Knit Happens at Christmas

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When I learned how to knit three years ago, I had no idea how much of a Christmas tradition it would become. What started as a pair of socks for everyone turned into special orders to specific knitted items and/or specialized projects.

I’m not complaining in the least because I love giving handmade gifts. Sometimes I wonder if my friends and family feel that way – there’s always that little voice that wonders if they’re thinking, “oh no, not again!” However, everyone’s excited responses told me I hit the mark this year!

My Christmas knitting odyssey began in early August. My stepmother very specifically asked for lightweight dishcloths. So, I tracked down some Sport weight cotton and got to work:

Yarn: Premier Yarns Cotton Fair (Violets and Cocoa)
Patterns From: Eight Linen Washcloths

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Next, I knit up some socks for a few friends that haven’t received socks since the first knitty round of Christmas. I made a simple 3×1 ribbed sock with a touch of color work in various worsted weight yarns (my yarn stash came in pretty handy!). Then, I got creative and paired each pair of socks with a book. Now these simple socks are “Reading Socks!”

Yarn: Various stash yarns, worsted weight
Pattern: Ann’s Go-To Socks

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One of my friends is a fellow Twi-Hard, so I made her a replica of a hat worn by Bella in the movie version of Eclipse. This was my first attempt at color work beyond the heel and toe of a sock. While I love how it turned out, this project reinforced my overall preference for textured patterns instead of color work.

Yarn: Lion Brand, Vanna’s Choice, (Green and Natural)
Pattern: Twilight Eclipse Bella Striped Hat

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My love of lace knitting got a nice workout with a scarf I made for my aunt. I found this pattern while playing on Pinterest and it turned out to be a beautiful and relatively easy pattern.

Yarn: Paton’s Classic Worsted Wool, (white)
Pattern: Birch Trees Scarf

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When I made my mom a kitchen towel last year, my sister wanted one, too. So, I decided to make one for her for Christmas. While a bit unconventional, this towel is highly absorbent and very sturdy. A row of buttons allows for the towel to be secured around an oven handle.

Yarn: Sugar n’ Spice Solids and Twists (Wine and Cottage)
Pattern: Triangles Towel

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Last, but not least, I made my mother something very special. Her kitchen window has long been in need of a pretty curtain or valance. I just so happened to come across a stunning lattice lace curtain pattern and thought it would look fantastic on her window. It’s one of the larger pieces I’ve ever made and it turned out beautiful!

Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport (Platinum)
Pattern: Dappled Lace Cafe Curtain

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One section of a 48″ panel

Knitting gifts is always fun, but now I’m excited to pick up my knitting needles and make a little something for myself!

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c.b.w. 2015

Project Chapbook

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In December of 2013, I found myself in the middle of two challenges. First, I was tasked with editing and organizing twenty poems into a chapbook manuscript.  The next phase of the Writer’s Digest 2013 November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge  involved submitting a manuscript and I didn’t want to miss the deadline. Second, Christmas was a week away and I couldn’t decide what to give a good friend of mine. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, yet I wanted to give him something special.

It turns out the first challenge helped solve the second challenge. With a completed (and submitted) manuscript, I realized I could turn my work of art into a one-of-kind gift. Thanks to a new bookbinding technique I learned last summer, it was a snap to turn my chapbook manuscript into a handmade book.

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Front Cover of “Finding Gravity”

I made the cover using standard card stock in navy blue. The cover design was made using only one layer of a contrasting color and two black and white embellishment pieces. The title, along with the poetry pages was printed from my computer.

Inside the front cover, I included a decorative page that continues the black and white pattern theme.

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A decorative page gives this book a little personality.

The poetry pages were a unique challenge in that I had to make sure each poem was placed in the same place on every page, no matter the length or width. Through a little trial and error, I figured out the margins. Then, I measured each page to be a hair smaller than the cover. This was the tricky part because it’s incredibly important for the pages of a book to fit inside the cover and stack evenly. A lot of patience and a paper slicer made it possible to cut out each poem page with spot on precision.

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A beautiful page of poetry!

To bind the book together, I used a Japanese side stitch bookbinding technique. A simple tutorial for hole-punching and stitch order can be found here. Once I had the holes punched, I stitched my book together using thick beading thread. I coated the thread in beeswax to give it more strength and to make it stick in place as I sewed the book together.

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Japanese side stitch binding.

Before I knew it, I had a handmade poetry chapbook! My friend got a unique gift and I got to live the dream of seeing my poetry in the form of an actual book. As nice as it would be to see my chapbook published, I wouldn’t mind making another handmade version of Finding Gravity for myself.

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c.b.w. 2014

Knit Happens at Christmas

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With Christmas only a week away, I am busy wrapping all the presents I made over the last couple of months. In a year of financial challenges, I have to say I’m pretty thankful for my crafty skill set. Not only are handmade gifts one-of-a- kind (and from the heart), but they are a lot easier on the wallet.

Last year, I made a ridiculous number of socks for my family and friends. I’m sure they would have all loved another pair, but I decided they needed another accessory to go with those snazzy socks. My recent obsession with making hats came in pretty handy this holiday season. Starting in September, I sat down and knit a total of five hats in all different styles, (six if you count the one I made for myself). From the basic ribbed hat to a super cute owl hat, my circular needles got one heck of a workout!

From here on out, it is spoiler city for my family and friends. Don’t scroll down any further, unless you want to spoil your Christmas surprise! If you keep going, at least act surprised when you open your gift.

Seriously,  no peeking.

As for the rest of you, scroll past the stars to see some super cute hand-knit hats!

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This hat has already been ripped open and worn. My friend simply couldn’t wait until Christmas! It’s a simple 2×2 ribbed hat made out of my mom’s favorite yarn, Red Heart (Color: Aran).

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It goes with everything!

I used the same 2×2 rib pattern to fulfill a family member’s request for an Indianapolis Colts Blue hat. She wanted a big, thick hat to wear to the games, so I got to work. This super warm hat was made with Valley Yarns Northampton Bulky in Colonial Blue.

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Go Colts!

Pattern: Basic Ribbed Hat by Anne Laird

Last year, I made the Lucy Hat for myself. A family member loved it so much, I decided to make her one for Christmas. After finishing it, I admit I was quite tempted to keep it for myself. I love the color! This hat was knit with Paton’s Classic Worsted Wool in Plum Heather and Dark Grey Marble.

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I seriously want to keep this hat!

Pattern: Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer

Another family member has a thing for sports, so I made her a beanie in University of Arizona red and blue, (as an ASU alumni this hurt a little!). I combined and modified two patterns to make this hat (I liked the general shape of one pattern and the decreasing sequence on the other). I used Paton’s Classic Worsted Wool in Bright Red and Navy to knit this hat.

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Go U of A? Nah.

Pattern: Sorry no link for this one as it’s my own creation.

A friend of mine is obsessed with owls, so I made her a hat with an owl cable brim. To give it some serious personality, I embroidered eyes into every other owl and dubbed it the Peek-a-boo Owl Hat. This hat was made with Paton’s Classic Worsted Wool in Harvest Yellow.

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Peek-a-boo Owls!

Pattern: Owl Hat by Jennie Powell

Of course, some people just don’t like to wear hats, so I had to make some socks and other accessories. Another Knit Happens post is forthcoming, so stay tuned!

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c.b.w. 2013