Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mission Accopmlished

All of my Christmas knitting is FINISHED!! All the bundles are wrapped under the tree, ready to be shipped off to their future homes. My mom selected this sweater pattern and has tried it on, so I figured I wouldn't ruin any surprises by showing it on the blog.
This project was a royal pain! I appreciated the unusual construction but the directions for the sleeve were archaic at best. I also had finished it, only to have to rip back on the sleeves and bottom of the sweater to add about an extra inch to each at my mother's bequest. Throughout I kept thinking "anything worth doing is worth doing right..." to get myself through my feeling that it was good enough. Luckily I pushed through and will now be proud to give this, rather than apologetic about a half-assed attempt.

The other finished project? I'll keep that under wraps until after Christmas. Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Joyeux Knitting!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Delays in Santa's workshop

Oh knitting, you fickle, fickle art. Some projects positively fly off the needles (and I'm not just talking about those projects on bulky yarn and size 12 needles!) while others make me run and hide. I had been doing so well on my Christmas knitting and then I got completely stymied by the last pair of mittens.
There were mittens I made this year where I tried completely new techniques, and made up the patterns as I went (see above and below, the ones below are flip top mittens with an attached i-cord for the button loop, hello improvisation!) yet this last one is currently entering its fourth attempt. The first attempt was a new pattern I'm designing, I did the color chart on a hat and liked it, then I started adapting it for mittens, that's when I encountered problems.
I have become a thumb snob on my mittens, when I started knitting, the afterthought thumb was sufficient (it has no gusset or gore which means no shaping, it is the easiest to add to a pattern as the name suggests). Now though I have come to prefer something with a better shape. I'm a big fan of the thumb gusset on the Give a Hoot Mittens which I posted on here. I incorporated it in the mittens above easily enough, but here's the thing about that gusset technique; it does not play nice with stranded colorwork! I figured a side seam gore would do the trick (thumb comes out of side of mitten and you do increases and then transfer the extra stitches to some waste yarn) but was having a hard time getting the colorwork pattern to line up with the increases. Add in the fact that this was going to be done on fingering weight yarn, size 0 needles, and I thought there was no way it would be done for Christmas.

So I moved on to the second iteration of Plantress' Christmas mittens: a folk mitten pattern titled "Mittens from Halland." They were all lovely and good, except that it was worsted weight yarn, on size 2 needles, and I was silly enough to use acrylic yarn. The knitting was at such a tight gauge, that with a yarn that doesn't have any natural give to it, I felt like I was fighting e v e r y single stitch. OUCH! My hands and wrists started hurting and I was making such slow progress that I just stopped by the Franklin Mill Store on my way home from work and bought two skeins of lovely Berocco Ultra Alpaca. Worsted weight, natural fiber yarn on size five needles? I did a mitten in a day! Then, disaster. This mitten was a little snug to begin with (7.5" diameter, and I tend to think 8" or 8.5" is nicer) and it had ... [dramatic pause] ... an afterthought thumb! GASP, the horror! I tried the mitten on and it was too snug, pulling in an unsightly manner around the thumb, and I just couldn't do it. Going with the mindset of "anything worth doing is worth doing right" this mitten is getting frogged. I cringed thinking about someone opening up their Christmas present only to try it on, be understandably disappointed, and then feel like they had to tell me how great they are.

So tonight I start anew. Same pattern, same yarn, but I will add four extra stitches on each side and do some extra stitches before the thumb, and before the decreases to achieve a better fit. Hopefully I can bust through these mittens this weekend. Then I just have to sew buttons onto my mom's mittens and block them, lengthen the arms on my mom's sweater and block it, and Christmasknittingpalooza 2010 will be done!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mouse Musings

I think we have mice in our house. I keep finding little singular mouse poops on our kitchen counter. When I told R that I think we have mice he said "oh yeah, I know." To which I had to query "you knew? why didn't you tell me?" I worry that my partner is a little too supportive of mouse rights. I understand he doesn't want to put traps out, but the day I find him hand feeding them Gruyere or asking me to knit them sweaters is the day I pack up and leave.

Over share? I'm taking a page out of Plantress's book and injecting some realism into my blog.
(Plantress is also R's mother and has had a bit of a mouse problem herself lately. You just have to love old houses with all their character).

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Everything is coming up Christmas here! Tree up. Wreaths up. Centerpiece made. Christmas cards started. Stocking made for dog (she obviously had to have one to that matches ours!).

But of course, what would Christmas be for a knitter, if not a time to have a heap load of projects to finish. I think so far I'm making better progress than last year (where I had to wrap someone's present that was still on my knitting needles, when they unwrapped it I said "hope you like it, now give it back to me so I can finish it!"). I have my mom's sweater to finish and ONE pair of mittens left to make (Plantress, they're yours if you're wondering), and then some projects that still need to be blocked and have their ends woven in. I had optimistic plans of crafting some felt bird ornaments for everyone a la Purl Soho but I think I just have to accept that it will not be happening.

I'm not sure if this is part of growing up, but every year it seems harder and harder to get into the Christmas spirit. I try watching my favorite holiday movies, listening to Christmas music, decorating, drinking eggnog, making cookies, eating clementines (these are Christmas for me, not sure why), anything to get that spark of Christmas started. Is it because stores have been decorated for Christmas since Halloween? Or is it just that as an adult your Christmas involves more "have to's" and less of that holiday magic? What do you do to start feeling all Christmasy?

Well I should stop musing and get back to knitting. I'm determined to not have to gift an unfinished project this year!

Happy Holidays!