getting an early start this year

Posted on Posted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

before i get going on today’s post, i just want to say THANK YOU! for all the kind and enthusiastic comments you sent along about the leaving sweater in twist—it’s been a trilling week, thanks to you.

most years, i don’t even think about christmas knitting til thanksgiving (or later), but for some reason, this year is different; i’m actually getting organized a little early—and i’m excited. because i recently had returned to me a box of samples from a LYS that closed and in it, there are a couple of items that will make perfect gifts.

like that sweater above—i knit that a number of years ago, for our own “baby trousseau”, but we never had kids, so i lent it out to the yarn shop as a sample. it’s knit in delicious natural wool from green mountain spinnery, one of my all-time favorite yarn producers (i have a soft spot for producers i discovered back in the 80s, when good wool yarns were just beginning to make a comeback). i have fond memories of pouring over sample cards and shop newsletters, trying to choose which colors to order by mail (if i was really torn, i could call and chat with someone to get advice). between 1988 and 1990, i knit a sweater for each member of my family from their yarns, many of which are still in use.

the sweater needed a bath pretty badly, so i washed it the other day and it came out wonderfully soft and glowing; now it smells like clean wool with a hint of patchouli. it should fit our 16-month-old nephew this year and probably next year too, so it’s going to him. my SIL nan has taken up knitting with a passion since our visit last summer, when micah was a newborn (he has since grown at an astounding rate and is quite large for his age). she will love this yarn.

we have twelve thirteen nieces and nephews now and i don’t knit for all of them every year any more—it’s too much. but they do love and appreciate their handknit gifts, so i enjoy thinking of items that they’ll be able to use for a couple of years, til their next turn in the rotation.

i might try to knit a similar raglan pullover for our 3-year-old nephew; better to do it now when he’s smaller, right? that shouldn’t take too long, once i know his chest measurement.

arjun asked my mom for mittens and i told her i’d make some (haven’t started them yet, but the yarn is wound).

i thought anika, who wears only dresses, would like some legwarmers—it’s very cold where they live. she loves pink and purple, so my eyes lit on a skein of STR mediumweight in colorway ST-2 that i received in my goody bag at sock summit last year. these jewel tones are right up her alley; they are colors she wears a lot of.

i’ve never knit legwarmers, but how hard can they be? i wanted a pattern that was fairly solid, but i don’t think knit/purl textures are her style—she seems to be attracted to fancier motifs. she also has extremely thin legs, so i wanted something a bit ribby, but not too stiff (in case she wants to slouch them down). i swatched the motif in the keukenhof sok and decided it was perfect.

i cast one on in the smallest size with 2.5 mm needles and knit some ribbing, then changed to 3.0 mm needle to knit the leg in pattern pattern (i’ll switch back to the small needle to work some ribbing at the top, too). and omigish, it’s knitting up faster than fast—in just a couple of hours it was eight inches long. i took it to a meeting on monday night and nearly doubled it again.

i think maybe an 18-inch length will be good; long enough that she can pull them up over her knees and short enough to wear below. i’m sure there’s enough yarn for that length, if not longer. they should fit for a few years, too.

since i’ll be traveling next week to teach over the holiday weekend at the montreal knitting guild (click here to see class offerings and registration info), projects like this will be just the thing to take along. i’m going to try to get those mittens on the needles next—if i can figure out what size to make (arjun is 6, i think).

another thing i’m tackling for christmas is a jacket for 6-year-old amad. since he adores uncle david, i thought it would be fun to knit a whitfield jacket in his size (and i think it’ll be very handsome on him). i’ve been wanting to knit this for a while, but didn’t have time to do it last year.

chris from briar rose recently sent me a new superwash merino yarn that she’s thinking about carrying—it’s not in her shop yet, but you might see it at her shows. it’s an incredibly smooshy 4-ply worsted yarn with a soft sheen a great color saturation (as you can see!). good yardage too, with 700 yards per 8 ounces. this deep, dark colorway is so whitfield.

i’ve knit a couple of swatches with the same number of stitches and rows on size 4.5mm and 5mm needles and guess what?? when i finished knitting them, they were nearly identical in gauge and size. then i soaked them and it’s just like they say—it all comes out in the wash. they are each showing their true characters now.

they’re not the same size any more (mostly in the row gauge) and the tighter one seems to pop right back to shape no matter what i do to it, while the other one has less spring and recovery. the looser one is lighter, which is nice in a jacket. and it will grow with the boy a bit, though it’s hard to predict how, so that may not be a plus.

considering the time this garment may spend on the playground, riding a bike, or playing ball, and the fact that there is a brother waiting in the wings to inherit it some day, i think i’ll go with more fabric stability.

the winner is needle size 4.5mm. the pieces for this jacket knit should be quite portable in boy size, so i can cast on and gather everything i need to take it along on our trip next week as well.

my second bougainvillea mitt is also progressing too, though i need to get back to it tonight, i think (i haven’t touched it since sunday).

i started the hand and gusset section, so it should go pretty fast from here, with more stockinette in the mix. if it’s not done before we leave, i’ll throw it in my bag, too. these will be another gift for my oldest niece, along with the curling mitts.

if i can come home from our thanksgiving trip with three or four gifts finished, i’ll be a very happy camper (not that we’re camping—not my thing anymore, really).

speaking of gifts and yarn, deb at fearless fibers is offering a simple value yarn club subscription that might make a great gift for a special friend or a dear, knitterly relative—or even to add to your own wishlist. the colors are a secret (not the ones shown here, for instnace) but will be in deb’s signature dye style. i’ve used deb’s yarns many times and the ones offered in this club are terrific—soft, yet strong, and beautifully dyed, they are perfect for socks and accessories of all types. to purchase or view more information, please click here

meanwhile, i’m still working on wasp and rose a little bit every night. the rows are getting longer, so visible progress is harder to detect. i think this weekend i should set aside one day to just work on that all afternoon. with all we have in the freezer and the fact that we are leaving mid-week, i could skip the weekend cooking and do knitting instead.

last night i sat down with my own sweater and made great progress in just a few hours. honestly, there’s nothing like knitting with worsted weight yarn—the briar rose pilgrim knits up so fast and smooth that the inches stack up quickly. mmm, aren’t the colors warm and inviting?

i went with the tighter fabric on this one as well, which makes it a little stiff during construction. it’s hard to get used to on the needles, but this yarn grows like crazy once it’s soaked, so i know it will be very soft and light after washing. and i can keep my laundered swatch nearby to remind me of its future snuggliness.

my delicato scarf is almost done—just a couple more repeats and it’ll be finished. i just couldn’t stay awake any longer last night this morning to do them. soon i’ll be blocking it, yay.

i decided to name it aria delicato because it’s a long and beautiful extension of another design, the way an aria is a tangent to an opera story.

as if enough things weren’t going on here this week

our new railings and fencing arrived on a big truck on monday. david has been unpacking everything and preparing the holes for the fence posts, to get those in while the ground is still warm. but he discovered they sent the wrong posts for the fence. arrggghh.

but, maybe that means our porch railings will go up first . . .

i consumed the absolute, very last garden tomato today for lunch, a cherokee purple i saved from going into the weekend pot of pizza sauce.

i’m so glad i did.

27 thoughts on “getting an early start this year

  1. I love the Briar Rose yarn for the nephew’s sweater, what gorgeous colors! The sandwich looks yummy. My garden petered out in July, so no more tomatoes for me.

  2. Mmmm, that tomato looks so juicy and luscious!!

    Love Green Mountain Spinnery–know what you mean about phoning in back then. One of the times I did, the woman who answered and I began talking. I told her one of the first GMS patterns I knit was Libby’s Slip Stich. She said she was Libby. I said I still had my pattern, and loved the pic of the little boy. It turns out it was her son and he was now all grown. Yikes. LOL Hmmm… I think I still have some Raspberry in my stash 😉

  3. This was a fun read! It’s like when I get very “yarny” and start pulling out fibers and needles and UFO’s and FO’s and patterns and just play for a few hours deciding on yarns for projects, and projects for people with yarn scattered all over the room. I think you are going to have some VERY happy nieces and nephews come Christmas.

  4. I’m so jealous over the tomato sandwich, one of my favorites. I’ll be doing lots of Knitspot knitting over the coming weeks. Hopefully for Christmas if not we’ll work on Valentines Day.

  5. What a lovely post, Anne! I am so interested to hear of how you handle your many knitting recipients. I have many nieces and nephews too and I try to do birthdays — never Christmas — that would be too much all at once. I’m also loving your conversation about how washing affects the swatches so much. Your pictures on this topic were great. Thank you so much it was lovely to spend “time” with you today.

  6. Loved the Christmas ideas! Love the colors….I’m seeing stash enhancement coming my way. And the sandwich…might be what’s for dinner 🙂 If you need 6 yr old hand measurements, let me know, and I’ll measure mine…if she slows down!

  7. Just a thought…could you request that Arjun make you one of those turkeys made out of an outline of his hand? It used to be (but I’m getting older now….so not sure!) that all kids made those in school at Thanksgiving time…that might give you some idea of his hand size?

    (enjoyed the rest of the post, as always, of course…)

  8. Oh, I love that new Whitefield jacket color, Anne! You’ll need to take a picture of the two Whitfield men wearing their jackets. . .

  9. those are some big boxes! and a lot of imminent work I imagine..
    belated congratulations to both of you on the Leaving cardigan, which is lovely, as are the photos and the studio themselves..such nice work all around, as usual! I remember looking forward to seeing what would happen to that Birch Beer when it first appeared on your blog, and I love how so much of that original photo ended up in the sweater, the color and yarn of course, but also the shapes of the leaves in the stitch patterns etc, and those sleeve details! and it’s even done in pieces :o)
    The delicato mitts were actually the first thing that introduced me to the amazing-ness of Anne Hanson, as I was browsing through ravelry one day…

  10. Legwarmers were the first projects I knit back in the ’80’s. I went to college in upstate NY and needed the added warmth! My second project was a blue worsted wool gorilla sweater (what’s gauge? ) and my third project was a Penny Straker sweater for John.

  11. Your sandwich looks so good! Mayonnaise factoid: west of the Rockies, Hellman’s is known as Best Foods. It confused the heck out of me when we’d visit my grandma in South Carolina as a child. The “Bring out the [Hellman’s] . . . bring out the best!” slogan makes a LOT more sense when you know that.

  12. You’ve got a lot of great knitting going on there (and a lot of lucky nieces and nephews!!). That Whitfield jacket in particular is going to be so cute! And I love those leggings; you may have inspired me to finally get going on a pair for my younger one 😉

  13. Can’t wait for the aria delicato scarf pattern to be available, I have loved watching it grow and can’t wait to cast one on!

    Super post, Anne, great fun watching all your starts. Thank you.

  14. What a great post! Green Mountain was my go-to source in the 80’s too – and I still have sweaters that I haul out of the cedar chest every winter. LOVE them! Your body of work never ceases to amaze me. Today is a good day to repeat my gratitude for all of the wonderful inspiration and sources of fiber that you bring to us! THANK YOU, dear Anne! (the leggings are fabulous!)

  15. What a lovely post, Anne, everything so pretty! I especially love the aria delicato scarf and your sweater.

  16. Great post! I hope you’ll publish the little whitfield jacket at some point–there’s always a need for cute well written kids’ patterns. That baby sweater is too cute. A blast from the past, as it were. I imagine it invoked a lot of memories when you opened that box. Your gift knitting list is much more involved than mine–I guess i have no excuse to not get mine done. And that sandwich looks so yummy–it just needs some thick cut double smoked bacon… 😉

  17. I love to see that someone else has ambitious knitting plans that don’t get acted on until the holiday is practically upon us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gives gifts “on the needles” only to take them back for a few days – or weeks! I really enjoyed reading this post. And the tomato sandwich looks to die for!

  18. Lots of holiday knitting planned – at my rate I’ll be lucky to get three gifts knitted.

    Anne, does the Briar Rose yarn have a name? The color is beautiful.

  19. Those are so well thought of gifts for your nieces & nephews & I am sure they will love them. I notice that you are having some chips with your sandwich & I love them too.

  20. Even with all the great, informative knitting photos and updates, what do I zero in on but the fact that you are also a Hellmann’s mayonnaise fan. Nothing else tastes right, imo.

    In CA (everywhere west of the Rockies, I believe) we call it Best, which completely flummoxed me when we first moved out here. But the label design and colors are identical, so it was with great relief that I bought the first jar for our new west coast home and discovered that it was, indeed, the Hellmann’s I know and love.

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