Tag Archives: gift knitting

All the things


How do you blog about things that you can’t photograph or even really talk about? That’s the question I’ve been mulling for the last two weeks, and I’m not sure I’ve totally figured it out. I am knitting away over here, casting on new things and finishing others, and I can’t yet tell you about any of them! (Though, if you’re on Ravelry, you can obviously check them out on my project page…) In the meantime, here’s what all of that knitting looks like clustered on our mantle.

November is such a dark month.

November is such a dark month.

I am knitting away, and at least one of these projects I can actually show you (and will! later this week). After that, I do have a plan to carry this blog through until I start knitting things I can properly show off. As part of that, is there anything you’d like to see here (besides holiday spoilers, of course)? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

Twin set



Last week, my childhood friend Morgan had twins. Twin boys. Obviously, we knew she was expecting twins, so back in the fall I decided to knit little sweaters for her babies, then sex-unknown. It’s a joint gift from my mum and I, since our parents are friends: my mum bought the yarn and I did the knitting, which is a pretty good deal, really.

Besides the yarn choice, I had to choose a pattern. I wanted to do something complementary, but not completely the same, so either the same pattern twice in different colours, or the same colour twice in different patterns. My mum and I both preferred the first option, and after that it was a pretty easy choice to go with Sunnyside by Tanis Lavallee.


I picked out the yarn before Christmas. I will admit that I thought she’d have a boy and a girl, so I picked unisex colours that played into that a little. I cast on the first little sweater after finishing my holiday socks, and it was my first finished knit of 2014. Then I got distracted and knit other things before casting on the second sweater. I wasn’t even through the raglan increases when Morgan had the babies, but that’s okay. Twins are little (just over 5 lbs each!) so it takes them a bit to fit into full-sized baby clothes.


I knit the smallest size almost exactly as written, but I mashed up the two options a little. I really liked the back and forth of the lace pattern, but for a more unisex look thought cables would be better (not that babies care). So, I just did back and forth cables. I was initially going to mirror the cables on each sweater, but then I thought it was more fun to mirror one sweater to the other.

I’m really happy with the results, which will go in the mail later today/tomorrow. The yarn (Malabrigo sock for both) is so soft and snuggly and I really like the colours, even if the blue does kind of obscure the cables a little. After knitting this little sweater twice, I can definitely see myself going back to it. I’d like to knit it as written, and maybe also with braided cables, and I do like the lace option. So fun.


Pattern: Sunnyside by Tanis Lavallee
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Lotus (pink/green) and Caribeno
Needles: 3.75mm
Notes: Pretty much knit exactly as written. I started the buttonholes later (on the ninth rather than the fifth row) and then carried on every 20th row as written, which ended up working out perfectly at the bottom spacing-wise. I also did back-and-forth cables instead of the rope cables in the chart. So: on sweater one I alternated cable right and cable left, and the second sweater I alternated cable left and cable right, which gave me zig-zag cables that mirrored each other. I also did five rows of garter stitch at the cuffs and the bottom hem, to match the neck. They’re ravelled here and here.

Now is not the time for complicated


For a while there, I thought I was crazy for leaving a pair of men’s socks to the end of my planned holiday knitting, but there was a method to that madness, and I’m remembering it now. Plain stockinette is really relaxing. I’m just close enough to my deadline (Dec. 19), with just enough to do between now and then, that I’m a touch distracted. Not very distracted, but the kind of distracted that could, for example, lead you you to forget a yarn-over, or get  off-course in slightly irregular ribbing.

Just an inch from dividing for the heel on sock #2.

Just an inch from dividing for the heel on sock #2. What do you think of my heel stripe?

It’s not the kind of distracted that leads to big mistakes, it’s the kind that leads you to think that you’re find until you realize your stitch count is off without providing an obvious answer as to why (little mistakes are often so much harder to find). The answer to this is plain stockinette, which allows your mind to wander without any potentially frustrating mistakes.

That being said, of course, I got off by one stitch in the heel of the first sock and there’s a line. I didn’t notice until I was picking up the gussets (clearly I should look down at my hands once in a while) and decided not to rip back. I might try to match it on the second sock so it looks intentional, or I might leave it as a handmade reminder. I’m torn between annoyance and being slightly charmed – what do you think?

This isn’t quite my last holiday knitting, but the last thing on my needles before the holidays is very hush-hush, so you’ll just have to wait for that reveal. A little secrecy at this time of year just makes it more fun!

Surprise! (Are you tired of looking at the same projects all the time? I am a bit.) I have big plain-stockinette-socks plans for after the holidays. This Koigu features prominently.

Unrelated, gratuitous yarn photo! (Are you tired of looking at the same projects all the time? I am a bit.) I have big plain-stockinette-socks plans for after the holidays. This Koigu features prominently.

(Ps. Thanks for all your commiseration on my last post! My new computer is working out quite nicely and not at all the reason I haven’t blogged since.)

Peace out November


Let me just say, I am not sorry to see the back of November. It wasn’t an awful month, but it was an annoying one: On Nov. 2 I lost my transit pass (worth $128, and necessary to replace) and that just started the month off for disaster, which ultimately struck last week when the pipe to our bathroom sink’s hot water faucet broke and (unrelatedly, but on the same day) my laptop died. Basically, this was the most expensive month possible for boring and annoying reasons.

I knit two rows past this point, decided they were too big, and ripped. I'm almost back to that point and feeling much better.

I knit two rows past this point, decided they were too big, and ripped. I’m almost back to that point and feeling much better.

BUT, now it’s December, and I’m starting fresh. I finished both L’s socks (on the day I posted about them) and my mum’s shawl (last night) in November, so now I’m working away on my dad’s socks, which are the last big holiday project. I did have to rip them out (I cast on last night and should clearly have known better), but I restarted on a smaller needle and everything is ticking along.

All of which is to say, I have a good feeling about December. I have 17 knitting days left before I need to be done, and right now that feels totally doable. How are you feeling?

The benefits of one-on-one attention


I think it’s safe to say we all know one-on-one time is important in relationships, but as a not-very-monogamous knitter I sometimes forget that the same can apply to my knitting.

I’m hoping to finish both the holiday projects currently on my needles by the end of the month, which is also the end of the week. I can never be sure how much knitting time I’ll get during the week, but I figure if I get one thing done now, I can buckle down on the other over the weekend.

I am still so in love with this colourway.

I am still so in love with this colourway.

I just started the toe decreases for the second of L’s socks, so I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be finished by the end of the week (possibly the end of the day, but I don’t want to jinx myself).

I never thought I'd be so enchanted by ruffles.

I never thought I’d be so enchanted by ruffles.

The shawl is another matter. My plan is to double the number of edging repeats in the body. I want this to be easy to wear, which means it needs to be long enough to comfortable drape over both shoulders without needing a lot of readjusting. My Oaklet ended up being 49 inches long, and I think that’s the shortest I’d want to go. This does have a slightly curved shape, which tends to fit a bit better than a straight-across triangle, but still. I’ll probably gain a couple of inches in blocking, but I don’t want to count on that to make the minimum. So, repeat, repeat, repeat until I hit the 20g mark, which is when I’ll have to start decreasing. Each row is about the same as a round on a sock, so unless the weekend becomes insanely busy, I think I’ll be okay.

That’s the game plan, anyway. Do work out little schedules and deadlines for yourself? Do you ever manage to stick to this timelines?

A quick update


I e-mailed my parents this morning to ask them (nicely) to stay clear of this space between now and the holidays. Assuming they don’t want to ruin Christmas, they will do just that, which means I’ll be able to post about their gifts without worrying.

Anyway, I can’t be quite so sure about my sisters, who may cave to the temptation of knowing only to then be filled with regret (we have never really been holiday snoopers, since the surprise is so much fun, but if things are left out in the open…). To that end, if you’d like to see the finished Saltburn socks, they are here. I’ll do proper posts for all these gift knits after the holidays, but in the meantime, I’m keeping finished shots on Ravelry where they are safe.

I finished Saltburn on Sunday and, since there’s a deadline looming, cast on immediately for the next project in my queue (the one in my head, not the one on Ravelry). I wanted a break from socks (I’m still knitting Charade, but it’s nice to have different things on the needles) so I cast on for a shawl. My mum, after seeing my Oaklet shawl, requested a little shawl like that for Christmas. She made this request in February, so it’s entirely possible she’s forgotten all about it since then, but I didn’t.

Casbah in Ruby Red (best guess, since she doesn't label her skeins)

Casbah in Ruby Red (best guess, since she doesn’t label her skeins)

I debated a lot about colour. My mum wears a lot of colour, so I thought maybe a neutral would be the most versatile, but after talking to my dad about it I went back to my original plan and colour it is. I picked up this gorgeous skein of Handmaiden Casbah when I was in Nova Scotia in the summer and it has been waiting for the right project to hit me ever since.

Knitting a shawl for someone else can be tricky. For my mum, I wanted something pretty, but not fussy, and something deep enough that it would cover that little exposed V of skin that v-neck sweater and button-down shirts leave, but not be so deep as to cover her entire shirt. Basically, I wanted it to be easy to wear and something she could dress up or down, and also something I’d enjoy knitting.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on one pattern. My first thought was the Travelling Woman shawl, which has easy to wear lace, but I thought it might not have long enough wings to wear easily. I then settled on Bakau (I love the edging so, so much) but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe it’s more me than my mum (watch for this turning up on my needles in the near future). I also only have one skein of this yarn, and I’m not sure that’s quite enough yardage.

I am so taken with the squishiness of the garter stitch.

I am so taken with the squishiness of the garter stitch.

Then, I started seeing the Charm shawl by Juju Vail popping up all over the place. I’ll admit that I wasn’t convinced at first, but it grew on me and once I cast on I was smitten. It’s knit side to side, has a clever construction, and it’s pretty. I’m knitting the small version, but I might make it a bit deeper than the pattern suggests and just note the weight of yarn I need to hold back for decreasing, which means I’ll also be able to use the whole skein.

What do you think? Am I totally over-thinking this or do you get like this when planning gift knitting?

Socktober debrief


Yes, yes, I know it’s November, but I am certainly still knitting socks. I managed to finish just one of the pairs of socks I set out to knit last month, but since I knew my plans were a little on the unrealistic side, I’m not too broken up about it.



To recap: I finished the Stepping-Stones for my mum and mailed them (she received them about a week later and said they fit perfectly and were keeping her warm, which is excellent feedback). I really like this pattern, and I have several stashed yarns that would perfect for more pairs (maybe this time for me!) once the mid-winter chill sets in and my feet really need something extra.

I'm farther along now than I was when I took this picture.

I’m farther along now than I was when I took this picture.

All the other socks remain outstanding. I finished the first Saltburn sock and am a cuff and two repeats into the second. I’m knitting these at the rather absurd gauge of 10.5 stitches per inch, so it’s slow-ish going. Why so tight? Well, as with most charted patterns, the jump between sizes is specific (in this case, 9 stitches). I’m knitting the medium size on a smaller needle (rather than the small size on a larger needle) because generally speaking the tighter the gauge the longer they’ll last. I knit a pair of socks at 11 stitches to the inch and, almost two years and a ton of wear later, they’re still in amazing shape. But yeah, it’s slower.

Mushroom Hunting is a perfect, perfect name for this colour.

Mushroom Hunting is a perfect, perfect name for this colour.

I’m not as far along on L’s Charade socks – just half-way through the foot of the first sock. These were my transit knitting, but then I started a really good book* and wanted to read both to and from work (for a while there I was reading on the way there and knitting on the way back), so they got put aside, through no fault of their own. The more I knit this colourway, the more I love it, and with only a couple of inches to go before the toe, this sock won’t take long to finish.

So, there you go. In aggregate, I guess I knit four socks, but since the sum greater than its parts, that only adds up to one finished pair. In a surprise twist, though, I did finish the Riverbank cowl! It’s lovely and, while I don’t have and proper photos to post here (and won’t until after it’s gifted), I’ll post some on my Ravelry page once I get around to taking them.

This month looks like more socks, plus a shawl, and since it’s getting ever colder, I might have to take a quick break from the gift knits to whip myself up a hat – I’m thinking this one. What are your November plans? When I left the house today I was wearing hand-knit wool socks, sweater, shawl, and mittens – are covered in wool yet too?

*Edited to add: I fully meant to tell you what the book was – sorry! I was thoroughly captivated by A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. It is so, so wonderful, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

A change is as good as a rest


No, I did not cast on for a sweater, despite all your encouragement (what a bunch of enablers!). Instead, with the holidays in mind, I cast on for another gift, this one in a worsted weight yarn for guaranteed speedy progress and a little break for my hands.

I really love this super-dense ribbing.

I really love this super-dense ribbing.

And you know what? It totally worked. This is Riverbank by Melissa Thomson, which is fun and textural and knitting up super fast. It actually feels a bit like knitting a sweater since I’m using the same yarn as I used for my Woodstove Season cardigan (though in a different colour) and there are a about as many stitches per round. It’s actually the perfect compromise, with the added bonus of meaning I’ll be finished one gift by the end of the week.

SweetGeorgia SW Worsted in China Doll (which guarantees I get  the David Bowie song stuck in my head every time I pick this up.)

SweetGeorgia SW Worsted in China Doll (which guarantees I get the David Bowie song stuck in my head every time I pick this up.)

Of course, it’ll be my speediest gift knit, which means I should probably have saved it until the end, but oh well. It kept me busy and entertained during a very grey and rainy Saturday while L was away, and even though I don’t really wear cowls I’m kind of thinking I’d like one of these for myself! There’s no risk of my stealing this one though, since it’s the exact colour of my winter coat, and that’s just a little too matchy for my taste. Maybe in grey…?

My favourite time of year



Every fall, L and I make a point of choosing a day and going on some crazy walk around part of the city to look at all the fall colours. One of the best things about Toronto is that its downtown is criss-crossed by ravines, which are open to the public and allow you to walk between very different parts of the city without having to deal with (or often, even hear) traffic. It’s like a secret world, and it’s really, really lovely.



We walked down the Beltline Trail to the Evergreen Brickworks, an area that used to be a quarry and brick factory but a few years ago was repurposed into a public park with interpretive trails, event spaces, and community classes about gardening, green living, etc. It’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to get to for years, but never have, and Sunday was the perfect day.

View of the city centre from the back of the old quarry, with the Brickworks buildings in the foreground. You just just see the CN Tower over to the right.

View of the city centre from the side of the old quarry, with the Brickworks buildings in the foreground. You just just see the CN Tower over to the right.

It rained just about all day Saturday and then for most of Monday, but Sunday was one of those glorious fall days when it’s hot in the sun and cool in the shade (ideal sweater weather!) and all the colours pop. So, so lovely. L mapped our walk after we got home and we wandered for about 8.5 kilometres (a little over 5 miles) and considering that most of it was in the woods, that’s not bad considering we never left the city.

fall7 fall4

Knitting-wise, I took full advantage of our rainy Saturday.

For once, it occurred to me to take before and after shots at the beginning of the weekend.

For once, it occurred to me to take before and after shots at the beginning of the weekend.

The first Saltburn sock is a couple of repeats away from the toe, so I should be starting the second one this weekend. Charade is also marching right along – something about two-row repeats feels super speedy, despite 72-stitch rows – and I’m really enjoying watching the colours progress. There is definitely some colour spiralling (too soon to say whether it will flash or just maintain this steady turn) at this stitch-count, but it’s slow enough that I don’t think I mind. I’m just an inch or so from dividing for the heel of the first sock.


How was your weekend? Is it fall where you are?

Stepping out


I always overestimate how long it will take to knit up worsted-weight yarn, which means it’s always a nice surprise when I finish earlier than expected! I cast off my mum’s Stepping-Stones Tuesday night and, if I hadn’t decided to block them, they would indeed be in the mail already.

Ta-da! My mum likes tall socks, so I knit these to 7 inches before dividing for the heel.

Ta-da! My mum likes tall socks, so I knit these to 7 inches before dividing for the heel.

Instead, after taking a couple of quick all-finished shots, I looked down at the socks and realized they had some cat hair/miscellaneous dust on them. That’s pretty normal for a pair of socks, either here or at my parents’, but it hardly seems like the condition they should be gifted in, so I threw them in some Soak, thinking they’d dry pretty quickly.

But, it isn’t summer anymore, so instead of drying in less than a day, they’re still quite wet. It’s been a damp and alternately humid and chilly few days, which is not ideal drying weather. Canada Post doesn’t run on the weekends, so it won’t make a huge difference delivery-wise if I get them in the mail on Monday instead of today, but mentally, I’m feeling days behind (instead of ahead, which is more or less where I am, I guess.)

I should note here that schedule is a relative thing, and something that exists solely in my head. I have an idea of more or less when things need to be started and finished in order to not get caught up in holiday knitting stress. Some amount of that seems inevitable, but I would like to be finished before heading to see my family (last year I had part of a fair isle mitten, two thumbs, and a hat to knit when I boarded the plane; I got it finished, but it was close). I’ve learned, though, that it’s best to take stock after the weekend rather than before. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, and while that kind of sucks, it also means I’ll probably get to curl up with my knitting and hang out with L at home, and that sounds not so bad to me.

What does your weekend look like? Are you starting to feel the tug of a gift-knitting schedule?


It is a testament to both the excellent dyeing at indigodragonfly and Clara’s pattern that this yarn didn’t pool in these socks. I love the way the colours moved around.

Pattern: Stepping-Stones by Clara Parkes
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Superwash DK in Fringe Over Troubled Water
Needles: 3.25mm
Notes: I have now knit this pattern in both a solid and a variegated yarn, and I’m happy to report that it works beautifully for both. These photos are bit a dark (see my earlier comment on the weather this week) but the stitch pattern actually does show up pretty nicely even in this dark multi-coloured yarn. I also really like how clingy this stitch pattern is and how easy it is to remember. The only mod I made to the pattern was to use my normal slip-stitch heel in place of the stranded heel given in the pattern. Ravelled here.

Ps. Thank you all for the amazing suggestions for man socks! I cast on for Charade yesterday, and while I’m only in the ribbing (which I’m making extra deep), I’m already loving the way the yarn is knitting up. I ended up giving my Cranberry Biscotti socks to L as they were a bit too big for me and not only are they a good model for what will fit him, but he wore them today, which means I need to bust a move on these ones (when he starts wearing wool socks, you know the weather is cooling down).