Posted tagged ‘Christmas’

Call me at the station, the lines are open

January 16, 2015


Pattern: 198 yds. of Heaven by Christy Verity (rav link)
Yarn: Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted (100% merino), overdyed
Needle: U.S. 7 Knit Picks Sunstruck wood 26″ circulars (worked flat)

One of my favorite things about knitting, at a certain level of competence, is that you can create things that would command luxury prices in a boutique — but in actuality can’t be bought anywhere, at any price.


Here’s an example. This started with a poor orphan skein of yarn at Tuesday Morning that had lost its label . Sight and touch made it obvious that it was a bouncy merino, and I initially pegged it as Fibernatura Yummy, a sportweight I had bought at the store before, with a similar twist. But careful examination showed it was heavier, and a colorway not found in that yarn. My curiosity piqued, I searched stash photos on Ravelry until I determined its true name and nature.


Then into the dye pot it went, with my favorite Easter egg colors — spring green, denim blue, and teal — dumped directly from the dye cups that had held eggs the day before. Pure alchemy. You be the judge.


It sat in my stash, a reminder every time I caught sight of it of its priceless singularity, until the moment I decided to make my mother a lace scarf for Christmas. That moment came one week before she was set to visit. I had a deadline.


With a day to spare — a day needed for blocking, at that, so really right at the nick of time — my version of this popular pattern came off the needles. There are 5523 other scarves like it on Ravelry. But this one is mine, the utterly unique and unrepeatable combination of serendipity, experimentation, and technique.


Gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Anyone who appreciates beauty would crave it, even with three or four figures on the price tag. But it’s not for sale. It’s for Mom.


I’ll show you the ropes, kid

January 12, 2015


Pattern: Purl Ridge Scarf by Stephen West
Yarn: Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection Fleur de Lys (90% merino, 10% cashmere), colorway 405 (overdyed)
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 26″ circular needles

Some projects take the long way home. This one started with a find at Tuesday Morning — yarn of a beautiful fiber, but an ugly color.


That’s … brown. Not really the rich, autumnal brown that sometimes draws me in. Kind of pink-undertone brown. Not even just drab — really actively off-putting. Hard to photograph, probably. Uninspiring, to say the least. I couldn’t imagine an entire garment in that color. But the single-ply yarn was beautifully soft. I knew I could turn it into something better.


Here are the five balls I bought (all they had, of course), skeined up and overdyed with 2 red PAAS Easter egg dye tablets dissolved in a tbsp of white vinegar and 6 oz. of water, kettled in a crockpot on low for half an hour. Much better — a shade of bright brick red with the original brown shade showing through in places. Now, what to make?

I settled on this scarf, long in my queue, awaiting just this kind of semi-solid colorway to show off its depth of texture. I made the whole thing, dear reader, from one laboriously engineered hemmed edge to the other. I worked on it, off and on, for four months. And then I unraveled it, the whole thing, cutting the yarn where I had spit-spliced it (or just wherever it refused to stop sticking together, as is the nature of single-ply yarn so often. I just had to face facts. It wasn’t what I had hoped. It was kind of stiff and flat, not soft, lofty, and textured. The hems I tried didn’t work out at all. This yarn was too beautiful for such a fate. Back to the drawing board.


Ah yes. That’s better. Simple hits of garter-ridge texture on a smooth stockinette background. Soft, flexible, inviting. All the color shows through with no fuss. Why didn’t I do this the first time? I gave it to my sister-in-law for Christmas, thrilled that it had turned out so perfectly.


CG kept making exaggerated faces as she modeled this scarf, then bursting into laughter. I kind of love this shot — she’s in motion, blurred and ecstatic, but the scarf is in crisp focus. Finally that beautiful fiber has found its purpose.

I just need to catch my breath

December 31, 2013

Has everyone gotten their Christmas packages yet? Probably not; I know at least one went astray and might not be reunited with its recipients until the calendar flips over. Nevertheless, how can I let the year end without wrapping up what I made for the holidays?


Pattern: Luxe Cowl by Margaux Hufnagel
Yarn: Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool (100% wool), colorways Snowdrift and Persimmon
Needles: U.S. 13 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular

I actually made two of these, the other in a winter white. This red one went to my mother-in-law Libby; the white one I hope will soon be in the hands of my niece.


Pattern: Crocheted Square Washcloth by Stacey Trock
Yarn: Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), colorway Vanilla
Hook: Tulip Etimo 5.0mm (H)


Pattern: Waffle Knit Dishcloth by Debbie Andriulli
Yarn: Aslan Trends Pima Clasico Cotton (100% cotton), colorway White
Needles: U.S. 6 Sunstruck straights

Libby also requested some easy-care, throw-em-in-the-wash, bleach-the-heck-out-of-em dishcloths. I dug around in the stash, found some non-colorful cotton, whipped ’em up.


Pattern: Rikke Hat by Sarah Young
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% merino, 30% silk), colorway Robot
Needles: U.S. 4 (band) and 7 (body) Harmony wood 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

My lovely model is lovely, but I wish I’d gotten a picture of this hat on Noel. I made it for nephew Daniel, and it is a terrific style on a fashion-forward man.


Pattern: Astronomer by Veronica O’Neil
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% merino), colorways Black and White (not sure what yarn the gray stripe is)
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

Boy, this turned out handsomely. I made Bowdoin College colors for nephew Sawyer, who runs cross-country there. The turned hem is a polished touch. And the yarn knit up crisp and even. A professional-looking effort, maybe my favorite of the season.

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Pattern: Mini Sweater Ornament With Cables by Emily5446
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (in Gypsy), Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed (in Spruce), Knit Picks Felici (in Arugula), Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome (in Birches, not pictured)
Needles: U.S. 1.5 & 2 Nickel fixed Options 24″ circulars

I made a handful of mini sweaters to put in random stockings. The Birches one (made of leftovers from an as-yet-unblogged Sockhead Hat) managed to hop in a stocking before I had time to photograph it. In 2014 my leftovers are all devoted to hexipuffs, so I hope they enjoyed these last gasps of freedom.

I hope your holiday of giving was as warm as mine! See you next year!

And the best one of the year

January 2, 2011 sent some stats about this blog to me yesterday. Interestingly, my most visited post in 2010 was this 2008 holiday knitting roundup.  Hey, come to think of it, I have a lot of 2010 FO’s that haven’t been blogged because of their secret gift statu.  So here’s this year’s version of that popular post.


Pattern: Cardiff Cowl by Lion Brand Yarn
Yarn: Knit Picks Capra (85% merino, 15% cashmere), colorway Platinum
Hook: U.S. H/5.0 mm

My first crocheted cowl. I fell hard for this lacy confection in this substantial yet whisper-soft yarn. Had enough left for …


Pattern: Cafe au Lait Mitts by Paula McKeever
Yarn: Knit Picks Capra (as above)
Needles: U.S. 4 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needles (one-at-a-time magic loop)

… these cloud-like lattice-pattern mitts, the perfect combination of architectural lines and welcoming warmth. Gifted to my sister-in-law Sherry.


Pattern: One Row Lace Cowl by milobo
Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Silk (55% alpaca, 23% silk, 22% merino), colorway Bluebell
Hook: U.S. J/5.5 mm

The crochet cowl trend continues. I only used one ball of this favorite yarn of mine for a little zigzag lace neckwarmer, made for my niece Sydney. It seems just her style: feminine but with strong lines and perfect, compact functionality.


Pattern: Greenery Hat by Lilith Parker
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Kettle Dyed (discontinued) (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorway Ivy
Needles: U.S. 6 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circulars (magic loop)

After all those eyelets and heavenly fibers, I itched for some sculpted cables in firm, sturdy wool. Not only did this hat fully satisfy that urge, but it also made an apt gift for my brother Dwayne, in the forest green of Woodlawn School (where he is founder and principal). I hope it will warm him during chilly cross-country practices for many autumns and winters to come.


Pattern: Jacques Cousteau Hat by Lalla Pohjanpalo
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Kettle Dyed (discontinued) (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorway Soot
Needles: U.S. 6 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circular needles (magic loop)

Something a bit more traditional for my stepfather-in-law Alex. This very simple hat has a nice depth of color thanks to the semi-solid black/charcoal colorway. The pointy top disappears when it’s pulled firmly onto the head, but adds a touch of whimsy on my smaller-headed model.


Pattern: Crocheted Mary-Jane Slippers by Calypso Gray
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), colorway Honeydew; Lily Sugar’n Creme (100% cotton), colorway Light Blue
Hook: U.S. H/5.0 mm

And finally, these slippers, which I finished on Christmas Eve — the last project I undertook for Christmas 2010. They are for Alex’s mother Ange. Through them I learned how powerful crochet shaping can be. These are made in one piece starting with just five stitches at the toe. I marveled as they emerged from my yarn and hook. I hope Ange finds them both comfortable and comforting.

That’s when my love comes tumblin’ down

January 3, 2010

Pattern: An Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Wisdom Yarns Poems (100% wool), colorway 571
Needles: U.S. 10 1/2 Harmony wood Options 32″ circular (magic-loop style)

Big yarn. Big needles. Bulky cables. It’s the same impulse that led to my scarf in Tweedle Dee for Mrs. Bennett. And on November 29 of last year, it led me to search out a chunky hat that would match the sorority-girl fashion sense of my beautiful, stylish teaching assistant Lauren.

I held this shaded-stripes worsted-weight yarn double, and it might have actually been a little better with size 11 needles; the fabric was just a smidge on the stiff side. Tried to match the color repeats up, but ended up with them staggered a bit. No matter. I love these grays, dark to light, and the rough-hewn sensibility of the yarn made the knitting rugged and wintry.

The knitting took all of two hours from cast-on to weave-in. After soaking and aggressive blocking around a mixing bowl, it was a perfect fit. And when I gave it to Lauren, it looked beautiful atop her head. She’s one to appreciate the handmade, as an avid crocheter and sewer herself. It was exactly as I envisioned it: big, warm, yet for all that, a subtle pleasure.

In the sea from you to me

January 2, 2010

Pattern: One-Row Handspun Scarf by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Knit Picks Decadence (100% alpaca, discontinued), colorway Tide
Needles: U.S. 9 Signature Needle Arts straights

I admit that I have been on a scarf kick this winter. The advantages to scarf knitting were compelling: Knittable on my beautiful straight needles, portable and easily memorized patterns, one size fits all.

When I unpacked this yarn from my stash, the pattern I had included with it was a pair of felted slippers. But this is luxury yarn. It seemed a shame to use it without patterning, without curb appeal, without pizzaz. So I went looking for scarves that would work with 240 yards of pure alpaca goodness.

It was Teresa — needlenhook on Ravelry — who inspired me. She knit the ultra-simple, insanely rewarding One-Row Handspun Scarf (4000 projects and counting) with this yarn on a nice big needle and then blocked the heck out of it. Suddenly a simple scarf became embracing, luxuriously lacey, almost a stole. When I saw her photos of the scarf draped dramatically around a dress form, I knew I had found what this yarn wanted to be.

My sister-in-law Sherri was the lucky recipient of this glorious knit. I’m sorry to see it leave my needles, my stash, and my gift bin. But I know it will warm and soothe her as much in the wearing as it did me in the knitting. And isn’t that what handknit gifts are all about?

Where the skies are blue

December 29, 2009

Pattern: Humanity by Denise Lotter (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Berroco Blackstone Tweed (65% wool, 25% superkid mohair, 10% angora), colorway Wintry Mix
Needles: U.S. 6 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needles (one-at-a-time Magic Loop)

When you knit something you really love — something in a truly extraordinary yarn, something that conveys elegance and sophistication — the tough part is figuring out who deserves it.

I knit these from two precious balls of Blackstone Tweed that I bought during a Dizzy Sheep Spin-Off on Labor Day weekend. I had seen some beautiful projects made from this yarn, and I wanted to try it. At first I thought I would make a male-appropriate scarf, but the yarn was not making a good-looking fabric at the kind of needle size I wanted to use for an aran weight (10’s first, then 8’s). So after seeing on Ravelry that most projects used sizes 5 to 7, I reconsidered my scarf idea (not really enough yardage for a scarf knit at that gauge).

The mitts that emerged when I began knitting the Humanity pattern were a revelation. The fabric was soft and foggy, the stitch definition obscured not by the fuzz or halo of the fiber, but by the almost mini-chenille texture of the felted-feeling yarn. The big cables don’t pop, but I really love the way they rise out of the fabric’s misty background.

Ultimately we decided that Noel’s nephew Daniel, a college student and political activist, would be the likeliest to appreciate this fine and subtle creation. And although his reaction when he first unwrapped and slipped them on was appreciative, it was half an hour later that our confidence was shown to be well placed. While we all opened presents and conveyed appreciation, Daniel wore the gloves. He came up to me after it was all over. “You know what? These are legit,” he said.

Exactly the word I was searching for. Daniel, you have proved yourself knit-worthy.