Tag Archives: Christmas

What I knit this Christmas

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Now that all my knits are gifted, I can post photos and details of the finished items!

I really love how this turned out.

I really love how this turned out.

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The first gift I finished was not the first one I started. This is the Riverbank cowl (by Melissa Thomson) I knit for my sister Jenny. I knit it up in SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in the colour China Doll. This was the perfect match of yarn and pattern, and the finished cowl is squishy and drapey, with just enough structure to support all the texture. I especially love that she can wear it as a cowl or a caplet.

Even with all the cabling, I have almost half a skein of the main colour left.

Even with all the cabling, I have almost half a skein of the main colour left.

My sister Connie requested a pair of socks, so I knit her Saltburn by Rachel Coopey. I used Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock (sadly discontinued) in Cobalt and Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Natural. Connie is a huge fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, so knitting her socks in their colours was an obvious choice. The cables meant the socks aren’t very stretchy, though, so they are a bit snug. So snug in fact that she couldn’t get them on until she soaked them and stretched them wet over her heels (and she does not have big feet). I think they’ll be wearable, but I said I knit her another pair of plain socks in the same colours, since I have yarn left over.

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My mum requested a shawl ages ago. Just something small she could wrap around her neck to fight a draught and look nice. I looked at a lot of patterns before settling on Charm, which turned out to be perfect. I knit it up in Hand Maiden Casbah in the Ruby colourway. She wore it all Christmas day, so I’m declaring it a hit.

Dad socks.

Dad socks.

Both my dad and L got socks. For my dad, I went with something fairly plain, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear exciting socks (and by exciting, I mean other than white socks with jeans or black socks with suits). There’s nothing wrong with a great pair of plain socks, though, especially when they’re a perfect fit, as these turned out to be. I knit them up in two shades of Zitron Unisono, which I intend to stock up on, because it is such a pleasure to knit with and really nice to wear (I knit myself a pair of socks in it almost a year ago).

I have not managed to get a proper shot of these since finishing them, but oh well.

I have not managed to get a proper shot of these since finishing them, but oh well.

I went a little fancier for L and went with Charade in Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Mushroom Hunting B Side. I wrote a fair bit about these socks as I was working on them, but suffice to say, L has been wearing them and says they’re a good fit.

The last gift I knit was a hat for my Uncle Michael. I forgot to get a photo of it before I mailed it off, but I knit it using some Jill Draper Makes Stuff Hudson I had in my stash. This yarn is some of the nicest I’ve knit with in a long time. It’s super soft, springy, and takes Jill’s dyes beautifully. I knit the hat in Chestnut, which is a really warm brown, almost the colour of a cup of hot chocolate. I was worried it wouldn’t arrive in time, but my Uncle e-mailed to say it got there just before Christmas, which is perfect.

How did your Christmas knitting go? I got back from Switzerland on Boxing Day, so there’s a proper post-holidays post coming about pretty yarns and mountain views – I just need to re-acclimate to this time zone first.

A Swissmas miracle

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Thank you all for your crossed fingers and sympathy! I’m never sure whether to post about bad news, but sometimes you just need to talk to people who understand. Anyway, this is a story with a happy ending: I got my knitting back!

Holiday socks!

Holiday socks!

The day after it went missing, my dad, Jenny (my youngest sister) and I went to skiing at Verbier. We left early, so I didn’t have a chance to go into the village and look for my knitting. I was pretty sure all was lost (I’m optimistic by nature, but sometimes it’s best to prepare for the worst), so on the way home, we searched around for a knitting shop where I could at least get another set of needles. It took a while, but we managed to get to a Migros, which is sort of like a Swiss Walmart, and they had needles! The selection was limited, but I wasn’t in a position to be fussy, so I snapped up a set of grey 2.5 mm dpns.

When we got back, though, my mum and Connie (middle sister) had big smiles. They’d been into the village to make some inquiries. Their first stop was the ski outfitter, where I was sure my knitting had fallen out of my bag, and it was there! Apparently, when they owner had arrived in the morning, my little knitting bag was sitting on the windowsill. They were apparently totally baffled by magic loop, but thought the self-striping yarn was cheating!

I finished the first sock this morning and am a couple of inches into the second one. I won’t have a new pair of socks to wear tomorrow, but I suspect I’ll finish them before my flight lands in Toronto on Thursday.

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope your holidays are wonderful (and wooly)!

The view from the refuge (at about 3,000 metres) where we took a coffee break yesterday. (Photo taken by my sister Jenny)

The view from the refuge (at about 3,000 metres) where we took a coffee break yesterday. (Photo taken by my sister Jenny)

A major snag

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You know how sometimes, when things seem to be going really well, despite all kinds of barely-avoided pitfalls? Well, it seems the other shoe has dropped. Today, after finishing the gusset decreases on my sock and getting over half-way through the foot, I lost my little knitting bag. In it was my yarn, needles, tape measure, and mostly-knit sock.

The view from the apartment early this morning. (Standing in the same place and turning 90 degrees to the right would give me the view from yesterday's photo.)

The view from the apartment early this morning. (Standing in the same place and turning 90 degrees to the right would give me the view from yesterday’s photo.)

I know it’s a small thing. I know that it isn’t a  make-or-break the holidays thing. I know I’m in Switzerland with my family. I know all of this, but still, I’m upset. You know how knitting is soothing and can helps manage stress? Well, I love my family, but sometimes when we’re all together I really need to knit, if you know what I mean. I knit during long car rides on impossibly winding roads, and while we’re sitting around together in the evenings, and especially on long transatlantic flights.

We were already on the road to Geneva to meet my sister's flight as the sun was just starting to break over the top of the mountains.

We were already on the road to Geneva to meet my sister’s flight as the sun was just starting to break over the top of the mountains.

I was, in fact, so concerned that I might get through my knitting early (and, at the rate I was going, probably would have had a pair of socks by Christmas) that I packed extra yarn. The rub? I didn’t pack extra needles. So now I’m here, with my knitting lost, extra yarn, and no needles. I’ve been doing some Googling and it looks like this is the closest knitting store, and it’s an hour away. I e-mailed the owner and I am super hoping it isn’t closed for the holidays. I have a long return flight alone, and without something to knit, that time is stretching out before me in a very daunting way.

I’m not without hope, though. I’m pretty sure I know where the knitting fell out of the car. We went back there tonight and no one had handed it in, but I was quick, so maybe they just hadn’t had time. I mean, who wants to hold onto someone else’s knitting, right? And any knitter would turn it in to the nearest shop or tourist office, right? (Right!?) I’m going skiing tomorrow and I’m going to spend the day believing in the goodness of people. Tomorrow evening, I’m going to make another round of inquiries with my fingers crossed.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Same mountains as the first photo, but taken from the road farther down the mountains and looking back north.

Same mountains as the first photo, but taken from the road farther down the mountains and looking back north.

(Since I can’t show you pictures of what I’ve lost, I thought maybe a selection of mountains would be in order.)

The view from here

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On Monday, I finished all my gift knitting. I can’t believe it took me this long to say it. I think, as crazy as this will sound, that I was worried that saying it out loud/in writing on the Internet would be the trigger to realize I’d forgotten about people and leave me scrambling. But that didn’t happen (yet) and now it’s too late – I’m in Switzerland.

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The view off over the village. It’s like a Christmas card over here.

Surprise! Yesterday, I left Toronto in huge scrambled hurry: not only did my sister realize her passport was expired – thank goodness we’re dual British citizens! – but it turned out my flight was not at 10:15 p.m. as I thought but instead at 5:30! Yeah, we’re disasters all around. But, it all worked out (holiday miracle!) and this morning/the middle of last night (depending on your point of view) we landed in Geneva. Tomorrow my other sister joins us and all five of us – my parents, my two sisters, and I – will all be together for the first time since last Christmas. Very exciting.

We dawdled on the way from the city to the little town where we’re staying, and the market in Lausanne had yarn for sale at the first booth, which I take as a good sign (I didn’t buy any, because I didn’t have any Swiss francs. Sigh) It got dark about an hour after we arrived at the apartment, but I’ll have more photos soon.

It's late in the day so the light is kind of crappy. The green isn't actually quite that dark, but you get the idea.

It’s late in the day so the light is kind of crappy. The green isn’t actually quite that dark, but you get the idea.

In the meantime, check out the progress on these Christmas socks! The striping is just perfect, if I do say so myself – they look just like the vintage Christmas balls that (I’m guessing) inspired the colourway.

What I knit this Christmas

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You’ve heard about it all of it, but a parade of finished and gifted knits is excellent closure. Plus, I didn’t really publish any proper shots of the finished pieces in case there were spies, so now you can see everything in its glory.

First up, the Daphne socks (a Cookie A. pattern) I knit for Jenny using Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4-ply sock in Don’t You Have an Elsewhere to Be?. They were the first gift I finished and, weirdly, the first to be opened. They fit her very well and she says she can’t wait to go to a party where she can show them off.

I am going to have to knit myself a pair of these very soon I think.

I am going to have to knit myself a pair of these very soon I think.

Actually, technically speaking, L’s hat was the first gift to be opened, but that’s because we don’t spend Christmas day together, and instead exchange gifts on our anniversary the week before. I knit him a hat for his birthday in January (I was about to say last year, but that’s not quite true), and it has been well worn to the point of extreme fuzzy-ness. Thus, a new hat was in order. He requested dark grey, I obliged with Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted, a gorgeous hand painted alpaca/wool blend in Marcasite. (The pattern is Horatio by Kristin Hanley Cardozo and I will almost certainly knit it again – it’s an excellent man hat.)

L has proclaimed this hat "very warm."

L has proclaimed this hat “very warm.”

My dad’s hat was something I half-planned for a while and then executed at the last minute. Initially, my plan was to design a fair isle hat in subtle greys, but I didn’t do it and then ran out of time, so things changed. I picked up some SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in Slate from the shop and, after a quick browse on Ravelry, settled on the Men’s Mock Aran Men’s Hat by Heather Tucker. It was basic enough to be an everyday hat for my dad, but interesting enough that I didn’t resent it during the knitting.

Next time I knit this, I'm charting it.

Next time I knit this, I’m charting it.

After starting a pair of mittens for Connie and then deciding that both pattern and yarn were wrong, I switched to these Lily Mittens by Annemor Sundbo. I ended up using some Louet Gems from my stash (in Willow and Navy) and, honestly, I couldn’t be happier. The Louet was really nice to work with and the finished mittens fit perfectly.

The back of the thumbs are surprise stripes! (The thumbs are also made up because I forgot the chart at home.)

The back of the thumbs are surprise stripes! (The thumbs are also made up because I forgot the chart at home.)

Finally, the tea cozy. What a friggin’ saga. I finished it in good time and then sewed in all the ends and then went to the workroom and sewed a lining before I left. I did think it looked a little big, but my mum’s tea pot is enormous, so I didn’t think much of it. I tried it on the tea pot when I got to my parents’ and wouldn’t you know, it was enormous. Luckily, I had not yet sewn in the lining, so I threw the tea cozy in the washing machine for a little felting action and, when it got about as small as I could make it without risking over-felting, I cut and re-sewed the lining and then sewed it in. Phew. It’s still a little big, but my mum is thrilled anyway because it’s the first tea cozy that’s ever actually covered the entire tea pot.

I don't know why the colours came out like this in the photo. They're much more accurate here.

I don’t know why the colours came out like this in the photo. They’re much more accurate here.

(I think where I went wrong was that, when I took my original measurements, I added in some positive ease when I wrote down the number. When I went to knit the thing, though, I forgot that and added more ease. That’ll teach me to keep better notes.)

I don’t really have pictures of the mittens I gave my grandmother (besides those you’ve already seen) or the foot tubes, because I didn’t have my camera on me when they opened them. The mittens were a perfect fit, and I’ve heard nothing at all about the bed socks, so that’s anyone’s guess. The main thing, though, was that I managed to finish everything on time without going crazy (or becoming a shut-in) in the meantime.

How did your holiday knitting go?

All over but the Kahlua

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Yesterday, I flew back to Toronto from Nova Scotia. As you may have heard, the East Coast (as well as Ontario, Quebec, and the American Midwest) got rather a lot of snow yesterday, so my flight was delayed. Since my mum drove me to the airport in a snowstorm, a delayed flight was a welcome excuse not to rush, and we got there in time to have dinner in the airport pub before hugging goodbye at security. My flight didn’t board for another hour and a bit, but I was knitting and it wasn’t cancelled, so I wasn’t upset.

In journalism, three instances or examples of something in a reasonable period of time is considered a trend, and if that’s the benchmark I think it’s fair to say that delays during holiday travel have become an annual tradition for me. Not a tradition of my own making (I’m not missing flights or anything), but nonetheless, I’m getting good at waiting patiently in airports, not freaking out about bad weather, and mentally preparing for cancellations.

So, delayed flight? No problem. I had a snack in my carry on; I had a sock to finish and another ball of yarn wound and ready in case I needed it; I had two books – in short, I was not worried. The flight boarded and when the woman I was sitting next to asked me to put away my knitting for take off, I said “no problem” and leafed through the in-flight magazine until she said she was okay with me knitting again (I was quietly annoyed, but it was a bumpy flight and she seemed nervous about everything, so whatever, it’s the holidays). I knit through the turbulence all the way to Ottawa (an hour and 45 minutes or so). My nervous neighbour disembarked. I knit while we sat on the ground. I knit through the announcement that the flight was going to be diverted to Hamilton.

Let’s pause here so I can point out that, when the plane lands at the Toronto Island airport, I’m 20 minutes from home, but when it lands in Hamilton, I’m nearly two hours from home. I knit through that and despite being annoyed, decided that it was better than having to spend the night in Ottawa. The airline said they’d have a free shuttle to bring us to Toronto, so I was still going to get home. In bad weather, this is what you have to cling to.

I finished knitting my sock on that flight and then proceeded to sew in the ends. All fifty million little ends (well, there were 12, but that felt like a lot). The light was bad, but by the time we landed, I was almost done. I picked up my luggage (both bags made it!) and got on the warm and waiting shuttle. I finished sewing in my ends, had a nap, arrived in Toronto, grabbed the second cab that pulled up, and was home by 2 a.m. Yes, that’s later than I was expecting to be there, but honestly, only by about two hours, so I considered myself lucky. L and Ganymede aren’t home yet, so our apartment was dark, but it was warm, and there was lots of fun mail, so it wasn’t a terrible homecoming.

It was when I opened my bag to get out my pajamas and whatnot that I got the sense something might be wrong. There was this smell. It was sweet, and unmistakably sticky, and rather coffee-ish. I am, generally, a very slow unpacker. It drives L crazy, but I can’t help it; I hate unpacking. Nonetheless, I went in to investigate. Kahlua. The smell was Kahlua, and it was everywhere. I had packed a bottle in my bag (a gift from my sister) and I guess the pressure must have been too much because the lid of the bottle just sheared right off. When I pulled out the bottle to assess the damage, it was dangerously light, and that’s when I realized how bad it was: not a drop, not a small spill, but an entire bottle of dark brown, sticky liqueur had emptied into my bag. The truly miraculous thing is that it managed to get on every single white object in there while leaving almost all the dark (majority) of my clothes entirely untouched.

Gingerly, I began pulling alcohol soaked shirts and dresses out of my pack. It was like some sort of twisted Rorschach Test – can you really handle holiday travel? what do you see in this impending stain? – and as it became clear that all my favourite clothes were soaked, I held it together. It’s just clothing, I told myself, totally replaceable. Then, oh god, then I pulled out a skein of beautiful hand-dyed yarn that my mum had given me for Chrismtas and discovered it soaked through and I just about lost it. That’s right: delays, diversions, alcohol soaked clothes – all nothing; but three skeins of damaged yarn? Tears. Only two or three, though, because who has time to cry when your wardrobe is on the verge or irreparable stains and your yarn is damaged? (I have no photos of any of this because, although it is excellent blog fodder, it didn’t occur to me to take photos until after everything was in the water. Use your imagination, I doubt you’re picturing something worse than the reality.)

Thank goodness I’m a knitter. We are, without a doubt, the best equipped to do major hand washing, and I sprang into action. SOAK is a lifesaver. Alongside Spray and Wash, I think I may have saved everything. Seriously. Everything was still so wet that nothing had a chance to set, so after dousing it all with stain remover, I plunged it into a bucket of warm water filled with SOAK and left it there overnight. This morning the water was the colour of dark toffee, but my clothes came out stain free. The yarn I rinsed (carefully) in very hot water and hung to dry, it looks okay I think.

I may never be able to drink (or smell) Kahlua again, and I still have to do a proper clean of my bag, and I’m pretty sleep deprived, but I’m home. And, as a gift to L, I’m unpacked uncharacteristically early. I can only hope that if you have holiday travelling ahead of you that it goes more smoothly!

Oh, the socks? Here’s a shot of them finished (but unblocked – I’ve been a little busy). I’ll do a proper post about them later.

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It’s Boxing Day and the knitting is easy

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I finished! It was a bit close – I cast off and blocked my dad’s hat on Christmas Eve – but I finished on time and without tears. What makes this really impressive (at least to me) is that on Dec. 20, after arriving in New Brunswick, I cast on for my Christmas socks because I needed some public knitting. I worked on them at my grandparents’ (and then knit on the mittens in secret at night) and then in the car on the way to Nova Scotia (a 4.5 hours drive) and then around the house, and managed to finish the first one in just three days! So, that means I finished a mitten, knit two thumbs, most of a hat, and a sock in four days. While socializing and shopping and eating and everything else that the holidays require. Not bad, I say.

I was just starting the pattern of the second sock on Christmas morning.

I was just starting the pattern of the second sock on Christmas morning.

I’ll do a proper Christmas post later this week, but I just wanted to pop in and wish you all Happy Holidays – I hope your Christmas (or just your Tuesday, if you don’t celebrate) was wonderful and well spent. I’m never sure if this is my last Christmas at home, so I always try to make the most of it, including going on chilly hikes with my dad on Christmas day. Here are a few shots from that to carry you through your turkey leftovers.

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We’ve hiked the same trail on Christmas day for years, and it never disappoints.

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If you look closely, you can see that my dad is wearing his new hat.

If you look closely, you can see that my dad is wearing his new hat.

The tide was mostly in when we started, but way out by the time we got back to the car.

The tide was mostly in when we started, but way out by the time we got back to the car.