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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver + S
Fabric: Moda, Berry Merry, Reindeer Games Cream
Mods: No pockets! I rather miss the, but didn’t want to spend the time or fabric.
Front looks the same as the back.
Back looks the same as the front
If I was going to make a sweater-babe-style sweater I needed a skirt to go with it, after all.
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.
A little gift for Granny, a woman aged 93 years who needs nothing but collects Santa. Guess what everyone gets her every year?
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.
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.
I continue to struggle to get any workable photos at all. Light! I need light! Light is hard to come by in December when you report to work at 8 am and the sun has set by the time you get home. There were a few occasions when I thought I’d wait for the weekend to take photos, but those weekends were so busy and overcast that it didn’t improve my results. Given my time constraints I’m settling for light and leaving composition to the side.
Composition is difficult because the morning light is by the windows and door at the back of our house and further complicated by the fact that we’re not a tidy family. A photo of stuffed trees on the latch hook rug I made years ago isn’t great, but hey: at least you can’t see dishes, toys, books, laundry, or any of the other detritus I don’t see until I whip out the camera (and get frustrated) or have company (and get embarrassed).
I made the smaller of the stuffed tree patterns. Note that “smaller” does not mean “small” – these stand 11.5 inches high. The larger tree stands 17.5 inches high and would take up a lot of real estate on a table.
I picked up the fabric when I was at Jo-Ann’a for interfacing. I saw the Santa flamingo fabric right away, but didn’t see anything that coordinated. I poked around a bit, hemmed and hawed, deliberated making stuffed trees at all, finally found the blue snowflake fabric, and rushed back to where the flamingo fabric was, sort-of invading a fellow shopper’s personal space in the process.
“Did you want Santa flamingo fabric?” I asked, in explanation, as I grabbed the bolt. She laughed at me. No, she didn’t want Santa flamingo fabric.
I’m sending these along with some socks I fished out of my box-o-sox. Yay!
Pattern: Julgran by Andi Satterlund
Size: It’s complicated (details below)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire
I love the color. I sent screenshot of – no joke, I counted – 19 different shades of green Cascade 220 to Hubs and he helped me whittle down my choices. Why haven’t I knit more dark green sweaters, I wondered. Because I spent many a year looking for the perfect pea green is why, neglecting entirely these wonderful not pea green shades.
I don’t know whether the motif gets lost or if people are not accustomed to looking at my chest, but it was only the knitters who immediately spotted and delighted in the tree. Otherwise my sweater-centered conversations felt something like:
Me, gesticulating excitedly at chest area: Look!
Hapless victim, gazing inquisitively at bosom: ???
Hapless victim, visibly confused, clearly thinking: Um, there’s nothing worth looking at???
Me: THE CHRISTMAS TREE.
Hapless victim, relieved: Oh! How neat!
I put this sweater on pause for a bit while I pondered the sleeve situation. Turns out the problem wasn’t my short-row-wrapping, but that purling across the sleeve cap to where the short rows started made it so that the front and back of the sleeve didn’t match because I was purling across one but not the other. I dropped the yarn after picking up the sleeve cap stitches, slipped stitches to where the short rows start, and picked up the yarn there and it worked a bit better.
That half-a-purl-row probably would have been invisible if I had knit the sleeves in stockinette stitch as recommended by the pattern. Knits hide better than purls.
My row gauge was larger (longer?) than recommended. Great! I needed to add length, anyways. How convenient.
I forgot about how that would impact the sleeve depth.
Which, in retrospect was a big part of why the sleeve cap was too roomy.
I ended up with a sweater in size medium circumference (yay!), large length (yay!), and extra large sleeve depth (boo).
I knit a size small sleeve to compensate. Didn’t fix the problem entirely, but it helped, and let’s not let perfection be the enemy of the good enough.
Since I had knit the sleeves in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body I thought the funnel collar would be off. I knit 10 rows of 1×1 rib instead.