Saturday, December 29, 2007

Monkey Shenanigans

When I was at the knitting tea a few weeks ago, one of the projects someone showed off was the Sock Monkey Hat from Knitty. OMG! How cute! And I knew I'd hit the perfect gift for my nephew.

So I raced over to my LYS, got them to order in the yarn--big hurrahs to The Yarn Stash in Burien, because Bonnie will go the extra mile to get you what you need.

So with a couple of skeins of Lana Grande, Color 6012 in hand, some white, red and black Cascade 220 plucked from the stash, I knit up a Sock Monkey hat. Really, this is the quickest hat to knit--and so much fun.

However the next morning it went missing. You see Sock Monkey mania is contagious. And the lure of the Sock Monkey is hard to contain.

However, it didn't take long to discover where the hat had gone.
You see, Sock Monkey hats make great new heads for your local Brown Bears.

So I ended up knitting another Sock Monkey hat for the nephew, and then my dad saw the hat and decided he wanted one for fishing . . . Watch out, this project is catching . . .

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Must. Keep. Knitting.

That has been my mantra for the last few weeks--but after cranking out endless, and I do mean endless, neckwarmers, gloves and mitts, including this scarf for my sister-in-law, until my hands gave up last night. I mean, I couldn't knit another stitch.

I have one more neckwarmer to go. 2/3 thirds of the way through the gloves for my nephew. The hat I knit for the other nephew has been absconded by my oldest son--so that must be replaced. I had hoped to knit a pair of fingerless gloves for my dad and husband, and finally a pair for my mother. It just ain't going to happen. At least not all of them.

When I cried "uncle" last night, my hands throbbing in pain, and declared that I couldn't knit another stitch, I could see the panic in my son's eyes--you see, he and dad had just gone shopping for Christmas, having a guys' night out, and I knew they had gone to Hilltop Yarn Shop. His panic was something akin to "No, mom! You can't stop now. Not after we bought you . . . " I soothed him by saying, 'I just needed a break, but I'd be back at it by the next day' and his relief was nearly palatable. I love kids at this time of year.

Really, give up knitting? Yeah, right.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Christmas Tea

As a romance writer and a knitter, I am very lucky to call Debbie Macomber my friend. She's been a writing mentor for years, and over the years we've shared our love of knitting with random trips to yarn shops while at writing conferences, and Debbie is always showing me some new technique she's picked up from some fabulous knitter she's met in her travels. She's just the nicest, dearest woman you could ever want to meet.

And every year, she hosts a Christmas Tea for her "knit friends." It is a very varied group, young and old, shop owners and novice knitters, who all share the love of fiber. This year it took some finagling to get go, but the husband, dear man that he is, left work early to pick up the kids so I could take the ferry over to Port Orchard for her party.

The highlight of the party is Show and Tell. Everyone brings projects they've completed, usually with a story attached and shares them with the crowd. That is Debbie above showing off a vest she finished this year that had been a UFO for awhile. Her goal for 2007 was to finish several of her UFOs and that was one of them.

Many of the projects that are shared are Christmas gifts, like this very cute dino sweater that was going to a lucky grandson.

I am so jealous of the granddaughter who is getting these slippers:

One of the guests teaches all over the area on the intricacies of knitting with beads. She brought a gorgeous sweater she'd knit thousands and thousands of beads into, as well as these socks that were just remarkable:

Finally, we got around to Debbie's office manager, Renata, and she shared a lace shawl she'd knit.

Can you say, "Shawl Envy?!" Then all too soon, it was time to go home and I was sorry that it would be another year before I got to see these wonderful women again, who make me laugh over their mishaps (which quite frankly there isn't a knitter in that room who hasn't made a similar mistake) and their pride in a new skill tackled. So it was appropriate that I rode the ferry home, with a front row seat for the crossing over Puget Sound, watched harbor seals frolicking and rolling in the water, while I considered what I would knit in 2008 . . . while I sat snug and warm in my car, doing what else? Knitting.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Christmas Needles are Flying!

Been knitting like a madwoman of late--trying to get some Christmas presents on the way. Helps when it's been raining like crazy here in Seattle, and I've been a bit under the weather, so curling up and knitting Christmas presents keeps me from feeling too guilty about neglecting the writing--but that only means I'll have to crank pages in January and February. Though when you see the packed malls and all the people scurrying about this season, I can know I am not the only one putting things off to the New Year.

My 2007 gift of choice is the Luxe Neck Warmer, which I've been knitting with every type of yarn I think will work, including several out of the Lion Brand Cashmere:

I love this yarn. Warm, soft, great to knit with. A little pricey, but it only takes two skeins to knit one neckwarmer, and I think when I get everyone's done, I am going to take the leftover yarn and make myself one--striped in the Lion pastels. I've also made a couple with the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk, which makes a really luxurious piece for around your neck.

What I love about this neck warmer is the stitch pattern is so easy to memorize. Of course, after knitting seven of them, you would hope that you could remember a 4 row pattern. Here is my favorite--the baby blue in the Lion Brand Cashmere--the lace really stands out and I know my aunt is going to love it!

Now here is a rub with my annual make a ton of gifts--Matthew has a male teacher now! Really don't think a lacy neck warmer will work there so I downloaded the Knit Picks Men's Convertible Fingerless Gloves pattern, ordered up a bunch of Shamrock yarn in Reilly,

and knit up a pair yesterday:

I'm going to modify the pattern when I make the next pair and leave the size 7 dpns on until I get up the hand a little bit, then switch to the size 9s. They are a little pouchy on the husband's hands. I kept using him as my hand model and he kept assuming I was knitting them for him. Sorry, honey. I like the pattern and yarn--a very fast knit, though the Shamrock is a little splitty to knit with, I think the final product is a great, warm glove.

I keep adding more projects to the knitting basket and have a feeling some of them may end up being birthday presents for later in the year . . .

What is everyone else knitting for Christmas???

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Knitting Suggestions

While I am still knitting away on the Luxe Neck warmers (I think I've added three more to the pile since I last posted) I thought I'd share something I made recently that would make a great quickie gift if you are looking for one.

Consider trying Amanda's Squatty Sidekick, especially if you've never felted before or if you love felting and know how quick felted gifts can be. I had offered a handknit purse as a prize to a group of readers on a bulletin board a while back--hoping that the winner would like pink, since I had just finished a pink purse--but she wanted black, so I tried this pattern, which I'd had printed out in the pile "must knit patterns" that stacks up on my desk.

I used that old reliable for felting Cascade 220, but might suggest Manos as it makes great felted fabric. Really, this is for a quick Christmas present, so whatever you have in your stash that will felt should work. Can you read between the lines already--December knitting desperation is setting in early this year. But this purse knits up really fast, especially with those big fat needles.

Then into the pillow case protector it goes.

I hope no one thinks they can felt without a pillow case protector. Unless you want to see the Maytag man or find out if Sears is offering "one year free financing" as you buy your new washer, don't felt without one. Then into the washing machine, with a little shot of Eucalan, and come old towels and a pair of ratty jeans I keep just for felting. When it gets to be the size I want, I trip the washing machine over to the spin cycle and let it get all that extra water out. I know some people say not to spin it out because the felting might get creased, but I have never had this happen. I just take it out of the washer, pat it into shape and let it air dry the rest of the way.

Then I take a look through Mom's button jar for just the right button closure and voila, a quick gift.

Even better with a selection of books for tucking in for a quick read--especially since you now know the author! Great Christmas presents, don't you think?