A Christmas Nautilus + A Break

Weird ornaments are the best ornaments. #knitting | withwool.com

The fiber guild’s last meeting of the of the year is a break from the usual routine. We have a potluck and play white elephant with handmade ornaments. For the potluck, I brought pumpkin spice cookies. For the ornament exchange, I decided to go cute - weird cute - and made a nautilus.  Actually, I made 2 of them because I wanted one for my tree too.

Weird ornaments are the best ornaments. #knitting | withwool.com

I used the Nautie pattern from the Spring 2006 issue of Knitty. To get a smaller version, I used leftover DK and sport weight yarn instead of worsted which made nicely-size ornaments. I’ve got the full list of mods and changes here if you want to make your own. Both the Nauties are about 5.5” from the back of the shell to the tip of the tentacles. You can’t miss them on the tree. I still have to embroider 2017 on the one I kept, but that shouldn’t take too long.

Now, back to the exchange. I’m glad I went with the nautilus instead of a more traditional idea. The nautilus got a lot of laughs and ooh’s and aah’s. It was also “stolen” a few times which did make me happy too.

Weird ornaments are the best ornaments. #knitting | withwool.com

The nautilus’ are far from last FO for 2017, but the others are still a secret. I’ll share them with you next year when I come back from my holiday break in mid-January. Until then, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. Maybe it be full of beautiful yarn!

Weird ornaments are the best ornaments. #knitting | withwool.com

6 Tips for Finishing Last Minute Gift Knitting

Whether you’re just casting on or have a long knit list, follow these tips to get your #knitting wrapped and under the tree. | withwool.com   

There’s no denying it. We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. There’s not much time left to get those knitted gifts bound off and wrapped. Whether you’re just casting on or started early and still have a chunk of stuff to stitch, follow these tips to get that stuff under the tree.

Make a list, and check it twice.
I know it’s tempting to just get started, but a list of what you’re making and for whom is your best friend. The “knit this” list might not seem that long in your head, but could be a bit more daunting on paper. Trim as needed to save your sanity and make sure you get a few hours of sleep here and there. Plus, you’ll be able to make sure you have all your supplies ahead of time and skip late night trips to the store.

If you’ve got a lot of people to knit for, stick to small projects.
Hats, fingerless mitts, small toys, ornaments, washcloths, slippers/chunky socks are all fair game. T-minus twenty days and counting is not the best time to cast on for that heirloom lace weight shawl with patterning on every row.

Go big.
Thicker weight yarn, worsted and up, works up way faster than fingering weight. A cabled hat knit in worsted weight yarn can be quick project with big impact.

Give yourself some wiggle room.
That color work stocking might take more time than you think. Or you could run out of yarn and have to make a late night shopping trip. Or you want to enjoy the holiday season and parties without furiously stitching through every one of them. And you can take well needed breaks. Your wrists will thank you when they’re not sore and stiff on December 26th.

Monogamous knitting works.
Hear me out. Knitting one project all the way through goes so much faster than splitting your knitting time between 5 different WIPs. I stuck with monogamous knitting in November 2017 and rocketed through a scarf, two hats, the 2nd half of a shawl, and a bundle of ornaments.  If you really can’t stand the thought of one project at a time or need some out and about knitting, focus on just two projects. One can be simple and the other complex. A little variety can help get you over the “don’t want to work on this” hump.

You can quit.
Seriously, you can quit. Maybe there’s a point where you look at your knit list and know that there’s no way it’ll be finished, late nights or not. I’ve been there. It’s frustrating. The upside is that you’re in control of your knitting, goals, and plans which means you can decide what’s right for you and your time. And if you don’t tell people what you’re making them, they can’t be disappointed it’s not done. So get some sleep, go to that party, and ditch the added stress.

Monogamous Knitting For The Win

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com   

I did it! Two and a half weeks of monogamous dedicated knitting turned into cabled scarf and a matching hat. It’s nice to know I can still speed my way through a project or two every now and then. Why the rush? The scarf and hat were gifts for a friend visiting over Thanksgiving and I wanted to give them to him in person. Nothing like a hard deadline to light a fire under under your butt.

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com

I spent way too long trying to pick out a pattern which is part of why I cast on at the last minute. Nothing seemed quite right, and I was just about to give up and design something myself when the Palindrome scarf popped up. Easy reversible cables? Yes, please. I knit this pattern way back when as a newish knitter and was pleased with the results then. And I’m pleased again with this latest version. The only difference this time is that I made a few mods. The scarf started and ended with 2.25” of ribbing. I added an extra cable repeat for width. Plus, cable twists happened every 8 rows for a looser cable.

I can’t leave out the yarn’s wonderful contribution either. Normally, I wouldn’t choose Ultra Alpaca for a cabled project because the alpaca/wool blend wouldn’t have the same crisp texture as a 100% wool yarn. I wasn’t worried about that in this case since the purls would be “hiding” and not acting a background for the cables. The blend created a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect. And warm. Did I mention warm? The main reason I picked a wool/alpaca blend was that it’d be worn through winters with regular snow, wind, and freezing temps.

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com

And because the weather required it, I made a matching hat. I did end up coming up with a pattern for this beauty at the last minute. My original plan was to have both the scarf and hat finished before he arrived. That didn’t quite happen. In fact, I knit most of the hat in front of him and figured out the crown decreases on a drive through the mountains.  Then I gave it to him mere moments after weaving in the ends. The look on his face was totally worth it.

I am absolutely smitten with this hat pattern. So much so that I’m writing it up with a few more sizes so I can knit at least one more for myself or as gifts. I’m all for versatility. In the meantime I’m getting on with the rest of my gift knitting and making. Since monogamous knitting has been working for me, I’m going to keep it up. Thankfully, the rest of my projects are on the small side so I won’t get bored and can power through.

The Pattern: Palindrome Scarf and a hat pattern I’m writing up
Yarn: 3 skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) circulars
Dates: November 5 - 24, 2017
Scarf details @Ravelry
Hat details @Ravelry

 

FO: Shawls for Two

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

An Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl. These were the 2 big projects I made for the holiday gift knitting rush. I was definitely rushing and around to finish things at the last minute, but these two were first on the list so I wouldn’t stress over them. Staying up late, counting, beads, and an impending sense of doom are not a good mix for me. So, once I’d finalized the knitting gift list and pulled the needed yarn from stash, I started on the Elder Tree Shawl. It was the most complicated project on the list and I didn’t want to rush it. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

Elder Tree turned out to be a fairly easy knit once I got the pattern straight in my head. Except for this one repeat. It was almost finished and I was all too happy to mark my progress. Then I got to the far edge of the pattern and noticed my stitch count wasn’t quite right. My first inclination was to fudge it and keep going, but no such luck. The leaves were mashed together and I had no choice but to rip back. Still, I didn’t want to lose a night’s progress and tried ripping just that one portion. Probably would have worked too if there’d been enough yarn to work all the stitches. I ripped and reknit that one section 2 or 3 times and it never looked right. So, out came the needles, all of those rows turned into yarn again, and I spent the rest of the night making sure the yarn overs didn’t run away. Worth it. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

The yarn, Jojoland Melody Superwash, and the lace worked so well together. I happened to have purple beads from a previous project and they were the perfect added touch to the last repeat. This was the first time I’ve knit a beaded shawl and I love the look. Definitely need to add a few to the queue for myself. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

And now the Myndie Shawl. This pattern is also on the list of things I want to knit for myself this year. Once I figured out how to work the pattern in a heaver yarn, it was smooth sailing. I ended up using way less yardage than the pattern called for, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Thanks to a firm blocking, this shawl grew from a sad looking lump to beautiful 80” long wrap. 

Knitting a shawl or anything else as a gift can be a stressful and time consuming endeavor, but I’m happy to do it for good friends and family. It’s not something I do lightly either, because every stitch is a declaration of how much I care for and appreciate the recipient. I’m not a human knitting machine after all. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com
I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

Pattern: The Elder Tree Shawl by Sylvia McFadden

Yarn: 431 yds Jojoland Melody Superwash - ms08

Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) circulars

Dates: September 21 - October 9, 2016

@Ravelry

Pattern: Myndie by Ambah O’Brien

Yarn: 358 yds Araucania Nature Wool - 07

Needles: US 8 (5 mm) circulars

Dates: October 10 - 16, 2016

@Ravelry  

Still Gift Knitting

Just need to finish this tiger and I’ll be so close to finishing 2016’s gift knitting. | withwool.com

I’m knitting a tiger. Well, a cat with orange and blue stripes. The pattern, Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger, is one I’ve knit before with great results. It’s cute, cuddly, and sweet too. Once you cast on, it’s also a fast and simple knit though it doesn’t seem that way if you knit the body and then the arms, tail, and ears. To speed things along and get a finished tiger sooner, or at least make it seem that way, I knit the arms and the tail first. Then I don’t have to wait to sew them on. Anything to make holiday gift knitting in December a smoother process is fine by me. 

As for the rest of this year’s gift knitting, I’m calling it. All the big stuff I wanted to do, is done aside from a good soak and blocking. It’s all the little things that I kept adding to the list that I’m skipping. The endless variations of ornaments and “wouldn’t this be neat” things were stressing me out. So they’re gone. I’m going to knit a few ornaments, finish that pair of handspun socks, and call it good. Besides, I’d much rather stay up late playing Final Fantasy XV than worry over my knitting. My wrists and shoulders are already thanking me. 

Two Bears And A Bunny

Beatrice and Bernard are an inseparable pair that make for quick knit gifts! Cute too. :) | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

Beatrice and Bernard are an inseparable pair that make for quick knit gifts! Cute too. :) | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

What do you make for a cute 1-year-old kiddo? A cute bunny and bear, of course. 

Once I decided to make Beatrice and Bernard, they almost seemed to knit themselves. I’ve made the pair before and used a few mods to make them even faster to put together: stuffing them as a go, knitting the arms from the paw up, and grafting the head closed. The only hard part was the making the grafting look nice. Scratch that, I lied. The hard part is sewing on the arms at the same height on both sides. I thought the bunny was almost finished until I got a good look at the arms after sewing them on. One of them was definitely higher than the other which meant I had to unpick the seam and do it again. The second time was the charm fortunately. 

After the pair had arrived in their new home, I got a text that they’d each gotten a kiss when they were unwrapped. Pretty sure that means I won Christmas knitting. :)

Beatrice and Bernard are an inseparable pair that make for quick knit gifts! Cute too. :) | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

Pattern: Beatrice and Bernard The Inseparable Bunny and Bear by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: 65 yds Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky

Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) circulars

Dates: November 24 - 26, 2015

@Ravelry

One adorably Christmas ornament coming up! | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

I slacked off in 2014, but I have a yearly tradition to make a new ornament for the tree every Christmas. The first ornaments were just an excuse to make cute things to go on the tree, but they’ve grown to tell a story over the years. That’s how I ended up making a stocking covered in palm trees and knitting a color work house among other things. When it came time to make an ornament for 2014, I never really figured out what I wanted to make or how to make it. The idea to knit the extinct California grizzly bear didn’t occur to me until 2015 gift knitting time. Thankfully, making it didn’t take anywhere near as long as it took for me to have the idea. 

Making the bear went quickly even though I essentially knit the pattern twice with the second attempt worked in the round. Then I couldn’t decide on the design for the embroidery. The bear sat to the side while I worked on other Christmas knits and ordered the yarn I wanted to use for the embroidery. Once I had the design sketched out, the final stitching went reasonably quickly even though I redid it a few times to make it neat. So, 2014 finally got its ornament.

As for the 2015 ornament, I have the yarn and an idea. I still have to work out the charts, but it’ll be a nice project for February even if it is a few months late. 

One adorably Christmas ornament coming up! | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

Pattern: Grizzly Bear Toy by Linda Dawkins

Yarn: 64 yds Knit Picks Gloss Fingering - Doe for the body and Honey for the embroidery

Needles: 2.75 circulars

Dates: November 13 - December 5, 2015

@Ravelry

One knit bear checking out the view. | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

11 Wonderful Gift Tags For Your Wonderful Hand Knits

Christmas is just 5 days away! If you’re still stitching away, I hope all your patterns are error free, you’ve got plenty of yarn, you’re binding off before 1 AM on Christmas morning. To wrap all that wonderful knitted and crafted goodness up right, here are 10 printable and DIY tags. 

And may all your gifts be met with just the right OOH’s and AAH’s!

Labels for Handmade Items from Little Monkey Crochet

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Colorful Gift and Care Tags from First Pancake Studio

Fair Isle Bookmark Tags from Eat Drink Chic

Minimalist Typographic Gift Tags from Montgomery Fest 

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12 Days of Christmas Gift Tags from Year of Creative Habits

’Tis the Season Gift Tags from Abigail Halpin

Warm Wishes Knit Tags from 100% Rain

Up for a little cross stitch? Make these cross-stitch mitten tags from Design*Sponge.

Ugly Sweater Gift Tags from Love vs. Design

Keep it simple with my own Make A Bow Gift Tags

P.S. If you don’t want to stay up till the wee hours of Christmas morning binding off, here are some IOU tags to put under the tree instead. 

The Cat And The Hat

Say hello! This vermillion kitty cat doesn’t have a name yet but he (she?) is heading to a new home for the holidays.

Will there be catnip, snuggles, and tea parties? This cat does love a good tea party.

Traveling with the vermillion cat is a matching hat. Since I knit the hat in the 18 month - 4 years size, I was able to make both from one skein of Tosh Vintage. Even had a few yards to spare. I knit the cat mostly as written with the few mods I used detailed here. The collar is garter stitch and 5 stitches wide with a yarn over buttonhole. The hardest part of the whole pattern wasn’t the knitting but embroidering the face. Ripped out the nose and the whiskers several times to create just the right expression. 

 If you’re looking for safety eyes to use on your toys and softies, I recommend 6060 on Etsy. The selection for safety eyes - cat, round, or handpainted - and safety noses is amazing. There are plenty of different sizes and colors to choose from at reasonable prices. I picked up a 12mm variety pack of 5 different colors so I could pick out the eyes that would pop best on the vermillion yarn. Plus, my order shipped quickly so I’ll definitely be ordering from that shop again. 

Cat Pattern: Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger

Hat Pattern: Slouchy Babe Hat by me - Download it here

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage - Vermillion

Christmas Knits

Before it’s definitely old news, I did knit a few things for Christmas. I didn’t feel any obligation to knit for everyone on my list so there were no crazy deadlines to stress over. The projects were small, simple, and only took a few hours of dedicated work. I hope I remember this lesson for 2014’s holiday season. 

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The first projects off my needles were a set of kitchen towels for a friend who recently bought a house. I used one ball of Knit Picks Dishie, US 6 needles, and two of my own patterns: the Laddered Cloths and the Bridges Kitchen Towel

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The Cornered Slouch Hat, a pattern I released last December, was also a Christmas gift and I was incredibly tempted to keep it for myself. 

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Then, there were stockings. 

Big & Stripey here only counts as Christmas knitting because, A, it’s a stocking, and, B, I knit it during Christmas. My other travel project wasn’t working out and I wanted to just knit something. Decided I wanted to make a stocking with stripes and went from there. It was a simple thing to keep my hands busy during long car rides and low-key gatherings. I’ll block it eventually. Probably, right before it’s time to hang it up 11 months from now. 

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The tiny one continues my tradition of knitting a new ornament every year. I couldn’t resist putting a palm tree down the leg since the Bearded One and I have been surrounded by the things since we moved.

Now, no more talk from me about Christmas knitting until it’s time to start knitting for this year. The time will arrive sooner then it should. Always does. 

Heather Holiday Handspun

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We’re still talking about Christmas gifts, right? Because I’ve got my last skein of 2013 handspun to show off. This particular yarn, the only yarn I gave away last year,  was spun for a friend who knits beautiful lace shawls that seem to pop off the needles every time she turns around. Plus, the last time I gifted her some handspun she immediately knit it into a cowl. I think she must have cast on for it as soon the package landed on her doorstep. So, she deserves handspun yarn and I went on the hunt for soft fiber in the perfect color.

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Once the goodness, Ashland Bay Multi-Colored Merino, was in hand, I was ready to spin but not just any old yarn. I wanted to replicate one of the first skeins to come off my wheel, a soft DK weight 2-ply spun from the same fiber. That teal yarn demanded to be knit as soon as it came off the bobbins but I haven’t found the right pattern yet. To recreate said yarn, I split the fiber in half, set the wheel up with the same ratio and tension, and got to spinning. The final product wasn’t exactly the same but it was awfully close. Instead of a DK, it was a sport weight. Instead of 300 yards, there were 464. Sounds good to me. 

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The Specs

Fiber: 4oz of Ashland Bay Multi-Colored Merino

Color: Baltic

about 12 WPI post washing

464 yards

Spinning a heathered top was a new experience for me. Up to that point, I’d only worked with solid and hand dyed fibers; neither behave quite the same as a heather. The heathered top and the final yarn look very different since drafting the fiber further blends the colors. I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d end up with so I just went with it. The yarn is definitely still blue but you can see yellow, red and purple up close. I love the nuance and want to spin a whole sweater’s worth of this fiber. That’s definitely a first. 

Counting Down

Just 15 days until Christmas, my dear knitting friends. I hope you're way ahead on all you're projects or at least close to being done. There's just one more thing on my very short knit list, a small ornament, and it should be finished by the weekend. I hope. 

If you're looking for a quick, last-minute gift, I recommend simple hats, mitts, washcloths, and sport weight socks.  They're great tv knitting and you can wrap them up in no time at all. 

Double Meow

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Now that both of these frisky felines have gone to their new homes, I can finally introduce them to you. First up is the daring Ninja Cat with his glowing green eyes and stealthy paws. Second, is the striped and inquisitive Bumblebee. It was hard to let them go since they both looked so cute lounging on the furniture.

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I knit them both with the same yarns, the same needle, and from the same heavily-modified pattern. The only difference was that I made Bumblebee with stripes. Even though I’ve been knitting for years,  I still find it amazing how small changes can drastically affect the finished object. Ninja Cat grew to be short and round while Bumblebee turned out tall and narrow. Both are stuffed with a few pebbles at the bottom to help them sit up. See the pattern, yarns, needle, and modifications on the public Ravelry page.

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One of the neighborhood cats stopped by for a visit and just had to check out the newcomers. After the initial stare down, Ninja Cat and Bumblebee were deemed worthy of her attention. Then she had a fine time knocking them over. They mostly landed on their feet.

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Small Knitting

I took a slightly different approach to gift knitting this year. The list was shorter. The gifts were smaller. The last minute requests were filed away for a later date. Not rushing to KNIT ALL THE THINGS saved my bacon this year. Plus, not every gift I give has to be something I knitted. I had my list and, aside from some mid-game additions, stuck to it. I wish I could say I started early too but that didn’t happen. I just went small and that’s worth celebrating.

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Definitely the tiniest thing I knit was a cosy for my Dad’s iPod. It’s a previous generation and there was next to no chance of finding a case for it. A few quick sketches and 13.6 yards of Knit Picks Comfy Sport later, the case was made.

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Washcloths made an appearance this year too. The cream cloth is Grandmother’s Favorite in Knit Picks Dishie. I increased to 50 sts before starting the decreases to compensate for the smaller gauge.  The purple cloth is All Washed Up by Jill Arnush in Sugar’n Cream (Country Mauve). I can’t wait to knit the pattern for myself in kitchen towel size. It’s easy, memorizable, and reversible. What’s not to like?

Also on the small list: the annual ornament, two ribbed hats, and two not yet mentioned goodies. I’m not sure if I go small again next year or just start early. What I do know is that I’m not loathing the gift knitting or working on IOU’s which are both good things.

Whirled Purple

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Normally, when I write about my homespun, it’s sitting within petting distance on my desk. I pick up the yarn, poke it, bounce it up and down in my hands, and even nuzzle it on occasion. None of that’s happening this time because I shipped off this skein to be a Christmas present to the lovely Christen -  knitter, crocheter, and photographer extraordinaire. She has a weakness for lace, shawls, fine yarn, and the color purple. I am all to happy to oblige her in all of these things and spun the yarn, the first handspun I’ve ever gifted, with her in mind from beginning to end. It’ll be funny if she knits (or crochets) with my handspun before I do.

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I finished the yarn just in time to mail it off for Christmas but only because I used a hair dryer to speed up the drying. 89g of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Roving (Amethyst Heather) turned into 292 yds of fingering - sport weight yarn. The singles were spun on a 22g spindle from Dawning Dreams and plied on 2.2 oz Schacht Hi-Lo spindle. A number of movies and podcasts made the process move pretty quickly but I’m ready to spin colors that aren’t purple now. Grey and yellow are on top of the list.

Cheers!

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I cut things a little close this year but the annual ornament tradition continues. 2009 saw a stocking, 2010 had mittens, and 2011 got a stocking hat. 2012 gets a cuddly and portly house complete with doors, windows, our initials, the year, and a smoking chimney. The ornament has a high profile spot on the tree and makes me smile every time I walk past. 

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays with lots of food, good company, and piles of finished gifts. Cheers!

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Lists = Good

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My love for lists is no secret. To-do lists, grocery lists, and check lists have all served me well over the years. Now that there’s only a week until Christmas, the handy list is keeping me sane. This weekend, I was able to cross 3 things off the to-make list. Awesome. This great and powerful list also tells me there’s only 3 things left to make which is great since the list seems so much longer in my head. 

Another thing that’s keeping me sane on the knitting front is ignoring all those last minute requests. I’m just filing them away as future gift ideas and not worrying about them in the slightest.  Less stress and more sleep that way.

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Also keeping the stress down is knowing how much I’ve already accomplished. These 2 hats were added to the list late in the game but finished with time to spare. Never underestimate the strength of simple hats, nice yarn, and manly colors. Add in some entertaining movies to stave off boredom and you’re good to go. 

Pattern: Squared Away Ribbed Watch Cap by Oftroy

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash - Grey (900) and Navy (854)

Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Dates: Dec 5 - 16, 2012

@Ravelry

This is the second and third time I’ve knit this pattern and seems to be my default guy hat. It’s simple but the squared decreases add a nice touch. It’s good travel knitting and good tv knitting which is great since 9” of ribbing gets tiresome pretty quickly. Totally worth it though.

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Origami Stars

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Now that my Christmas cards are in the mail and winging their ways across the States, it’s time to show off the goodness inside: origami ornaments. I like to make ornaments every year for the tree and add them as special touches with friends’ gifts. This year, I’m taking a break from knitted leaves, birds, stockings, mittens, and pom-poms for origami. There’s no lack of holiday knitting around here and origami is a nice change. The ornaments are much faster to fold than to knit, easy to make, and just the right size to mail to friends across the country.

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There are tons of instructions for origami stars across the internet and I fell for the Robin Star by Maria Sinayskaya. This video helped clear up some of the more complicated parts of the folding and assembly. I used 3” foil origami paper and the completed stars came out 4” across. The only thing I changed was to tuck the “triangle”, that is normally folded behind all layers, under the last layer to hide the paper’s wrong side.  Once all the stars were folded, a hole punch (an awl would work too) and some craft thread quickly turned the bunch into ornaments. 

After folding 20 of these stars I have a few tips :

  1. Don’t wait to the last minute. The stars are quick to make but won’t just appear in your hands. I made mine over the course of a week. 
  2. Assembly line the process. Once I’d picked the paper for a particular star, I worked the same fold on all the pieces before moving to the next step. Seemed to make the whole process go a lot faster.
  3. Practice first. Before I started using the small, foil squares, I practiced making the stars from larger paper. I was able to memorize the steps and make sure the process wasn’t too finicky before making the real thing.
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A Happy Diversion

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I have grudgingly come to terms with the fact that Christmas and all the deadlines associated with it are less than a month away. All of my knitting, spinning, and general crafty time has been dominated by holiday making. My needles are full. My spindle is heavy. My hands keep cranking out ornaments. As all consuming as it is, I’d rather be working on all this now when I’ve still got some time to spare than waiting till the last minute. Still, my brain rebels every once and awhile and I make something for myself just to take the edge off of the ever looming deadlines. 

Say hello, again, to the little robin cross stitch. He’s not an amorphous blob this time and actually looks like a bird. No name yet but he’s been great at keeping my hands busy during audiobook and podcast sessions. Best of all, no deadline. If I finish him in December, great. If he doesn’t end up on the wall until January, that’s great too. So, if you’re like me and already feeling a bit burned out by the holidays, do something fun for yourself before diving back into the mess. A happy diversion really helps.

Did you hear something?

Maybe it was the wind in the trees or a squirrel walking across the roof. Or, the most likely possibility, ninjas.

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See? Ninjas. I knew it was ninjas. They’re everywhere. You just can’t see them most of the time. 

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Pattern: Wasabi the Gregarious Pug by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: A mix of Patons Kroy Sock 4-Ply and Knit Picks Stroll

Full details @Ravelry

Silliness aside, I made these as gifts and, as far as I’m concerned, they are the pièce de résistance of 2011’s Christmas knitting. The idea to turn a dog and a llama (technically, the pattern is for an alpaca but close enough) into ninjas was really fun right off the bat. I only laughed maniacally most of the time. It wasn’t all roses though. They took a lot longer to knit then I thought they would. Plus, besides from the knitting, stuffing, sewing, and faces both of them have round braid kumihimo belts and katanas made from pipe cleaners covered with i-cord. For future reference, making braids out of sock yarn will take way longer than you think. 

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Pattern: Zeke the Aloof Alpaca also by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: Also a mix of Patons Kroy Sock 4-Ply and Knit Picks Stroll

Full details also @Ravelry

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Making a llama into a ninja was pretty cool but figuring out how to make a removable emo coif (after this first style) was even better. A few steps:

  1. Once you have knit enough of said llama’s (or some other creature’s) head, insert a small, yet powerful magnet inside and hold it in place with another magnet on the outside. You might have to adjust them a bit before stuffing but they’ll stay in place once the llama has stuffing for brains.
  2. Embroider the face with the magnets still holding on to each other.
  3. Remove the outside magnet and knit a case for it. I cast on with Judy’s Magic Cast On, knit and increased in the round. When it was big enough I started decreasing and then pulled the yarn through the remaining stitches. If the magnets are strong enough they should hold through 2 layers of knitting. 
  4. Cut lots of 6” strands of yarn for the hair. You’re going to need them.
  5. Thread a needle with both ends of a stand and push it part way through a stitch on the case to make a loop. Pull the ends through the loop. Repeat until your llama has a nice, full coif. 
  6. Give it a trim and appreciate the awesomeness. 

While I was making these, I was a bit nervous about how they’d be received. Shouldn’t have worried though since they were a big hit. Does a knitter’s heart good. 

The Lacy One

Before 2012 gets any further along, here’s something else I knit as a Christmas present. It’s another Baktus but lacy. Not quite as addictive as the first but still great and a fun knit. We haven’t had much of a winter this year so I don’t know how useful it’s been. Seriously, plants are blooming and I keep hearing tree frogs at night. Someone needs to tell them it’s January.

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Pattern: Lacy Baktus by Terhi Montonen

Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering Silk 55 in Mardi Gras

Full details @Ravelry

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