Archive for December, 2011

bad blogger . . .

Friday, December 30th, 2011

oooh, so sorry for disappearing all week—between traveling and having houseguests—my dear nephew james and our niece-in-law diana came to visit—we’ve been hibernating a bit to enjoy the post-holiday week. we’ve filled it with nice, late breakfasts, sharing pictures of their wedding and honeymoon, and movie marathons. i think between home and the cineplex, we saw six movies in the last three days, haha.

now they are on their way home and i can catch you up on the knitting i have and have not been doing.

poor mister knitspot kinda got the shaft when it came to christmas knits this year. most everyone else got something handmade under the tree, but not david—what’s up with that?? especially since he’s gotten a new handknit sweater every year for the last decade or so.

ugh, i didn’t even get a hat made, that’s how hectic and behind i’ve been all this year. now that the holiday is past and all the gift knitting is done, however, i’m trying to make up for the lack of cozy manly presents.

i figure i can approach the endeavor with more focus and thoughtfulness than usual if i devote this post-holiday period to things for him.

first up is this wonderfully soft and slouchy hat i knit from shalimar honey worsted, a delicious machine wash australian wool yarn that totally does NOT feel like superwash. it’s really lovely stuff.

here—take a closer look

mmmmm.
i have no idea which colorway that is; it wasn’t marked and i can’t seem to match it to any of the pictured swatches. i do love it though and it goes with a lot of mister knitspot’s outerwear. his hat used about two-thirds of my available yarn; i don’t think there’s enough to knit a pair of mitts for him from the remainder, but i might be able to get a small pair out of it (or at least one prototype that would help me figure the yardage for other sizes).

the hat looks adorable on him and as luck would have it, when we went to see the girl with the dragon tattoo last night, the costuming included many examples of similar hats throughout, so he knows he’s right on the forward edge of the very chic, slouchy hat wave.

(and omg, i never thought i’d say it, but the david fincher version of that film is even better than the original—WAY better than i ever dreamed it would be. the clothing alone will knock your socks off. heck, the opening credits had me.)

i am also going to get back to work on this sweater i started for david just before christmas in this beautiful woolen rabbit sporty kashmir, in colorway enchanted forest. kim’s recovering from back surgery right now, so she hasn’t got this yarn on her website yet, but i know she’ll have it up soon.

i started it pretty late—probably too late to get it done for christmas anyway, but THEN the whole project was waylaid when i discovered that last year’s christmas sweater—the rené i knit in handspun BFL??—had somehow gotten felted between last spring and this fall.

when i saw it a couple weeks ago, i was so heartsick about it that i just couldn’t get myself to knit on this year’s christmas sweater—even though i was using superwash and no way could it get felted. i just couldn’t make myself do it.

now i’ve gotten over that and am ready to go back to the new sweater project with renewed interest. (i have, however, told david not to wear the felted one in my sight until i’ve had a chance to try and recover its original shape; it’s too pathetic! and yes, i’ve undone felting before; i may be able to do it again . . . we shall see.)

it’s another remake of a sweater i knit for him years ago in a soft, charcoal gray yarn that, unfortunately, did not wear very well. the old one is just horrible looking but he continues to wear it. i would show you a photo but i can’t seem to find the offending garment anywhere—he’s probably hidden it away, knowing i’m on the warpath after it, haha.

it’s a very simple knit/purl fabric—very subtle, the way guys like it. unlike the original, which had no other ornamentation, i will probably add some simple, narrow cables at the side seams and armholes to better stabilize the fabric (the original, which was knit in the round, lost its shape somewhat and i’d prefer to avoid that). they will also add interest to the front of the cardigan version, which i plan to include in the pattern (much like the rené sweater).

i’ve also gotten back to this little shawlette i’m knitting in hazel knits divine. i put it aside when i got to the point where i needed to do some calculations and now that i’ve had some time to work that out, i can proceed. this is a custom color i dyed during my visit to wendee’s studio, but it’s REALLY close to colorway arroyo, in a delicious blend of spice colors and brown.

just wait til you see the hem pattern on this one—it’s going to be gorgeous.

and ooops, i have to go get my hair cut now, so i’ve gotta run, but i’ll be back soon—happy new year!

the shining star(s)

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

many, many of you have come to know and love our neighbor bret over the years for his fantastic and much-anticipated holiday light displays. and those who are new to us this year will hopefully appreciate what is about to unfold before you, for bret puts many hours of time and thought into his particular brand of holiday entertainment.

this year i recorded the process of putting the light show together, beginning a couple of days after thanksgiving. the entire front of the house had been stripped bare of halloween and thanksgiving decorations, the pumpkins out away, and the porch swept clean.

monday, november 28th
the tree has gone up inside the house and few lights put out along the walk. bret tests the blue icicle lights that will be the background of the porch roofline. there was some sort of gap in the blue lighting at first, which he later corrected.

tuesday, november 29th
bret lays in a layer of white lights along the roofline and begins to wind garlands around the porch columns. this is one of my favorite photos because in it, bret is up on the ladder, actually hanging lights. some large christmas balls have also been hung.

wednesday, november 30th
white lights are up and a red layer is added (bret and connie are very fond of a red, white, and blue color scheme). i noticed that bret did a lot of his work at night, when he could see exactly how the lights would look when lit.

thursday, december 1st
by early evening, when the house was lit, i saw that garland had been added along the front of the porch rail, probably the night before. you can see from this photo that the sky wasn’t quite dark yet, so work had not begun for the evening.

but by later on, the large wreath was lit and santa has appeared front and center as the the main attraction of the show. the columns were now fully garlanded with strands of pine and lights.

friday, december 2nd
once the lights have been hung to set the stage, bret begins to add the dimensional elements of the scene by bringing out the life-sized elves, snowmen, and reindeer to arrange in tableaux between the house and the sidewalk. santa’s throne is now lit and a small tree also appears in the uppermost window of the house.

you can’t see it in the photos, but santa also dances—activated by either noise or movements on the porch, he shakes from head to toe like elvis, which sets the surrounding light strings in motion along with him. hilarious!

saturday, december 3rd
the race is on—bret was out there in it all weekend, filling in with more characters and more lights, which were strung throughout the tree branches. the difference is amazing

here’s a full frontal shot; you can see how the tree lights make the display look so much bigger.

the cool thing is that there is plenty to see during the day too—it’s a real conversation starter with the neighbors and passersby. even the dogs love it (or maybe they especially love it)

in the daylight hours you can see more of the handcrafted details that go into the decorations. bret has created a number of hand-painted the pieces for the tableaux, many from found objects and salvaged materials—some from stuff that came out of the walls of our own house.

while the elves are mischievously adorable, these christmas balls have always been a personal favorite—each one is different and homey, with tiny details you have to look closely to see.

this piece is made from the dried out husk of the vines that climbed all over his porch during the summer and fall.

there’s plenty to see, day or night!

saturday, december 10th
the next weekend was the final push and it was the coldest weather of the year so far. i had to hand it to connie and bret for braving the cold both days to put the final touches on their yard.

even lucky helped out. connie showed me the pictures of their house that appeared in our local paper; she couldn’t be more proud of them.

finally, all was set and we’ve been enjoying the results ever since—and now you can, too. thank you bret for a fun and vivid reminder of holiday joy each year; we appreciate it!

from us to you, our much simpler, but no less sincere, offering

a happy and peaceful holiday to all!

peace on earth

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

doesn’t this little sachet reflect the sentiment perfectly?
the knitter’s peace dove was a sweet gift from martha at thistle handwerks that arrived last week just when i needed some aromatherapy most. filled with lavender (and mint, maybe?) i kept it on my desk all week and gave it a squeeze and a sniff as needed (haha, pretty often in the days just before we left home)

the evening before christmas is such a nice time—everything that can be done is done and everything that couldn’t get done . . . oh well, it might and it might not, but we’re not going to worry about it now.

in our family, we celebrate christmas eve with a feast of fishes; while most of the cooking for it is done, my mom is putting together the orange salad and putting the last few touches on the rest.

i’m helping her out and wrapping up the last of the gifts; we’ve got a little tabata set for each of my sister’s kids

bright blue with speckles for arjun

and a purply mix for anika.
these are knit up in the sturdy, machine washable pagewood farm alyeska, a tight twist merino. the yarn weight is a little heavier than the pattern calls for, so i used the instructions for one size smaller than i needed and knit them on a needle one size bigger.

i think they’ll be fine; they measure the right size. one skein was plenty to knit all three pieces in any of the children’s sizes. after a nice bath, the fabric smoothed out just beautifully; the kids may not notice but i’m enjoying it, haha.
(note to self: smooth, tight twist yarn takes ages to dry . . . don’t cut it so close next time)

with those gifts finished, i turned my attention to getting something knit for you know who (who is sadly, NOT getting a sweater under the tree this year). it’s still a surprise, so i won’t talk much about it now except to say that i loooove the yarn

it’s shalimar honey worsted, a skein that kristi sent to me, oh, at least a year ago. it’s perfect for this project—soft and snuggly, it knits up into a dense fabric that will be very effective at shutting out the wind, but still nice next to the skin. the colors are perfect, though it isn’t labelled so i don’t know what colorway this is.

anyway, this is an easy, mindless knit that is good company while we visit with relatives who come to hang out tonight and tomorrow. it will be done tonight, so i can show it to you more closely next time.

and because one project in play is never enough to hold my interest, i got back to work on these fingerless mitts i put on the needles some weeks ago, to match the red cabled keyhole scarf i knit up a while back in spirit trail birte and put aside for a gift.

i’m using spirit trail sunna in the matching rosewood colorway and my fine cabled mitts pattern to make a set.

i took them along to the movies the other night and worked on the cuff until the lights went down (i don’t like to knit in the dark the way some knitters do, haha). i wish i could finish them before we get home, but i don’t think that’s going to happen (i also ahve a secret project on the needles that’s got me in its thrall).

that’s plenty for me to do while i wait for santa to get here later tonight.
now, let’s eat!

tabata

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

looking for a last minute gift you can pull out of your back pocket to save the day? forgot all about stocking stuffers this year, maybe? just heard about a kid at school whose christmas won’t be so warm and bright?

here’s the magic answer to your wish

seriously fast (especially in the littler sizes), seriously fun, and mindless enough to knit anywhere (i tested mine out at the movies this afternoon—totally rockin’).

these are the most fun things i’ve knit this holiday season—hands down my new favorite. i knit two child’s sets between the time we left home yesterday morning and lunchtime today, what’s not to love??

besides the fact that they are cute as all get-out on the kids, they are practical as well—they stay ON, haha.

the earwarmer is written for nine sizes and the mitts for seven, to span every age from toddler to large adult—that should cover just about any size family in enough cozy to last the year.

the earwarmer is shaped with simple short rows to provide more coverage over the ears and back of the neck.

the fingerless mitts have a longer cuff that is sculpted through the thumb gusset for a nice smooth look without bulk—perfect for deskwork, commuting, shopping, or texting.

shown above, the adult medium size in spirit trail holda, a soft, slightly fuzzy lambswool/cashmere/angora blend in colorway fig.

shown below, the medium child’s size in fearless fibers MCN luxury DK in colorway earthenware—a great choice for kids, since it’s machine washable, yet soft, lush, and beautifully dyed.

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

thank you to jen at spirit trail fiberworks for the delicious holda yarn that inspired this design and to deb at fearless fibers for providing a great alternative choice that is beautiful and practical for those active little ones.

much gratitude as well to debby and barb, who test knit the pattern sizes for their own grandchildren and gave me such valuable feedback. thank you to little dorsey and clary, who took time out of their very important visit with grandma debby to help me out with a little modeling—how cute are they??

(i can try to do the same but, i just can’t compete with those two!)

ok, that’s it for me—the last of the patterns to come out before the holidays. i’m visiting with my family this week and i may be back with more, but it will be all fun and knitting from now to the 25th—enjoy!