Wednesday, October 26, 2011

E is for Elephant

The Itty Bitty Knitters have been working their way through the alphabet for swaps.  (The Christmas swap is a deviation from the alphabet and after this the letters won’t be in order any more.)  I chose to sit out the last swap (D = Dolly) because the knitting requirements were bigger and I didn’t think I’d have the time or energy.  It was a good call on my part.

This swap was pretty easy-going.  Requirements included one of three elephant patterns.  I chose Elefante.  Plus any other goodies we might want to include – theme related or otherwise.  I had my Elefante started pretty early – but as I mentioned previously on the blog, I wasn’t observant enough and had to start over.

I had plenty of time to get everything around but with the mix-up on yarn for Elefante, I got behind.  I did catch up and mailed out just a tiny bit late.  (Which I still feel bad about sending late, but that’s how it works sometimes.)

So what did I include?  Let me tell you.  First, meet Lollipop.  He’s a cheery, somewhat cheeky fellow.  Knit from my own hand-dyed superwash merino wool, I loved how he turned out.  I striped two yarns, the semi-solid blue is Snowcone and the orange and green and blue yarn is Lollipop Guild, hence the name.  The variegated yarn on it’s own reminds me of the Lollipop Guild boys from Wizard of Oz, with their giant lollipops and bright colors.  I think this little guy personifies exactly that.  When striping, the blues from Snowcone actually blended really well with Lollipop Guild, and so it almost looks like it’s just one yarn. 

My favorite part about Lollipop are his feet.  They look simple and sweet enough, but turn him on his side and there’s a surprise!  He also got a little ribbon around his neck to finish him off. 
Squishy really enjoyed “testing him out” so to speak.  Let me tell you – those ears and tail aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!  It was good that Baby Elephant was soon to follow as I’m afraid he would have been very sad to see Lollipop go. (Funny – this swap we’ve seen and heard that a lot of the kids have gotten very attached to the elephants their mommies are knitting.  That’s one of the things that’s so great, though…you get a package in return and along with that – an elephant of their very own!)
Usually I split FOs into separate posts so they aren’t 100 pages long.  Sometimes I do that with swap parcels if there is a lot of handmade stuff included.  I should, but I’m not going to do that this time.  PLEASE forgive me and thank you if you make it to the end!!!

Earlier this fall I picked up the magazine, Interweave Knits Holiday Issue 2011.  The cover knits caught my eye.  A beautiful slouchy hat and what I thought were drool-worthy fingerless mitts.  They looked so crisp and clean and wintery.  I had to knit them.  I still haven’t gotten to the hat, but I DID finish the Ashbury Mitts.  Knit from Mirasol Yarn Nuna in Warm Grey, I used just over 1 skein to complete the pair.  After the fact I found my gauge was off, but with a heavy blocking, the mitts fit much better.  I had a really hard time deciding whether to include these in the swap or to keep them for myself.

The yarn is a bamboo/silk/wool blend that is so incredibly soft you just want to squish it all day long.  The yarn in the sample looks a bit sturdier than the yarn I used, but I’m very happy with the end result.  More details on this project can be found on my project page! 

Because this was an elephant swap I needed more elephants to include.  I knit my first dishcloth, the Peanut Cloth pattern.  I only had white cotton on hand.  It makes the design a bit hard to see unless you’re looking at just the right angle.  I felt as though the cloth knit up loosely – I think that’s the fault of the cotton.  Since I’ve not knit any cloths before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Going down a needle size next time might be necessary.  I also goofed and knit reverse stockinette on the top and bottom instead of garter stitch.  When I reread the pattern I saw my mistake, although I still feel as though the pattern wasn’t written as clearly as it could have been.
My swap partner, Katherine (kmacmillan2003), is a reader.  I thought it appropriate to include a knitted bookmark.  This is the Leaf Bookmark pattern by Susan Anderson from Spud Says.  Using a lighter weight yarn, I got the bookmark size, but the great thing about this pattern is you could use a bulky yarn and bigger needles and get a scarf from the exact same pattern!
I like to include knitting notions in every swap if I can.  This swap contained Puppy Snips, Chibi needles and a tape measure.  But not just any tape measure, a covered, initialed tape measure!  I used the Apples & Oranges pattern and knit a basic blue cover with a white pull tab.  I then embroidered a K (for Katherine) on the top using Susan Anderson’s Wrap Stitch tutorial.  (You chain stitch a design on, and then wrap these chained stitches – genius!)  I really like how this turned out.
And then we have the fabric elephant.  I had this elephant fabric on hand and thought it would make for a fun sewn something.  This pattern jumped out at me from one of my pattern books and away I went.  It did become obvious to me, though.  I am a toy knitter, not a toy sewer.  While this little lady is cute, I feel as though I could have done better.  Want to know my favorite part about her?  Her ears and her eyes. 

The handmade doesn’t stop there.  I didn’t have a lot of extra to spend on this swap, so I had to be creative.  Something really simple and fun to make is a row counter for your knitting.  I found the cutest little pink elephant charm and voila! And there’s nothing better to decorate your knitting than pretty stitch markers…these elephants came marching in on parade!  Hopefully these are lightweight and useful for Katherine.
That about covers all the things made by me.  The rest I picked up here and there while out and about.  A recently coveted knitting related object is the new KnitSimple Holiday 2011 issue.  Inside you will find the MOST adorable pattern for fairies by Susan B. Anderson.  These little fairies steal your heart.  You want to knit a whole village.  And they come with the cutest little tulip pouches/homes to carry them in.  Susan is one creative lady!  I had serious doubts as to whether I could part with this magazine – but I decided that I could always go buy another. 

As I mentioned before, my swap partner is a reader.  She’s obviously a knitter.  But she also mentioned she likes to cook.  When I found this book, it was perfect.  The Knitter’s Home Companion is full of fun short stories from a knitter, who shares not only little anecdotes about her knitting life, but also shares patterns and recipes with the reader.  I read about half the book before wrapping it up to ship to Canada.  I wasn’t sure it was swap-worthy reading.  But it is and so off it went.  (The best part about the book?  The author is from Iowa!)
A few other goodies included the sock blocker keychain kit, elephant buttons, and an I Heart Iowa keychain.
Because she likes chocolate and peanut butter it was necessary to send Reese Peanut Butter Cups and Dove Peanut Butter Chocolate pieces.  Yum!  There was also a paisley coffee/tea mug and some Earl Grey tea (I hope she likes Earl Grey – I don’t know anything about tea so that was a huge guess on my part!).

No swap is complete without some yarny goodness.  Malabrigo Worsted in Verde Esperanza was a lovely teal that will be great to knit with. 

And to top It all off, a couple elephant statutes, both large and small, that jumped off the shelves and into my arms.

So…now that you’ve made it to the end, are you tired of reading yet?  That’s all I’ve got for you. This was a terrific swap to participate in and I learned a lot about elephants, which was neat.  And I got to see lots of pictures of real elephants, which is always fun.  I hope Katherine enjoys it all and I can’t wait to get my package in the mail! J


  1. Man, you swappers do not hold back. The elephants were adorable. I love how you think outside the box w/yarn for stuff like that. The sewn one is of such pretty fabric.

  2. Thanks, Stefanie! :) It's so enjoyable getting to know another knitter and tailoring these swaps to their likes and hobbies. There's always part of you that worries about whether your swap partner will like everything but it's still so much fun! :)