Gift Knitting

This year I’ve decided to replace my usual flurry of selfish knitting with handmade Christmas gifts.

I’ve made a rather ambitious schedule for myself, and while this is mostly a to-do list, it may inspire you in your own gift-knitting as well:

– for DAD – slip-stitch socks, Cobblestone Pullover, finish Oiled Wool gloves from last year
– for MOM – Baby Cables and Big Ones Too, Odessa hat (yay shiny beads!)
– for my BROTHER – oiled wool Broad Street Mitts, finish his birthday hat
– for a FRIEND – matching hat and fingerless glove set

I may also be able to tack on:

– for my GRANDMOTHER – tabi socks
– for an AUNT – lace picture mats (may do something else instead)
– for our DACHSHUND – a custom-sized cabled dog sweater (kind of a gift for my mom)
– for our KITTIES – catnip-filled mice

For the rest of my family and friends, I think I’m going to go with batches of these cookies, which are insanely delicious, or some other baked treat.

What are your gift plans?

Lacemaking

I mentioned that I’ve been working on a project that was getting a bit emotional. This is about where I’d left it when I moved out:

What makes it even more emotional is that it’s a lace shawl that I was making to wear to a wedding this Saturday.

I invested all my nerves and emotions and more than a few long train rides into knitting this silly blob of lace. This evening I happily bound it off, in a sense closing that chapter.

I’m going to block it later tonight and wear it to the wedding on Saturday. I can’t wait to see how it comes out.

Practically knitting

Lately I have been all about the KALs and fun projects: Sockdowns, Sexy Knitters Club, Knitting 19th Century Novels, Summer of Socks… and then for my own diversions, scarves, design projects, and lots of frivolity.

While these are a great time and I really enjoy the process, I’m not sure that what I’m producing is as, well, practical, as it could be. I should say that I don’t think knitting has to be practical, nor that it should. However, I have some goals that I set for myself this year, and to this end, I’m not reaching them.

For example, I want to seriously reduce my stash. We’re going to be moving at the end of the summer, and my mother has offered to refinish a gorgeous glass-doored secretary desk that I want to use for yarn, needle, and pattern storage. Unfortunately at this point, my stash couldn’t possibly fit, and it’s more than a little unwieldy.

I decided that primarily I want to knit up the acrylic portion of my stash, and I have made some progress with that, but really nowhere near enough. If all I’m casting on lately are luxurious socks and little lacy items, I’m never going to get to those big hunks of Caron One Pound lurking in a suitcase.

The other thing is that my wardrobe is in serious need of certain basic items. I know that I could just buy them and spend all my knitting time on other projects, but part of why I started knitting is so that I could make exactly what I want, the way I want it, to my measurements.

So from this point onward, I am trying to be realistic and casting on sensible projects as much as I can. They’re not going to be boring and utilitarian – rather, still fun and exciting – but they’re going to use up my stash, fill gaps in my wardrobe, and be worn more than once.

I’m going to continue with the KALs I have in progress, but I’m going to try for more practical, wearable knits within these contexts.

Phew. I guess I just had to put that out there for myself.

Knitters are the nicest people in the world

Recently, a very nice knitter named Julia (purlia on Ravelry) contacted me because I’d mentioned that I love colorful anodized aluminum knitting needles.

Preferring bamboos herself, she had a large collection of various sizes that she wanted to give to me. Awesome!!!

But the awesome didn’t just stop at the needles:

I am thoroughly convinced that knitters are the most generous, thoughtful human beings in the world. My boyfriend looked over my shoulder in amazement as I pulled out so many fun, sweet treats.

This funny card had beautiful stitch markers inside.

She included Halls Vitamin C drops (my favorites) and tissues with the note “Because you’ve been sick”. So sweet!

I am thoroughly enjoying Lindt chocolate truffles and drinking chocolate – they may be a secret recovery cure.

A note taped to light-up needles addressed my recent insomnia, “For when you can’t sleep but don’t want to wake the boyfriend.” He’s never seen these needles before and thought they were a positively brilliant invention.

This Lantern Moon needle case is gorgeous in my two favorite colors:

And my goodness, she put in a skein of Malabrigo Worsted in a breath-takingly lovely shade of Forest green.

I’ve never felt Malabrigo in person before, much less owned a skein, and it is everything it’s rumored to be – so soft and luxurious in the hand and such an intense and rich blend of colors.

The needles themselves were overwhelmingly cool, in colors I’ve never seen!

They are a fantastic array of sizes, and yes, I’ve already cast on a new project with them. I think so much of the appeal of knitting is the sensory pleasures and all these beautiful supplies.

As you can see, I’ve been completely spoiled rotten, and I am thrilled. It’s totally heart-warming to know there are such generous, kind people who share this hobby I love.

Thank you so much, Julia!!! You made my day!

What I can make with what I have

The other day, my boyfriend looked at me and said “How many sweaters do you suppose you could make with all this yarn?”

He suggested I assign a project to every quantity of yarn I have and package them up into little kits. For someone who’s never knit in his life, he really does understand it pretty well.

I want to knit down a significant section of my stash this year. I’ve almost never bought yarn without a specific project plan, but in my first year knitting, I got into a frenzy of yarn-buying and casting on, and I’ve found myself with an alarming amount of intended projects.

At a quick count, I have the yarn to make 11 short sleeve or sleeveless tops, 11 long-sleeve sweaters, and 5 or 6 shrugs. This is not even getting into sock yarn, lace weight, or accessories stuff.

I looked at the projects I was intending to make, and I realized I was actually dreading some of them. Huh?! Dreading knitting??? I finally had the moment of clarity I needed, and I was able to start thinking about what I really wanted to knit.

I started a little game of swap-a-roo. Anything I wasn’t positively thrilled about knitting, I scrapped from my plans, and I reassigned the yarn to new projects.

  • For some lovely Simply Soft in light country peach, I had been planning a Valpuri top.

    Beautiful, but ugh, those cables didn’t really look fun.

    So now I’m using the yarn for Bella Paquita, also conveniently the object of the current Sexy Knitters Club challenge.

  • Dark sage Simply Soft, intended for a Bristow Cardigan (eventually).

    Again, the cables, and piecing, and I don’t know that it would be flattering.

    Gathered Pullover? Much more my speed.

  • Cream One Pound, meant for a Cable Down Raglan.

    It produced fabric like chainmail, and I just couldn’t picture the sweater looking good. I still want to knit this pattern in a different yarn, but in the meantime I have this cream.

    So now how about a Holly Jacket? Wheee!

  • Lastly, I have a bunch of white Simply Soft, that I was intending for a solid-colored Bad Penny.

    Meh. In a solid color, it’s way too much like something I could buy in a store. What I really wanted was a cute white sweater to wear over dresses and springy tops.

    Hello, Hexacomb Cardigan! Where have you been all my life?

These are just a few of the ideas I had. I’m totally psyched for new projects, and I’m looking forward to this plan.

If you are so inclined, you can check out my Ravelry queue, which is now somewhat updated with the actual projects I’m planning to knit. (This is more than I can say for my sidebar).