Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas(-ish) Shawl!

Every year, I get myself an Advent calendar.  It's a tradition I've hung onto since I was a kid.  I don't always eat the chocolate each day -- sometimes I'll leave it for a few days, then eat five or six or twelve at a time to catch up.  One year, I got the calendar on Christmas Eve, so I just ate the whole thing at once...but I digress.

Anyways, I decided to get myself a different kind of Advent calendar this year (in addition to the chocolate Avengers one I already got).  It's a knit-along Advent KALendar.  Basically, each day leading up to Christmas, they release another little chunk of the pattern, so that by Christmas, you have a finished project.  I thought this was a super cute idea.

Day 1
You don't get to see the finished design until the end, so there's a bit of trust involved when getting into one of these.  Anna Dalvi, who designed the shawl, has some very lovely designs, so it was a leap of faith I was more than willing willing to take.  Plus, the inspiration for the designs comes from two of the Slavic goddesses, and I'm a sucker for mythology.

With all of the other projects I've had on the go, plus all the regular Christmas preparations like shopping and wrapping, plus the baby...well, I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the pattern releases and be finished by Christmas, and it takes considerably longer to knit up even a few rows than to eat a dozen or so little chocolates.  Still, starting late is better than not starting at all.
Day 2
I've managed to avoid the Ravelry forums for the KALendar so far, since I don't want to ruin the surprise for myself as everyone shows off their work, but from what I've managed to get finished, it's going to look fantastic.  There's little picots along the edge, which is a new skill for me, and I'm working it in red and black, to go with most of my fancier outfits.  I'm also thinking of adding some beadwork to it when I'm done, but I'll figure that part out later.

Day 3
Wishing you all the best for whatever holidays you're celebrating this time of year, and I hope you have had a chance to relax and enjoy yourselves!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I'm a total sucker for unusual and novelty yarns.  Sometimes you find a yarn that just calls to you, even though you have no idea what you're going to do with it.  I found such a yarn, in many colors, and it sat in my stash for months.  Then, suddenly, inspiration struck.  Basically, I had Christmas gifts to give, and a whole lot of yarn to use.
Pom-Poms for all!
  When I first bought this yarn, I bought a whack-load of it.  I'm pretty sure that's the technical term.  The cashier was a knitter herself, but even though she thought it was "so neat", she had no idea what to do with the yarn I chose.  Hopefully, she finds this blog and gets a few...because I've come up with several.

Most commercial yarns come with a pattern on their labels...generally something basic, like a scarf.  I took that idea and got a bit more creative with it.  This yarn gives a lot of creative leeway, once you learn how to work with it.  Keeping in mind it called for a US9 needle, I just sort of let my intuition guide my work from there.

The first work was a cowl and matching headband.  The cowl was worked eight Poms wide, 52 rows long, and the headband was four Poms wide, 42 rows long.  Each was twisted, and then sewn together to give it a mobius shape. It's a great style for the younger crowd, or the more fashion-forward.  My sister Naomi has that sort of "it's-quirky-but-it-totally-works" kind of style, and she was the first one I thought of when I came up with this design.

The pinks in this just screamed Naomi
To get the mobius shape, it would have been possible to knit the whole thing in the round, simply twisting the stitches once before joining, but the finished piece would have had no give to it.  Since a bit of elasticity is good in this sort of thing, I opted to go through the extra step of sewing it together later, in order to get the proper fit.

The second work was a more classic scarf, seven Poms wide.  A hole was worked into the design 40 rows in, so the scarf could be looped through itself, without having to be tied.  Another great style, which doesn't have to sacrifice function for form.  One great advantage to this pattern is its simplicity to use -- my mother-in-law suffers from arthritis, so not having to tie and untie a knot is much simpler.  Also, I'm rather lazy, so I made one of these for myself.  All you have to do is bind off the six middle stitches (keeping four on either side) after 40 rows, which is 20 rows of Poms on each side (counting your cast-on as the first row).  Then, on the next row, cast on those six stitches again, and just keep knitting till the end of the yarn.  

A no-knot scarf -- perfect for anyone on your list!
Knitting with the Pom-Poms is a bit of a trick -- basically, you knit two stitches between each Pom, one just before, and one just after.  You start with a stitch just before a Pom, and you end with a stitch just after one.  So, if you're knitting a scarf, for example, seven Poms wide, you'd have fourteen stitches in total.  Once you get the hang of it, the yarn knits up rather quick.  

These Poms are so soft, I just love it!
I was working on one of these at the doctor's office, and an older lady stopped by to watch.  She'd seen the yarn in stores, but wondered what it would look like knitted up.  We sat and chatted for a bit, and I gave her a couple of tips.  It made me think that, when I'm knitting things for my own grandkids, I hope I still have that urge to learn something new.  And hopefully, there will be lots more interesting yarns to work with!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


So, in my frenzy of preparing all my hand-knit goodies for Christmas, I forgot one major mistake in my scheduling.  I did not, in fact, need them ready for Christmas...I needed them ready for our family and friends get-together -- which was this past Saturday.
A no-knot scarf -- just pull the end through the hole!
I love this yarn, it looks like confetti exploded all over it

A twisted cowl and matching headband
Hats of every size!

All packed up and ready to go

With a few late nights, three and a half seasons of Merlin, and the ability to knit like the wind, I can happily say that I have completed my quest.  The gifts have been given (and happily received) to all but a couple of people I'll be seeing later on, and my hands can now take a well-deserved rest.  Although, there is that lovely grey worsted that has been begging me to become a sweater...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Early Christmas Gift For Me!

So I'm probably a bit more excited about this than I should be...but I got a package in the mail yesterday that I've been waiting for for a while now.  My first set of bamboo double-pointed needles!  Well, technically, 16 sets of dpn's, one in each size of needle.  They were on for a super great price.
I had to label each package in the US size, since the needles themselves are only marked in metric
And the best part of my new gift to me?  I can use them to make gifts for everyone else!

Working with dpn's is another skill that I used to find intimidating -- or at least, confusing.  Kishi often remarks that he believes me to be a wizard, and my knitting is some sort of sorcery.  (I am alright with this.)  But once I got started, my hands seemed to figure it out on their own.  The biggest thing to remember is to double and triple check that your cast-on stitches are straight before joining them to knit in the round.  Considering you're generally using three or four needles at a time, that makes three or four more chances for your stitches to get twisted.  Also, try to keep your stitches centered on the needle, so they don't slip off the end while you're working.
So much faster than knitting flat and sewing it up later!
These new needles will definitely help speed up my gift-making, and besides, one can never have too many needles.  The more needles, the more projects on the go, right?  Now, let's just see how long it takes me to mix up the packages...