Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas tree

My friend, R, requested some pix of my Christmas tree, so here they are:

I like to collect Christmas ornaments and have gotten many of them while traveling or to celebrate some particular milestone. Our tree was a little smaller than what we've had in the past (real Christmas trees are so much more expensive out here than they were in Chicago!), so we couldn't put all of our ornaments on the tree. Here's a sampling of what we had:

Here is a Las Vegas ornament at the top to commemorate driving from Chicago to Pasadena when John moved there, the one with the Eiffel Tower is from when John and I went to France, the blue ball is one I got at the Christkindl Market in Chicago, the white one with the blue tip in the lower left is one I got in Genoa, Italy when John and I went there. The British phone booth on the right was a gift from me to John because he likes Dr. Who.

In this one, you can see some of the ornaments from the previous picture, plus a green and white ornament toward the top that I got at Disneyland when I visited this year, a green and silver one that is a car from the T, the subway in Boston (BU, where John and I went to school, was on the Green line). Just above the red one with the gold half moon (which I got for John for Christmas one year) is a little San Franscisco trolley I got when I went to the American Society for Cell Biology for the first time (it was in SF). At the bottom is a green one you can't see the logo on, but it is from the observatory John goes to in Hawaii.

In this one, you can see a teddy bear with a blue coat that I gave John one year, a Hawaiian Santa that John gave me one year, an M&M guy that John got me one year and a gold ornament from Disneyland.

There are lots more, too, and of course there are the ones that didn't even make it on the tree this year. John has a whole host of ornaments that are ships from Star Wars and Star Trek that plug into the light string or have batteries and light up or say something when you press a button that didn't make it on the tree this year (for example, there's one that's a shuttle from Star Trek that has the voice of Leonard Nimoy saying Happy Holidays). Maybe next year we'll get a really big fake tree and be able to put all of the ornaments on it. Or maybe I should put the ornaments on a rotation so that they are on a schedule for getting on the tree every other year or so.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red scarf and gifts

I have a slight backlog of finished objects to show off.

First up, the Red Scarf:


Pattern: A simple pattern from the depths of my brain. Seed stitch with a simple 8 stitch cable in the middle.

Yarn: Cascade 200, 100% wool.

This was a charity project for the Red Scarf Project run by the Orphan Foundation of America. The OFA puts together care packages for kids who were previously foster-children who are now in college. The scarves go in the Feb. care packages, hence the preference for red. I like how it looks, but I find it a tad itchy. I think this is a product of the yarn, the fact that I did seed stitch instead of something smoother, and the fact that I am a delicate flower. It wouldn't preclude me from wearing it, though, so I decided it was worthy of being sent to the OFA. I apologize for the glare of the flash obscuring some things. In the picture is a card with a few words of encouragement and an iTunes gift card that I sent along with the scarf. They like you to put a little something extra in with your scarf. What college student wouldn't like some $ to spend at iTunes? Also not really recognizable is the tag I attached to the scarf.

I printed up some of these to put with the gifts I made this year. This particular one has washing instructions on the back.

Next up are two little stuffed toys I made for my nephews:

I included a marker for scale. This was a Burda pattern that I sort of followed. That is, I eliminated the machine embroidery applique and hand-stitched the patches on the belly, ears, hands, nose and eye. I also hand-stitched the mouth and used plastic safety eyes. Considering how difficult it was to get those damn things in, I don't think they'll be pulled loose anytime soon. The main body is fleece and the patches are quilting cotton. I used embroidery floss for the stitching on the patches. I also used double-sided applique bond stuff (don't actually know what that stuff is called) so the patches are stuck on there in addition to being stitched on. Again, not coming off anytime soon. There really should be three toys because there's another little nephew of mine I was planning on making one for, but I had to get two of them done super quick because my family does Christmas the weekend before and I wanted to get everything to them on time. Now, I'm running out of steam on making Christmas gifts, so nephew H may get some NASA onesies or something like that (there's a gift shop at the NASA center) to go with his Mickey Mouse (I got one of those for each nephew at Disneyland).

Next up, a bath gift set for my SIL:


Pattern (bag): I made it up. I knit in the round for around 8 inches, then did yo, k2tog around, then knit in the round for a couple more inches, bound off, then sewed the bottom of the bag together.

Pattern (washcloth): Dapper Dab from a leaflet called Color-Splash Discloths.

Yarn: Cascade Cotton Club, a cotton/acrylic blend

I originally was just going to make a couple of washcloths and pair them with some nice soaps, but then decided to make it look more complete by making a bag to put a washcloth and soap in (the soaps were from Cost Plus World Market). The bag is lined with the material it is laying on in the picture which I hand-stitched in:

Finally, a scarf for my MIL (seen here under the tree with the completed bath set):


Pattern: Also made up. Very similar to the red scarf except that I made a 12-stitch braided cable up the center.

Yarn: Crystal Palace Merino 5, 100% superwash wool

I was planning on making my MIL a bath puff and giving her soap to go with it, but I didn't like how the bath puff came out. The red scarf worked up surprisingly quickly, so I decided to make a similar one for my MIL. I did the bulk of the knitting while at knitting group or while listening to an audio book (I'm making my way through the Dresden Files series) so the fact that in the last couple weeks I have knit 10 feet of seed stitch plus cable didn't drive me insane.

So, that's it for the Christmas gifts. I need to wrap the bath set and scarf and get the NASA thingie and wrap it then everything will be set for the in-laws and I can send the stuff out (FIL got a mug from the observatory J goes to and coffee and BIL got a t-shirt from the observatory so they are all taken care of as well).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A waste of perfectly good panic

After completely freaking out about the Christmas deadline, I went and finished a couple of gifts lickety-split. I feel a little silly now for panicking.

Mom's socks:

Pattern: On-Hold from Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson with two stitches removed from either side of the central pattern for fit.

Yarn: Socks that Rock lightweight, Jasper colorway

Needles: Addi Turbo size 0

These were not as much fun to knit as my sister's socks. I think because the yarn was so stiff and I was knitting them on smaller needles. They feel great as socks, though, and they're slightly small for me which means they'll be perfect for Mom. I've decided I'm not a huge fan of Socks that Rock, though, which I think might be sacrilege in some circles.

For nephew B:

Pattern: Oh Balls! from Ravelry

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Lime, Maize, and Cherry

Needles: US size 5 dpns

These knit up so quick I could see that they could become addictive. It was a really satisfying project and I have decided that I really like working with Cotton-Ease. These balls will be just the right size for a toddler to throw and since they are stuffed with poly fiberfill, they're not going to do any damage. Conceivably, they could knock over something very lightweight but that's about it. These will be going with the braided ball I made and a stuffed Mickey Mouse from Disneyland. So, I'm all finished with my gift for nephew B.

AND, I started a Red Scarf!

The guilt got to me. I really felt I should do a charity project for the holidays and they really need scarves for this charity so I sucked it up and started a scarf. I'm using Cascade 220 and just winged the pattern--seed stitch with an 8 stitch cable in the middle. I'm cabling every 8 rows. It's been going pretty fast, I've got 46 inches so far. With just 14 more inches to go to meet the suggested length, I think I'll be able to send it out on time. I'm really liking the Cascade 220--so much better than the wool-ease!

So, I've got two Christmas gifts completed and a charity project almost done. Not bad for the first of December!