27 December, 2008

Xmas Knitting: Work Editions

Last year I knit loads for my family & Kenny's family, but this year I wanted to put the most work into my work colleagues. At some point I decided to try to knit for every single teacher/administrator/assistant at my school, and I so almost made it. It was fun, it was satisfying, but I have to admit, at times... it was stressful. I think I might take next year off from that particular kind of guerilla gifting.

In any case, here's what I managed to produce! Thanks belong to my little ones at school who got to practice modeling knitwear. You never know where that might take them.

1. Socks for Vickie

2. Socks for Sandy (yep, two pairs squeezed from the same ball! Luckily, one pair is a size 6. Teeny tiny.)

3. Scarf for Elizabeth: modular diamonds in a fancy Noro angora blend)

4. Scarf for Beverlee (a fiery Chevron scarf- so addictive to knit!)

5. Scarf for Mary-Lou

6. Scarf for Kristen (pattern is My So-Called Scarf, which for some reason I found really boring.)

7. Scarf for Nicole- longways Noro stripes, anyone? SO much fun.

8. Shawl for Holly (my 1st lacework, and totally a pattern I want to make again)

9. Cowl for Katie

10. Ballband dishcloth for Charlotte (see group pic above; somehow I missed taking an individual shot!)

11-12. Hat for Shannon (middle) and hat for Lisa (right). [I'm keeping the one on the left for now]

13. Beret for Angela

And somehow none of these got photographed, either. Boo.
14. Polymer clay bookmark for Ann*
15. Polymer clay fridge magnet Rhonda*
16. Polymer clay fridge magnet for Eve*
17. Pin for Claire**

*technically not knitted, but still handmade.
**I ran out of time/ideas/energy! Aughh! Oh well. Her sister is a knitter.

So, that huge self-assigned hurdle took up a good chunk of physic energy, albeit in a positive way. I loved picking colors for everyone, thinking about what they might like best and what they could actually use. I have to admit, though, once I was finished I sort of... didn't feel an immediate urge to cast on anything new. I've got the beginnings of a NaKniSweMo sweater that I'm lugging around, plus a super simple sock that needs a mate, but besides that... I think I'm going to take it easy for awhile. Plus, I may or may not have received a brand-new RIGID HEDDLE LOOOOOOOM!! for Xmas. So, you know, I might just focus (read: drool) on that for awhile. Joy!

Xmas Knitting: Family Edition

Aaaand I'm back! Since Thanksgiving break, I've been sick over and over, first with some terrible bronchial snotty thing, than the stomach flu that all the elementary schoolers got at once, and then back to major bronchitis (plus a fever that just wouldn't quit until I beat it down with antibiotics) over Xmas week. So here we are, just one day away from the end of the year, and I finally feel well enough to do the standard-issue FO posts, which are a very, very long time in coming seeing as most of these gifts have been done for weeks. If not months. I planned real good this year, thanks in large part to Marce's brainchild, the Year-Long Gift-a-Long. (Knitters! Crocheters! Sign up for '09!)

1. Socks for Mom. Basic stats: two at a time, toe up on one 40" circlular needle, size 2 (I think). Heelless! No heels! I like this.

2. Hat for Chris L. Basic 2x2 rib, 100% wool sent to me from Sera Star almost a year ago. Nice and wooly warm for his cold life in Madison, WI.

3. Scarf for Chris M. All the best in browns, tans, charcoals. Suave. My 1st foray into the madness that is the Noro striped scarf; there shall be more in my future.

4. Shawl for Keto: an absolute dream to knit in Cascade Venezia Worsted. Within a few rounds this yarn had shot up to somewhere high on my favorites list. (Thanks to one of my 5th graders for modeling!)

5. Felted Bag for Karen: I wanted to make this for so long. Last Xmas, I rushed out and bought the book from Charlotte Yarn, and it took me until Election Day to cast on. I bought all the findings at the Windsor Button in Boston, which was almost as fun as actually knitting it.

10 December, 2008

Getting my gear in gear

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I decided to make every staff member at my school a hand-made present. The months have ticked by and the stitches have added up by the hundreds, then thousands, and now probably hundreds of thousands. I'm so itchy to blog about them all, but I have one week and two days until I can hand them out, so I've had to make due with holding an official photo session with my after-schoolers who have now been sworn to secrecy that they won't run to their respective teachers and describe all the wonders they have seen.

It's even harder to believe that amidst all the knitting for co-workers, I've managed to make things for a few friends, a few family members, and even a few things for myself. And as far as I know, I haven't failed out of grad school yet. We won't talk about the things I did have to let slide... Let's focus on the pretty, pretty knitting!

Something I can show you now:
A consortium of Xmas hats!
All the hats, get together now!

We had so much fun doing the photo shoot. I had to explain that the point of shooting knitwear is not to focus on the model, but on the knitwear. Thusly, I would be chopping off a lot of their heads... in the photos, of course. Almost everyone wanted their twenty seconds of modeling fame, and it was really fun to designate a "props mistress" (a highly cautious 5th grader with clean hands) and a bouncer (a loud, bossy 2nd grader) to keep things running smoothly in the library. It's times like these that I'm really glad I have a supportive assistant who is content to watch the footballers outside while I take the artistic types on these crazy crafty journeys.

One of the things that has kept my impatience at bay is the designing and ordering of my MOO minicards: you can design up to 100 different fronts, and they all have the same backs, and they're just so glossy and smooth and the colors are so saturated that I just want to pet them:
My MOO minicards!
My MOO minicards!
My MOO minicards!
The fronts are all variations on "made by me for you," and the backs have places where I can write in the recipient's name, the materials I used (i.e., superwash wool) and how to take care of it (i.e., throw it in the washer! but probably lay flat to dry!). I love, love, love them. And you get 100 cards for under $20. Rock and roll. I bought a fancy Martha Stewart brand hole puncher to make tiny holes at the corners so I can string them like garment tags. Surely, that will get me through another week... you better believe there will be a big fat blog post after our staff holiday party next Friday.

09 December, 2008

I've had this one saved for awhile

This is an extraordinarily long meme, but Sknitty did it, so I figured I would, too. Plus, I'm sick and I feel slightly less than awful, so this will feel nice, I think.

Things I’ve Done are in Bold
Things I Want to Do are in Italics

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (bits of Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (doesn't take much, honestly)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted(I worked as an art class model in college)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason(Thanks, MRE)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy("Uh Oh" the puppet is still at my Dad's house somewhere)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book(working on it...)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous(we know Dan, the guy who played Rolf in the Sound of Music)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

03 December, 2008

Hey, that's dumb!

This article from the Chicago Business News made my teeth clench. Talk about misleading! The only redeeming thing about it was that the comments immediately offered appropriate smack-downs, and two of the comments are written by famous knitters. So there, Laura Bianchi, whoever you are. Go look at the other shelves in the yarn store, whydoncha.

01 December, 2008

Dumpling Hat: a free pattern

Named after the delectable little khinkali from the Republic of Georgia, which have a handy knot of dough at the top for easy grabbing.
Dumpling Hat
A new pattern: the Dumpling Hat!
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, 1 ball
Needles: Size 8, using whatever method you want for knitting back and forth (I use circulars, but straights are good, too). Or use whatever needle size gives you a nice, drapey fabric—not too dense and not too loose. It’s wool, so you can go looser than usual and still be quite warm. Gauge is so not important here.
Dumpling hat!

Cast on 40 sts, leaving a tail about 8 inches long.
Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2 (RS): Knit
Row 3: Purl 30, turn work, wrap next st on R needle
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: Purl 25, turn work, wrap next st on R needle
Row 6: Knit
Row 7: Purl all 40 sts, picking up wraps & purling them with the st they’re around
Row 8: Knit. 1 wedge completed!
Row 9: Knit
Row 10: Purl
Row 11: Knit 30, turn work, wrap next st on R needle
Row 12: Purl
Row 13: Knit 25, turn work, wrap next st on R needle
Row 14: Purl
Row 15: Knit all 40 sts, picking up wraps & knitting them with the st they’re around
Row 16: Purl. Another wedge completed!

Repeat rows 1-16 as many times as you need for the hat to wrap around your head. I just knit until the Kureyon looked like it only had a yard or so left.

Idiot-proof seaming technique: Bind off, leaving an 8 inch length of yarn. Using the tail from your cast on, start seaming the cast on edge and the bound off edge together. Halfway up, quit and start seaming from the top, using the piece of yarn that is hanging out up there. Seaming from the top and the bottom ensures that you won’t be off at one end.
Dumpling hat

Dumpling top: using a length of the same yarn doubled (or different yarn, it’s up to you), wrap the short-rows section at the top of the hat firmly, but do not draw the hat completely together. It will end up looking too puckered. Tie off the yarn and using a darning needle, draw the ends into the inside of the hat and weave in. You can leave the ”knot” up or fold it down, as pictured.

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr