Handmade Holiday Market

Friday, December 19, 2014

First Snowfall

I wish I had finished holiday gifts for show and tell.  A quick moving bug knocked me out of commission for a good 24 hours and took with it any energy I had for knitting.  Today I'm back on my feet - which is a good thing since I'm vending tomorrow.  If you're in the Boston area, you really don't want to miss the Holiday Market hosted by the lovely folks at gather here.  This event features a collection of vendors with a wide array of goods.  Get out and support your local makers.

I do have one finished project to share - something just for me.

First Snowfall.

Once again I don't have a model.  It's hard to find help this time of year.

This was a quick hat - substantial ribbing followed with a little colorwork.  The ribbing folds up to make this hat extra warm and cozy. Easy-peasy.  If you're in the market for a quick holiday gift, this just might be the ticket.

The yarn is Petite Clara, colorways Acorn and Chartreuse.  The blue is Edna Tide Pool and in real life is a bit darker than what you see in these pictures. 

The colorwork requires very little yardage and is a great way to use up odds and ends.  Yes, that's our Christmas tree.  It's still outside leaning against the shed.  I think it's time to call in reinforcements for holiday preparations.

Packages tied up with string ribbon . . . this week's color inspiration. 

A little bit of everything.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Since You Offered . . .

Over the years I've become more and more selective with my holiday knitting.  I've pared down the list to include only those who are knit-worthy . . . those who will really appreciate and use what I give them.

When it comes to my immediate family, I started taking requests.  I don't want to knit someone a hat if what they really need and will use are mittens.  Earlier this fall I suggested to my family that if anyone had a specific request, they should let me know.  My strategy was to plan ahead and avoid crunch knitting at the very end.  The response was meager, but I didn't take it personally.  My schedule has been extra hectic the last few months.  Maybe the universe was cutting me some slack.

Then this past weekend I got 3 or 4 requests.  "You know, I could really use a new scarf.  Something with fringe."  "Remember that cowl I saw on display at the yarn shop?"  "My hands are really cold these days since I lost one of the mitts you knit last year."  Lost one of the mitts?  You didn't retrace your steps and search high and low for it?!?

My strategy had clearly failed, but there's no use crying over lost knitting time.  I went digging for yarn and got busy.

I know.  This is a pathetic start, but it's a start.  And I still haven't found yarn for all the requested projects.  Never fear.  I'm going back to the stash.  Maybe if I dig a little deeper . . .  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Color and Spice

In our household December holiday fun is compounded with a couple birthday celebrations. Last week was Estrella's birthday, and she opted for the extended plan.  The youngest always take extra liberties. Estrella's celebration lasted all week and into the weekend.  Yesterday we wrapped it up with a family meal.

This year's birthday cake was cheesecake.

Chocolate cheesecake.  The only pictures I got of the birthday girl were silly ones, so this solo cake shot will have to do.  

It was my first go-round with this recipe, and it was delicious, if I do say so myself.  The best part?  It wasn't overly fussy.  We topped our slices with raspberry sauce and whipped cream, but there are plenty of other options.  Or you can even eat it as is.  If you need dessert for a holiday party, you might want to give this cheesecake a whirl.

I have just enough time to recover from this birthday before doing it all over again later this week for my son.  I wonder what his cake request will be.

In the midst of the extended birthday celebration, I managed to squeeze in some knitting time.

I'm still on my hat jag, and this is the current one.  First Snowfall.  I finished 7 inches of ribbing.  Not that ribbing isn't fun . . . it's just not very interesting.  Now that I'm spicing it up with different colors, things are definitely getting interesting.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Long Tail Upgrade

The other day I was starting a new project and needed to cast on 100 stitches.  I wanted to use the long tail cast on, so I proceeded to make the usual guesstimate of just how long that tail should be.  

Then I remembered a trick I had heard about and decided to give it a try.

Take both ends from the ball of yarn.  I'm working from a single ball, but if you have two balls, you can take one end from each ball.

Make a slip knot using both ends of yarn.

Put the slip knot on the needle.

Cast on the desired number of stitches plus 1.

When you're finished casting on, cut one of the strands of yarn.  I cut the strand that was around my thumb since that is the "tail" strand.

On the other end of the needle, bump the slip knot off and unravel it. You're ready to knit.

I'm delighted!  No more worries about running out of yarn when using the long tail cast on.

My color inspiration this week captures both fall and winter.

Snowy cover-up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Off and On

Off the needles.

Newfoundland Mitts.  Check it out.  It's a free pattern.

I had visions of an outdoor photo shoot for these mittens, but Mother Nature is keeping us in the gray with an impressive Nor'easter.  Wet and windy conditions have forced me to keep it indoors.

I'm smitten with this pattern.  Worsted weight yarn makes this a relatively quick project.  The opportunity for different color combinations makes for all kinds of fun.  Slipped stitches make an impressive colorwork display.

The gray yarn is leftovers I had dyed for Thrummed Mitten Kits - a basic Merino.  It's paired with Sweet Potato - an Alpaca / Merino / Silk blend that I use for the X-Mitts Kit.

On the needles.

Another pair of Newfound Mitts.  This storm was a reminder that winter is here, and it's just getting started. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Against the Wind

After a weekend of running here and there, I'm looking forward to Monday.  I spent way too much time driving, very little time on the work that needed to get done and even less time on my knitting.  It makes Monday seem very manageable.

Here's a glimpse of my weekend.  First thing Sunday morning was a drive to the beach.

Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester.

I love the beach in winter - peace, quiet and the gentle rhythm of the waves.

The main purpose of our trek to Gloucester was another race.  Estrella was running the Happy Holidays Half Merrython.

It was a dry day, but the wind was wicked cold.  After we got there, Estrella realized she had forgotten her hat.  She went about her warmups and tried to convince me - and herself - that she didn't need anything on her head.  She would be fine.

As it got closer to the start of the race, Estrella began to have second thoughts.  Maybe, just maybe, it would be good to have something on her head.  The only option sat on my head - the still relatively new, current favorite Algonquin Hat.  Since I had already given away most of my mittens a week or so ago, it was really quite painless to surrender my beloved hat.  I handed over the warm, toasty hat, pulled up my hood and tried to ignore the draft blowing around my ears. 

Estrella had a good run, and her time was better than her last half marathon.  She wore the hat for only a couple miles, but I'd like to think it gave her a little boost. 

While Estrella ran, I had a couple solid hours to kill.  I sat in the truck with my knitting and even managed to finish something.  This morning I've been trying to take pictures, but it's not going to happen with today's light.  Those pictures will have to wait for another day. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Migrating Colorways

This time of year tends to be quiet.  The fall shows are over, and I have time to regroup.  This year is a little different.  I'm in the midst of all kinds of dyeing activity.  Boxes of yarn in, boxes of yarn out.

Some of the favorite Lillian colorways are moving over to other bases.

Wheat, March Sky.

Moon Shadow, Desert Rose, Drizzle.  

These are just a few of the colorways that are on the move.  I'll give more updates as this project unfolds.

The November giveaway winner is Alice.  I can't find contact information for you, Alice.  Drop me a note, and we'll work out the details.

I captured this week's color inspiration in late summer when the tomatoes were at their peak.  They just don't taste the same any other time of year.

Favorites from the farmers' market.