Monday, December 31, 2007

What I did on my Christmas vacation

I hope everyone had as wonderful a holiday as I had - not too much craziness, lots of good food and good friends, time with my family, and 11 blissful days of vacation! This has been and eventful and sometimes challenging year, and I'm ready for a new one to begin tomorrow.

Now that I have given all my holiday gifts I can blog about my gift knitting and other projects. Admittedly I didn't do a lot of knitting for gifts this year; in part because my family chose give to charitable causes this year in lieu of presents, at least for the adults. But my mother and stepmother both requested some of my fingerless gloves to protect their hands. They both take blood thinners and their hands really suffer from bruising, small nicks bleed a lot quickly get re-injured, and generally getting pretty banged up. So I made a couple pairs using's Esprit elasticized cotton yarn, which knits up into a dense springy fabric that hugs their hands tightly and doesn't itch or get them too warm.

Of course, I completely forgot to take pictures before gifting them, but I also made a 2nd pair for my stepmother using's Den-M-Knit indigo-dyed cotton that I did get a photo of. As it's not a stretchy yarn at all I did baby cables in the ribbing and along both sides of the thumb gusset to give a little firmness to the fabric. They tightened up well in the wash so hopefully they will work out for her OK.

I made two things for my niece, Madison. Just look at this face; it makes the heart of her auntie glow to see her loving her gifts so much! I made her a poncho from the terrific little book Holiday Knits by Sara Lucas & Allison Isaacs of Imaginknit yarn shop in San Francisco. It has a pretty feather and fan stitch trim around the neck and hem and is worked form the top down. I made the 1-2 year size and found the shaping to be a perfect fit for Madi, who is still tiny for her 2 years. I used a blue and white Kersti merino yarn from Koigu that knit up beautifully.

I also did some sewing for her - the kitty Madi is sitting on is sort of a pillow/sort of a stuffed animal that I've been wanting to make for her since about the time she was born. Given it's size I decided to wait until she was big enough to play with it. The pattern is Kwik Sew #2339. Its sewn from polar fleece, stuffed with fibre fill, and has machine embroidery for the facial features. It was so much fun to make and even more fun to see her take to it so fast.

A gift that will keep on giving for a while is a vest for Thomas. He at long last expressed interest in me knitting something for him so I immediately swooped in for the challenge. As I wanted his input in the design of the garment all I did was pick out some yarn ahead of time and make a tiny vest to wrap up. I found a beautiful charcoal grey wool called Dolly by Cascade yarns that knits like a dream, and after knitting the mini-vest I decided to also make a little "paper doll" of Thomas to dress up in the vest before I wrapped it up. Making the paper doll took longer than knitting the little vest but it did the trick - he loved everything! I'm going to start swatching with the yarn to find a texture that he likes and that won't bore me to tears while knitting on it - it's a fairly lightweight wool that will knits up well on size 4 US needles, so it won't be a quick project. Stay tuned to see how this one progresses.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Joy to all.

Regardless of what holidays you celebrate; whether your holiday has already concluded, is just commencing, or is to come later, I wish you all a life filled with joy, kindness, love, compassion, and peace. Happy knitting to all, and I'll catch up on my Christmas knitting and other projects in a few days.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Little progress has been made.

I've finally completed the embroidery on the Bunad boots but don't have a picture yet. I'm still stymied by the issue of dyeing the suede soles. Being convinced the suede, heat, and moisture don't mix well I've tried other methods, including a traditional blackening method involving a solution of vinegar and iron which reacts with the tannins in suede to blacken it; brush-on suede dye, and simple wishful thinking (very ineffective, I might say) all with the same results. I don't have black suede soles yet. So I broke down, bought some RIT dye, and have just finished simmering the soles in a potful of black dye. They're outside drying right now, and I must say that the stiffness the wet soles confirms my fears as to what happens to wet hot suede, but being either optimistic or foolish I am holding out a little hope that they will be functional once dry. We'll see soon. If this doesn't work I'll just finished them as they are (sole-less, if not soul-less) and at least start wearing them while I hunt down some black sued to make my own soles. Which in hindsight would have been so much easier to start with.

So as I have no knitting pictures to show I am including one of my niece, Madison, who I recently spent a weekend with. Over the 2 years since she was born I have made her a variety of knitted stuffed animals, some of which I had forgotten about. Most of them are tiny cats; one is a large and well-worn rabbit. So here she is, surrounded by her companions......

I am fairly certain that the large white rabbit was from the book Last Minute Knitted Gifts ( a terrific book, by the way); the little blue kitten was an adaptation of the Bubba Bear pattern posted on Knitty a year or so ago; and the grey and the white/orange striped kittens were adapted from Knitting Daily's free knitted animals pattern - very easy, by the way. The primary adaptations I made for all the small kitties were mostly to use finer yarn and needles (for the Knitty pattern), and additionally for the Knitting Daily pattern, to cut the stitch/row counts more or less in half to get the smaller size. All of the little ones were stuffed with yarn and the rabbit has poly fiber fill stuffing.