Monday, December 31, 2007

Last knits of 2007

My friends needed mittens, and I'm pleased to have finished both pairs before the new year comes. I used the same basic pattern as I did for my own plain mitts. For Lynne's pair, at left, I used Moda Dea Washable Wool in come-off-on-yr-hands black, plus just a bit of grey Georga 100% Wool for the thumb stripes; I was going to make solid black mitts, but I was afraid she'd put them down somewhere and then not be sure they were hers. Now she'll know! And for Bernie's, at right, Moda Dea Washable Wool in coffee and a small amount of orange Cascade 220 Quatro (yes, Jenny, that Quatro!). To strike a balance between matching stripes and random stripes, I just flipped the MC and CC stripes on the second mitt. Fraternal twins in retro colours. (Véronik and I had a conversation recently about orange, brown, and the 1970s, which inspired this combo.)

Billy and I are staying in tonight to eat (I'm especially looking forward to the blue cheese with cranberries in it), drink some good wine, and watch Cleopatra on TV until we ring in the new year. Whatever your plans are, I wish you well. Bye bye, 2007, and thanks for everything! xo

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lady quilts the blues

After getting some much-needed advice from Carolyn, I got a walking foot for my machine, and in no time I'd quilted this bad boy. Now comes my favourite part: attaching the binding by hand. (I find that dollar-store bobby pins do an excellent job of keeping a quilt's binding in place for hand sewing.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Xmas leftovers

No, not turkey -- flannelette! This year, I made pillowcases for Christmas gifts, for my parents, aunts, and brother, all out of flannelette except for my brother's. (I followed Mariko's instructions to end up with lovely French seams, which was a first for me, and they turned out perfectly.) The pillowcases were a big hit. I didn't photograph them because, well, they were just big rectangles. I ended up with some leftover strips of flannelette, which I put to good use around the house:

The first two photos show my new draft snakes, instructions for which can be found in Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. The first one is in a living room window, and the snake stops what was a very cold draft and has the added feature of holding up Xmas cards. The second one is in my office, where there was also a cold draft coming in between the windows. These are just tubes of fabric filled with rice, and they really work!

The third photo shows Mooky's newest blanket, on a chair in Bill's office. Does it seem like I make Mooky a lot of blankets? That's because it's cuter to say they are blankies for the cat than to say they are protecting the furniture from the cat. I just sewed some strips of fabric together, and the other side is one solid piece; there's no batting between them. I sewed them together (wrong sides together) and zipped back and forth across the middle a couple of times to hold the two layers together, and then pinked the edges. (I love pink as a verb.) Easy peasy. Not only will it keep the cat hair off the chair, but now we won't have to turn on the light just to see if Mooky's sleeping on that black chair.

I had a nice Christmas day -- opening lots of prezzies, because I'm very lucky; talking on the phone to family; going to a matinee of Juno and then back home to stuff and roast a little chicken; eating like there was no tomorrow; slipping happily into a gravy-and-pie coma while watching The Sound of Music on TV. Perfect. Christmas is awesome.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Well, I wish I had something for you today, but I don't! Just wishes for a lovely Christmas eve and day. Me, I'm trying to finish my blue baby quilt so that it doesn't follow me, unfinished, into the new year. I'll be back to show you a few things soon, maybe Boxing Day. Till then, best wishes and big kisses.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In the black

I'm knitting mittens for a couple of friends, starting with a plain black pair out of Moda Dea Washable Wool. (Pattern from the trusty Complete Book of Knitting.) I was working away on the first mitten a few evenings ago when I discovered that my fingers were turning black! (I'm a little slow, so my first thought was, When did I read the newspaper? Pesky ink...)

In other winter news, Mooky hates the snow and is therefore bored out of his gourd. He continues to love his catnip taco, though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

But wait, there's more...

Reader (and local knitter/crocheter) Danica sent a note with a link to the site We Hate Sheep. We Love Holiday Sweaters. The site allows you to design your own Xmas-motif pullover, cardigan, or vest, and the instructions are pretty clear: "To begin, click 'Start knitting,' and watch as your sense of style slowly escapes your body." (To wit, the image at left is my creation. You don't think it's Too Much, do you?) You can also click on "Window shopping" to see holiday sweaters that others have created. Hours of fun! Thanks, Danica!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Net Granny

Another link from an international Brainylady correspondent! If you were planning to knit socks for Xmas gifts but find yourself too pressed for time, you could always choose a Swiss granny to knit them for you, at Net Granny. Just pick a granny, and then pick the size and colour of socks you want! (This photo shows Granny Brita -- I think I'd choose her just because of her awesome cat sweater.) There's even an option to have the granny pick the colour and surprise you. Thanks for the link, Jon!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cable Rib Socks

This is it: the sum of my Xmas knitting. Done! These are the Cable Rib Socks by Erica Alexander (spring 2005 IK / Favorite Socks), knit in Reynolds Soft Sea Wool in a nice rich grapey purple. They're a gift for somebody who loves purple. Reading comments by other knitters who have made these socks, I've seen that some are unhappy with the way the cables travel across one rib from the leg to the foot, but I find it interesting in its unexpectedness. Here's a closer look:

This doesn't mean I've finished my Christmas crafting -- I'm sewing most of my handmade gifts this year. Almost done those, too, though. I'll show you that project after the 25th.

We decorated our tree last night. I'll try to take a nice picture of it at night with its lights on, but here's a shot to show you our frozen front window:

(I don't have to say anything about yesterday's snow, do I?)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Knitted by Nanas

Because my friend Danny is the greatest, he has sent along a link to an Australian British Shreddies commercial that delights me to no end, and that will no doubt be the most delightful 40 seconds of your day as well. Click and enjoy! Thanks, Danny!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Finished and started

1. Finished: One adorable baby hat

I made this hat for a friend's brand-new baby girl. I love garter stitch for babies -- maybe because it is the most basic stitch pattern, the first one a knitter learns, so it seems appropriate for a baby's first garments. (Plus it's very stretchy, which is obviously a good thing.) This particular hat is knit flat in a zig zag -- before seaming, it looks like a section from the zig zag on Charlie Brown's sweater. Then you sew the points on one side together and sew up the two flat ends, and voilà! I added the pompom, but if Finley's parents find the pompom hazardous in any way, it can easily be snipped off.

The pattern is a free one from the bountiful resource that is DROPS Design: Hat, Scarf, and Mittens in Alpaca. I used a long-discontinued fingering-weight acrylic yarn that I bought recently at Value Village, called d'Aoust Perla. The hat would be lovely in alpaca, but there's no way I'm giving my (non-knitting) friends a handwash-only baby garment.

So I'll be sending this hat off to the West Coast. I wanted to be able to show you how cute the hat will be on a baby, but I don't have one of those. This is as close as I can get -- you get the idea:

2. Started: Cable Rib Socks

Hmmm -- you're going to get the impression that I like purple. Not true. Purple knits are gifts for others; in this case, the recipient has specifically requested purple socks. I'm using a pattern from the spring 2005 Interweave Knits: Cable Rib Socks. (I think the pattern also appears in Favorite Socks.) The yarn is Reynolds Soft Sea Wool, which may become my default sock yarn -- it's great stuff to knit, the colours are awesome (this purple is grape-ier in real life), and I can get it locally.

These are to be an Xmas gift, also to be mailed to the West Coast, so I've got to get them done soon. I decided against the Azure pattern because every row of its chart has increases and decreases, and I needed something speedier (because I will always be making my Xmas gifts at the last minute). With these Cable Rib Socks, it's all just k2p1 ribbing, with a cable twist every 10 rounds. Perfect.

I hope you're having a good weekend! I'm going to spend this afternoon sewing and the evening knitting, cranking out surprise Xmas presents like a one-woman sweatshop.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

No Sissies

Bill's mittens are done, and have you ever seen a manlier pair of mitts in your life? (It's tricky to joke in text-only communication, I know, but I do think gendered mittens are funny, and now I have Hawksley Workman in my head: "No sissies get your hands, no slackers get your hands, no weaklings for yooour hands...")

Pattern: Manly Mitts by Elizabeth Morrison
Size: M
Yarn: Georga 100% Wool (less than one 100g ball each, black and grey)
Needles: four 3.25mm DPNs

Bill loves them, they look great, they're thick and warm, and they didn't take long to knit. I'd recommend the pattern, especially for a first stranded project, since it uses a simple two-round repeat. I always like to see the inside of stranded things, don't you? Here's an extreme closeup:

I think I'll move on to a couple of plain gift mittens next, and then probably the Bird in Hand mittens for myself. I'm actually relieved that the new Knitty contains, for me, no absolutely must-knit items, since my queue is already filled to bursting. I have been looking around for a gift-sock pattern, though, and I despite having just said I don't like toe-up socks, I think I may knit the Azure Socks. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hello, winter!

Snow, snow, snow, knitting, snow, and snow, and then Bill models his one completed Manly Mitt. I really like it, and he does, too. I used four aluminum DPNs (3.25mm), and I held the CC (grey) in my left hand and the MC (black) in my right while knitting. Throw and pick, throw and pick, throw and pick. I redid the top decreases until I was happy with the pattern, and I tried to make a nice star at the top of the thumb, too.

And it's still snowing! I love it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Yesterday was beautiful, and I certainly did not stay home to keep warm. After all, it'll be 20 degrees colder than that in a couple of months! No, I put on my down-filled coat and super-Sorel boots, and I -- along with a bunch of other local knitters -- went yarn shopping. Ariadne Knits opened its doors yesterday! I was excited to see the new shop, and to buy yarn for Kate's Bird in Hand Mittens and Adrian's Norwegian Snail Mittens, but I was also very excited to pick up a yarn order I'd place on Ariadne's website earlier last week.

I'd gone out for a walk on Tuesday evening, you see, and while walking and listening to the latest S&B podcast, my ears had nearly frozen and dropped off my head. My fault; I was still in winter-denial and hadn't worn a hat. Last year, it didn't even snow until Boxing Day, but this year promises to be a whole other kettle of fish, and I'm determined to keep warm throughout. Anyway, when I got home from my walk (during which I'd been listening to Nicole and Jenny talk about cozy knit hats and scarves while my ears froze, which was cruelly and unusually apt), I went straight to my Beehive booklets. "What I need," I thought to myself, "is some winter headwear."

I was looking for a balance of style and practicality. Some patterns certainly look practical, but, well, let's say they'd be challenging to pull off. Consider, for example, the ribbed helmet on the right:

I'm sure it's very toasty, and you could even eat with it on! But since I wouldn't actually want to wear it in public, I kept looking. (Or maybe it's just the models' disembodied heads that are a turn-off?)

OK, getting closer, but I don't think the Eyelet Hood would cut it in the wind. Plus, as Bill pointed out, it looks like chain mail. For the knitter on her way to a winter Renaissance faire -- perfect! Not for me, though.

Yes! This is it. This is exactly what I'm looking for. I'll understand if the appeal isn't immediately obvious to you, and maybe the coldness of my ears affected my judgment, but I settled on the Head Snugs, and I ordered the yarn. I'm going to be knitting a snug (plus, it's called a snug -- how cute is that?) in Warani, a suri alpaca/extra-fine merino blend: chocolate for the main colour, and turquoise for the contrasting Fair Isle. As soon as I finish Bill's Manly Mitts (I'm halfway through the first one), I'm casting on for my snug.

Because of the sudden wintry-ness outside, I've revisited my knitting queue, moving lots of cold-weather accessories to the top. After Bill's mitts and my snug, I'm going to be all about stranded mittens. Stranded mittens are the new socks. And Head Snugs are the new toques. You heard it here first.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

But it's sunny!

(That's "feels like -8" in American.)