Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Christmas Slippers

These Man's Cabled Slippers were designed by Pat Richards for Vogue Knitting's Winter 1992/1993 issue. I've been using this slipper pattern to make slippers for my father almost since this pattern was published. You can see last year's pair and an explanation as to why these slippers are so important to my father's comfort (he has a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis) on my knitting blog, The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done.

Here's this year's pair. I believe it to be the ninth I have made from this pattern. Over the years I've added a number of modifications. I knit two soles for each slipper and insert an insole between them. This year I used foam insoles rather than the felt insoles I have been using because I couldn't find any felt ones, and can only hope the foam will be as comfortable and will last out the year. I knit the bottom soles from craft yarn as, nasty-feeling as it is, it's the most durable yarn on the market, and use a nicer-feeling yarn for the upper soles and upper. I run thread elastic around the heel as that helps the slippers stay on much better. This year I used a needle a half-size smaller than what I have been using as my mother told me to make the slippers a little smaller because the slippers become too big after they stretch out. The green yarn here was some of a small lot of yarn I picked up at Value Village for three dollars a few years back. It's Infitex "Stop Cumbre", which is an acrylic/wool/mohair blend, was made in Spain, and judging from the graphics and font on the ball band, was probably spun in the seventies. It's not in the Ravelry database, at any rate. I came across it last January when I spent part of New Year's Day tidying and reorganizing my stash, and ear marked it for my father's slippers. Besides being the right weight, it's quite good quality and pleasant to work with, it should feel good to wear, and green is by far my father's favourite colour. I have enough left it to make his next two pairs of slippers.

I didn't have quite enough gray craft yarn left to knit the soles, so I pieced it out with a little of the green. I never worry about having to cobble together my father's slippers with different colour yarns as I ordinarily would with anything else I make as they'll be worn to shreds and wind up in the garbage in a year's time. In this case I thought the piecing actually rather improved the appearance of the slippers from the top front view, and it won't make a difference to durability as it's the heels that always wear out first. So that's part of my father's Christmas present taken care of. Now to purchase the biggest container of chocolate rosebuds I can find.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello Kitty It's Winter

I came across this hat pattern, which is the Pretty Kitty Beret, designed by Amanda Clark, and available for £2.50(GBP), by accident some months ago. I have a five-year-old Hello Kitty-obsessed grandniece. I had resolved to only knit for my grandniece Cauliflower and her little brother once a year, for their birthdays, as they always have way more clothes and other stuff than they need, but this hat was just so cute and Cauliflower would love it so much that I ended up yielding a point and making it. After all, it's just a hat.

Except of course it ended up not being just a hat. I whipped up the matching mittens using this free Drops design pattern. I had the yarn on hand and don't know exactly what brand it is anymore (the ball bands being long gone) but I think it was Kroy sock yarn. My niece tells me Cauliflower has a black winter coat and a hot pink winter coat, and this turquoise set should look fine with either one. I bought most of the beads and the tiny gauge crochet hook I used to slip the beads on the stitches. The tiny black beads I used for the whiskers have a funny back story. Some years back when my sister-in-law was at my place for the Swan family Easter do, the necklace she was wearing broke and the beads scattered everywhere. With the help of several other family members, she picked up most of the beads but there were some stray black seed beads still lying about. The next day I picked them all up and put them carefully away in a small bag in my bead box, thinking it would be amusing to incorporate them into a new necklace and give it to her some Christmas. I never did get around to making the necklace, but the black beads proved to be perfect for the whiskers on the hat and mittens that I'm going to give to my sister-in-law's beloved granddaughter this Christmas. You never know what will happen when you leave craft materials behind in a crafter's home.

I made just one mod to the hat pattern, which was to only put one kitty face on it rather than the six or so the pattern called for, as I thought it looked better. Lately I've been trying to make sure I learn something new during the course of every project. This project involved me learning two new techniques: the long tail tubular cast on, and beading. I'm going to be using the long tail tubular cast-on for every hat, glove, mitten, and sock I make from now on (love that stretchiness), and I'd like to do more beading. It really is very easy.