If you’ve been reading here anytime since Halloween, you know that I made a fairly ambitious list of projects to knit for Christmas. I blogged about them over the season, but now, at long last, I can reveal the final results!
1. Bag from cotton yarn.
This gift was for my brother, Ed, out in Los Angeles. What do you knit for a brother in southern California?
The Monk’s Travel Satchel
Part briefcase, part luggage. The pattern comes from Interweave Press in the Folk Bags book. I knit it exactly as written, except I substituted Reynolds Saucy yarn for the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that was called for (my LYS didn’t have the right colors in the Cotton Fleece, and I didn’t want to wait for an order).
Side Pocket – there is one on each side of the bag
This is probably the most complex knit I’ve ever attempted. There were large parts – the combination strap and gusset is 33 stitches wide, 74 inches long, and knit entirely in seed stitch. There are multiple pockets – two on the straps, a large one on the back, and a divided one inside the bag. There is contrasting piping created by picking up stitches around entire perimeters of pieces and knitting only a couple of rows. There are four pieces of I-cord to create two frog closures.
Would I do it again? I’m thinking about it, but not immediately. Gryphon is contemplating whether he wants one.
Gryphon and the Satchel
Looks good on him, doesn’t it? We might do different colors, though.
Was it successful? Hell, yes. I was really pleased with how well it came out. And best of all, when my brother opened it Christmas morning (he was in L.A., but we always open our gifts to each other while on speakerphone), he was very happy with it. Sounded like he plans to use it as a briefcase – which he probably needs, having recently been promoted to the top position in the Disney Studio Photo Library.
2. felted bag #1.
This was the first gift I planned for a blog friend. Valerie had surprised me last year when, out of the blue, a yarn winder arrived in the mail for me! Such a wonderful act of spontaneous gift giving astounded me, and I knew she deserved something nice for Christmas.
I had loved knitting my own entre-lac bag (first pattern in the Bags: A Knitter’s Dozen book), so I thought perhaps I’d knit Valerie a bag of her own, in colors that she liked. I studied her blog, and realized she had posted pictures of yarn for a secret project she’d signed on to knit. Best of all, the yarn had been dyed to her specifications – so she had to like the colors, right?
I borrowed the picture of the yarn from Valerie’s blog, and using a web-based tool I’ve found that will choose a five-color palette from a photograph (Color Palette Generator – it’s a tool for web design, originally, but I find it useful for coordinating a craft project to a photo), I extracted five colors and printed out the screen image.
With palette in hand, I went to the yarn shop and matched up Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride as best I could. I couldn’t find a light blue I liked, though, so I used Galway for one of the five colors.
Valerie’s Entre-lac Bag
Was it successful? Judging from what Valerie had to say about it, I think so!
Would I knit it again? Oh, yeah – and already have for Christmas Gift #…
3. felted bag #2
One of the Craft Goddesses (a weekly craft circle in my home that has met for some seven or eight years) actually lives in Arizona during the winter months. This means that Judith has always missed out on our annual Craft Goddess Christmas Party, and the accompanying gift exchange.
This year it finally dawned on me – I have her address in Arizona, why not surprise her with a Christmas gift? No need for a special generator for this color palette – I know what Judith likes! Once again, the yarn here is Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted.
Judith’s Entre-Lac Bag
Was it successful? Judith was very surprised, and says it goes great with an orange jacket she frequently wears out there. And that she’s been getting lots of compliments on it!
Would I knit it yet again? I love the entre-lac bag, I do – knitting it is like popcorn for me. I already have one I’m knitting for myself in Noro Kureyon, that I’ve modified to be larger, too!
4. bead knitted bag
and 9. same as #4 in different colors.
A little out of order here, bringing Gift #9 up already, but these are really a set, even though they were gifted to two different people.
Bead Knitted Bags
These were gifted to the two talented knitters I participated in the Booty Swap with. Elspeth, who was the recipient of my booty offering, got the red with black beads bag on the left, and lowercase jen, who sent me a lovely assortment of booty, received the mixed green, blue, white and black bag on the right.
The pattern comes from the book Bead Knitted Pendant Bags by Theresa Williams. It’s not currently available at Amazon, but you should be able to buy it direct at Bag Lady Press – or at least find out where you can get it in a shop. The book gives versions with and without flaps. Straps are left to the crafter’s devices – I chose to crochet them, with varying numbers of beads in each stitch to create a spiral ruffle.
For jen’s bag, I knit a flap. For Elspeth’s, instead of a flap I did a small crocheted ruffle of beads around the top edge.
The materials used for this work are #8 perle cotton, seed beads (the kind that come on a hank, not loose), and #0000 knitting needles. The first two things most people think of are “Isn’t it hard to get the beads on the cotton?” and “How can you knit with such tiny needles?”
The answer to the first question is, “No, it’s not.” This is why you buy Czech seed beads on hanks for bead knitting – there’s a specific technique for transferring the beads directly from their hank string to the perle cotton, and it takes no time at all to string up more beads than you need for the bag.
As to the second question, well – the answer is “It’s not that hard.” Just remember not to use a death-grip to hold the thin needles with, and take the work slowly, stitch by stitch. The knitting actually goes quite smoothly, and the stitches move just as easily as if you were knitting with chunky yarn on 17′s. It’s just smaller, so you might want to make sure you have good lighting and wear glasses if you need them.
Three of the next four gifts you’ve already seen:
5. Unnamed object including felted bowl. (A Knitting Needle Cushion)
6. unnamed object to include felted bowl. (A Knitting Needle Cushion)
7. mesh shopping bags, set of 3.
8. same as #6 in different colors. (Another Knitting Needle Cushion)
Three of these gifts – two of the Needle Cushions and the mesh shopping bags – were shown back on the 20th, when I wrote about the Craft Goddess Christmas Party. The third Knitting Needle Cushion was a gift for my mother, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t get a picture of it. Especially since she immediately stuck it full of knitting accessories that otherwise clutter the table next to her knitting spot!
Were they successful? Oh, yeah! The Goddesses loved their gifts, and my mom is already thinking she needs another of the cushions to sit on her worktable in the upstairs sewing room.
Would I knit these again? Yup – I already plan to make one for myself, and my mother might just get another for Mother’s Day.
And Last, but not Least:
10. We Call Them Pirates” hat for Gryphon.
This one is still a WIP, so no picture yet. It’s actually on its third knitting – I’ve blogged before about the first failure of the pattern that resulted from a mis-interpretation of the weight of yarn needed.
Well, I knit almost the whole thing again with the Cascade 220 yarn we bought, and the gauge was spot on. So did it work? Uh…no. Turns out the pattern, as written, fits a somewhat smaller head than either Gryphon or I possess. Both the circumference and the length need to be increased to work.
Am I going to give up? Heck, no. I frogged all the way back, again. I crunched some numbers. I considered places and ways to add stitches in the charts.
I came up with a plan, cast on again, and am giving it a go.
Hopefully, the third time’s the charm!
Not bad, huh? Ten gifts planned, nine executed and delivered on time, all successful. The tenth, not done yet, but we actually expected that. Besides, with the weather we’ve had here so far – we’re in no hurry for a warmer hat for Gryphon’s head yet!
Would I do THIS MUCH gift knitting again?
Considering how well this worked – starting early (before Halloween), planning the yarn acquisition carefully so as not to bust the budget, keeping myself organized – I just might. The hardest part was actually figuring out what to knit, and for whom.
But no matter how much Christmas knitting I attempt for 2007 – I don’t have to think about it this early!