Christmas in July

Last year, I really kicked around the idea of doing some kind of Christmas project that my daughter would have forever.

I have had the idea on my mind since I saw the Yarn Harlot’s advent tree that she did back in 2014. I loved it, but I wasn’t a confident sewer, and I had a one-year-old at the time, and it just seemed a little out of reach for what I could accomplish at the time. Also, I already had an advent calendar with a scene of Santa and Mrs. Claus that had a tiny mouse that you moved from pocket to pocket. It was given to me by my Granny, so it’s very special to me, and I had passed it down to BK. I thought she was covered for an advent calendar, because I want her to have fond memories of that one, too, and it was a wonderful thing we could share.

So I started looking for alternatives. Last year, the 12 Days of Christmas Mitten Garland KAL caught my eye. It was appealing because it only involved 12 things, not 24, and also you had two weeks to complete each small mitten, which seemed very reasonable. It was also very beautiful. But I ultimately decided not to make it, because even though it was lovely, I struggled with where it would go in amongst my Christmas decorations. I also explored the Mitten Garland Advent Calendar by the same designer, which is also lovely. I also considered a garland of little stockings, but didn’t want to commit to finding treats to put in each one of them, since BK usually already has a store-bought calendar with chocolates in it.

Eventually, this year, I got back around to the idea of the Yarn Harlot’s tree. And I figured if I’ve been thinking about it for 3 years, that’s probably what I really want to make. And that BK probably had enough room in her life for two advent calendars, since last year she had three (the mouse one I gave her, a chocolate one, and one with mini Thomas trains in it).  I started digging around for ideas on what to put on the tree, and made a rough list of what I would like to include. I’m still finalizing exactly which 24 things will be on it. BK and I have a had a few conversations over what to add and what to remove, and the list is very fluid at the moment. I’ve started on a few, and since I still have 4 months, I’m sure I can get it done for this Christmas (famous last words, right?).

tiny ornament for advent calendar

Above, you’ll see one of the finished items. It’s a tiny Christmas ornament, made from this pattern in one of my favorite books, Handknit Holidays. I’ve made the full-size version several times (I got a little excited about this pattern when I first learned to knit in the round), and all I did for this one was start just as the patten calls for, but didn’t increase the full number of times. When I finished it, I then picked up three stitches on the top in the gray yarn and made a tiny i-cord for the top of the ornament. The main part of the ornament is Tiny Toes by BaH Yarns. I’m not sure they make this color way any more, because I bought it when they first started. Heather is a good friend, and I love everything she and Brenda make. I originally purchased this yarn with the intention of making BK socks, but since she hates all socks (handmade and store-bought) and prefers to be barefoot, it seemed like a waste of good yarn. So she’ll still have something made out of this beautiful yarn, and it doesn’t have to be on her feet. 🙂

Wish me luck on getting all this done before December! And I’ll keep you posted on which 24 ideas make the final cut.

P.S. – Happy Birthday, Harry Potter.

FO: Reindeer wish you a happy new year!

I LOVE reindeer. Just love them. They are the main theme of my holiday decor, to be honest. I think it stems from my obsession with the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie. It is tied for my favorite Christmas movie (original Miracle on 34th Street is the other). And nothing says Christmas quite like Santa’s support staff. 🙂

So even though I had a couple of projects on the needles that I planned to take to England when we went in mid-December (a Playful Stripes cardigan and Adrift fingerless mitts), my plans changed rapidly the day before we left when Ravelry displayed Donder and Blitzen in my pattern highlights. Reindeer, hearts, colorwork – I was already on board. I knew immediately that I had just what I wanted in my stash already, and it happened to be very similar to an already completed project. I had grey left over from my somewhat ill-fated Wildflower cardigan in Cascade Venezia, and some pink that I had been hoarding dyed by my good friend Mary Ann from A Good Yarn a few years ago.

I cast on in JFK airport during our layover, and powered through the ribbing. Then I attempted (and failed miserably) to sleep on the plane. Once I hit the colorwork at my in-laws house, I thought I was going so fast, I should have packed a few other projects. That progress slowed down significantly during the week, as we had activities of some sort nearly all day. So on the plane ride home, I didn’t watch any movies and just buckled down on this sucker. I wanted it done before Christmas, and we were flying on December 21. And I finished it! Boom!

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Then we got home, and it was nearly tropical. I didn’t even get to wear it before Christmas. 😦

But I’ve worn it once since then. Even though I would normally celebrate this strangely warm weather, having a lovely finished hat I can’t wear is making me a bit irritated. I guess you can’t have it all!

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These are unblocked shots, because honestly, if I wait to block it before taking pictures, the pictures will never get done! So here it is. I LOVE IT.

I love it so much I’ve started another one for BK. Though I’ve made so many foolish errors on the colorwork it’s unbelievable, so progress has been slow. I would like to blame it on the few mods I’ve made to the chart to make the hat more shallow for her little head, but that’s not been the real issue. I just need to focus! Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with a wee coordinating one!

And happy new year! Wishing everyone a fantastic 2016, filled with joy and fun!

 

Merry Christmas Eve!

It’s Christmas Eve! I’m getting so excited about what tomorrow with BK will be like. She really understands it this year (unlike last year when she was so small), and I think she’s going to have a great time.

Until then, Mummy is taking advantage of BK’s nap time to have her own fun. The Christmas tree is twinkling, I found John Mayer’s Where The Light Is on TV (silly, because I also have it on DVD and could watch it any time!), I’m working on a hat I’m really really excited about (Tantramar Toque from TFA’s Year in Colour Club) and I have Christmas cookies in my tummy.

Tantramar Toque in progress by the tree

As you can see, Santa is also hard at work in his workshop in BK’s North Pole Cottage. Last minute work, you know!

I’ve also finished my Christmas knitting project, and it is wrapped and ready to go, which is also something to feel great about! I can’t wait to share it with you soon. I’m hoping this horrible grey rainy weather will go away soon and I will be able to take photos of lots of my FOs in some lovely natural light.

So for now, I’m excited about our family gatherings. I hope you all get to share the holidays with family, friends, and good food. Merry Christmas!

Back to reality: Bye bye Disney World

Mr Snips, BK and I just returned from our first real family vacation just the three of us. We spent a couple of days at Disney, and I have to say it was magical. I was so sad to come home. And not just because we were going from 80 degrees, sunny and spectacular to sub-freezing, snow flurry conditions, but because we had a really lovely time. So nice, in fact, that I’ve already started daydreaming about what our next trip will be.Cinderella's castle in Magic KingdomAnd since we’ve arrived home and the snow has started in on us (which feels very early for Indiana, but the weatherman assures me we are nowhere near reaching record lows or snowfalls), the knitting has commenced in earnest.

I finished my Roseberry sweater last night (can’t wait to get some FO shots for you!), and I started a hat that is part of my very limited Christmas knitting while we were on holiday. Since we’ve gotten home, I’ve dithered on what to do next with the hat (Ahoy Princess Beret), because my initial plan was to make the worsted weight intricate cables version. But after I finished the ribbing and realized I had an opportunity to do a modification for an extra slouchy version, I’ve wavered. I think I only have enough yarn to do the regular version of the intricate cables, and I could MAYBE squeeze a slouchy less-intricate cables version out of my yarn – but I JUST DON’T KNOW. And it’s for a 21-year-old college student, and I don’t know what kids these days like (this makes me feel FAR older than my actual years – when did this happen?). I have 200 yards of MadTosh Vintage, and the pattern calls for 210 with non-slouchiness, but I’m feeling dangerous. Some research on FOs on Ravelry hasn’t helped make up my mind. Suggestions welcome!

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

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!

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!