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.
Picture
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. 
Picture
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. 
Picture
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. 
Picture
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. 
Picture
Here is a quilt update photo.   I’ve gotten a little farther than this, but not by much.
Picture
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? 
 
  First off, a few little delicious tidbits from a few weeks ago.  The combination of knitting gifts and having this blog can be an awkward one.  I don’t want to post photos of gifts before they are given, and then by the time they are given, I’m too lazy to go back and post.  Here, however, are some photos of gifts.
Picture
One is another little mouse.  This guy was also made with sock yarn, but with size 00 needles instead of 000.  The change in needle size made it much easier to make the little bobbles that are his feet and hands and don’t seem to actually have affected size all that much.  And the stuffing doesn’t come through the holes in the knitting or anything like that. 
Picture
The second gift is a little nest pin cushion.  I have a friend who once told me how she thought the nest was a very nice symbol of home.  Ever since then when I see nests on necklaces or screen prints, I think of her, but my bank account doesn’t really allow for random silver nest purchase, nor, do I think, she would appreciate me filling up her house with nests.  However, when I saw this nest in Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig, and I probably saw it now about a year and a half ago, I thought of my friend and decided that some time, I would make it.  So, after a year and a half, the stars aligned, I had dark brown and egg blue in DK weight.  I couldn’t find all of my dp size 6 that the pattern call for, so I did try to make the nest on size 3 first (I’m sure if there is a way to use smaller needles and yarn then I will).  The nest itself is done in a pretty simple K2, cable 2, K2, cable 2 cable stitch.  You can’t really see it in the pictures, and you can’t even really see it on the nest, but it is ultimately worth it I guess.  Using the size 3s and doing the cables made the nest very tight and tense and hard, not quite the effect I was going for.  But then while doing a massive reorganization of my yarns, sorting by weight instead of date purchase J, I found the rest of my size 6 dpns, don’t ask me what they were doing away from their friends.  The next nest was much more successful.  I’ve seen on other blogs, that people felt the need to block the nest, but I did not feel such a need.  Mine had good structure (and I hate blocking anyway).  I used a little purchased bird as the directions suggested.  I did ponder making a knit bird, but in the end, I wanted to be able to send off the project and the little bought bird does give the nest somehow a more homey, thrift store type feel that I like. 
Also, no offence meant to the author, but I could not stand the directions for making the eggs.  I’m not sure if I’m just a sloppy provisional caster-oner, or if there is some other malfunction in my knitting, but casting on, and knitting in one direction, and then casting off and picking up the stitches in the middle and knitting in the other direction did not work for me.  If you want an easy egg, here  you go:
Picture
Easy Egg

Materials: 4 size 6 dpns, a little stuffing, a little egg colored yarn

Onto 3 size 6 dpns, cast on 6 stitches, 2 on each needle.

Row 1: Knit 1 round

Row 2: *k1, make 1, k1*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Row 3: *k3, make 1*, repeat twice more (12 total stitches)

Rows 4-8: Knit 5 rounds

Row 9: *k2, k2tog*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Rows 10-11: Knit 2 rounds

It is a good idea to go ahead and stuff the egg now, as the next two decrease rows would make it hard to do so afterward. 

Row 12: *k1, k2tog*, repeat twice more (6 stitches total)

Row 1: *k2tog*, repeat twice more (3 stitches total)

Cut yarn, draw cut end through remaining 6 stitches on needles and pull tight.  Use cast on end to sew any hole remaining at the bottom together. 
I’m not sure what else you could do with knitted eggs besides put them into little nests.  They seem to make great, if short lived, cat toys, though this was not discovered on purpose.  Also, I must say, the nest makes a great cat sized bowler hat. 
Picture
Other updates include the quilt which grows when I grow board of plums
Picture
Picture
And the plums, which grow when I get board of the fact that you can’t carry a quilt around with you and whip it out at social gatherings.   The back is all finished and I’m at present working on one of the arms, in order to feel like I’m making more progress, working with fewer stitches, and also to gauge the actual amount of yarn this project is going to take by working exactly half a sweater. 
 
First, an update on the quilt, slow and steady.
Picture
I have found that because I picked out these colors and combinations so long ago, as I build the rows I get to experience them all over again.  Also, little hexagons sewn together look much different from squares on a table. 

I don’t think I actually wrote about the process at all in earlier posts.  I’m doing the quilt traditional paper piecing style, except I’m using plastic forms for the inserts instead of paper inserts.  The hexagons are about the size of silver dollars, each side is one inch long.  I cut all my fabric into squares first, because I didn’t want to spend my life cutting out hexagons.  The process is as follows:

·         Pin the plastic hexagon form to the fabric

·         Snip off the corners of the square so it is more hexagon shaped

·         Fold over and base the edges of the fabric around the plastic form

·         Then, sew the based pieces together with whip stitch and when all six sides of a form have been surrounded, remove the insert

I’m working in rows because that uses the fewest amount of inserts at one time. 
Picture
Next on the old agenda, another under the sea item.  A lovely crocheted conch shell.  I had the worst time figuring out the directions, especially for the point, but as you can see, I was finally successful.  Also, it makes a good home for another under the sea buddy. 
Picture
 
Such a ridiculous time without posting merits an extra long “run-down” post.  So either sit back and get comfortable or plan to do this thing in phases.  One of the major barriers to posting (or at least I tell myself so) is that for a while I was working almost exclusively on Christmas presents.   And really, you can’t post pictures of Christmas presents, even on your blog that most people don’t read. 
Before I get down to the (k)nitty-gritty a few updates.  First is that that grey sweater from two posts down is toast again.  I got the whole thing totally done and it was looking super and then I sewed it together waaaay too tight, and then, for reasons that I can’t totally remember right now, instead of just cutting the seams, I took the whole thing apart and gave up on that darn sweater.  I’ve got other similar patterns in mind for the yarn, but part of me believes that perhaps I was just not meant to make a raglan sleeved sweater and should stick with yolk necks.  I can sew armpits together till the cows come home.  Shoulders, not so much. 

A quick list of things I made in this period of time that I didn’t take pictures of:

·         A charming green owl baby sweater
·         8 spherical knitted fair isle Christmas ornaments
·         A crochet Queen Ann scarf using handsome and inspiring home spun

 Onward to actual projects with pictures!
The Grandma's Flower Garden Quilt: I got lots of work done on my quilt, and then because I had put off Christmas knitting till the last moment, I had to stop.  Now I worry that my hands won’t know what to do once they get started again.  I did manage to take lots of pictures of the quilt though, in various phases, with which I will now favor you:
In these photos you can see the cutting table over which I labored with my hexagonal graph in the foreground; all my little square bundles laid out, because chance is for the insane; the morning the kitten found the scraps can; and finally about how far I got before Christmas descended like a craft time absorbing sponge.
One better documented Christmas project this year is the Santa’s Clothesline.  The pattern originally came from Mary Maxim, but Mary and I seem to have differing ideas about the correct sizing of clothing for a fireplace garland.  Or, more aptly, I have a skewed concept of how big a fireplace is and love a challenge.  I started to make the jacket and was horrified by the dimensions.  I sized down repeatedly until I ended up working with bedspread crochet thread and size 0 needles.  The results look something like this:
Picture
In the end I made two medium sized garlands, one Mary Maxim sized one ,and one tiny one for personal use.  For those keeping score, that is 4 little jackets, pants, hats, scarves, and long johns, and 8 little mittens and socks.  Here is my husband with the finished MM sized and tiny sized, as you can see, the MM sized garland actually looks very cute:
Picture
And finally, a Christmas gift that has been given and so can be posted about.  Mittens.  Two pair to be exact.  One for my father who favors deep blues (these are the only photos I have of them and were taken before the thumbs were finished.  In fact, they had complete and finished thumbs before they were given:
The second for my husband, who fly fishes, and requested convertible mittens with convertible thumbs so that he can tie flies, which apparently involves the thumb.  I used the same pattern as for my dad’s mittens, from Never Knit Your Man a Sweater, the unfortunately named and concepted book with some quite nice patterns.  Because I was using a thicker yarn than the recommended fingerling, a Rowan 4 ply soft,  I ended up having to use 00 sized needles to get the right gauge.  The ladies at knitting night said I was crazy, but really you get used to the tiny needles quickly, so that before you know it size 5 look like tree trunks.  Instead of doing the diamond pattern on the back, I wanted to make them more fish related.  Despite numerous drawings and graphs and consultations with real fisherman, I still ended up with something that looks like a dolphin.  Also, on the first mitten I made the design by doing pearl stitch on a sockinette ground, and after being dissatisfied with the detail definition, and because these are for my husband and he doesn’t mind such lack of symmetry, I did the second mitten’s design outlined in pearl stitches, but the design itself and the ground in sockinette.  One looks more like a salmon than a trout, and the other, as stated, looks like a dolphin.  Thankfully my husband loves me and is so thrilled about the thumb that he doesn’t care what is on the back.  The final mod I did was to do the palms in seed stitch, which seems to be everyone’s favorite detail.  My father in law was so taken with them at Christmas that there may be at least one final pair of mittens in my future. 
In non-Christmas related and exciting news, I was a finalist on the Mochimochi Land blog photo contest.  I made it to the final 10 with this charmer:
Picture
I’m already planning my entry for next year. 
The icing on the cake is a wedding gift cross-stitch.  This is actually the most complex project I’ve ever designed myself.  Because I’m computer un-savvy, I used MS Paint zoomed all the way in the make the graph.  Changing Mario’s colors was the most challenging, and my favorite part is the shading in Peach’s bodice.   The finished product was framed in an oval of gold.  The happy couple’s names and the date were done below in block letters in dark blue.
Picture
I think that is all.  In honor of the new year I will make attempts to post at least once a week, if not once a month.  We’ll see what happens.