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!


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!


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.

yarn and yarn in use

Why does it seem that things always happens all at once? I have nothing to write about for days and then suddenly I have a whole slew of photos to post and stories to tell! Most of these things happened yesterday. My skeins were returned from the competition and I finished knitting a tam using my handspun.

This year I did not do as well as last year. Apparently my spinning abilities are declining, which frankly does not surprise me. I entered both single and 2-ply into the “medium” category because this time they had it split into fine/medium/bulky singles; fine/medium/bulky ply; novelty; etc.. The problem with this? My definition of medium is VERY different than the judge’s. Not to mention her idea of a novelty yarn! So, my singles received a second place ribbon which is disappointing but acceptable. My 2-ply got fifth place and no ribbon. I won $4 which covers the cost of entry.

second place

On comments sheet, she wrote that the singles were unevenly spun. I cannot deny that. I am not a machine. However, she said it was more of a NOVELTY yarn! Please, look at the yarn pictured above and tell me if you would ever label it as a novelty. When I do thick ‘n thin – it is THICK and THIN. It’s fine though, for next year I want to really concentrate on making something wildly even and something just plain wild.

Wednesday afternoon at work I began knitting a tam with some handspun yarn. I received the roving in a swap in 2006 and had not been able to find a purpose for the yarn yet. My initial start on the hat failed, so when I started over I used a smaller gauge and it worked out. Hats are such a pleasure to knit because they go so fast! I finished this Thursday afternoon, about the same time I started it. I knew I’d run out of the green, so I dug out the orange to use also. I was inspired by the splat on Cosy’s hat here and did a little sunburst on the top. I did colorwork to the top and duplicate stitch to extend the rays.

Handspun BFL yarn
Handspun/dyed BFL & mohair yarn
US 8 circular needles
Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns

sunshine over sweetpeas
Sunshine Over Sweetpeas

hat on head

Finished Rich’s cap this morning. It came in really handy last night at the Greenwich Meantime New Year’s Eve party as a way to keep me from eating more. Unfortunately and mysteriously, it ended up just a little bit shorter than I was going for. But it still fits. Now that he has TWO hats, he’s not sure which to wear. I told him that one is heavier and for colder weather, and the other, lighter one is for just cool weather. Tonight he wore them both at the same time. I also told him he’s going to end up with a lot more than just two hats if he sticks around!

rich's cap

Today I started another Wormhead’s Rollin’ Beret for a woman at church. The situation amuses me on several levels. First of all, she’s a knitter. She has given my mom several scarves. However, whenever she sees me knitting, she just raves about my extreme competence at being able to knit such things as hats and socks. I always tell her that she could do it too, but she says no. Alright, not everyone wants to get into increases and decreases. The other thing that I find a curiosity and a challenge is her disinterest in wool. When I suggested making it in wool, I could tell she bristled at the idea. After giving it some thought, I decided on Lion Brand, as they have fairly decent acrylics and I’ve successfully used their yarn before. How does a knitter of natural fibers accept – rather than try to impress her own high praise of wool – that there are folks out there who are perfectly happy with acrylic??

blast from the past

Ravelry, as I mentioned before, has inspired me to photograph some of my better knits of the past year or so.  Namely, the hat I made using my very first handspun yarns.  For most spinners, they spin a wonky little skein and then knit it right away.  This is something I have ever done.  I will never knit my very first ball of yarn into anything.  It is just as it was when I took it off my turkish spindle.  However, my later skeins I dunked in koolaid, which turned out pretty miserable, and then they sat and sat for several months before being turned into something useful.So, using Kim’s Hats out of Last Minute Knitted Gifts, I created this lovely piece:beginner's luckAnd with the left-overs, I knit this little earflap hat for Flick:flick's earflap hatI was very thrilled with the end result, since I had little prior experience doing colorwork, which is quite evident if you can find the horridly ragged line that runs up the back from where I switched colors… must work on that.

done already?

This weekend I was quite busy.  I finished up my train tam on Friday. It’s a little bit bigger than I was anticipating, but I’ll wear it anyway.

train tam 2

Friday afternoon I dyed the sweater vest yarn. It’s really really bright, not at all what I was going for. I had intended to start it on Saturday, but I didn’t have the right needles, so I bought a #10, 29″ circular at Pat Catan’s before going to Pittsburgh. The yarn shop there didn’t have 10.5 either, so I used the 10. The gauge is off, but I’ll probably be able to wear it anyway. The next time I make it, I’ll try a little harder on gauge. There are also a few other things I’d like to tweak too. Rather than a 1×1 rib on the bottom, I’m thinking about a 2×2 or 3×2.  The only thing I have left to do is the crochet edge around the neck and armholes. I hope that helps it to look better.

sweater vest

While I was at the yarn shop this weekend I picked up these funny little buttons. It took me a while to figure out why one side was flat. Duh. It’s a fish bowl. Sometimes when I’m in a yarn shop and I really need to pee, I get a little flustered and overwhelmed…

fish buttons

the plan

I brought everything but the needles. This morning I was all ready to finish the tam, I brought my necessaries kit complete with tapestry needles, scissors, etc. with me to work. But – and this always happens – I forget the DPNs! Every time I’m doing a hat I leave the DPNs at home. I can’t do any more decreases without stretching the fabric around the circular needle. 

So, the plan is to first finish the tam. The next mission is to dye my sweater vest yarn. At first I was thinking green, naturally, but then I realized that the yarn I’m spinning for [sweater vest v.2] will be shades of green, so it would be a little silly to have 2 green sweater vests in the same pattern. Instead I’m thinking about doing a dark rusty red-orange.  I decided to test out the pattern with commercial yarn first just to see how I liked it. If it ends up being really awesome, I hope to do color work and cables in the future.

In addition to dyeing that yarn, I also want to dye my last two skeins of mitten yarn. That would be the total 15, except on my last KnitPicks order I threw in one more skein of worsted Bare. So, all told, it will be 17, minus the one I already sold. I couldn’t help it! I’m making such good progress. 

hat season commences.

I’ve decided that fall is really here now. Hot, cold, hot, cold – it’s cold now and I’m taking that as an opportunity/excuse to make a new hat. I feel like I need a new one, if only because of the season. I really think that berets/tams looks good on me. Last year I made a beret from Woolly Wormhead and I’ve been wearing it at all possible opportunities. But every autumn I want to make a fall-colored hat. So, I’m considering either Urchin (from Knitty Fall 2007) or Cosy’s Train Tam.  Really, I’d like to do both. Which should I do first?

Another project in the works is a sweater vest. I love wearing them and they always seem to be hard to find (or too expensive). In Speed Knitting, there is a relatively simple design that uses bulky wool. I’ve been slowly working on spinning and dyeing enough to make it, but I thought I’d try the pattern out with some commercial yarn first. So, I think I’ll buy some Bulky Bare at Knitpicks and dye it myself. It’s $3.49 for a 100 gram skein and I’d need three. How cool is that?

As far as colors go, I snatched this picture from as inspiration. I also cut it out of my catalog and stuck it up on my cork board. They aren’t ‘wow – how unique’ color combinations, but I really like them anyway, especially the natural on the bottom. How could I get that middle green? That’s my favorite shade of green and I can’t get it – ever!

yarn colors