Christmas Knitting

A Handmade Christmas Part 2: Woolies for H

02/01/2012

It’s said that every one of us has a love language, a way of expressing affection and feeling cherished that trumps all the others.  I am a Knitter and (for want of a better word) a creativist, and my love language won’t be found on any list or in any bestseller; it’s Handmade (subsection Wool).

If Kitty was predestined to be snuggled in cosy handknits and handsewns from the moment of her birth, how much more yarn should be heaped upon my H; the man who puts up with my (many) foibles, has loved and supported me unwaveringly throughout some of the hardest and darkest days of my life, and who did the entire Christmas washing up single handed on Boxing Day morning while Kitty and I had a mid-morning nap.

It’s really no surprise then that the Christmas knitting that I was prepared to bust bedtimes for should now belong to H.

December 644 
First, the Christmas hat. From a quick count in the hat cupboard this is the fifth Christmas hat, and I’m told it’s the best to date.  The pattern is the Irish Moss Toque by Alexandra Charlotte Defoe, and the yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed Aran in the wonderfully named Storm Blue. 

December 647
It’s a really fun pattern to knit; the cables are interesting but logical so you don’t have to refer back to the pattern every thirty seconds, and in an aran weight yarn you progress pretty quickly.  It is worth noting that the called for yarn is sold in 100g skeins so when they say you need 2 skeins, and the yardage suggests that you need four balls of something in a 50g put up, you might not need all of the second skein; I used two and a half balls and this is a big hat with a really deep turn up.  I would also recommend a circular needle rather than DPNs, even if you have to pull a loop to make it work, my standard length DPNs were just too short to keep all the stitches safely on three needles.

The yarn itself is slubby and tweedy with a bit of a crunch, enough to keep you nice and warm without being too scratchy on a bare forehead.  It would make fabulous jumper yarn for a cabley aran. 

December 607
I started it in the early hours of a dark Wednesday in the departure lounge of Birmingham airport, and knit the ribbing as we bounced and bumped our way through turbulence to Glasgow, and finished it late into a quiet evening a few days before Christmas, having chivied H into an early bedtime (and run him a bath).

It suits him, it fits him, and two hat-testing missions to our windy local playgroup says it keeps him warm.

Moving from a warm head to cosy toes, I gave him a pair of handspun Christmas socks:
January 087
They started out life in our house as a braid of fluffy Falkland from Spindlefrog at Wonderwool a long time ago (2009?) in the Bogdust colourway.
January 091
I spun the whole braid as a fine continuous ply and then Navajo plied it (or my approximation thereof) to preserve the flashes of neon colour in an otherwise muted green/brown yarn.  I love how it turned out but were I to do it again I think that dividing the braid lengthways into three or four and then spinning each one end to end would result in shorter stripes across the entire sock, rather than the off/on effect here.  It would be fun to try anyway.

January 092
The Falkland is soft and fluffy, although I’m not sure how hardy it will turn out to be.  Still, socks are made to be loved and worn, and as you can see from the slightly Nora Batty-esque baggyness around the ankles, these made it to feet before photographs.

And finally, a pair of socks from Father Christmas, supplied to his elves by a convoluted system of packaging and posting made known to parents everywhere during ante-natal classes. (You thought they taught us how to look after the baby? Alas no, it’s Santa’s Secrets for Beginners followed by Embarrasing Your Teenager 101)

January 100
You’re going to have to trust me when I tell you that this is a pair of socks.  Or at least, on Christmas Day when H unpacked his stocking and immediately put them on his feet there were two.  The laundry basket contains only one.  Ergo, one of them is somewhere in our house.  H does not know precisely where but mentioned something about a bed/sofa/other furniture and the word ‘under’.  It bodes well for our marriage that my love language is not the accurate placement of laundry.

It’s a Regia sock yarn from the back of the stash [ETA – it’s actually Fortissima Colori Socka Color No 2405 – thanks Diane!], and I think even when I bought it it was in the discontinued and discounted bin.  The yarn in the ball looks like the toe and heel sections so the rest was a bit of a surprise.  If you have a ball of this, it’s going to pool no matter how many stitches you cast on, it’s just a question of getting the pooling you can live with and then maintaining an identical tension until you finish.  The colours are two or three stitches long and even the tiniest shift makes a massive difference.  I restarted the first sock because my afternoon train-ride tension was producing a completely different pattern to the morning.

The finished article is crazy and random and looks rather as if a box of crayons had exploded in the yarn factory, which happily is just the kind of socks that H enjoys.

Two pairs of socks and a hat.  It doesn’t sound like very much does it?  But at a conservative estimate it’s 50 hours dedicated to cherishing my husband, and that can’t be a bad gift. 

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  • mandycharlie 03/01/2012 at 1:25 am

    Oh Wow! I thought you had used two different balls of sock yarn for your sock, my head nearly exploded when you said the effect was all from the one ball. I can see how it has worked now. That is one crazy sock!

    Love, love, love H’s hat, good choice, one I might steal for next year!

  • mandycharlie 03/01/2012 at 3:40 pm

    p.s. Your socks are wonderful, but you knew that. I am always in awe when you turn a pile of fluff into a very pretty knitted item.

  • Diane A 03/01/2012 at 6:27 pm

    That isn’t a Regia sock yarn, its Fortissima Colori Socka Color No 2405. I remember we pulled the last 2 balls out of a sale bin at the same time. Mine hasn’t been knitted, its still in the ball and has the ball band, which is a bit of an achievement in this house. Not sure I like it knitted up, perhaps it will stay in the ball.

  • Carie 03/01/2012 at 10:53 pm

    Diane your stash is so much better organised than mine – I lost the ball band ages ago and rather assumed Regia because it doesn’t feel like Opal – thanks for the info. I suspect on 60sts you would get something more like the heel and toe – or maybe it would work for a shawl?