The Second Adventist...

Hello...me again...I know!...two days in a row...a holiday miracle for sure!  But it's that time of year when the little whimsies of the holidays come out to play (and beg to be made) so here we go.

On the second day of December my crochet hook brought to me...
 A wee dormouse!... 

 I think the lad approves...
 
And can I just say that I am abundantly aware that I am truly a lucky mom to have a now teenager {:o} who humors me in this way.  I think that maybe the sweets in the toe of the stocking help a bit.
This was a fun little project.  Quick and satisfying and my first go at amigurumi.  So fun!  The pattern is free and can be found here.  Many thanks to Rachel Hansen for sharing this darling pattern.  And the best part?  In addition to making the acquaintance of  this cute dormouse {who will soon be decorating our tree and will definitely not be a back of the tree dweller},  I learned a new crochet decrease along the way!  I love learning things on my way to a new project.  And the best best part?...wait for it...this decrease is totally invisible!  No really.  Totally invisible!  I really love that.  I will definitely be using this decrease again in other projects. 

Okay, that's it for now.  Cookies to be baked, gifts to be made, patterns to be edited, and a wood stove to be cozied up to.  Have a wonderful day!  I'll be thinking of you and all the loveliness flying off your hooks and needles.

~xox~
alison

Oh hey December!...

Hello, hello...

Happy December!  Okay, in honor of all of the beautiful turning leaves I've been enjoying all fall I am going to turn a new one (leaf that is) and refrain from my usual "oh my gosh how did we get here..." patter.  Suffice it to say that I/we have been blessed with the most wonderful string of days, that Vermont gets only more beautiful as I watch her ever changing ways, and that this sabbatical, while not being especially good for my commitment to regular posting, has been good for me and my family in every other way.  It's official.  I love being here as much...no...even more than I thought I would.  I am sorry for falling off the face of the blogosphere, but I know you all understand.  I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores but let's just say this sabbatical was way overdue and was needed all around.  And it's been good.  Very good.  And I've been a bit distracted by it.  I wish so fervently that each of you are graced with a bit of time and a happy-place of your own.  It's a good thing. 

And so without further ado I offer this collage as a way of taking November (okay and October if truth be told) in hand... 

 As you can see, it's been quite a stitchy time with lots of walks and fresh air and fun thrown in for good measure.

Now...back to the calendar...December 1st!!!...Advent Day One!  If you've been around these parts for a while you may remember this...


The stockings are hung by the window with care.  My advent garland is up and ready to go.  This is a free pattern that I offered a couple of years ago.  You can still get it if you want.  The pattern directions are available here.

Last year I knitted little friends {teeny-tiny friends}, one per day to fill the advent stockings (there is a blog post for each day of advent last year if you're interested).

This year I will be combining all kinds of crafty goodness to fill the stockings.  Because we are away from home we have no ornaments to grace our tree~~so the advent goodies this year will be all about creating decorations.  So what's up for Day 1?  Want to see?...



A little birdy buddy.  The pattern is based on this free pattern from Lucy at Attic 24.  If you haven't checked her blog out then you should definitely scoot on over there.  She has the best crochet tutorials and every day is full of color and enthusiasm in her little corner of the world.  I mean it folks.  I did not crochet at all until I went over there and now I have blankets, snowflakes, garlands, pillows, and no end of trim and flowers and frippery under my belt.  She makes it easy and keeps it fun.

The Details on Birdy~

*Made with Cascade 220 on a F hook (a bit tight I know but it covers all the stuffing that way)
*My bird is only five rows deep as opposed to the pattern's seven.
*I omitted the buttons {the button box is languishing at home sadly}
*I worked the legs with a double strand of yarn, knotted the ends and left a bit to dangle for feet
*The eyes were worked using an extended french knot.  I wrapped the yarn 5 times around the      needle instead of 3 and insterted the needle about a 1/4" away from where the needle came up at the beginning of the stitch.  This creates a little oval shaped eye.

Okay,  there you have it.  Easy peasy!  Off to make more of these little guys now.  I think we will have a whole flock nesting in our tree before all is said and done.

Happy weekend~ing!  Hope it finds you cozy and making merry!

~xox~
alison   


Absent~minded...

Absent?...yes. On my mind?...always...

Back again, after what seems like a very long time. I guess that's what happens when a day turns into a week, and then into months.   I wish I had some really fantastic reason for the lapse in posting, but I don't.  I can't even precisely pin down what happened except that somehow life just got the better of me.  I've missed this space so much and have missed my time visiting other spaces.  I've written dozens of posts in my head, while stirring pots, knitting, driving, etc. and have spent many moments wondering what all of you creative souls out there in the ether have been up to and how you were doing.

 So why haven't I been here?  As the days collected I think I had a bit of a hump to get over and I began to feel self-conscious on top of it—you know, like you do when you haven't sent a note or haven't called someone—not because you didn't want to or were trying to avoid it but because you wanted the perfect moment to devote to it—one without distractions—and then the days get filled and it just doesn't happen {at least that's how it goes in my world}.  Once that happens I feel bad and convince myself that I can't ring the doorbell without a gift or peace offering of sorts, which means, of course, that I have to come up with an idea and make the gift—the perfect gift—insert delay here.  So there it is.  That's how hours turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to seasons, until I find yourself in a whole new year. And because I can't bring you a plate of cookies or brownies as a peace offering and because I've decided that some little far-from-perfect-something is much better than absence and nothing, I've brought some knitting instead—a little bit of instant gratification knitting from me to you—just my way of saying that I've missed you.

Libernating Mitts

{library + hibernate = libernate}

Quick, easy and totally reversible, they sport...

cables on one side...

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ribbing on the other..

.

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I originally made these mitts for my daughter as part of a college care package.  I thought it might be nice for her to have something cozy and mama-made to wear during those long nights of paper writing and studying for finals.  The name came from a tweet she made about going to the library to "libernate".  I fell in love with the word, and made these mitts with images of her libernating in my head and heart. 

Of course once hers were off the needles, the boys needed some too, and then making some for me and sharing the pattern with you seemed only right.  So four pairs later, here they are, Libernating Mitts in three sizes...

Size/Hand Circumference:

Small—5 to 6 1/2", Medium—6 1/2 to 8", Large—8 to 9 1/2" 

Finished Circumference Before Stretching:

Small—5", Medium—5 1/2", Large—6"

Length: 

As desired

Note:

  These mitts are very stretchy and can accommodate a range of sizes.  Make yours as you like them, snug or roomy.

Gauge:

  23 stitches = 4" in stockinette stitch using US 5/3.75mm double point needles

Yarn: 

Cascade 220 Superwash or similar worsted weight yarn

Needles: 

US 5/3.75 double point needles or size needed to attain gauge

The Pattern

Cast on 36 (44, 48) stitches.  Divide as evenly as possible on 3 or 4 double point needles and join in the round being careful not twist stitches.  Place a marker after the first stitch of the round so that you will know where the round begins and ends.

Rounds 1-3:

  *K2, p2; repeat from * around.

Round 4:

  *Knit into the first two stitches as if you were going to knit 2 together but do not slide the stitches off of the left needle, instead insert the tip of the right hand needle between the 2 stitches just knitted together, and knit into the first stitch on the left needle again, slide both stitches off of the left needle together (you now have 2 stitches on the right needle). Purl 2.  Repeat from * around.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 until you have reached the desired length to the thumbhole ending with Round 4.  Make your mitts as long or as short as you like.

Make Thumbhole

Knit the first two stitches of the round.  Bring the yarn forward as if to purl, slip the next stitch purlwise from the left to the right needle, move the yarn to the back of the work.  *Slip the next stitch purlwise from the left to the right needle, pass the second stitch on the right needle over the first stitch as if to bind off.  Repeat from * 5 (6, 7) times for a total of 6 (7, 8) bound off stitches.  Slip the last bound off stitch from the right needle back to the left needle.  Turn the work.  Using the cable cast on, cast on 7 (8, 9) stitches.  Turn work.  Slip the first stitch on the left needle over to the right needle and pass the extra cast-on stitch on the right needle over it to close the buttonhole.  Resume knitting the rest of the round in Round 1 of the pattern.

Continue in pattern until your mitt is the length desired ending with Round 4 of pattern.  The sample mitts have 4 (4, 6) pattern repeats from the beginning of the buttonhole.  Bind off in pattern.

Finishing

Reinforce thumbhole if desired by working buttonhole stitch or crochet edge around the thumbhole opening. 

Buttonhole Stitch:

  Thread a 20” length of yarn on a tapestry needle. Begin at the lower right hand side of the thumbhole, with the cable side of the mitt facing you.  Leaving a tail long enough to weave in later, anchor the yarn by inserting the tapestry needle through a stitch on the rib side of the work.  Bring the tapestry needle up through the piece from the rib side of the work to the cable side.  Insert the needle down into the knitting, coming out through the thumbhole opening. As you pull the stitch through, a loop will be formed on the top of your work.  Bring the tapestry needle up through the loop as you tighten the stitch.  Continue in this manner across the lower thumb opening.  When you reach the end of the lower thumbhole, turn the work, and continue across the top of the thumbhole (cable side of work still facing you).  Once you have worked your way across the top of the thumb opening, turn and join the first and last stitch.  Weave in and trim all ends.

Hope you enjoy making and wearing these easy peasy mitts! As you can see, I've been wearing a pair pretty much nonstop this snowy winter. 

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I love how snug they are and that they don't get in the way but still keep the chill off.

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...and you know what they say, warm hands~warm heart...btw, why do they say that anyway?...anyway...Happy knitting!

~xoxo~

alison 

On Homecomings and Monster Mitts...

Home again, home again, jiggity jog!...You didn't honestly think that I wouldn't tell you all about the Family Weekend visit with our new college girl, did you?...Well, I'm happy to say that we {the lad and I} had a completely wonderful visit.  I'm afraid that in our haste to get out the door, I managed to leave my camera at home, but this is view out of the back seat window as we crossed the mighty Mississippi...
{taken with my phone by the lad, who I must say, is the most amazing travel companion ever—an 11 hour drive with 3 stops on the way and only 2 on the way home—incredible!}, and this is the color that the sky was the entire weekend...gorgeous.  Needless to say, we had a great time.
I can't express how much joy seeing my girl in her new world gave me {it helps that she is thriving and is soooo happy where she is}.  What is it about seeing the tiniest and most mundane details of where she is that makes my heart a little calmer?  I'm resting a little easier now that I can picture the path that she walks to class and see in my mind's eye the stairs that she climbs to get to her favorite floor in the library, etc.  Sigh...It's an amazing thing we mamas get to do...watching these little souls grow and discover and then, with held breath {and not a few tears} watching them fly away.  I feel very lucky and full right now, and a little like we have joined this great club together.  That surprised me.  I remember how it felt when I became a mom...like I had just been inducted into the most amazing society ever and that nothing but the experience of it could ever prepare me for how motherhood would really feel.  Loving her and letting her stretch her wings feels a little like that in some strange way...like we have turned a corner and we are still here, in a new place, but here all the same, that distance hasn't diminished our relationship but has maybe added a new dimension to it, and I know from my friendship with my own mother that it can be as rich and precious and fun as ever.  All this said, I still miss having her here and can't wait until I get to see her smile across the table again...and yes, I will cry big tears when she leaves, but it will be a little different the next time knowing that she loves where she is going and that she is living and thriving and becoming...makes me very happy and full indeed!

And now on a different note...  
Just in time for Halloween...the look of creativity in our house...
...pretty scary,right?!

Thankfully, there has been a little knitting here and there too...I've finished a sweater or two {more on those another day} and this morning there were these...a pair of make them in a minute Monster Mitts for the lad!...
These are really and truly a quick, quick knit.  How fast?..you're done before the end of a movie, swim meet, tap class, etc.  I used a bit of old novelty yarn {left-overs from the year when my girl made furry scarves for all of her friends for the holidays}.  These mitts took less than one skein and were literally done in a twinkling.  They are so easy, I hardly even consider this a pattern, but here's the recipe just in case you want to give them a go...
Pattern Notes:  I used a bulky weight, fluffy (eyelash) novelty yarn for these mitts.  They are worked in the round in stockinette stitch and I used a needle that is substantially smaller than that recommended on the yarn ball band.  The suggested gauge for the yarn that I used is 3 stitches to the inch on a size 10.5 needle.  I used a size 6 needle to get a gauge around 4 3/4 to 5 stitches per inch.  The resulting fabric is thick, soft and doesn't curl.  The look and the fit of the Monster Mitt is created by knitting your bulky, fuzzy yarn at a gauge that is much more dense than would be used normally (ie. for a scarf or sweater)—that's what makes them so furry and keeps them from curling.
Yarn:  Any bulky weight, fuzzy yarn that you have hanging around (or you can double up a couple of finer yarns to  achieve the desired gauge)—I used 1 skein of Lana Gatto Amsterdam (71yds (65m) per 1 3/4 oz (50g) skein.  As an alternative, you could use a double strand of a couple of finer yarns to  achieve the desired gauge.
Needles: US size 6 double point needles or size needed to attain gauge
Gauge: 19 stitches equals 4" (10cm)—about 4 3/4 sts/inch—row gauge isn't important as we will be working with measurements, not row numbers
Finished Measurements:  
Length from wrist hem to finger opening: 6 1/2" (16 1/2 cm)
Width (measured flat): 3 1/4" (8 1/2 cm)
Circumference (not stretched):  6 1/2" (16 1/2 cm)
Sample Size: Child  8 and up/Small Adult.  These mitts fit both me and my almost 11 year old son. 
To make these mitts in another size: 
1)  Measure your hand circumference (over the knuckles but not including the thumb)
2)  Subtract 1/2" (1 1/2 cm)
Multiply the number you ended up with after step 2 by your gauge (in stitches per inch).  This will give you the number needed to cast on.
Instructions:
Cast on 30 sts (or number of stitches needed for your size and yarn) 
Place a marker and join work in the round.  Knit 4 1/2" or for desired length slipping the marker as you go.  This will be the section of the mitt from the wrist hem to thumb base (along the inside of hand by the index finger).  Measure from the inside curve of your thumb down the wrist to get your desired length.  You can make these as long or as short as you desire.
Making the thumb hole:  Once your mitt is the length desired to the thumb, you will begin the thumb hole.  Bind off the first 5 sts on the next round.  If these mitts are for a larger or smaller hand you may need to bind off more or fewer stitches—to determine the number needed multiply your gauge per inch by the width of the thumb—the result will be the number of stitches to bind off).  Knit to the end of the round.  Slip marker.  At the beginning of the next round, cast on 5 sts (or the number of stitches bound off in the previous round).  You can use your favorite cast on method—a backward loop cast on or you can turn the mitts around and use a cable cast on—either way works. 
Continue to knit in the round for 1" or until you have reached the desired length from the thumb hole to the base of the fingers, slipping the marker as you go.
Finishing:  Bind off all stitches.  Weave in all ends.  Wear and scare!
Monster Mitt Update:  The lad wore these all afternoon and loved them!...And as for me...they are a great little stash buster—they were on and off the needles so fast that I can see myself making lots of puppy paws, kitty legs, mouse mitts, and bear claws in the coming days...fun, fun, fun!


Happy, happy Halloween!!!...

~xoxo
alison

Batty...

Now that it's October proper we are most definitely in pre-Halloween mode here—a fat pumpkin adorning our front stoop, me taking advantage of this spooky holiday to embrace the cobwebs on our porch and, of course, lots of talk of costume possibilities.  To add to the fun, I decided this was a good time to repaint our kitchen, pantry and center hallway {it all started with a couple rolls of contact paper and got totally out of hand from there}.  Actually, I'm not so much in the middle of painting, but more in the middle of emptying the contents of our pantry and cupboards and putting said stuff in our dining room...there it sits, waiting for me.  It's amazing really, how much one pantry can hold.  Needless to say,  the Halloween decorations aren't up yet, but the rolled oats, flour and miscellaneous bake ware  decorating our dining room are honestly a little scary in their own special way, and presumably they will eventually make way for the pumpkins, black cats and bats that we love so much.  I have so many decorating ideas that I want to try this year.  How is it that so many fun ideas flood the brain when you have little time to execute them?  Anyway, as I was getting into the thick of reorganizing, I discovered this little project.
I made this one up last year at about this time.  It is a quick and easy treat bag {really and truly, this one knits up in a flash...big needles + big yarn = big fun fast!}.  The pattern is a freebie on my web site.  Forgive the re-blogging of this project, but I thought some of you might find it a handy, last minute project.  I would love to use the bat motif on a sweater or maybe a pair of socks...it is Socktober after all.  I even have some black yarn that would be perfect...fingers crossed I can squeeze it in before the end of October.
Where ever you are, I hope that you are enjoying the kind of lovely Indian summer days that we have been having here these days...blue, blue skies, turning leaves, warm days and cool evenings...gorgeous!  Happy, happy fall to you and yours!

~alison

Birdie...

There and back again!  We are home from our cross country college drop-off...a little bit worse for the wear {sooo tired} but feeling really positive about our daughter's new home away from home...I can see her thriving there. There is so much that I want to share about this experience and this time but I am still very much in the midst of processing it all, and to be honest I can't talk about it quite yet without getting misty {actually I'm moving between mild humidity and monsoon depending on the moment}.  So we'll save that for another day and instead go for a little {drum roll please}...tahdah!...
 This is my latest published design—The Birdie Backpack appearing in the new issue of Petite Purls!...
There are so many cute patterns in the 2010 Fall Issue.  I'm honored to be in such good company.  Last year my Ladybug Coat was a part of their premier fall issue, and I feel so fortunate to have another design included in this terrific online magazine. 
 
All about Birdie...
I had such fun making this backpack.  It was quick, no stress, and just plain fun to knit...one of those whimsical projects that just makes you smile while you're working on it.  I love that!  Plus, it has pockets!...
...secret pockets!  I really, really love that!  There is a pocket on the underside of each wing.  You can omit this detail and just make your birdie without pockets, but why-oh-why would you? 
The details...
The bag is worked from the bottom-up, in the round with Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Skinny Cotton.
Note: If you haven't used this yarn before {I hadn't}, let me tell you, it is fantastic.  I have always used Tahki's Cotton Classic when making cotton knits.  Cotton Classic a lovely yarn and will forever be one of my faves {so many great colors to choose from}, but I am so happy to have another great go-to cotton yarn.  The Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton has a little less sheen than the Cotton Classic and it washes to a soft, oh so yummy texture...ideal for making that favorite weekend sweater—you know the one—it's more old friend than sweater.  This yarn is strong and durable enough for a backpack and soft enough to be right next to the skin—pretty great, right?

The backpack opens and closes with a zipper along the back of the bag.  I-cord feet, a knitted beak, layered button eyes, and knitted top-feather tufts finish off the bag design.  I lined my bag to give it a little more structure and make it a bit more rugged {we are hard on our knits}, but you could make yours without the lining if you wanted.
It's perfect for short outings, just the right size for a sketch book, a pencil box, a snack and some light reading.  Our Birdie will be busy keeping us company on outings to the local nature park this fall...can't wait!

~xox~
alison

ps~Thanks so much for the love this week.  I can't tell you how much your wishes and thoughtfulness meant to me...knowing you were out there really helped prop me up...you'll never know how much.  You guys are the best!

January hello...

Just a quick visit today.  My mom is finally here, after having to put off her trip due to canceled flights and what-not before Christmas, and I am savoring this time with her.  Have I mentioned how much I love my mom?...probably so...anyway... just so you know, things might be a little quiet in this spot while I have her with me...just for the coming week.

But before I go...remember this old girl?...



I did want to let you know that I have added a link to the pdf for Peggotty's Ruffle Mitts to my Ravelry page.  I had much difficulty with the server on this pattern {apparently insufficient bandwidth (who knew?) and in the confusion, I accidentally put up an early draft of the pattern, not the final draft of the pattern that I meant to {oops!...note to self, don't play on the computer when you have a fever...how I wish I was as comfortable in front of a keyboard as I am with sticks and string‚ hopefully I'm getting better though, with each try and each little humiliation}.  So if you tried to download Peggotty in early December and failed to get it, or even if you managed to get the original (okay, but the new one is more carefully edited), you might want to download the new and improved version.  I know a few people have already knitted it on Ravelry, and so far it has gotten positive reviews—yay!
{BTW, I made this pattern for my personal use, so it has not been to the tech editor.  In other words, any feedback you might want to share would be appreciated.  Just message me via Ravelry or email me...thanks!}

So long for now, my dears!  I hope you are enjoying the last little bit of your holiday break!  No dieting or strict rule enforcement around here for a few days yet...like I said, savoring every last minute of this precious time!...

xoxo—alison