Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Toast

I’d like to raise a glass  to all of my knitting brethren and sistren out there, on New Year’s Eve Eve;OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMay your 2016 be full of happiness and love.

May your skeins never tangle, and your needles never break.

May you always get gauge on the first try.

May your sweaters knit up faster than expected.

May you never have to tink back an entire row, and when you do make a mistake, may you find it before it’s too late.

May you never be stuck in a waiting room without your knitting.

May your LYS always have the yarn you’re looking for (and in the right colorway too!).

May you always buy enough of a dyelot to finish a whole project.

And, may you never stop knitting.

Happy 2016, everyone!

Pattern Spotlight: Socks by the Numbers

Woo!  We made it through Christmas! That can mean only one thing!  No, silly, not that you need bigger pants.  And, no, not that we can put away the tinsel.  It means that I can actually show you guys all the socks that I made for gifts this year!  Finally!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, here’s the big secret:  They’re all made using my “Socks by the Numbers” pattern.  It’s free and available here:

 Socks by the Numbers

This pattern is hardly even a pattern, it’s more of a recipe.  You plug in your gauge and the size of the foot you’re trying to fit, and away you go.  I show you how to do the math, so you’re free to play with color, texture, and stitches, all the while making an perfectly-fit top-down sock with a heel flap.

Now, to the socks!

I made a pair of lovely burnt-orange socks for my father-in-law with a pretty cool all-over basket-weave stitch of knits and purls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy mother-in-law got a pair of adorable ice-blue socks, decorated with a lace pattern modified from a vintage stitch dictionary.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy dad got a pair of utilitarian socks with simple ribbed cuffs, perfect for Chicago winters in a really nice shade of brown-gray.  (Trust me, in real life, the yarn is kind of cool and heathered.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy brother got a goofy pair of black-and-yellow fraternal-twin socks.  Because he’s my brother, and he’s a little goofy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd my husband got a pair of socks in sapphire blue with just enough ribbing at the cuffs and down the sides to make them interesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWoo!  Socks for everyone!  (OK, not quite everyone, but “Socks for everyone” sounds a whole lot better than “Socks for about three-quarters of the people on my list.”)  And, with my Socks by the Numbers pattern, I was able to work up perfectly-fitting, customized socks without any problem!

Did you have a go-to gift for everyone on your list this year?

Merry Knit-mas

Merry Christmas, everyone!  (And, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, merry Going Out For Chinese Food And Then A Movie Day.)


I don’t have anything profound to say today, or even anything that interesting.  I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas.  May your day be filled with warm mittens, fluffy sweaters of the finest merino, and knitting free from mistakes.

The Eleventh Hour

We’re in the home stretch, folks.  Only two days left until Christmas.  What’s that?  You’re not done with your Christmas knitting yet?

Why stress about it?  Why not print out this letter, fill it in, pour yourself a glass of mulled wine, and kick back with a favorite Christmas movie?ChristmasLetter

That’s my Christmas gift to you- the gift of relaxation!

Bears on the Move

The day has come, and I’ll be honest, I have a little tear in  my eye.  It feels like I’ve been working on these bears forever, even if it is only a couple months.  I’ve watched them grow and get faces and become all fluffy and adorable, and now it’s time to send them off on their own.  It’s like a bear graduation.

I’ve ended up with seven bears, so not too shabby, if I say so myself.

I’ve got yellow ones,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand brown ones,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand one with a dress.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA green one,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand even a naked one!  (Except for a strategically-placed scarf.  Oh my!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey’re all nestled together in their box, and are ready to fly to Mother Bear Headquarters in Minnesota.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGoodbye bears!  I had fun making you!  Good luck on your adventures!

Did you make any bears, too?  Have you sent them off already?

You can still make your own, just visit the Mother Bear Project for more information!

Inspiration: Last Minute Gifts

We’re in the home stretch, folks!  So, today, I’m highlighting a few (FREE!) patterns for last-minute gifts from yours truly.

If you’ve got a week until Christmas, think about knitting up a Lazy Susan Beanie.  Worked in the round with worsted-weight yarn, this little hat goes super quickly.  And, the clever spiral stripe technique creates jog-less joins with virtually no effort.  Try knitting one up in your nephew’s favorite colors, or your cousin’s school colors.

P8265286_medium2[1] Get the pattern here:  Lazy Susan Beanie

What’s that? You’ve only got the weekend?  Maybe try working up a Cabled Coffee Sweater!  These use just a fraction of a skein of yarn, so you probably have plenty hanging around your stash.  After all, everyone likes coffee!  (Or is that just Seattle?)

coffee_sleeve_medium2[1]Get the pattern here:  Coffee Sweater

Oh no!  You’ve only got a half hour?  Well, then you’ve got to break out your scrap yarn, glue and toothpicks and make yourself a WIP Ornament.  With a total of only about 50 stitches, these ornaments knit up in literally no time.  And they’re so cute!


Get the pattern here:  WIP Ornaments

What is your go-to last-minute gift pattern?

Mama Bear Update: Finishing

We’re in the home stretch, folks! I wanted to send the bears out by Christmas, and I think I’ll make it.  I’ve knit up seven bears in the last couple months, and they’ve all got faces.  Now all I need to do is give them a little stuffing and make them lovely and chubby.  Time to break out the poly-fill.

I started by fluffing up some poly-fill and adding it by small hand-fulls to my completed bear, massaging it as I went to avoid lumps.  (He looks like a little zombie potato right now.  Braaaains…. braaaaains…)


Then, using the long tail left over from the cast on, I whip-stitched this guy’s head closed.


And made ears by sewing a little diagonal running stitch seam at the base of each ear.  (They turned out a little pointy, so maybe this is a teddy-cat, not a teddy-bear.)


Then, to make a neck and get rid of the whole potato-head thing he’s got going on, I carefully ran my needle through around his neck, starting and ending at the back of his head.


I tied the ends together tightly, and wove in the ends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis formed a a nice, round, non-potato head.  Adorable!


Then I wove in the ends on his little scarf and wrapped it around his neck, adding a little stitch to hold the knot in place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADone!  And, adorable!

Thinking about joining the Mother Bear party?  It’s not too late!  Get your pattern here!

Moths, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Actually Fix My Husband’s Stocking

Buckle in, everyone.  It’s going to be a long one.  A tale of mystery! Suspense! Moths!

Several years ago, I knit up two lovely stockings for myself and my husband.  They were fabulous, squishy, Cascade 220 in carefully-selected  shades of evergreen, holly berry and cream.  Perfect Christmas colors.  The stockings were covered in Fair Isle color work from the cuff to the toe, and I even charted out and knit our names into the tops.  They were lovely and festive.

They looked like this (although it looks like they need to be re-blocked):


Last year, we were decorating the house, and I pulled out the stockings.  And horror of horrors– a silver-dollar-sized hole right in the top of my husband’s stocking.

I freaked out!  My heart pounded, and I felt sick to my stomach.  How could this happen? What was I supposed to do?  I had worked so hard on those stockings!  Now some bug had come along and ripped a gigantic hole right in the middle of his name!

I’ll admit- what happened next was not one of my smartest moments.  But I panicked.

And cut the whole top off the stocking.

Just pulled out my big ol’ shears and cut off all the disgusting bug-residue, and threw it away.  For a few minutes, I felt better- the offending area was now gone and it couldn’t infect the rest of the stocking (because in my mind, that’s how moths worked.  Like I said, not my smartest moment).

But my good mood was short lived.  Because the moment I threw away the top of the stocking, I looked at what I had left.  It was not good.


Hoo boy.

I took a few calming breaths and realized that whatever I needed to do next, I had to get more yarn- after all, I had cut off a good 4 inches, and needed to get that knitting back, one way or another.   I hopped in the car and drove to my favorite yarn shop with the sad, half-dead stocking and picked out the appropriate colors (and thank god they hadn’t been discontinued!).  This was literally a year ago.   (OK- a year and two days.)


Yarn in hand, half-dead stocking in my knitting bag, did I run home to pick up my needles and go to work?

No.  I panicked some more and hid the project away in my knitting room.

And then forgot about it.

All year.


I pulled out the Christmas stuff this year, and when I saw my lone intact stocking in the box of decorations, it all came flooding back to me- the hole, the scissors, the bad decisions.

But, it’s still early(ish) in December, and I’ve mostly finished my Christmas knitting, so I sat down, determined to finally fix the stocking.

First, I considered picking up stitches from the cut-off edge, and knitting up.  But, on second thought, I realized that knitting from the other direction would throw off the Fair Isle pattern I had worked on so carefully.  I had to knit from the top down, like before, then graft the new cuff to the old stocking.

Using the intact stocking as a template, and re-charting the name panel, I worked up the cuff in an afternoon.  It looked good.  It looked like it was going to work.  I just had to figure out how to attach it.


I examined the remains of the original stocking carefully.  I didn’t want to have to graft the top into a row of color work (I am insane, but not that insane).  Luckily, there was a solid row of green right before the snowflake panel, so that was where I decided to make my move.


I carefully lined up the top with the rest of the stocking, and started grafting the live stitches onto the old stocking.


It went slowly, but soon enough i had made it all the way around the cuff!  I did a little happy dance and let out a sigh of relief.

But that relief was short-lived, because now there was a weird giant crease all the way around the cuff where I had just finished grafting.


That picture looks like I’ve just folded the knitting for dramatic effect, but I swear that was how it was laying.

Upon further inspection I realized that since I had grafted a few rows down from where I had cut the stocking in that fit of insect-inspired rage, there was now a big ridge of unwanted knitting inside my stocking.


There was only one thing to do.  Unravel it.  (And cross my fingers that I hadn’t made a mistake in my grafting.)

I picked and pulled and before long, the ridge was gone.


I wove in the remaining ends, and held my breath as I turned the stocking inside-out.


And it was good as new!  A Christmas Miracle!

The stockings are now hung by the chimney with care, and I will be sure to store them in a moth-proof container this year.

Have you ever had to do major reconstructive surgery on a knit item?  How did it go?

Mama Bear Update: Faces

Bears! Bears! Bears!  They’re everywhere!

And, now, they’re looking at me!


Look at them with their little noses, and their little beady eyes.  Watching.

Although, I suppose I’m really the only one to blame.  I did add the faces after all.

Want to see how these little faces came to be?  I thought you’d never ask.

I’m usually a big fan of safety eyes, which, ironically are not safe for kids under 3 years old.  Since I don’t know who the dolls are going to (and the instructions specifically asked for no safety eyes, and I follow rules), I made these faces with embroidery floss and little bits of felt.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

I started by gathering my materials:  1 un-stuffed bear,  2 eyes (cut out of felt), 1 triangular nose (also felt), a big rectangle of felt, about the size of the bear’s face (something happened with the photos, but the green felt and the green yarn are much closer in color than these pictures would have you believe), a needle and coordinating embroidery floss.


I used the same technique from when I made those teeny-tiny bears from Little Cotton Rabbits.  I slipped the face backing into the bear’s head, and arranged the eyes and nose on the front.  Then, I carefully sewed through the backing and the knitted face to attach the features.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a back stitch to sew down the eyes and nose  quite firmly.  I want to be sure that the faces don’t fall off while the bear is being played with!

Then, I made two long stitches slanting away from the bottom of the nose to create the mouth.  I like to give my dolls/stuffed animals as neutral expressions as possible, that way the kid playing with them will be able use their imaginations more freely.

Unfortunately, this bear ended up looking a little judgy.


Oh well.  He’s still cute.

Then, to give the bear a little life, I added a couple tiny stitches in white to add a ‘shine’ to the eyes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWeird how something so little can make such a big change!

How are your bears  coming along?  Do yours have faces yet?

Wait- what’s that?  You haven’t knit any yet!  Get the pattern here!

Pattern Spotlight: Christmas Balls

Have you guys ever come across Arne & Carlos?  They’re a ridiculous pair of Swedish/Norwegian knitwear designers.

They design ridiculously amazing sweaters:

Men’s Setesdal Sweater by Arne & Carlos


Adorable customizable dolls (also with ridiculous sweaters):

Knitted Dolls: Handmade Toys with a Designer Wardrobe by Arne & Carlos


And they’ve just put out an uber-charming video with instructions on making their perfectly festive Christmas Balls:

5067704452_a5c4cd9983_z[1]Just beautiful!

They’ve created literally dozens of designs for their Christmas balls, each inspired by traditional Scandinavian knitting patterns.  The balls are all worked following the same basic instructions (as outlined in this video), but each color work pattern is unique.  (Talk about a great way to practice your color work skills!)51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Their book, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window Dressings, obviously has 55 different patterns.  But, they’ve got 24 patterns up for free here.  

Arne and Carlos say, in their video, that their Christmas tradition is to make a Christmas Ball each day leading up to Christmas.  I love that idea!  Maybe I’ll do it next year?  It would be like a create-your-own advent calendar!

Will you be knitting up any of these adorable Christmas Balls?