jones new york blouse – j. crew belt – anthropologie skirt – topshop green tights – thrifted boots
christmas season is in full swing over here! as usual, i am deeply enamored with our christmas tree! for the first time, we managed to get a tree that is small enough for our short ceilinged apartment. usually our tree will be bursting out of the corner it is allocated to. this time, it fits! there’s even room for some presents!
we watched our usual movies while putting the tree together, but we also listened this swedish christmas music. anna has posted it multiple times before, but this is the first year i’ve bothered to download it or listen to it, and i was totally charmed and won over almost immediately.
i made my first cookie press cookies! spritz! the recipe called for a LOT of flour, and they were very difficult to press. after the first three dozen, my forearms couldn’t handle it anymore and i had to bring in jake’s fresh strength to use up the rest of the dough. sheesh! i might try a recipe with less flour next time in the hopes that it’s friendlier to my forearms. they were delicious, though! i find my sweet tooth is the hardest to resist first thing in the morning. a few cookies are so good with the first cup of coffee.
what are your favorite things about the season? any new discoveries sweetening your life?
lifeline pattern ($4.00USD) another fabulous example of how the knit doesn’t need to be intricate to have wow factor. handspun or special yarn really elevate a knit, or a gift! i can’t tell you how frequently i stop back to stare at this picture. so beautiful! i think i’ll tear out my handspun cowl that i was never really sold on and use that yarn for a pair of these mittens…
from the splitbark pattern ($6.00USD). i love the unexpected juxtaposition of the garter stitch with the offset honeycomb cabling, all amplified by this perfect yarn choice. neutral and unexpected!
these quick and rustic mittens are a free pattern from marthastewart.com. i’d be willing to bet you could crank out a pair of these in one evening. set the tree to twinkle, pop in ‘it’s a wonderful life’, and i bet you could have a pair of mittens to show for it!
early grey mitts ($2.00USD) are sweet and simple. little mitts to warm your hands and give a chance to use up partial skeins and play with colors! i have a pair of these (made by the self same urbanizer!), and these get loads and loads of wear! last year, when it was bitterly cold, i found out the ease with which they slip under other mittens/gloves, and how much that extra layer of insulation helps!
thoroughbred mitt pattern ($4.00USD) a lovely parallelogram textured mitt pattern. a totally neutral knit, i can’t imagine anyone they wouldn’t work for!
if you wanted some cabled mitts, i’ve been loving the vancouver fog mitts forever (free!), and still intend to make them. if you want a little more of a challenge, there’s the cam cable mitts ($6.50USD), with an unusual cable, and patterning on the front and back. other textured mitts include raw honey ($4.00USD). if you’re jonesing for a bit of bobble in your life (but not too much!), there’s the emerald mitts. the most unusual techniques i’ve seen are on these cool zimtstern mitts (free!), which are started at the thumb, and use surface crochet to give the effect of radiating stars. if you’re looking for something a little more feminine, there’s the lovely katinka mitts ($6.00USD), or astri mi astri.
i’m a little later getting this party started than i would have liked, but let’s see just how much of this party we can fit in before christmas!!! (for you chanukah celebrators, i apologize, the deck was stacked against me this year.) hopefully you will see something to inspire and delight!
$6.00USD. the cowl shown above is a modified version of the original mojave pattern, so make sure you take a peek at the original. but lane’s is a great shorter (therefore faster!) substitute. this is a good project to use up skeins leftover from projects that didn’t take as much yarn as you originally anticipated. i love love love the muted palette shown, and i have a hard time picturing it in anything other than muted dusty tones, or warm jewel tones.
$4.00USD for the neil pattern. this is probably going to be the fastest pattern of the bunch, clocking in at a low 240 yards. break out the chunky yarn and the bigger needles, and buckle in for an easy ride to a handmade holiday present! did i take that too far? i like the diamond pattern, and this looks both quick and fun to knit!
free! shandon pattern, featuring a fun chevron stitch. textural, gender neutral, what more can you ask for? this could also be easily modified by knitting it flat instead of in the round, if that’s a thing you’re interested in! the chevron ribbing is great for showing off a more complex yarn. it obviously works well with a gorgeous semi-solid, but i think a multicolored yarn would really shine in this pattern, too!
$5.00USD for the mesa view pattern. a nice textural cowl, with a scarf option and the bonus of buttons! the buttons are great, because depending on your choice, you can really change the aesthetic of this cowl. the boldly teal yarn with cherry red buttons shown is very quirky and contemporary! but in wispy cream yarn with crystal buttons? quite feminine! imagine it knit up in a muted dark green with some natural wood buttons. sounds pretty masculine friendly to me!
€4.50 ($6.35USD) for the gentille pattern, which is part of the feathery delights, all of which i find quite lovely. even this cowl, which features lace, could work for a guy. when scrunched layered around the neck, the lace in this pattern reads more as a textural elements than a lacy element. lately, that’s been something i’ve really been drawn to. i can picture it in a dark dark grey, almost black, so that it really amps up the element of shadow and texture.
colorwork cowls seem to be my favorite. more that i’m currently in love with: the flambeau cowl ($4.00USD), has a short and a long version. the pine bough cowl is maybe a little intense to take on as a christmas gift right now, but it’s free and so so gorgeous. i also love triangle loop (free).
stripes can be super addictive and make knitting easy! tilted shadows cowl (free! and i especially love this one) is fun. or if you’re feeling the striped cowl, there’s also the… striped cowl (free!), and ships & seaside ($5.50USD, and so so so addictive, y’all).
if you need something quick, this lovely lace ptarmigan cowl is less than 200 yards ($6.00USD). if you’re feeling lacey & ambitious, solaria ($6.00CAD) and rivendell smoke ring ($6.00USD) are both beautiful. if you’re feeling another option for a textured cowl, cocoon me cowl ($6.00USD) or avery ($5.00USD).
i feel like i overused the word textural in this post. and exclamation points. but that’s besides the point! which of the above is your favorite? have you found any new patterns that look perfect for some quick gift knitting? or any tried & true cowl patterns that you always turn to in a pinch? share in the comments!
i’ve been working on swatches for these christmas stockings this week:
they are for some friends, and hopefully they’ll be done for christmas.
the random people who have asked what i’m working on have laughed at the idea of me working on christmas stockings in early march. but considering the fact that i only just finished a sweater i started 15 months (it’s dry! FO shoot soon, hopefully!), and i watched jillie endlessly wrestle her way through a series of stockings last year, encountering unexpected problems at every turn, i don’t think nine months is a ridiculous amount of lead time.
and if by some miracle, i have no issues with the pattern, never become bored with the knitting and want to put it down, and finish these by the summer, then, hey! awesome. i can’t imagine i’ll hate being done early.
so far they are really fun. it’s ironic that i started swatching these (so that the recipients can pick which they want as MC and CC*) less than a week after coffee/tea meeting with chronographia. i went in to great detail about my dislike of purling colorwork. when knitting colorwork, i throw with both hands, generally MC in my right, CC in my left. purling colorwork does not lend itself to the same easy application. but after several swatches, i’ve found a method i find fairly comfortable. i’m terrible at describing things, but basically, i throw both colors with my right hand, and separate the two colors with two digits, one under my middle finger, and one above my pointer. the two digits keep them enough apart that they aren’t constantly getting tangled, and i have easy access to both colors to throw them. i don’t know if that was at all discernable or useful for anyone, but there it is.
like the terrible blogger that i am, my meeting with chronographia (and her lovely mother) is completely undocumented, again. i need to get better about these things. but it was nice to see her face, meet her mum, and chat about all things woolly, plus more. she’s hatting it up in preparation for a jane austen fest right now, and i am nerd-core excited to see some of the results.
ah, i’m rather shocked that i have so much to say on a post that is mainly about swatches. but while i’m here… since the palette of these stockings is very quiet and rustic (and i LOVE it), i thought i’d throw in a little braid in red or green around the tops of the stockings to give them a hint o’ the season. but i’ve never done any knitted braids before, so that’s fairly interesting in itself. i tried the latvian braid out twice. does a purl row always show between the two braid-y columns? do you guys have any good suggestions for a latvian braid tutorial?
i also tried a vikkel/lateral braid, with at least one false start. i like that it doesn’t have the purl row, but it’s a tad on the dainty side, and i still need to play with making it two tone. but i found this tutorial suuuuuper helpful.
which options do you like best? have you started any long term projects recently? are you prepping for christmas already?
*to my non-knitting readers, MC= main color, CC= contrasting color
this year i tried to use mostly recycled materials for gift wrapping. newspaper, seasonal paper shopping bags, leftover postcards (i like postcards, but i never send them…), scrap yarn, or reused wrapping materials.
the tree has never really reached a state of completion. we just keep adding things to it. some silver tinsel garlands… and then i decided to make the owl more seasonal and made a leetle silver pipe cleaner halo.
i have a hard time figuring out what to wear to certain kinds of events… cocktail parties, weddings, church on christmas eve. i stress about it. so here, for my own records, is what i wore to to church on christmas eve this year:
gifts both necklaces
target grey cardigan
jones new york ruffly blouse from eons ago
j crew, thrifted grey wool skirt
it’s a mystery! boots
dkny, thrifted my seasonally bright green coat
it’s no secret that i love to knit hats. they are probably my absolute favorite item to knit. as long as you don’t choose a crazy difficult pattern (or gauge), you can finish a hat in 1-3 days, which makes it a good choice for this close to the gifting holiday.
love the pom poms! this one is fairly gender neutral. in fact, the two wood hollow hats i’ve knit have both been for dudes.
nothing like simple stockinette to showcase a gorgeous yarn. in this case, handspun.
need to toss some colorwork in here, right? i think this pattern is pretty gender neutral, too. who doesn’t like herringbone? and it’s only really the blocking that makes this slouchy. if you just blocked it flat, it’d be more of a beanie style hat. also, i think it’d look pretty cute with a pom-pom…
a little more on the feminine side. so, so pretty. and who doesn’t love an excuse to knit bobbles every now and again? (although, what i’m really looking for is an excuse to knit the deer with little antlers hat. i don’t have quite enough day-to-day whimsy to justify it for myself. maybe for a kid? oh! with imogene’s antlers?)
another gender neutral knit, and more of a proper beanie than the rest of them. fabulously simple with a great twist. and chronographia says it is hands down the fastest thing she’s ever knit! which maybe means i should’ve waited til next week to use it…
only one quick knits left, guys! happy holiday knitting!
i find with every passing year, i get a little more festive. about every holiday. and i LOVE me a christmas tree. most of my childhood and young adulthood involved fake trees. pulled out from storage at the right time, they were incredibly convenient. but where oh where is the romance in convenience? don’t bother looking, it ain’t there.
at this point in my life i don’t mind wrestling a real tree. i don’t mind finding pine needles all year long every time i clean.
i love the hunt. i love the smell. i love putting on some corny movie to partially watch. i love unwrapping the ornaments. some from jake’s childhood and family, and some from mine. and some that we have accumulated together.
it’s grand, innit?
some details. apparently it’s really hard to find a christmas tree after 5 pm on a sunday night. who knew? we tried about three places, and fortunately, lowe’s was open til 7. so at 6:55 we scampered into lowe’s, didn’t get too picky in our selection, and walked out with a christmas tree. her name is agatha christ-tree. because i enjoy amusing myself. we don’t have a proper tree topper (yet), so we’ve been using this owl piggy bank. i have tenative plans to spray paint it silver. maybe. for now i’m perfectly pleased with it the way it is.
how goes your holiday decorating? knitting? gift-purchasing? baking?