Looking for a cute decoration to make for winter? Thinking about your gift knitting? Might I suggest a perfectly lovely pattern designed by yours truly a few years ago, that I somehow never blogged about?
Little intarsia argyle mittens, all strung up. Mix and match colors for the hand, the diamond, and the criss-cross, or do it all uniform. They can teach you a bunch of different techniques if you haven’t tried them before, from ribbing, increases/decreases, intarsia, and duplicate stitch! Each one comes together fast, and they are so stinkin’ cute. I think they’d be adorable strung on a mantel, around a door, or if you celebrate with a Christmas tree, strung around that. Because they are actual complete mittens, you could make 24 of them and turn them into an advent calendar by tucking little treats or messages inside to open each day.
The originals were knit with Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted Tweed, which comes in a range of really rich colors. The pattern is in 50 Knits for Year-Round Giving, and there are plenty of other projects in there that you might want to make in the coming months!
Last year I made my awesome tree skirt. This year, I decided I wanted all the Christmas fabric out of the apartment, so I set about using it up. Those were lofty intentions (aren’t they always?), and of course I didn’t actually use up all the fabric in the end, but I made a significant dent! One major investment of fabric was in this pillow. I didn’t mean to deliberately mimic the tree skirt with the triangles, but the matchiness doesn’t matter, because this pillow was not destined to live in our house; I gave it to my mom for Christmas. I forgot to take a shot of the back but I did it in solid green with a single strip of some of the green with snowflakes. It looks like it’s a pocket pillowcase but it’s not—I seamed the entire thing shut after stuffing it with fiberfill. (A sewing teacher once told us that when stuffing a pillow, you should stuff it as much as you think is super stuffed… and then add more stuffing. I’m a strong adherent to this policy when I’m not using a pillow form!)
What I learned in making this is that sewing equilateral triangles takes more precision than I’m really interested in maintaining for an entire project! I knew this after making Meaghan & Josh’s quilt, but I guess I forgot or I decided that I like the look enough that it wouldn’t be an issue. But it was. Oh, it was. I was so frustrated, and that is why there is that large white border around the piecing! I love the look so much though,and it takes so well to simple quilting lines. You know I’ll selectively forget this in the coming year and end up sewing more equilateral triangles. Because damn they look cool!
Back in 2012 I declared 2013 the year of sewing clothing. I failed! I sewed 3 garments, all with quilting cotton so they’re not particularly stellar examples of handmade clothing. Even though I didn’t actually accomplish much in this area, I started subscribing to garment sewing blogs by the dozens, learning a lot about construction, fit, and even fabric choices. I started purchasing fabric with garments in mind, and I feel comfortable that 2014 is going to have some clothing!
Here are highlights from the year, and it’s definitely not everything that I made. Several here need blog posts still, a few still need photo shoots! And I have a few knits that I know I photographed but I have searched everywhere and cannot find the shots, so I’ll have to do new photo shoots for those.
I’m excited to report that after a consultation with a hand surgeon (who wrote this awesome book with his wife (affiliate link)) and some exercises with this (the red one), my hands have been in much better shape! If I were actually diligent about doing the exercises I think I could be actually cured by now. Instead it’s taking a bit longer to get back to 100%, but I can knit again! I actually bought a sweater’s quantity of yarn at Rhinebeck so hopefully I’ll feel ready to get started on that soon, plus finish up all the WIPs that have languished while I was on the DL.
So here’s to healthy hands and even more creating with them this year, and for many years to come.
I didn’t know Karrie, KnitPurlGurl. But enough people that I know did, so I heard about her death just after Thanksgiving this year. I don’t know how she died or anything about it, but it seems that it was sudden, and it’s clear that she was young and vibrant and that her loss will affect many in our online community. We might interact on a virtual plane, but the effects are very real, and I know all of our Real Lives are enriched by each other.
So when her fans suggested people knit or crochet a snowflake to send to her family, to complete the handmade snowflake mission that Karrie had been on, well, I wanted to participate, too. I’m proud to be part of this online community that cares so deeply about our members. And I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season.
This year, to increase the Christmas joy in our apartment, we got a real tree! This was a first for me in New York City and actually Jason’s first real tree ever. So I decided to make it a very special tree skirt. It’s just a large hexagon with one side unattached and the center cut out; each wedge of the hexagon is made up of equilateral triangles. I didn’t put this together as a tutorial but it’s pretty straightforward: I made each triangle 8 inches tall (I mastered using my long ruler’s angled markings!), and each wedge has 4 rows of triangles. I should have cut off more to make the hole larger, but live and learn! The end result is a large skirt, with a diameter around 5.5 feet—plenty of room for presents!
Between each wedge I did a small bit of welting in Kona Snow; I wanted some kind of border but didn’t want to fuss with piping. The backing is more Kona Snow, with the idea that its austere whiteness could go with a more demure tree in the future. I did use batting between the layers to give it a bit more substance and weight. The quilting lines radiate out from the center in alternating Christmassy green and red thread, which look fun on the white background, too.
I machine-stitched the binding entirely. The binding was cut on the bias but I mitered most of the corners and angles in the end. Still, it helped me get around the center of the skirt and was a technique I hadn’t done before. I used this tutorial‘s methods even though I was a bit suspicious of that last cut angle. I am not sure I would do it again this way—that last cut really isn’t precise enough—but wow it was simple!
I finished just in time for us to buy the tree and get it decorated! See more pics of our decorated tree plus a funny little video of our tree-trimming here!