Thursday, August 25, 2022

A Christmas Sweater

On New Year's Eve 2021, I spent my evening doing some knitting project planning and organizing for the coming year... in between swigs of homemade Bailey's. (Don't tell me knitters don't know how to party.) I'd picked out a pattern for my honorary niece Olivia's Christmas 2022 sweater the previous August, but when I was writing up my yarn shopping list for the coming year on New Year's Eve, I checked my stash to see if I had anything suitable.


This is the Sverrigsgade pattern, designed by Sanne Bjerregaard. It's a free pattern, it's quite strikingly attractive and visually interesting, and as multi-coloured striped patterns tend to be, it's an excellent stash buster. I love the colourway used in the sample pattern, and had rather hoped to replicate it, but after a look through my stash, I wound up going with the alternate palette I found there. When it came down to my paying what is for me a considerable chunk of money to buy the ideal yarn for this project, or using the suitable and attractive no-cost yarn from my stash, it was an easy call.  

I had in my storage box of DK yarn 200 grams of a tan-coloured yarn that I'd bought online from Mary Maxim and that proved not to be the right shade for my purpose when it arrived. I would have returned it, but the Mary Maxim customer service person told me it would cost me more to send it back than the refund would be, so I sighed resignedly, kept it, and simply ordered more in the right shade. I decided those two inadvertently purchased skeins would work quite well as the main colour for this design. I also had small amounts of red, wine, dark green, and kelly green DK yarn left over from other projects that I thought worked together well and went fairly well with the tan, and so would do for the contrast colours.

The completed sweater in a size six. I'm pretty pleased with it. The colourway isn't bad at all for something put together out of odds and ends while not entirely sober. It has a Christmassy look, which is a plus for a Christmas present, but not so much so that it can't be worn all winter. It will also suit Olivia's colouring of brown hair, olive eyes, and faintly olive-tinged fair skin quite well. This pattern is well-written and knitted up without any problems. I was keeping an anxious eye on the red yarn, as I feared it might run out before the sweater was done, but it went the distance. I went with neutral buttons on the shoulder, as I couldn't seem to match any of the contrast colours in the sweater to any of the buttons Fabricland carries. 

I've also purchased a dollar store suncatcher painting kit and a thrift shop copy of The Borrowers for Olivia's Christmas present, but the present isn't yet complete. I have a plan to make something else to go with it, something special that warrants its own post, so watch this space.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Not So Little Boy Blue

My grandnephew Bug turned nine in July 2022. Like a good knitter and a passable great-aunt, I began planning his birthday present sweater well in advance. Ravelry tells me I added the pattern I used for his sweater to my queue on August 26, 2021.  

The design I chose was the one you see pictured above, the imaginatively named 1208-02, by Sandnes Design. I've had my eye on this pattern since Bug was a preschooler and have always thought it had quite a bit of style. In December 2021, when Romni Wools was having its annual December sale, I bought the yarn for the project: Drops Karisma in Vert Mix (colour 50) for the main colour, and Light Pearl Gray (colour 72) for the contrast. I had to go with marbled gray buttons for the placket as the blue proved impossible to match. 

And here's the finished product, made in a size 10. The pattern wasn't the best written and I wound up having to redo the sleeve cap, armhole, and shoulder shaping a few times -- as well as recalculate and rewrite the directions -- before I got it right. But eventually the sweater was completed and I was pleased with the result. Bug received his birthday present in August, at my parents' 60th wedding anniversary party. He put it on to model it for us and then refused to take it off, despite repeated urgings from his mother, for what must have been close to an hour, even though the temperature couldn't have been much under 30 degrees Celsius. But hey, it was a brand new sweater and we all told Bug how handsome he looked in it, and I have known many a grown man more susceptible to flattery than Bug was being that day. It was a little big on him, but not unwearably so, and I consider that ideal as it means he can probably get two years of wear out of it rather than just one before he grows out of it. 

The lovely tweedy blue colour really suited Bug. He has light brown hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, and blue is very much his colour. I've made him nine sweaters in his life and seven of the nine have been blue or partly blue. I keep telling myself that I need to make Bug's sweaters in a variety of colours, that he'll get tired of wearing blue, but then I go yarn shopping and see a beautiful blue yarn that would look soooo good on him, and I just can't resist. Oh well, I have used a variety of shades of blue and different designs, and I doubt Bug feels like he's getting the same sweater from me every year.      

Besides the sweater, Bug got binoculars with a compass built into it and two Hot Wheels cars. I don't know how good the binoculars are (they were $4 at Dollarama), but they should do well enough for a toy.  

And yes, I've already picked out the design I'm going to use for his tenth birthday sweater. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Style and Polish

My grandniece Cauliflower turned 13 in August 2022. I have, until this year, been alternately making a dress for her on her "odd" years and a sweater on her "evens", but the dress I made her for eleventh birthday was the last one I am ever likely to sew for her. She's reached the age where she needs her dresses fitted on her, and I can't do that as I so seldom see her, so it's sweaters from now on. My sister-in-law tells me this is just as well, as Cauliflower isn't currently as much into dresses as she was when she was little, and would probably prefer to get a sweater for her birthday anyway. 

This year my project plan began with my finding 100 grams of bright blue (left over from a cardigan I made for my father years ago) and 190 grams of Patons Decor in Rose Temptation (left over from a cardigan I made for me) in my stash, deciding they looked nice together, and then looking for a sweater design that would be suitable for them both, with the addition of some new yarn in a coordinating main colour. 

This year I directed my search among the adult-size designs, instead of children's patterns, as Cauliflower has recently begun to wear extra small women's sizes. It didn't take me long to settle on the Vintersol sweater, designed by Jennifer Steingass, which I would be knitting in its smallest size. I already owned a copy of it as I have used the design before to make a sweater for me, so that was a cost-efficient plus. Not that a teenaged girl would want to wear the same style of sweater as her middle-aged great aunt, but again, I seldom see her, and will just have to remember not to wear that particular sweater around her for the next few years. 

For my main colour of yarn, I went to Michaels with a yarn sampler of the two colours I already had, and selected Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Riverside, or as I'd describe it, a rich dark blue which is just a few shades shy of navy. I bought three skeins of yarn one skein at a time with Michael's coupons, which brought the total cost of this project to $16.59. 

The finished sweater. It didn't photograph all that well -- the rose colour looks a little psychedelic -- but I am quite pleased with its actual appearance, and Cauliflower liked it too. The design is so effective, and the colours work together well. She plans to pair it with navy blue leggings and wear it to her figure skating lessons.    

Along with the sweater, Cauliflower received a manicure kit I put together for her. Every year I mark her and her younger brother's progress towards maturity through their gifts, figuring out what clothing size they'll be, and weighing the age appropriateness of the other gifts I get them. Thirteen is too old for toys, but there are plenty of useful things that can be packaged in a fun and attractive way for a brand new teenaged girl. I think thirteen is still a little young for makeup -- high school is surely soon enough for girls to start wearing cosmetics -- but Cauliflower is certainly old enough to do her nails if she wants to, and I know from my own revamp of my manicure kit what a pleasure it is to have a well-organized and good-looking kit to use. So I decided to put together a manicure kit for her. I made a fabric case to hold the various items, and also ordered a book online (secondhand, but it's good as new) that will tell her everything she needs to know in order to do her nails to a professional standard.

Besides the larger case seen above, I sewed a tissue case and two smaller vanity cases to go inside the kit.  I had remnants of the red polka dot and the blue, red, and white print fabrics you see above on hand, and though they were from separate projects they work together very prettily. I had the zippers for the vanity case in my zipper box too, salvaged from worn-out items but still in good shape. I just had to buy one red zipper for the larger case.

Then I bought a manicure set, emery boards, nail polish remover, and an array of nail polish from the dollar store. My own practice is to keep just two shades of nail polish on hand, plus a bottle of clear polish. I have never in my life used an entire bottle of nail polish before it got too old and hardened to be usable, so buying only two colours keeps the wastefulness down, and besides, I know what I like: an old rose and a light, shimmery copper. Both colours are visually pleasing to me, go well with my skin tone, and are low-key enough to go with most of my clothes without clashing. But then that's me, a middle-aged woman who knows what her lane is and is content to stay in it, while Cauliflower is a young girl who needs to play and experiment and find out what she likes and what suits her. For her I bought a selection of nail polishes that I thought would suit her colouring.

As with my own manicure kit, I put cotton balls and swabs in the one case, and emery boards in the other, but Cauliflower will be able to organize her kit however she likes now that she has it. There is also room in the larger case for her to add equipment/supplies to the basics I've provided if she wishes to.

I gave Cauliflower's birthday present to her this past weekend, and she seemed very pleased with everything. The sweater and manicure set don't seem to me to be such a bad gift for a newly minted teenager, and will hopefully help Cauliflower embark on her teens in style.