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!  

 
 
Thanksgiving is coming up and that means the photos of the Under the Sea blanket will be posted in a matter of days!  Until then, a few tiny silver things to tide you over.
BAM!  Tiny Tiny Laptop
I wanted to make a tiny laptop that was tiny enough for a tiny Santa to use.  I'll tell you why later.  Sometimes you just want a tiny tiny laptop. 

 I used 0/5 sized needles, and one ply of embroidery floss.  Sadly, I couldn't work my tiny laptop pattern in the round, but I was able to work the pattern as written, working the rows flat back and forth.  I then graft the top closed and seam up the side and bottom.  The seam ended up being pretty invisible. The keys don't stand out as much as I would like, but we can't have everything, I guess.
BAM! Tiny Mailbox
This pattern is from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec, same as the gnomes in an earlier post.  It was made for the same friend that got the magical mailbox way back last year.  It was made using size 1 needles and fit perfectly into a jewelry box for mailing.  
The tiny letter is separate and has it's own little face on the back.  Embroidering on knitted material is challenging under the best conditions, but I think that the initials on the front came out not-too-serial-killer-handwriting-ish.
Tiny Mailbox says "Your your mouth!"
 
 
Boy it has been hot here.
Especially to someone from Norway.
Good thing he grew his beard to a modest length. 
Gnothing on Earth could compell me to knit a gnome gpenis. 
 
 
Yay! I wrote a pattern for the little laptop that the octopus is holding in the last post.  You can download it on Ravelry, or here, or, there is a link on the sidebar.  Make one!  Tell your friends to make one!  Fill the world with tiny laptops.  It is a 2-3 hour project and good fun for everyone, octopuses and lovers of cute things alike. 
 
 
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I saw this pattern while on a break at work and could hardly wait to get home to knit it!  It is designed by Cheezombie it is it wonderfully elegant.  The whole pattern is worked from tail to ball in one piece, with the flippers sewn on later.  This kind of subtle simple shaping makes me feel more confident about designing my own toys.  I made this guy with 000 needles and sock yarn, and then upped it to 0 needles and heavier yarn for the ball.  I think I will make another one and try making the ball even bigger to balance the proportions, maybe I'm even ambitious enough to make it look like a real beach ball.  It is hard to tell from the photo, but this guy is palm sized, as is everyone else in this post. 
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This is a belated posting, but I love this little guy, and he deserves to be seen.  He is designed by Jessica Polka.  A little prawn pin, he was commissioned by a friend.  The yarn makes it I think, a pretty hand spun fingerling weight.  The color is ideal, but also, the woolyness of the yarn emphasizes the home made quality of the project which sends the essential awesomeness through the roof.  The eyes are small black beads.  The antenna are a flattened out spiral binding from a report that was being thrown away at work.  The first draft of this project was stolen by my cats, but I'm glad because this version came out so much better.  I sewed a pin back on him, and apparently he is much envied in his adopted hometown of Seattle. 
Another commissioned piece, a Trilobite broach.  Again, 000 needles and lace weight yarn.  He came out great, and even though they are so simple, I really like the antennae.  Also, I'm still loving this yarn.  There is enough of it that I think I will be making toys out of it for the next few years.  It is still the yarn from the mosaic hat
 
 
I have been finishing things like there is no tomorrow.  Really.  Because it feels like Christmas is tomorrow and I haven't even started my Christmas knitting.  Not that I have a whole lot.  I think I have actually been fairly reasonable this year.  And it is only October. 
Anyway, I've been trying to finish off some long standing projects as a way of procrastinating.  I've decided not to start any new projects just yet, despite the inviting whispers coming from one of my new knitted lace doilies books.  And before you even murmur "Who needs a doily, you've made tons you aren't doing anything with" I would say that doilies seem like a good road to getting comfortable with a technique, and if I'm ever going to knit the lace shawl of my dreams (which I will only wear in my dreams) then I should get comfortable with the technique. 
Okay, well, enough with the suspense, the Plum sweater is basically finished.  I realized looking back that the first time I posted about it was in February, so, as a reminder for everyone, here is a photo from the original instruction pamphlet:
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And here is my nearly finished product:
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This poor thing was sitting in a tote bag for months, front and back finished, sleeves finished, just waiting for me to get over my anxiety of side seams.  Well I did.  And also this was my first experience with steam blocking, which, as far as I could tell from my research, amounts to ironing the sweater from the back.  
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The torso of the sweater may be a little short to wear with jeans, but it works great with a high waisted skirt.  I'm sure that is what it was planned for.  Judging by the model, I don't think that she wore dungarees unless she was out on the farm or something.  If you look closely at the first photo, you can see the pearlescent snaps along the right shoulder.  Those were quite a pain, and I'm still not totally sure that they will stay.  Perhaps it was the thick knitting, or maybe the lack of special snap applying pliers, but somehow they just don't want to stay.  
The reason I say almost finished is because the original pattern called for "Parapads, the ready made shoulder pad."  I had thought I could get by without shoulder pads, but I think, now, that they would actually add something to the garment so I'm going to have to get some.  I'm putting it off though, because it has been boiling here temperature wise, and I don't really care to wear a fair isle double thick wool sweater right now.
And finally, another little knit co-worker gift as part of what my husband is calling the office beautification project, some happy little fuchsia flowers:
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A variety of explanations have been postulated over the years to account for sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. These may be categorised as: misidentifications of common animals; misidentifications of inanimate objects or effects; reinterpretations of traditional Scottish folklore; hoaxes; and exotic species of large animals.    -Wikipedia.org
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This little buddy was knit with 00 needles and two colors of variegated sock yarn.  His body is stuffed, but his flippers are not, and his head stays up on its own, no pipe cleaners or wires, so he is even baby safe, though he is not intended for a baby.  The little horns are my favorite part. 
 
 
Here is another version of the mantis from Amigurumi Knits, which is absolutely my favorite toy pattern book.  I could not believe how big that first mantis came out.  It is just way too big.  Also, I used pipe cleaners in the legs, and they are not strong enough to hold up the mantis body.  You set it on the table and it collapses, you pick it up and it throws its head back, and it’s grabbing legs in the air, as if to say, “Party!”  This little fellow is a vast improvement.  As I look at him now sitting on the table, he looks alert and ready to spring.  (Perhaps that isn’t what most people look for in a toy, but I like my inanimate objects to have a little personality.)
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I used plastic covered steal wire in the legs, so they are much stronger and more ridged.  Also that thin wire was almost too thick for the skinny legs, but it just fit.  The other alteration I made was to work the last row of the eye with the main body color, giving the mantis pupils.  I’ve included here a photo of the second eye under construction.  It just looks so creepy, mantis eye surgery. 
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To make this mantis I used 000 needles and sock yarn.  The brown is some yarn that I had left over from the snail socks from the first post on this blog.  The green is some lovely variegated yarn I bought in a department store called Coop in Switzerland.  It was sort of one of those “yarn in a department store, how novel, I must buy some” moments, but I’m so glad I did.  It came out so buggy, and I always forget that I don’t have a problem with variegated yarn in stockinette stitch.  I truly hate it, say, in the ribs of a sock leg, where it comes out so messy, but it looks very pretty here.  Though I did end up bending one of my 000 needles during some tight knitting, I’m so pleased with this guy and he makes me want to make all of the Amigurumi animals on a small scale.
Also,  a little side note.  I had first discovered the designer of this pattern, Hansi Singh on etsy.com.  She published a book of patterns last year, but many great patterns, including my favorite, the sea horse, were not in the book.  After the publication of the book, her etsy store closed, and I often felt very sad about it.  I love her patterns and want everyone to own them, but also, I hadn’t bought them all!  Well, it turns out that she still has all her patterns for sale on Ravelry.com, a fiber arts social networking site.  So, sheeps be praised, you can still get the patterns.  I find that almost as pleasing as this mantis. 
 
 
Well, I have to say that one of the foremost impediments to my posting is that most of the time I work on gifts.  I guess that, in combination with the fact that I have supportive friends who read my blog.  Therefore I can’t post pictures of projects until they have been received.  Case in point this cute little mailbox. 
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This was a commissioned piece.  A friend of mine who loves the mail and all things related to the mail found this pattern on Etsy and sent it to me right away with heart rendering pleas to make it.  The whole project is comprised of a mailbox, one parcel, and three letters.  I love making toys, so it wasn’t too difficult to sell me on the idea.  We went to Michael’s and looked at every shade and weight of grey, ultimately settling on a combination of a thin silver sparkle yarn from Vanna White’s collection and a nice wooly grey heather.  My friend loves orange, so we made the mail flag bright safety orange instead of the traditional red.  Also, we chose a sparkle white for the letters, just to make them a little more magical.  After all, the fun of a toy is that you don’t have to shoot for total verisimilitude. 
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I was going to do something much more complicated for the stamps, but then in my fabric stash I found a fabric that was printed with stamps with cancelations stamps and everything.  Pretty perfect.  To give them a little more oomph I embroidered little parts of the picture on the stamp, just one color per stamp to keep it simple.  For the name labels I first wrote what I wanted on the felt with a pen and then embroidered over that.  The pen ink bled a little bit, but I don’t think it was a disaster.  My only true regret is that due to the limitations of the skill of my embroidery and the size of the text I was able to embroider, I wasn’t capable of making return address labels.  But I guess perhaps letters that come from magical destinations cannot be returned.  If you are interested in my friend’s musings and more photos she took of the mailbox, here is a link to her blog.  If I had a blogroll, she would be on it.
If anyone recalls those yarn singles that I spun... I typed this and then realized that I had never posted those photos.  So to begin with, here are some photos of the original roving, think like a long dyed cotton ball of wool, and also of the yarn as I spun it and wound it around my spindle shaft. 
To begin again, well, those singles from a while back are now well on their way to being yarn.  At the knitting club meeting last night I got assistance and learned that a.) my singles are spun too tight, and in the wrong direction (for some mystical reason I was told that this would make it better for crochet), but that b.) it was still very nice first yarn.  I still have to wash it, but here are some photos of a 2-ply yarn, made by yours truly.  Pretty exciting stuff.
Finally, though this is not a blog for cats, because my cats do a lot of interacting with craft projects, I’m deciding that it is okay to post cat pictures if they are fiber related.  My younger cat has developed a great affinity for a little leftover ball of sock yarn, and has been doing various art installations around the apartment every time he finds it again, despite the fact that I keep rewinding it and putting it in higher and more difficult to reach places.  I can tell when I’m rewinding it that it is clearly an amazingly fun toy, so I’m not really too upset about it.  Here is a photo of the artist, explaining his work.  He looks a little defensive, so watch out critics of the art world. 
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