Dear Christmas Knitting,

img_3557Dear Christmas Knitting,

Hi.  It’s me.  We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately, and I think I need to get some things off my chest.

When we started, almost six months ago, everything was great.  We got along great.  It felt like we had all the time in the world.  Everything was easy, fun, even.  I enjoyed spending time with you, and planning the projects for everyone on my list.

But then, something happened over the course of months.  It was a slow change.  Instead of looking forward to spending an hour or two with you every evening, you became a chore.  I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but that’s what happened.  You know it, and I know it.

And now, this close to Christmas, we’ve been spending every free moment together, working hard to make our deadline.  I’ve been feeling the crunch as the due date looms closer.  Of course I’ll stick with you to the finish, but then… I think we might be done.

I don’t think we’ll be doing this again next year.  I think I might just go shopping for Christmas gifts, or possibly some nice gift cards.    Sure, I’ve said this before, but this year I mean it.  For real.  I promise.

Maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll see you next year.

-Allison

Inspiration: The Crown

I’ve been hard at work on Christmas gifts, so I’ve been watching more TV than usual.  (I’ve got one gift left to finish- and it feels like it’s taking forever!)

Lucky for me, I just got to spend 10 hours with the excellent new Netflix show, The Crown.  I love a good costume drama, and this is a good costume drama.  It follows Queen Elizabeth from just before her ascension through to the late 50s (I believe, I’m not great with dates).  It’s a very interesting view into the life of the young queen, her advisors, and her political opponents.  It’s a family drama, a political thriller, and kind of a coming-of-age story, all in one.  And, of course the costumes are gorgeous- the dresses, the jewels, the ridiculous military garb Prince Philip wears.  It’s all amazing.

Of course Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip don’t wear knitted jumpers to attend to matters of state, but when she’s at home, dealing with the day-to-day of “Queening,” you’d better believe Elizabeth rocks a cardigan (I bet they’re all cashmere, too).

She’s got somber ones for supervising work around the house.

crown-2And collared ones for meeting with her advisors.crown-1But they all look quite lovely with a big silk skirt with lots of petticoats.crown-3Want to let your inner Queen Elizabeth shine?  Try one of these royally cute cardi’s:

I love the touch of cables on this one, though the Queen would not approve of the short shorts.

Chimera Cardigan by Amy Herzogchimera-2_medium21I love the texture on this cardigan, but I think the Queen would think the big flower was a little “common.”  I bet she’d decorate the sweater with a gold-and-diamond brooch from her personal jewelry collection.

Christina by Kim Hargreavesp1020535-1_medium21I love the little fake peplum at the bottom of this sweater. It might be a little “much” for the queen, though.  She’s got very refined tastes.

Myra by Kim Hargreavesmyra_-_alpca_dk_medium21Have you watched The Crown?  It’s so good, right?

Snow Day!

It’s a snow day!

Which doesn’t really mean much in Seattle, except that everyone gets really excited about the three snowflakes that land in the greater King County area.  It’s not sticking, the roads are all clear, and I sill have to go to work this afternoon (unless the weather takes a rather dramatic turn later).  I couldn’t even get a good picture of the snow, it’s so light.  But I’m still going to enjoy it.

It’s been so long since we had any real snow around here.  I had a real snow day four or so years ago, when I still had an office job.  They closed down the whole campus and made us go “work from home” for two days.  We barely had to do any work, and we still got paid.  It was great!  There was actually a few inches’ on the ground that time.  Since then, we’ve had sprinkles of snow here and there, just like today.  A little pretty snow in the air, but no accumulation.

But, today, for my snow day, I’m going to enjoy it.  I’ve got Christmas carols playing, and my tree is all lit up.  I had hot cocoa with my breakfast, and I have the first batch of Christmas cookies in the oven (meringues, so they’ll be a disaster in this weather, but I’m trying anyway!).  Ollie’s got the right idea, he’s been napping by the window all morning.img_4084I think I’m going to take the rest of the morning to work on my one remaining (unending) Christmas knitting project (I’ve only got a week or so left before I need to get gifts in the mail!), and watch a movie.  That seems like a good thing to do on a snow day.

What’s your go-to snow day activity?  What’s your go-to snow day movie?

Inspiration:Terrace House

OK, I’ve got a confession to make.

You all know I like TV, and as someone who knits professionally (HA! That sounds funny), I probably watch more than I should.  And, most of the time, I try to limit my TV to stuff that’s a little bit wholesome- something with some cultural or educational value.  You know: BBC dramas, documentaries, cooking shows (and, yes, some Law and Order).

But I have a soft spot for some reality TV.  RuPaul’s Drag Race is my favorite, and I just began watching Project Runway again.  I’ve started watching the Bachelor/Bachelorette family of products.  They’re just such perfect ridiculous, escapist nonsense (especially these days when I need some escapism).

But we’re between seasons of the Bachelor, so what’s a girl to do?

One of my favorite podcasts of all time, Rose Buddies (a Bachelor fan podcast, and the reason I’ve started watching the show), suggested that I start watching Terrace House on Netflix.

And it’s magical.

It’s the Great British Bake Off of dumb reality TV.

Six men and women are given a fancy house in Tokyo and a big SUV, and they… just do stuff.  But, where in an American show all the contestants would get super drunk and cause all sorts of trouble right off the bat, the contestants on this show are so freaking polite and nice.  It’s a delight (if you’re into that sort of thing, and if you don’t mind reading subtitles).

But the best part is that they have a panel of six hosts (judges?) that pipes up from time to time during the show, offering play-by-play commentary.  I’m sure they’re all famous Japanese people (except for the 14-year-old boy whose presence is never explained), but I don’t recognize them.  And, the last episode I watched (Episode 11), two of the hosts were sporting some pretty great knitwear.bothSerious sweaters.

They’re even better close-up:graybrownThey’re not hand-knit; you can see where they were cut and seamed back together in the factory.  But, I love a good, classic Icelandic sweater (even when they’re on a Japanese TV show).

Want your own Serious Sweater?  Try one of these:

Asymptote (Men’s Pullover) by Lars RainsAudKnits snowflake scraves

Veturlidi by Liennea Ornstein9722624247_5b117d7d1f_z1Fosslaug by Linnea Ornsteinimg_2554_medium21What’s your guilty pleasure TV?  Have you watched Terrace House?

Bulletin

I make a lot of swatches.  I’m not religious about it when I’m working someone else’s pattern, but swatching is an absolute must when designing.  I think of them sort of as a sketch, a way to get my ideas out into the world.  Maybe I’ll have a really great idea, but it ends up looking really bad when knit up.  Or maybe the swatch will reveal a design flaw that I didn’t foresee.   Or, I start swatching, and I come up with an idea that is even better than my original one.

Long story short, I have a big stack of swatches.  Several dozen at least.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away, and they’re too varied to be sewn together into a blanket or anything useful.  All different sizes, shapes, and weights.  Some have been turned into fully-realized patterns, and some never got out of the planning stage, but I like them all.

And I can’t throw them away.

For a long time I had them strung up on the back of my closet door.  But it started to look messy (actually mess, not messy-on-pupose in a Pinterest-y kind of way).

So, I got some great big bulletin boards, and have started pinning up some of my swatches.  And, you know.  I think it looks pretty good.img_3951It’s fun to see all my ideas laid out like that.  Some of these are only ever going to be swatches, some are patterns that have been published already, and some turned into patterns that are going to be released in the future.  (Don’t ask me to tell you which are which!  It’ll be a surprise!)

I think Ollie likes my bulletin boards, too.  (HA!  He couldn’t care less, but he did like the box the boards came in.)img_3957What do you do with your swatches?  Do you keep them? Unravel them? Throw them away?  Or, do you not bother with swatches to begin with?

More Bears!

There’s bears all over!

Well, not really.  They’re just in a box in my closet, but it’s a pretty big box.  And right now, it’s full of 8 bears.  (Well, 8-and-a-half.)img_3934I don’t have anything insightful to say about these bears, I just think they look cute, all packed up together.

At least they look cuter than the “half” bear.img_3942 I’ve finished knitting her, but she still needs to be stuffed, sewn up and embroidered.  Right now she looks kind of like a crappy glove for someone with two fingers and no thumb.  But soon enough she’ll look as cute as her brothers and sisters.

Are you making any bears?  Join me!  I promise they’re fun!

Panic

Now that we’ve got Thanksgiving out of the way, it’s time to hit that Panic Button.panic-buttonYup. It’s one month from Christmas.  I’m going to go finish the Thanksgiving dishes, then I’m going to sit down for the next four weeks to knit.  Wish me luck.

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, families across the country will gather around their dinner tables, hold hands, and go through the slightly (very) awkward tradition of saying what they’re thankful for.

I say, why wait!

Here’s (some of) what I’m thankful for in a series of pictures from this year.

First, I’m thankful for my husband.  He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever known, and he can always make me laugh.  He puts up with all the Law and Order marathons and my near-constant panic about my most recent knitting project that is never going to get finished.  (Don’t worry about the dog- he’s having fun.  This is how he plays fetch- he never ever wants to give up the ball.)img_0469And that brings me to the second thing I’m thankful for, my pup Ollie.  He’s too stinking adorable for words, and is a total cuddle monster.  He’s so silly and sweet, and I’m incredibly glad he is part of our family.img_3610I’m thankful for Seattle-  I mean, a beautiful city, full of delicious food and all sorts of things to do, minutes from the beach and less than an hour from two mountain ranges?  Could you ask for a better place to live?img_0593I’m thankful for all our friends, both here in Seattle and spread across the country.  I’m so happy that we’ve managed to stay in touch over the years and across three time zones.  And, I’m still so happy we made it all the way to Yellowstone this summer- best vacation ever!beaver-ponds-hike-36And, I’m thankful for getting to knit and design patterns for a living.  When I was a kid, filling out those “What I Want To Be When I grow Up” quizzes, I never thought “Professional Knitter” would be an option.  So, you can imagine how surprised (and pleased) I am to find myself here.carkeek-park-pulloverOf course, I’m thankful for much more, but those are just the things I have pictures of.  I’m thankful for big things, of course: my family, the opportunity to work with amazing kids every day, and the home my husband and I share.  And I’m thankful for silly little things: that it’s (finally) grapefruit season again, coffee, and trips to the dog park.  And, of course I’m thankful for you guys!  I wouldn’t be writing (as much, anyway) if I didn’t have you amazing readers.

So, happy Thanksgiving!  Have a fantastic day tomorrow, eat too much and enjoy yourself!

Pattern: Bunny and Bear

Last week, I told you about the kids I teach in my knitting class.  They are all doing an amazing job, and they all like making different things.  Some want to make tiny little projects they can finish in a day, some want to spend weeks working on a single item.  Some only want to make garments for themselves, and some make garments for their stuffed animals.

But all kids love a new stuffed animal. (Or “stuffie” as my students say.  Is that a regional thing?  Or is it a generational thing.  I never called them “stuffies” when I was a kid.”

So, I designed a pattern for two new stuffies, a bear and a bunny, that is easy enough for even an early beginner knitter.  img_3474These two little guys are totally adorable (if I say so myself), and are made without any shaping, purling or other “complicated” knitting.  If you can knit garter stitch, you can make yourself a new little friend.  And, I’ve included step-by-step instructions, including pictures!img_3442But, I think my favorite part of this pair is their tiny little tails!  (The bunny has a teeny pompom and the bear has an even tinier little nubbin.  Adorable!)img_3489Are you a very beginning knitter looking to make something more fun than a potholder or a scarf?  Do you have a kid itching to take up needles and yarn?  Give these two a try!

bunny-and-bear

Knitting with Kids

I’ve mentioned my job before- I teach kids’ arts-and-crafts classes after school at local elementary schools.  Mostly, I teach classes where kids learn to use a sewing machine (hopefully safely), and learn basic construction.  It’s pretty great.

But from time to time, I get to teach something else.  This summer, it was jewelry making.  Last spring, it was quilting.  This semester, it’s knitting!

I love knitting (obviously), and teaching kids knitting is kind of the best.  I have nine kids in my class, and I’d say three-quarters of them are actually really into making stuff with yarn.  (The other quarter is really into making pompoms and trying to see how big of a mess they can make.  But that’s kind of par for the course of teaching elementary-aged kids.)

I love seeing how creative kids can be.  You’ve seen one of my student’s pumpkin.  (I still think it’s possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.)wp_20161025_16_28_22_proBut we’ve had all sorts of stuff made in this class!  Tiny blankets for dolls, bracelets, mini scarves, a stuffed bunny, and even finger-less gloves.

We’ve even had a couple kids make hats, using a knitting loom (a fantastic invention for little hands who have trouble wrangling needles and yarn).  One girl made a hot pink hat that ended up being a little too small for her head because she has amazingly curly hair, so she’s making another one, bigger this time.  Too cute!

And a different girl made this hat for her little brother.  She did it all on her own, with no help from me.  Can you guess what it is?wp_20161108_16_40_50_proIt’s a frog hat!  Of course!  Isn’t it amazing? A six-year-old came up with the idea for this hat and managed to execute it all on her own. So impressive!

I’m going to miss this class when it’s over in a few weeks.

Do you eve knit with kids?  What kinds of projects do you work on together?