Saturday, January 4, 2014


Addie, with hand-knit afghan
I realize not all folks out there are the crafty sort and my posts involving winding yarn around a couple of sticks can be a bit dull.  However, it simply would not be the Christmas season if I didn't show what kept me busy during the last months of the year and prevented me from properly cleaning my house.  Despite what my husband thought, I was not simply watching the first two seasons of Homeland so I could lust after Damian Lewis.  I was also knitting at the time.  And if he doesn't watch out, he's gonna get that knitted d*ck cozy under the Christmas tree after all.  Or maybe for his birthday.  (My husband, that is, not Damian Lewis, who would probably find that gift from me just creepy.)

This was the first year for my mother's dog, Addie, to celebrate Christmas with our family.  Addie Banaddie, as I call her, was adopted from Recycled Doggies in February and of course she had to have her own hand knit stocking for the occasion.  The pattern came from Knit Christmas Stockings by Louise Silverman and has various options for the Pampered Pets pattern.  Full details of mine can be found on Ravelry here.

Thanks to Mr. Bean and his Christmas episode, it is a Christmas Day tradition that my sister and mother open a pair of hand-knit socks.  The yarn this year, again, came from my favorite Ohio family farm at Roving Acres.  The color doesn't come out right in the pictures.  It's the most glorious greenish-blue and wonderfully soft.  The pattern came from Socks a la CarteMy sister, presumably because she always wears backless shoes like Crocs, consistently blows the heels out on her socks.  After reading an old Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern where she mentions adding nylon thread to wool for sock knitting and after hearing my sister complain that her el cheapo socks made from Hobby Lobby yarn don't wear at the heels, I decided to do just that portion in a wool/nylon blend.  Luckily Knit Picks had a color that almost perfectly matched the darkest hue in the Roving Acres.  We'll see how long these heels last.

My beloved Tristan, former abused dog and "child" to the fabulous Lori over at the Dog-Lbs. blog, has to have custom toys from his Auntie Shannon.  He got a turkey for Thanksgiving and a Santa for Christmas, both crocheted since I find that easier when doing things like dolls.  Yes, they're both odd looking.  I make them specifically the way he likes them, i.e., with unnaturally long arms and legs so he can play tug-o-war with his brother.  Yes, I acknowledge Santa looks a little like a rubber chicken. 

My sister I found almost impossible to buy for this year and her Christmas list was disgustingly small.  In desperation, I built a whole gift around a Kirk's Folly snowflake pendant.  The gift included The History of the Snowman, wintry-themed gift cards to JoAnn and Hobby Lobby, holiday lottery tickets, a knit snowman dishcloth (free pattern here), and crocheted snowflake coasters (free pattern here).  I didn't photograph the latter since my daughter, Foghorn, declared they looked nothing like snowflakes and more closely resembled "a constipated elephant."  (I find myself screaming like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, "No knits for you!")  I put all of these in a fair isle tote bag in a...wait for it...snowflake design.  The original pattern was meant to be a gift bag, but I added a strap and flap with a button, figuring Nancy could use it as a portable bag for her crocheting (instead of the incredibly unfashionable AARP fanny pack she's currently using).  The original pattern for the gift bag can be found on Ravelry here and my notes are here.

The original
Last was a gift for my mother.  For her September birthday a year or two ago I knit her a lightweight shawl of Roving Acres wool.  It's gorgeous and she uses it often during the chilly days of early fall.  She commented back in October, "It's the perfect weight for this time of year.  Just warm enough."  That gave me the idea of knitting one that would be warm enough for bitter cold days.  After completing it in early November I then noticed my mother constantly wearing the original.  I said something about it and she said, "It's so warm, even on really cold days.  It's just perfect."  That made me grit my teeth a little, since I had a new, thick, warm-enough-for-an-Arctic-expedition shawl already wrapped and ready to go under the tree.

Appropriately called a study in texture

My mother does, though, claim to love the new shawl.  What I had in mind was something Laura Ingalls would have thrown over her shoulders to go and milk a cow.  Pretty, but super thick and super warm and more practical than the lacey blue garment I made before.  I was really happy with the way it turned out.  I used a wool blend yarn, making it machine washable and thus more likely to be really used without fear of staining it beyond help.  I actually paid for the pattern, which I generally don't do since Ravelry's full of nice, free patterns.  This one, though, impressed me with its variety of stitches and lovely cable border and the fact that a portion of the proceeds went to animal charity.  And for $4 in Canadian money, I really can't grumble.  The pattern is called a study in texture and can be found on Ravelry here.  (My notes are here.)

And I'm sure you're dying to know, now that Christmas is over, what I could possibly be working on.  Well, my son happens to love my hand-knit socks (just have to make that boy realize you don't wear striped wool socks when it's 80 degrees out...and never with shorts), so I'm using up a bunch of my leftover bits to make him a new pair.  I'm also working on an intensely boring, by hopefully practical, helmet liner (one of those hats that comes down completely over your face and just has an opening for the eyes).  The weather in southwest Ohio this winter has been ridiculous.  Major snow in early December along with painfully cold temperatures.  The kids already lost two snow days and would have lost two more if they had been scheduled to go back to school on January 2nd like some districts around here.  Schools were closed this past Thursday and Friday because of snow and frigid temps.  And another storm system is coming through tomorrow, with chances of 2-4" more, meaning winter break might get a little longer for The Inmates.  Since I'm Queen Snow Shoveler around here, as well as Chief Dog Walker, the cold and snow are giving me challenges.  I'm forever trying to wrap a scarf around my face and nose while out with the dogs.  It invariably comes loose and as I try to wrap it again with one hand and hold the dog leash in the other, the canine will spot a squirrel and jerk me forward and my earphones fall out of my ears while I'm trying to wrestle the scarf back in place...  I thought maybe a hat with full face coverage might be worth doing.  Unfortunately it's completely in knit one-purl one rib stitching and is so uninteresting to work that I can only bear to do it for a short period of time before putting it aside for something better.  I really want it done now, rather than Easter when it pretty much will have no purpose.  I just have to find the right motivation.  Maybe tomorrow's impending snowstorm coupled with plans to watch a Monty Python movie with my son this evening will do the trick.


Anonymous said...

Your projects get better every year and I think the new pink shawl will also act as a jacket when milder weather is here. It's so nice and long and roomy.

Marcy said...

That top photo is so adorable, and I am incredibly impressed by your talent! Your family must treasure these homemade gifts, and the dog toys looked great too. As you may remember, I made my first knitted thing recently, a simple scarf, and I can't even begin to understand how you tackle all of these complicated projects. Lol about Homeland; I've been wanting to check it out.

Nancy Susanna Breen said...

I loved my snowflake bag and themed gifts (did you notice I carried the bag on New Year's Even with my embroidery in it, and I've worn that gorgeous pendant several times already). That shawl is incredible. Even if I could tackle knitting more than a pair of plain socks, I'd never achieve anything like that shawl.