FO: Penguin Pillow

I mentioned a few times that I was working on a secret Christmas project. Now this is unusual for me, because I have basically sworn off Christmas knitting after the Great Dishcloth Debacle of 2010. I’ve had some serious self-discussions about knitworthiness, and I’ve decided that it’s largely not worth it to me.

However, I do love to knit for my husband. In fact, I like to think that a scarf I made him was a pivotal moment in our early relationship. However, he doesn’t really want me to knit him anything else to wear. He doesn’t wear hats (though I made him one anyway, and sometimes convince him to wear it when he shovels the driveway), and he has so many store-bought scarves that he’s received from others that he doesn’t need any of those. And he won’t wear any gloves or mittens I make. To top it off, I won’t even offer to make him a sweater (I won’t make myself one for fear of it not fitting the way I want – why would I put him through that?). So I was really between a rock and hard place – wanting to knit for him and having nothing practical that I could knit him.

Then I saw the Penguin Pillow. I actually saw it in the Knit Picks catalogue last year, and thought about making it, but decided against it. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. You see, the first Christmas we knew each other, he’d bought this penguin ornament. And since he didn’t have his own tree that year because he was abroad, it ended up on my tree. Add that to the fact that he genuinely likes penguins, and I decided I couldn’t resist any more. The Penguin Pillow must be made.

I decided to make it out of some sturdy, washable acrylic, since I know it will get used (and probably drooled on – we do have a baby). All of it, except the orange, is Bernat Satin. The orange is Vanna’s Choice (remember it from the Spider Yarn Wreath? The same skein of yarn did both projects!). I also purchased two small sheets of felt, a 14” pillow form, and took some stuffing my mom had in her stash and I was set.

My enthusiasm for the project quickly dissolved when I saw I had to make a very long 1×1 rib scarf. And then knit two large stockinette panels. And then seam them together. But I’d committed to the project, purchased the pattern and the supplies, and I must trudge on. The end result would be worth it.

Well, I procrastinated on this thing like you wouldn’t believe. I started in early September. I finished on December 20. It’s really not difficult; it was a mental game to get past the back and forth stockinette. I don’t mind stockinette in the round where you just knit and knit, but purling can really get a girl down. I don’t know why – it just does.

So anyway, I went about my penguin making and started to have some fun once I made it to the in the round part. Seaming was even kind of nice, as it turned out a lot neater looking than I expected.

I did make some mods:

  • I thought it was peculiar the designer did not have you make use of kitchener, as it saves you binding off and then seaming. So I did kitchener the top of the penguin and the bottom of each wing.
  • The specifications for the size of felt circles you need is clearly wrong. It tells you to cut out a larger size black circle than white circle (those would be some crazy eyes!). It’s also clear that even if you use the dimensions specified in the opposite color that it will still not look like the picture. I ended up cutting out paper circles with a circle cutter I have for scrapbooking and placing them on the penguin to get a feel for the correct size. Then I traced the best one onto the felt and cut it for the whites of the eyes. For the black, I pretty much freehanded a very small dot, and then cut around it a second time to get a match.
  • There are no instructions at all for how to put the feet on. In fact, the pattern does not even mention attaching the feet. I ended up using some orange yarn and whipstitching them to the bottom in some kind of crazy way until they seemed like they were attached well enough.

Overall, I expected a little more out of a paid pattern. Not that I couldn’t figure out things like the eyes and attaching the feet – it’s just I thought they were strange mistakes and omissions.

Regardless, I think it turned out very well. And Mr Snips was very pleased. It was a good Christmas surprise! Isn’t he the sweetest little penguin?!

Penguin Pillow

FO: Best of Both Worlds Stocking

The first year that Mr Snips and I were married, I felt it was important for us to have something special to commemorate our first Christmas that we could use year after year. And, when you’re a knitter, the first thing that comes to mind is to create something from your sticks and strings.

I settled on creating Christmas stockings, from a pattern I remembered seeing in my mom’s copy of Handknit Holidays (remember how I took it back? ;-)). Mr Snips asked for traditional red and green for his. I decided to veer a little on the unconventional side, slightly inspired by the photos in the book, and selected purple, green and grey. Mr Snips got the funkier slip stitch pattern version, and I went for the tamer stripes. I had never made anything in the round, and had to have my mom’s help to get going and to figure out the heel, but I was determined to make these lovely stockings. It was certainly worth learning a new skill to create them.

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew our little one would have to have his or her own stocking for Christmas. And when I found out we were having a little girl, I knew the perfect solution was to make the pattern of Mr Snips’ stocking, in the colors of mine. It would be the best of both worlds, just as I knew our little one would be the best of both of us. BK's Christmas Stocking

It truly made my heart sing to see three knitted stockings on our mantle this year. It really drove home the point that we are a now a proper little family and that we are starting our own traditions. My own little stocking that my mom embroidered for me when I was tiny still hangs in my bedroom each Christmas and is very dear to me. Every time I looked at BK’s stocking, I hoped she would hold the same fondness in her heart for it as I do mine, and that it will become a part of all of her holiday memories for her lifetime.

Our Stockings

Our stockings (l to r): mine, Mr Snips, and BK’s

Her stocking is made of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (green) and Rowan Lima (purple). I spent ages trying to decide on a perfect lining fabric. I had enough left from mine that I could have used it for hers, but I thought she should have a piece of it that was all her own. I wanted it to coordinate with the colors, but it is (perhaps not shockingly) next to impossible to find Christmas fabric with purple in it. I finally found some fabric that I loved on Etsy (Merry Christ-Moose – Taffy), that I thought was a little girly but not too much, and something fun but not too juvenile so that it will grow with her. BK's stocking linerWhen it came to ribbon, I decided to use the same ribbon that I had left over from mine, so she has something that’s just like mine. It’s hard to see, but it has silver sparkly snowflakes on it. BK's stocking liner and ribbonOverall, I am thrilled with the result. The completed object looks more involved than it really is, since it’s just a slip-stitch pattern. It practically fell off my needles, but a lot of that may be the enthusiasm I had for making something for her first Christmas. The sewing of the lining took me a few months to work up to, but I had it all put together by Thanksgiving. And the sewing wasn’t even that bad after I just decided to buckle down. 

This project helped make the season merry and bright. I hope you found some kind of little project to make the season merrier – I’d love to hear about it! If not, I recommend trying one of these stockings for next year!

Christmas Wrap-Up

Get it? Wrap up? Like wrapping paper. Because you get gifts on Christmas! Anyway…

Speaking of Christmas gifts, I got some yarn-y things!

I received a Tanis Fiber Arts Snowfling Mitt Kit in blue from my parents, which was on my Christmas list. It took me about three days to settle on what color combination I wanted, but I decided I couldn’t go wrong with some lovely shades of blue. I think I would have been happy with any of the colors though. I’ve been reading the TFA blog for a couple of years now and have been desperate to try some of her yarn, because I am obsessed with her eye for color and the beautiful colorways she creates. I decided this beautiful pattern and yarn would be the perfect introduction.
Christmas presents
I also received 60 Quick Knits from America’s Yarn Shops as a little surprise present from my parents. It will join my 60 Quick Knits and 60 Quick Baby Knits books that I already have and use, and I look forward to picking out a project from this new addition!

There were also two knitted items that I simply LOVED from the Christmas season, but deserve their own blog posts. Here’s a preview of…

BK’s Christmas stocking:
BK's Christmas Stocking

and a Christmas surprise Penguin Pillow for Mr Snips:
Penguin Pillow
More on these two projects later!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else. We certainly had a wonderful first Christmas with Baby Knitsnips and we are all very excited about the new year!

FO: Santa Baby

In my previous post, I mentioned my super love for Handknit Holidays. Way back in 2010(!), I made myself the adult size of the Santa Hat from that book. I had a really hard time with the bobble edging for some reason, and could not get it to fit on my head by following the instructions. I tried increasing the number of stitches when I joined the white. It looked a mess. I then tried doing the sk2p by leaving the two k2 on the needle instead of ending up with 1 st, which is what the instructions said. This made it just perfect.

So when I dug out my book to make Baby Knitsnips a tiny version of it, I revisited Ravelry and took note of my modifications to the women’s size.

And while it looked ok flat, it is a little big on BK’s head at the moment. Now, this could be a good thing because she may be able to wear it next year. Or it could be a bad thing, because she really dislikes her vision obscured by headwear, and she will never keep it on her head this winter. We’ll hope for the best. Maybe I should have followed the pattern. :-/baby Santa hatThis hat is made with Cascade 128 Superwash, which is another one of my favs. It is warm, cushy and soft. Aside from the one modification on the last row I mentioned above, I followed the pattern exactly.

Overall, I love it! I can’t wait to get some mummy/daughter photos soon. Unfortunately, we’ve already printed and sent our Christmas cards, so this won’t make the cut for that. But it will be a great photo op anyway!

Friday Favorite: My husband

Today, I am kicking off a regular feature I’m calling Friday Favorite. By regular, I mean it will happen more than once, though I can’t promise every single week. A Friday Favorite will be something that particularly made my week or something that I think makes life easier – whether that be in regards to knitting, babies, or life in general. 

My husband both made my week and makes my life wonderful every day, so he gets first honors with this feature.

Monday night, he casually mentioned that we should have a date night on Wednesday. I said that sounded like a great idea. He said my parents had already agreed to babysit Baby Knitsnips. He said he would pick a place to eat.

So Wednesday came, and we went out to a lovely dinner, and even splurged and had dessert. I got up to go the restroom, and when I returned, there was an envelope on the table that said “Merry Christmas.”

I opened it, and there were two tickets to the Justin Timberlake concert for that evening!! What a fantastic early Christmas surprise!

We ended up having a great time at the show. It was three hours long, which is about the longest concert ever. I can’t think of a single song JT didn’t sing. It was very good – well staged, lots of dancing, part of the stage that moved out into the audience so he was dancing over some of the audience, a cover of Heartbreak Hotel complete with Elvis hip moves. But perhaps my favorite part was when he and his two backup singers threw down some “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe. I do have a 90s music soft spot.

I don’t have any photos to share because my phone was completely full of pictures and videos of BK. I didn’t even have space left for one more photo or any app updates. Even though I’m downloading everything onto my computer for backup, it still feels wrong to be deleting pictures of my baby.

So, no pictures aside, we had a really lovely time. And probably the latest night out we’ve had since BK was born. It felt deliciously naughty to be out late on a school night. My husband also gets a lot of credit for planning a surprise and giving such a creative Christmas present. We’ve been together seven years and he still amazes me.

And that is why Mr Snips gets the honor of being my first Friday Favorite.

Moms are the best: featuring a Candy Cane Hat

Moms are the best. I think this is pretty much a universal fact.

You may remember that I mentioned here that I wanted to knit Baby Knitsnips a candy cane hat before Christmas, but that I was concerned I would not get it done since I was working on my secret Christmas project and eleventy thousand other things.

My need for this little baby candy cane hat did not dissipate. But time was rapidly flying by and nothing was getting accomplished. My mom has a pretty big stash of Cascade 220 at her house from an (hopefully temporarily) abandoned project and I thought about asking her for some red and white to make the hat with, since I didn’t have anything ideal for it in my stash.

And then I had a brain wave. Why not ask my mom to make the hat? She’s an excellent knitter, and when she gets excited about a project it pretty much flies off the needles.

Thursday evening, I brought over my copy of Handknit Holidays (funny side story: I bought this book as a Christmas gift for my mom before I was really a knitter. Once I started knitting a lot, I borrowed the book several times and made a ton of things. Enough that my mom gave it back to me. I feel kind of bad that I have her Christmas gift, but I do L-O-V-E this book. That’s why I bought it for her in the first place.). I mentioned to my mom that I thought she had the ideal yarn sitting in her house, and I really wanted BK to have it and I was never going to have time to do it… and would she want to knit it for her?

And, because moms are great (especially my mom), she said yes. Absolutely. She loves to knit for BK. She’d have it ready tomorrow.

I laughed.

But she meant it. In less than 24 hours from handing her the book, I had this:

Candy Cane Hat

Amazing, huh? Just like my mom.

She made the child size, since BK’s head is already larger than the circumference listed for an infant. I hope this means that she’ll also be able to wear it next year, and maybe beyond. Because this is seriously ADORABLE.

Between this hat and the Santa hat, I will be carrying either the world’s most adorable candy cane, or the world’s most adorable baby Santa all December. Can’t wait!

 

Whirlwind November

Wow – what happened to November?

I know. It was my house guests. They kept the house busy, happy and full. But that also meant very little knitting. 

The month started off with a visit from my dear friend Sarah, who came all the way from England to see me and Baby Knitsnips for just a long weekend. It was superbly wonderful to have her here, as I miss her a lot. There are a lot of things I love about living in America, but the thing I miss most about living in England is my weekly dinner and wine nights with Sarah. There is something so wonderful and therapeutic about some good girly time. And it just so happens she is also a knitter, so this trip involved a yarn store tour of Indiana. 🙂 I managed to resist buying any more — though I was so, so tempted! — but Sarah scored some pretty neat stuff. All in all, a great visit. 

Four days after Sarah left, my in-laws came for two weeks. It was so fun to see them interact with BK, since the last time they were here she was only 13 days old and not doing very much. She has gotten to be so much fun! It made me happy to see her light up while playing with her nana and grandad. We, of course, made the usual rounds while they were here – shopping and eating at some favorite places. We even had a bit of an early Christmas on the Friday after Thanksgiving so they could help us put up BK’s first Christmas tree and watch her open one of her presents from them. 

This means that now we are into December and the house is decorated and festive. We are having a last blast of warm weather in the 60s today before we plummet this afternoon and get a good dumping of snow. I don’t mind staying in, as BK has decided that December is the month of milestones. She has already pulled up to standing and started crawling in just the last few days. I understand now why everyone thinks they have a gifted child. They start off so little and helpless and you just watch them grow into this amazing little person with a personality and their own mobility and it seems it all happens overnight. It’s incredible!

So – where are we on the knitting front? Well, I finished a Santa hat for BK that matches one I made for myself a couple of years ago (this pattern). It is simply precious and I love it. She, however, does not. It gets yanked off her head within 30 seconds every time I put it on her. Sigh. I’m hoping that later this month she’ll leave it on long enough for us to get a sweet mummy/daughter picture. Right now, I do not have a decent picture of her with it on because a) it’s on for so short a time and b) she moves constantly and I can’t get a non-blurry photo. I will have to take time to take a picture of it flat somewhere. 

I also finished her baby mittens, but apparently did a horrible job weaving in the i-cord ends, as one of the mittens fell off within 15 minutes of me putting them on her. I have not yet fixed them, but better get on it before the snow falls! Once they have been repaired, I’ll work on a photo shoot for that, too. 

BK’s Christmas stocking is finally finished, too. The knitting part has been done for a long time, but I just put the liner in about three weeks ago. That also needs a photo shoot.

All my other projects are on hold until I finish up my secret Christmas project. It is A LOT of boring stockinette (that doesn’t give too much away). I just could not buckle down and do it until I realized it’s December and it will be Christmas in 20 days!!! Now I’ve panicked, and I think I can put my nose to the grindstone and finish it. 

I thought writing a blog entry would make me feel caught up, but it seems all it has done has made me feel guilty about all I haven’t finished! So… no pictures today. But soon. Hopefully. 

It may take a while, as I have plans to fully enjoy December – spending time with my baby, baking cookies, wrapping presents, and enjoying my family. So until next time, enjoy the holiday season!