Tag Archives: holidays

Gift Along 2016

It’s just about thanksgiving which means we, the few, the crafty, are already thinking about holiday knitting. For the (third? fourth?? I can’t keep track oh well) something-th year running I’ll be participating in the Indie Designer’s Gift-Along! That Ravelry link will give you all the details. But in a nut-shell it goes like this:

  • Participating designers have patterns on sale from tonight to November 30th.
  • Knit Alongs will be hosted for all types of projects with prizes for participation, random give aways, and other special categories.
  • Prizes! Digital patterns, physical yarn, books, notions. This part is big because we’re pooling our resources. You should really check out the prize list.

To find which patterns are on sale for the next week(ish) you can check out the group bundles and pinterest boards (here). Or see the designer’s bundles (here).

I’ve got 15 designs which will be 25% off as part of the sale! From 8pm (EST) tonight through midnight on the 30th use the code giftalong2016 to get the discount. This is my biggest annual sale and I hope you like the selection this year. I tried to mix old and new, small and large projects so there should be something for everyone! 

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So warm up those needles, dig through your stash, and happy knitting!

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The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

-The Shortest Day, Susan Cooper

longest night

This poem has been an annual tradition of mine that apparently slipped the year Windsor arrived. I hope not to miss it in the future!

It’s beginning

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

2015 tree

This year’s frazier fir came from our local llama and tree farm (as always). It’s a bit shorter than what we’re used to because we had to trim up the stump to make it level once we got it home. I was in charge of cutting down the tree this year, and apparently I could use the practice!

The ornament collection has been sorted, so that only toddler-friendly items are on the tree. She loves to hang them up, take them off, and hang them up again.

ornaments

And yes, that IS a needle felted sheep on my tree. Why would you even need to ask?

The weekends have lots of fun activities like baking Christmas cookies. Toddlers are really good at crushing candy canes:

breaking candy canes

She also loved dipping the rolled up balls of dough in the crushed candy canes, and smushing them onto the cookie sheet!

And we even managed a family photo, although we had about 45 seconds of cute snuggles before the toddler made a break for that interesting, moving, whirring camera on that stand over there (I took these with the remote control)

family christmas

break for it

I hope that where ever you live, and whatever your beliefs, you take a moment this month to slow down, enjoy your loved ones, give thanks for what you have, and give help to those who need it. I don’t often get political here, but I just want to implore everyone to remember that love and kindness toward our fellow humans would go a long way toward solving our problems.

too

The weather has been TOO weird this month. We’ve had no snow, very little cold, and some really weird freezing fog.

foggy rosehip

I’m not complaining, because we’re putting in a new leachfiled* soon. And it’s not the sort of thing you choose to do in the middle of winter, unless you can’t avoid it. Since our current system is TOO old it is on the way out, and we can’t avoid it. But if the snow holds off so we don’t have to dig through it – that’d be really nice.

Maybe you’ve noticed, or maybe the world is TOO crazy, and you haven’t. But I’ve been a bit withdrawn. I’ve been spending less time on social media; even less time on Ravelry. Windsor has been very TWO these days. And with sleep issues, and learning how to use the word no, and all the joys and struggles that go with a toddler – my evenings have been consumed.

foggy cedar

But it’s not just the TWO year old. I’ve been spending TOO much time cleaning, packing, and trying to keep this house real-estate ready. Moving sucks. It’s stressful and emotional and time consuming, and slow. TOO MUCH.

And since the world has been TOO crazy it has felt pretty good to pull back, to focus on what is needed, and let the rest slide on by. I hope you don’t mind. I’m still here, just taking things at a slower pace, so I don’t put TOO much of myself into anything I can’t sustain.

foggy weed

To that end, the December Knit-Along for my book is going to be postponed. I haven’t had a lot of interesting and I’ve had even less time. I am shifting gears, downshifting, we’ll do chapter knit-alongs every other month. The Periwinkle Sheep fans are looking forward to January’s sweater already. And we’ll come back to December next year, so no loss – we’re just spreading out the book love so it’ll last longer.

So for the rest of the month I’m paring back. I will post when I have knitting to share, but not TOO much. No stress. I hope you’ll be kind to yourself as well. Take this holiday season to slow down, calm down, share some love, donate to charity, whatever it is that makes you happy. There’s TOO much anger and stress out there. Everybody breath. Take in the fog.

foggy seedhead

Our path will come clear, eventually.

*a leachfield is where all the household waste water goes, when you live in a rural place, like most of Vermont…

Searchable giftalong

One of the absolute best things about the gift along this year is the searchable bundle.

No, wait, that’s not right. The BEST thing about the gift along is the fabulous people participating, the wonderful designers, the entertaining games, the amazing prize list.

So, do you want to participate? You just need to choose an eligible pattern and dive in! Ok, and THAT is where the searchable bundle comes in. If you look at that page you’ll see that with 335 designers we have over 300,000 eligible patterns. But instead of having to sort or scan, or just look at your favorites list and guess you can use the powerful Ravelry search feature!

Want to knit a hat with a single skein of bulky yarn? You can sort for that:

gal hats

No, instead let’s consider something big, really big, epic. Maybe a lacey square or a circular shawl?

gal giant shawls

Or my favorite, cabled sweaters:

gal sweaters

If you’ve never played with the Ravelry search now is a great time to test it. You can filter for patterns already in your library, patterns you’ve favorited, or patterns your friend has favorited – if you’re knitting a gift for someone else! You can choose a yarn and search for patterns that will work or look at all adult cardigans and then see what you already have the pattern for. Frequently when I’m looking on other websites I WISH for a search engine this customizable. It’s awesome.

GAL FO2

Here’s my second finished gift-along project of the season! It’s the Laura cowl by Jennifer Dassau.

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This is a snug little cowl perfect for wearing under your coat collar and keeping the wind out.

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It’s also perfect for using up small amounts of magical yarn. This one took just two skeins of Road to China aran weight. The yarn is an amazing blend (65% Baby Alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Camel, 10% Cashmere) and I only had 150 yards in this color. I think my cowl is a tad longer than the pattern calls for because I just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn.

2015-12-03_08-02-54
I highly recommend both the yarn and the pattern. I love them as a combo too, since I got the yarn from last winter’s retreat and I met Jennifer there too!

Next up I’m knitting this slip stitch beanie. And the pattern is really doing brilliant things with my colorful and variegated yarn. I might need to try this stitch pattern again with other yarns…

Gift Along FO

Like many other designers I use the gift along as a great excuse to kick back and knit other people’s stuff for awhile. The first project off my needles this season is for Windsor. The silly girl LOVES mittens this year. Which means she’s wearing them everywhere, and then taking them off and leaving them everywhere. The solution to the lost-mitten-crisis of 2015 is clearly a set of them with icord ties:

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These adorable little things are from CJ’s Garter Cuff Mittens by Denise Balvanz, except with icord. I knit them traveling home from a conference last week. I’d thrown the yarn and needles into my bag figuring I’d find a pattern later. I was able to search Ravelry and download the pattern to my phone while sitting at a short layover. Have I mentioned I love living in the future sometimes?

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I followed the pattern exactly as written, except for how I didn’t (you know me) instead of a standard cast on I knit some icord first, and then picked up stitches from there to make the cuff. My only other change was that the mittens are about 4 stitches smaller than the smallest size, because Windsor’s hands are so wee.

She loves these mittens. And I’m either pinning them to her coat cuffs, or sewing them on. Whatever it takes…

Interview: Triona Murphy

Every year around the Indie Gift-Along I like to do some GAL inspired features. I’ll talk about some GAL patterns I love and GAL designers who inspire me. Today I’ve got an interview with Triona!

Triona photo

Welcome! I’m excited to be interviewing you for the indie gift-along! First can you tell my readers a little about yourself:

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I’m always on the lookout for things to inspire my designs! I’m an incorrigible Kinnearer (see the Yarn Harlot’s extremely informative post for an explanation of the term). Sometimes I think I wouldn’t design anything without my trusty iPhone. I take pictures of interesting clothing and accessories, architectural features, nature, fences, rugs, and lots more.

How did you first get started designing?

I bought a sweater in Paris because it was freezing there in December. While I wore it a lot after I got home, there were all these things I didn’t like about it. It was boxy with no waist shaping, had an unflattering neckline, and the cables were all out of proportion. So I decided to design my own roughly-inspired version. When I posted it to my Ravelry project page, I was really surprised when a whole bunch of people said they would purchase a pattern for that sweater. I had just left my job and had some time on my hands, so I studied every pattern I could get my hands on and then gave it a shot. That sweater (Chandail) is still my most popular pattern to date!

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What’s your favorite thing to knit? (either for designs, or on your own)

I love knitting hats, especially in worsted weight. They’re the perfect vehicle for messing around with new stitch patterns, and they’re always done before I have time to get tired of the pattern.

What do you do in your down time?

I’ve been working on writing sci-fi novels for children and young adults for a number of years now. I’m hoping to get published someday!

 

Now about this GAL thing:

How many years have you been in the GAL? When/how did you first hear about it?

This is my third year participating in the Gift-A-Long. I loved the concept right from the beginning. Now it’s when I give myself permission to knit patterns from other designers, so it’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite times of the year.

Pick one of your own designs that you think makes the perfect gift and tell us why you think that.

I just released a new hat pattern last week, Land Under Wave, that I think is perfect for gifts. Since it’s knit in worsted-weight yarn, it can be worked up in just a few evenings.

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Name one thing you hope to finish during the gift-along. Or, if you’re not knitting gifts this year, what’s one other designer’s pattern you WISH you were knitting?

I’m going to knit myself a pair of cute cabled fingerless mitts for sure. If I have time, I’m hoping to find a small steeking project—I’ve never tried steeking before, and this seems like a good opportunity!

Gift along 2015

I’ll be participating in the Indie Designer’s Gift Along again this year, and it starts this evening!

If you haven’t heard about this before it’s a group of indie designers (over 300 this year!) who band together to offer you a brilliant pattern sale right before the holidays. All participating patterns will be 25% off from tonight at 8pm until November 27th at midnight (Eastern time).

Along with the two week sale, and continuing until the end of December, we have a group knit along, fabulous prizes, and support for everyone during the holiday knitting rush.

My Bundle of sale patterns is on ravelry and I hope you’ll check it out. I included eight patterns and tried for a broad sampling from the very new:

Kinsman
kinsman closeup

To the very old:
La Moelle
lamoelle vertical

The popular:
Clarina Irene
soft focus

And the hidden gem:
November Guest
November Guest draped

wrapping it up

I hope you had a wonderful holiday no matter what you were celebrating this week and this month. We celebrate Christmas, and with Windsor and her cousin (a year older than her) underfoot it is a very joyous holiday! As I suspected, I gave a few IOUs, but only to the adults on my list who will appreciate January Gifts just as much. The children mostly got sewing this year, instead of knitting. Sewing is much faster, so you can see what I did there…

Capes all around! Windsor got a hat and a skirt too. I had dreams of making a robin hood hat for my nephew – but my lack of time and craft felt got in the way…

I have one more gift-along present to show you all, my Stasia Cowl – which I finished in mid December, but apparently forgot to blog.

stasia 3

I knit this out of a full skein of peace fleece. It’s lovely and squishy. The cowl is knit flat, pulled through a keyhole style opening in the middle, twisted around itself, and seamed together at the ends to make a second keyhole. The result is this cool twisty squishy fabric which can’t quite be explained, or even demonstrated in 2D photos.

stasia 4

So you’ll have to take my word for it (ravelry project here.)