Saturday, 28 December 2013

Gift Wrap 2013 (Part 1)

The time has finally come where I can show off the knitted lovelies that I've been working on for the last few months.

First up is the Lonely Tree Shawl, made for (and modelled by) my mother.  Isn't she adorable?

It was lovely to knit.  I had a false start in that I knit quite a bit of it before realizing that it was coming out much too small and the fabric too stiff, so I ripped it out and started over with bigger needles.  It was totally worth it.  The second time around was much nicer.  I'll admit I had a tough time giving this one away, it looked really good on me!  I guess it looks good on my mom, too.  I guess.

Second is a double-knit piano scarf for my dad, the piano nerd.  

Double knitting is pretty fun, once you get the hang of it.  The way it works is that you are creating two layers of knitted fabric simultaneously so each side is the reverse of the other.  For each white stitch that I knitted, I purled a black stitch, and for each black stitch I knitted, I purled a white stitch.  I had to learn how to alternate between knitting and purling while holding two strands of yarn in one hand.  It was exactly as easy as it sounds to begin with (not easy), but like with anything, practice made perfect.  Well okay, if not perfect, practice made good enough.

Next is my take on a lumberjack hat for my brother.  

I wanted the look of the classic checkered plaid but couldn't find any existing patterns that were quite right, so I made this hat up as I went along.  I may write up the pattern yet but there wasn't much to it.  I can't take credit for the crown of the hat though, the envelope closure was suggested by a fellow knitter on Instagram, and it worked perfectly.  Another reason why social media is awesome!

The real fun of this hat though, is not the hat itself.  The hat was really only to go with the beard.

The beard part I did not design.  The beard was crocheted using this pattern and then sewn into the finished hat.  

If you have any friends, family, or loved ones that wish they could grow a beard (or insist on trying even though their genes and/or age are inadequate for the task), I highly recommend knitting or crocheting a beard for them.  It's great for two reasons:
  1. They get to (finally) have the awesome facial hair of their dreams.
  2. You don't have to look at their unsightly attempts in growing said facial hair.
After finishing up my gift knitting for the year, I began a gift for myself.  And then I finished it.  Truthfully, from start to finish it probably took between six and eight hours.  Apparently Malabrigo Rasta is amazing and I'm tempted to make all of next year's gifts from Rasta because it takes almost no time at all to knit.  All you need is two balls of Rasta and six hours and you end up with this:

A yummy, squishy, SUPER WARM seed stitch cowl to help block out the insanely cold winter we've been having, and are going to continue to have.  It can even double as a hood.

What's even better is that it makes me look shifty (as proven by the above picture) so it will help keep random people out of my business as well as keeping out the cold.  Bonus!

Stay tuned for parts 2 (and maybe 3)...

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The 11th hour

As I am writing this, the last of the Christmas knitting is in the sink for a quick soak before I lay it out to dry.  Not everything is completely done (there is a teeny bit of sewing and other finishing to happen after the last things have dried), but all the knitting is done.  This is very exciting for me, because Christmas is still two days away!  I actually finished early!

What is also exciting is that I can finally show this off, since it already lives in its new home.

This is an Age of Brass and Steam which I knit out of my Sweet Georgia handspun yarn.  This is a great, versatile pattern, good for any weight of yarn, and flexible enough that you can use all of your yarn.  I knit a lot of this while sitting beside the pool in Phoenix.  I didn't have a yarn scale with me, but somehow I had brought enough knitting karma with me that after I bound off, this is how much yarn I had left:


Okay so I was flying by the seat of my pants a bit but hey, it worked out!

It looked even better after blocking but I didn't plan picture taking very well (since there's about 15 minutes of daylight that I'm actually at home for these days), so this is the best I got before giving it away.  

It was a good knit, and excellent for handspun yarn.  I think I might be making another one for myself at some point.  You know, when I run out of other things that I want to knit for myself. *cough*

Now that my gift knitting is done for this year, I can get back to thinking about myself.  I have a number of things on the needles for myself already, but most of them are long term projects and none are looking to be finished anytime soon.  So, of course, the only solution is to start something new that will knit up quickly and easily.  I need me some instant gratification!

Good thing I have a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Rasta (bottom two skeins in the below picture) that I picked up last year.  I'm planning on making a simple seed stitch cowl out of them which will accomplish two things for me:

1. It will knit up relatively quickly and give me that satisfaction I crave of finishing a new item for myself.
2. It will help keep me  super warm in the the -30 C weather that we've been having lately.  Ridiculous!  We're exactly one day into the "official" start of Winter, and it's been as cold as January usually is for a month already!  Good thing I'm a Knitter.  Seriously.

The other two skeins in this picture, the two on the top, are some delicious merino I picked up in a teeny tiny shop on Salt Spring Island during my yarn binge in the summer.  They're a slightly different colour from the Rasta but they still go together pretty well.  Those two skeins are going to become a hat and mitten set, probably shortly after the cowl happens.  I'm thinking cables but I haven't decided on any patterns yet.

Time to go wrap some presents and wind some yarn!  My next post will be after Christmas since I won't have anything else to say until I can show off some more of this year's gifts.  I can hardly wait!!

Until then, Merry Christmas!  And remember, don't be a jerk.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


My family has a lovely tradition at Christmas.  Every year, usually on the first Sunday of Advent, my mom will give my brother and I each a new ornament for the tree.  It usually has some significance to the events of the previous year.  I hesitate to say "always" because truthfully I can't place all of the ornaments anymore.  In theory there should be 28 of them now but I don't know for sure which they all are, I must be losing my memory with my advancing years.  Events that may have seemed significant at the time have now faded with the passage of time.  A tiny pink purse ornament must have meant something at one point, but I can't remember the significance now.  Maybe my increased interest in shopping when I became a teenager?

Now that I'm past the years that I was inflicted with braces, started dating, learned to drive, graduated high school, travelled on an airplane for the first time, graduated university, married the Enabler, and bought a house, my obsession with knitting is evidently the most significant part of the last couple of years.

Last year's ornament was an adorable knitting snowman:

And on the same theme, this year's ornament is an adorable snowman made out of balls of yarn.

I'm not criticizing my mother's choice of ornament to be sure, they're great!  She's right about the role that knitting has played in my life in the last few years.  I don't expect any ornament-worthy new developments in the next year, so Mom, better keep your eye out for more knitterly ornaments!

This past weekend my LYS had their annual fibre retreat.  It was lovely and relaxing, although I was surprisingly tired when it was over.  Who knew that sitting around by the pool, eating and drinking and knitting for two days could be so exhausting?

I'm really glad I decided to use my last few vacation days for the year for the few days after the retreat.  It's been a nice time to put up the tree, do a few chores around the house, take care of some long overdue appointments (like the dentist... ugh), and most importantly, knit (and watch Gossip Girl... I mean thought-provoking documentaries... yeah...).

One of the classes I took at the retreat was making beaded ornaments.  I finished my ornament up today and now it has a place on the tree along with the many other knitted decorations.  

I definitely need to make more of these, but I don't have enough beads for another one.  I suppose I'll have to go shopping, since I'm certainly not on a bead diet!