Saturday, January 4, 2014

Knitting flurry

I don't usually do 'Christmas knitting'. It always feels a bit awkward to give knitted gifts in an Australian summer. I guess it's a hang-over from childhood when a gift that you had to wait months to enjoy was a great disappointment. But last year (how odd it sees to say 'last year' for something so recent) for a variety of reasons I found myself busily knitting my way through December.

There was, of course, the need to make a small hand-crafted Christmas themed gift for an anonymous swap with friends from my Thursday evening knitting group. The last few years we've been indulging in afternoon tea for our get-together and in 2013 we found an ideal venue - the Studio Cafe at the Opera House with its perfectly-framed view of the Harbour Bridge.

I knitted two small Christmas angels for the swap.

and received two very cute, beautifully knitted owls from Bex in exchange, which I stupidly forgot to photograph before taking them to Brisbane to hang on our family tree. My grand-daughter is a fan of owls, so they were a great hit.

My second flurried knitting project was really a finishing project. Some time ago I began knitting a scarf using Martine Biehm's Brickless pattern. At the time I had no recipient in mind other than myself, but it was the kind of project that was ideal for knitting in company; simple enough that it required minimum concentration, but with enough variation to prevent me from becoming bored. I cast on using some beautiful Koigu sock yarn I'd had for several years and had completed about two-thirds of the scarf before I put it aside when I went off on my US and Mexico travels.

My daughter had brought her Aestlight scarf with her on our travels. I knitted this for her several years ago and it has been worn and worn. It's knitted from a wool/silk yarn in a neutral but rich pick-grey colour. It's perfect for travel because it's light and squashable, just right for air-conditioned buses and planes, and particularly useful if you're inadvertently caught in an ice-storm. But it's been much-loved and used and is looking rather tatty. I realised that 'Brickless' would be a great replacement.

The Koigu 100% wool is made up of many colours, but the overall impression is a mauvey-grey; ideal for wearing with almost anything. I think both this pattern and the Aestlight scarf fall into a category of robust scarves. They're not neat and precious but can be worn with anything and to the most casual of occasions if needed. Most useful. It became part of my daughter's Christmas present and I'm sure will be much used.

And finally there was Joshua's blanket. I'd begun a cotton blanket for my grandson who lives in the Philippines in late October in the rather faint hope of being able to send it to Joshua with a friend who was travelling from Brisbane to Manila on 27 December. I decided not to take it with me on my Mexican travels - a decision that had both good and bad outcomes. There's little doubt I would have been able to finish the easy garter-stitch project in my month of travelling. But even in retrospect, the thought of packing and unpacking the increasingly bulky blanket and balls of cotton and squashing them into my luggage is daunting. So, after finishing my other December knitting projects I returned to Joshua's blanket. I knitted on the approach to Christmas. I knitted through Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I hurriedly constructed the icord edging. I sewed in the ends on our way to the airport.

The blanket was finished just in time, though 'finished' is a rather doubtful description. As I knitted on the blanket I made adjustments to the pattern, with the sections becoming narrower than they should have been, and even omitted altogether. The proportions aren't nearly as pleasing as they were in the original pattern. In the unlikely event that the Mason-Dixon women, whose pattern this is, notice my blanket, I hope they will forgive the liberties I've taken. The blanket is quite small - just under a metre by just over a metre - but it will be fine as a nap blanket in air-conditioning, or as a cover for a sleeping mat on the floor. Anyway, it's done. (I once had a colleague who used to comment 'if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly' - a good adage for the perfectionists among us).

My knitting output for 2013 was rather pitiful so it's been good to have a last-minute flurry to make my knitting year look a little more respectable.


Lynne said...

I really like your knitted blanket, great colour combination, I knitted a version of the original too but since The Guild was calling for blankets 100cm x 175cm, I had to make it up as I went along. It looks nowhere near as nice as yours.

Love that pinky-grey yarn, I think you're right about it going with everything.

I find it hard to make handmade gifts for most people -- it's a childhood hangover of handmade because we can't afford a bought one!

I wish you more knitting time during 2014 (if that's what you want)! ;-)

Cecilia said...

All three projects are beautiful! I especially love the shawl. I don't think I've noticed this designed before, but in the last couple of weeks I have come across about half a dozen of her patterns that I have just loved.

Happy new year!

I look forward to sharing your adventures with you this year.

Rose Red said...

Both great projects, sure to be well-used and well-loved. Glad I wasn't the only person knitting right up to the wire this Christmas!

DrK said...

hmm yes pitiful is one word to describe my 2013 knitting output as well. your flurried items are all gorgeous, that lovely dark blue trim on the blanket is superb, and the brickless in that yarn is just beautiful! i gave up on knitting anything for christmas in 2013, if i start now i might get some done for next christmas!