Hand made Christmas

It’s almost New Years, and before I start talking about resolutions, I want to show some photos of the gifts we made for each other here at our house for Christmas this year.

It was so much fun making these gifts, and such a crazy fun celebration when we opened them all up on Christmas Eve.

Everybody was so enthusiastic and everybody had a couple of things they were just popping to give, and to see how their creations would be received.

Everybody was happy and  laughing, and a couple of people cried.

Here’s a little breakdown of what we unwrapped:

Daniel made a mug for Jon, and some coasters and tiled trivets which we will treasure for years to come.

Maggie glued a hundred buttons onto a basket because she knew that was just what Audrey needed, and she also painted and glued beads and sequins onto a flower pot for Jon into which she planted a Christmas cactus, making him a really dramatic piece of living art for his office.    I addition to these treasures, she made an adorable collection of pompom art animals, complete with googly eyes.   They are almost like a little pompom nativity set.

Helen made a set of festive paper lanterns for Audrey and a painting of a mountain scene which she framed up for Jon to take to work.

Jon made some gorgeous wooden items.  One was a beautiful wooden lap desk for Helen, which he tricked out with all kinds of cool calligraphy pens, paper and ink.  So, you can see the writer wearing her new blue shawl here on the left, and here is here lovely desk just below.

Audrey sewed up a cute bag for Helen.

She also made Maggie a soft pink blanket with satin rosebuds on it, under which Maggie is sleeping  as I write here.

Audrey also made some funny T-shirts for the boys which they are wearing in the photos here, and she made  a beautiful collage of black and white photographs for Jon and me.

David made some killer hot-chocolate mix, which is disappearing fast.

Michael made some lovely fragrant candles, and he also  found an old doll sized dresser which belonged to my mother long about 1936.    It was in very poor condition, but he sanded it down,  replaced the mirror, painted it, rebuilt the drawers and made it like new for Maggie.

The queen of all gifts was the wooden knitting box Jon made for me.

It is lovely, lovely.  And I will use it for years to come, and pass it on to one of my girls.

It has three compartments, and one of those has lid with holes especially designed so I can keep yarn in the box, safe and clean, and run it through holes in the lid……and there are three holes in the lid, so I can work with three skeins at a time, if I want.    When I pulled the three boxes apart, I discovered it was packed full of bulky yarn for some great felting project which is yet to be drawn up.   Maybe it will be somebody’s gift next year.

And here is something special Audrey made for me.

It’s a set of twenty one knit markers which she made from silver rings and little blue and green beads.

There’s even an extra large centre marker which I can use for lace knitting, or for marking the beginning of a round on circular needles.

And she’s put them on this funky piece of bent wire which not only looks way cool, it also keeps then from wandering all over that gorgeous box.

Here’s a photo of some knitting that needs pretty markers.  See how boring those little green plastic rings look there.  Imaging that little piece with some groovy beaded markers to set it off.  Maybe then I would finish it!

And in addition to these home-made treasures, there was the annual Christmas slot car stuff, a pile of hockey equipment, an electric keyboard, and various other things that none of us knows how to make, so Jon bought ’em.   Which brings to mind a question that popped into my head Christmas morning:  I wonder how many households have an annual slot-car derby on Christmas Day.   It’s kind of amusing to me that one of the sounds I have come to associate with  Christmas goes along with the sounds of breakfast preparation.

It is the unlikely   sound of those toy  racetracks whining, cars flying off the tracks, and the boys yelling at them while I’m getting the food on the table.  Ruby-red grapefruit, sausage and cheese balls, egg-nog and the sound of those little cars whizzing along and crashing into the furniture.

So much to be thankful for!

Finishing is all the Fun!

I have got a little pile of finished knitted projects and I’m giving them all away.
It is such a joy to complete them and send them out into the world.

I think it’s OK to put some of them up here because the people I made them for never look at this blog, as far as I know…..

(There are six or seven more, all almost done, and if I show them it would spoil some surprises.)

First, above is the Modest Lace Shawl.   I learned to knit with organized holes on this project, and I have to thank my wonderful neighbour Patricia, who taught me how.   She learned from the pattern’s designer, and I am amazed at my good fortune in having such a patient good humoured instructor.
It’s called lace, and so I guess it is.
I used a Noro sock yarn, and I like the way the color changes and repeats itself.

I wish I had a photo of it before it was blocked.  It looked like an ugly old rag, and I nearly threw it away.  But once it was washed and stretched and straightened, I really liked it very much! And  Helen is such beautiful model, she makes everything look good!

I aso completed a funky orange poncho, which was not based upon any pattern, but was a crazy creation born on a speed tour through Mary’s Yarns, where I got tons of discounted wool, and lots of good advice  from Mary herself.  Nobody would model it, as it was too large for my girls, and I would not be flattering to an orange poncho.  So here it is, lounging in the kitchen:

And last night I (finally…) completed this red cashmere stole for my mother.

The pattern for this one is Cheryl Oberle’s Kimono Shawl pattern from her wonderful book of  Folk Shawls.  This is a great collection of patterns, there is something for everyone.  And her instructions are clear and easy to follow, very thorough succinct.

I used Lana Grossa Pashmina for this one, and found it was so nice to work with.  It’s so soft and elastic and warm.   She recommends silk, and a lighter weight than worsted,  for this shawl.    But I wanted something warmer than silk because this one was made for warmth and not just beauty.   I love it that you can fudge around with wool and change patterns and find that even when you go out on your own tangent, something nice can happen.
I have a bit of a hankering to make this one again……after a good prolonged break, and to make it in a DK weight  cashmere and make it more like a large scarf.

Here is a picture of how it looked just when I finished knitting, and before I blocked it.  I sort of miss the thickness that was lost when I stretched it out.  But it does show off a little more with all those lacy holes opened up from the blocking.  It’s nice both ways.

Something new at the blog

I had a dream last night that I was Googling around hunting to see if there was a more efficient duplicate of myself in a parallel universe whom I could summon via the internet, using my Visa card.   Something like that.
I was seated  on a pile of gravel in the backyard, surrounded by baby raccoons in trees who were flinging ceramic dishes and cans of Krylon paint at me.   And I was surprisingly relieved when the alarm went off at 5am.

The meaning of this dream is that my life is too full, and I need to just pull back a bit and focus on small and unglamorous things like pulling more weeds and spray-painting the lawn chairs, and I need to put the computer in a cupboard for a few days.
But before I do that,
IF I do that,
I have to just say Please Look At The Top Of This Page, and move your mouse up to the tab which says “Dinner”
…..and click there.
I am experimenting at building a food blog with some  cool women I know, and we are just getting it together today.
This project is just about ready for Prime Time, and if you have anything to add, please ADD IT.

there was once a little nubbin of knitting…

And that little nubbin looked like this when it appeared on my old green blog last month.

So, what ever happened to that nubbin?

That innocent looking nubbin was actually  a relentless instrument of torture for me for  most of the month of April.  I knitted along, and got as far as the 53rd row …a few times.
In fact, I know that I started it over from it’s very complicated provisional cast-on beginning… at least eleven times.  I think I almost cried over it while trying to correct my mistakes in the car (with Jon driving) on Good Friday.  I got so tangled up in a series of mistakes while I was knitting in Ohio two weeks ago,  I had to start all over again, AGAIN.

A small voice whispered to me that perhaps I was in over my head, but I hunkered down over that orange yarn snarling  “I Am Not!”

And then I remembered that knitting is supposed to be pleasant and restful and soothing and creative.  Knitting should not feel  like going to war.

So I started over with an easier pattern and some fresh yarn, and here is what I have achieved in six days:

This is the Modest Lace Shawl , which you can check out for yourself if you click that link, and which I have made before.  But this time I’m using much finer wool on size 3.25 needles (I think that pattern recommends something like size 4), so it’s going to take twice as much time to get it done.  But it does look nice in this finer gauge.  I think I am about 30% done here, and it’s pretty gratifying to see it getting bigger and better every day.  As I write this, I am about to get the tea ready for knitting night, my knitting neighbors are on their way over!

Meanwhile,  here is the latest on the orange Angel Lace Shawl:

I will return to it once I finish the Modest Lace one, and hopefully I will have learned something along the way about keeping a better count of my stitches and not getting jumbled up.  If anyone ever reads this and has any good suggestions for how to place markers in this piece of work, I am all ears.