Tag Archives: gifts

Grownup Bonnet

Even in the midst of the horrid awful moving month, I managed to finish a thing!

IMG_0337

Pattern: Grownup Bonnet by Mel Clark from Knit 2 Together
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Vermillion 24
Needles: 5.5 mm and 6 mm as called for in the pattern…hrmm…you used one for the scarf and one for the hood and I don’t know which anymore
Started: November 24, 2012
Finished: June 23, 2013

This actually knit up very quickly but the scarf as written was a bit short for the recipient’s liking. Lengthening it involved a lot of me making stupid decisions and so took much longer than it should have. But anyway, it’s done now. I think it’s quite lovely. And my friend is quite lovely for modeling a heavy wool scarf and hood outside in July and for doing it with style.

IMG_0343

And I Take My Own Sweet Time

So, I told you about being this close to finishing up a secret project.

And before that I gave you a little glimpse of the secret project because I had been working on it for so long and couldn’t keep it all inside anymore.

And before that I don’t know if I wrote about it here but I’ve been working on this secret project for about a year, ever since I found out my friend Erin was looking for a house.

So, let’s go back a year. Erin started looking for a house and I, being someone who greatly appreciates Erin’s existence, felt that she deserved something to make her warm and comfy in her house (not that she couldn’t handle the sort of thing herself, but you know). Little Knits came through for me big-time with their sale prices and soon I had a nice little pile of 4 colors of Elsebeth Lavold Bambouclé to play around with.

And play around I did. It took me at least a month to settle on a pattern. My first thought was something with dropped stitches but I couldn’t make that quite work and it seemed like the finished blanket would be tiny even if I used up every last yard I had. Then I thought a log cabin pattern would be fun but I ended up abandoning 2 different patterns because, again, the finished piece would have been too small. At that point I figured I just hadn’t bought enough yarn and I would have to go back to Little Knits (this would not have been a tragedy). I didn’t have the cash just yet, though, so I started again with the log cabin idea but threw aside all the patterns I’d been looking at and just went for it myself. I figured I should at least find a way to pass the time until I could get more yarn and the log cabin construction, with its separate blocks of color and my design goal of not letting any color touch itself, would make it less obvious if I ended up needed more yarn and mixing dye lots.

I started with a map in Excel to make sure I changed colors properly. This meant knitting only in front of my PC, which made getting started on this blanket very slow going indeed. But, I figured I had plenty of time since house hunting takes a while and Erin and I work together so getting the finished blanket to her would not be tricky.

I cast on as many stitches as I felt like, measured the width after I’d knit a few rows, and knit until I had a square. It was a 4″ square so I decided to make each remaining strip of color 2 inches deep. Pretty soon I was kind of shocked by how big it was getting when it didn’t seem like I was running out of yarn at all. I knew it would be big enough but then I decided to add a border, so I needed more yarn anyway. (And it’s really awesome how Little Knits keeps things on sale for one long-ass time, because it had been maybe 8 or 9 months at this point and I was able to get the same sweet deal on the Bambouclé. I kinda sorta totally love Little Knits, is my point.)

Anyway. The knitting started to speed up naturally once I got my MacBook and I had access to my color scheme from the couch. Then I had no choice but to speed it up even more about a month ago, for a few reasons.

First, Erin had found a house and was moving in, so now there was a definite point in time by which I needed to finish the blanket.

Then I got laid off, so now there was a definite definite point in time by which I needed to finish the blanket because it gets harder to give your coworker a gift when you don’t work together anymore.

And so, a slight digression, if you don’t mind, if only to ward off any layoff sympathy, which I certainly understand the tendency to feel in today’s wintry economic climate. This layoff was no surprise and, in fact, I completely welcomed the announcement. We’ve known since late last year that something like this might happen, so I’ve taken the time since as an opportunity to think about what I might actually like to do as a career. I ended up at my current job because I needed a job, not because it was the kind of job I really wanted, and trying to move on and do something else just hasn’t been a financial possibility. But for a variety of reasons, I have a little wiggle room financially right now. Not a lot, but enough that I wouldn’t have to worry for a few months if I just didn’t have a job at all. So, rather than jumping right in to another full-time, not-what-I-love-to-do office job, I’m starting culinary arts school full-time in a few weeks (!!!!!!!!!) and Dan and I are looking at how to reorganize the rest of our lives around that. First up is finding a part-time job, then looking for a cheaper apartment when our lease is up later this summer. More details as I have them.

Back to the blanket. When I reached the point where I didn’t think I could get another strip out of any 1 color, I stopped. I didn’t plan it this way, but it worked out perfectly so that the last round had 1 section of each color. For the border I went with the Muriwai treatment: as much garter stitch in the round as I could stand and then a picot bind off. I used the Picot 1 bind off from Cast On Bind Off and it took me an entire day – not an entire knitting day, which is usually, like, 2-3 hours depending on my schedule, but an entire day spent knitting – to bind off and I couldn’t believe how long it took even though it actually makes total sense when you think about how a picot bind off works and I reminded myself that this was for Erin and it’s worth it to do difficult or time-consuming things for people you like and who will appreciate the effort (Erin’s a knitter too) and then finally it was off the needles and it was so beautiful and I’d managed to line it up so that there was one lovely little picot right on each corner stitch and I regret nothing.

And so, this has been an awful lot of words, I know, and not a single picture. Let me remedy that with a single picture.

IMG_0077

A single picture is all I have because it has been so gray and rainy lately that I couldn’t do the 8,000-picture photo shoot I wanted to. I had dreams of this blanket draped over stone walls and closeups of it folded so you could see all the colors hitting each other at 90 degree angles and some really detailed pictures of the picots on the corner stitches, but alas it was not to be. In the end, though, I think this is the perfect picture to immortalize this blanket with because it has all the important elements – the blanket and Erin. And she likes it! (Also, it was taken at the office so it captures that whole coworker element nicely too.)

Pattern: For the log cabin section I just went with what I knew of log cabin construction: pick up stitches along 1 side, knit until you’re done, bind off, turn the whole thing 90 degrees, repeat. For the border I used the idea from Muriwai with the Picot 1 instructions from Cast On Bind Off.
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Bambouclé, just about 2.5 skeins of colors 33 (light blue), 10 (green), and 67 (yellow), very close to 3 skeins of 25 (dark blue), and just under 8.5 skeins of 31 (brown) for the border
Needles: 5 mm circular
Started: June 2, 2012 (counting from the very beginning of the false starts; not sure when I started the design I ended up with)
Finished: May 9, 2013
Casualties: 1 Knit Picks Harmony tip and 1 Knit Picks interchangeable cord. Shocking, I know.

Well, that just about brings us up to date, I think. I haven’t been posting much lately because of all the life changes and planning and such but that’s all starting to sort itself out. Things should be calmer in a few weeks. Now that I’m done with the blanket I can get back to some knitting for myself. I also have some fun knitting planned for others, knitting which should go much faster and show up much sooner on the blog than this blanket could, as well as some fun personal stuff that I’ll share with you soon. Oh! and gardening stuff! Yes, people, watch this space. Exciting times ahead.

Secrets Revealed! Part 3

This is the last of the secrets from this post I can reveal. Not only is the last project not finished but it wasn’t an Xmas present and the recipient does not know it exists, so that still has to wait for someday to come along.

But this one I can show you.

“I am making [something to keep a third someone warm] out of Vanna’s Choice held double and Berroco Peruvia Quick. Thick needles, thick yarn, easy pattern. Not sure how I’ll wash and block this, since I’m mixing wool and acrylic, but I will figure something out. It’s possible I’ve said too much about this one as a piece of it has already appeared on the blog (though I won’t say when).”

This item’s first appearance was just a few posts ago, when I showed you my teeny tiny needles and my way big huge needles all cuddled up like.

I even told you what it was – a Lacy Chunky Throw. Now I can tell you that it was for Dan’s grandmother and that a quick once-over with the iron set to steam was enough to even out the stitches a bit. This is an awfully stretchy pattern and fairly heavy yarn, so I expect over time it will stretch and relax itself out better than blocking would anyway.

Here it is catching some rare December daylight before being wrapped up and sent to its new home:

Pattern: Lacy Chunky Throw by Wenlan Chia
Needles: 15 mm
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice in Olive (I think, but it’s been years and all the ball bands are long gone) and Berroco Peruvia Quick in color 9152
Size: 39″*36″ or so when flat. Given the amount of stretch in this pattern, depending on which side you pick it up by the measurements can change drastically.
Started: October 28, 2012
Messed Up: Repeatedly. At one point I realized I’d added over 20 stitches to the lace section, turning it into more of a branching lace section, and had to start the whole thing over. Which was very sad making as I was about 2/3 done (or so I thought) at the time.
Finished: December 24, 2012

And that is all the Xmas for others that I have to share with you. Tomorrow: Xmas for ME shall be revealed!

Secrets Revealed! Part 2

It is time to unveil the second secret project! Here was all I could say about it last week:

“I am making [something practical] for [someone else] out of Knit Picks Swish Bulky in Fedora and Douglas Fir. I’m knitting to a tight gauge on 4 mm needles using a pattern of my own design which I’ve knit several times before and which I think I almost have perfected. I’m kind of tearing through this one and expect it to be done tonight or tomorrow. I need to go through the button jar to find 2 suitable matching buttons, then make a decision on how exactly to knit the last pieces (since I’m working with 2 colors, I don’t think my usual approach will work for this one). There will be a lot of ends to weave in when I am done.”

And here’s the finished gift – convertible mittens for my father-in-law.

Pattern: My own with a few slight changes. I have made these before as flip-tops for myself and as fingerless gloves for Dan and my sister’s boyfriend, so I have all the basics down at this point. But I am having a lot of fun with Cast On Bind Off so I tried some new techniques out on this pair. I used the Italian Tubular Cast On for the cuffs, the Double-Twist Loop Cast On for the ribbing on the mitteny bit, and the Elastic Bind Off for the fingers. I would say each was a smashing success.
Needles: 3.75 mm dpn’s for the tubular cast on, 4 mm for everything else
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Bulky, just over half a skein of Fedora and distressingly close to 1 skein (I had 10 yds left) of Douglas Fir
Size: Ridiculously big if you ask me, but they fit perfectly. How do people get around in the world with such large hands? I was shocked every time I asked Dan to try them on and they actually had to stretch a little to fit him.
Started: Mid-December
Finished: Xmas morning. Ahem.

I thought these would be a practical gift because my father-in-law is the sort who does things in the out-of-doors which may require both warm hands and accessible fingers. The tight gauge makes these lovelies nice and warm, the heavy yarn means the mitten flap mostly stays out of your way when it’s open, the dark colors mean they can get a little dirty without it showing too much and best of all, since mittens always do get dirty, they’re machine washable.

You can ignore everything I said last week about buttons and modifying the last pieces, though. In the end, I had no good buttons and no good matching yarn to make button loops, so those mitten tops are on their own but I’m sure they’ll be fine. I also wasn’t quite sure how much of the green would be left and I pictured possibly just doing the ribbing on the mitten tops in the brown, which would have required a change in flap construction. Once I could see the tops would need to be mostly brown because the green was running a little low, I chose to go with how I’ve made them in the past. I picked up stitches along the back of the hand and cast on new stitches for the ribbing, then knit in the round and kitchenered the top. I changed colors at the center of the back of the hand so any gap where the switch was made would still have a layer of wool under it.

Now there’s just one secret left to reveal, which I shall save for tomorrow. I also got some presents of my own I’d like to share with you. For now, I think it’s off to the couch for a bit of TV and Life-Long Blanket knitting.

Very Few Details & No Pictures

It’s that time of year again. A tough time for knitting bloggers in the grayer corners of the world because when/how is one supposed to take a decent picture, exactly? And it’s a tough time of year for the gift-knitting blogger because if I tell too much here before the 25th some Xmas surprises may be ruined. Finally, it’s a tough time of year for the knitting blogger who likes to post regularly because not being able to take decent pictures or share too many details leads to itchy fingers and bottled-up thoughts. Well, I, for one, am tired of it. So, I will tell you what I can and hope you forgive the many redactions. Maybe we could make a game out of it, see if I’ve given enough clues below that you can guess what each item is? Or maybe not. I’ll leave that up to you.

I am making [something that adorns some part of the upper body] for [someone] out of Knit Picks Palette in Cotton Candy on 2.5 mm needles. I’m using a stitch pattern from Reversible Knitting that’s working up quickly despite the tiny yarn/tiny needles combo. The pattern was easy to memorize and the knitting is very easy to read so I’ve been able to set aside the book and use this as my portable knitting. I am knitting it flat but it will not be flat when it is finished and there is a reason I have chosen to do it that way. I am very much looking forward to blocking and finishing this.

I am making [something practical] for [someone else] out of Knit Picks Swish Bulky in Fedora and Douglas Fir. I’m knitting to a tight gauge on 4 mm needles using a pattern of my own design which I’ve knit several times before and which I think I almost have perfected. I’m kind of tearing through this one and expect it to be done tonight or tomorrow. I need to go through the button jar to find 2 suitable matching buttons, then make a decision on how exactly to knit the last pieces (since I’m working with 2 colors, I don’t think my usual approach will work for this one). There will be a lot of ends to weave in when I am done.

I am making [something to keep a third someone warm] out of Vanna’s Choice held double and Berroco Peruvia Quick. Thick needles, thick yarn, easy pattern. Not sure how I’ll wash and block this, since I’m mixing wool and acrylic, but I will figure something out. It’s possible I’ve said too much about this one as a piece of it has already appeared on the blog (though I won’t say when).

In non-Xmas secret knitting, I am making [a home accessory] for [yet another person I know]. This one has a kind of tricky plan that, for reasons which I have, means I can only knit it in front of my computer. I’ve been plugging away at it for a few months and expect it will be a few months more before it’s done. It’s turning out just like I hoped, though, which keeps me plugging away. I’m using Elsebeth Lavold Bambouclé. This yarn combined with super-pointy Knit Picks Harmony needles isn’t ideal (splitty!) but as long as I pay a little more attention than I normally would when all I’m knitting is garter stitch we’re getting along just fine. I am not looking forward to weaving in these ends, though. I suspect they will have a tendency to undo themselves and the construction on this one makes ends a big part of the project.

That’s all I can tell you for now, folks. I hope I finish some of this up quickly so I can pull out some non-secret stuff and give you proper updates soon. Until then, I hope you understand the need for secrecy and I wish you all the best of luck if you’re in the same boat. Someday soon we will be able to show our knitting to the world again!