Sunday, 4 January 2009

Christmas Crafting

Happy New Year!  Christmas seems to be well and truly over; our tree is down and it's back to work tomorrow after a blissful two weeks off. Now everybody has received their gifts, I can give a run-down of the things I made, as there were a few of these.


Since last year's holiday knitting didn't go all that well (with a distinct lack of thanks from the recipients), I'd decided not to bother any more. After all, isn't it better to knit with no stress, no deadlines, for someone who'll appreciate the work that went into it, ie me? But then my aunt came to stay for the night some time in November and gushed so appreciatively over my various WIPs that I deemed her to be knit-worthy and decided to make her some socks. That and the fact that she has really small feet (UK size 2.5) so I was fairly confident of being able to finish socks in the time allowed. Ting is the same size so graciously supplied measurements and acted as in-progress tester.

I chose the Floral Lace Anklet pattern from the Interweave Lace Style book, which is full of pretty patterns. I figured it would be nice to make her something really luxurious, and found some semi-solid pink cashmere/silk Posh Yarn in my stash (Eva 6-ply in Blithe). This is billed as a DK-weight yarn but I'm sure it's far heavier than that - on the 3mm needles I used it made an exceptionally thick and tight fabric. To compensate for the gauge and her little feet, I cut out two of the pattern repeats around, and more than that in terms of length - for example, the leg was meant to be six repeats for an ankle sock versus the five I did for a full-length sock for her, and the foot was meant to be about ten repeats to the toe, versus the five I did here again. This meant that despite these being my first lace socks, and my first top-down socks, they went really quickly. If I hadn't had to take a break for several days because my wrists hurt from wrestling the super-tight lace decreases in the gauge I was at, I'd have had them done in a week I'm sure.

Here are the finished socks:

I actually quite enjoyed the various elements of top-down construction, including the dreaded Kitchener stitch (which went very easily with this video tutorial) but I still think it's all a bit of a faff compared to toe-up. Why do a three-step process of heel flap, turn and gusset, if you can just do a short row or Sherman heel?

I also immensely enjoyed the lace. I haven't done much of it, but every time I learn more about how to read my knitting, and how to fix without frogging. During the course of these, I had to drop down stitches on occasions to add missed increases and decreases, so I feel far more confident about doing bigger shawls now.

Anyway, they were very well-received, and I had the chance to use the "Selfish" gift tags I have from Knit, which make the point by reading "This project took hours of my precious time to make. You may now ooh and ahh and wear it every single day for the rest of your life."

I did also finish off (as in, sewing in the ends) on two WIPs which were otherwise finished a while ago. I managed to get these done on the morning when I was due to head down to Bournemouth for the holidays. May I present garter rib socks for me made from Cherry Tree Hill Supersock DK in the Cherry Blossom colourway:

(Talking of DK weights, the CTH was about half the weight of the PY!)

And the Lucious Llama Lace scarf in Mirasol Miski, which has been very snuggly indeed over the last week or so:

I also used the time off to get on with my stripy socks:

And my Kidsilk Haze jumper:

Just one other knitting-related photo from the holidays:

Sadly, I think they mean fibre optics.

Needle Felting

A new craft for me, this. I'd picked up some felting needles and merino tops from The Handweaver's Studio early last year, and a copy of Fleece Dog some time before that. Then very recently one of my colleagues brought me back another very cute book of needle felted animals from her native Japan. It was time to give it a go, so I decided to see if I could make the lovely Gail small effigies of her own two kitties.

I didn't take any photos during the process, and I was subjected to plenty of "that'll never work" heckling from the boyfriend, but it did work! Here are the girls:

They are based on pipe cleaner skeletons (big green fluffy novelty ones were all I could find locally so they had to do), covered with merino tops. The eyes are small green beads poked into the heads on U-shaped lengths of craft wire, and the whiskers are the more slippery beading wire pushed through the heads and clipped to the right length.

These were great fun to make and I will be doing various other little animals for myself at some point. I think certain members of the mustelid family might be pretty adorable (red panda, sea otter and zorilla in particular).


It had been ages since I'd picked up a bead in earnest, certainly not since starting this blog, but I used to make quite a bit of jewellery and do have a bead stash. I needed to get back into it as I intend to create my bouquet out of Swarovski crystals. I ended up making this keyring out of green and clear crystals, silver beads and white pearls, for Lotta:

Probably not the most practical keyring, but never mind!

I also made some stuff for myself that evening, including this ring out of blue-green (technically "Indicolite") crystals, large dark grey-burgundy pearls, small white pearls and small silver beads, on one of the ring bases with a loop to attach things, as sold at the Swarovski shop on Great Marlborough Street:

I did really want to have the bunch more solid and able to stand up, but it seemed to be impossible to pack it that tightly whilst still being able to access the loop to attach things, so the stalks flop around and jangle as I move my hand. It's quite fun although distracting to wear whilst typing.

That's it for the presents. My craft (and other) activities for 2009 will be in the next post.


stash haus said...

Those gift tags are a hoot! And I SO agree with the sentiment. I saw the kitties on Gail's blog - they are incredibly sweet!

Glad you had wonderful holidays.

Original Ting said...

I love your Cherry Blossom socks and those kitties are so CUTE (though just looking at them is making me sneeze)

Did you get your wheel and did you name it 'The Beagle'