Saturday, December 29, 2007

stealthin elfin'

Now that these projects have reached their destinations, I thought I'd show some of the projects that have kept Elf Leah busy over the past couple of months. Since she was so happy with the prototype wallet she made for me, she made a bunch of others, each with the fabric combinations chosen specifically for the recipient (except the two stripey ones for male teen cousins, as the seamstress decided we didn't have very many "boy fabrics" in our stash). More beaded snowflakes too, with bead colors to match the wallets.
One morning, she marched into my office and plunked down this completed needlepoint project. I had never seen it before, had no idea she was working on any such thing, and didn't know that she knew how to do needlepoint! She had been working on it, completely on the sly, for weeks. She only brought it to me when she needed help with blocking and framing. It's 6" square, a kit she bought at Joann's with a gift card a while back. It definitely shows signs of being her first needlepoint project, but for being stitched by a 9 y.o. with absolutely no help, wow -- she blew me away with that one!
Last is a project she started before Halloween, a shark hat for cousin Zach, similar to the one I made for Scott. We were smarter this time and blocked the hat before taking pics of it, so the coned yarn could bloom. We tried a different technique with the teeth this time, which made them more pointy, as planned, and also more crookedy/jaggedy, like scary shark teeth should be.

Zach put it on right away and enthusiastically came outside with me for photos with his snowboard later on xmas morning. When I explained to him that Leah and I were test knitters, helping the designer of this hat because she's planning to offer the pattern soon, and that I'd be putting this pic on my blog, he was visibly a little bothered by the idea. He moaned, "But then all my friends will have one!" But he perked right up again when I reminded him that they can't all be lucky enough to have a cousin who loves them enough to knit such a cool hat. :-)
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

wishing you...

Fleece on Earth, good wool to all.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

warms the heart

I finished the second mitten of the pair I was working on in Florida. This is Pattern 25 (catchy name, don't you think?) from Knitting Marvelous Mittens. The corrugated ribbing went much faster on the second one. I made a mistake in the third row of colorwork on the first mitten, so I purposely made the same mistake (swapped the colors) to match on the second one. Because this design is not easily shortened for a smaller size, the thumb gusset starts higher so the hand portion is shorter for the adult size that I made, rather than having the thumb gusset start just above the cuff and lopping off the top of the pattern for a smaller hand size. This makes for some mighty long cuffs, which ends up being one of my favorite things about them. I swear I will never skimp on mitten cuff length in the future! I have a feeling this won't be the last pattern I knit from this book.

Just for the fun of it, I also wanted to show these :::ahem::: vintage mittens that my Gram knit when I was a kid. They're on my hands for this picture, but they're Leah's size now and she wears them on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure that when Gram made them for her young granddaughter in the 1970s, she never imagined that they'd also warm the hands of her great granddaughter!

I keep knitting from stash, but the stash doesn't seem to be getting any smaller. I'm having fun putting good yarn to good use, though, so I keep chipping away at it. The moment I saw the Thorpe hat on Through the Loops, I knew it was next up as a stashbusting project. While listening to classic radio shows' Christmas specials (including Miracle on 34th St. and It's a Wonderful Life) on CD from the library the past couple of evenings, I used three balls of leftover yarn, including some handspun purple, handspun gray angora, and gray ragg wool. I knit two strands together for a very thick hat and used up every last bit of all three balls. Actually, I ran just a tiny bit short on the gray. There's a strand of substitute gray in each braid. Shhh!

Okay, warm hands? Check. Warm head? Check. Got 'em covered. You know what warms my heart? When the kids were checking out all the ornaments on the tree (again!) while we were listening to those old-time radio shows and Leah stops at this hardanger ornament, 20+ of which were stitched by me 13 years ago as favors at my sister's bridal shower, and says,...

"Mom, will you teach me how to do hardanger?" Mmm...hardanger. You bet I will, Goob!
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

elves in the workshop

Oh, yes, the elves are happily busy and productive in our house-turned-Christmas-workshop. There are some stealth, non-bloggable projects, but here are a couple that I can share, courtesy of the Craftygoob.

First is a small and simple wallet that she sewed using the instructions on Craftster. I don't carry a purse and don't have or want a cell phone (gasp!), so this is perfect for the few things I do keep with me when I go out.

She has also rummaged around in our seed bead stash and followed these instructions, to some extent.

The last round of beading is more of a challenge than she was enjoying, so she skipped that, but we have instructions for some other snowflakes that look a little easier. She'll probably try those next. But today, there's another secret project or two on tap before a friend's arrival later this afternoon!
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

tis the season...

...for knitting while singing Christmas carols,
for MANY handknits needing to dry after being worn for playing in and shoveling out from a storm,
for enjoying Old Sturbridge Village's Christmas By Candlelight,
and for spotting a handknit Koolhaas hat in the wild!
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Friday, December 14, 2007


I've heard a bit about this phenomenon called "blooming," where coned yarn gets a bath and fluffs up into a very different fiber than it was before, but I've never seen it up close, until now. The whole time I was knitting the shark hat, I felt like the fabric was too loose, too holey, and that maybe I should have gone down a couple of needle sizes. Or maybe all it needed was to bloom.

Suspecting that this might be the case, I gave the shark hat a warm sudsy soak and a few rinses the other night, then laid it out to dry. The results were significant enough that we decided entirely new pics were in order to send to Allie, the designer of this hat, for its Ravelry page. Leah happily agreed to model during yesterday's snowstorm.
Here's a before picture of the fabric, close up.
And here's an after shot. You can see how much thicker the yarn is and how much more dense the resulting fabric is. What you can't see is how much softer and more pleasing it feels.
Which is a good thing because this hat has become the headwarmer of choice for one silly bald beadmaker/baker/fisherman guy. :-)
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunshine State FOs

Ah, back home and in the swing of things again after a great week of sunshine and fun in Florida. It was a nice blend of busy-ness at the beginning of the week at the Magic Kingdom and Kennedy Space Center, then nonstop beach/pool lounging for the last few days. We stayed at my mom's condo and it ended up that she was there at the same time, since she decided that would be a good place to continue her rehabilitation after total knee replacement. :-) She's staying there until the end of the month. My Gram is never one to miss a good vacation, so she hopped a plane and joined us too, filling her calendar with no less than five social engagements while she was there.

All that lounging means plenty of knitting time, so I managed to finish:
the first of a pair of mittens,

the Coronet hat (cable braid knit ahead of time, crown knit on the plane ride south),

and the first of a pair of socks.

Florida 2007

And for Vickie, who would like this blog to show more of our lives than the fiber and glass portions, click the pic of my favorite mermaid and merman to see a photo album from the trip.
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Sunday, December 09, 2007

a cheery greeting

We arrived home from Florida on Thurs. (pics to come) and I had to smile when I saw this cutie patootie's picture in my email box. This is the recently adopted daughter of an old friend, staying warm in Massachusetts this winter with the hat I made for her. I think nothing makes a knitter happier than seeing her projects in use!