December knitting nearly overwhelmed me, I suppose. The challenges posed by the holidays are always something to contend with. In many ways, there was little transition from November’s efforts to the final push in December, but in the end, when I look at all the photos and the reduced stash, it’s clear I was productive.
Sometimes I knit for the sake of trying something new, and the fact that the object will be gifted is the excuse. This month, another Elizabeth Zimmerman wonder, a pair of mittens based on her mitered mittens pattern (May, The Knitter’s Almanac), fit the bill. I can’t say why it was so satisfying to make these mitered mittens (US 6 / 4.0 mm, 1 skein Noro Silk Garden), except that the luck of the draw -my two skeins of Silk Garden started in roughly the same place (check the thumbs! which I typically knit before continuing on the hand upper, rather than after) – were an enticement. FYI: I added thumb gussets similar to those proposed by GraceIvy (gusset technique) (rather than the steeked thumbs proposed by PurlBee).
Mid-month there was the “Pencil Project” – I executed (for pay!) one seventh of a commissioned giant water tower cozy project led by weeballyarns (Robyn).
Most of my 7′ x 14′ section was produced over the course of a single weekend (!), delivered by 12.10.08 for installation on 12.13.0. The Pencil” lasted liitle more than two days – a short but sweet life. My work was one seventh of this commissioned giant water tower cozy project
he project, conceived by fiber artist Robyn Love
to publicize the Golden Pencil design award. There’s more information about the project-in-progress here
, and about the final installation in the NY Times
and Daily News
; plenty of photos of the pencil in situ
are available on Robyn’s blog: Big Day for Pencils
, and here’s the video documentary of the project:
And then there was the holiday knitting … always (for this inter-married Jew) an excuse for learning something new. This year that meant knitting a few globes for in-law’s trees. First , I jumped on the viral bandwagon and tried Eunny Jang’s simple Cabled Globe Ornament (with Cascade 220 leftovers); this pattern’s a quick and effective platform for exploring the interaction of cable and globe. Next there was a more complicated aran ornament (Heirloom Cabled Holiday Ornament by Terry Morris, fingering weight Knit Picks Palette, Cream, US 1 / 2.25 mm needles); this is an impressive, special pattern which makes a special gift, a design worth revisiting as is, or using as a point of departure for one’s own cabling or colorwork ideas.
A son travelled to Texas to spend Christmas with his girlfriend’s family, and wanted something special to put under their tree. With a bit of surface decoration, a felted teacup (Knitted/Felted Teacup and Saucer by Anita M. Wheeles; US 8 / 5.0 mm, Lion Brand Lion Wool Solid) was just the thing. It’s a quick knit (less than an hour for all pieces), and an equally quick felt in the sink; with a bit of embroidery, it was transformed into a delightful gift. To finish as an ornament, I tacked the cup and saucer together with a few stitches after embroidering the cup and added a crocheted cord to hang.
Hannukah came and went in our home. Since this minor Jewish holiday celebrates, in essence, a military victory, I’m always ambivalent about effusive observance. Nontheless, there are always ways around the “problem”. Having married into a Jewish family, my husband rarely misses Christmas; but he especially loves “little people” (young, or old) – these are for him. For him, one Hanukkah gnome (Korknisse by Mann, US 3 / 3.25 mm, Araucania Nature Wool Solids) for each night of Hanukkah!
For the in-laws, a fewmore ornaments … felted and beaded “Persian” Orbs (Ornaments
by Leigh Radford, 2.75 x 4.5″ after felting (2.75 x 6.5″ before felting). The shape of these ornaments remind me of Persian jars.
Needle Felting !
Pattern: Festive Felted Garland splendid tutorial, by Purl Bee’s Whitney.
Another holiday project for in-laws. We’ll be using them as dangles for their tree.
Now that I’ve learned a bit about needle felting, I’ll be doing some serious experimentation …
NB. Instead of purchasing and using the rather expensive Hamanaka Futte (Felt Ball Maker) recommended by the Purl Bee designer, I used a couple of small kitchen strainers I’ve had lying about for years. I simply attached them together with a rubber band, filled the basket with a soggy soapy ball of roving, and smacked the basked against a sponge in my other hand. I checked periodically to be sure the ball was felting evenly. Then I “finished” each ball manually, to make them a bit denser.
I used a Clover 3-needle tool from the closest LYS and scraps of Noro Kureyon to decorate each ball (I knew there was a reason I’ve been saving every single scrap of the precious colored stuff over the years).
Corrugated Cabin Scarf, inspired by Mabel’s Scarf
by Larissa Brown (Patons SWS (Soy Wool Stripes, US 9 / 5.5 mm) — Wanted a scarf to complement a corrugated rib hat I made for my BIL a few years ago
with Kureyon Big. The corrugated rib pattern Larissa’s pattern reminded me of the many Log Cabin quilts I’ve made, and the others I saw recently at an exhibit of Gee’s Bend quilts. Since BIL is looking for a new place to live, a “log cabin scarf” seemed just right.
(n.b. I’m afraid I’ve “unvented” my own approach to the logs, so this may not be a fine example of Larissa
’s lovely original).
A nice straightforward pattern, that works up with striated yarn quickly to an enticing hat. This is a perfect stash-busting (one skein) walking pattern! My modifications: I decided to add some additional garter st interest top and bottom on the Noro Kureyon version (US 7/4.5 mm needles). Completed the blue soy-wool cap, and decided to go garter all the way on the Paton’s SWS (US 8/5.0 mm needles). #3 – Noro Iro, bulky, worked as Medium (13 sts x 120 rows for band, 60 sts around for top, 62 sts for bottom band) on US 8/5.0 mm needles; soft and dense!
vibrant Noro Cash Island cap (US 6 4.0 mm needles).
And finally, there was another Ravelry swap, the Rock Opera Swap (I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to participate in this one). The few “rock operas” I was familiar with (Tommy, Hair, Aida and Rent) were already taken by the time I had to choose; I grabbed for Pippin was because of a strange childhood association with one of the songs: “My Corner of the Sky” – my mother played Diana Ross’ cover of the song incessantly on her 8-track tape player during my high school years in the early 70’s.
Pippin (sometimes called Pippin the Hunchback) was the ill-favored son of Charlemagne the Great, the first Holy Roman Emperor (ruled 800 – 814 CE). I decided to knit a hat, the elements of which were guided by the refrain of “Corner of the Sky”: “Rivers belong where they can ramble / Eagles belong where they can fly /I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free /Got to find my corner of the sky”. So I aimed for a crafted jeweled crown (the source of the conflict between Charlemagne and Pippin, and Pippin’s wandering, the imperial eagle (I must have made half a dozen different charts!), a fleur-de-lis for the emperor’s French wife who supplanted Pippin’s mother and created many of the problems for Pippin, Bavarian twisted river cables and chain-maille-like twisted stitch sections.
The other items in the package included:
- music (I tried to reciprocate the wonderful CD my swap partner sent to me in the earlier Day of the Dead swap, and used Christmas as a guide to include a range of genres – chant, organum, isorhythmic motets, hocket, medieval instrumentals and Crusader songs); there are a few covers of “Corner of the Sky” (alas, not Diana Ross’, which is not available for download anywhere), and a few contemporary responses to the music of the period
- 100 g Regia Fassett sock yarn
- organic (medieval) spice tea & chai recipe (spices were the only medieval foodstuff I could reliably and conveniently connect to Pippin and his royal father)
- bone yarnball stitch markers
Those last few days of December were entirely knitting free. Almost.