last minute holiday knits*

We are down to the last few weeks before the final Christmas of this decade. Many of us may still have a few folks on our lists with question marks rather than a check next to their names. I mean, I haven’t done any shopping or making, so I’m definitely in that camp. I’ve compiled a collection of quick projects (*knit AND crochet), most of which are one-skeiners, that will hopefully help you with that odd person on your list, make you feel productive, and use up a bit of stash at the same time. Garments are adult-sizes – no baby or children’s patterns have been suggested.

Please note, some links will take you to Ravelry pages!

CROCHET

1.5 Hour Beanie from Jess Coppom

This super fast beanie from Make & Do Crew is a fun, quick project that can be modified for different yarns. I used a heavy worsted (my hand-dyed Arianwen) for this sample, but the pattern calls for bulky. Work it up in a solid color yarn or different yarns to create vertical stripes. Make a pompom of the same yarn or a different color.

Desert Winds Triangle Scarf from Jess Coppom

Another great single skein project from Make & Do Crew, this triangular shawl/scarf is also quite easy to adjust. When I made this one, I didn’t have a full 4 ounce skein, so I just worked the increases until I was halfway through my ball of yarn (weighing as I went) and then started the decreases. Worsted weight, DK weight, even a heavier yarn – it all works! A great way to showcase a lovely handdyed yarn (shown here in Enid).

Spring Blossoms from the Unraveled Mitten

And of course, home goods are always a hit, especially for that person you know loves to decorate for the season. Or that person who you can’t begin to guess at sizes. These coasters can be worked up in any color, so match it to their decor, make it holiday-inspired, or just do what you want. Work up a big stack and then divide them up among your friends and family. These will make great hostess gifts for parties too!

Two-Tone Slippers from Jenna Watson

They might be called “two-tone”, but these slippers can be any number of colors! I worked up a pair last holiday season for my SIL and I felt so smug as she opened them. I used a bright yellow and gold to match her old living room. I remember how she said it cheered her up. Does she wear them? I don’t know, but I gave her a handmade gift and my job was done. Later I made a pair for myself using little odd balls of left overs from all the crocheting I had done for my holidays shows. So quick and fun, I’m a convert to crocheted slippers!

KNIT

Uncooperative Hat from Christine Parker

Clever and snarky at the same time, this hat will be as fun to knit as it is to give to the lucky recipient! While it’s not a one-skein project, you will have fun digging through your stash to find different coordinating colors for the text, ribbing, and pompom.

Helix Mitts from Sybil R.

I’m mildly obsessed with all the mitten patterns from Sybil. I’ve been trying the crochet ones, but haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. Perhaps when I’m not also watching The Crown and can focus a little more, I’ll be able to achieve greatness. In the meantime, these garter stitch mitts are really awesome looking and perhaps require slightly less of your undivided attention.

Non-Felted Slippers from Yuko Nakamura

Sure, slippers and socks can be a little more tricky when it comes to gifting, but these are way too cool to pass up! Knit with a super bulky yarn (and no felting required – which can be so unpredictable), they will work up fast. Don’t have the right weight yarn? Try holding two strands together to make up the difference. Another great way to eat up that stash!

Winter’s End Cowl from Rebecca Shepler

Rebecca is a friend of mine and a very talented artist. I love the funkiness of the pattern and all the various ways to wear it. Maybe not something for that less adventurous person on your gift-giving list, but definitely something to consider for your stylish friends and family! Also a great way to show off an interesting yarn, or just keep it neutral.

sampling

I used to knit A LOT. Every day. I had projects with me at school, at work, getting my oil changed, sitting in church, in the evening, etc. But my hands and wrists started to protest, so I slowly transitioned away towards other things. Also, I got bored. I felt bad for not wanting to do it anymore.

In the last two years, since opening the Shop, I’ve come back to knitting. Not just that, but I’ve been exploring crochet much more too. And I’m loving it again! My latest FOs have been more for my own enjoyment and curiosity. My new favorite yarn is ENID, the DK weight Blue-Faced Leicester that I’ve been dyeing. I’ve made three shawls and a hat so far.

GE Hand-dyed Enid DK weight
>> Reversible Pleat Hat from Purl Soho
>> Desert Winds Scarf from Make & Do Crew

Brown Sheep Co. Shepherd’s Shades heavy worsted weight
>> Wall Basket from Yarn Craze (Rav link)

knitting classes

Starting in February I have decided to offer knitting classes twice a month. So often people stop in and want to learn how to knit, but I haven’t had anything on the schedule. I’ve been leaving it up to you – the customer – to pick the date and time. It seems like this can be overwhelming for some people, so I’ll be conducting an experiment over the next two months. There are two scheduled beginner knitting classes on the schedule now. One is on Saturday and one is on Thursday. You can sign up for them at anytime. As always though, if those don’t work for you, you are always welcome to contact me and schedule a private lesson.

Maybe you have a small group of friends interested in a private spinning, knitting, or needle felting class? I can do that too! Just let me know what topic you have in mind and we can make it happen!

class time!

For several years my business card has said “lessons”, which of course prompts people to ask, “You teach knitting? I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit!” And I mumble something vague in return and then nothing ever happens after that. I have never really pursued the lessons/classes aspect of knitting and spinning for a few reasons. The main reason was money and then after that things just escalate. How much to charge? Do I force them to come to my chaos house or do I waste my gas driving to them? Do we meet in some neutral middle place like a Panera? What about follow up classes? What if I can’t teach them? What if I’m actually just a bad teacher? From there I spiral into self-doubt. And inactivity.

BUT.

With the new Shop in operation, I have decided to give classes a genuine effort. It provides a central space to hold them, so location is no longer a sticking point. And for some reason having that issue resolved makes me more confident to move forward with the rest of it!

We’re starting this month with Beginner Spindle Spinning Thursdays at 2 pm. Dates are July 9, 16, and 23. They will resume again in August. These afternoon classes will be $15. We will be using a Turkish spindle which you will have the option to purchase at the end of class.

Starting on August 12 I will teach Knitting Basics on Wednesdays at 10 am. We will cover casting on, binding off, knitting, and purling (time permitting). This first intro class is $15 and includes needles and yarn. Follow up instruction will be $10 per lesson. You can drop in or email me to reserve a spot (getwool@gwenerin.com).

summer ’14 hat collection

Let me clarify – these are not “summer” hats. These are most definitely cold time hats. But I made them for the Summer Festival of the Arts this weekend in hopes of encouraging wool purchases during July. Hats are more of an accessory, right? People wear them all the time… right? Honestly, I don’t care at this point. I’m loading up the car today. We’re selling tomorrow, so if my merchandise is wrong, it’s too late now.

Regardless, I had a blast making these hats. I ended up with a whole pile of super chunky yarn, most of which were my corespinning experiments. I knew they were too thick for mitts and perhaps a little too coarse for neckwear, but I thought they could work in hats. Combining them, in my typical way, with neutrals, each hat contains a funky yarn full of different fibers and a nice natural shade of wool or alpaca. Now I have some good examples of what you can make with a 40 yard skein of corespun super bulk! Even though I have a lot of experience knitting hats, I had never really gone from brain rather than patterns. This was also a good exercise in hat shapes and learning how many stitches to cast on. For each hat I kept casting on fewer and fewer (some ended up pretty big) until I was down to about 40 or 50 stitches.

hatcollection

 

progress in pictures

Thanks to Instagram, I am now documenting everything down to the last insignificant moment of my day. I baked muffins? Photo! New shoes? Photo! Cute kitty pose? Photo! Project in the house? Photo! Spinning yarn? Photo! It may get a little dull sometimes, but the up side is that when I am in the midst of a knitting project, there are many more process shots.

I finally finished the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief using approximately 250 yards of handspun Shetland wool and size 8 needles. For each section I used a different color of yarn. The pattern was so easy and quick. Although my measurements didn’t come out quite as the pattern suggested, it’s much wider than any other shawl/kerchief I’ve made. I didn’t make any adjustments, just followed the instructions as is.

Three shades of #Shetland. #handspun #wool #yarn

Shetland triangle shawl. #nodyes #WIP #handspun

Shetland triangle blocking. #shawl #FO #handspun #handknit #natural

In action.

a finished hat

Contrary to popular belief, every now and then I make something that isn’t fingerless mittens. Sometimes I make hats! Actually, I do that rather frequently since they are also small, quick projects. In December I started a hat using a pattern by Lee Meredith called Scant. It is worked top-down without swatching, so I thought it would be perfect for my handspun!

A new hat. #handspun #leethalknits #wip #nofilter

I finished it in two days. Unfortunately, my measuring skills are not so great and it ended up too big at the brim. After having the recipient try it on, we decided I would pull out the ribbing and decrease a few rounds to bring it in. In fact, it was really easy to adjust since it was knit top-down.

hatface

I decreased a total of 12 stitches over three rounds and used a smaller needle to get the ribbing even tighter. Once I reworked it, it fit great. I think there is more volume in my hat than was originally expected according to the pattern, but the new owner of this hat is very happy with it. I love the way the colors came out. I definitely will use this pattern again!

lakeside hat

lakeside hat

rainbow of shetland

I’ve been sitting on this yarn for at least two years. No wait, I got the fiber on our first visit to Rhinebeck in 2008. Good heavens!

It was all spun using my drop spindle. Initially I thought it would be perfect for a shawl. However, at the time I had never made one and perhaps felt intimidated or that I wouldn’t wear it? Now I’ve made two, so I think I can handle it (and I know I like triangle over half-circle). There should be around 6 ounces all together, though I’m not sure on the yardage. I went through my Ravelry queue to see what patterns I had saved the last time I got shawl fever. I came across the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief. It has three sections, so I thought that would work well. Now I just need to get it on the ball winder! And then cast on, of course. It’s time to do some stash busting!

Three shades of #Shetland. #handspun #wool #yarn

when gauge matters

Basically I’ve always lived on the edge when it comes to my knitting. I don’t do gauge swatches. I don’t worry too much about matching up my yarns. I don’t do a whole lot of counting and calculating. So far there haven’t been too many circumstances where this has come back to bite me in the ass, but last week, it did.

The funny thing is that it was and wasn’t my fault. I knit two fingerless mittens using the same needles and diligently counted the rows. When I was done, one was little and the other was big. I counted and recounted, but I had the same number of stitches. Waaah!? The gauge was off, but it wasn’t simply a tension issue. The yarn had actually increased in size! And here is where it was my fault. I spun that yarn. It was a navajo-plied yarn, so if the single had gotten thicker as I went, the ply would have gotten thicker and thicker too. Looking at the two mitts, I knew I couldn’t block them to match, so I knit another mitt. With barely enough yarn, I managed to complete a third mitt. It was just slightly larger than the second. Aarrrrg! Thankfully, the difference is minimal and I should be able to block them to match.

Here they are: my Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear mitts!

gauge issues