Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All the best.......

I'm a bit off this week on my blogging schedule, it seems. It's such a treat to be on vacation for a couple of weeks and I was having too much fun to remember what day it was, and simply forgot to post on Sunday as usual. But, today, on Christmas Eve, I wish everyone the very best, whatever holiday you celebrate (or not). I am so grateful for my family, my friends, and for the wide, wonderful, and woolly community of knitters out there. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

My holiday knitting wasn't extensive this year, but it's great to see one of my gifts already in use. I gave my friend Bonnie one of my felted Xmas Trees, trimmed with vintage buttons, and she promptly realized that it made a perfect festive hat for her Ugly Doll, Poe. The tree is from Mason-Dixon Knitting - Outside the Lines (their 2nd book) and is easy easy easy, and so cute when done. I made several of them, each in a different yarn and with different buttons. By all reports Poe is extremely proud of his new hat, and also to hear that he would make a guest appearance on this blog.

Once they were all done, the Prehistoric Pals for Madi were also really cute. (Some of them looked really odd while in process; it wasn't until they were all complete that they really got cute. If you try the pattern, be patient.) They all benefited from a trip through the was to felt them slightly after they were stuffed and all the details added. The pattern is very easy to knit, if a bit fiddly with all the finishing, but not nearly as much so as I feared. I'm glad I chose a wool yarn instead of cotton as I originally planned to use; all of the seams and joinings would have been harder to do neatly without the forgiving nature of wool, and they certainly wouldn't have been able to be felted to help smooth away a lot of the little irregularities.

So instead, I chose to use cotton (and linen) for my next project, the Delft Pillow from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2008 issue. Mom has been wanting some pillows for her couch, as it's a bit too deep to sit on comfortably without a little extra cushion behind her back, and she loved this pattern when I showed it to her. She had some Manos del Urauguay Cotton Stria yarn left over from a vest I made her some time ago that was a perfect shade of blue for her room, and I had some natural flax coloured Euroflax Linen yarn in my stash, which looked great with the couch, so we were all set on yarn without having to shop for more (not that I ever mind shopping for more!)

The pillow is constructed in an intriguing way so I'm very glad to have an excuse to try it out. The first step is an i-cord, which then becomes the piping along the bottom edge. The stitches for the pillow body are then picked up along one edge of the i-cord and the pillow is knitted in the round from there up, with a corded edge running up each side. This makes for a very tight turn on the edges of the pillows so it requires the use of 2 circular needles to work the pillow. This was really making me crazy; I have never liked the 2-circular needle method for socks or other things, so I finally switched to using a 60" needle from my Knit Picks Options set, and doing something like a Magic Loop technique.

Knitting stranded patterns in non-wool fibres doesn't make for the easiest or most forgiving knitting, but so far I'm very happy with how it looks. I made a sample using the design for the back and put it through the wash to soften the linen (which I am using doubled to match the weight of the cotton yarn) and it looked good enough to go ahead with the whole pillow. Now that the pillow is about half-way done I am very happy with it. I've just bound off and cast on for the opening in the back, which will later on be closed with a row of small buttons.

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