Tag Archives: xmas

It Wouldn’t Be Xmas Without Yarn

First up, I got a lovely skein of Island Alpaca Company 90/5/5 alpaca/wool/Tencel blend yarn from my mother-in-law. Just under 200 yards of worsted weight yarn very generously donated to the knitting world by Comet and Jack, who live on Martha’s Vineyard.

Most of this year’s yarn came via gift certificate. As always, I spent it promptly on the 26th because they’re like leprechauns, you know, and if you lose sight of a gift certificate for one second it might never come back again.

I didn’t have any big projects in mind this year so I went in with my only plan being to buy every skein of sock yarn I thought looked nice until the money had been spent. Just to be on the safe side, I grabbed a new sock size circular needle, too. It would be a shame to have all that yarn and no way to knit it. (Plus which, I’d never meet my new goal.)

I bought 2 balls of Trekking XXL, 1 of 1003 (the pinks in the front) and 1 of  158 (the one in the back, which I’m thinking of as gumball machine colors); 1 skein of Mad Color Fiber Arts Classica in Betta Fish; 1 skein of Ivy Brambles Sockscene Fingering Weight in Elegant Black (which is most definitely purple); and 1 skein of Mad Color Swoon (merino! cashmere!! silk!!! swoon, indeed) in Coal.

And since it’s after Xmas and the urge to cast on everything in sight has hit hard, that lovely long needle has already been put to use on Daughter of the Regiment.

These are gonna be so much fun to make I just can’t even tell you. In fact, I think I hear them calling to me from the couch.

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.

Secrets Revealed! Part 1

Well, the day has passed, the gifts have been given and now secret knitting can be shown! Up first, the answer to this little mystery:

“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.”

Are you ready to know? Can you stand the wait any longer? Here it comes, people – it’s a scarf! More thoroughly, it’s an infinity scarf for my mother-in-law and I knit it flat and then seamed it into its final not-flat state because my attempt at a Möbius cast on was both frustrating and unsuccessful and I figured a little seam never hurt anybody.

Pattern: #24 Another Lacy Rib from Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr
Needles: 2.5 mm 40″ Knit Picks Harmony circular (which did not break – Xmas miracle, folks, for reals, and much appreciated after my first needle choice, a 2.75 mm KP Harmony circ, did snap when I was 300 stitches into a Möbius cast-on)
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in Cotton Candy, just over 1.5 balls
Size: Somewhere around 6″ * 40″ (I cast on and went for it, then went until I didn’t feel like going anymore, ’cause I live on the edge like that)
Started: 2nd week of December or thereabouts
Finished: December 24 (’cause I live on the edge like that, too)

I had a few false starts (and finishes) but no major problems. First, I had trouble getting my needles to behave and settling on the right cast on. I had just received my copy of Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor when I was starting this and so I searched it for just the right way to start. I was excited to try the Möbius cast on and after the first needle snapped, I think I got it right with the second needle. However, once I completed the first round of knitting and the stitches I had knit now looked like purls to me, I realized I had no idea how to get this stitch pattern right with that construction. The combination of fingering weight yarn, 2.5 mm needles, and the beginning of December having come and gone did not leave me with time to research and figure this out. Anyway, I liked the stitch pattern more than the idea of knitting this seamless, so I ripped it out and started over flat. Much easier, except I did have to try a few different cast ons before I got one that looked nice. In the end I used a plain old long-tail cast on, even though I bought this book specifically to break out of my long-tail-for-everything rut. Ah, well. I can learn new things another day.

The bind off was a little tricky, too. I didn’t want to block the lace too severely, but I did want a bind off with a little bit of stretch. I ended up going with a yarn-over bind off after trying a few others that should have had some stretch but actually pulled the fabric in. The yarn-over bind off left a ruffly edge, which I wasn’t thrilled with, but since I was going to seam this into a Möbius strip, I figured having one ruffly and one non-ruffly edge, each of them making a sort of figure-eight around the scarf, could work as one of those things we feel is a mistake but learn to see as a design feature.

In the end, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I just wish my arms were long enough for self portraits.

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!

Xmas Yarns!

Aside from the DiC Smooshy from husbandman, I have some other new lovely friends these days.

Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine

Funky Monkey! Handpaints

Ivy Brambles Sockscene and Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere 12-Ply

I think the Ultra Alpaca wants to be something out of Sock Innovation. The Funky Monkey and Ivy Brambles will probably be some simple top-down socks unless any serious pooling takes place. The cashmere will be a Luxe Neck Warmer.

Yes, cashmere. On my neck. Any day now.

Lovely Presents

It’s been a very lovely Xmas weekend so far.

There were presents from my husband:

  • One of my favorite movies
  • A box set of rarities/live recordings/etc. by my favoritest band
  • A copy of Artisan Bread1 in 5 Minutes a Day
  • A Knit Picker2
  • A Namaste Hermosa bag3
  • 2 skeins of DiC Smooshy in Green Lantern4 with a 3rd on the way.

There were presents from my in-laws, including:

  • A tackle box to keep my knitting notions in, along with some notions to fill it.
  • Canning jars, a boiling water canner, a book on canning, and repeated reminders that my mother-in-law loves bread and butter pickles.
  • A gift certificate to the yarn store, which opens at 10:30 today.

There were presents for my in-laws, including some more little sweaters:

Dan's take on the sweaters...

...and his father's.

The bread book is going to come in very handy now that I have the pantry share I bought as part of the CSA program we joined for the winter. Sort of a little present to us and our grocery budget. There is so much flour (and corn meal, popcorn, beans, jam, pickles, syrup…) in my cabinets right now.


But just about the most exciting thing going on right now is that I still have a week off to play with all my new toys.

After I get home from the yarn store.


[1] Not Brad! stop typing Brad, Randi!

[2] I’m-a learn that thing where you can install a zipper with one of these so I never have to learn to sew.

[3] !!!

[4] Remember the Wonder Woman Jumper? Yeah, I’m totally not that ambitious, but I’ve still had this vague notion of a Green Lantern Sweater in my head ever since.

My Itty Bitty Bit of Xmas Knitting

I finished the garland.


Then I decided to knit up some sweater ornaments for some people I’d be seeing over the holidays.

No, not these people. Real people.

Not her, either.

The ornaments are not from the AKB, but whatever, they’re terribly fun and only take an Inspector Lewis or so apiece.

I am now officially on vacation. I only need to leave the house 4 times before I go back to work in January, and I expect the AKB to be a bit emptier by then.

More to come.

The Allowable Knitting Basket

I’ve done a slight reorganization of the yarn baskets to aid in my  goal of clearing out all the unfinished things. (The general yarn storage system in my house is like this: there’s a set of Rubbermaid drawers for most of it, there are 2 baskets for more of it, there are various bags of it about the place; the baskets are the most accessible from the couch.) I have chosen one basket, named it the Allowable Knitting Basket, and put all in-process and next-on-the-queue stuff (and nothing else except needles & such) into it. The only Allowable Knitting not in this basket is the Life-Long Blanket, because it’s taking most of the space in 2 super market paper bags to handle that thing and all its attendant minis right now. If I reach into the AKB I am sure to find either something I am already partway through or something I plan to make in the next month or so, which means I won’t get distracted by something shiny and add another just barely started item to the pile.

If memory serves – and it should, as I just filled it a few hours ago – these are the contents of the AKB:

  1. The Unexpected Socks (I got some very generous partials in my latest Life-Long Blanket life support trade and decided that one of them, while it did make a lovely square, simply had to become socks for me, with contrasting heels, toes, and ribbing to make up the needed yardage)
  2. The only 2 things I’m knitting for Xmas presents
  3. Citron
  4. Francis Revisited
  5. Plain & Simple
  6. The Oceania Shawl
  7. The next Thor hat (in my size, to test my pattern-writing skills)
  8. The 2nd Stripey Bed Sock (I knit the 1st one last Xmas, so I suppose it would be fitting to knit the 2nd one this Xmas)
  9. Kristi
  10. The Kitchen Muriwai
  11. Xmas garland for the office
  12. The Fuck This Shrug Slipper Socks

The Unexpected Socks are making good purse knitting and the rest of the yarn for the garland has mysteriously disappeared (now, I admit there have been times over the years since this yarn came into my possession that I have wished it would disappear because it’s tough to find a use for 9 skeins of Caron Christmas Glitter Multi; but now that I have a use I really don’t want it running off on me), so I think I have a date with Kristi tonight.

In other news: PURPLE PEA COAT HAS ARRIVED!!!


Backstory here and here. Knotty But Nice, The Widening Garter, and the 36-stitch mittens have now found their true purpose in life.

And now, I must leave you. There is roasted delicata squash to scoop and freeze, cranberry nut bread to cool, and apple butter to mush and strain (because also in other news: FARM SHARES ARE THE BEST), French bread heading into the oven soon, spaghetti for dinner, and the difficult choice between Inspectors Lewis and Frost. Life is good.

I Spent My Xmas Money & It Was Awesome

My in-laws went a little wild with the Xmas check this year, so I went a little wild with my half.

This is what my work looks like when it's all cut out for me.

I thought about buying a spinning wheel, but in the end that felt like making a commitment that spinning would be my main hobby for the next several months, and I’m not quite there yet. On the other hand, I have wanted to set a goal of knitting a sweater every two months next year, and that right there is 6 sweaters’ worth of yarn, and then some.  Moving mostly leftish to rightish through those stacks, we have:

  • Cascade Eco+ (green) for the Drops 103 jacket.
  • Cascade Eco (gray) for owls by Kate Davies.
  • Berroco Pure Merino DK for a hat for Dan.
  • Addi Lace 1.75 mm 60″ circ. I’ve been wanting to try needles smaller than 2 mm for thinner sock yarns like Berroco Sox and Trekking XXL but I bend the wood or bamboo ones too much to make the investment worth it. I haven’t knit with any metal since I first started knitting due to ongoing wrist and shoulder issues that made it too uncomfortable. I’m hoping these are thin and light enough that I can work with them.
  • Rowan Felted Tweed for Bonny.
  • Harrisville Designs New England Shetland for Plain and Simple Pullover.
  • Berroco Peruvia Quick in Brown, Black and White for Winding Path.
  • Berroco Seduce for Apocalypta.
  • And my all-time favorite sock yarn, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Select Semisolids in Azure.

This entire purchase was greatly helped by the fact that my sort-of local place has a frequent buyer stampy card discount coupon system, which cut a big chunk out of the cost for this lot. I even had a bit left over to pick up some canning jars for my next dyeing project and a top-whorl spindle on Etsy to start spinning lace weight with!

Dan had big plans for his half of the check as well, and we had a restaurant gift card to dispose of, so we headed out early this morning for what turned into about a 7-hour trip: bank, breakfast, yarn store, comic book store, Game Stop, other comic book store, finally home to pile everything up on the floor and stare at it slack-jawed and giddy with exhaustion. I hit the yarn store prepared, with all the yarn I needed for everything I want to knit in a spreadsheet. It seemed like they hadn’t completely restocked after the Xmas rush, so some adjustments needed to be made to the list, and I had to mix a few dye lots (though I ended up mixing accidentally on the Felted Tweed; hoping that can be worked out with a quick call in the morning), but I managed to get most of my biggest wants checked off the list. Even being prepared, it still takes a LONG time to pick out all that yarn, but seeing as the biggest splurge we ever allow ourselves at one time is maybe $50 if we’re doing really well that month, it felt really strange and fun to have some stress-free cash to blow. And now I can start saving up for NH Sheep & Wool in May, since I can’t see why I would have to buy any yarn between now and then.

Merry Xmas to all, and I am heading back to my big-ass loungey pillow to pet my yarn some more.