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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

MUST KNIT, NO TIME TO BLOG!

1. V-Junkie socks for G.  The same spiral pooling that was annoying me in the Mince Pie Mayhem pattern is working amazingly with the slipped stitches in V-Junkie.  There’s no way I’ll get these done by Christmas, though – just finishing the toe on #1 right now, though, so I’ll wrap that to put under the tree.

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2. More Christmas decor!  Bundle-up Bears from Mochimochi Land and the beginnings of a jingling garland of bells.  As always, the Mochimochi Land pattern is unbelievably adorable, and of course well written; I’ve knit 4 so far and hope to do a couple more before winter’s end, including one in the specified yarn weight (as usual, I saw a cute thing and had to make it smaller, using sock yarn instead of worsted weight).  Two of the bears (centre & right) were knit while visiting family, and they stayed with G’s twin cousins (age 8); the white bear has now joined my MIL’s collection of festive Barrista Bears!

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I have knit 2 jingle bells so far – it’s a long-term project, knitting a few every year out of my recent sock yarn scraps.  My eventual plan is to make a vertical hanging strand, along the lines of a rain chain.

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3. Train Toque for The Nannee.  I knit this while away from home as well, so I’m not sure if the pattern is actually really large or if my gauge was off.  Either way, I ended up decreasing the number of stitches I cast on by about 15% and I still think the toque will be quite roomy for this particular little man.   Instead of repeating the 3 cars in the pattern (engine, car, and caboose), I made a longer train (engine, 3 cars, and caboose).  I also added earflaps ’cause his folks are from the Prairies and they are concerned about cold extremities.  Hope they are well-positioned – I decided to wing it, but they look approximately right.

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4. Carol Service Cowl.  Left over beads!  Left over yarn (from my Angelus shawl)!  An awesome cowl pattern that’s been sitting in my library for a little while!  Do you think I can get it done in time to wear it before Christmas?  I don’t know!  But I’m sure going to try!

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Okay, enough blogging, back to knitting!

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The winter solstice is still almost a month away, but oh man it gets dark early already.  By the time I get home from work at 5, it’s full dark, and really, if I want useful light for photography on these mostly overcast days, it’s got to be before 3.  All of which is to say that I’ve been taking some terrible flash photos of my latest misadventures and they’re awful but they’ll have to do.

First up, the socks that aren’t.  Not any more.  I frogged them.

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The pattern was Mince Pie Mayhem from Socktopus by Alice Yu.  It’s a cool pattern and I look forward to knitting it down the road, probably on a size larger needles than those I got gauge with (2.25mm), definitely when there’s no deadline involved.  The stitch pattern has cable crossings every second pair of stitches on every second row and there was just no way I could envision myself finishing them in time to give them to Mr. Salamander for Christmas, plus I was not happy with the way the yarn was spiral pooling.  So I ripped them out and started again with a different pattern (which is turning out well enough to deserve Saturday afternoon light, no pics yet).

And then an uninspired doll shirt.

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I think this is the third time I’ve tried to knit a distressed-look doll sweater, and every attempt has either languished on stitch holders or been frogged into oblivion.  I think it’s the drape – or lack thereof – at this scale that causes my dropped-stitch sweaters to look dumb instead of badass like their human-scale counterparts.  Drape is definitely an issue with this handspun I was using (singles from the Tour de Fleece), and I was also really disappointed with how not handspun it looks.  I was trying to spin thick and thin, why didn’t it come out that way?!?  So that’s frogged as well, and the yarn is in time out.

I do have one flash photography success story, though, but I’ll put it under a cut for anyone who’s not ready to see *gulp* Christmas-themed decor yet…!

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It’s the season for thinking of bunnies and cuteness, and my contribution is now up for sale in my Ravelry store!

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That’s right, I have finally released the Ur-Bun Hoodie pattern for Slim Mini, Standard Mini, and Large BJDs!  It’s my favourite style of boxy, loose knitwear – the sort that looks terrible on me but wonderful on my dolls – and like all my patterns it’s written to be pretty beginner friendly.  It does involve cables and require reading charts, but both are simple enough to be a great introduction for the adventurous beginner.  It’s also a fun base for anyone who, like me, loves to mod designs for a unique twist!  Adjusting the length is an easy way to get a very different look from the same pattern, as I found when I worked my final sample in the largest size.  I’m so pleased with how this coat came together, and I hope you will be too!
Photos taken by the wonderful Vessellated; the model is Insoulated‘s beautiful MiniFée Shiwoo Elf, Dieudonnée.  Thanks, guys!

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All my gift knitting is done!  Done and blocked!  And ends woven in!  And any buttons, etc. sewn on!  In fact, I’ve had about 24 hours to bask in my done-ness!  So finally I have a few minutes to devote to the blog, and I thought it was time to show off my dolls’ winter outfits.

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It’s my festive doll shelf!  What with Mr. Salamander being so handy (he’s a contractor, and a damn fine woodworker), we have a lot of shelves around the house, including one specially for our small Christmas tree (we get a 3-4 foot real one because we are fancy and setting up artificial trees destroys the skin on my hands), which doubles very handily as a doll photograph staging area (or it would if the lighting were a little better…something I hope to improve in the new year).

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For Suzuha I put together one of the Barbie dresses I bought her with a hair tie to make a snow fairy outfit!

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Edik, of course, is Brat Moroz/Santa Dahhhling.  One of these years I will make him another Christmas costume, but I love his elf outfit.

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And Posy, in a wool felt top ’embroidered’ by needle-felting with laceweight wool yarn!

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Rada is wearing my completed Winterhold.  I’m hoping we’ll get a bit of snow this winter; I’d love to get some outdoor playtime pics with this one!

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My second crack at the stranded colourwork turned out completely adequate (although I think I have a ways to go before I could describe it as “good”) and overall I am in love with this cute coat!

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“Do you think it will snow today?”

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Yay!  I got Friday’s mystery bobble-involving project finished in time!  I may have still been working on it in the car on the way over, but what matters is that it was finished before I walked in the door.  Yes, that right there is a Dalek-shaped bodum cozy, a housewarming present for my fabulous sister, who got me into Doctor Who by showing me the first episode of Torchwood and then saying, “but it makes a lot more sense if you’ve seen Doctor Who.”  So I had to check out the 2005 reboot, one thing led to another, and before I knew it G and I were watching all of the extant episodes (I think John Pertwee is my favourite of the original doctors, although Tennant is “my” Doctor).

I worked from Caffeinate, a free pattern by Coryna Blasko.  I think her combination of ribbing and bobbles really captures the Daleks’ paneled look.  The only thing the pattern misses is their weapon and suction cup manipulator.  Like a few others on Ravelry, I worked a little i-cord to make up for the omission (to make the suction cup I increased as for a hat every second row until I reached my desired circumference, then decreased similarly and folded the resulting bulb in on itself to form a suction cup with no bumpy purl side), and shoved the plastic sticks from a couple of cotton swabs in so they’d stand up (it’s hard to fear a Dalek with a droopy suction cup arm).

There was a lot going on at the Hallo-warming party where my Dalek made his debut, so I didn’t get the kind of detailed, natural-light photos I might have hoped for, but I did get this snap of the bodum cozy boogie-ing down with a glow stick.  Who knew Daleks liked to dance?

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Monday was the local doll collectors’ group monthly meetup – with a Halloween theme!  We met at a restaurant, so I just brought Rada and didn’t get any good photos in the low light.  Today I got out into the glorious, almost unseasonably warm sun to immortalize this year’s costumes.

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Suzuha is a jellyfish!  I riffed off a toy pattern for a Juvenile Sea Nettle to make a fun hat.

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Rada is Snow White (you can tell by her needle-felted apple), and Posy is one of her dwarven friends.

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Posy’s beard is also gently needle-felted onto her felt mask.  Yes, I like using new skills!

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My hard work sewing definitely paid off, although if I were to make the pinafore again (for mini) I would cut the skirt parts a bit narrower so you could see the dress underneath a bit better.  But I think the overall effect is adorable!

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Sadly, I didn’t have time to make costumes for anybody else this year.  Sewing those long pleats took a lot of time, and of course I’m working on my own costume as well, and hopefully I’ll have pictures of that by the weekend.  Next year I’m starting my Halloween prep in June…

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Flowers and Cables

Okay, so I didn’t finish anything while on vacation.  I successfully started my knee socks (they’re looking great – the colours are absolutely delicious, seriously, I want to lick them because they look like fruity sherbet!) and plugged away a bit at Vasilisa’s skirt and my cardigan, but I ended up spending most of my down time reading.  And sitting in the dining room.  OMG, the food on the cruise was so good, but we were spending about 5 hours a day in the dining room and sometimes it was just exhausting, especially when we had to make small talk for like 3 hours at a stretch because we were sharing a table.  Oh, except I did start and finish something I’m calling my “pocket-on-a-string” on the flight to Florida – just a little net bag with an i-cord drawstring that I slung over my shoulder to carry my room key, a handkerchief, and lip balm/lipstick when I didn’t want to bother with an actual purse.

The cruise was great, although I definitely prefer travelling to one or two destinations that I can explore over several days instead of this one-island-a-day stuff.  I found that as we had between 6 and 10 hours in most ports, we didn’t really have time to explore anywhere.  We got off the boat, were bombarded by people trying to sell us their taxi services or cheapo souvenirs, wandered around in a daze for a while, went back to the boat for lunch, and somehow couldn’t quite muster the energy to go back and try to power through it all to get somewhere really interesting.  Ugh, I just don’t like being a mark.  But we paid for shore excursions on about half the islands, and those were well worth it.  I’ve chosen a few of the coolest pictures after the jump, with a little bit about my favourite activities.

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You may be wondering what I’ve been doing since my last post.  The answer?

Knitting & sewing together pansies.

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I made this epic tea cozy for my mother-in-law, a sweet lady who loves loves loves pansies.  It’s based on Loani Prior’s Rosie Posie Tea Cozy.  When I saw it in Wild Tea Cozies, I immediately thought of H, but it was my husband’s idea to do pansies instead of roses.  Of course, it turned out this was easier said than done…!  I searched Ravelry for pansy patterns, and the only one I found that looked “right” to me, I realised after printing it out that it was for knitting loom and not for knitting!  Now, I’m not afraid of trying new things, but in general I am more likely to try a new thing with a craft I know than to try a new craft altogether, so my response was to reverse engineer a knitted pansy from the explanation, photos, and to a limited extent the instructions on this other pattern.  I mean, I don’t even own a knitting loom…and I was on a deadline…

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The pansies turned out really well, and I plan to make the pattern available shortly – it just needs to have photos added and get .pdf-ed.  (EDIT: pattern is now available as a free download from Ravelry!)  They were quite satisfying to knit, but let me tell you, they were labour intensive!  I think in the end I sewed on only seven pansies, but including my first prototype and the pansy half of which got lost under a couch cushion and discovered around New Year’s, I knit a dozen of the darn things.  Five petals each, plus piecing together and “embroidery.”  The result was great, though, and the colours are perfect for her gorgeous kitchen!

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It’s December!

On the first of the month, G walked in after work with a sheepish smile.  “Look what I got,” he said, and showed me the lovely new tree stand he picked up while at the hardware store on business.  “That’s lovely,” I said.  It’s much nicer than the inexpensive, garishly red-bowled Canadian Tire version we had last year – it’s cast iron, I believe, with a pretty design and a much smaller footprint.  “And…there’s something else…” it turns out he had got a tree as well!  For me, this is just too wild.  In my house, we always got the tree in the last week of school and decorated it Friday or Saturday.  First week of December?  How is that tree supposed to last until Epiphany?!?  But here it is, and it’s a beautiful Noble Fir, even if it is a hair under 4′ tall.  Anyway, all week I have been promising to throw some lights on it and failing – I’ve been madly working on my shawl and I finally “finished” it in time to wear it out to a choral Christmas concert, just as I hoped.  Today it’s totally going to happen.  I swear.

I’ve got all kinds of holiday knitting going on too.  For starters, I had some Christmassy dishcloth cotton, and I decided what we really need this year is two star coasters and a star hot mat for the teapot.  I evaluated several star patterns, but in the end I felt that the Starghan pattern (which I eventually want to make a blanket from) had the best shape.  It combines increases and decreases to enhance the star shape in a manner most pleasing, as you can see in this dimly-lit photo:

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I also couldn’t resist the new Tiny Santa pattern from MochiMochi Land (incidentally, the polls are open until midnight EST tomorrow on their photo contest, or drop by the site on Monday to see which of the awesome entries is the big winner).  I made one tiny Santa and one giant tiny Santa.  They’re pals.  And they love chocolate:

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Unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait for more pictures of the shawl, as it’s very difficult to photograph myself wearing it.  Well, unless I were to drape it over something…but after our wacky November snow, it’s turned into a very normal Victoria winter this month: everything just looks sort of tired and damp and there’s nothing around that I want to drape my beautiful Christmas Lights shawl over.  If nothing else, I will get a photo at my mother-in-law’s tree decorating party.  It’s such a beautiful shawl that it deserves an excellent photo, not just a mediocre “look it’s a muddy fence with pretties on it” snapshot.

In other news, I’ve been working on this year’s Christmas mix CD.  I’ve called it “Raduisya!” (rejoice) and it’s a largely Slavic collection of Christmas & New Year’s songs.  There was just one rough transition I was trying to smooth out, and I thought perhaps a rendition of one of my favourite carols, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, in the original Polish, would be ideal.  In the process of finding the version I eventually put on the CD, I came across the song as performed by “Urszula,” who appears to be a lauded jazz performer from Poland.  It’s cheesy.  It’s awesome.  It sounds bizarrely reminiscent of Taiwanese pop.  It was so…interesting that I had to share – via my first ever youtube foray!  But…just so as you know, I won’t be offended if you open it in a separate tab so you can listen without watching the “OMG I JUST DISCOVERED iMovie” photo montage.  Although seriously, guys, OMG I just discovered iMovie!

Anyway, for your listening pleasure:

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I have a confession…

I love Christmas.  It’s not even the middle of November yet, and I’m already excited!  Of course, if you’re a crafter you’re inherently likely to get a head start on the festive season in one way or another…but seriously, folks, I got out some of my non-English and Middle-English Christmas music already this week!  I’ve been listening to Kolyadki from Russia and the Ukraine, Middle-English paeans to the virgin Mary, basically anything that doesn’t mention Santa and was written down before the 19th century I feel is fair game for November.  Of course the fact that my husband has been home sick for a couple of days has put a bit of a damper on my musical joy, sigh…  He’s not complaining about the pumpkin spice tea we’re drinking, though!  I plan on slipping some allspice in the coffee tomorrow too…cold weather demands more spices!

My big, attention-requiring project for a month or so now has been my Christmas Lights Shawl (on Ravelry).  I’m creeping up on the end now – two more pattern repeats and I’ll be ready to start the edge chart.  I added beads to look like, well, I’m sure you can guess what.  I have been doing columns of red and green that will appear to alternate along the wingspan of the shawl, sandwiched between rivulets of gold.  It will look much better when it’s all blocked out, but here’s a sneak peek, hung up against the dress I bought for winter party-going.  Which needs a bit of alteration, if I can ever get the damned sewing machine going.  Story of my life these days.

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But as excited as I am about this shawl for its own sake, I have to admit I’m even more excited about finishing it because it means I can devote more time to decor!  Another Ravelry member recently linked to this Martha Stewart craft she tried a while ago: snowballs made from string, glue, and glitter.  I’m pretty sure I will have a lot of beads leftover from this shawl and I’m thinking of doing the same craft, but with bead garlands instead of glittery string!  And there are a bunch of little things I’m itching to make from the Jean Greenhowe Christmas Craft Special that Santa brought last year.  We had our first Christmas tree together (also my first since moving out) and decorated it with beautiful matching sets of ornaments; this year is the time to start adding unique, handcrafted ones (and breaking the ones we have) so that years from now we’ll have a delightfully eclectic mix, as one truly ought, no two ornaments exactly alike!

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