Christmas Knitting

I’m feeling much better today (thanks for all the advice!), and hopefully I’ll keep up the streak of no-headaches for a while.

It’s cool (40s and 50s) and rainy outside, and the leaves are all changing.  So, obviously it’s the time for me to start making my Christmas plans!What?  You’re not a total Type-A planner like me?  Crazy!

Usually, I plan out Christmas gifts (and really, Christmas Knitting) super early- like, over the summer early.  But, I’ve decided to do something truly shocking this year.

I’m. Not. Knitting. Anything.

I swear!

(OK, I am making one small gift because it was specifically requested, and I made a promise.)

Every year I spend months knitting at top speed to make it to December 25th- I make sweaters, I make socks, I make mittens and hats and stockings.  And, they totally stress me out.

This year, I’ve got a bunch of work knitting that’s keeping me busy, and really, I just want to sit back, relax, drink some peppermint cocoa and enjoy the holiday season.  (And maybe selfishly make myself a few dozen more Christmas Balls.)That’s not to say that no one will be getting knit gifts.  You remember my stash of finished objects, right?  There’s nothing to say that someone won’t be receiving a nice scarf that I worked up in March, or a pair of socks from January.  I’ve got people in mind for a bunch of my finished projects, and I’m sure they’ll be excited to get them.  And, for people that aren’t getting anything knitted… well, that’s what shopping is for!

I’m just excited that I’m not going to have to worry about knitting my fingers to the bone, racing the clock (and Santa) to get everything done before Christmas!

Do you have any big plans for your holiday/Christmas knitting?

Inspiration: Headache?

Y’all.  It’s been a rough week, I’ll be honest with you.  I’ve had a headache for probably 6 of the past 7 days (Saturday was OK for some reason).  I’ve tried everything.  Painkillers, extra caffeine, removing caffeine, more sleep, less sleep, sitting quietly in the dark, going out and running errands to keep my mind off of my headache, extra hydration, hot packs and cold packs.

At most, I’ve gotten a relief for an hour or two at a time, but my headache keeps coming back.  It’s now managed to migrate from my head, down into my neck and shoulders (probably because I’ve gotten so stressed about it, I’m tensing up the muscles in my shoulders… sigh.)

This morning I’ve been sitting quietly in a semi-darkened room, knitting and listening to podcasts (because looking at screens (like the TV) seems to exacerbate my headache), drinking a Coke (because coffee sounds gross right now, but I wanted to see if caffeine might help my head this morning), and taking turns with the hot and cold packs.  It seems to be helping, and hopefully by the time I need to leave the house for work this afternoon, I’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (or at least I won’t be dragging as much as I have been the last few days).

I’ve got a bunch of cold packs left over from when I used to play roller derby, but none of them have sleeves as nice as this- I might need to make one or two to have on hand the next time my head gets the best of me.

Knitted Ice Pack Cozy by Ampy Versalles-CurtisI’ve got a heating pack that I made years ago that I filled with barley.  I like it a lot (I’ve got it on my shoulders right now).  But, it’s gotten a bit stained and worn over the years, so maybe I should crochet up a cute little pouch for it.  I like the little crocheted buttons, especially

Comfort Pack by Donna Hulka

I’m so ready for this headache to go away!  Do you have any remedies for a stubborn headache?

New Pattern: Tannenbaum Tree Skirt

It’s a very special day today.  (No, it’s not just Friday, October 13th, the spookiest day of the year)  It’s new pattern day!  And, better than that, it’s new Christmas Pattern day!

Knit Picks just published an insanely adorable collection, cram-jammed with cozy holiday patterns.

Everything in this book is stinking cute, and gives me “Cozy Christmas Cabin” vibes, which is exactly what I want when I’m gearing up for the holidays.

I think the cutest pattern might be this adorable color work Santa pillow.  I see myself spending the next couple months knitting up a handful of these bad boys.  I love how the hats of one row of Santas form he shoulders of the next row- very clever!

Santa Pillow by Kathy LewinskiAnd these stockings are just too sweet!  I love that they’re worked in bulky yarn (making them extra-big for extra presents!) and the non-traditional burgundy, navy and cream are a really nice alternative color scheme.  If I hadn’t already made my stockings, I’d be seriously considering whipping up a few of these guys for my family.  Maybe I’ll end up with a sweater featuring the reindeer and snowflakes…

Holiday Stockings by Michele Lee Bernstein

But, if I can totally toot my own horn, I think my pattern might be my favorite.  It’s the Tannenbaum Tree skirt!

It’s a creamy, cabled, cozy tree skirt knit in a single piece, featuring Christmas-tree-shaped cables all the way around.  (Trust me, it’s even cuter in person!)It’s a smallish skirt, about 30″ in diameter, so it’s perfect for a skinny tree, or a small table-top tree.  It’s worked in bulky yarn, so it works up in no time at all.  Plus (and I realize this might not be something that everyone agrees with), the cables are insanely fun to work, all complicated and twisty, but really satisfying at the end of the day.

If you want to get a copy of my pattern, head over here!

Or, if you want to get a copy of the whole Merry Knitmas book (and why wouldn’t you?), head here!

Christmas Ball Update

Lately, I haven’t had much time for “fun” knitting. (“But, Allison!” You protest, “All knitting is fun!”)  I’ve been hard at work on a very cool (yet, ironically  very cozy) and very top-secret pattern.  I have to knit X amount of the pattern every day to stay on track to make my deadline at the beginning of November.  It’s not a very relaxing schedule for my knitting, but it’s what works best for me.  If I don’t give myself a daily deadline, I try to get the whole darn thing done in one sitting and I go a little crazy.

On the days when I finish my assigned knitting early, I’ve been treating myself with Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls.I got the book last year for Christmas, and have since then, I’ve harbored hopes that I could cover our tree with nothing but red-and-white knit bobbles.  So far, I have made a bunch (just over a dozen), but unless we get a very small tree, it’s not going to be enough.

Despite being a little disappointed with my progress, I’m still loving making these balls.  They’re the perfect in-between project. They’re interesting, and great colorwork practice.  They don’t take long to make (one ball takes me about 2 hours to knit- just enough knitting to watch a movie).  And, they’re very satisfying.  I want to make all the Christmas Balls!

I just have to finish my stupid work knitting first… sigh.

Do you have any favorite “in-between” patterns you keep going back to?

Inspiration: Pumpkin Spice

Y’all.  It’s that time of year again!  And I think you know what time I mean.

Pumpkin Spice Time.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the OG Pumpkin Spice Latte (too sweet for me), but I love all other things Pumpkin Spice.  I mean, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice?  You can’t go wrong!

I made some applesauce the other day with some Pumpkin Spice in it (very tasty), and I’ve been known to whip a batch of pumpkin pancakes and a loaf or two of pumpkin bread (with pumpkin spice, natch).  Not to mention several pumpkin pies every fall/winter.  I mean.  Can you think of a better breakfast than a slice of creamy pumpkin pie with a steaming cup of coffee?  (Of course pie is a “sometimes” breakfast, I’m not completely a monster.)

Anyway, let’s celebrate the reason for the season with some Pumpkin Spice knits!

This baby hat is too cute to be trusted.  I bet that baby is scheming to steal my pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin Spice Hat by Cuie Patootees

 

This cowl is such a lovely combo of textures and colors, I can’t think of anything better.  Except maybe a Pumpkin Spice chai?

Pumpkin Spice Cowl by Agnes Kutas-KeresztesI couldn’t talk about Pumpkin Spice projects without including a coffee sleeve!  Perfect for your next Pumpkin Spice Latte. (You can’t use it for a regular drip coffee, or even a vanilla latte.  It’s particular.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes only.)

Pumpkin Spice by Evan MiddletonWhat’s your favorite part of this time of year, and why is it pumpkin-spice everything?

Papaya Sweater Update- The Pits

I’ve made it through the tricky part (as far as this sweater has a tricky part; it’s exceptionally simple).  The shoulders look great, and I made it to the arm/body split, otherwise known as the armpit.

From now on, it’s basically straight stockinette down to the extra-long hem (unless I get really antsy and try doing something fancy).

I want this sweater to be as long as I can possibly make it, so I’m going to do a couple inches (probably to the end of this skein)  on the body, then switch over and finish off the sleeves.  That way, I can work to the very last inch of the very last skein to make the rest of the body.  (We all know how well my last game of yarn chicken went… let’s hope this one works out a little better.)I really like how this sweater is turning out- I keep thinking of outfits it would be perfect with.  But, I have a while to go before I get to take this bad boy off my needles.  I just need to buckle down and turn into a real knitting machine.

Have you been working on any marathon projects lately?

Pattern: 15th Street Wrap

What’s better than New Pattern Day?

Free Pattern Day!

Woo hoo!

I just had a gorgeous (if I say so my self), simple, cozy pattern published through Knit Picks, and available to all of you lovely folks for free!

Introducing:  The 15th Street Wrap!This wrap is essentially a massive scarf, worked in seed stitch with extra-bulky yarn. (It’s super easy and goes super fast!) I love the colorblocking- the big swathes of each color are modern and un-fussy.

I love the blues they used for the example, but this wrap would also be lovely in creamy browns, or dreamy grays.  Or, maybe you could do a neutral background (grays and whites), with a pop of bright yellow or magenta on one end!  I could spend all day putting color palettes together!This shawl would be a fantastic Chrsitmas present.  It’s massive and impressive-looking, but takes next to no time to work up.  Throw a couple movies on TV, and you’ll be making headway before you know it!

Want to work up the 15th Street Wrap?  The pattern is available here for free!

An Ode to Cables

Oh, cables.  I love you so.

It seems that virtually every design I’ve been working on lately is just packet to the brim with cables.  Big cables, little cables, simple cables, compound cables.  Cables going down sleeves, cables running up the fronts of sweaters.  Wide cables, narrow cables, and ones in-between.I’ve made cables with extra-fine sock yarn, and massively bulky yarn.  In soft cashmere and utilitarian wool.Cables occupy that perfect space in-between cozy/casual and fancy/embellished.  They’re sporty, yet warm.  Comfy, but classy.  They can be dressed up or dressed down (or, if it’s possible) dressed side to side.I don’t just love the finished products, either.  There’s nothing more satisfying than breaking out my cable needle and carefully forming an intricate twist.  (Even when I mess up, it’s OK.  Figuring out how the cable goes back together is half the fun!)Do you have a particular favorite technique?  Or, do you agree with me that cables are the best?

Inspiration: Trixie

I’ve been ramping up another work project, which means I’ve been spending even more time than usual on the couch, knitting like the wind.  Which, in turn, means I’ve had more time for catching up on TV shows I’ve neglected.

And this week, I’ve been catching up on Call the Midwives (because I apparently felt the need to cry all over my new knitting). The last time I watched the Midwives was over a year ago, when I caught a few scattered episodes of Season 5 when they were airing on PBS.  And, since Season 6 has just gone up on Netflix, I figured it was as good a time as any to get all caught up.

Of course there are insane knitted layettes for the newborns, adorable knit vests on the school-kids, and twee little cardigans on all the nurses, which are all lovely.

But, in Episode 1 of Season 5 (actually these sweaters show up throughout the season, but they make their appearance in Episode 1), Trixie is shown wearing a really cute sweater.  One that’s so classic, yet so modern, I kind of want one for myself.

Trixie is a new devotee of “Keep-Fit” a proto-Zumba organization that she’s joined during her post-rock-bottom/post-break-up self-improvement phase.  It’s really a lovely few scenes, actually.  It could have been handled very poorly- a bunch of young ladies doing silly Jazzercise routines in neck-to-toe black leotards.  But Trixie gets to give a couple of really heartfelt speeches about the importance of her new community, and its ideals of self-empowerment, and women’s rights.  (It actually reminded me a lot of the things that the women on my roller derby team used to talk about.)

But we’re not here to talk about women’s empowerment (though I could do that all day if you want).  We’re here to talk about sweaters.

Everyone in the class wears long, black leotards, except the instructor, who gets to wear a totally cute, cropped, tie-front cardigan.

Trixie’s instructor has hers in a lovely periwinkle blue.And when Trixie starts teaching, she gets hers in a fiery scarlet (naturally).(I’m now looking more closely at these sweaters, and it actually looks like they might be made of sweatshirt jersey, not knit, but we’ll just pretend, shall we?)

I love the criss-cross front, and the super flattering 3/4 length sleeves and cropped length that hit right at the natural waist.  I don’t think I want to go flouncing about in a leotard like the ladies in the Keep Fit class, but I do think I want one of the instructors’ sweaters.

I love this one, with the subtle all-over mistake ribbing and twill ties.

Penny by Debbie BlissAnd this one might be most like Trixie’s- the length is right, and the three-quarter sleeves.  I like the little picot edges on the cuffs, but I might change them to a simple ribbing, I’m not really a “ruffles” kind of gal.

Yoga Wrap Sweater WR1705 by Lisa GetryThis one is just too sweet for words.  It’s not really as practical as Trixie’s (what with the short sleeves and the deeper V-neck), but I love the style of this one.  The textured sleeves, the lovely soft color and the feminine shaping that isn’t too girly.  Man… this one’s a contender for sure.

Gardenia by Martin StoreyIf I had more time, I’d definitely get one of these bad boys on my needles as soon as possible.  As it is, I still might… Work can wait when there are cute sweaters to be made!

Have you spotted any cute sweaters on TV lately?

Finished Moon River

I just realized that I didn’t ever tell you guys… I finished my Moon River!

And it actually turned out pretty great!  (Massive, but pretty great, none the less.)

It’s got a good 5-foot-plus wingspan, and since it’s a half-circle, is about 2-and-a-half feet deep.  It’s light as a feather, and will be lovely and warm once winter gets here.

I think the last time I talked about this project, I was crying about losing at yarn chicken.  Well, I ripped back a significant portion, and re-knit it (a couple times actually… it was very frustrating), and eventually figured out that the only way I was going to make it to the end was if I changed the bind off I was doing.

I had been doing a 2-stitch picot edge, which made lovely, elegant points, but used up a ton of yarn.  I had to change to a less yarn-intensive bind off.  So I ripped back a couple feet (it’s a massive shawl, and I didn’t want to rip back the whole thing), and re-bound-off with a 1-stitch picot edge.You can see where I changed my bind-off technique here.  It looks a little silly if you look too closely, but I figure that once I have it on, no one will notice.

Long story short, I managed to make it to the end… but just barely.That’s literally all the yarn that was leftover… one, maybe one and a half inches.

But, I managed to weave in all the ends  and get the shawl blocked, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

Now I just have to decide how I’m going to wear this massive thing!