Lots of socks

January didn’t shape up as I expected.  I did knit quite a bit…just not on the things I had intended.  Somehow, though, you can either roll with it, or allow yourself to be steamrolled.

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I didn’t feel well over the first half of the month, which put a bit of a crimp in things. I didn’t really have much ability to concentrate, so I stuck to socks.

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I made a valiant stab at getting a pair of mittens done, but I lost confidence after having some difficulty with the liner. I’ve been making liners using fingering weight yarn. Kroy is a bit heavier than that. It caused a lot of bulkiness and extra stitches that I had to try and account for. It took about two nights to get the liner to a point I was happy with it. I’m also realizing that the thumb hole on the outer mitten was knit a couple of rows too high. It makes the mitten a little too tight across the thumb, and there’s no way I can easily repair it unless I want to rip back the liner so I can get into the mitten so I can start picking it apart at the fingertips and thumb, re-knit the mitten….I’d be better off just re-knitting the mitten from start to finish.

So….mitten drama.  I put the mittens aside and worked on…

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Socks!
I started these on Christmas Eve while during a family party. I cast them off on January 24th. We were “social” during the second half of the month, so the only thing I could work on was something portable and dead-simple….like socks. They aren’t the ugliest pair of self-striping socks I’ve worked on, but they’re close. They never seem to look like they’ll be bad when you see them in a ball under store lighting…it’s only once the sock starts to take shape that you realize you’ve had the equivalent of a yarny Rick Roll.

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I guess I figured correctly that these will make excellent Hallowe’en socks — they’re bound to scare anyone who looks upon ’em.

I have another pair of socks on the needles. More about those as we go through February.

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No spinning for January. As mentioned, being sick and then being out of the house isn’t conducive to spinning. The two nights I was setting aside for spinning wound up being taken up by laundry and fixing the mitten mentioned above.  February, however, will have spinning! I just have to decide which fiber to start working on, as I have some pretty wonderful bags of fluff to choose from.

Socks! Pair #1 is done.

My knitting output has slowed down a bit in the past month.  I’m blaming it on three things…finally having some time to relax, catching a cold, and video gaming.

The first one is easy…the big Yule rush is over, so I can take my time. No hurry, right?

The second and third?  Well, when I catch a cold, I don’t necessarily want to be sneezing into my knitting. I’m making handknits, not plague blankets. Last thing I need to do is to spread my winter cold to some poor, unsuspecting person who just happened to receive an item from my knitting basket. It just happened this year that I caught some tummy bug that manifested on the night of Christmas Day – and then just as I was recovering from that, I caught yet another cold that knocked me flat on my arse.

That said, there has been some knitting.

I’m not sure I should count these, however.  I’ve been casually working on these off & on for about a year.  Maybe more (yes, maybe more).  How is that possible?  You don’t totally fall in love with the yarn.

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Why does indoor lighting always have to have that weird yellow cast?

Yarn is Regia, I think. I can’t find the ball band, it’s been so long. I know this particular colourway was floating around a couple of different Calgary yarn shops. A quick check on Ravelry tells me that I made an almost identical pair a few years ago as a birthday present for my Mum.  Go figure. I seem to recall that I bought two balls of the yarn with the intention of making knee socks.  I think I attempted it, realized that there is no way I have the patience to knit knee socks, and used half the yarn on a pair of socks for Mum. This is the other half.  Sock is the standard vanilla sock – cuff down, 7″ leg, with a heel flap. I think they may be just big enough to fit me (and anyone with my foot size), and somehow I managed to get the stripes to line up.  Huzzah!

I realized sometime at the end of 2014 that if I just dug up a few old Unfinished Objects from wherever they were stashed, I’d have a pair of socks or a pair of mittens or some other finished project. This is one of those pairs that never was accounted for as being “cast on” as they were just a pair of vanilla socks. Nothing special about them, right? You can whip out a pair in a week or two, so why bother accounting for them. Just stuff ’em in your purse and go, because you can knit on them *anywhere* (except you never do, because something snazzier always seems to come along).

Anyhow, they’re first off the needles for 2015.  Better late than never!

Chili Day

The Husbeast and I are trying to clean up our diet.  Which means less sugar, and more of what you’d call “natural whole-foods”.  Essentially, we get rid of the “fillers” that have the highest calorie and carbohydrate load.  It evens out our blood sugar (thankfully neither of us is diabetic), which means our moods are definitely more stable. Other side benefits include less headaches/migraine, less joint pain, and less muddled thinking.

And the way I look at it, it starts with chili.

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The pot isn’t dirty. It’s well-loved.

That chili has ground beef, onion, garlic, carrots, red & orange peppers, celery, and a jalapeno pepper…chopped up and mixed with something I’m coming to refer to in my head as a “spice bomb”.  The flavours are amazing.  And no…we won’t be having it with bread.  It’s hearty enough as it is.

I generally tuck it away in a crock pot on “low” and let it do it’s thing during the day. By the time we’re ready for dinner, it’s ready to eat. And we get leftovers, which make for excellent meals at work for the rest of the week.

See?  I told you it starts with chili!

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Latvian Mitten in progress

This spicy number is mitten #1 of the first of two pairs of mittens I need to finish up.  What I find awesome about it, is that it looks like handspun….but it’s Kroy.  Patons Kroy from Michaels.  I have mentioned previously that I am a fan of Kroy, and this is one of the reasons why.  This mitten is Kroy from the inside-out.  The liner is Kroy.  The outer is Kroy. These are going to be very warm hands indeed.

Don’t get your hopes up, Dad.  These mittens are too short for you.  They’re going to be used as chess pieces in the eternal battle of wits that is “Trying to get the Husbeast’s Grandfather to Accept a Gift”.  If all else fails, they should be large enough to fit Dad-in-law.  But that’s only if he fails in his mission to tactically stash the mittens in Grandad’s house while he’s in warmer climes.

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Yeah, that thumb can be decreased by about 4 stitches around…

But first…that thumb is huge.  I will re-knit it with a couple of decreases and move on to mitten #2 of the pair.

Knit Mittens!

Writers have NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Knitters….well, they just pick a month and knit the heck out of things.  I’ve heard of NaKniSweMo (Sweaters), and October usually is dubbed “Socktoberfest”.  January is apparently NaKniMitMo, which translates into mittens.

Mittens!

I’m knitting mittens.  I have two pairs on the needles.  In both cases, the liners are done, I’m just knitting the handsome outer shells.

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Dodgy iPod photo because all the other cameras in the house were hiding from me.

Both pairs are for men.  One of whom has freakishly long hands.  Yes Dad, I’m looking directly at you. (No, those aren’t your mittens. The liners aren’t near long enough).

So, as I have a couple of mitten patterns for sale on Ravelry, in honour of NaKniMitMo, I’m offering 25% off for the month of January on Warmer on the Inside and Magnum: Mittens for Movember. Just use the code NaKniMitMo at checkout.

Because, seriously, who doesn’t want a flying police box or an awesome 80’s moustache on their mittens?

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Big feet!

It started out so innocently.  I thought I would knit my Mum a pair of socks for Yule.  Keep her feet toasty warm.  Then, when my proficiency with knitting socks became apparent, the hints started dropping.  I now knit a minimum of four pairs of socks per Yule.  One for each of our parents.  I put a pair of socks in a decorative tin with their name on it. The deal is that if they want socks next year, the tin comes back to me. Without fail, the tin comes back. The request is fulfilled. I have some family members with very happy feet.

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The first socks, of course, were seen on Tuesday. These were my Mum-in-Law’s socks, and as mentioned, the Husbeast picked out the colours.  What you didn’t see on Tuesday were everyone else’s socks. These weren’t even the first ones finished.

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These are Mum’s socks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record them in Ravelry because at the time my thinking ran along the lines of “Oh hey.  Stripey socks.  Plain stockinette blue-purple stripey socks.  Why would I need to record these?  They’ll be quick to knock out.”

Uh huh.  That was sometime around January or February after a marathon sock-knitting session, and — I hate to admit this — I was all socked out.  Seriously. I think I knit one sock, then tucked them away with the intention of coming back to them…eventually. This past year has probably been the first year I did NOT knit at least one or two pairs of socks per month.

Then I saw them peeking out of a knitting basket I keep near the couch in our rec room, and thought to myself that I must have been crazy to put them aside…that if I just finished off the foot, I would have a full pair of socks.  And how could I ever have gotten bored of knitting socks when there were these beauties to play with?  They’re stripey! And Blue! And Purple!  They’re Blurple!

And yes, they were finished in one afternoon.  And I had my sock-knitting happiness back. Which was great because I only had Five Months Left Til Yule and How Am I Ever Going To Finish Knitting All The Things?!?

Yep.  Mini freak out 5 months from Yule.  This is why I’m going back to starting in January, folks.  Less stress.

Then I knit the pink and grey socks.  By now I’m on a roll, and adding Mittens to the mix.

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A previous year’s example of manly colours for manly men.

I have a hard time finding yarn I like for the men. Robin, when I knit him socks, makes it easy for me.  He has absolutely no problem wearing whatever I throw at him, whatever colours are involved.  Hot pink?  Bring it on.  His favourite scarf is his Noro Two-Row, and it has liberal splashes of pink. He claims to be more than the colours he wears, and I love that about him.

Our fathers are a little more traditional and conservative in their dress, and while my Dad’s Colour Analysis pegs him as a Spring, he is unlikely to request a pair of salmon-coloured socks anytime soon (do not laugh. My Mum was a freelance Colour consultant in the 80’s and I still drive her nuts by being a Summer who insists on wearing black as my favoured neutral),

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You can’t get more manly than this. It has a car on the ball band!

I went to the yarn store and found…very little in the way of colours that I hadn’t already knit for the men in my life.  Seriously, you can only use the same Coffee Brown or Dark Blue Trekking colourways before the guys start to realize that their socks all look the same.  And then I found some guy-type self-stripers from Regia.  Racing Colours!  I was impressed enough that I included the ball band.

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These ones went to Robin’s Dad, who – I noticed – wore hand-knit socks to both the Christmas Eve *and* Christmas Day festivities. He even pointed out that he had nice warm feet.  So now his feet will be even warmer.

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Dad was just a touch more difficult.  I had the perfect yarn (Cascade Heritage), but it was already on the needles for another project.  Which had stagnated more than a year previously.  Off the needles it came, back into a ball it went, and a nice, cushy pair of stockinette socks were quickly knit up.  If his reaction was any indication, I made the right decision.  The yarn found the place it needed to be.

If it seems I’m knitting a lot of plain old vanilla stockinette socks…that’s because I am. I like the methodical straightforwardness of stockinette socks. It also means I can’t forget where I am in a chart and have to rip out half a pattern.  I’m also very in love with self-striping yarns right now. I have stocked up on a few fun stripers that I hope to dig into very shortly.  And hopefully I can get my hands on some of the swanky self-stripers from some of the more Independant Dyers that seem to be cropping up. While I like the dependability of the commercial dyers, there’s just something fun about colouring outside the lines on occasion.

Now, there were a couple of things I didn’t get finished for Yule.  There are two pairs of mittens outstanding.  I have linings finished, now it’s just a matter of getting the outer mittens done!

Cold hands, warm heart

If there is one thing that Granny Martin tried to impress upon me as a youngster, it was that you should always have warm feet and warm hands. As I’ve learned since, you can cover the rest of yourself in as much wool as you like, but without those extremities taken care of, you’re still going to be a chilly, chilly body on a cold day.

I love mittens and handwarmers. I think they’re a great accent to wrap up your winter outfit. Sometimes it’s the only thing you can see! Having lived North of 60, I’m well aware of how to bury yourself in your jacket, hopefully with hood (and plenty of layers beneath).  The only thing with whimsy is the hands.

My brother’s family is still in the Yellowknife area, so I like to make the kids fun things that they can wear over the long winter. For my niece, I love mittens.  She loves being fashionable, so I figured she’d love a pair of traditional, lined, Latvian (stranded) mitts.

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Nope. The pattern really wasn’t working out.  Sure, I got the lining right (yay!), but the pattern was getting lost in the colours of yarn.  Time to take it back to the basics.

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Much better!  And what young lady wouldn’t like pink robots?  The pattern is Robomitts by SpillyJane, only mindly tinkered with by yours truly, As they’re lined, there is a turned hem, and some extra robots to fill in the addition of the cuff. I also changed a couple of designs on some robot tummies. I also had to place the thumb a little differently due to the liner, so that made a difference as well (but not much).

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The yarn is an unnamed hot pink for the lining (lost the ball band in Crafting Central downstairs many moons ago), and the outer mittens are Koigu Premium Merino.  I have decided that I will only use my Koigu (and koigu-like sock yarn) for mittens from now on, as I have lost FAR too many socks of this blend to holes that came out of nowhere. Like one pair of socks that wore through in record time (they were less than a year old when the feet started fraying like nobody’s business).  So new rule of thumb: Koigu is for Hands Only. We will try to find some other yarn with brilliant solid and mildly variegated patterning and a higher nylon content if we want socks.

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Mum, like my niece, received lined mittens.  Harry Potter-inspired mittens.  The pattern is O.W.L. mittens by Celeste Young. My Mum loves the Harry Potter series, so it seemed a no-brainer.  The tweaks made here? Well, again, they’re lined, so I adjusted the cuff as necessary.  Otherwise, it was a pretty straightforward knit, practically 100% to the pattern.  Which is an oddity for me as I generally tweak the hell out of anything I knit, but this didn’t really need it.  I only had to fix a couple of spells on the palms.The helpful folks on Ravelry pointed out that a couple of the spells don’t actually exist, so because I’m handy at charting via Excel Spreadsheet, I tucked a couple of “real” spells into their place.  Easy peasy.

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The lining is the same unknown Fuscia that feature in my niece’s mittens, and the outer mitten is Knit Picks Palette in Pennyroyal and Mulberry.  I had picked up a little of the Palette to play with as so many other mitten knitters seem to like it, and fell in love with it.  Took advantage of a late-November sale to pick up even more for the coming year. I love that they give you more than enough so that you have extras for later.  Seriously wonderful and warm wool!

Here’s hoping that over the long term the yarn lives up to the hype I’ve now given it!

Finally….you might want to stop here if you are offended by the f-bomb on a pair of knitted mittens.

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You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

I knit these on the sly for the Husbeast.  I actually knit two pairs, but only managed to get photos of Robin’s because his Dad’s mittens came off the needles and into their wrapping literally 10 minutes before his Dad walked through our door on Christmas Day.  So you will have to imagine the other pair (which have a cuff more like my  Mum’s mittens).

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I didn’t line these, by the way.  The pattern is “How Cold Is It?” by Drunk Girl Designs. These are done in Knit Picks Palette Pennyroyal and Abyss Heather.  He thinks he saw me working on these at one point, but he is mistaken as I knit them Totally On The Sly when he wasn’t around.

His Dad’s mittens were made out of Cascade 220 Sport in Brown (a dark chocolate brown) and Extra Creme (kinda taupe). I knit them on 2.5mm needles.  That’s Addi Turbo slang for “size 1.5 but we’ll call them size 1”.  I Do Not Recommend knitting with sport weight yarn on size 1 needles. It hurts the hands. Yes, it makes awesomely warm fabric (particularly as this was merino), but it hurts. And it makes you procrastinate. Which is why, even though I cast them on sometime around the middle of November, they weren’t finished until the Very Last Minute.

The look on everyone’s faces when he opened them up was priceless, however, and totally worth the arthritic attacks suffered!.

The things I wanted to show off but didn’t…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m horrible at self-editing and not posting current projects as they wind up becoming gifts for family and friends and I never want to either get hopes up or ruin a surprise.  I’m hoping to stop that practice come the New Year, as I’m going to try spacing my knits out throughout the year.  My yarny goals for 2015 are as follows:
– 1 pair of socks per month
– 1 pair of mittens per month. Possibly lined
– 1 4oz package of fiber spun & plied per month.

That gives me a pair of socks to take with me wherever I go (#projectsockdrawer), a pair of mittens to go nuts on the stranding (#projectmittenbasket), and a bit of an excuse to delve into the fiber stash (#fiberpalooza).  I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll have a few more handspun items knit, and a topped up sock drawer and mitten basket.  I like the idea of a mitten basket. Some days you want more variety than the same old mittens you’ve been wearing out for 3 years. (The Hashtags are mine, btw…inspired/purloined by other knitters’ projects, but mine nonetheless)

The family will just have to guess which knits are for them!

Maybe there will be some other items throughout the year, like the long-awaited Bigger on the Inside shawl that I’ve spun the yarn for — I just need the time to devote to knitting lace.

So now, after all the wall of text, I should probably break it up with a little eye candy.  Today’s choice is a lovely pair of socks that went t my Mother-in-Law, Sheila.

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Robin and I were taking a poke through one of Calgary’s many fine yarn stores (quite possibly Pudding yarn) when we spied this really lovely skein of pink-and-grey Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi,  I loved it, but didn’t think I could justify the expense, when Robin mentioned that it would make some lovely socks for his Mum.

Bear in mind, when I think of Sheila, I think in terms of vibrant Autumn colours. Forest greens, bright and burnt oranges of falling leaves….it offsets her strawberry blonde quite nicely.  Apparently, though, she has a secret liking for lighter colours that her son is aware of, so we bought the skein, took it home, and I cast on a pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks with it.

I wish I could remember the colourway, but the ball band has gotten lost in Crafting Central down in the basement.  Eventually I will find it and add it to the Ravelry entry for this sock.

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Sheila also scored a pair of Fiddlehead mittens I’d been working on for myself as a heavy-wool / extreme-cold-weather project. I really do need a pair of deep-winter mittens for scraping the car’s windshield on those days when it’s -20 or colder, but even as I was knitting these, I didn’t feel totally in tune with them for myself. They were telling me they were going to belong elsewhere.  I think they will keep her nice and toasty.  As it was, my Dad was eyeing them up.  Good thing his hands are Inhumanly Large and require Custom Fitting, otherwise she might have lost them to him!

The Cat’s Pyjamas

The problem with knitting so many things that you eventually give away, is that you wind up not blogging about things until months have gone by and you’ve finally tracked down the person you’re gifting it to. I never want to spoil the surprise.  I’m thinking I’m going to take a leaf from the Yarn Harlot’s personal manifesto and just blog about stuff as it comes up. Not say who it’s for, stick it in the Tickle Trunk until Yule (or other gift-giving time, and let the family/friends wonder who it will eventually find its way to. Play coy, so to speak.

This has been known to backfire. I lost a gorgeous pair of butter yellow socks to my Mum that way. However, I did replace the yarn with more butter yellow sock yarn, and I know the socks will be loved, so I’m not kept up all night with sock angst.

ITW The Cat's Pyjamas

My fiber club shipment from Into the Whirled this past January was a beautiful blue 75/25 BFL/Silk called “The Cat’s Pyjamas”. I gave it a pat, then stashed it away with very little further thought. As much as I love ITW fibre, there has been a lot of blue in it over the past year, so to be honest, it didn’t really “speak to me” loudly enough to jump on the wheel.

Then a shawlette almost was stolen right off my needles by a friend, so I figured she probably deserved one knit Just For Her if she was going to be that discerning.

The blue fluff turned into blue yarn. It shimmers!  Apparently that’s one of the wonderful qualities of BFL.

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The blue yarn turned into a shawlette.

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Why yes, my piano does have wonderful fashion sense.
The shawlette in question is the smaller version of Ishbel, designed by Ysolda Teague.

The scarf went to its ‘forever home’ this weekend.  My only condition was that we get a picture of her wearing it.  We’ll see if that happens.  She avoids cameras like I do. 😉

All in all, I was happy to see the blue Ishbel going to a place where it would be loved. That’s all I ever really want for my wee little acts of creativity…that they be loved. I suppose it’s easy when the item is a pretty scarf like this.  I think it will bring some happiness and warmth in the upcoming cold season!

Christmas Knitting Retrospective

I meant to post before now, but things have been scattered and hectic over the holiday (I consider it ‘the holiday that wasn’t’ because I worked for most of it, but what can you do, right?  It’s the nature of the beast when you knowingly continue a career path that includes features shift work).

So, since I didn’t really post any of the things I was knitting for Yule *as* I was knitting them, I will do so here!

Project #1 began as this lovely combination of fluff from FatCatKnits fiber club. The theme was FairyTales, and the two colourways are “Angry Dwarf” (oranges) and “The Prince” (blues).

Angry Dwarf & The Prince

I turned it into these mittens, which went to my Dad. They’re Jared Flood’s “Strago” pattern, only elongated to account for my Dad’s really long fingers.

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Next, I discovered the Inspira Cowl. I went looking for the right yarns, and came up with a ball of Noro Silk Garden that was looking for just the right project, and a ball of Noro Kureyon that I despaired of ever using because it was hard on my fingers while knitting.  Turns out that it was perfect for stranded knitting, as I could carry it a little looser in my left hand (I knit stranded two-handed).  These went to my Other Mum, Sheila (for lack of a better term, my Common-Law Mother-in-Law 😉 )

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And because I was still on an Inspira kick (honestly, I’m surprised Robin wasn’t sick of seeing me knit the same thing for weeks), I dug into my stash and found a bit more handspun that would suit my own Mum. She’s the only person I know of who can, and will, wear these colours together. At the same time. And not make it look crazyhorriblebad. If you ask her why this is, she’ll tell you that she’s a “winter”.

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My nephew Milo’s mittens were next, but we’ve already seen them. I knit them in Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light.

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Off the needles next were my niece Georgia’s mittens.  They’re a mishmash of “Wibbly Wobbly Mittley Wittley” by Therese Sharp and the Warmer on the Inside mitts, and knit with Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light and Brown Sheep Lanaloft Sport Weight yarn.  There’s a long story of angst and frustration behind them, but I will spare you only to say that they were a work in progress for the better part of the year, including 3 or 4 changes of yarn, pattern, and other things causing the wailing and gnashing of teeth (such as a yarn store owner who insisted on “helping” Robin find what I needed when I’d already given him instructions.  Note to yarn store owners: Don’t do this.  Please).

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Last but not least, mittens for my Common-Law Father-in-Law, Don.  They’re my Magnum Mitten pattern, only in full mitten form. I knit them out of Paton’s Kroy in Flax and Black, and they came out quite nice and warm.

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I really like patterns and projects that give me very little grief.  Seriously.

Speaking of which, at some point I had started Rose Hiver’s Quaternity (actually, during the KAL), and wound up putting it on the back burner while I completed the Yule knitting.  I finished them off as a palate-cleanser after Yule.  Koigu Premium Merino in a nice silvery grey and royal purple. These went to Mum the other day because she had mentioned earlier that she needed a new pair of mittens.  Hint recieved! 😉

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And yes, that’s a copy of Mark Danielewski’s “House of Leaves” in the background. My Christmas gifts this year were mostly books, so I have a lot of reading to do!