Friday, January 27, 2012

Christmas Cozy

After the Spectra scarf and all the stockings, the next major knitted Christmas gift was a tea cozy for my mom and step-dad. They drink tea all the time and their old cozy was pretty stained. I had been planning on making them a new one for a while, and sometime in mid-December decided it was finally time. Here it is, already at work keeping our Christmas morning tea warm.
No matter how I photograph it, this yarn looks obnoxiously, glowingly red, but it isn't really. Just a nice bright red from Liberty Wool. It matches the kitchen in their new-ish house (moved in less than two years ago is still new, right?). The pattern was designed by Diana Foster, and is in the book One-Skein Wonders 101 Yarn-Shop Favorites. I did NOT knit the inside layer; I have no idea how I managed to finish it on time as it was. I think it might really benefit from being double-layered, though, so I may steal it back for a few days and add the layer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Christmas Spectra

Still working on catching up with documentation of the Christmas knitting. The major knitted present this year was a scarf for my step-mom (completed on time and everything!).
The pattern was Stephen West's Spectra (ravelry link). I believe my only two pattern modifications were to slip the last two stitches at each edge instead of only one, and to twist the yarns to trap the contrast color between the wedges. Both of these mods were recommended at my LYS. I used a brown Malabrigo sock for the main (border) color and Kauni for the contrast (wedges) color. I used the Malabrigo until it was almost all gone, and I used only about a third of the Kauni. The color was "EG," their rainbow colorway. I absolutely love this yarn. It's considerably rougher than the butter-soft Malabrigo, and in this scarf I think that provides a great texture contrast. I might not use the Kauni alone for a next-to-skin item, but I still love it.
This shot gives an idea of how very slowly the colors change. I started at the blue edge of purple, knit through red, orange, yellow, and 87 color wedges later I was just getting into the green. I think this is the right part of the spectrum for my step-mom's coloring, though I am not known for my ability to judge such things. It seems right, though.

The short row wedges make a great spiral shape, which turned out to be a little bit of a challenge to block on a flat surface. When my husband came home and saw this pinned out on our sunroom floor, for a minute he thought I had knitted a rug.

This pattern with this yarn was so much fun that I may have to turn the rest of my Kauni skein into two more spectra scarves. Giving me the wonderful dilemma of choosing two more yarns to be the edges!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2011 Christmas Stocking Round-up Part 2

The fourth Christmas stocking I made this year (Dec. 12-18) was for new Nephew HH.
On this branch of our family, all the grandkids get stockings to match Grammy's, so it was another candy cane pattern. This is one of the Mary Maxim patterns that isn't in a booklet. This is the pattern all my immediate family has, and I think of it as the original. I've also probably made more of this pattern than any other, although the Rudolph head might be tied.

Then I realized that I had one more stocking to make. I got a new step-father-in-law this September and I forgot to adjust my mental list of Stockings Needed to include him. So, a little late, but within the "12 Days of Christmas," I finished the fifth and final stocking for the year.
This one doesn't match my mother-in-law's stocking. She has a dove, and that just didn't seem to fit her new beau, a lifetime member of the NRA. I picked another pattern with a blue background and a white-with-green picture -- this is called Mr. Snowman and is in the first Mary Maxim Christmas stocking booklet.

There we have it, the 2011 set of Christmas stockings. I don't yet know of any that will be needed in 2012, but I don't really expect to have a no-stocking year. That would be too weird.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Christmas Stocking Round-up Part 1

Three of the five stockings I knit in 2011 were for my step-sister's family. I made stockings for her immediate family some time ago, but her mother and in-laws always spend Christmas with them and she asked me to make some stockings for them too. I had all year to do it, but of course I ended up knitting two of them in December. But I now know that I can make one of these stockings in a week. I'm not too sure how, but it all worked out.
The first one was all but done in August. These are all Mary Maxim stocking patterns. This one is a mash-up of the Gingerbread Girl and Gingerbread Boy patterns. I took the main image from the Girl stocking and used the coloring and candy cane border from the Boy pattern. These are in the "Christmas Stockings 2" booklet. I believe I have their full collection of Christmas stocking booklets plus a few single patterns.
Knit during December 1-6 is the Snowflake pattern, and then December 7-12 I made the co-ordinating Wreath pattern, both from "Christmas Stockings 3." This was my first time making all three of these patterns, and I quite liked them. I used stranded knitting for the Wreath and Snowflake patterns because that made so much more sense to me than strictly intarsia.
I use Red Heart or a similar yarn for all the Christmas stockings I make. I know a lot of people will cringe at that, but to me it seems like a good use for the yarn. As I see it, the main requirements of a stocking are that it be durable and colorful, which are really Red Heart's strong suits. I don't mind the knitting experience, and with the number of these stockings I've made over the years, affordability plays a sizable role, too.

I had thought I was going easy on the Christmas knitting this year, but as I look at it now, I did quite a bit. I intend to do the rest of the updates soon. Happy New Year!