Christmas favorites

November and December were extra busy for us, making Christmas gifts and cookies and decorating in between bouts of cold and flu. This weekend we just finished packing away the Christmas decorations and downloading photos from the camera. I wanted to share a few of my favorite things from Christmas.

I started an advent calendar for Isaac, but for this past Christmas it was just a small holiday garland. I made 14 mittens in total, so I just need 10 more for an advent calendar for next Christmas. The pattern is Smitten. I used assorted wool yarn leftovers and US3 needles. I love it! I plan to fill each mitten with a little craft project or holiday activity.

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I also made matching pajamas for the kids. Isaac’s are Oliver + S Sleepover Pajamas in size 3T + 1 inch in length and Ethan’s are Reversible Baby Pants in the 6 month size from Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings. I’ve made both patterns so many times I barely look at the instructions any more.

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My favorite gift is this little elephant. It’s a Heather Bailey pattern that Isaac and I made together. Isaac said he wanted to give Ethan a soft elephant for Christmas, just like one I made for Isaac’s friend years ago. Isaac picked out the fabric, I sewed it and he stuffed it. Isaac was so proud that he could help make something for his brother. While Isaac was stuffing the elephant, I asked him what he wanted to name it. He thought really hard. “Umm… … …Foxy!” You got it! “And next I want to make a black and red elephant for me and name him Cherry!” Ok… I guess we’ll be making another elephant early this year. Isaac is not forgetting about the elephants. He now calls Ethan’s “Foxy Loxy” and his will be “Cherry Larry.”

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This time around I used glue-basting for the elephant, which made the process faster, more accurate and meant a whole lot less seam-ripping. Win!

Cleaning house

In preparation for the new year, I organized the growing pile of patterns in my sewing space. I was pleasantly surprised to find some typed and handwritten patterns that belonged to my grandma.

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My grandma taught me how to knit when I was in college. My first project, like most new knitters, was a garter stitch scarf. This double-knit scarf pattern was my second ever knitting project. I made one for me, then one for my mom, my sister, and my roommate.

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I also found a whole book of sweater patterns for Barbie dolls. Can you imagine knitting such tiny sweaters?! My aunt confirms that she had the best-dressed Barbies in town, with handmade outfits that often matched her own.

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My favorite find is an unfinished cross stitch – I plan to finish it and incorporate it into a mini quilt in time for Valentine’s day.

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This is a good start to my 2015 goals – get (and stay) organized and finish stuff. Now that my patterns are all sorted, I’m moving on to organizing my stash and finishing up a few (of my many) lingering projects this month.

 

New baby sweater

Before Ethan was born, I started knitting a baby sweater for him. I selected the Cascade pattern and Nashua Handknits Natural Focus Ecologie Cotton. It turned out so beautifully! Like the hats, I didn’t bother to do a gauge swatch. I followed the instructions for the 6 month sweater, figuring that even if it turned out small it would at some point fit my baby.

I think my gauge was off or the sweater turned out small for some other reason. It’s fitting Ethan just perfectly now, when he is nearing three months and just over 12lbs. I’ll try to squeeze him into it a few more times before he grows out of it.

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I like this sweater in a washable cotton, but I think it would block better and the leaves would lay flatter with a wool yarn. Next time I’ll do a gauge swatch and use wool yarn.

 

 

Duff beer

Now I can make any beer a Duff beer!

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This has been in the works for at least a year. I tried to do this in the round with three-stranded fair isle, but that just turned into a very large knot of yarn in a hurry. I finally settled on intarsia to make the Duff logo. It was quite fiddly, there was a seam to sew and many ends to weave in. I love how it looks now that it’s blocked, though! I used Dale of Norway baby yarn for this project. It used approximately 2% of 4 skeins of yarn, so I could (and I may) make a whole set of these.

I put the pattern on Ravelry here. Cheers!

A hat-shaped gauge swatch

Last week I knit two Polpo hats for Isaac.

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Really, I knit a hat-shaped gauge swatch and then I knit a hat for Isaac. I had intended for the hat on the left to fit Isaac. I knit the 19″ size using US7mm needles and Malabrigo Rios yarn, but it is a tiny bit tight and about an inch too short. I figured why do a gauge swatch – I have plenty of yarn, I have two different-sized kids so the hat will (eventually) fit one or both of them, and with the other hats in the book my gauge has been spot-on. This time my gauge was off, probably because I used a worsted yarn instead of an aran yarn.

Isaac tried on the first hat and demanded a new one immediately after I declared it too small. I knit the pattern for a 21″ hat with an extra inch in length and it fits well. He wore it to the bus stop all last week, when we had leaves instead of snow on the ground. He really likes the fluffy bit on top, and so do I – it is much cuter than a pom-pom.

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Candy corn projects

I used to love candy corn. I would eat multiple bags of candy corn during the month of October. In the last few years I have lost some of my sweet tooth, and now I have a more common reaction to candy corn – just thinking about it makes my teeth hurt.

I still like the idea of candy corn, and I try a few pieces every year. And I love Halloween. This year I’m not making any elaborate Halloween costumes (Isaac wants to be Spiderman, available at Target for $14.99), so I’ve been working on a couple other Halloween projects. The first I finished is a candy corn hat for Ethan.

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I used Woolly Wormhead’s Rocketeer pattern, with size US7 needles and Cascade 220 yarn. I worked the pattern for a 16″ head circumference, making 2 extra short rows in each section. He has a 15″ head now, and this fits perfectly. To used intarsia to make the candy corn colors. 10 stitches are yellow, 14 are orange and 10 are white.

The second project I finished is a set of trivets with some Halloween fabric scraps (including a candy corn print!) that I’ve had in my stash for years. The pattern is from the book Patchwork, Please! It’s a paper-piecing pattern and it worked out just perfect for using up the little scraps of fabric I had. I want to try this pattern again with fussy-cut prints in the center.

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I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! Don’t eat too much candy corn ;)

Snow + scarves

This winter will just not end! Minnesota got a late-season snow storm this week. We got about 8″ of snow. Good thing I just finished a couple late-season scarves for me and Isaac.

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Pattern: Malabrigo Linen Stitch Scarf (ravelry)

Needles: US 11

Yarn: kit from the Yarnery

 

 

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Pattern: similar to Roll-ups from Son of Stitch and Bitch (ravelry)

Needles: US7

Yarn: Cascade 220

I cast on 20 sts and knitted until the scarf was preschooler-sized. I’m usually a continental knitter, but I tried lever knitting for this. It was slow-going. I don’t think I’ll convert to lever knitting any time son.

 

Squirrelly Swedish Mittens

After finishing these last year, I finally blocked them this year. It sounds silly, but I am waiting for the weather to warm up before I can wear these! These are not warm enough for subzero temperatures and windchill warnings. They are warm enough for late winter / early spring, which is (hopefully) just around the corner.

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Pattern: Squirrelly Swedish Mittens

Yarn: Knitpicks Palette

Zip-up sweater

 

Making a zip-up sweater was one of my knitting goals for 2013. I finished it back in October and I’m glad I did – it’s getting a lot of wear lately. It’s already getting short in the torso, so this is (sadly) a one-season sweater. I wish I had had more yarn to make it longer, but I had literally only inches of yarn left after the i-cord edges.

Isaac’s favorite colors lately are brown and orange. I wonder if the sweater has something to do with it?

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Pattern: Child’s Cardigan, by JC Briar

The zipper is working out so well, I’m not sure I’ll ever make a button-down kids sweater again. It’s pretty easy to swap out button bands for zippers, I just added a few stitches on each side of the front and did an applied i-cord to finish the edges.

Toddler socks

I finished a pair of cozy wool toddler socks just in time for the coldest day of the year!

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yarn: trekking xxl

needles: US2

gauge: 8 stitches per inch

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These fit Isaac’s feet now, with a little room to grow. He currently wears a size 10 shoe. Here’s how I made them:

  • cast on 24 stitches using Judy’s magic cast on
  • knit 1 round
  • make 4 increases every other round, 6 times (48 stitches)
  • knit 39 rounds
  • increase 2 stitches every three rounds, 4 times
  • knit 1 round
  • work a short row heel on the back 24 stitches. Do short rows until 12 stitches remain.
  • knit 6 rows after finishing heel
  • decrease 2 stitches every other row, 4 times
  • knit until sock is as tall as you want it
  • work 10 rows of 1×1 ribbing
  • bind off with Jenny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off
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