Updates and Planning

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s fucking cold here. I’m one of those people who generally like the cold but the last few days have been kind of ridiculous. There’s ice crystals on the inside of the car windows, the heat’s been running constantly, just now the cat pulled a blanket down from the arm of the couch to lay under. I’m grateful that the sun is shining through the windows and I’m actually awake in the day time to see it, but it’s too damn cold.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday, I know ours got to be a little stressful this year.

I actually managed to finish all the things I set out to make this year as gifts. I ended up making two pairs of socks, a cowl, a pair of pajama pants, and some little stockings were extra and just for fun. Everyone seemed really happy with their gifts which always makes me happy. My sister put her cowl on as soon as she opened it and aside from going to work or the grocery store, K hasn’t taken the pajama pants off.

I think those were the first garment that I actually completely finished sewing. I’ve made a few quilts and little pouches but I’ve never actually completely finished a garment before. He split his favorite pajama pants right up the back seam this fall and we never got around to buying him a new pair so I figured I could make him some new ones for christmas. I ended up cutting the old pair at the seams to draft a pattern. They turned out so well, I’m a little jealous I haven’t made a pair for myself. The hardest part was probably the dang button fly. Since I wasn’t using an actual pattern with instructions I ended up watching a handful of youtube videos trying to figure out the best way to do it. I eventually figured it out, but it turns out he doesn’t even use the fly. I don’t even have a picture of the pants for you, but he wore them on christmas and everyone seemed quite impressed with them.

I’m not working on anything specific right now, just the shawl I’ve had sitting around since summer. It takes about half and hour per row now so I’ll probably finish it sometime in the next twenty years. A friend has asked me if I would knit her pet rabbit a little sweater (and offered to pay in the same sentence!) so I’ve been thinking about the best way to do that. K has also noticed the lack of hand-knit items in his wardrobe so I’m gonna work on that for him. He needs gloves – he’s been wearing big work gloves to drive because that’s all he has – and I know he wants a bunch of socks. I’ll probably start with a bunch of basic socks and then make some really cool gloves for him in the next week or so, we just have to go buy more yarn.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 11.48.15 AM.pngThis one got pretty long, but one more thing! Currently, all of my patterns are on sale for 25% off through the end of the year! I know lots of people knit a special project for themselves after all the gift knitting they did so check ’em out if anything catches your fancy.

Thanks for sticking around on this blogging adventure with me.

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday weekend. I woke up this morning to the sun shining and just a dusting of snow. Now I’m off to my fifth Christmas visit in the last three days.

#Friday Favorites: Holiday Kitsch

Haven’t done one of these bad boys in a while but it’s Friday so let’s do it! It’s probably to late to make any of these for this year, but maybe I’ll remember next year to start early, or better yet make a bunch of holiday stuff in the summer slump and have them ready to go.

 

I’m a big fan of kitschy holiday decor. Not really sure why but there’s something nostalgic about it all that it just makes me smile. So here’s some of the kitschiest holiday knitting patterns I could find this morning. (I’m not intending to hurt feelings here, just celebrating the kitsch!).

Christmas Lights by Amelia Samios 

big_cord_square_small2Actually, I don’t know how kitschy these are but I really like them. A small string would look cute or make enough to decorate you’re whole tree! This is also the kind of pattern that would work in any size yarn really, so you could make tiny little ones. Reminds me of Charlie Brown.

 

Christmas Holly Wreath by Hayfield

433_-_4_small2This one is so extra. It might actually be pretty hanging on a door, but can you even imagine how many fucking ends you would need to weave in. Plus all the sewing and arranging to get it into a wreath. It would really bother me to make a bunch of holly leaves over and over again, casting on and off and on and off forever… so much garter stitch… but ’tis the season to be extra.

Christmas Baskets by Jean Woods

2348045355_9428c5601d_zI’m just going to leave this one here.

 

 

 

O Hanukkah! by My Savannah Cottage

No Holiday is safe. This dog sweater made me laugh so hard! While there doesn’t seem to be a lot to choose from on Ravelry as far as Hanukkah patterns go, this one is a winner. That dog knows sure well that he looks ridiculous, those baubles though… I do think with some finagling and careful editing this would make a really cute Hanukkah sweater for a kid. Ugly sweaters are still a thing right?

Yuletide Gnomes by Alan Dart

I can’t decide if these are super creepy or cute. This is the kind of thing my family would hide around the house to try and scare each other. Having lots of little ones sitting around in the corners and peering down from shelves might be fun if you’re hosting this year.

 

Not sure if I’ll find time to post over the weekend (we have FIVE Christmas gatherings to go to in the next three days…), but I hope everyone has a lovely holiday.

 

Professional Procrastinator

Turns out I’m really not good at keeping up with blogging when I don’t have a set topic to write about each day. Something I’d like to get better at, though there really wasn’t much to talk about this weekend besides massively fucking up my sleep schedule again. Since K is on third shift I switched over to his schedule. Mostly I like it. Nights are quiet and I get a reasonable amount of stuff done while he’s at work and I don’t have to worry about waking him up. Plus we get to spend more than two grumpy hours at a time together which is nice. The downside is that on the weekends it’s nice to do things during the day, and, you know, see the actual sun for a few hours. He’s been doing this a lot longer than I have and has a much easier time switching back and forth. I, on the other hand, am struggling with it. Staying up for 24 hours straight kills me. I usually fall asleep on the couch around five or six on Friday evening and then any kind of plans are cancelled (we ended up blowing our friends off twice this weekend because I couldn’t stay awake) which kind of defeats the purpose of trying to switch over in the first place. I have an even harder time switching back to sleeping during the day. I get about 4 hours at a time and feel miserable. Unfortunately with the holidays coming up there will be at least two more weekends of switching back and forth but after than we’ve agreed to stick to pretty much the week day schedule after that.

On a somewhat related note, I’ve procrastinated my holiday baking and making so hard that now I’m in a little bit of a panic. I’ve got one knit item to finish up and two things to sew – they’re two of the same thing so hopefully I can make it go fast, and a bunch of cookies to make. I haven’t done a lot of baking since we moved, mostly because it took some time to slowly buy the things I needed a few at a time. I also needed to clear off some counter space, and in order to do that I needed to fix the shelf in the cabinet. One side of the shelf wasn’t properly supported, but I was using it anyways, and it finally let go when I was putting dishes away. So I got all that done this morning and pulled out the stand mixer I got for Christmas last year that I hadn’t even used yet! I feel so fancy using it. It’s so pretty, and made baking sooooo much easier. I made 4 dozen peanut butter blossoms this morning. I have a habit every year of baking enough cookies for a small village. A few years ago I made 12 different types of cookies and candies and didn’t start halving the recipes until about half way through. This year I think I’m only making 4 or 5 types and I have at least three houses to bring them to so I won’t end up eating all of them myself. I have a busy few nights ahead of me, but it’s all things I actually enjoy doing.

Do you guys do a lot of baking for the holidays? What are your favorite recipes?

Overzealous Crafting

Made this little guy last night. I took those dumb leftovers from these socks separated all the different colors into balls (which admittedly probably took longer than the actual knitting…) and made this little stocking. I got a little carried away this morning with the embellishments but hey, now it’s festive.

Not sure if this one is worth writing a pattern for but I’m tempted to make a new one every night until Christmas until my tree is covered in dumb little stockings. But I also have cookies that need to be baked, actual things I should be knitting, and a sewing project all before christmas so we’ll see..

#WIP WEDNESDAY and NEW PATTERN!

Turning thoughts into things! Turns out it’s pretty cool to re-knit old things you’ve made. It’s crazy what a few years of experience will do. I remade that little santa stocking I talked about here and turned it into a little pattern. The new ones look way better than the old one if I do say so myself. My yarn choice/needle size is more effective and I used a duplicate stitch for the buckle instead of trying to knit it straight into the pattern. The pattern is available in my Ravelry Store if you’re looking for a quick little stash busting project. Also a great last minute gift for those people on your list who aren’t exactly knit-worthy but aren’t quite on your no-knit list this year.

Now my brain is buzzing with other little ornaments I could make which hopefully don’t involve a trip to the yarn store… We’ll see what I can come up with tonight!

Little Morning Rambles

So far the weirdest part about staying up all night and sleeping during the day is drinking. There’s nothing super weird about having a beer or a glass of wine before bed, lots of people do it, I used to do it regularly. It somehow feels very weird and a little taboo to have a glass of wine before bed when bedtime happens to be about 10:30 in the morning. Taboo or not, I’m going to enjoy my glass of wine today while I sit in my sunny spot and watch the snow sparkle outside.

Avoidance Projects

I set up my little christmas tree this weekend, which really doesn’t involve that much work considering it came pre-lit and I safety pinned a few ornaments onto it the first year I got it (partly to keep the cat from getting them off, partly because I had a lot of safety pins and no paper clips to make hooks from). So the thing is basically ready to go out of the box I just needed to straighten out some branches and put the little stand back on and plug it in. Boom done. I decorated. I also found a tiny little stocking ornament I made and had forgotten about. 33474e3a-332d-4d73-b530-69bc62a118d1

It’s pretty wonky and I was very new to sock making when I made it, but I’m thinking about making a few more and maybe putting a pattern together before christmas. Aside from the buckle it would probably only take an hour or two to finish and they would look super cute tied to the top of presents.

I wonder what other little things I could knit for my tiny little tree to avoid all the knitting I’m supposed to be doing. All the best projects come out of avoiding something else!

FOs and WIPS

I got sucked into video games this week. There’s something so inviting about a dumb little digital world where everything makes sense and little creatures tell you what to do with your time.

ab3154b3-c0de-48f1-b857-480c00f4b54cI also managed to finish another pair of socks for the holidays. Halfway through knitting I ran out of yarn which is more annoying when you’re using variegated yarn. Out of three skeins, I now have about 40 grams broken up into 6 stupid little bundles of yarn trying to get both socks to match. They look pretty close now that they’re off the needles – enough that no one would really notice, but the pattern repeat was about two and a half rows off when I was knitting (which drove me up the wall). I spent a good amount of time matching up the yarn and starting the cast on from exactly the same point on each sock. I don’t know why it shifted. They’re identical mathematically, I would assume they have the same gauge – I’m not sure how they wouldn’t because I knit them both at the same time. Besides the shifted colors, these knit up pretty quickly because I was excited to see what the next color section was, which is I guess why people like self striping yarns.

f1616cc5-996f-40b2-bdbb-9d7b3012ff67I also started working on an infinity scarf for my sister. I asked her if she had any requests for a gift this year because I’ve knit her quite a few things over the years and she’s pretty particular (read: picky). She told me a “basic-ass infinity scarf” that she could wear to work – something that would go with most of her outfits – so gray. I found a lightly spun, lustrous gray yarn that’s once again variegated. I’m using needles that are two sizes larger than recommended so the texture stitch is coming out a bit lacy and has a nice drape. This one is very mindless knit so it’s going pretty quickly.

 

Anybody else feeling the gifting deadlines yet? It’s getting to the point where I feel like I have to be knitting, not that I get to be knitting.

A Stitch in Time, Saves Nine

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 29 & 30

What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why?

I’m lumping these two together and then the list is finished! I am mcglarin on Ravelry, where you can creep on all of my projects. This is actually a good spot to see if there’s an upcoming pattern I’m designing because I use the project page to keep track of a lot of info. If you’re interested in the patterns I’ve designed and have available for purchase I am Kristen McLaren Designs on Ravelry as well.

Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?

There’s so much stuff to learn when it comes to knitting. There’s about 10 different ways to accomplish the same thing and what you do mostly depends on who you learned it from. I’m not going to go into technical things right here, I’ll save them for a future blog post maybe, but here’s a few things I’ve learned in my years of knitting:

WRITE IT DOWN 

I can’t even tell you how many times I wish I kept better notes about something. I always assume I’m going to remember exactly what I’ve done. Part of my brain knows I won’t which is precisely why I knit most things two-at-a-time because at least they’ll match even if the next pair won’t. I’m going to work on getting better at this though because it tends to make more work for me when I’m trying to publish a pattern later and I can’t remember which way I started the heel or something.

STAY ORGANIZED

This kind of goes along with writing everything down but it more applies to yarn. I recently re-balled, weighed out, and bagged up most of my knitting stash. Everything is labeled now and protected from any hungry moth creatures. I’ve also tried to be diligent about adding my new yarn to the stash page on Ravelry and also adding yardage and yarn info to projects so that it automatically updates my stash page (SO HELPFUL). This way I know pretty much exactly what I have and if I’m out shopping I can easily pick up more of something or I can remember which yarns I really didn’t like working with and to find something different for next time.

DON’T SKIP THE SWATCH

This is something I begrudgingly started doing after too many projects ended up being a let down due to size. It seems like such a bother when you want to jump right into a project but as they say ” A stitch in time saves nine.” Not only is swatching just good for checking that your gauge is correct, it’s also good to practice the stitch pattern and to check that you like the drape or feel of the fabric it makes. Knitting those four inches seems like such a pain, but it’s a lot less painful than ripping out half a sweater that you already know isn’t going to fit.

EMBRACE THE FROG

I am a notorious ripper-outer. If I don’t like how something is going I will rip that shit out. Part of this is perfectionism but why wouldn’t I want something I made to be perfect? I’ve ripped out entire projects in front of other people and the sheer horror in their eyes brings me a secret joy. Basically my philosophy on the subject is: if I know I’m not going to like it why would I finish it? Spending 40 hours making something you’re not going to wear is way worse, in my opinion, than frogging a project half way through and then spending 60 or 80 hours re-making it knowing you’re going to love it.

Kristina McGrath, Knitting Tech Editor

Working with each designer's unique voice, for clear patterns and happy knitters.

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