know doodly-squat about blocking when I made this poor scarf though, and as a result, for the last few years it has existed as a kind of thick neck sock, all rolled up upon itself. 
The blocking was really pleasant because I got to see the lace pattern open up.  Due to the fact that the pattern is knit all the way to the edges though, I'm afraid it will always roll up a little, but it is much improved.  The yarn is a cotton silk blend and was lovely to handle again. 
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Here is a quilt update photo.   I’ve gotten a little farther than this, but not by much.
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And finally, here is one of my kitties reminding me that if it is crocheted, no matter how small it is, it will be sat upon and kneaded by one cat or another.  How could I have forgotten that? 
 
 

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?



 
 

So, I actually finished my mom's socks a little while ago.  Maybe January 24th?  Her birthday is on Valentine's day, so I'll be mailing them off soon.  Here are some pictures of the finished product:

The best part of making these by far was learning how to do the mosaic pattern.  I love Fair Isle type patterns, and enjoy the challenge of working with the multiple strands, but I have to say, I think once you go mosaic, it is hard to see why you would want to go back.  All that being said about multiple pattners and strands etc, I also love the way the heel of these socks came out, (eye-of-the-partridge).  The texture is lovely, and the natural inconsistency of the dye on the yarn lends some depth without being overbearing.  It may just be that I'm saying that because it is juxtaposed to the rainbow (which I secretly came to like, shhh.)  They are perfect for my mom though.  Anyone who knows her would tell you so.  I feel a little bad because she keeps hint-asking if I've been able to start them and I keep saying how busy I am.  But she loves surprises, so the thrill of the surprise will cancel out the disapointment.  But I still feel a little like a tricky jerk.

At any rate, onward, and away from socks for a while.  Though there are a few different heels and ribbings, and they are really so practical, there isn't so much techinque once you've mastered the basics.  Therefore, onward to a gift for my mother-in-law.  I wanted to make her something that looked like it could be bought in a boutique.  A lacy beaded scarf is what I chose.  This was supposed to be a Christmas present, and then turned into a late Christmas present when my husband was going out to see his parents in January, and now will just be a mid-February/early-March present.  She lives in a very cold climate, so it will still be a useful gift when it finally arrives at its destination.  With 10 of 15 repeats finished, I should be done pretty soon. 

The beads are all pre-strung and then pushed along on the yarn until they are needed, so I string on about 5 diamonds worth of beads and then when I've run out, I cut the yarn, add more beads, and get back to knitting.  It is a lovely process and the yarn is lace weight on size 5 needles, so it goes pretty quickly.  There are four colors of beads, which you may or may not be able to see in the detail picture, a matte brown, a shiny brown, a pearl, and an iridescent white which comes out almost lavender.  The original pattern which I really love, used only one color of bead.  It looked too stark to me, and so with the help of friends, one visionary in particular, I became convinced that not only was it not insane to use multiple colors (I had great fears about stringing them in the right order, but it turns out that once you have done it a few times and messed up once, it is pretty simple) but also a slightly more muted palette was devised.  I happened upon the "Beadwrangler" who has the most beautiful treat for the eyes of a website you've ever seen.  Also the yarn is baby mohair and silk, so it is like knitting with what you wish spider webs felt like.  Once I'm finished I will block this beast, something I never do with my knitting, so I would imagine will post some pictures of that as well.