Monday, December 26, 2011

Malkovich oreos

Happy Boxing Day dear readers!  On this sacred of all holidays, while I sit around the house in lounge-pants (thanks Santa!) and put away all my new toys, it's the perfect time to recap some holiday knits and gifts and how they were received.

A few weeks ago, during the over-scheduled weeks before Christmas, I made this little gal as a last minute contribution to the Knitters' Guild ornament exchange:

This is Holly, of Holly, Ivy, and Steve, a pattern I bought on Ravelry from Danger Craft.  I first stumbled on the pattern when I was browsing Etsy on the train home from my forced Montreal trip with Slim Jim.  I was severely strapped for cash at the time, and I couldn't even justify the $6 price tag for the pattern.  When at last a pay-cheque was tossed in my direction (let this be a lesson to you kiddies, always pay your caterer promptly), it wasn't until the weekend before the Guild meeting, so I didn't start Holly until Saturday night.  Sunday night had me out at a party (serving my dear readers, I never get to be the invitee at holiday events), and I had to stay up way passed my bedtime on Monday night to finish her.  In total I spent about 8 hours making Holly, but it should have been more - I cut the scarf way short when I realized how long that one element was going to take me.  I also didn't have white felt (or any felt at all actually) to make her teeth, no buttons for the eyes, and no stuffing to fill her, so I improvised.  Her teeth are stitched on with the same white yarn I used for the scarf, her eyes are made from tiny knots of brown yarn I had around the house, and she was stuffed with old plastic shopping bags.  Aside from a slight crinkle when you squeeze her, you'd never know.  Holly is a wonderful little stash-busting project, I used old yoga sock yarns I still had, plus some KnitPicks yarn from the Cupcake Mittens.  I still have boat-loads of this yarn left, and since Holly takes very little to make, I'm thinking I can bust out the rest of the gang and make an Ivy and a Steve.  My original Holly is long gone - she was snatched up quickly at the ornament exchange, and is hopefully sitting on someone else's tree right now.

And now, my crowning achievement in knitting for this year, drum roll please!

One FINISHED, neatly folded, and ready to be gifted Man's Cabled Cardigan:

This sweater was finished in late November, with buttons sewn on shortly after.  I followed the sizing for the man's small, which matched Fuzzyhead's measurements almost exactly.  My gauge was bang-on for stitches per inch, but not so hot for rows.  I only really had to think extra hard when the pattern told me to do something "every other row" or "for x rows" since my row gauge was not the same.  This caused the biggest trouble for the tops of the sleeves, where I had to made my own adjustments and still hope it would fit in the arm-shaped hole I had already made for the sleeve in the torso piece.  But as you can see here, it all came together swimmingly:

The sweater fits great, and I'm currently wearing it while I type this post.  He sported it around town yesterday to two different Christmas celebrations, and he'll be wearing it again tonight at the last run-around Christmas we have to do. 

Next up is another last minute project that I was thinking about and planning for months, so I guess you can't really call it last-minute.....except that I mailed it on almost the last possible day for mailing things to get it there before Christmas.  For this beauty, I learned to crochet from my wise and patience crocheting friend Catherine.  We stopped in at Shall We Knit? one night on the way to Thursday night knitting and I bought a skein of a heathered charcoal yarn for the hat (Cascade 220, what's up!).  I had a 4.5mm crochet hook in my bag and a pattern I couldn't understand on my Playbook.  Catherine and I somehow entirely missed the knit mob group that night, but we went to Coffee Culture by ourselves for some quiet crocheting.  I made real progress on the hat in that first night, and I finished the rest in two nights.  Fuzzyhead is modeling the finished hat here, before I wrapped it up for gifting to my friend Adam.

In the grand tradition of last year's red pepper jelly gifts for relatives, I made home-made jam for everyone on my list for Christmas.  I started the project in the summer, buying up canning jars when they showed up at the grocery store, and stocking up on pectin and sugar.  I chose to make strawberry jam when the Ontario strawberries were at their peak, but I didn't act fast enough to make the amount I needed before the precious two weeks of Ontario strawberry season were over.  For the rest of the jams, I made peach jam, and I did a couple batches of carrot cake jam in smaller jars for everyone.

The recipes for the strawberry and peach jams were taken right from the helpful pamphlet included in each and every box of Certo liquid pectin.  I dressed up the jars with a festive gold ribbon around the band, and a cutesy topper for the lid:

I found this "homemade goodies" stamp at Michaels during my crazy Halloween paper crafting obsession in November.  I cut discs from card stock I already had, and stamped them with brown ink.  They make the jars a millions time cuter.

The little carrot cake jams were all finished with holiday ribbon glued around the band, as well as the "homemade goodies" topper.  The carrot cake jam was inspired by a trip last year to the New Dundee Emporium for afternoon tea and scones, and I found the recipe here in a random google search.

In the same day I was tying ribbon around jars, I threw together a welcome gift for our new neighbours, who moved in on December 1st.  I had a Christmas cookie tin leftover from last year's gifting, so I wrapped up some red velvet whoopie pies I made that day for the Guild Christmas meeting.  Welcome neighbours!  Don't you wish you lived next to me?