Tag Archives: gift

Holiday Check-In

Hi guys!  How’s your holiday season shaping up?  We’ve got less than a week until Haunnukah begins, about two weeks until my brother’s birthday, and just under three weeks until Christmas.  (What?  You don’t celebrate my brother’s birthday, too?!)

How is your gift preparation going?  Are you furiously knitting away, or are you already planning on wrapping up a half-finished scarf for your mom this year?  I’m keeping it super low-key this year, and the few gifts I’m knitting for people have already been finished.  Actually, I’m mostly just diving into my Finished Object Stash for knitted gifts this year.

It’s lucky that I decided to take it easy on my knitting this year, though, because it turns out I have a new work knitting project that’s due just after the new year.  So, I’ve definitely got my hands full this winter.While I don’t have a lot of specifically Christmas-themed knitting, I do have a TON of baking I still have to do yet.  And, unfortunately, you can’t really get your baking done that early.  So, I guess I’ll have my hands full (and covered in butter and flour) from next week through Christmas.

I think I’m OK with that- there’s nothing more festive than spending the day (or the week) filling up your house with a half-dozen types of Christmas cookies.

How’s your holiday to-do-list going?

It’s Time

I’m all about pulling an all-nighter to finish a last-minute project before it’s due.  (After all, I once did the edging on an afghan in the car as we drove to my friend’s wedding.  It was finished about a half hour before the reception.  That was a stressful day.)

But, sometimes you just have to throw up your hands, pour yourself a glass of eggnog and say “uncle.”  And, I think the day before Christmas Eve counts as one of those times.

You’ve given it your all, and it’s not like you will never finish Aunt Sally’s hat or Grandpa Joe’s socks.  You’ll just finish them in January.  No biggie.

So, wrap up your WIPs, needles and all, and print out these tags that I’ve made just for you:

Christmas Gift Coloring Page

Break out your colored pencils or markers (or glitter glue, I’m not going to limit you), and decorate the tag to show your recipient how amazing their sweater is going to be… when it’s finished.

img_4413Then get yourself that second cup of eggnog and take a break in front of the tree.  You’ve earned it!

And, of course, Merry Christmas!

Christmas Is Coming

Oops!  I totally spaced, you guys.  I was going to give you a 100-day warning about Christmas, but… I forgot.

So this is your warning.

81 days until Christmas.christmas-bmo[1]I’m so sorry.  I know it’s early- Halloween isn’t eve here yet.  But, we’re knitters, and Christmas Knitting is our Superbowl- you can never prepare for it too much.  So get out your Christmas giving lists, dig through your stash, and start trolling Ravelry for good gift ideas.

Good luck!

Inspiration: Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, and I haven’t gotten my husband anything.  To be fair, we said “no presents” this year, but I always have trouble with doing “no presents.”  I think it must be a knitter thing.  Or maybe it has something to do with my Midwestern upbringing.  Either way, I feel a compulsion to make something. It’s a problem.

And since I’ve only got a couple days, any gifts I make will have to be very small.

I could go completely silly (yet adorable), and make a herd of these tiny heart-carrying bunnies.  But, I don’t think I can translate this pattern before Sunday.  If only I’d taken French in college, instead of German!  Dang.

Valentin by Anisbee Anisbee20_medium2[1]Or I could make something marginally more useful (again, the Midwesterner in me is showing- I love a useful gift!), like these adorable nesting baskets.

Heart Nesting Baskets by Sonya BlackstoneHeart_Baskets_3wm_medium2[1]But my husband is not the kind of guy that likes cutesy little things like heart-shaped baskets.  Maybe he’s the kind of guy who likes miniature little cupids on strings?

I could knit up one of these guys (sans halo):

Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi Angels by Anna Hrachovecangels2_mail_medium[1]and add a teeny bow and arrow:

Valentine Cupid Bow and Arrow by Linda DawkinsValentine_medium2[1]And, hey presto!  Cupid!

Oh, I don’t know.  That’s probably too silly a gift for my husband, too.  I suppose I’ll just get a bottle of something yummy and make him dinner.  You know, like a boring grown-up.

(But that doesn’t mean that I won’t make a teensy Cupid for myself!)

Do you have any Valentine’s Day knitting plans?

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!

Christmas Socks

You know how families come up with little sayings and quotes?  One of the things we say is “Christmas socks” in a very silly voice.  Actually, in this silly voice (skip to about the 50 second mark, or just watch the whole thing.  It’s funny.):

It’s Mr. Bean’s Christmas special!  We watched it every year, and I always thought it was fantastic.  (Still do, although now I realize how ridiculous the show is… and that laugh track!  Oof.)

So, now, every year when we’re opening Christmas presents, if anyone gets a pair of socks, we all say “Christmas Socks,” just like Mr. Bean.

And this year, my father-in-law will be receiving Christmas Socks.  (Even if he doesn’t get the joke.)

I finally finished my orange socks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m so pleased with how they turned out.  I love the reinforced slip-stitch heel, and I can’t get enough of the basket-weave pattern on the sock uppers. (It’s a pain in the butt to knit, but it looks great!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m so happy with these Christmas Socks!  Now… just to make Christmas presents for the rest of the family… Wheeee!

Manly Socks

Here’s the annoying part about being a knitter:  When people learn about your hobby, they all want knitted things for their birthday/Christmas/Arbor Day.

And here’s the sick part about being a knitter:  You want to make stuff for everyone.

For example,  my father-in-law is notoriously hard to find gifts for, so when he mentioned to me that all he wanted for Christmas was a pair of hand-knit socks each year, I couldn’t help but oblige!  I even had a pair of fairly large manly-looking socks in my stash of finished projects in a lovely burgundy-brown color.  Easy-peasy!

He loved them, and wore them the rest of Christmas break (which made me very happy-it’s always great to see your work being appreciated).  But there was a problem:  They were WAY too small.

Not too small that he couldn’t get the socks on or anything, but my knitter’s eye couldn’t help but notice that the sock was pulling across the ball of the foot and the heel was much too close to the toe.

It drove me nuts!  I pulled out a couple skeins of sock yarn from my suitcase and started working on next year’s Christmas Socks then and there (what?  Don’t tell me I’m the only one that travels with a selection of yarns and needles.).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unfortunately, these socks are slow going, for many reasons.  First off, I kind of forgot about them for a while and they hid somewhere in my knitting studio.  Second, I’ve been crazy busy with a bunch of pattern writing and haven’t had time to finish these guys.

But most of all, these socks are annoyingly large.  A few extra stitches per row and several inches longer than my standard socks.  And, I picked a cool-looking, but annoyingly complicated basket-weave stitch.  It all adds up to very slow going,

Ugh.

Oh well, at least I have 5 more months to finish them!

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.

Grandma, Don’t Read This Post!

I’m 99.9% sure that my grandma doesn’t have the internet any more.  I believe she got rid of it a couple months ago.

That being said, if I’m wrong: Grandma, stop reading!   Christmas spoilers are ahead!  You have been warned.

OK, it should just be us now.

Remember last January when I made a sweater for my grandfather?  Well, this summer Grandpa asked me to make a sweater for my Grandmother, too.  He asked for something similar, but blue, and well, I can’t say no to a request like that.

I’ve decided to knit up a Norwegian-inspired sweater for Grandma this year.  I’m thinking a top-down, yoked sweater (because I love making top-down, yoked sweaters).  I’ll include a Norwegian star/snowflake pattern across the shoulders.  And, because that’s basically all she wears, it’ll be a cardigan.

Something like this, but simpler, and with buttons:

IMG_3358ny_medium2[1]The next step was to pick out yarn.  I am a big fan of Knit Picks (as a naturally frugal person), so I decided to give their Biggo yarn a try.  I have worked with it before, and it is lovely, soft, super thick, warm, and washable.  (Since there’s only three months until Christmas, having a big gauge is especially important.)  Mom and I talked about colors, and we settled on Sapphire Heather (main color), Dogwood Heather, and Cobblestone Heather.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think these colors look lovely next to each other.  Unfortunately, there isn’t as much contrast between the Cobblestone and the Sapphire as I would have liked.   But, sometimes colors look different in the skein and knitted up, so I’ll need to work up a swatch to see how the colors play together when they’re knit up, just in case I need to get a different gray color.

I’m itching to get started knitting up this sweater.  I can’t wait to see how it goes.  (But unfortunately, I have to wind up all the skeins into balls, first, or I will spend the next three months fighting with big tangles of yarn.  Woe is me.