Tag Archives: christmas gift

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?

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!

Pattern: Christmas Scallops Stocking

I love Christmas. I love the family, I love the gifts, I love the food, and I love the decorations. But, I’m not super-traditional when it comes to decking my halls. Red and green are a little passé, and Rudolph (and his red nose) are old hat. I’m a fan of sparkly tinsel and multicolor blinking lights.

This stocking is just what I look for in a Christmas decoration. It’s festive, but not boring. Traditional…ish. I’ve picked a deep winey red and a pale seafoam green to my delightfully chubby stocking. Experiment with the colors to make one perfect for every member of your family!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Christmas Scallops Stocking is a simple, fast knit that you can work up in a weekend. It is knit from the top down, in the round, at a largish gauge. A few easy rows of Fair Isle creates the decorative colorwork at cuff and toe. The heel is formed by a simple series of short rows in an easily memorized pattern.  You’ll have plenty of time to finish these stockings before Santa arrives on Christmas Eve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern for free here:

Christmas Scallops Stocking

Knitting Sweaters for Others

A handmade sweater is a labor of love.  A labor of love that deserves to be worn until it practically falls apart at the seams.  And then it deserves to be darned and worn for a little longer.  And then for another fortnight.

After writing this week about all the knitting in Harry Potter, I’ve become slightly fixated on the Weasley Sweater.

thCA0MCQT1Molly Weasley, the mother of Ron, Ginny, Fred, George (and about a half-dozen other characters), sends her children a “Weasley Sweater” each year for Christmas.  Her handmade sweaters are the butt of an annual joke to her kids, and, admittedly, the image of the extra-large Weasley family all going to Christmas dinner, sporting matching sweaters emblazoned with their initials is pretty funny.  But, I always get little pangs of sympathy for Mrs. Weasley, who must have spent hundreds of hours knitting away by the fireside, listening to the Wizarding Wireless Network, making sure that her children stayed nice and warm in drafty old Hogwarts Castle.

Weasley[1]So, how do you avoid becoming a Molly, with all your hard work going unappreciated?

First, ask if your recipient even wants a sweater.  (Unless you’re 100% sure they will appreciate it, and really want to make it a surprise, always ask.)  Mrs. Weasley has been knitting these sweaters since her kids were tiny, and now they’re expected (and kind of dreaded, like tax season).

Second, try to figure out what kind of sweater your recipient wants.  Ron always gets a maroon sweater, not because he likes the color, but because his mother likes how he looks in maroon.  If you knit a sweater for someone in a color they hate, it’ll never get worn.  Which would be lame.

Third, think about where your recipient lives.  I’m making a big, fluffy sweater for my grandmother, who lives in Wisconsin, where extra layers are always helpful.  I once made a cabled wool pullover for my husband (which actually turned out really great), but he can almost never wear it, because Seattle never gets cold enough to warrant that much wool.

And fourth, think about if your recipient will actually appreciate all the time and effort that you put into the sweater.  I limit my knit gift-giving to my family and my knitting friends, otherwise they just don’t “get” it.

tumblr_lpsdihVFdI1ql72zio1_500[1]So go for it!  Make someone you love a Weasley Sweater (or a Jones Sweater, or a Robertson Sweater… whatever your last name is.)  Just make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

Second Guesses, Sales, and Waiting- The Grandma’s Sweater Saga

You guys are totally right.  I needed to get a different shade of gray for my Grandma’s Sweater.  I’ve decided to go with Knit Picks’ Dove Gray Heather:

25615[1](Ooh! Aah!)

It’s a really pretty soft gray in a similar tone as Dogwood Heather (pink).  I think it’ll turn out really prettily.

So, having made my decision, I went to the Knit Picks website yesterday, filled up my cart and hit submit.  (I even managed to constrain myself to the single skein I needed, instead of buying fifty dollars’ worth of extra yarn to get the free shipping.  Don’t judge me.  You know you’ve done it.)

To make sure the order went through (because I’m paranoid like that), I clicked over to my email to see the confirmation email.

Sure enough, there was a message from Knit Picks.  In fact, there were two emails.  The first was my order confirmation.  The second was this ad:

Sale*Insert sad trumpet sound here*

Sure it would have been less than a dollar saved, but it’s the principle of the thing!  (And now, I kind of want to go order some more yarn to take advantage of the sale.  So much for self-control.)

Now, I have to sit here and play the waiting game.  I can’t really start knitting until I have the gray yarn in my knitting basket, so I’ll just sit by the window and harass the mailman until it arrives.

Merry Christmas!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hope you’re having a fantastic Christmas, and I hope that Santa brought you everything that was on your Christmas list.

I’ve got one more extra-special present just for you, dear readers! A little bitty knit doll of your very own.  And, she comes with a little bitty storybook of her very own.   She has long flowing hair and a removable dress, and she is just as ready to play house as she is to go adventuring with her friends.

The Little Knit Doll’s construction is very simple.  She is knit in the round with minimal sewing.  All shaping is done with simple increases and decreases, except for the feet, which are worked like tiny socks.  Her luxurious long hair is applied with a crochet hook, just like adding fringe to a scarf.  She is totally safe for children of all ages, with her embroidered face.  And, her adorable green dress is knit in the round with virtually no finishing.

The Little Knit Doll is now available through Ravelry for $5.00.

Get the pattern here

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m posting The Little Knit Doll here exclusively for about a week.  But starting next week, the pattern will be available through Ravelry for $5, so download it now, if you want it for free.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHo Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!

And Tied Up With a Bow

You’ve spent way too much time, effort and money on your Christmas gifts this year (isn’t that always the way?), so, let’s do something quick, easy and super cheap for the wrapping.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m using brown wrapping paper, the kind you get in a roll to use for shipping packages.  It’s super cheap and sturdy, so if you’re traveling with your gifts they won’t end up all scuffed and torn by the time you make it over the river and through the woods.  But, if you wanted to go even cheaper, you could use old (clean) paper bags from the grocery store for a similar look.  (I suppose if you don’t like the recipient of the gift, they don’t have to be clean, but that’s a little passive-aggressive, even for me.)

And, instead of going to the store and buying fancy-pants ribbons, I’m using leftover yarn that I have in my stash.  I picked out five shades of blue, but you can do whatever you like.  Bright rainbow colors might be fun for a kid, or maybe a birthday present.  Red and green are always classic Christmas colors.  White and silver would make a really classy winter-y present.

Idea one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust wrap a few colors of yarn around your gift.  You can make the yarn neat and tidy or you could go all willy-nilly, just keep going until you like how it looks.  Tie off in a square knot at the back of the package and trim the ends short.

Idea two:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMake a pompom.  Because Pompoms make everything more fun.  Tie it to the top of the package instead of one of those stick-on bows.

Idea three:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHold a bunch of yarn in a bundle (I’m using five different shades of blue) and wrap the yarn around the package the same way you would if you were using ribbon.  Finish off with a pretty bow.

The possibilities are pretty much endless.  What new ways of wrapping can you come up with?

Knifty Kits for Knew Knitters

“Allison, help me!  My niece has been bugging me to teach her how to knit.  What should I get her?  Also, I hate teaching, and don’t know what to do?”

Remember The nOOb Hat?  Print that puppy out and give it to your niece along with:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA-1 skein of worsted weight yarn in her favorite color (I like wool, but acrylic will do.  Plant fibers like cotton and linen aren’t recommended, since they’ll sag and make the hat a little sad after a while)

-1 pair of size 8 needles

-1 tapestry needle (or 1 pack, if you can’t find them sold singly)

-1 pair of tiny scissors (you can skip this if you think your niece already has scissors)

-1 project bag (if you sew, might I recommend the Fat Quarter Project Bag?)

In theory, that’s enough to get her going on a knitting adventure of her own, but be ready to answer questions.  Sometimes photos and written instructions aren’t enough to learn something.  Anyway, knitting the n00b hat together will give you a chance to hang out with your super-cool niece.  Win-win.

WIP Ornaments

Imagine this:  You are going to a party, and you know that there will be a gift-exchange.  You don’t have time to go to the store.  Also, you’re broke.  You know the other guests at the party will all bring crazy-fancy gifts and you don’t want to be shown up.  And, did I mention, you leave in fifteen minutes?

I think it’s a time to make WIP Ornaments!

These are super fast, super easy and super cheap (in fact, you probably have everything you need in your craft bin right now).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern here:

WIP Ornaments

What to Buy the Knitter Who Has Everything…

I get this question all the time:  “I don’t knit, but my buddy does.  What does he want for Christmas?”

My usual response is: “Well, what does he like to make?”

And their answer is usually: “I donno.”

Super.  Really helpful.

Obviously, if you know the kind of project that your knitting friend likes to make, get them a gift that speaks to that interest (sock yarn for a sock knitter, lace weight yarn for a lace knitter… this isn’t rocket science).

But, if you really don’t know, here’s my standard answer, because every knitter can find a use for it:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

-2 or 3 skeins of NICE medium weight yarn in the recipient’s favorite color, or a color that they wear a lot.  (Go to a fancy, independent yarn store, if there’s one in your area.  Spend 10 or more dollars per skein.  Pick out something pretty and soft. Bonus points if the label says “mohair,” “cashmere,” or “merino”)

And then, if you have extra money burning a hole in your pocket, pick one or more of the following:

-Fancy knitting needles (get the size that is recommended on the yarn’s label)

-Buttons (6 or more in a coordinating color to go with the yarn, no smaller than a half inch, no bigger than an inch and a half.  Tiny and gigantic buttons are harder to find a use for.)

-A project bag (These are usually draw-string or zippered fabric bags about the size of a piece of printer paper, and they’re used to carry around half-finished projects.  I’ve yet to meet a knitter who has enough project bags, me included) If you sew, might I recommend the Fat Quarter Project Bag?

-A pattern printout or flier that uses the yarn you picked out (but make sure you buy enough yarn to complete the project, if you do this.)  Or, a knitting book.  Take a few minutes to look through the knitting section at the book store, and pick out one that has patterns that your knitter friend might wear.

-Other fancy notions (decorative stitch markers, fancy scissors, a cute measuring tape, etc.  Knitters love pretty things.  We’re like magpies.)

Wrap up everything you bought, and be the king (or queen) of Christmas!