Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Loafers for Winter Loafing

I made these Malabrigo Loafers (Ravel link) up the weekend before Christmas to gift to my Aunt Susie, who is currently buried in record setting levels of snow in Couer d'Alene, Idaho. When you get 30 inches of snow in one day, you need a good pair of loafers, 'cause you aren't going anywhere.

I had seen a number of these on Ravelry and purchased the pattern from Coco Knits right away because I had the Malabrigo in my stash. Not that such a notion stopped me from purchasing more while I was at A Good Yarn Shop at the beginning of the month. I had a feeling I was going to like the pattern and besides, when January 5th hits, and I have to sit down and get back to writing like a madwoman, I'll be happy to have a pair sitting on my feet--I swear the space under my desk is part Frigidare.

I knit both soles on straights first.

Then got out the circs and picked up the stitches around the edge:

And then worked the 12 or so rows to make up the uppers. She uses decreases and multiple short rows over a single row to build the front part of the uppers. I don't mind short rows in the least having gotten over that intimidation while knitting the Drops Baby Jacket. (Ravel linked). The trick to short rows is to remember to pick up the wrap and knit it together with the stitch it is wrapped around--that and remember what row you are on!

Before you know it, you have a slipper. Really, there is only about 12 rows to make the uppers and these are so easy and fast and, most importantly, cute. I did block them a little using a rolled up hand towel, a press cloth and a steam iron.

I finished them in the Penny Loafer style without the slot for pennies. When I read that these were a fast knit, I took the other knitters' claims on faith, having saved them for my last weekend of holiday knitting and believe me, they are a true quick knit, sort of Fetchings for the feet. So much so, I think this coming weekend I am going to knit up a pair for myself. Happily, I enough in my stash to make at least two more pairs.

What have you fallen in love with knitting in 2008?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Early Christmas Present

I blogged on my writing blog a few months ago about how lucky I am at winning contests, but what I didn't admit was that I had never won a blog contest, which given my luck in regards to other kinds of contests was sort of puzzling. Come on, you are talking to the woman who was thrilled to win the drawing for Elephant Poop yet I can't win a single blog contest.

But my unlucky blog contest streak is over and I finally found my blog contest mojo over at the Melanie Falick and STC Craft blog. So what was my prize? I got to select an STC book, which I have several, like Handknit Holidays
and Weekend Knitting, which I love. But this is the one I've always wanted:

Which has one of my favorite patterns in it, The Luxe Neck Warmer, (Ravelry) which I have made several over the years for Christmas gifts.

And this sweater, which I've always wanted to make:

Thank you so much, Melanie and company!! I couldn't be more thrilled.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Clapotis

I am on the home stretch of getting the Clapotis done for my mom's Christmas present. I've been on a strict schedule of getting two repeats done a day to make my way quickly through the middle section. I can see where people could get bogged down in the middle of this, but I find it really easy to knit and the pattern is such that it isn't too boring.

Yesterday there was a prediction for a huge snow storm to hit Seattle, and all the schools panicked and canceled school. Now in their defense, there was snow, but it went north and south of Seattle--God bless the Olympic Mountains to the west of us. They tend to take the brunt for us metro folks and divide a bad weather system right in half. So instead of wasting a day, the kids and I went Christmas shopping and out to see Santa. Now to take an autistic child to the mall is right up there with bungee jumping without the harness buckled. But Matthew was so excited to see Santa, that he went in his room and got his best shirt, vest and pants on, without even being told to do so. This is a child who NEVER wears a buttoned shirt, but for Santa he was a perfect angel, until he saw the line of children waiting ahead of us, and I could see in his eyes how hard it would be for him to stand in that line and wait.

Then a Christmas miracle happened. One of Santa's helpers noticed us---because we'd been by several times, and asked why we weren't getting in line. And I quietly explained how the line would be too hard for Matthew, but it was okay as long as he could look at Santa from the sidelines. Well, the elf wasn't happy about that and took us to the head of the line and let us cut. No one complained and everyone understood and it was such a wonderful gift.

We left the mall, the three of us, all smiling and happy, shopping for Daddy all done and the world a little brighter.

Well, today we finally got the snow that was predicted for yesterday, no mountains could stop this, and we are all home for another snow day, and it is peaceful and beautiful and time for me to get back at my Clapotis.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Tis the Season

I've been meaning to sit down and blog for days, but this time of year life gets really nutty. I've been baking like a madwoman, because then I can shove it all in the freezer and have it ready for the marathon that is Christmas Eve and Christmas around our house. House guests, family, friends, a steady stream through our door and I like to have a big bowl of punch and plates of cookies at the ready.

I've also gone into my twice annual social whirl (the Romance Writer's conference being my other tug out into the world) and the Christmas season started early with an invite to Debbie Macomber's annual Christmas knitting tea.

I really look forward to this every year because of the chance to see what all the other knitters in her neighborhood have been working on over the last year. It takes a bit of arranging to go--getting hubby to cover the afternoon kid pick up and all, a ferry ride across the sound (which is just a treat, even to a Seattle native like me) and then the drive through the country, that is just across Puget Sound. Really picks up the spirit!

But this year had the added bonus--I went over early so I could go to the yarn shop Debbie has opened with several partners, A Good Yarn Shop in Port Orchard, Wa.

Close your eyes. Now imagine a shop where you could have all your favorite yarns in stock. Yeah, you've got it. I've been really good about NOT buying yarn. Let's just say I fell a bit off the wagon. Okay, I sort of nosedived off the wagon. But oh, gracious heavens, the yarn I got!

As I told Debbie, "I just signed over my last advance to you." Debbie laughed, my husband wasn't as amused. Ah, men, if they only understood! And besides, they are mostly for Christmas presents, which I am frantically knitting.

But even better, I met Lisa Ellis, of Lisa Ellis Designs. She is one of the partners, and was sitting at the work table sewing up the most to-die-for Christmas sweater. I mean, it was gorgeous. And Lisa--what a fun person. Do you ever meet someone and think, "wow, she's my sort of people."

Then I fell in love with one of her designs. Now I am always on the lookout for new hats to knit, because I love knitting hats, and she has this pattern for a Basic Twined Hat, (Ravel linked) that when I saw the sample, I knew I had to try it. But it is done using the Swedish two end knitting technique, or twined knitting, or if you want to get really fancy, Tvåändsstickning.

Now my Swedish is limited to perhaps a trip to Ikea, so I sort of imposed on Lisa to teach me in a couple of minutes of how do twined knitting.

And I have to say, while it is a bit slower, it is really cool. The finished fabric that it makes is fascinating, and Lisa picked the perfect yarn in using the Crystal Palace Taos. Though I will say that yarn, because of the twisting and unwinding you have to do, did get a little breaky at times, but it spit spliced right back together, so I wasn't too worked up over it.

So over the last few days, I've knit two these two twined hats for my nieces. I am having a really hard time resigning myself to giving up the blue one. I have to say that it is the prettiest hat I have ever knit.

My model here was a bit wiggly, hence the less than perfect picture, but oh, how yummy and pretty this hat is. Now on to two more Turn a Squares, a pair of Malabrigo Loafers and finish Mom's Clapotis. Before the 24th. A Christmas miracle, indeed!

What are you knitting for Christmas? I'm always looking for suggestions for next year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It Was!

As I said before, I stressed about being without enough projects for a five day trip. I'm not the only one who does this--the Yarn Harlot posted recently about stressing about having enough for her knit night--in a yarn shop. It was comforting to know that my turmoil and issues are shared by others.

I did make a good jump into my Christmas knitting, casting on a Ballband Dishcloth on the car ride down. It was pouring rain, the freeway was hectic and my husband's driving tends to make me nervous. So I cast on, cast up a prayer and just knit. And lucky or not, he missed the exit and we had to drive five miles down the highway to get turned around, then got trapped by a train for a half an hour (no, honey, you can't beat that train), then road construction on Hwy 30 outside of Clatskanie had us stuck for another 45 minutes. So I got a dishcloth done on the way down to Seaside.

I'm sort of amused as to how the colors pooled, and have a second one cast on that I hope will be a little less looking like a red state - green state dishcloth, and a little more like it's been mixed with Christmas Cheer.

After I finished the discloth, or what I should probably call "A Christmas Divided", I cast on and finished Jared Flood's Turn A Square Hat (Ravelry linked) for my son. I had intended to save it for Christmas, but when it was finished, I wanted to try it on him, and he loved it so much, I let him keep it. It hasn't been off his head since. This picture is already dated, as the braces came off this week.

But I do love how the Plymouth Boku yarn changes with the stripes, and how it blended so nicely with this skein of Cascade 220 I found tucked away in the stash. I've come to think that found yarn in the stash is right up there with finding spare change in the cushions.

Now with that said, having knit this hat and knit it for a kid, I would recommend starting the decreases around 4 1/2 inches or even 4 rather than at 5. The hat is a little big for Nick, but as he says, "I'll grow into it." And he probably will.

I plan on knitting two, maybe three more of these before Christmas--all for the nephews which I have in spades (6 at last count). They only take about two evenings to knit, and it is fun to watch the colors shift. I found online a black and gray colorway in the Boku, so I am on the hunt for it locally, because I think it would make a really killer man hat.

Finally, in between a dishcloth, a hat, a mitten (the other is still not cast on), I also began a Clapotis for my mother. So far I am through the first two sections and diving into the long stretch of the third, but I love the pattern and find myself knitting anxiously to the point where I get to drop a stitch.

Isn't this Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb absolutely gorgeous? This is one of those projects that you knit wondering why you want to give it away because it is so soft, and gorgeous. But it is a good excuse to buy more yarn and make one for myself.