Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

At a family dinner last night, I was reminded that I never updated about my Bundle-Up Bear Brigade post Christmas!  Shocking!

By the time I finally put away my bear bag (yes, I had a bag I carried around all month containing every relevant scrap I could collect as well as the pertinent needles & notions), I had knit 8 bears.  Sadly, since 6 of them went to other homes over the festive season, I don’t have a photo of them all together, but I think I’ve got pictures of all but the very last one (who I just discovered at the bottom of a project bag, finished except for her blank little face).  First up, here’s a picture comparing the regular and mini sizes (regular size bear went home with a friend’s toddler because babies deserve bears; yellow Noro suit belongs to the unfinished last bear).  I might be biased, but I rather prefer the teeny ones!


Now I want you to notice in the following pictures the amazing crispness, clarity, and colour.  One of the awesome things about giving away the bears to various family members was that my mother-in-law was usually around, with her DSLR camera, and she was kind enough to let me use it.  I have hemmed and hawed for a long time about getting a DSLR – I know that part of the appeal is that I imagine I can make up for my artistic shortcomings with a fancier machine, and as such I’ve pushed myself to be content with my point-and-shoot and improve my skills instead.  But the pictures are just so much better.  So after I purchase the sweater quantity of Everything Old yarn I’m currently saving for, I’ll be starting a new camera fund, because – look!



*Wistful sigh* …and now back to your regularly scheduled point-and-shoot update, under the jump.


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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.


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!



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.


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.



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!


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.


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.


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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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.


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).


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


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.

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


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!


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!


“Do you think it will snow today?”

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Usually new things come easily to me.

Not so much colourwork.  I present for your amusement some extremely amateurishly tight stranded knitting, featured in my adaptation-for-45cm-BJD of Everything Old spinner, dyer, and designer Emma Galati’s Pevensie (which incidentally is a super sweet pattern that I foresee knitting in the intended size range some time down the road):


But let’s not dwell on the fact that I was so obviously, completely wrong when I thought it was just a bit too tight and would probably block out.  Let’s not think about the fact that I’m about to frog the whole thing back.  No, instead, let’s talk about how awesome the tonal variation in the two sock yarns I used for CCs looks.  Let’s focus on how the subtle shading works with the already awesome motif to enhance the illusion of three-dimensionality!  Because this combo of yarn and pattern is so awesome I’m not even going to try and pretend that a seed stitch ruffle was some kind of intentional finish to the garment.  No, I’m going to rip it back and make this coat perfect because it deserves that kind of attention!  See?


Incidentally, the red is leftover Everything Old Hopscotch from Mr. Salamander’s socks.  I think I’m pretty cool, using a designer’s yarn to execute her pattern.  The grey is my beloved Shibuiknits sock, and the white is Kroy and I still dislike it pretty much the most of any sock yarn I’ve knit with (thankfully this is my last ball of the stuff, and I think this pattern will pretty much use it up).

I’ve hidden my other project under a jump for those of you who don’t like to be thinking ahead to Decembery decoration yet.  I mean, sure, wait ’til after Thanksgiving, right?  But here in Canada that was already over a month ago, so NYAH!


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

Knitting & sewing together pansies.


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…



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:


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:




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.


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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