Thursday, December 30, 2010

Friday Favorites 12/31: Favorite Finished Objects

It's the end of the year.  Literally.  December 31st, as we all know, marks the last day of 2010.  So to celebrate the past year, as well as look forward into the new year, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite finished objects.  This wasn't easy.  I love all my knits for different reasons.  Usually I feature 3-4 of my favorite things each week, but this time I felt the need to make the list a little longer. :) Also, I'm counting November & December 2009 as well, since it's only a couple months and that's when I started.

We'll start with the oldest, and work up to the newest.

This was one of my very first knits.  Last year I knit everyone something for Christmas.  They didn't all receive their gifts on Christmas, but they received them during the holiday season. None of them knew I had taught myself how to knit, so it was a surprise when they opened their gifts and saw what was inside each package. :)   This little gem was a gift to my sister.  We had our moments as kids, but we've grown really close as we've gotten older and I love that I can call her my best friend. The "blue" sister represents me, with straight blonde hair (who loves blue) and the "pink" sister represents C, who has curly blonde hair and loves pink.

This chocolatey goodness was a gift for my swap partner, Tonia, for the Itty Bitty Easter Swap.  Chocolate is always a yummy treat, but sometimes too tempting.  With this sweet toy you get the best of both worlds.  I love the way the designer created this pattern to be so identical to the real chocolate bunnies.  I tried my best to mimic the ones bought in stores, right down to the yellow bow and blue candy eyes. I don't know what it is about this toy, but I love it so!

Okay, Susan doesn't call him Gerald, but in our house, we do.  This was the reason for buying Itty Bitty Toys to begin with.  He's knit from the wonderful Spud & Chloe Sweater in Splash and Lake.  He's such a fun toy for kids and adults.  I was so excited when Susan asked to feature his picture on Spud Says (Spud & Chloe blog), he told me he feels like a star!  He's even inspired others to knit their own blue giraffes. :)  I'm so very, very fond of this guy.

This is such a popular shawl, with 2999 projects on Ravelry, it's no surprise it falls under my favorites.  I made this shawl for my mom as a birthday present.  Part of the reason I love it so much is that I proved to myself that I could do it.  Lace isn't an easy thing, at least for a beginning lace knitter.  And after several bumps, there is this wonderful blue knit to show for it.  And even better, Mom loves it and wears it, which is all the thanks I need for making it!!

I'm lumping these two together because I gave them as a set.  My friend was expecting a little boy and I was so excited to knit for him.  But I didn't want to do traditional pastel baby colors.  So after talking to a few people, I settled on green, blue & brown.  The colors play so nicely with one another, and I think they're bold and boyish.  I'd love to make another babysack, and my friend gave me some great insight into how it fits her little boy.

This pattern is the Phenomenon pattern, modeled after Bella's mitts in the first Twilight movie.  I made a pair for my friend, which I blogged about HERE, as part of a trade. 
I also made my sister a pair for Christmas.  I'd like to make myself a pair when I get the chance.  Hopefully that's before winter is over!! I've found these gloves to be super warm, cozy, and dense.  Just what is needed to fight off that cold weather.

So as you can see, each of these finished objects holds a special place in my heart.  I'm sure there will be many in the future that I love just as much.  It was fun to look back through the past 14 months and see how much my knitting has grown and how much I've accomplished.  I highly recommend it! :)  I also have to mention that I've made some great friends on Ravelry over the past year, it's been really nice to have people to share stories and FOs and ask for help from all the wonderful ladies!

Stop by in the new year for more Friday Favorites!  Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Knitting: C's Bella Mitts

Wow, it has been a whirlwind of activity around here lately.  The build up to, and the subsequent winding down of Christmas has kept us moving over the past 4-5 days.  I scrambled to finish my Christmas knitting, but just didn't have the time or energy to get it all complete.  Luckily, I have a very understanding family who took it all in stride.

I am pleased that I got 3 projects fully started and completed before Christmas was here, in just 1 month or so.  (I had 2 partial hats and one yet-to-be-cast-on bag on Christmas Eve.  One hat is now complete.)

Today I'll share with you a favorite pattern of mine, Phenomenon.  Those of you in Ravelryland know what this pattern is and how popular it has become.  Others of you may recognize it from this post when I talked about making them for a friend of mine as a trade for my business logo.  It's a relatively quick pattern.  If I could just sit and knit all day I could whip these puppies out in just a day or two.  But life doesn't move that way, does it?

This pair was destined for my sister's hands.  She's a lover of pink, and I'm a lover of blue.  It's been that way for a long, long time.  And yes, I know this color is not pink, but it's lovely, and right up her alley.  I think she likes them.  (At least I'll pretend she does, especially since she's already worn them outside the house!)
They are made from Brooklyn Tweed's (otherwise known as Jared Flood) Shelter in colorway Thistle.  This is a beautiful yarn that begs for texture.  No plain ol' stockinette stitch here, folks.  The cabling turn out beautifully, especially after a nice, gentle blocking.

I couldn't decide if the yarn would be appropriate as a bulky yarn so I held it double.  In the end, they were very tight and uncomfortable on my hands until the aforementioned blocking, which stretched them just enough to kind-of accommodate my excessively long fingers and large palms, and definitely roomy enough for my sister's hands.  As I'm sure I've mentioned before, if ever I were to make these for myself, I'd add an extra cable repeat for the added comfort, as well as extra length to the thumb.
I really enjoyed working with Shelter as it had interesting flecks of color spread throughout the yarn.  Each stitch brought new dimension to the project.  Because it is a true wool, it was a bit rough on my hands when I would sit and knit for long periods of time.  I have sensitive skin, and the yarn running along my left forefinger often ended the night a little red.  I've read some suggestions of washing the yarn before knitting to help it soften.  I don't think I'd ever do that, but I did notice the mittens softened and plumped nicely after the blocking.
C was kind enough to model these on Christmas day.  On my parents deck, with a brilliant snowy backdrop, the colors stood out beautifully.  If only I could hire hands to always model my knitwear for hands!  I guess I'll have to keep on asking my sister (when she's home) and mom when needed.  They're good sports about it.

Overall, this was a successful gifting and I foresee these mittens getting a lot of use! :) Hooray!!  I am really looking forward to when I knit my mom's Christmas gift from Shelter in Almanac!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday Favorites 12/24: Christmas Eve

Yes, I know.  It's Saturday night, and Christmas night, not Christmas Eve, but it's still Friday Favorites because it's about Christmas Eve and is one of my favorite days/nights of the entire year. It is my favorite holiday, hands down.  And there are 3 specific reasons why.  And they have nothing to do with the amount of presents I receive or the money that was spent, but instead the time with family, just being a family.

So what are my Friday favorites on my most favorite holiday of the year?  Read on to find out.

(Not necessarily in this order...)

 Yes, this is X, sitting in a box that another gift came in, playing with his MagnaDoodle. 
I love my family.  We don't get nearly enough time together throughout the year, in my opinion.  That's probably why I love Christmas Eve so much.  We all sit down together to enjoy time with one another.  We watch movies and tv during the day, we cook good food and bake yummies, we sit and talk and have real conversations.  And when we sit down to celebrate the day, the electronics and television and computers are left behind.  We move to the living room and open gifts and eat good food and enjoy the company of one another.  And we have a really good time doing it.  We're always laughing and smiling. It's just plain pleasant.

I wish I had better pictures of the night.  I forgot to take one of our family sitting together, so you'll have to accept the few above.  X really enjoyed the night and the time with his aunt, uncle, PaPa and NaMa. :)

Like I said above, we cook and bake and eat good food.  For several years we've made a whole pile of hor d'oeuvres and sweets and serving that instead of a traditional meal.  It's yummy.  There are little smokies, summer sausage, cheese and crackers, sometimes artichoke or spinach dip, swedish meatballs, stuffed crescent rolls, stuffed mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, keishes, cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels, M&Ms, wine, apple cider... I could go on.  But I think you get the idea.  Each year the list changes a little.  We may choose to stray from this next year and do a traditional meal.  But that's okay because part of what makes the food so good is the company we are keeping.  Like a said before, good food and conversation.  It goes a long way.

And finally, faith.  Christmas Eve is a time to remember that "Jesus is the reason for the season."  I wish I could show you a picture of the Candlelight service at church with the lights turned down and the candles all lifted around the church while the congregation sings Silent Night.  There's a moment of peace that truly brings it all into perspective.  I may not be outspoken about my faith, but Christmas has always been special for me and fills me with joy.  I wish I could say it more eloquently, but this will have to do.  

So these are 3 reasons that Christmas Eve is so special and such a favorite of mine.  How perfect that it landed on an actual Friday this year?

Merry Christmas to all you, readers!  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Itty Bitty Christmas Swap 2010

It's the week of Christmas and I'm finally able to publish this post...  I had this swap mostly completed back at the same time I sent out my swap package for the Secret Santa Swap.  Unfortunately, I was not able to mail out a complete package as some of the items I intended to include were backordered and would not make it on time for the mailing deadline.  But finally, everything arrived, and now that my swap partner has received her parcels, I can share with everyone else.

Unlike the Secret Santa Swap, the Itty Bitty Christmas Swap 2010 had a couple requirements.  The idea was to keep this swap fun and simple since the previous swap (Teddy Bear Picnic) was quite involved.  There had to be either a knit Snowman Hat or a knit Christmas Set, designed by Susan B. Anderson.  We were also instructed to include a recipe we liked during the holiday season, accompanied by some kind of yummy treat.

I chose to make my swap package penguin themed.  Penguins are cute and waddle-y and represent winter well.  (It didn't hurt to learn that my swap recipient, Mary Rose, collects penguins!) :)    This little gem is a Christmas ornament.  I love the scarves adorning these cheery penguins' necks, as well as their Christmas stockings.
Then I found this really neat hot cocoa and mug set.  I like to think that this penguins' sweater and hat are hand knit.  I can't remember and it's hard to tell in the picture, but I believe the mug says, "Bundle Up It's Sweater Weather."  :)
I wanted to include some handmade stitch markers, but didn't have a chance to get to Hobby Lobby to look at charms.  So instead I decided to make my own out of polymer clay.  Mary Rose received a penguin, Christmas Tree, snowman and candy cane.  These were really fun to make!
Now we come to the knit requirements.  I chose to knit the Snowman Hat for a little boy in Mary Rose's life.  After I was all done, I thought about whether I should have gone outside the box a little, but I finally decided that I really like the way this hat turned out.
I made this hat last year for X and had trouble with the scarf, so I reworked out how I tacked down the knot.
I also had no orange yarn last year so X's hat got a button nose (like Frosty), but this guy got a cute little carrot nose.
(Baby Bee Hushabye Solid in Angel, Knit Picks Comfy Worsted in Black, Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Marmalade and in Claret)
And since Mary Rose wasn't planning on keeping the Snowman hat, I opted to also knit her a piece of the Christmas Set.  I knew I wouldn't have time for all 3 pieces, but I did have plenty of time for this little mouse.  
He knit up in a couple days, but only because work got in the way.  He'd easily be finished in an evening.  He really had fun during his photo shoot.  His favorite movie is Cinderella (for obvious reasons), and he remembered Jaq getting stuck in the teacup while trying to retrieve the key for Cinderella.  Thus his inspiration for this shot.

My favorite part of this little mouse are his ears.  I used KnitPicks Comfy Worsted in Cypress.  This dark green is just right.  (Also used Knit Picks Shine Sport in White and in Claret.)
I also learned that the Christmas Mouse has made a new friend in Santa Clause, also from the Christmas Set, but knit by Mary Rose.

As I like to do, I included something that would remind the recipient of Iowa, this time, a set of John Deere playing cards.  Also note the assorted chocolates I hear didn't last long.... :)
Mary Rose also mentioned she likes peppermint, so I included these peppermint stick cremes.  I'm interested to know how she likes them!  You will also see a recipe card for Red Velvet Cupcakes.  Very small and yummy and perfect for this holiday season.
I wrapped up all of the above and filled up this Christmas stocking.  Well, not the mug and hot cocoa, but everything else.  I thought it would be a fun way to open all the goodies, just like Christmas morning!
I was disappointed I couldn't include everything in the first package, but sometimes that's what the way life happens.  I had a very understanding swap partner, which was great.  I had 2 things I still wanted to send her way, and although I already had the pattern, I held it back to keep the other items company on the trip.  I selected the Grove pattern by Jared Flood.  I think this pattern is lovely.  I believe I even mentioned it on a Friday Favorites.
Photo by Jared Flood
And I think they would look lovely knit in Shelter, in the Almanac colorway!  Yes, I was one of those people who waited too long to order (even though I was ahead of the game compared to usual) and was disappointed when I heard the yarn was backordered.  And as it turns out, Almanac is a very popular color.  Luckily, all arrived safe and sound before Christmas!  (And if she chooses to make the pattern out of different yarn or use the Shelter for another project, I'm okay with that too - but it's always nice to have options!)
I had a lot of fun putting this package together.  Especially since I've seen the packages Mary Rose can put together - I was the swap recipient of her Springtime in Paris parcel, after all!  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WIP Wednesday 12/22

How many of you out there get yourself into trouble by burying yourself in all these things you want to get done in a short amount of time?  (**raises hand**)  Yes, that would be me.  There are so many neat things to make, it's hard to focus.  I'd probably be more productive if I knit one thing at a time, or finished a sewing project before starting a new one...but I don't think I'm alone in the handmade crafts department on this one.

So even though I started my Christmas knitting early, here I am, the week of Christmas, and I'm frantically trying to play catch-up.  Some things might not get finished, and I've accepted that...sort of. I had a moment of revelation yesterday, or perhaps the day before, when I realized how quick the next few projects are going to be.  This. May. Be. Attainable!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I finished and delivered one project already.  The blocking did wonders for that project.  They didn't need it per se, but now that it's done, I'm glad I went ahead and blocked.  More details on that in a few days (as with all my Christmas

Remember me mentioning that project I'm using Shelter for?  I even gave you a sneak-peak photo of it last week...they are almost complete.  Granted, I had worked on these a little in-between other projects, but I'm amazed at how fast these go.  Yes, they knit up quickly.  Yes, I am thankful!  Yes, I now feel as though anything is possible!

The first project I cast-on for Christmas about a month ago is still on the needles.  I'm saving that for last because it's the absolute easiest.  I can knit it anywhere, at anytime.  Which works well when your attention is divided between knitting and an active little boy.

I also mentioned I had a second project I would be knitting with Shelter, although in a different colorway.  After reading through the pattern last night in preparation for what's to come, I'm pleased to hear (read) on project pages how quickly this can be knit.  This is a blessing.

Which leaves me one more project other project that I'm just not quite sure of.  That's my goal today, to read up on user comments and look at project pictures.  I'm feeling a bit like The Little Engine That Could right about now...I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can.  Yes, the power of positive thinking.  I dare someone to tell me it's not possible because by George, I'm going to get them all done! :)

So what's on your needles right now?  Are you frantically knitting the last of Christmas gifts or do you go sans knitting during the holiday season?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Man, I need to do some catching up!  Last week was here and gone before I realized it.  I didn't get Friday (or even weekend) Favorites done last week.  It's been a busy time both at home and at work, so those kinds of things sometimes get forgotten.  I'll try to remember and be on time this week for Friday Favorites.  I already have a theme in mind since it's Christmas Eve.

I don't have a whole lot other than to say I've finished one of my Christmas projects!  Hooray!  They're blocking as we speak, and I'm happy with how they've turned out. Now that I have a project completed, I'm feeling better about the rest of my knitting.  

And great news for me today...because of the snowfall, it's an early out day!  :)  I'm crossing my fingers that we only have early outs and late starts before Christmas vacation starts.  We don't have school on Thursday, but if we have a snow day, then the 23rd is a snow-make-up day.  Then after we return from break, we can have all the snow days in the world. :) 

You can bet that today I will be spending my time on more knitting.  I've gotten into a nice rhythm and it all seems do-able at this point.  I haven't decided what the next WIP will be - I've got several to choose from.  It's sort of deciding between starting an entirely new project or finishing an already started one.  I think I'll finish the project I already have started.  I should be able to complete this project in about a day and a half of good knitting time. :) 

With that being said, I hope everyone is either 1) enjoying the winter weather, or 2) enjoying warmer weather than we are experiencing!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WIP Wednesday 12/15

Last week I briefly mentioned that I've thought about doing something like a WIP Wednesday (Works in Progress Wednesday).  I also said that I haven't yet done this because I don't know how much progress or change in my knitting/crafting I would have from week to week.

But...the more I thought of it, the harder it was to convince myself not to do a a regular WIP post. So I made myself a deal.  On Wednesdays, I'll assess my WIPs and decide whether or not they are worthy of note.  If they are, I'll write a post, and hopefully have some pictures.  If not, I'm not going to stress about having nothing to share.  Let's face it - we all get busy and sometimes that means our knitting or crafting takes a backseat to other, more important things in our lives.  For me, it could also mean I've been distracted by a new book or the lure of a relaxing bath!  :)

So I'll start today.  I haven't shared much knitting lately for the obvious reasons.  We're in the holiday season and I know there are some lurkers and readers out there who wouldn't be surprised come Christmas if I shared all the knitty-gritties.  :)

I was able to snap a few pictures by my front door of my current WIPs.  The lights not as good as it could be, but it was the closest I was getting to natural light.  I'm not quite ready for a photoshoot out in the snow!!

First, we have the project that's taking me forever to complete.  But I love how it's turning out.  I was afraid at first it would be too pool-y, but it's not, in my opinion.  And it's soft and lovely.  (I'm not sharing any pattern names today.)

Next, can you see this lovely Shelter yarn?  Do you see all those lovely flecks of color?  Very pretty, right?  Can you guess what this pattern is?  
What about these?  I know the design isn't really clear here, but I like how the cabling turned out.  This is going to be slightly modified from the original pattern.  So far so good.

And last but not least, this is just a picture of the next yarn I'll be casting on with, for one of my next projects.  The color is very rich and pretty. :)
I hope you've enjoyed this very vague WIP Wednesday.  Stop in next week for a few more photos!