1

Advent-eriffic

Meet Jack.

He is our very new “watch elf” (no, not a “scout” elf, according to Knittymunchkin – because he’s “watching me!”).

His hobbies include:

Pilfering leftover Halloween candy at night when the humans are sleeping, napping under the Christmas tree and riding the T. rex. When he’s not riding the T. rex, he’s usually on the motorcycle, and once we caught him trying to cheat on his nightly trip to the North Pole by attempting to phone Santa instead (on a defunct cell phone). He’s keeping us VERY busy!

Advent is keeping me busy too.  Several years ago now I knit Smitten for Knittymunchkin (unblogged of course, because that’s how I roll apparently). We didn’t have a lot of Christmas traditions when I was a kid, but a few times I was gifted an advent calendar by a neighbor or relative.  I clearly remember the anticipation of opening each new window (never mind that chocolate was never involved, just a colored image on card stock) and the building excitement as I counted the days until Christmas. I wanted so much for my son to experience the magic that I had, and for us to build some of our own traditions.  The first year I was not quite prepared and the last few mittens were actually unfinished at the start of December.  My brilliant super knitty pal Troy, suggested I just hide them each day since I couldn’t have them all hanging on a string ready to go. Guess what?  A new tradition was born.  Now I hide them every day for Knittymunchkin in the month of December and I can say we have truly made an advent activity that is uniquely ours. I love it.

Though I am Pinterest late-comer, I have the site to thank for some of our cool new advent activities this year. When I started this tradition for my son, I told myself I didn’t want it to be all about receiving gifts or rotting our teeth out with candy.  Lucky for me, others share the same feelings (and their ideas for navigating it) on Pinterest.  For the first time this year I feel I’ve been fairly well prepared.

A few of the fun things we did this year:

  • Wrote a letter to Santa. There’s lots of great templates to be found.  I liked this one for this year. Uptown (formerly known as Knittymunchkin) was able to fill out some of his own answers and I filled in the more complicated phrases.  He thinks I need a pink teddy bear because “you’re the best mommy in the world.” Awww…..
  • Received a letter from Santa. O.k., not really an advent activity, but still a super exciting thing for a kid to receive.  All the details are here and it totally works!
  • We made Snowball Playdough. Simple, and a total hit! Find it here.
  • Melted Crayon Ornaments. We turned those crayons (above) into ornaments (below) and gifted them to friends. Find it here.  Just a couple notes….. Do NOT attempt this project if you only own a prehistoric hairdryer that is over 25 years old (like mine). You will be frustrated and probably burn your fingers attempting to melt those damn nubs of crayon.  At least I was.  All crayons are not melted alike. I noticed that off-brand crayons melted at a different rate from Crayola crayons and it was frustrating to not have all of them melting at once.  But this could also be my crappy ass hairdryer coming into play. Also, I had A TON of trouble getting the unmelted nubs of crayon out of the bulbs after we had the inside decorated to our satisfaction.  After many swear words and angry shaking of the ornaments (resulting in at least one casualty), I resorted to using the smallest possible bits of crayon & just melting them to extinction.  You really don’t need much to coat the inside of each ornament.  Much less than you would think. And it’s strangely satisfying to watch them melt into oblivion. Unless your fingers are on fire. I let Uptown pick the colors and I did the heating, so this might not be super appropriate for smaller kiddos, but he still seemed to enjoy it.  I’m sensing a bit of a color theme here….. He didn’t branch out too much with his choices. Maybe next time.

Hope you have enjoyed the weeks leading up to Christmas (or your festivity of choice) with your own fantastic, unique traditions!  I’d love to hear what you do with your families to prepare for the holidays :)

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7

Christmas Blitz 2012 Wrap-Up

Whew.  I did a hella ton of Christmas knitting this year.  Well, for the Queen of “I-Don’t-Knit-For-Christmas” anyway.  I know it’s way past the fact now, but I haven’t shared any of those FO’s with you before now and I figure it would be nice to see some pretty knit pictures here on the blog, not just shots of my cutie son and my not-so-cutie face.  Warning, this post is project heavy, but I’ll try to keep the details to a dull roar.

Every year my husband makes an agreement with his Dad that only the kids will receive gifts. And every year his Dad’s girlfriend still buys us stuff. Usually we don’t worry about it too much because we don’t see them until January or February anyway and then it’s not quite so awkward to receive without gifting in return. But this year we went to see them on December 22 and I wanted to be prepared. Currently we are also despairingly broke, so everyone got hand knits whether they wanted to or not.  My friend Troy has this great attitude about his handknits.  He figures that once they leave his hands he doesn’t need to be sentimentally attached to them anymore.  If someone doesn’t appreciate it, gives it away, lets the dog sleep on it, or puts it in the dryer, he doesn’t get hurt.  Once he gifts it he’s done with it emotionally.  This year I strove to do the same.  Because I used stash yarns that weren’t being used anyway, it didn’t really break my heart to think someone might toss this into the closet and forget about it.  Realistically, it was doing the same thing here and there was just the smallest chance that my hand knit would end up with someone who would truly wear and enjoy it, whether or not it was the original recipient.  That’s more of a chance than it would have hanging out here in one of my rubbermaid tubs.  And besides, I got the fun of knitting it.

Without further ado…..  Christmas Knitting Blitz 2012 Show And Tell begins!

The Boys (my Father-In-Law & Brother-In-Law) received simple, but not plain, hats in black.  I really didn’t know what each of them would wear and figured it would be best to play it safe.  I used black yarn that had been in my stash since dinosaurs roamed the earth: Valley Yarns Berkshire.  This is a nice all purpose sort of yarn, a bit like Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride, but possibly softer.  I don’t know how it will wear because it is pretty fuzzy, but hopefully it will last a while even if it pills.  In retrospect, I wouldn’t choose a fuzzy yarn like this in the future for either of these patterns.  The design elements were sort of lost in that alpaca halo and would have been more crisp and well-defined with a plied yarn of some type I’m guessing.  Oh well.  Lesson learned, stash busted.  Moving on.

Berruti Hat

Berruti Hat

  • Pattern: Berruti by Wendy Neal (Ravelry Link)
  • Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire in Black
  • Needle: Size 7 circ, worked with Magic Loop
  • Comments: This is my second hat in this pattern and I still really like the way it looks, not to mention the fact that it’s a super quick knit without being stunningly boring.  I knit this on a size 7 to stay true to the pattern, but I think in the future when I use this yarn I wouldn’t use anything smaller than a size 8 needle.  It felt stiff and was a little hard to knit on needles that size.  Still like the finished product though & expect it will be warm.
Man Thing Hat

Man Thing Hat

  • Pattern: Man Thing by Justyna Lorkowska (Ravelry Link)
  • Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire in Black
  • Needle: Size 7 circ for ribbing, Size 8 circ for body, worked with Magic Loop
  • Comments: Really liked this pattern and thought it made a very handsome hat.  Nice & stretchy, & perfect for the guys. The halo of the Berkshire didn’t swamp the design as much on this hat as it did on the Berruti, so pretty happy with how it turned out.
Another Stacked Eyelet Cowl

Another Stacked Eyelet Cowl

  • Pattern: Stacked Eyelet Cowl by Ami Madison (Ravelry Link)
  • Yarn: Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK in “Cream”
  • Needle: Size 6 circ
  • Comments: Second one of these for Christmas 2012.  I love this pattern and simply adore this yarn.  So sad they’ve discontinued it…. sniff sniff.  I was worried about this one because the upper edge was curling inside out before blocking, but luckily that curl blocked right out and it looked great afterwards.  Not as drapey as I would have liked, but still pretty in its own way.
Moko Moko Cowl

Moko Moko Cowl

  • Pattern: Moko-Moko Cowl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (Ravelry Link)
  • Yarn: Valley Yarns Stockbridge in “Deep Red”
  • Needle: Size 7 needles
  • Comments: I loved this pattern the moment I saw it. And when I realized I had enough stash to knit it, I bought it. Love the pattern & love the result – definitely making one for me eventually. This yarn is pretty nice & works well for this design I think. My only issue was that, despite having 327 yds of worsted yarn (the pattern calls for 330 yds) I was only able to knit 6 full repeats of the pattern. That means I was 2 repeats short! It still works as a cowl, but won’t drape over the shoulders like it shows in the pattern photos. Not sure if the yarn was mismarked, or what happened, but that was kind of a bummer.  I want one of these that’s a bit skinnier (and maybe longer) perhaps with some of the Bugga! I’ve been hoarding over the last couple years.
Deck The Balls

Deck The Balls

  • Pattern: Deck The Balls by Kelly Jensen (Ravelry Link)
  • Yarn: Assorted Sock Yarn Partials
  • Needle: Size 2 needles, using Magic Loop
  • Comments: So thrilled with how these turned out!  They were fairly quick, though owing to the slightly different weights of the fingering yarns I was using, I had to modify things a little to get the decreases at the top to fall in the right place.  But it really didn’t take long to rip back and finish again when I needed to do that.  I see a whole pile of these in my Christmas 2013 knitting future.  Fun!

Wow, that’s a lot of FOs to share!  And guess what’s totally nuts…..  I still have more to photograph and show you!  Not from Christmas, just from this year’s stash knitting so far.  It’s been kinda fun seeing what I can make with what I already have on hand.

What are you knitting this year so far?

5

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Family1a

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  We hope you had a joyous holiday and are looking forward to a New Year filled with peace & love!

A little Christmas gift I thought I’d share with you…..

Tin Can Knits (Ravelry Designer link here) is gifting people with one free pattern from their collection until January 1st 2013.  Check out the details here!  I’ve been admiring their patterns for a little while now, so here’s the chance to tell all of you about it and get to try something new at the same time :)  The pattern I chose to download is Snowflake, so hopefully that will appear in 2013’s FO’s somewhere.  Thanks so very much Tin Can Knits, for sharing your lovely patterns with all of us!  And be sure to pass this on to your friends too for a little holiday/New Year goodness :)

Happy Knitting, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, & much love,

Knittymuggins

4

Merry Chunkmas!

And Happy Winter Solstice too!

Today was always one of my Dad’s favorite days of the year.  Though the first official day of winter, my Dad made a point of focusing on the best part of this day, instead of the fact that there are several long months of cold ahead.  The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year and that means that from now on the days are getting longer.  Something special to hold onto when it seems like the dreary dark days of winter will never end.  I love that I have another occasion to remember my Dad and how special he was.  We always had Christmas together too, seeing as we were both complete and total Christmas freaks. I’ve been thinking about him now that it’s the holiday season and I miss him more than ever.

There’s been some intrawebs silence from me for a while because I have been on a freakishly frantic Christmas knitting blitz, the likes of which are rarely witnessed here at Chez Knittymuggins.  Many of you long time readers know that I don’t knit for Christmas.  After many failed attempts to engage my family members in the joy I feel gifting them handmade lovelies, I decided it wasn’t worth the trauma I was causing myself when my gifts were rejected.  But this year, with our budget in a state of crisis, I decided it was time to break out the needles.  I may not have cash, but I’ve got stash!

It actually started with preschool.  My son’s class has nine darling little kids in it (including Knittymunchkin) and I thought it would be sweet to gift them all something for Christmas.  Of course I decided this about 2 weeks before I had to have 9 things knit.  But such is the mania of Christmas knitting.  You figure you can rest on the 26th when all gifts have been delivered safely out of your hands.  I had originally planned to knit something for each of the mamas too, but that didn’t materialize when I realized it was about all I could do to knit for the kids & the teacher, and whatever else I had planned.  I chose the Monster Chunks pattern by Rebecca Danger & with a pile of brightly colored superwash wool gifted to me several years back by my sweet friend Kathy, I set to work.  What fun!  As I knit each little monster I tried to envision which child would like which combination best & each little creature took on its own personality.  I let Knittymunchkin pick out his favorite body (a red one) and then let him choose the color for the feet (purple).  I think he liked being involved in the creation process, though he was quite strenuously against gifting the rest to his preschool friends, saying “I no want to share with preschool friends!”  I used this opportunity to instruct him that Christmas is about giving & not getting, and then sneakily distributed these to his classmates in their cubbies so he wouldn’t have to deal with the sight of his little monsters being given away.  Counter productive?  Maybe.  But a meltdown was avoided and sometimes that matters just a little bit more.

Monster Chunks!

Monster Chunks!

I also knit a little something for his sweet preschool teacher.  The Stacked Eyelet Cowl is probably one of the fastest gifts I’ve ever knit (in fact, I made another for gift giving this year, but more on that later).  I knit it with Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool which I’d bought at my LYS’ annual Stashbusting sale a couple years back.  It was my first time using this yarn and I really liked it, though I encountered at least 2 knots which never fails to disappoint me in a high end yarn.  I liked the yarn even more after blocking it, as it made the cowl drape quite nicely.  Interestingly, the silk in this doesn’t impart a sheen as I expected it would, it’s more tweedy like I imagine raw silk would be.  Also, I found it suprisingly itchy around my neck after a short amount of wear (but then again, my neck is a bit sensitive to wools).

Self Portrait!

Self Portrait!

Normally I have the unparalleled luxury of a personal photographer for my hand knits (thank you R. Darling!), so I have not perfected the blogger’s unique talent of photographing themselves successfully in a mirror.  As you can see, I need a lot more practice.  This is the result of at least 45 photos with closeups of my hair, my ear, or unrecognizable blue and red blobs.  Thank goodness for digital!

Hope your holiday knitting is going well too & your needles are ablaze with Christmas spirit!

9

iSpoiled

There was some major spoilage at Chez Knittymuggins for Christmas this year.  As in, my sweetest of sweet husbands bought me an iPad!  I was not expecting this and didn’t think I could possibly need one until I opened it up and started using it.  Call me deluded, but I somehow feel like this little hunk of metal is going to organize and simplify my life in about eleventy-billion ways.  And I barely even know how to turn it on yet.  I’ll keep you posted.
 
But despite all that material goodness, there was much love all around.  I mean, how could there NOT be, with this little face to embrace?
 

 
There is nothing like having a child in your home for Christmas.  It reminds you of all that is hopeful, joyful, pure and innocent.  I hope all your holidays were as wonderful as could be and wish each and every one of you the happiest of New Years!

10

Merry Christmas!

Our little family - November 2010


 
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season!  And best wishes to each of you for a happy and successful New Year too!
 
I’ll be hopefully returning to my less-than-regular blogging program sometime soon :)  But now that Knittymunchkin is mobile (!) finding time for anything other than chasing him around is proving to be something akin to milking a unicorn.  I hope that all of you have been well during this most longest of blog breaks, and I look forward to catching up with all of you very very soon!
 
Until then, Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!
 

Totally gratuitous Knittymunchkin picture!

7

Dear Buddy….

Dear Buddy,

Is it Buddy?  Or is it Buddy The Elf?  Maybe I should just call you Mr. Elf and keep things formal.  I know that Santa is busy chillin’ in his speedo on the beaches of Rio right now, so I thought I’d better write you instead.  Granted, he sees me when I’m sleeping and he knows when I’m awake, but that’s probably kinda hard with all those hoochies in Rio letting it all hang out.  Anyway, I wanted to make sure that someone noticed I was a very very good girl this past week.  There was a huge clearance sale on Sundara Silk Sport yarn and I had 6 hanks of it in my shopping cart at one point but then had the presence of mind to remove them all from my shopping cart all on my own.  Yes, I know I dithered for a few hours and would most definitely have come back to purchase something if the site hadn’t closed down, but that’s really not the point is it?  The point is, I didn’t buy yarn.  And then over the weekend I was faced with two more opportunities to buy yarn.  I even had a hank or two in hand at the second shop I visited, but instead I used an old gift card to purchase one set of addi lace turbos that were on sale and ended up spending only a whopping $2.99 in total.  I mean, I think that’s pretty good isn’t it?  And I’m getting an early start.  Not like those other kids who only think about being good right after Thanksgiving. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I hope my extra effort will be duly noted and brought to Santa’s attention.  I’d really love some yarn-related goodness under the tree on Christmas morning.  Thank you so much Mr. Elf!  I hope you are staying healthy sticking to the 4 main food groups – Candy, Candy Corn, Candy Canes, & Syrup – I know I am.  Say “hello” to Papa Elf, Arctic Puffin, & Mr. Narwhal for me too :)

Sincerely,

Knittymuggins