I made all of the gifts that I gave this year, on the occasion of the 25th of December, 2010, by hand. It felt like a great feat to complete so many projects within a two-and-a-half-month timeframe; yet now, with an even and succinct retrospective inventory of the projects, it also feels–in a way–like I really didn’t do that much. What’s more, there is one gift left unfinished, and one still yet to be begun; so the timeframe is really three months, and the feat remains only a partial one. But, in any case, let us steal a glance at what we have so far.
In this post:
Twisted Flower Socks – For Mom
Pattern: Twisted Flower Sock, by Cookie A., as published in Knit.Sock.Love.
I really enjoyed this pattern; I think I have fallen in love with making socks as a result of my encounter with it. Normally, I might balk at having to make two identical items, but these were fun. Or perhaps my patience in knitting has grown.
One thing to note is that the ankle motif is not particularly stretchy, so if you have a wider ankle/calf, it might do to modify the pattern in some way to accommodate the width beforehand. These fit my mother well through the feet, and became somewhat problematic past the heel.
Full view of the socks.
Yarn: madelinetosh sock, 1 skein;
The yarn is very beautiful. Initially, I thought perhaps the pattern would get too lost in this colorway, but it seems that that fear was generally unfounded.
Otherwise: the yarn was smooth and easy to work with; I’d use it again.
Emmer Earflaps Hat – For Dad
Emmer earflaps, from the front.
Pattern: Emmer, by Jan Boyer, modified
My father made a request sometime early in the year for an earflap hat (originally, a hat with flaps or an attached neckwarmer/scarf?), and I filed it away as a later, winter project. I bought, it may be recalled, a skein of Plain and Fancy Wool Co. Sport at the Estes Park Wool Market in June, which–while I did not reveal it then–was particularly for this hat, as a dark grey color had been specified. This is what became of the request.
Originally, I had planned to develop a hat pattern on my own; but as the days marched closer and closer to my departure for home and the winter celebration, it became clear that such a plan would be Madness and Folly. I had previously seen Emmer while browsing for hat ideas, loved it, and marked it for something else, since it didn’t fit the project as-is; now I brushed it off, took it out, and changed it to work.
- Earflaps. The original pattern is meant to make a hat that covers the ears well enough, but when ear protection is the central desire, a flap could only improve (so went my thinking). I knit the two flaps first, then cast on the rest of the needed stitches between them with a cable cast-on, and joined in the round. I then worked the setup row and continued as usual.
The earflaps wanted to curl, so I knit two matching flap shapes in garter stitch and sewed them to the inner side as both stabilizer and extra insulation. I finished the hat with a border of single crochet, since beginning with earflaps made an i-cord cast-on, as called for in the pattern, awkward.
- Sport-weight yarn. The original pattern calls for worsted, while my yarn was sport; and I was hell-bent on using it, because it was bought specially. I knit a swatch in the pattern and calculated that to get a largish head circumference, I’d need 11-12 repeats of the motif instead of eight. I went for eleven, on the idea that a little snug is better than somewhat loose for a hat as this, with five repeats to the front, one centered on each of the two earflaps, and four to the back.
I worried about having the earflaps come out in the right place on the head, and while the hat is ultimately fine, I think it wouldn’t have hurt to do six repeats in front and three in back instead of five and four. Furthermore, the hat is a little tall; if you pull it down so that the top touches your head, the flaps really cover more jaw than ear. I wasn’t sure, while it was one the needles, how much length the crown decreases added, so I opted to err on the long side, and that is what I got.
However: it is still a beautiful and enviable hat, if I may say so. I would wear it, and I would make it again.
In which the proportion of front pattern repeats to back is visible.
Yarn: Plain and Fancy Sheep and Wool Co. Sport, <1 skein;
The yarn was very soft and squishy and, in that, lovely to work with. I worried early on that the single ply made too smooth a surface to really showcase the pattern, but I think the effect is, ultimately, rather nice.
I may protest that the dye came off onto my hands and bamboo needles like no one’s business. I soaked the hat in soap a few times, in vinegar a few more, and in water many more, before it stopped hemorrhaging and left a relatively clear bath. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if the yarn had some dye left in it the next time a washing came around.
However: The yarn was so delicious that I would use it again.
Skinny Ties – For Brother, otherwise known as J
The left tie is a couple of inches longer than the right, inexplicably.
Pattern: Father’s Day Tie by the Purl Bee, modified for a skinny width
Fabric: Regrettably, I don’t remember.
My brother sent me his very nice, lightly-used Husqvarna Viking Emerald 118 for really no reason at all except that he is a generous and compassionate being, so early on I decided that his gift should be sewn. Additionally, he lives in California, so it’s harder to guess what kind of knit item might be of use in any case. Enter these ties, which–as luck might have it–don’t actually require machine sewing.
I finished these while on the actual winter holiday visit back home, instead of prior to departure. In fact, one was finished by the 25th, and the other was finished a week later. The pattern was workable enough, but I would seriously consider finding a tie pattern elsewhere to avoid all the wiggling entailed in taping eight or more pieces of computer paper together.
Please, do not judge the seam too harshly.
The interfacing pattern was a little problematic overall. Mine, all taped together, came out too long to fit on the length of heavyweight sew-in interfacing that is specified in the pattern, even when placed diagonally on the cloth. Someone else seems to have had this issue in the comments below the pattern post, so either it’s an easy user’s mistake, or an error. Initially, I split the pattern in half and sewed the two resulting pieces together to line the first tie; ultimately, I ended up buying a longer length of interfacing to fit the pattern fully, and redid that first tie as I completed the second.
More elaboration on how to modify the interfacing width for a skinny tie would have been greatly welcome. Since I took 3/8″ off of the edges of the actual tie fabric, I figured the same would do for the interfacing; but in the end, that made the interfacing rather too thin in parts. I ended up doing the ties just up to the point before the interfacing was needed, then tracing the tie shape onto the pattern in an attempt to get a better fit.
Hopefully, however, the ties are nice enough, even if only as a gesture.