Oh, my stars and garters

Who didn’t see Gillian’s Scandinavian Fabric Stars tutorial and immediately order a short stack of fat quarters to make a quick 27 or so?

I know it wasn’t just me.

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These were really satisfying to make.

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Perfect for plopping down in front of the TV with BIG glass of wine and a delightfully terrible made-for-TV Christmas movie.

All they need is hangers. The ribbon is in a small bag possibly in a bigger bag tossed into an even larger bag (it’s bags all the way down, folks) with all the unwrapped Christmas gifts and I keep thinking I’ll dig it out when I get around to starting the wrapping, but I keep postponing that chore until “tomorrow” in favor of another Christmas movie and requisite boozy accompaniment.

Santas’ Workshop

I was in my 20’s when I started knitting. I plodded along through the early disappointments, of which there were many. I learned to chalk them up to the learning curve, retreating back to what dish towels after the especially painful setbacks. It’s been a while, now, since I was in my 20’s and I’ve knit a lot of things between then and now besides lots (and LOTS) of dishcloths. I’ve knit socks and sweaters and mittens and hats and scarves and toys, and even a willie warmer. I’ve knit cables and lace and stranded colorwork.

But I had never knit intarsia on such a large scale, or possibly ever, though I vaguely remember being frustrated by the twisting yarns and the idea of intarsia has always inspired a sense of dread that I can only attribute to one or more failed attempts that I buried deep into my subconscious. I definitely had some yarn bobbins at some point which indicated some interest or intention to learn the technique, but I cleaned them out because I was never going to use them anyways. Hobbies and clutter, am I right? I am overwhelmed by stuff but anticipating what may or not be useful or when is a crapshoot.

I saw this pattern on ravelry and decided I was not going to be intimidated any more. I wrapped my yarns on cardboard and it worked just fine. Just fine in this case means I had to untwist everything ever couple rows because it quickly became a rat’s nest, but that’s the nature of the beast. The knitting itself, I was happy to discover, was surprisingly easy, if fiddly.

There were a lot of ends to weave in:

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I left all those ends on the first one because I thought I’d have tension issues that would need fixed. I didn’t and got smart and wove them in as I went on the 2nd sweater.

A vital blocking:

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Blank Santa faces

And a fair amount of embroidery and finishing:

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Buttons and bobbles and chain stitch, oh my.

And some sewing up:

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I often lament that it’s gone out of style to knit sweaters in pieces.

Add a collar and viola!

IMG_9923I am completely chuffed with myself. These may not be to everyone’s taste, but I am thrilled with them (my kids, on the other hand, not so much! But I don’t hang my sense of knitterly worth on their opinions) and I feel so accomplished. I had built intarsia up to be my last knitting frontier and it turned out to be just… knitting.

Santa Baby

I don’t know how to introduce these projects. They reveal some part of my person and general cheeseball-ness that I try to keep under wraps.

I love kitschy Christmas. I’m too self-conscious and unorganized to go all out, and my decorating scheme probably looks more like a lack of effort than a preference. Christmas red in my house is a true red, not burgundy, green is, well, green, not lime or forest. I thought about buying a tasteful wreath this year, but why should I when I already have one made of multicolored Christmas balls? I prefer colored lights to white and tinsel to popcorn. Our stockings are handmade. They don’t match, nor do our ornaments and I always felt kind of bad for trees whose ornaments do. A coworker once told what was to her a funny anecdote about how how excited she was when she moved into her first house to have an all-matching Christmas tree and how her mother undermined her efforts by sending her a box of her childhood ornaments. I had always considered trees with matching decorations soulless and associated them with department stores. I’d had no idea it was something anybody would want in her own home.

Different strokes for different folks. Not everybody wants a kitschy mishmash, not everybody wants matchy-matchy, only a few would make her children matching kitschy Santa sweaters.

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Pattern: Santa Claus by Sue Stratford
Sizes: 7 & 5
Yarn: Valley Yarns in worsted superwash & non

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There are lots of reasons not to make your children matching Christmas sweaters, especially if you’re as bad at laundry as I am. I don’t know which is worse: wondering if they’ll even wear them or wondering how long before an ice cream or chocolate stain ruins them. Time will tell which fate will befall these sweaters. If I had to wager a guess I’d say the blue will never be worn and the pink will be stained before we leave the house. That’s OK. I don’t mind. Knitting is my love language.

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More on the making another day.

 

Christmas Cacti

Well, who wouldn’t want to find a handmade felt cactus under their Christmas tree?!

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Pattern: DIY Felt Cactus FREE Pattern and Tutorial by Sewing 4 Free
Materials: Felt. Yarn. Cardboard. Embroidery floss. 3″ pots.

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Most everyone, probably, but this trio of frivolous flora was sent off to family members who will hopefully appreciate their whimsy.

Size is difficult to judge from the photos: these are not dainty things. They’re about 8 inches tall. If you click through the pattern link you’ll see that I used the Sewing 4 Free pattern as a jumping off point, mostly for the pattern templates so I wouldn’t have to draft my own. I wasn’t sure where to get felt poms, nor did I care to bother with glue, hot or otherwise. My cacti are plumper (I turned them inside out after sewing) and plainer than their inspirations, but I think that makes them more versatile. You can wear them at home or in the office! Dress them up or dress them down for any occasion!

Since I wasn’t bothering with the felt poms I had to figure out something else for soil and support. A seed stitch swatch that I sewed the cacti to did just fine gathered over a cardboard circle. Better than I expected, even. I had been brainstorming how to add washers to the cacti’s undersides for weight, but such engineering turned out to be completely unnecessary. Stuff these in their pots and you’re good to go.

I have a lot of leftover felt. A cursory pinterest search reveals many cute ideas for felt ornaments and critters and flowers. Hmmmm. Maybe next year. Or maybe not. In the meantime I’ll be irritated with myself that I overbought the stuff (it’s a pain to procure as we live far from any store that sells craft supplies and I overcompensated) and resent its presence in my home while also being unwilling to part with it because it might come in handy someday. You know the drill.

Thumbs Up 7 UP

My co-worker was looking at a book about aprons which featured a photo of bottle aprons which: 1) who knew?; and 2) of course that’s a thing.

So I made some as silly Christmas gifts.

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Pattern: Bottle Apron Cover from A Bee in my Bonnet
Fabric: Fat quarters on sale from Jo-Ann

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I have new respect for the clothes my mom used to make for my Barbies. Quarter-inch bias tape made me feel like I was all thumbs and getting the apron strings to feed through my machine was a challenge. Such a challenge that it may not have been a good thing for my machine which starting making an unsettling grinding noise as I was finishing the aprons pictured. I’m sure it’s the fault of deferred maintenance and not this project, but through no fault of the pattern I sort of really hated sewing these which makes it easy to blame them.

The sodas unadorned. When I went back to the soda pop store a few weeks later they had excellent novelty varieties like sweet corn and butter. I was disappointed that I missed the opportunity to use them, but I’m sure the soda pop gift recipients aren’t.

After finishing these 6 aprons I suffered through 4 more, 2 of which were for the co-worker who brought them to my attention. She was delighted and tried to con me into making her more. No, just no!

Fake Merry Til You Make Merry

My friend told me that I have the most holiday cheer of anybody he knows. It was meant as a compliment (or good-natured teasing), but it made me feel misunderstood. Once October hits I get very busy. This is intentional. I do the things and I buy the things and I make the things. But to me it doesn’t feel like cheer. It feels like desperation. Not desperation to make all the things or do all the things or have a perfect holiday. It’s a coping mechanism. I keep busy while I feel like I’m heading towards a cliff I can’t see. I worry that I’ll careen off that cliff and I have to do as many things as I can before that happens. My avoidance masquerades as excitement. I let myself get lost in the trappings so I don’t have time to think about the spirit.

The confusion this creates is understandable. Look, for example, at the Christmas outfit I made this year. I’ve already talked lots about my new Christmas sweater, but I haven’t mentioned my new skirt.

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Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver + S
Size: Medium
Fabric: Moda, Berry Merry, Reindeer Games Cream
Mods: No pockets! I rather miss the, but didn’t want to spend the time or fabric.

If I was going to make a sweater-babe-style sweater I needed a skirt to go with it, after all.

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What I actually look like when not posing provocatively.

It’s more a costume than an outfit. You know how faking a smile will improve your mood? This is that in clothing form. But I’ll tell you a secret: there are moments when I wonder if my friend might be right. It may be that I do have a lot of holiday cheer. I tell myself that I’m faking it but maybe it’s that I’m finally letting that cheer assert itself a little. This year maybe there’s room for all the feelings the holiday brings.

Santa-Gnome

A little gift for Granny, a woman aged 93 years who needs nothing  but collects Santa. Guess what everyone gets her every year?

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Pattern: Never Not Gnoming
Size: Biggest – turned out 7.5 inches tall
Yarn: Bibs and bobs of leftovers + red Koigu KKPM that I bought eons ago and was too precious to use (I’m breaking myself of that bad habit)

In fact, who can say if she actually ever wanted to collect Santas or if we all collectively decided she should so we would have a go-to gift for her?

I Santa-ified this pattern by knitting the hat and body in red with white brim/cuffs/purl turning row at the bottom and knitting a belt which was just a long 3-stitch row of garter stitch sewed into a circle with a bit of embroidery for a buckle. I didn’t have pellets so he’s stuffed with plan old polyfil. It makes him rolly-polly. Oh, and the tassel because I somehow forgot pompoms were a thing (HOW?) and didn’t want to bother knitting a sphere.

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He turned out well, but not nearly so cute as the gnomes this pattern intends. But then I have a fondness for gnomes. Please, nobody decide I should collect them, though! I have big plans for lots of little gnomes for giving and not for keeping.