Ho! Ho! Ho! No More UFO!

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For Clark and Stephanie

I’ve just finished a long project (like any good knitter, I kept finding other projects to do) that was a true work of love. My college roommate, Mary Frances, aka Muffin, asked me to copy her lifetime Christmas stocking for her new grandson and daughter-in-love.

I had no pattern but assumed that I could copy just about anything. The stocking arrived at my house several months ago and I set about copying the stitches to make a chart. This part was pretty simple and straight forward. If you can count stitches, you can chart.

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My Chart

I knew I wanted to knit the top part of the giant sock flat so I could embellish with beard and sequins more easily. I also wanted to use the intarsia-style of knitting because stranding would be crazy wasteful. Once done with the chart, I took the original stocking to the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine … where I happen to work … to find yarn colors that were as close as possible. Lucky me! I found Christmas Green, Red and Blue that matched in good old Cascade 220 100% wool. I knew I had a similar ivory/off white in my stash and some black, too.

When you’re knitting stockings, you’re knitting them upside down and it’s fun to watch the images develop stitch by stitch. The intarsia creates lots and lots of ends to weave in. I am so thankful for the invention of bobbins. I couldn’t have done this without them. The fact that I stitched them flat made the weaving of ends simpler, too!

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Once past the charted section, it was a super quick process to the bell at the tip of the toe. I joined the stocking at the ankle and knitted the rest of the “giant sock” in the round. At the toe, with the tail of the yarn, I attached a silver bell just like on the original stocking.

I knew that I would add the lettering, and the eyes and nose on Santa at the end in duplicate stitch. I believe that the original stocking had lettering that was stranded but with a couple of washings, the stocking has withered a bit and the lettering doesn’t stand out as well as I would like. I’m very happy with the results of the duplicate stitch lettering. Then it was time to give Santa a beard and a pom-pom on his hat. I used short pieces of wool that I looped around itself and then clipped short and steam blocked to that it “frizzed” up. I love the beards, especially!

I am so pleased with the way the Santas and the trees turned out. I sewed individual sequins on all of the Christmas trees. I am not the most graceful sewer, but the sequins add such a wonderful sparkle on the trees! A braided loop for hanging was the last addition after steam blocking and seaming the back of the stocking. The seam is a blessing in disguise – it gives some substance and stability to the back of the stocking and makes it sturdier since it will be stuffed and hung on the mantel!

I love that they’re finished … and just in the (Saint) Nick of time! Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to you, my dear friend, Muffin! I know this will be a happy one at your house!

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All three stockings together, in public, for the first time! (LOL!)

Gone knitting!

Needles, Needles, Needles

I’m working a lot knitting socks. Trying some new patterns and trying different needles, too.

Knitter's Pride Dreamz DPN

Knitter’s Pride Dreamz DPN

I have a set of new Knitter’s Pride “dreamz” 6-inch double pointed needles in US1 (2.25mm) needles and they’re going to help me knit up some wonderful socks using  Susan B. Anderson’s “How I Make My Socks” pattern and Patons Kroy Socks in Spring Leaf Stripes colorway (that I’ve had in my stash for a few months.) I am really liking these needles. They are smooth but not slippery. The tips are pointy enough but I’d like to have a little more tip … they are almost rounded off at the tip rather than pointy and pointy is better when you’re using fine yarns. At this price point, however, they are very reasonable and they are nice to work with.

Signature Needle Arts DPN

Signature Needle Arts DPN

My other socks are on my Signature Needle Arts 6-inch US1 DPNs. (One of which I seem to have lost already. I am hoping that I left it at the office on Friday and that I will find it when I return tomorrow. You’ll understand why one would worry about the loss of one needle when you are told that I paid $48 for a set of four needles. Thus, one needle is valued at $12 which, by the way, is more than a set of 5 Dreamz needles.) The yarn that I am using is Gale’s Art Wonder Sock in the Graffiti colorway. I love this yarn’s color and it was one that I fell in love with and went to buy immediately after casting my eyes upon it. That doesn’t happen often. The Signature needles, while pricey, are worth every cent. I love the stiletto points and the yarn slips easily over them without slipping off them. I’d say that these are my favorites and I will collect more as my pocketbook allows.

I’ve had many (many!) sets of needles over the course of my knitting career. From the “cheap-o” needles that you can buy on sale at the big box craft stores to my pricey Signatures. I bought my first boxed set of needles at a half-price going out of business sale in Cincinnati, Ohio. I thought spending $50 for a set of Denise Interchangeable Needles was a huge expense. And I loved the needles. Until I discovered Addis! Addi cords were so much more flexible and they’ve been through several iterations since my first circular needles. One summer I bought a set of HIya Hiya needles (around $70- $80?) and I fell in love again. The transition between the needles and cords were much smoother than the Denise needles and the single circs that I bought here and there. No matter what brand of bamboo circular needle I seemed to buy, the transitions were often rough.

And then one  year I took some classes with Annie Modesitt and discovered Signatures. I’ve often asked for them for my birthday and Christmas and mother’s day, too. I tend to buy 40″ circulars because I can use them in magic loop in so many applications. I have one pair of straights and one pair of their DPNs. They are all magnificent and the tips are nice and pointy.

Limited Edition Knitter's Pride Dreamz (well worn!)

Limited Edition Knitter’s Pride Dreamz (well worn!)

I was gifted one more lovely set of needles a couple of Christmases ago. They are a limited edition set of Knitter’s Pride Dreams interchangeable circular needles. They have been so well used for so often (and taken with me when I travel or teach) that the box is starting to show some wear. I love the needles. The cords are nice and flexible and the transitions are mostly smooth. I have a couple of needles that are not as smooth as others. But, over all, this set is a decent price point and they are pretty colors and they are great to knit with.

Needles, like friends, are a personal choice. We all have our favorites or besties. None are “bad”, some are better for different projects. Have you ever travelled with a friend who you can only take in small doses or one who snores? It makes travel a challenge! Needles are the same! When you have the wrong needles, your project will be a challenge. I like to use bamboo with “slippery” yarn (like mohair). I use circulars for almost everything these days but I still like to knit socks on DPNs, too.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

Gone knitting.