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December 30, 2005

Christmas 2005: Last Things First, Vol. III

You'll be relieved to hear that this entry marks the the halfway point of the Christmas knitting re-cap, and that my goal is to have it all wrapped up by January 1. Without further ado, then, let me tell you about...

Doc's Socks

Of everybody in Jason's family, his dad (aka, Doc) seems to be the one most fascinated by my knitting. He's a process guy, more likely to comment on the speed or prolificity of my knitting than on the final product. (Actual quote from his toast at our rehearsal dinner: "...and she knits for everybody in the family!" ) If he thinks I'm fast normally, he should have seen how quickly I churned these out:

Doc's Socks
3x1 ribbed socks in Lorna's Laces Worsted

When I went looking for sock yarn for Doc's Socks, I knew I wanted heavier than usual gauge. After quite a bit of fruitless searching, I found a plastic bag of Lorna's Laces Worsted in Charcoal hidden in the back of a low shelf at a LYS. It was a little heavier than I had initially wanted, but the browny-blackish color was just so perfect I couldn't resist. I bought two skeins (225 yards each), but hoped that I would only need one. I didn't want to make him too-short socks, after all.

I knit them on size 5s, and they just sailed. I barely remember knitting them, though that might have been the hypnotic trance I entered each time I laid my hands on that heavenly-soft yarn. Here's the best part -- when I finished the second sock a week before Christmas, I had a ton of yarn left over... from the first skein. Considering how fast the socks went, I evenly divided the remaining yarn in half, ripped both of the socks back to just before the heel began, and added at least three inches of sock to each one using half of the remaining yarn. Then I did the heels and feet again. And I still had plenty of time to give them to him for Christmas.

Picture 018
A very blurry picture, but the only one that shows that I
really did get two normal-size socks out of one skein of yarn!

Oh yes, I will be using this yarn again.

Posted by shannon at 4:25 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2005, For Doc, Socks

December 29, 2005

Christmas 2005: Last Things First, Vol. II

Welcome to the second installation of Christmas gifts by Gringa, better known as...

Robbie Cleans Up

Picture 247
'It's Christmas. Spoil me, please!'

As the newest member of the clan, it's only right that Robbie made a killing for Christmas this year. When we made our 8-hour visit to New York on the 27th, his mom told us that they hadn't even had time to finish opening his gifts yet. Not to miss out on the fun, we added to his haul with a couple toys, and -- of course -- some knitted goods!

Robbie's mom Lauren loves sea turtles, and when she was expecting Robbie she painted his nursery blue and gave it a sea creatures theme. A few weeks after Robbie was born, I was flipping through a Patternworks catalog and found a felted turtle kit*. I'd long wanted to try felting, but since wool in most forms doesn't feel pleasant to me (see: wool allergies) I could never bring myself to make and felt a handbag that was meant to be carried close to the body. I know, I'm weird. Anyway, this was a perfect opportunity to felt something and to give a gift that I was sure would be well-received. And would you just look at these guys?

After felting, you just add some stuffing to make them squeezable and eyes to give them some personality. The pattern recommends buttons or googlie eyes, but since these turtles will be hands-on toys I decided to embroider the eyes to minimize the choking hazard. I knew they were a hit when Lauren threatened to keep one of them for herself!

Finally, I gave Robbie his definitely-not-a-Christmas gift. Remember when I swore that his blocks were definitely NOT coming back to Massachusetts with me from Thanksgiving? I busted my butt to get all of the pieces knit and blocked, and sewed them all together in time but the foam blocks that I'd had cut at the fabric store were crooked. It's difficult to get straight lines on such small pieces with a foam cutter, but these were particularly bad. And since Lauren had shown such genuine enthusiasm for these blocks since well before Robbie came along, I just couldn't have them being crooked. So they came back to Boston with me after all, and I got new (straight) foam cut. Almost five months to the day after he was born, I finally gave the little guy his blocks... and he promptly tried to shove the R block into his mouth. There's no greater compliment than that!

Picture 012

*It's actually a Felted Turtle & Starfish kit!

Posted by shannon at 2:54 PM | Comments (5) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2005, For Robbie, Robbie's Blocks

Robbie's (Belated) Baby Blocks

Posted by shannon at 2:01 PM | Comments (0) | For related posts: Finished Projects

December 28, 2005

Christmas 2005: Last Things First, Part I

Finally, I can share my Christmas knitting with the world!

We had Christmas in two waves this year: first with my parents on Christmas Day, and then with Jason's family yesterday (the 27th) in New York. First let me tell you about the knitted things I gave away to the out-in-laws, starting with...

A Shawl for Shirley

Jason's mother, Shirley, made our huppah. In fact, she made a huppah for each of her three kids' weddings. Each one of them involved hours upon hours of consulting with the bride and groom, designing, hand-dying silk, and sewing. And though each one of them is a work of art, I'm partial to ours.


Obviously, by the time it was all said and done I wanted to knit Shirley something really special. I knew the Leaf Lace Shawl was the right pattern as soon as I saw it: leaves everywhere -- just like our huppah. And once the pattern was settled I knew it had to be red, since my fascination with the rich, brilliant red of autumn leaves was an inspiration when Shirley was designing the huppah.

What I don't know is why I settled on Kid Silk Haze (color: Liquer) for my first real attempt at a large lace project. I wanted to finish the shawl it in time for the wedding weekend in early October. Hypnotized by how quickly the first 30 or so rows went, I really thought I could do it. As the wedding drew nearer and the rows got longer, I grew more distractable and made more mistakes. Knitting mistakes are normally no big deal for me (just un-do and re-do!) but with the Kid Silk Haze? It's a beautiful, luxurious yarn that makes delightful, gauzy fabric -- but it's a b*tch to rip.

So I Did the Right Thing. I put the shawl down, and didn't come back to it until after the wedding when I could give it my full attention. And when I did, I became a compulsive life-line user, did away with all but the most necessary stitch markers, and printed out a bunch of copies of the lace chart that I could highlight (when I was working on a row) and cross off (when it was finished). In short, I became an enormous lace-knitting nerd.

And what do you know... it worked. Know what else? I now understand why knitters get so. excited. when they block their lace shawls. After a half hour with the water sprayer and blocking pins I discovered that inside the shapeless, tangle-prone mass I'd been wrestling with for two months, this had been hiding all along:

Two balls of Kid Silk Haze, and it's 60 inches across. No, really.
Leaf Lace Shawl on Chair
Bathed in sunlight
Leaf Lace Shawl
Clearer view of the red leaves

Shirley was pleasantly surprised to get the shawl, and immediately got the connection between the red leaves. I hope she enjoys it!

Pattern: Leaf Lace Shawl
Yarn: Two (!!) balls Kid Silk Haze (Liquer)
Lessons Learned

Posted by shannon at 4:05 PM | Comments (8) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2005, For Shirley

December 25, 2005

Christmas Knitting 2005: The race is on, baby!

Posted by shannon at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | For related posts: Finished Projects

December 19, 2005

Irish Hiking Scarf in Wool Ease (Chestnut Heather)

Posted by shannon at 3:30 PM | Comments (0) | For related posts: Finished Projects

Take A(n Irish) Hike, Lazy Elves!

What do you do when the scarf you're knitting for your office's annual Yankee Swap isn't done in time? Easy, blame it on the elves!

Dearest Yankee Swap Recipient:

Due to the mediocre time management skills and general laziness of the elves assigned to knit this scarf for you, it is not quite finished. They have promised that if you give it to Shannon, she will see it is completed and returned to you in time for Christmas.

Please accept my sincerest apologies, and rest assured that the elves in question have been dealt with harshly.


What you can't see in the too-dark picture is that the note is tied to a half-finished Irish Hiking Scarf knit in Wool Ease. I chose Chestnut Heather, a sort of coppery-red, in an attempt to make it pleasing to either gender without being black, brown or green. It ended up in the hands of a new employee who was attending her first ever company holiday party and, accordingly, had none of the alcohol-related expectations I discussed last year. Perfect! She gave it back to me at the end of the swap on Thursday night, and I took it home to finish up over the weekend.

Jason was out most of the day on Saturday, and when he returned we suddenly had two Irish Hiking Scarves in the house.

Picture 011

He'd given the nurse he works with a ride home that afternoon, and she'd left her scarf behind. Though the picture is a bit blurry, her scarf (on the right) is a smaller-gauged version of the very scarf I'd just finished (on the left)! Failure to meet a deadline notwithstanding, I really enjoyed this pattern and can see why Irish Hiking Scarves are sweeping the knitting world this holiday season -- it's the old "knits-easy-but-looks-complicated" trick!

The elves made up for last week's indolence by really powering through some Christmas knitting and finishing over the weekend. In just a few more days when the gifts are distributed, I'll be able to share pictures and details!

Posted by shannon at 3:27 PM | Comments (3) | For related posts: Christmas Knitting 2005, Christmas Scarves

December 15, 2005

I'm so sure.

No time? Too busy? Hear me now. MAKE TIME. Bend time, invent time, influence the time-space continuum, stay up all night, give up reading the paper...try harder, water the tree, manage your time, stop eating the cookies, and for the love of all things decent, understand that elves aren't going to the grocery store, (that's me out there in the snow you gaggle of ingrates) and it's not like I don't have anything to do (little Miss "I don't like last years hat") and start doing all of this today people, because darn it, that's what I do. This family needs to stop being a passel of pussies and get some time management skills together pronto because Mama needs another roll of freakin' tape and someone other than me is going out into the snow to get it. Now get out of my way. I'm knitting a sock.

Though you didn't ask for one, Harlot, I say Amen.

Posted by shannon at 2:21 PM | Comments (0) | For related posts:

December 14, 2005

Mommy in Motion

Last month, Jason's sister and I were e-mailing back and forth about a variety of holiday things. Out of the blue, she added this at the end of one of her e-mails:

Can't wait, btw, wearing your mommy sweater today! xoxo

At Thanksgiving a few weeks later, I snapped a picture of her wearing her long-sleeved tee again as she paused briefly in the kitchen to give John and baby Sydney a smooch. That's Rachel, always on the move!

Posted by shannon at 3:05 PM | Comments (0) | For related posts: For Rachel, Long-Sleeved Chocolate Tee

December 13, 2005

Crusoe socks from Knitty in Cotton Colori

Posted by shannon at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | For related posts: Finished Projects

Sanity Socks

Help, I'm stranded!

With Christmas breathing down my neck quickly approaching, and more family members than ever visiting La Gringa Tejedora, I'm forced to be be more tight-lipped than normal this year about what the elves are working on around here. But that's just as well, since I have some catching up to do!

I bought some Fortissima Cotton Colori back in May and searched off and on for a pattern for it all summer. I finally settled on Crusoe from Knitty, though you'll see that I opted to forgo the roll cuff in favor of some simple 2x2 ribbing. (full-sock picture) For once, I managed to find a pattern and a yarn that worked well together -- the stranding technique really shows off the bright colorway that drew me to the yarn in the first place.

Better yet, the pattern is deceptively simple -- so simple, in fact, that it was these socks I picked up frequently in the 48 hours before the wedding when my whirling brain needed to focus itself on something more soothing than trying to will the rain to stop! falling! already! I'm also happy to report that the Cotton Colori not only survived machine washing and drying, but came out of it even softer than before.

I hereby declare these socks a success!

Posted by shannon at 11:42 AM | Comments (1) | For related posts: For Me!, Socks

December 5, 2005

Radio Silence

For three reasons, it took me all of last week to recover from post-Thanksgiving exhaustion. From left to right, those reasons are:

  1. Robbie
  2. Sydney
  3. Henry

Hearing the pre-eight a.m. chirps of these little ones temporarily made me an early-to-rise kind of girl -- regardless of whether I had been early-to-bed the night before! It was so worth it, though, and I'd gladly do it again. I'll be back very soon with some knitting content, including the answer to the question raised in my last post: are Robbie's blocks finally done?!

Posted by shannon at 3:11 PM | Comments (1) | For related posts: