The Gift of Gift Knitting

It’s really no fun to read about how crummy someone’s vacation was so we won’t dwell on it.  I’ve only just recovered, psychologically, this week.  Farewell, 2013!  Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out!

The BEST part of winter break, for me, this year was seeing how genuinely happy my husband and children were upon opening their handknit gifts.  Does that sound too cute and saccharine?  It’s true.  There were big Os of surprise, there were smiles, thanks, hugs, and kisses from four through thirty-six.  GO ME!

boot socks

(It does help that I have made it clear that the best way to get on the handknit list is to appreciate the things I make, sincerely and loudly.  This elf is making her own kind of list and checking it twice.)

For the past few years — in my efforts to enjoy the winter holiday season rather than just survive it — I’ve stepped way back from trying to make something for EVERYONE (that’s 11+ people).  It seems like a good idea in the planning stage (I looooove the planning stage), but the execution of the plan goes on too long for my available knitting time.  There’s the amount of knitting time I actually have and what I wish I had or sometimes just think I have.

Full disclosure: I was on the crazy holiday knitting train at times this season.  And then I got off.  Got on. Off.

red scarf

I try to have a pair of socks on the needle for one of the four of us at all times.  So when Z’s latest pair came off the needles in mid-November, I decided it was serendipity and tossed it in the gift knits basket.  Then I saw, in that basket, a lovely, drapey, moss stitch scarf in heathered burgundy Paton’s Classic Wool.  Guess who likes burgundy?  Not me.  But Matt does.  (Like me, his favorite color is green, so this really wasn’t obvious to me or him while I was knitting this scarf, off and on, for a couple, um, years.)

purple mittens

That only left my four-year-old, who could use a handknit pair of mittens.  Something to balance out all the pink and leopard print.  I finished on Christmas Eve, after tucking my puking children and husband into bed.

She, by the way, wins at appreciating my work.  She reminds me almost daily how much she loves her mittens. Aw! Her savvy father, in between appreciations, has already put in his request for a Purl Soho Shawl Collar Cowl.

I wish I had better pictures to share, but here I am, working at home, and my family and all their handknits are out of the house.  The dark purple of those mittens is especially difficult to capture at this gloomy time of year, while attached to a four-year-old.  More information and photos are available on their Ravelry project pages, linked above.  An account on Ravelry is required to view.

How did your handknit holidays go?

Proof that Dr. G’s Memory Vest Makes People Happy

Mission accomplished!

Being a goal-oriented person, I am pleased to have not only finished my husband’s Dr G’s Memory Vest (pattern by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops), but also to have accomplished my goal of knitting a sweater for each person in my immediate family this season.

Except myself.  I am not neglecting myself.  I do not buy into the Martyr Mother role!  And winter is not over yet.  I will cast on for my new sweater any day now.  I just have to make a decision on which pattern…  Isn’t sifting Ravelry for a pattern the best part anyway?

Back to the vest.  On a friend’s suggestion, I went with Aslan Trends Del Cerro yarn.  It was one of those yarns that seemed like it would work, but so did not – at first.  I wanted to make a medium, which would have given Matt some negative ease in the fit, but after casting on and knitting for a few inches, it was clear that it was coming out way too small.  So I threw my naughty knitting into the corner for a few days ripped it out and knit the vest in the extra-large size.

 

Well hallelujah and all that jazz because it ended being a great fit!  It’s approximately 43” around the chest, which is about what size the medium was supposed to be.  I’d like to claim awesome knitting ninja powers, but I suspect I just got lucky.  The false start made for a good gauge swatch as well.  The one tricky spot was the v-neck; I had to rewrite the decreases because of the difference in my row gauge.  Row gauge didn’t give me a problem in the other parts of the sweater.

Don’t get me wrong about the Del Cerro, either.  It’s a great yarn.  It is comprised of many small plies and it is very bouncy and squishy.  It was just a bit splitty in the knitting up, but not so much that I am put off using it in the future.  The important feature of this yarn: It has GREAT stitch definition for all those cables.  I hope down the road that it doesn’t fuzz over so much that the cables become blurred, but if it does, oh well – there are more vests to be knit and there is a life-cycle to all these knitted goods.

Coincidentally, Matt’s first opportunity to wear this was on his birthday last week.  We had to go out and get a new white button down and everything.

 

Donut Mondae at Zingerman’s Roadhouse ~ what more could a person ask for?!

Dah-ling, you look mah-velous!  Happy Birthday!

Mental Note: Remember this Forever

This morning my almost-three-year-old daughter climbed into our bed, vaulting herself into that much coveted nook between mom and dad.  As she snuggled in deeper, she beamed at both of us and said: “You guys are my BEST FRIENDS … ever!”

Goooooood morning!

What a nice way to wake up in the morning!

If you’re here for the knitting, rest assured I have good news.  Spiral Yoke is DONE, has been donned and found worthy, and took a trip to the spa.  After a lavender-scented bubble bath, she is now resting (and drying) on the dining room table.  Photos to follow.

Love Is a Pair of Hand Knit Socks

Charlotte had a great idea for what to do about adding elastic.  From the comments yesterday:

What if you picked up the brim edge stitches (or even stitches on the inside of the brim), then knit a short inside brim, which you then three-needle-bound-off into the brim on the inside. This would form a tube for elastic, which you could then hide.

I’m totally going to do that.  Thanks, Charlotte!

The parade of finished objects continues…

Next up: kid socks!

I made these for my darling anklebiters in a 10/11 and a 5/6 (toddler sizes).  I am gratified that my kids love to wear their hand knit socks and will reach for them first in the drawer (when they’re there).  Too bad for them that they grow so quickly because they generally only get one new pair a year.  E is lucky that she inherits Z’s hand knits; Z is lucky he doesn’t grow so fast anymore, thus his hand knit socks can be worn for longer than 6 months.

These were knit in either Opal or Fortissima Colori Socka. Using leftovers, y’know?  Pattern is just my usual formula – guess or measure the girth of the foot and ankle, multiply by the gauge, round to the nearest number divisible by four and cast on!  I made E’s socks first only because they were a gross miscalculation for Z’s pair.  This is another frustrating theme in my past attempts to make my son socks.  I always make them too small and end up ripping and reknitting so many times I could have made him two pair.

I’ve been thinking lately that I might want to slowly turn toward Opal for socks because it is a tough but not rough yarn that will even survive the dryer, thus keeping our handknit socks in quicker rotation.

Endings and Beginnings

The green socks are DONE!  No small thanks to Charlotte who did half the knitting!

It’s hard to catch these socks between feet and laundry and in fact I had to fish them from the top of the basket for this pic.  Zander loves them and immediately requested a new sweater.  I gladly put in the call to grandma who in fact has a wack of the same yarn, Plymouth Jelli Beenz, to make a child’s sweater or two.  Ball’s in your court, G-Terry.

I started some little green socks for Elinor, knit one almost to completion, crammed it on her foot and thought, Self, this sock is running small.  My daughter has big feet.

Riiiiiiiiiiip.  Cast on for the Size 2.  Immediately set aside because recipient has no long term memory and other things seemed more pressing…

Like this!

Elinor’s Christmas stocking, knit in Rauma Strikkegarn, a rough, sticky yarn that was perfect for colorwork.  The color is deliciously saturated without being a distracting eyesore.  I think the Strikkegarn natural is a little brighter than the Heilo used for the other three.  These stockings make me happy.

As for beginnings, I started a project for myself on Christmas Day: