Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why it's practically here!

For some reason my brain seems to discount the days actually passing starting sometime in the first week of December right up until the 20th or so.  I don't know why but the urgency of gathering gifts to give doesn't seem to register until it is practically too late.  Now, last minute Holiday shopping can be stressful enough, but last minute Holiday crafting?  A sure fire way to get ulcers (which actually might be a good combatant for the ever threatening holiday weight gain).

It's also pretty interesting to note the reactions to handmade gifts.  To some people it is extra special since you put so much of yourself into the item... in fact, probably too much (I always seem to find I've knitted a strand or  two of my hair into things).  Other people seem disappointed while at the same time acutely aware that it should be considered extra special since you made it.  For all those crafters out there who are giving lovingly handmade items, I hope that whoever receives them is as grateful as my boyfriend is.  

When we first started dating, I told Daniel about my knitting obsession.  Now, I can't remember if I offered to knit him something, or if he asked for it; but I do recall being shocked at how the thing that mattered most to him was that I made it for him.  Now, that might seem like a no brainer, but honestly, I thought whatever "it" would be and the functionality would be more important.  Or the color!  Or how soft it was.  Anyway, not wanting to put anymore pressure on him or myself by making him something complicated and time consuming, we decided on a simple scarf.  Again I was taken aback, someone who actually wore scarves?  Coming from a lifetime in Southern California this was an extremely exotic notion (outside of West Hollywood).   When I went came to visit him last March, we made a trip to the local Michael's to pick out some yarn.  He chose some soft charcoal colored yarn in a bulky color.  A few days later as I waited... and waited... and WAITED for my plane to leave (and take me back home to Southern California), I started work on his scarf.

Having limited access to my knitting supplies, I worked out a simple pattern that I could remember and do despite having forgotten my row counter.  The result ended up being what I call the Fiver Scarf.  What  I really love about it is how much Daniel seems to appreciate it.  Since the cold weather started, every time he goes to put on his pea coat, he knots the Fiver scarf around his neck.  Once when I exclaimed over how wonderful he was to wear it, he simply said to me "I like it... besides, my girlfriend made it for me".  This man bears it like a badge of honor instead of a hiding it like he would with an unsightly blemish.  If you want to make one of your own click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Well, that was quick!

So, my face is nearly as red (or maroon) as this plum colored hat!  In my last post, I mentioned ever so briefly how my brother's friend Andrew and his wife were expecting a baby girl?  Well, things were certainly moving along quite a bit quicker than I had known.  Turns out expecting was the wrong word, it's more like she's here! In fact we nearly shared a birthday.  Joanna was born on November 8th, only three days before I turned thirty.

Despite having a baby that's younger than all of the condiments in our refrigerator; as well as an actively and well entertained toddler to look after, second time mom Becky Shattuck still found time to find me on facebook to send a thank you message.  If you're impressed about her juggling skills on that alone, you should check out her blog, where you'll find that Becky posts more days than not.

Just as I didn't know that Joanna had entered this world, I wasn't aware of the amazing blog that Becky has.  I find myself returning to it and getting a vicarious thrill of exploring the world for the first time through the observations of a toddler, and "100 ways to entertain" one.

So I'm really enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling that's coming from reading her post about the plum colored hat that went along with the first sweater I made.  I've purloined a few pictures of Joanna modeling the hat from Becky's blog (though since it's with permission, it's more like I just snagged 'em instead of stole them).  This hat was made using the wonderful pattern Baby Berry Hat by Michele Sabatier, available for free on her blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sweaters to some, Jumpers to others

While I've been knitting obsessively for a number of years, up until recently I'd never tackled one of the most basic of projects, the sweater.  Why did it take me this long?  Well, considering that this is my first winter away from Southern California, up until recently, there hadn't been much need to knit myself one.  Besides, my UCLA sweatshirts are basically the only way I show school spirit aside from hissing and grumbling whenever the crosstown rival, USC is mentioned.

Knit one for a boyfriend?  Again, up until relatively recently, there hadn't been a boyfriend to knit for.  Besides, I'd hate to tempt fate with the boyfriend sweater curse.  Never heard of it?  Well, it's basically the well acknowledged idea that as soon as a knitter has begun knitting her boyfriend a sweater, the relationship is doomed to failure.  Personally I can see that one being a self fulfilling prophesy... think of how long it'd take to lovingly stitch together an adult sweater, and compare that to how much the typical guy cares about and for his clothes.

Finally I accepted the challenge when my mother asked me to knit a baby sweater for her to give as a gift.  The active lady that my mother is, she has met a number of people through jazzercise and yoga that have become friends.  One of her classmates had a lovely baby girl around six months ago, named the brand new person Julia.  Here I have a great picture of the active Julia modeling the sweater I knitted.

Of course she's got on the SECOND sweater I knitted... not the first.  The first one turned out to be nearly infant sized due to a simple and silly mistake I made.  Knitting needles come in different sizes; and just like how Americans use the word "sweater" while British use the word "jumper" to mean the same thing, there are US standard sizes and the metric equivalent.  I should have been knitting on US size 10 needles, which are 6mm.  Instead I briefly glanced at the pattern and used US size 6 needles, which are actually only 4mm in diameter.

After yoke and first sleeve of the sweater had been finished I realized my mistake.  Though rather than rip it out and restart, I figured I'd chalk it up to a learning experience and finish it up.  The good news is that my first sweater may still get some use.  My brother's friend Andrew and his wife are expecting a little girl... and while she'll be able to cry, she probably won't be able to tell anyone that it's because of the sweater.  Oh, and if you're  interested in the pattern, it's called "Pretty Baby Sweater" by Lisa Vienneau.  Not only is this gem available for free, it also doesn't require any sewing of seams, just a wee bit of crocheting!