The Holly Jolly-est Socks

Last week I finished my second pair of Christmas socks — hooray!

I decided to use a yarn that has been in my stash for a couple of years, String Theory ColorworksKinetic Energy on the Entanglement base.

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I think I purchased this back during the first Socks with Sarah foray in 2014, so I’m ecstatic to finally get around to knitting it. I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of self-striping Christmas yarn lately and this one…

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I think it’s just the holly jolly-est.

These socks are for my daughter. She wears about a child size 4 shoe and I went ahead and did the same thing I did for my son — a vanilla toe-up sock created from the kiddo’s foot measurements using the calculations from Jennifer Donze’s Toe-Up Custom Socks in conjunction with the Fish Lips Kiss Heel. For those unfamiliar, I don’t really deep dive into the FLK Heel pattern because that baby is  l o n g , I just use it for the heel placement and instructions.  Oh, and I used Judy’s Magic Cast-on and Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I’ll list the details up on my Ravelry project page for those wanting to know stitch counts and all the details. You’ll notice the legs on these are pretty darn long — since my girl’s still relatively small, I had loads of yarn, and I know she’ll love super tall socks. They’ll look awesome with her red velvet dress (because of course she has one with a twirly hem).

So. Would you like to see them?!

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You’ll have to pardon the lack of nice blocker photos — I don’t actually have sock blockers for children’s sizes and I’m not going to wash them before they are gifted to my girl. They are for family who know don’t care so much about the presentation. Also, I don’t want to deal with the worrying about them drying on time.

These socks were not without their *facepalm* moments….img_9120

I had this cuff all set to bind-off nicely in the dark green when in a moment of not thinking I cut the yarn tail… when I hadn’t yet started to bind off. Suffice to say, reattaching the yarn and and then the subsequent bind-off forced me into the white… sure, I could have gone through my leftover yarn and found the same green and made it look all perfect, but… that’s just not my scene. Those three stitches bound off in white are like my signature — “Mom made these. And she is not perfect.”

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I also managed to have that one random row of dark green stitches opposite the heel. Again, it was totally preventable, but…. it is what it is and that is ONE OF A KIND!

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All overly critical comments aside, I love how these turned out. They are seriously merry. and I think they will be perfect for my girl — the holly jolly-est socks around indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

July Merry KAL Announcement

Growing up every Christmas it was tradition that my dad sport a ‘Bah! Humbug!’ t-shirt.

No, I’m not kidding.

I have no idea where this t-shirt came from, but I have the sneaking suspicion that either he or my mom had it specially screen printed for him. Remember screen-printing shops where you could go and they’d actually line up text and print it right there for you? I have no idea why, but I remember being at the one 2 two towns over a lot as a kid. It was on the second story of a shop on Main St and it had wood-paneled walls decorated with every variety of bowling shirt you could imagine. And the smell. How can you forget the smell of screen printing in the 1980s? Kind of mix of melting plastic and hot ironed polyester with a dash of moist steam that really just smelled vaguely sweaty.  In any case, I think my dad only stopped wearing the ‘Bah! Humbug’ shirt because it disintegrated after 15 or 20 years of wear.

This month, my dear dad is turning 70. He’s pretty much still as awesome as his ‘Bah! Humbug” t-shirt wearing days, probably moreso. He and I didn’t always get along so well growing up. I  am pretty sure it’s because we were a little too alike. As a kid I rarely understood that he was trying to teach me life lessons — it always seemed like he was just being unreasonable. These days, I get what he was doing and I’m thankful he taught me as well as he did. We get along much better now, too and we talk or text pretty much every day. I’m really thankful for that, too. Even if it’s just a couple texts, it’s nice to be in touch.

So for my dad, one-half of July’s MerryKAL will be something to represent him. A Navy vet & dedicated volunteer for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), I thought nothing would be more fitting than…

Christmas Ball #39: Anchor

This ball will also give those interested in honing or trying out duplicate stitch a good excuse. We discussed duplicate stitch briefly on the Ravelry thread last month and it reminded me of this ball. The notes at the bottom of the page in the Arne & Carlos book recommend using duplicate stitch to embroider the design rather than  attempting to trap all those long floats. It seemed as though the stars aligned for us to do this ball in July.

The other ball for this month (or the other choice) is for — you guessed it — my mom.

My mom didn’t have a funny t-shirt, but I do remember one Christmas anecdote about her. As a stay-at-home mom myself now, I understand my mom’s desire  back then —  she was also a stay-at-home-mom for the first decade of my life — to be able to financially contribute actual dollars into the family kitty for Christmas. I remember when I was young that she would hand-tie evergreen garlands for a local greenhouse for the month or 6weeks before the holiday. She’d stand in the cold garage in November and December tying the prickly branches together as neatly & quickly as she could. Her hands would be cut up, but she did it anyways to make a few extra bucks. For us.

In honor of my mom, the second July option for the MerryKAL will be:

Christmas Ball #27: Rocking Horse

As a semi-side note, my mom has recently taken up knitting. As knitting has a way of doing, it has brought us much closer together. It’s been fun to help her over hurdles and choose projects. It’s awesome to yarn shop and plan trips with her to yarn & fiber festivals. She’s the one who nudged me toward trying spinning & made one of my birthday/Christmas gifts cash toward my wheel. It’s really just one example of how supportive my parents — both of them — have always been. They have always been really engaged in my life, even when I was a really difficult & distant teenager.  If there was something I was interested in or participated in, they were always there to cheer me on. If I needed help, they gave me a hand or they helped me figure out how to help myself. They’ve always been there and I’m thankful for that.

The shirt may have said, “Bah! Humbug!”, but I appreciate that growing up all of our Christmases were happy & I’m thankful that through all of our differences, we’ve found a way to keep them that way.

Happy Christmas knitting everyone!

Merry KAL Announcement!

My dear friends, it is official. This world we live in is small. Because this simple fact is true, I have some very exciting news to share with you today. And by very exciting, I mean very exciting.

When I started my Merry Knitalong in January, I was surprised & delighted when someone from halfway around the world in Australia enthusiastically joined me in this knitting adventure. Tony — who writes a lovely blog, Bonito Club — is new to stranded colorwork and has been doing an incredible job with this KAL. He has also been a joy to correspond with over the last couple months. In any case, it turns out that Tony mentioned his participation in the Merry KAL to Martine who writes & hosts iMake– a blog and podcast out of Guernsey. Martine then emailed me regarding the possibility of joining forces & co-hosting this KAL with me to open it up to her audience & start a thread for it in her Ravelry group so we can all share photos & chat about the project. Her email then remained hidden from me in a remote corner of my blog that I didn’t know existed for nearly a month. Oy, me + the technology is not always great!

In any case, when I finally found her message earlier this week I responded that I would love to collaborate if it wasn’t too late. I am happy to report that Martine was just as excited to work together the second week of February as she was a month earlier. She wasted no time getting organized & thanks to her the Merry KAL now has its very own Ravelry discussion thread.  I would just absolutely love it if all of you out there would hop on over to the thread & say hi. Feel free to chat about how the KAL is going, ask questions, post photos of your progress and finished Christmas balls, & even make suggestions regarding ball designs you’d really love to work on for the KAL.

In addition to the Ravelry thread, Martine has also set up a hashtag for Twitter. For those of you out there who like to tweet, please use the hashtag #MerryKAL for all your KAL news & photos! So. Much. Fun. Can we just take a second to say three cheers for Martine?

Three Cheers for Martine! Thank you!

For those already participating, nothing has changed regarding how our Merry KAL is working. This should just make the whole project much more fun as it opens it up to more participation & sharing.  I hope you are as excited as I am! So please hop over the thread, say hi, start chatting with some new friends, & post some project photos. I’m going to go ahead and do that myself right now. And then – hopefully – I will cast-on my … gulp … first February ball. I am a bit behind, but I have a fabulous plan for this ball! I can’t wait to get knitting!

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Don’t forget to pop over & visit Martine’s blog & podcast. Oh, and Tony’s blog, too (check out his fantastic 2012 Sky Scarf — I love it & hope to work on one myself… someday…. soon…).

Merry Knitalong January Wrap-up!

Happy January 31st everyone!

For those working with me on the Merry Knitalong, congratulations! We are 1/12 of the way there! I cannot remember if I mentioned my plan for this end of the month/beginning of the month transition. Here it is: The last day of the month I will share my finished projects. We will all take the day to oooohhhh and ahhhhhh at our awesome handiwork & the fact that we are making excellent progress and are exceptional human beings for being on top of Christmas knitting already. The next day, the first day of the month I will announce the next installment of our KAL.

So now — as it is indeed the final day of January — it is my turn to show & tell.

You have all seen snapshots of my progress throughout the month. In the interest of full disclosure, I did start over once just to get the floats that span the needle joins just right. I found it was easy to pull on them just enough to make those joins pucker, so I pulled a few rows out, gave them a little extra length across the wrong side, and it looked much, much better. Problem solved and I happily cruised through the remainder of the project. I will say that for the next balls I will probably wait to close up the top & stuff the ball from that side. My cast-on was a smidge tight so getting the stuffing in evenly was a bit of a challenge.

Yesterday I had planned to stop in at my LYS for the proper sized crochet hook for the chained loop hanger & supplies for February. Somehow in all my crafting supplies I have crochet hooks starting with size F or G going up to quite large and then a bunch of super tiny ones. No 3mm somehow — it was kind of a head-scratcher for me. In any case, the plan was to stop at my LYS on the way home from dropping my daughter at school & pick up the hook so I could complete my ball on-time & get photos snapped. It was a great plan until we had rain, then freezing rain, then a new 6 or 7inches of snowfall. I went out early on a couple errands before the snow really started to fall, but I have a small car & it was not handling the roads super well. I decided risking an accident because I needed to buy a crochet hook was probably something I would  a) never forgive myself for &  b) never live down. I returned home & made due with crocheting very loose with one of my teeny tiny hooks. Needless to say, I will pick up the proper hook today at the shop to save myself this drama next month.

Sidenote: About five hours after finishing the loop while attempting to unearth my husband’s iPod from the intersection of ‘he last saw it on the dresser’ and  ‘he has no idea where it is’, I found an unmarked hook that looks pretty close to the 3mm I need. I am not sure if fate intended this to be a reward for the iPod hunt that took hours or some sick torturous way of saying I should clean my house. Whatever the case, the appearance of this hook mostly annoyed me. Oh, I also eventually found the iPod because I may be superwoman.

So, without further ado, my Snow Crystal.

straight onI really think it turned out nicely!

side viewI didn’t really look at at how the colorwork intersects until taking these photos. I think it is super cool.

I have had a few questions regarding materials. I used Cascade 220 Sport, a 100% wool sport weight yarn. For needles I used a set of US size 2 Blue Sky Alpacas’ Dalbergia Rosewood needles. You can read about my little love affair with them here. All of my materials fit the bill perfectly. I also gave my Snow Crystal a bath in Eucalan – using cold water – to help insure it would not bleed. It did not. As I have experienced in the past with red & white from Cascade Yarns, there was no problem with bleeding, but washing did bring out a little of the red fuzz from the wool. It can look like the wool has bled, but it hasn’t. Just a few fuzzies that can be gently brushed off.

Check back tomorrow for the February installment of our Merry Knitalong! I can’t wait to share And get started! Until then, I leave you with one last look at my January Snow Crystal… and some fresh from the oven cookies… because I can!

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The More the Merrier!

I’m sure I am not the only one taking down holiday decorations today. In some ways it is a relief to get the house back to normal, but on the flip side it is a little bittersweet to say good-bye to the wonder and excitement of the holidays. As I was restoring my workspace this morning (it gets tucked away to make room for the tree), I came across a book. And then a memory came rushing back. And then motivation took hold of me.

A few months ago I was teaching an intermediate colorwork class at Firefly Fibers. The group was fantastic and picked up the material very quickly, so toward the end of class I grabbed some books from the store shelves and started showing them what they could tackle next. In the stack of colorwork books I grabbed was 55 Christmas Balls to Knit by Arne & Carlos. We talked about how perfect this would be for a knitalong — knit a ball a month and when December rolls around you have 12  ornaments completed which can be given as gifts or used to decorate your own tree or home (there are some pretty sweet non-tree uses for these balls in the book!). Well, folks, I am doing it & I’m inviting anyone and everyone to join me!

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55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, & Window Dressings

by Arne & Carlos

Each of these balls is knit using sport weight yarn & using US size 2.5/3mm needles. Instructions for gauge as well as how to work each ball is included in the text.

I will be using Cascade 220 Sport unless otherwise listed.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

January’s installment is…

Christmas Ball #1, page 35

“Snow Crystal”

This month — being the first month — I wanted to keep it simple. A lovely, lovely snowflake. Classic, traditional, and very appropriate for this time of year where I live!

Happy New Year & Happy Knitting!