gifts


You’ll want to buy some extra raffle tickets to try and win this hand-crafted beauty at tomorrow’s World Breastfeeding Week Picnic and Fundraiser.

Made by Adam Malnove (this is the one Adam made for Christian - he made another for the raffle tomorrow)

However painful it is, my projects do sometimes reach a conclusion.

I like beginnings better.

Here are two endings from this week.

Birthday socks for Caryn. Note: the second one came out differently than its mate - sorry! Pattern is Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter. (Great pattern)

This is the spiral crocheted ball I made for Oliver's first birthday - the picture is a link that will take you to the pattern at withatangledskein.blogspot.com, but *warning* the pattern needs to be corrected. There's a bell inside.

Now to tackle Christian’s woolen vest that I started last winter. Just need to do the neck and arm ribbing and put the sucker together!

When I have the chance moment that I’m feeding myself while the baby is asleep, I indulge in one of my bad habits: reading while eating. I prefer magazines – so I don’t have to focus too hard – specifically The New Yorker and Vogue, over one of half dozen books I’m in the middle of reading at any given time (another bad habit).

I am defensive about reading Vogue the way you hear men say, “I read it for the articles.” I enjoy an issue of Vogue from cover to cover: for the visuals, as a cultural newsfeed, and sometimes for the good articles.  More often than not, they are of an autobiographical essay nature, written by a well-heeled, well-traveled woman.

There was great one this December 2009 issue by Susie Boyt, which has inspired me to do a proper Christmas stocking for Bella this year. She writes:

“I was the youngest of a large family of slender means, our day-to-day existence modest and at times austere, but our Christmas selves inhibited a different realm entirely. My mother packed five stockings that, in fact, were pairs of tights. Lavish and unfailingly thoughtful, they contained a level of care designed to stun. They celebrated her five children, turning all our eccentricities into badges of honor. They were medicine and compensation for anything we might lack in life, rewards for our efforts, indulgence shown toward our childish whims. Things I remember: a blue notebook my mother painted with gardenias and the words SUSIE’S POEMS in a fond italic script; a pair of 1940’s silk-satin polka-dot pajamas with black piping at the collar and cuffs that bespoke of movie-star honeymoons; a drum of Gentleman’s Relish to make me feel Noel Coward-ish at the breakfast table; a bank of Chanel perfume testers my mother had salvaged from a local pharmacy’s closing-down sale.

The balance of the contents was so tender and acute. There was something cozy, something glamorous, something to expand your mind; something to make you see that a new and fledgling personal development you had barely noticed in yourself had been acknowledged and admired. It was an annual tribute to the best of myself, where I was considerably more promising that the facts of my life implied.”

When I have the chance moment that I’m feeding myself while the baby is asleep, I indulge in one of my bad habits: reading while eating. I prefer magazines – so I don’t have to focus too hard – specifically The New Yorker and Vogue, over one of half dozen books I’m in the middle of reading at any given time (another bad habit).

I am defensive about reading Vogue the way you hear men say, “I read it for the articles.” I enjoy an issue of Vogue from cover to cover: for the visuals, as a cultural newsfeed, and sometimes for the good articles.  More often than not, they are of an autobiographical essay nature, written by a well-heeled, well-traveled woman.

There was great one this December 2009 issue by Susie Boyt, which has inspired me to do a proper Christmas stocking for Bella this year. She writes:

“I was the youngest of a large family of slender means, our day-to-day existence modest and at times austere, but our Christmas selves inhibited a different realm entirely. My mother packed five stockings that, in fact, were pairs of tights. Lavish and unfailingly thoughtful, they contained a level of care designed to stun. They celebrated her five children, turning all our eccentricities into badges of honor. They were medicine and compensation for anything we might lack in life, rewards for our efforts, indulgence shown toward our childish whims. Things I remember: a blue notebook my mother painted with gardenias and the words SUSIE’S POEMS in a fond italic script; a pair of 1940’s silk-satin polka-dot pajamas with black piping at the collar and cuffs that bespoke of movie-star honeymoons; a drum of Gentleman’s Relish to make me feel Noel Coward-ish at the breakfast table; a bank of Chanel perfume testers my mother had salvaged from a local pharmacy’s closing-down sale.

The balance of the contents was so tender and acute. There was something cozy, something glamorous, something to expand your mind; something to make you see that a new and fledgling personal development you had barely noticed in yourself had been acknowledged and admired. It was an annual tribute to the best of myself, where I was considerably more promising that the facts of my life implied.”

When I learned to knit as a kid – I think it was as a Pioneer Girl (like Girl Scouts) to earn a badge – my mother passed her knitting equipment to me. I used the heck out of everything she gave me except for a set of five thin metal double-pointed needles; they looked more like  arcane surgical tools than tools to knit a comfy something. For many years, every time I opened my box or bag of knitting stuff, I would see those double-pointed needles clinking about and just shake my head.

Why would anybody go to the bother knitting socks? Socks wear through, socks are hard, and socks are cheap and easy to buy.

But now I know why, because I’ve just finished my first pair. It’s because they FEEL AMAZING ON YOUR FEET. My feet groaned in pleasure when I slipped these socks on. They are a Christmas present for my mother, and they are one of my favorite gifts I’ve made. I love that when she wears them, that my handwork will be keeping her feet warm and cozy. (She’s seen them via skype already!)

My first pair of knit socks.But truth be told, I only knit 3/4s of this pair of socks. When I first hit upon the crazy notion of knitting socks as Christmas gifts, I mentioned it to my friend Sierra.

She was all, “Stop! Don’t buy anything! You can have the pair I started four years ago!”

And there you go, I was suddenly in possession of wool, a pattern, needles, and a half-knit sock, and past the hurtle of starting, which can sometimes be the hardest part. I ripped out and reknit more stitches than I have ever ripped out and reknit in a single project before, but now that I’ve started my second pair, I feel that I’ve got the knack. (Meaning, I could teach YOU how to knit socks!)

Thanks Sierra.

Knitting socks is much easier than I expected, despite my initial struggles understanding the directions. Especially if you are already an experienced knitting. You don’t need more than knit and purl and the ability to read directions. But it would be best if somebody showed you in person.

I used a generic pattern for Worsted Sock-Slippers, and I used about 200 yards of Cascade 220. The directions call for size 5 or 6 needles, but I knit fast and loose and found that size 3 gave me the correct gauge.

I have several other patterns now that I am anxious to try.

The first is CLASSIC SOCKS for the family – which has enough information to make socks in all sizes in fingering, sport and worsted wools. It’s the pattern sold by Yankee Knitter Designs recommended by soulemama. Check her adorable post and pictures of baby socks (on baby feet!) here – if that doesn’t make you want to start knitting socks I can’t be of any further help.

The second is out of the book that the lady who teaches sock knitting at The Yarn Lady uses, which is called Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. I’ve looked through most of it, and yup, it’s good: very thorough and clear explanations for every aspect of sock knitting. It would have helped a lot had I got it before I bumbled my way through that first pair. It’s available through the Orange County public library system.

So, general directions for how to knit worsted slipper socks:

Cast on 52 stitches, and distribute evenly between 3-4 double pointed needles. Join stitches in round, being careful not to twist.

Work 4.5 inches of ribbing in K3 (knit 3) P1 (purl 1) or whatever ribbing and length you prefer.

Heel Flap: the heel flap is just that, a short square where you go back and forth with half of your stitches. The other half hangs out on the other needles, just waiting for you to get back to them.

Divide stitches for the heel as follows:

Row 1 – sl 1 (slip 1 stitch without turning it), K exactly half the stitches (minus the one you slipped) onto one needle

Row 2 – sl 1, P across

Row 3 – *sl 1, K 1, repeat from * across (This is create a reinforced raised ribbing for the heel)

Row 4 – sl 1, P across

Repeat rows 3 and 4 ten more times. (Now you have a knit square attached to your sock ribbing.)

Turning the heel (this is will make the heel turn in an L-shape with strategically placed stitches knit together):

Row 1 – sl 1, K to middle of flap, K2, ssk (slip one stitch as if to knit, slip a second one as if to knit, and then slide the left needle through the front of both and knit them), K 1, turn

Row 2 – sl 1, P 5, P2tog (purl two stitches together), P 1, turn

Row 3 – sl 1, K 6, ssk, K1, turn

Row 4 – sl 1, P7, P2tog, P1, turn

Continue forth in this manner until all heel stitches are worked.

Slip all 26 instep stitches onto same needle (that is, slip all the non-heel stitches onto one needle).

Next row – K across half the heel stitches with one needle. With another needle, K remaining heel stitches, and with that same needle pick up stitches in slipped stitches along side the heel flap. There should be about 10 or so. Be sure to pick an extra stitch at the top of the heel flap to avoid a hole in the gusset.

Using another needle, K across the instep stitches (top of the sock).

Using another needle, pick up the  same number of stitches along the other side of the heel flap, and with that same needle, K the first half of the heel stitches.

The beginning of the round is now the middle of the heel stitches. There should be an equal number of sts on needles 1 and 3, and half of what you originally cast on needle 2.

Shape Gusset:

Round 1 – K

Round 2 – One first needle, K to the last 3 sts at the end of needle, k2tog, k1. On second needle, K across. On third needle, K1 , ssk, K to end.

Round 3 – K

Work gusset rounds 2 and 3 until sts on needles 2 and 3 equal the instep sts (so now you have the same number you cast on)

Foot: Knit every round until the sock is 1 1/2 inches less than the desired length (about where your toes start)

Shape Toe:

Round 1 – on first needle, K to last 3 sts at end of needle, k2tog, k1. On second needle, K1, ssk, K to last 3 sts at end of needle, K2tog, K1. On third needle, K1, ssk, K to end of needle.

Round 2 – K

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until there are 16 sts left (4, 8, 4)

Kitchener stitch the end closed or use a 2 needle bind off. Both are easy and easily googled.

Tuck in your ends and you’re DONE!

Whew. There, now I can knit socks where ever I am in the world…

P.S. Gauge: 24 sts and 32 rows per 4″

I went to a lovely baby shower this weekend, and Chad got to spend his first solid two hours alone with the dude walking about old town San Juan Capistrano.

The shower was held at a tea house, called The Tea House on Los Rios. It was just my kind of baby shower, with just two games played (I won a teapot for one!) and good company – fueled of course by lots and lots of black tea and scones with homemade clotted cream and preserves. (Okay, the finger sandwiches weren’t as good as the tea at the Huntington Gardens, but the scones and desserts were great.)

My dilemma was that now that I’ve had a baby shower thrown for me, I’ve experienced first hand how generous people tend to be at these affairs, besides which, I really like the woman for whom the shower was being thrown and I was being fed a pretty nice lunch. I wanted to get her a thoughtful big-ish gift, but our gift budget is, well, pretty much nil at the moment.

So at the risk of appearing like a cheapskate, I made all my gifts by hand.

Luckily I had my s-i-l’s serger at my disposal. I made a receiving blanket (bamboo velour and flannel), two softies (bamboo velour and two kinds of flannel), two wash cloths (bamboo fleece and flannel), and then a knit horse (out of cotton yarn and stuffed with the scraps from the previously named gifts).

They were a hit! I felt especially good about how the horse came out. And Christian got so attached to that horse (in the short time he lived fully constructed in our home – 1/2 hour??), that I realized that I’m going to have to quickly get started on another one.

The directions for the horse came from Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton’s A First Book of Knitting for Children. I recommend you get the book – but I will post general directions for this horse shortly and then I’ll post a link to those directions here.

(If you want to get started, cast on 10 stitches and knit 28 rows. Cut the yarn, leaving a hands length. Leaving the first leg on the needle, repeat for the second leg – when you get to the 28 row, cast on 10 more and then knit across the first leg…)

I think Christian needs at least two.

I actually completed a handwork project yesterday. Okay, so it was after the event it was intended for, but still it’s FINISHED!

I actually gave the horse to my friend at her baby shower with just a partial mane and tail – he is so much cuter with a full mane and bushy tail.

This is the first knit animal I’ve ever completed, which is ironic considering how many people I’ve taught and encouraged to knit animals (pigs and horses so far – we start lions next week – and true to my track record, I’ve never knit a lion myself either…) You can read the directions for how to make him here.

So, this July will be a month of COMPLETION. I will finish up lots and lots of projects (and only start one or two…) It is SO HARD FOR ME TO FINISH A PROJECT. I almost had to hold my breath and just race through the last bits of that horse without thinking, to get him finished.

If I put a project aside even for a minute, it can languish for months or years. No joke.

Projects started in the last year that I intend to finish by July 28:

woolen vest for Christian

two knit pigs

the hair transplant on my niece’s doll

Wallace (a heavy baby doll for Flann- omg ALMOST DONE)

two dozen cloth menstrual pads

one dozen cloth napkins

wet bag and two shoe bags for Corrina (belated Christmas gift!)

and most embarrassingly…

half of my baby announcement cards (which are already addressed and stamped, but now require a updated picture!)

Projects not yet started, but still must get finished by the end of the month:

wet bag, laundry bag and two shoe bags for my m-i-l’s retirement gift

Bella’s laundry bag, wet bag and two shoe bags

Laundry bag, wet bag and two shoe bags for her friend taking her to NYC

Laundry bag, wet bag and two shoe bags for her friend’s aunt who is taking them.

Laundry bag, wet bag and two shoe bags for ME!

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