Monday, December 31, 2018

it's a wrap

This project was my airplane knitting for the flights out to Kentucky. Knowing that I didn't want to work on the mittens in the tiny plane seats, I started a few stitches of this the night before we left. Here it is on the bed of our super hip crash pad in Louisville all finished up. I got a lot done on the plane trip, and then working on it in the evenings I bound off with a day to spare. 

The pattern, while a little confusing the way it is written, is really quite simple. It is designed for those nifty long color change yarns - this is a Caron Cake. The stitch pattern changes with each color change along the yarn and voila you have a sampler. And just TWO ends to weave in! The confusing bit is in the way she notes the increases and marker placement. It's just increase on every wrong side row with a yarn over after the edging and keep your markers two stitches in from each edge so you remember to work the edge stitches. The rest of the words are really not necessary. The piece grows really fast since it's on size 10 needles and it's really rewarding to finish such a lovely thing in just a few days! I love the sampler effect and if you pick the right yarn, it ends up looking really trendy.

It blocked out well yesterday with just a light steaming. The lace sections hold their shape better and the whole thing drapes nicely now. All in all this was a fun knit that was ideal for chatting and coffee drinking. The stitch patterns were easy to memorize and there was no row counting necessary, just go until you run out of color. The hardest section is the lace shown in dark gray here, and I think I did that during a movie I was half watching, so there you go. Not that hard. Given that the cake I had was almost 400 yards, it's pretty big - 60" across that long edge and 30" from that down to the point. Very pleased with this, my last finish of 2018. More to come next year!

Pattern: Another Cake Shawl, free on Ravelry (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Caron Cakes in 'Zucchini Loaf'
Needles: US 10
Size: 60" wide x 30" deep 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

mandarin votter

Vacations are for knitting! This is Dave's happy face when I finished the second thumb and his mittens were all but complete. Worth every stitch. 

I started these just a few days before we went to visit his folks for the holidays and ended up taking them with me to work on while there. Not airplane knitting, but definitely couch knitting. (Maybe someday I'll want to do serious color work on a plane, but I'm not there yet.) I finished them a couple days before we left for home.

This is another wonderful pattern from Arne and Carlos in their book Favorite Designs that Dave got me for my birthday. I've had an A&C end to the year for sure! They are called Akle Mittens and use a diamond motif found on traditional tapestries hung in Norwegian homes (or so the book tells me). The pattern says they are sized 'for women and girls', but since finished measurements were also listed, I ended up making the girls size for Dave. These would fit me too. Maybe they like their mittens very large? Or they have large hands? Regardless. These fit. 

I used the same leftovers from the hat I made for Dave in October plus some white I had as one more accent color and the blue I bought last month for the background. I really like that blue, especially with these colors. I did not end up using up any of these yarns so I added one more leftover to the stash, but I still think this was a marvelous stash buster project as I had all but one of the yarns already handy and ended up with these fabulous mittens. In the balance there is likely less overall yarn in the stash. 

There were, as I told Dave this morning with yarn needle in hand, approximately 35,000 ends to weave in. But I ripped off the proverbial BandAid and sat down to do it last night as soon as we finished unpacking. I managed to finish one mitten before declaring defeat and heading to bed. The second got finished before breakfast. Just look at how satisfyingly neat the insides look. The double thickness of wool will make these especially warm. 

The knitting went fairly quickly because, unlike most of the Christmas balls I've been working on, there was no float twisting required. Since the floats are relatively short the way it is designed, I could just set up with one yarn on each index finger and knit away. In that way I think this pattern is actually a really nice one to start learning stranded knitting. 

Mandarin Votter is Norwegian for Tangerine Mittens, to go along with the Tangerine hat. Of course, since these are some of Dave's favorite colors these mittens will go with several of his other hats and scarves as well. For blocking I did a quick press with a hot iron and a damp cloth around the mittens. These are comfortably snug right now so I didn't want to stretch them out anymore like I did the stranded mittens I made for myself. In this case I think they will loosen a little bit with use to be perfect. 

It is no exaggeration to say that these were one of my favorite knitting projects ever. I love the geometric design, making them was relatively easy (it's always hard for me to do thumbs), and they worked up fast. VERY satisfied.

Pattern: Akle Mittens from Arne and Carlos Favorite Designs book (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in 'Barley', 'Grove Mix', and 'Persimmon', Patons North America Classic Wool in 'Winter White', and Cascade 220 Heathers in 'Blue'
Needles: US 2.5 and US 4 dpns

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

jingle all the way

Well here is the answer to "what did she do with all of those Christmas balls???" Door hangings! (The deer head stayed at home with us but was also a cute place to take these pictures as well as where we hung ours this year).

I found the large bells at the beginning of the holiday season and snapped up a few with these in mind. Putting it all together was relatively simple; it just involved cutting some decorative twine, some square knots, and deciding the right relative length at which to hang everything. I thought there were hoops at the bottom of the bell too, but turns out I was wrong. Luckily stringing the twine through the bottom of the bell the way I have it doesn't affect the ringing at all.

First, the one we kept: Moose, Christmas Stocking, Squirrel

One for my brother's family: Decorating the Tree, New Snow, Hospitality

One for my parents: Halling Border, Mittens, Dovre

One for Dave's parents: Selbu, Christmas Bells, Poinsettia

I love the way these turned out, and I had so much fun making them. I am really glad I managed to make something for everyone this holiday. I love the handmade decorations and ornaments I have and enjoy remembering their makers every year when we deck our halls at home.

Friday, December 21, 2018

more barn gifts

And what to my wondering eyes should appear... more Christmas balls! And these are horse themed for barn friends. After getting gifts for my family squared away, I had a few days before leaving on our trip to Kentucky tomorrow to get some fun ornaments done for horse people. 

This one is for someone who really likes unicorns. I searched around online and pretty easily found a chart for a knitted unicorn head and made just a couple of modifications, moving a stitch here or there in order to make it work for the size space I had to work with. Not bad!

This second one is for a woman I recently got to know who has also just gotten herself a new horse! Lucky lady. He is black and sweet and lovely, so I thought this rocking horse would be appropriate in black and white. The pattern is another out of the 55 Christmas Balls to Knit book which says the rocking horse is a symbol of good luck and prosperity - something I certainly wish for the two of them!

This last one is another case where I found a chart online and adapted it for the ball pattern. This guy had columns taken out in the belly region to shorten his body and I changed his head a little bit too. I am actually really pleased with the black on red look. It's actually quite elegant looking and the contrast is really strong, something I wondered about. 

I'm super happy with how these turned out, and everyone really enjoyed receiving them. I think they are really great gifts, and now I know they can be hyper-personalized if needed! It was so easy. I suspect some more of these horse themed baubles may be coming along in the new year... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

shadow boxes

These shadow boxes are sort of old school, aren't they? Larraine had always wanted to get some of the ribbons her horses have earned in shadow boxes, so one day I pilfered Welti's photo and started grabbing ribbons and putting them in a bucket! Once everything was gathered together I had a lot of fun arranging and rearranging ribbons around his photo. They are just held on with short pins that I inserted as I went folding and overlapping until I liked what I saw. The pictures have been hanging up in the tack room at the barn for some time in frames that didn't really fit right and weren't very inspiring. I think this is a definite improvement!

There was definitely a learning curve (don't put ribbons too close to the edge, put enough pins in, put the pins in the correct orientation or they'll fall out once it's standing up...) and the second one for Marcus went much quicker with the exception of needing to figure out how to affix a medal in his box. Answer: lots more pins.

As we were cleaning things out of a storage pod, we found a halter for another of the horses who is a few years gone. He was around for a long time and he was SUCH a character that we decided to make him a box too. I printed out some photos of him and set them along with his halter. For lack of ribbons, I added a couple of shiny bows in blue, of course because he was a winner. :) The halter was a tough one because it's so heavy, but I used a few strips of adhesive velcro and then some short lengths of satin ribbon wrapped around the leather and pinned to the backing. It seems sturdy enough, but time will tell!

It was really fun for me to remember all the shows we've been to over the years and to put together such a special Christmas gift for one of my very best friends. She loved it! They are going to hang up in the aisle of her barn so everyone who comes by can see how awesome 'her boys' are.

Monday, December 17, 2018

a teddy bear twosome

Finished just in time! These guys turned out looking so incredibly cute. They are now packed up in festive boxes and shipped off to the nieces.

On the second bear I was careful not to put in stuffing all the way up to where I was working once I started the neck and as I suspected it was easier to knit that section. That left just the snout as a bit fiddly with the stuffing getting in the way of knitting comfortably, but that's doable. 


I used some of the black acrylic yarn I've been using for Christmas balls to detail the faces. And just look at these cute little mugs! I love that while the pattern is the same their faces look different because of the way the colors on the snout worked out. Tomorrowland on the top has a dark nose which makes his face pop "out" more to the eye while Snowflake Tweed down below has a darker stripe around the edge of the snout making it look entirely different. 

They turned out pretty big, about 12 inches across from paw to paw and 14 or so from head to toe. I would say this pattern was really well written and I'm really impressed with both the results and how enjoyable it was to knit through it (twice!) and feel like a pro by the end. I've certainly been enjoying this book of patterns, and I hope my nieces enjoy their new knitted buddies. 

Pattern: Sock Yarn Teddy Bear from Arne and Carlos Favorite Designs book
Yarn: Schachenmayer Regia Festival Color 4 ply in 'Tomorrowland' and 'Snowflake Tweed'
Needles: US 1.5 dpns