Tag Archives: gift knits

To the Brig


Every year for the last three years winters, I have knit L a hat. (I can’t say years, since I missed 2013 entirely, but oh well.) I still haven’t gotten it quite right, but there’s nothing like a challenge to keep you on the case.

It comes so close to matching the scarf I knit him! Maybe a Brig scarf is in order some day?

It comes so close to matching the scarf I knit him! Maybe a Brig scarf is in order some day?

This year, for his birthday (which was yesterday!) I knit him Brig by Veronik Avery, which was part of Brooklyn Tweed’s BT Men collection. I even used Shelter, which I picked up when I was in New York in October. I know that some people find Shelter a little scratchy, but I love it. It offers a rustic look but is, in my opinion anyway, very soft and pleasant to wear, especially after blocking.


For some reason, I thought it would knit up tightly (my Scrollwork came out a bit small, you may recall) so while I didn’t go up my usual needle size, it didn’t even occur to me to go down a needle size. But, the thing about Shelter is that it’s loosely spun. This makes it airy and light and warm, but it also makes it a bit fragile, so where I might usually pull on the yarn to keep it tight, with Shelter I didn’t. The result is a hat that fits, but maybe not with the amount of negative ease you might want in a hat.

L doesn't usually go for the slouchy look, but I have to say, I am a fan, especially for the days when he's working at the computer and wants to keep the hair out of his eyes.

L doesn’t usually go for the slouchy look, but I have to say, I am a fan, especially for the days when he’s working at the computer and wants to keep the hair out of his eyes.

Long story short, I will probably knit this again. L really likes the classic watch-cap-ness of the design and the colour, and since he’s wearing it today, I know this version will get worn and loved. It won’t be the toasty hat, cold day go-to that I wanted it to be though, so maybe this will be the year of two hats! We shall see.

Pattern: Brig (hat) by Veronik Avery
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Artifact
Needles: 4.5mm
Details: I knit the hat until it measured 8.25 inches from the cast on. Then I started the decreases, doing the first section all at once (rather than every other row) because I was worried it was getting too long. I knit the rest of the crown as written. Ravelled here.


What I knit this Christmas


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.


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.


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.

There’s a moose in these mittens!


Well, okay, technically they’re gloves, but since I’m not at the fingers yet it doesn’t matter. What does matter, though, is that the moose is starting to appear, and he is looking very moose-y indeed.

I cast on for these mittens gloves (L does not wear mittens) on Saturday, which is a pretty late start considering that his birthday is on Thursday. Honestly, I was just so tired of working on deadline stuff that I wanted to just knit for myself for a few days. Of course, now I’m under the gun and L probably won’t get these on his birthday, which he says he’s okay with (I suspect he’s weighing an on-time birthday gift against my mental health, and I’m pleased to see he values the latter more).

Anyway, moose gloves. I cast on on Saturday and by the end of the day I was finished the cuff and feeling quite pleased with myself.

The red is proving very hard to photograph and, while it is bright, it's not quite this garish.

The red is proving very hard to photograph and, while it is bright, it’s not quite this garish.

I then had virtually no glove-knitting time on Sunday or Monday, but did manage to squeeze in a little time on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. I worked on them a bit this morning and am only eight rows from the top of the hand (as charted, I might add a few extra rows for safety). I have never knit gloves before, but I’ve been trying these on L as I go, and so far I think they’re working out.

It really does look like a moose, doesn't it?

It really does look like a moose, doesn’t it?

Ideally I’d like to buckle down and get this one mostly finished this weekend, but I’m going to a baby shower on Sunday and since the sweater I’m going to knit still looks like this

The parents aren't telling whether it's a boy or a girl, but I think this can go either way. (In case you're curious, it's Indigodragonfly DK Superwash in "Fringe Over Troubled Water")

The parents aren’t telling whether it’s a boy or a girl, but I think this can go either way. (In case you’re curious, it’s Indigodragonfly DK Superwash in “Fringe Over Troubled Water”)

well, I think baby knitting might take priority. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just knit a little hat for the shower and deliver the sweater later (thus leaving time to hopefully tackle at least a few fingers)? The baby isn’t due until the end of March, so in my head this seems like a reasonable plan – what do you think?

I can see the finish line


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Tomorrow, I get on a plane and head east to spend the holidays with my family. My original knitting plan was to be done everything today, so that tomorrow I could cast on my holiday socks knowing that everyone else was taken care of. Strictly speaking, that isn’t what’s going to happen, but I’m so close I can feel it.

Often with this blog absences indicate low knitting activity. I’m not working on much, or what I am knitting is boring to photograph repeatedly, so I don’t blog because I don’t want to bore. These last two weeks have been the opposite. There has been no time to blog because I have been knitting like a crazy person. For a while, I actually had an open cut on my left index finger because of the near constant pressure of the needle tip (this makes for painful knitting, and is not recommended).

On Friday, I finished L’s hat (I gave it to him on Sunday and it was very well received). On Saturday I finished the foot tubes. On Sunday I finished the first of my sister’s re-started mittens (minus the thumb, of course, since thumbs are last). I cast on for the second mitten on Sunday and am only 20 rows from finished (and since 15 of those rows are the decreases, that’s a quick 20 rows).

So close!

So close!

I don't know what it says about me that I always like the palm side of fair-isle mittens the best.

I don’t know what it says about me that I always like the palm side of fair-isle mittens the best.

I cast on for my dad’s hat on Monday, and am trucking right along (I’m knitting this one, in case you were also looking for a speedy man’s hat). If I didn’t have to work and pack and run last-minute errands today, I would totally be done everything before getting on the plane tomorrow. That’s a lot of ifs, I know, but still, all things considered I’m feeling okay about this. (I also still have to sew the lining into my mum’s tea cozy, but since the lining itself is done, that seems like no big deal. It’s no big deal, right?)

My new plan for tomorrow is to finish the hat and mitten on the plane. I’ll do the thumbs and tea cozy at night, and then I’ll be done! And then what, you ask? Well, as a treat for myself I’m going to knit these Cranberry Biscotti socks. I picked up some Koigu at the shop last week, and it’s all wound and in a project bag and ready to go. I may not quite be casting on on the plane, but it’ll be darn close, and that’s still okay with me.

*I promise proper FO photos after everything has been gifted, and in the meantime apologize for the crappy quality of the photos. It’s hard to get good shots when you’re trying to be both quick and sneaky.

Just like starting over


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

So, I made the hard decision. I went into the stash, assessed the Louet Gems colourways I had in there, chose two that approximated the colours I really wanted to be using, and then sat down to start again. Then I started thinking about the pattern, and how much recharting and fiddling the Dancing Grannies mittens were going to require (and then realized these need to be done by the 20th) and decided to start over again – new yarn, new pattern, new mitts. I’ve abandoned the plan, and while I know it was the right thing to do, I’m feeling a little time crunched and nervous about it.

I’m knitting these Lily mittens instead. They’re from the same book, and did require recharting (I’m adding a fourth layer of blossoms and an extra set of thumb increases, as well as borders), but it was pretty straightforward. Also, I realized that part of the trouble with the Dancing Grannies was that the floats were too long to allow for maximum stretchiness. That, combined with such a fine yarn made for mittens that were likely to end up too tight to be comfortable. The Louet is gorgeous and springy and has amazing stitch definition, so while it isn’t as fancy as the Road to China, it is still going to produce some pretty lovely mittens.

The colour is weird here, but it's a sort of light, leafy green with navy blue.

The colour is weird here, but it’s a sort of light, leafy green with navy blue.

(In case you were wondering, I didn’t actually rip out the other ones. I was going to, but I know someone with narrow hands who would probably love them, so they’re sitting on waste yarn and will one day be finished.)

Dancing Grannies


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Last night, I finished the first of the foot tubes. I’m two days ahead of schedule on those, and it feels awesome. So much of my anxiety about my Christmas knitting was wrapped up in knitting these giant bed socks, but it turned out all I needed was a plan (two inches per day) and they became totally manageable.

Of course, because it’s the holidays and everything going right is boring, I’m starting to worry about my sister’s mittens. I picked out the pattern ages ago and cast on this week. They’re from the same book as Carmen’s mitts, so I had a general ideal of what to worry about going in. I recharted the pattern before starting (see, I’m learning), adding four stitches around and 12 rows to the length of the hand (I also lengthened the cuff). The problem, though, is that I think I’m using the wrong yarn. I’m actually pretty much convinced that I’m using the wrong yarn, but it’s so nice that I don’t want to admit it to myself.

For Carmen’s mittens I used Cascade 220 sport, which is 100% superwash merino and was quite nice to work with. For my sister, though, I chose The Fibre Company Road to China Light. It’s also a sport weight (although it looks quite like fingering), and it’s a blend of alpaca, silk, camel, and cashmere. Can you say soft? I mean, this yarn is so, so soft. So. Soft. It is beautiful to work with and, I think, would prove quite warm and yummy to wear. It is finer than the Cascade, though, so I went up a needle size to balance out the gauge. This thing is, I don’t think it’s enough. I’m worried this yarn isn’t as stretchy as the wool (it isn’t – duh, Angela, silk content) and so while my sister’s hands are a little smaller than mine, I rather suspect she’ll have equal trouble pushing them into this mitt. At least part of this is due to the very long floats required by the Dancing Grannies pattern. I’m keeping my floats extra-loose, but with less-than-stretchy yarn, there’s only so much you can do.

About a third of the way through the hand.

About a third of the way through the hand.

So this is where I have to make the tough choice: Push ahead and risk ending up with a finished mitten that’s definitely too small, and realize there isn’t enough time to replace it; push ahead and witness a knitting miracle in which the finished mitten is the perfect size and totally beloved by my sister; or suck it up – rip it out and start over with a different yarn (I have some Louet Gems sport weight in acceptable colours in my stash). What would you do? I’m leaning toward ripping, but first I’m going to try blocking what I have. It’ll still be on the needles, but maybe the yarn will grow enough to give me hope (yes, that’s right, I didn’t swatch. Ugh.) I have to decide this weekend, though. If I restart on Monday (or, better yet, Sunday night) I’ll still make it, but any later than that and it’ll be very tight.

At least the foot tubes are working out?

Problem solved!


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

I rather suspect it’s too much to ask for you to read two posts in a row about a stupid tea cozy, so I’ll keep this short: I figured it out. Yes, it took me four hours yesterday of ripping and reknitting and ripping and reknitting to get it right, but when I did, oh, I felt so clever I could have cried. Truly, there is nothing like knitting to make you feel smart (and sometimes also stupid, but lets leave that aside for now).

I as I mentioned, I wanted to try and use the moccasin sock technique for the top. Mostly, that’s because I wanted the tea cozy to be rounded on the ends, allowing for an easy fit over the spout and handle of my parents’ generously sized teapot. Often tea cozies are designed pretty flat (that is, the two sides could basically be knit flat and then seamed together) and while this is a tried and true method, I wanted something a little different.

Behold, the moccasin-topped tea cozy:

So much better than my previous attempt!

So much better than my previous attempt!

I love it. I kind of hated it while I was doing it (you try meticulously tinking about six ever-increasing rows stitch by stitch and see if you don’t hate it by the end), but I’m very pleased about the result. Now all it needs are its ends woven in, its side duplicate stitched (I think the beginning of the round side looks sloppy where I was simultaneously decreasing and starting/stopping the stripes), and a lining sewn. Truly, all of that seems totally doable now that I’m conquered the top.

Side view. This is very generous in size and an accurate portrayal of the colours.

Side view. This is very generous in size and an accurate portrayal of the colours.

Now, I promise there will be no more tea cosy talk until I have a proper FO shot after Christmas!

The never ending tea cozy


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Yesterday, I finished the tea cozy. Or, I at least bound-off, but in this case that isn’t really finishing. First of all, I don’t like how it looks, so I’m going to have to rip it out anyway, which is annoying, but should be worth it in the end. Secondly, this thing is going to be lined, which will give it both structure and warmth, and that still needs to be done. Honestly, this tea cozy is never ending. (As before, photos at the bottom.)

I have a plan, though. When I bound off the first time, I used a three-needle bind-off and, honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. I hate the ridge; I knew I would hate the ridge; I did it anyway. Stupid. So, I’m going to rip it out. I’m also going to take about a half-inch off the top (if you’re ripping, why not go big, right?) and try something else. I think this might be a little crazy, but I’m going to try shaping the top of this tea cozy the same way Elizabeth Zimmerman shaped the bottom of her moccasin socks. I know.


The thing is, I don’t want a rounded, almost-pointy top. I want to decrease to a point, and then have a sort of smooth flat-ish top (it sounds better in my head). The only trouble with that is how to shape it. I don’t want a rectangle – which I have now – so I’m casting about for ways to make it rounder – any ideas? I came up with the moccasin sock idea because (and I’m little embarrassed, so don’t judge) I was looking for a post-Christmas knitting project. I need a carrot to finish in time (or even early) and I like knitting socks for myself over the holidays, so I was planning. It’s just a little motivational push, and I think that’s mostly okay since it isn’t like I’m casting on or anything*.

Okay, that sad little admission out there and I’m going back to the tea cozy. And also the foot tubes, which are zipping along – I figured I needed to knit two inches a day to be done on time, and so far that has been entirely manageable. If I can get this tea cozy under control I might even cast on mittens today.


*I’m not casting on, but I am thinking about it a lot. I’m thinking I’ll either knit Monkeys in a red skein of indigodragonfly I have in my stash, or a pair of these in a green skein of SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock (kind of similar, I know). What do you think?



Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

No, I am not buried under some big pile of yarn. Nearly, but not quite. That pile I showed you earlier has gotten a little smaller, but it still looms large every time I sit at my desk, which was meant to be inspiring but it starting to be just plain intimidating. It is the last day of November, and I’m not quite where I want to be.

I did finish the mittens for my grandmother (photo and details at the bottom of the post, just in case my family is trying to sneak a peek), and I am very pleased with them. They were a speedy and fun knit, and I now want a pair for myself more than ever. And, in fact, I had had the pattern queued (with the dark brown Maritime Wool in mind) for months. I love this pattern, and I hope my granny will too. So, that’s one more finished thing into the Christmas bag.

The tea cozy continues. I did end up running out of wool, and that plus the mittens has put it back a ways. It only has a couple of inches more to go, though, and since my decreasing has increased (if you see what I mean), each row is getting shorter and quicker, and I think I can buckle down and get it done this weekend. The knitting is only part of it though, since I plan to sew a lining and then sandwich a bat of wool between the lining and the knitted shell. It never ends.

I also cast on and ripped out (twice!) the hat I’m knitting for L. I knit him a hat last year for his birthday and it’s quite fuzzy and sad looking now, so he’s due for a replacement. I love the yarn, found the perfect pattern, and have somehow managed to screw it up twice. I’ve been thinking about it, though, and I have a plan of action now, so I’m thinking third time’s the charm. (Cross your fingers.)

Also on the needles are my grampa’s bed socks (also known fondly as foot tubes). He is a tall man with big feet, so yes, these are going to be big. They are my walking around knitting, and I will be knitting them for the next twenty days – I really, really, hope that’s enough time (bearing in mind that there are a few other knits to fit in too).

Not yet on the needles are my sister’s mittens (these ones), which I estimate will take two weeks or so, and my dad’s hat, which I have yet to chart out. Um, yes. That seems crazy. Twenty-five days – here we go.


I will get a nicer photo one of these days.

Pattern: Wood Hollow Mittens by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Goldenrod (#7827)
Needles: Addi Lace 3.75 mm
Modifications: Not many, actually. I knit these in the magic loop, so to keep the stitch count even on both needles through the ribbing (I like to end my ribbing on a purl), I cast on 44 stitches and then, after the ribbing, increased to 46. I also needed a little more height before decreasing for the top, so I flipped the chart. After decreasing, it seemed that, despite all the socks I knit, I am incapable of working a smooth Kitchener Stitch in worsted weight (I tried it three times, every time it came out with purl bumps and I have no idea why), so I just turned the mitten inside out and did a three-needle bind-off on the inside. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it worked. My other work around was that since I seem to have lost my 3.75mm dpns (how? where? I have no idea) I used 3.25mm needles for the thumbs. To compensate, I picked up four extra stitches. You can hardly tell and I suspect (hope) that the difference will block right out. (Ravelled here.)

All in all, this pattern was fun and super fast. I will be making myself a pair (with other modifications) in the New Year.

Reality check


Before I begin: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Okay, today is one month from Christmas Eve, the date by which I would like to be entirely finished my Christmas knitting and happily enjoying my family’s many holiday traditions. We’re a family who does the same thing the same way every year, and we like it like that, so me holing myself up in my room to knit secret things would put a real damper on that. That means it’s time to get real about what I have to knit and when things need to be done.

Details on everything to be revealed in good time. But, on the off chance my family ignored my warnings, I don’t want to be too specific yet.

That pile of yarn? That all has to be knitted into things by the holidays. I’d say Christmas, but some of it has an earlier delivery date. I was actually a little overwhelmed for a minute, and then I decided to break it down. In that pile is: two pairs of mittens, one hat, and one pair of large men’s bed socks. That, to me, seemed reasonable when I broke it down. And then I realized something was missing. Kindly add this ball into the above picture (it, too, is destined to be a hat):

So, that’s two pairs of mittens (one cabled, the other fair isle); two hats (one in fair isle that exists only in my head, the other a sort of textured pattern); and large bed socks. Is it crazy to think that I’ll get all that done in what is, essentially, four weeks? Clearly I will not knit a stitch for myself during that time, but I do have two jobs and a life that needs some maintaining. I won’t lie, I’m a little worried. But maybe that’s healthy? The kind of worry that will propel me instead of result in me crying in a corner while clutching needles and wool? I think so. And really, I can’t be the only knitter looking at their to-knit list and wondering if they’ve gone crazy, right?

In addition to all of this, I still have the tea cozy to finish, but there are only a few inches left, so I think I’m okay. The only concern I have is that I’m likely to run out of wool. I can get more, so it isn’t a disaster, but I would rather figure out how to make what I have work. I was going to just power through and finish it this weekend, but honestly, I’m so tired of knitting plain stockinette that I think I’m going to cast on one of the mittens just to spice things up a little. It’s all holiday knitting, though right, so it’s not cheating.

So, stripes: Too random? Just random enough?

Anyway, what do you think of the striping? I’m making it up as I go along – thoughts?

(Aside: L just came in and asked what I was doing. “Nothing you need to worry about,” I said. “Uh oh,” he replied, “Sounds like it is.” “No no,” I said, “Just about Christmas knitting.” “How much you have to knit and how much time you have to do it?” “Yeah.” “So why are you blogging about it instead of knitting?” Humph. What a cheeky man.)