Saturday, 27 December 2014

We knit you a Merry Christmas....

In December, the knitting needles tend to naturally turn to knitting ornaments. Even almost without conscious effort, I find myself wanting to knit little whimsies for my Christmas tree and to share with my family.

I spent the first week of December on the beautiful Australian Gold Coast having a much needed relaxing holiday. Sun, sand, surf, shopping, neon, amazing food and seven and a half thousand cheerleaders. (One of the main reasons we were there was to watch future doctor daughter shake her poms in the Open Australian title division as a prelude to Worlds next year #20swifteen).

Holidays mean holiday knitting, right? It's the best way to wind down and de-stress. If you are a knitter, you understand that the most agonizing part of holiday packing is deciding just what knitting to take with you on holidays. You've got to have enough for all your knitting moods. You need extra yarn, just in case you run out. You've got to remember to pack all the appropriate needles and stitch markers, scissors, sewing needles, the pattern, etc... You need more than one backup project in case it all goes wrong for you.

Holiday knitting also has to be portable. This time around, I decided to take two small knitting kits that had come with various English knitting magazines. Part of the impetus for this was knitting for Christmas with the delightful ladies in The Unofficial Women’s Weekly group who were running a CAL/KAL for November/December 2014

This first was a cute little reindeer kit that came with issue 105 of Knit Today. Supposedly everything needed, yarn, stuffing, embroidery thread, ribbon and the bell - just add needles. I love his little slip stitch texture. And he’s cute and small and Christmassy.

And then I ran out of yarn (and stuffing) not even a few days into the holiday! I knitted and stuffed two legs complete with their little separate hooves. I made the body and stuffed it with what I had left of the stuffing supplied in the kit but it’s not plump enough. I knitted the head and sewed up the ends. I made a tail…. and I had about 25 cm of yarn left….
 I don’t know what the issue is. I used the suggested needle size (2.75 mm). My tension checks out OKish… There’s just not enough yarn in the kit. I still had to make two arms and the hooves, two ears and two antlers. I’m pretty sure I have some similar brown acrylic in the stash. So I'll finish it when I got home. So much for this being holiday knitting. (That's why you take backup projects...)

Actually the brown acrylic, I was thinking of was in my mother’ stash. She has custody of all the cheap toy acrylic. She was happy to see me even if I was only there to steal wool…. I knitted the arms and paws and stuffed them. The colour is quite different but it looks OK after assembly. (It’s sufficiently symmetric). I knitted two ears and embroidered the face and tied on his bell. Voila!
The kids were quite uncomplimentary about the finished object - they decided it doesn’t look like a reindeer. They were calling it a dog / cow / minotaur thingy. (Minotaur? - too much fantasy reading going on around here).
Photos taken in Hosier Lane in Melbourne during the mad Christmas rush season. I love good graffiti laneways.
So it was onto the backup knitting plan. I turned to the other kit - a Christmas angel that was again a kit from Let's Knit Issue 73, November 2013. The pattern is called Gabriella by Amanda Berry. This one was knitted on 3.75mm needles. it's knitted flat and then seamed. I knitted the head and body bit. Then the holiday finished.
I knitted little bits of the angel here and there over the rest of December but had a small spot of procrastination in finishing up the face and the hair. Finally knuckled down and did it early in the morning on the 23rd of December. This one is part of my Mum's Christmas gift. I've been told the angel has a serene expression. I love the pop of gold in her hair and wings.
Last Christmas was the first year, we were missing a child for Christmas dinner. The middle daughter spent her Christmas in Padova in Italy with generous friends chasing the elusive white Christmas. It didn't snow for her but it was still an awesome experience. She bought me home Italian knitting magazines and a copy of Arne and Carlo's Knitted Christmas balls book (in Italian). Now I can read Italian (sort of). I studied it a high school but it is very rusty. However, once I brushed up on the Italian knitting terminology, I was fine with this. There are clear photo tutorials for stuffing and finishing and all the patterns are charted. Mel of course had an ulterior motive in buying me this book. She wants a collection of red and white baubles for her future tree. Of course I'll oblige. She keeps complaining about a distinct lack of Christmas markets in Australia.
I made a sample bauble using DK and 3.75mm Needles. It was an abject failure as a bauble. It was miles too large and there was insufficient contrast between the yarns I was using. (Probably a mistake to use a variegated yarn as one of them. It does, however, make a good cat toy / child's ball though). So we went to fingering weight yarn and 2.75 mm needles. Meet Running reindeer. Next I'm going to knit the Christmas goat. (See Gavlebokken).
And I made a gift tag for my sister's present. These little owls are a great effective use of tiny little scrappy bits of yarn. I did have a plan to make a heap of these for present tags. It didn't happen. Life intervened. But at least one present got special love.

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