Friday, December 28, 2007

A Very Crafty Christmas

Crafty because I made most of my gifts (and actually finished them) and because I got crafty stuff for presents. Despite my best efforts, I still had to sew up the little notebook I made for my dad on Christmas morning before he woke up, but considering some of my past Christmas fiascos--last year everyone got presents still on the needles--that was nothing. So the Victorian women had it right; handmade Christmas gifts should be started no later than July. We'll see how it goes this summer in the middle of two intense graduate classes.

I think I've shown you all the presents I gave away (except for a couple, which I forgot to take pictures of before I sent them off--maybe I can convince the recipients to take pictures for me), so here's what I got:

  • The Stitch'n Bitch Page-a-Day calendar from my brother
  • The Daring Book for Girls from Bethie (This book is amazing--I've already learned how to do the whistle with your two pinkies. I only wish I had it when I was younger, although I got similar stuff from a variety of other books. Amy has a great review of it here)
  • Knitting Vintage Socks, a back issue of Interweave Knits, the Tree Sweater and Rusted Root pattern by Zephyr Style, Cookie A.'s German Stockings pattern, and the Blue Sky Alpacas Crochet Sweater pattern, from my parents via Kpixie

From left to right:

  • Mama Llama hand-dyed Merino Tencel
  • Black Pearl Yarns DK Cashmere
  • A set of casein DPNS, US Size 2 (I'm really curious about these, and they are very inexpensive--I'll let you know how they are)
  • Three skeins of Hemp for Knitting AllHemp3, to become the crocheted market bag from Crochet Me (the book, which I highly recommend)
  • Again, all from my parents and bought from KPixie

From left to right:

  • Two skeins Claudia Handpaints Fingering Weight Merino in colorway "Toast," to become the Friday Harbor Socks in Knitting on the Road
  • One skein of Shetland Cobweb yarn (Beth's response to this was "You really are crazy, aren't you?")
  • One skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino in Snow, the yarn called for in the Crochet Sweater pattern above that I am absolutely desperate to make. I decided to get one skein so I could have an easier time finding a suitable subsitute yarn (the Suri Merino is $16 a skein) and thinking I could just make a hat out of this skein, but I have touched it and it is delicious and I must have this yarn for my sweater. I think. I'm going to swatch and see how it is in crocheted form and remind myself that there is no way I can afford this yarn for an entire sweater. (Also from my parents, also from Kpixie)

  • On top, the crocheted and embroidered house purse kit from Make Make
  • The Sushi coin purse kit from Pick Up Sticks (also from my parents and from Kpixie)

It's a good thing I have a break from school to get some serious crafting done!

The killer icicles outside my window

"Those icicles have been know to kill people!" -Ralphie's mother in A Christmas Story

Hope you all had a great holiday, and my belated present to you is on its way: the Owl Cable scarf, which would match the Owl Cable hat perfectly (that was my inspiration). It was a birthday present for my aunt, who loves owls, and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture. I'll see if I can't get her to send me one.

Time to get knitting!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Deck the Halls (or your friends)

I can't write much because I'm in the middle of trying to finish several presents, but I don't have much to show yet anyway. I've either already posted it or the presents are for friends who read the blog.

I gave this to my friend Susan on Tuesday:

Pattern: "One Night Glam" from Stitch'n Bitch: The Happy Hooker
Materials: 26 gauge wire, less than half a tube of mixed beads I've had for awhile, two clasps
Hook: US K/10.5
Modifications: Added several more beads to both pieces than was recommended; made both pieces longer (I probably didn't have gauge).

This pattern was so quick and easy. I made both during the Martha Stewart Show. Yesterday Susan called to tell me that she saw necklaces just like this in a store for $65!
And wonderful woman that she is, Susan gave me a skein Malabrigo worsted (also known as my drug of choice) in a gorgeous teal. I'll post pictures with the rest of my presents later.

All right, back to the workshop! It's just like me to get started in July and still be scrambling at the last minute...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Going Local

I finally got to give Bethie her birthday present, so I can show you:

What started out as the "Classy Cabled Clutch" from 101 One Skein Wonders turned into...not a clutch. This is what happens when you don't swatch, folks. Luckily I am flexible and it turned out so long.

I've decided that one of my New Year's Resolutions is to shop locally. I always kinda sorta try to, but now I'm really going to make an effort to do so. The money you spend on a local business stays in the community and makes it more the type of place I want to live, and the financial and environmental price of gas is making me think carefully about what I buy and where it comes from. I already apply it to food and specialty purchases, but I realized I kind of ignore that when it comes to yarn. So:

  • I'm going to do my best to buy yarn locally (I'm defining "local" as New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and upstate New York--New England is small, area-wise). Not just locally, but from small farms and businesses. This shouldn't be too hard or stressful, since we have so many great places in the area--like Green Mountain Spinnery, Halcyon Yarns, Webs, and Harrisville Designs. There are also my local favorites: The Elegant Ewe, Pearl's Yarn Shop, The Yarn and Fiber Company, and The Fiber Studio; and the Wool Tour (in October) and the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival (in May).
  • I'm starting with my Christmas list over at KPixie (they are located in Massachusetts)
  • I'm allowing myself one KnitPicks order at some point in the year (I am a poor graduate student, after all)
  • I'm going to make a renewed effort to do the most local shopping of all--in the stash, which is getting cumbersome and a little embarrassing

So who's with me?

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Secret's Out

I finally finished the Secret of the Stole KAL (and only one day after the deadline, too!)

It will never cease to amaze me that you can start with this

and end up with this:

(Why yes, that is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles towel)

The Yarn Harlot has a much more elegant post on lace and the magic of blocking, and since I can't say it any better than she can and I'm in the throes of finals I will send you there (and might I add I am in desperate need of those blocking wires. The thing about stoles is they have two very loooong straight edges. I tried the string method but it didn't work; I think it was because the edges were just too long). I have been making other things, but I have to do a research proposal, a planning document (just as boring as it sounds), and an in-depth annotated bibliography for reference. Unfortunately I don't think any of my professors will accept a hand-knit pair of socks instead (crazy, I know). Next Friday, I promise.
Blogger is being really frustrating. I may be switching to WordPress (don't worry, I'll let you know).
I should also admit that I signed up for the Secret of the Stole II. After my first semester of graduate school, more lace knitting on tiny needles sounds like a piece of cake.
Wish me luck. I'm diving back into the piles of homework. Seeing that light at the end of the tunnel...