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!
Pardon me while I gush over the cuteness I have brought into the world. Yeah yeah yeah someone had an adorable baby and it’s a miracle, new life, perfect boy—LOOK AT THE CUTENESS HERE. Rebecca Danger‘s adorable pattern for Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster is so simple, so mindless, and yet pays off such rewards!
I used Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (full disclosure: I, ahem, took this yarn home with me after we shot it for the Yarn Market News cover with the owls. So yeah, I got it free but it’s not like they expected me to knit with it), which I am currently obsessed with for baby toys. It is SO squishy and soft, and being bulky it knits up fast and makes things satisfyingly large. I used it for the hedgehogs, but have so much remaining that I also used it with this pair. I don’t really know how big this was supposed to be, but Mama came in at 12 inches tall and her baby is 5.5 inches tall. I embellished the pocket just a touch, with a little free-hand surface crocheted heart out of Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag yarn. I love its luster and shine.
I crocheted the little black eye discs out of Universal Yarns’ crochet thread, and on Mama I added some white to simulate button eyes. I know baby toys shouldn’t have buttons for risk of choking but I’m telling you, a baby who puts this alpaca in his mouth is going to be in for a rude surprise! Best to hug it and squish it and use it as a pillow, I think.
It’s going to be hard to pack these two up in a box and ship them out, but the baby is here early so I need to get on this! Expect to see more monsters from me—I’ve got a copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, and I’m not afraid to use it!
After a childhood spent wanting to blend into the background as much as was humanly possible—plain, solid non-eye-catching clothing only, please—I’ve come to love color. I wear a lot of different colors, in defiance of the “New Yorkers only wear black” dictum (and heck, I’m not an orignal NYer anyway; I’ve “only” lived here 8 years!). Nearly all of my coats are a bold color. (Though all my clothing is generally still solid. Some things never change.)
But sometimes, goddammit, you just want a gray cardigan. Or a sweater that isn’t such a “statement.” So you start to opt for grays when you’re amassing yarn, whether in a sweater’s quantity or a single skein to contrast with a fun color (in all those two-color shawls, for example). You request a gray cardigan for Christmas (and get two). And then suddenly the next thing you know, all you seem to have is gray yarn on the needles.
There’s this, which got a teeny tiny pop of color as an embellishment the other day (and will be photographed in full soon).
There’s this, a sweater I started back in March but haven’t worked on since I changed back to knitting English to help my hand pain. This one was started Continental, and I feel as though I should only do it that way lest I have a visible tension change. I’m about 3 inches from done (THREE INCHES) but can’t seem to get back to it (also it hurts too much to work on). It’s going to be cute but kind of dressy, and I so rarely put on actual clothing these days that there’s no real impetus to get it done.
And there’s this one, which I’m knitting English specifically in response to the one above, and which I had knit a ton of before taking a hard look and realizing that I was knitting far tighter than I had on the swatch, and it was coming out super small. So I frogged and started over (while at the beach) and have been slowly slogging away at the stockinette ever since. I like having this one on hand, though, because it doesn’t require any thought at all.
But then I’ve got this sitting waiting to be seamed up—I should really take a break from all the gray and play with this loveliness!
I’d never participated in a mystery knit along before, and with the added “choose your own adventure” element of Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow, I quickly decided to join the masses. I opted to remain unspoiled about each clue after it was revealed, only looking at photos of Arrows-in-progress after I’d committed to a clue. A few of my coworkers also participated, and it was fun to check on their progress and debate each option at lunch. Between the three of us, we all were making completely different shawls—a two-color kite start, a one-color kite start, and a lace start!
My choices at each juncture were pretty consistent, I felt: I chose the one that would remain a surprise until I was done knitting it (if this was a choice). Bonus if it seemed like the “harder” of the two options. Why take the easy way out? So I did what turned out to be the “kite” for Clue 1, because there was no chart to show me what it would look like. For Clue 2, I of course opted for the short rows because that was definitely something you couldn’t visualize just from reading the pattern. Clues 3 and 4 each had two lace charts, so sadly I couldn’t remain in the dark on what they would be like. I chose relatively randomly (they were quite similar, after all). I’ll admit I broke with my “rule” by Clue 5—I chose the one that seemed simpler and easier to execute, because I was ready to have an FO. Also I peeked at some of the finished ones (I didn’t tackle Clue 5 until after several people had finished entirely) and I didn’t like the way the other choice looked.
In the end I’m not really sure I ended up with a cohesive piece. But just as I used the yarn despite its quickly-recurring patch that didn’t get hit by the dye, I told myself that when a scarf is scrunched up around my neck in the way that I always wear them, no one will notice or care. The yarn was of course lovely to work with, as all Periwinkle Sheep yarn is, but I bought a sweater’s worth of it at Rhinebeck a few years ago without realizing just how prominent that undyed patch was going to be. I don’t mind the effect so much in this shawl, but I’m not sure what to do with all the rest of it in my stash.
Anyway, I’ve thrown this shawl into my bag this spring a lot—the lightweight yarn and the more open gauge make it perfect as a little something extra around my neck during transitional weather. I really like it when it’s all wrapped up. So who cares that the kite and short rows don’t really “go” with the lace sections?
One really good thing about this project was it definitely got me back in the knitting groove. Will I ever join in a mystery knit along again? Unlikely. I realized that I often see finished MKAL pieces and know I would never have chosen the design if I’d know it would look like that from the start. By nature a piece that goes in chunks is not going to be as cohesive looking as one that’s designed as a single thing. But did I enjoy this experience? Immensely! How fun to all be working on the same thing at the same time. It fed into the same part of me that likes to watch TV shows when they air, so I can participate in online chatter.
Regarding the little photo shoot I had for this with Caro of Splityarn: Why are we always shooting on incredibly windy days!? For this we went out in front of the Indianapolis Convention Center before a day on the show floor at TNNA and battled a blustery change in the weather. Also the grass was full of sinking spots that I kept falling into, so it was a hilarious time, as well. I love having a professional photographer friend at my beck and call!
A visit to two adorable babies requires an equally adorable gift, does it not?
On my Pacific Northwest tour, I got to stay a night with Julie, Andy, and their twins, Emmett and Malcolm. They’re nearly a year and a half old and walking around like gangbusters. They’re also into hugging things, so a pair of squishy, soft hedgehogs knit from a pattern by the Purl Bee blog were just the thing!
I used a silk blend from Brooks Farm (I think it’s “4 Play”?) in blue for the faces and bellies, and then Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (leftover from this YMN cover!) for the bodies. US 5 for the DK weight yarn, US 8 for the big stuff. These were such a cinch to make and completely satisfying, with their lack of seaming and thus instant gratification.
Plus the babies took to them immediately, hugging them and discovering that they bounce quite nicely when tossed to the floor! Julie and I tried to think up names for the hedgehogs and realized that our naming skills are of the most bland variety, leaving us with a set of “white hedgehog” and “brown hedgehog” or, perhaps, if we’re feeling saucy, “hedgie” and “hoggie.” The kids don’t seem to mind their namelessness, though. There’s really nothing better than giving someone a gift and watching them immediately incorporate it into their life, you know? The boys adopted the toys right away!