Monday, December 28, 2015

Orange wool for post-Christmas cheer

I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas, snow or not, and that you found a little time for post-gift knitting!  This was the first year - probably since I learned to knit - that I wasn't frantically trying to finish a handknit present and I have to say: bliss.  Not that I'm recommending that or likely to do the same thing next year.  And I have been knitting gifts really, including Mr. Orange here.

When I was a kid, we opened our presents after midnight mass - it was so weird to me to grow up and get married and be expected to open gifts in broad daylight without heated-up frozen pizzas and orange pop from the Pop Shoppe in hand (said Mary, dating herself drastically.)  But what this sock reminds me of is the swamp water my best friend Bob and I mixed long after after Christmas Eve, when there were just dregs in the bottom of all the different bottles of lime pop, orange pop, cream soda, root beer, and cola. sooooo icky.... and yet so welcome, when you're 12 and a sugar addict.

Maybe I should call these socks Swamp Water, what with their being made from the very last scraps of yarn I have in this fiber and weight?

Or maybe I should ask myself the real question, which is: why bother naming projects when you haven't updated your Ravelry project page in A YEAR?

Or maybe more than a year.   I had no idea my life would be so hijacked by Things and Non-Creative Projects over the last 15 or 16 months.  It will be a relief to have all that wrapped up and back to normal.

(speaking of things and non-creative projects, the William Chair I mentioned in my post about exciting furniture options - a post which, oddly, has proven to be extremely popular - was featured in a magazine Pete gave me for Christmas.  It costs over $2,000.  FOR ONE CHAIR.  I am thinking its spare midcentury modern style is not the only reason that chair will get a No.)

Anyhoo, the orange socks are over the heel, and you know what that means: they will now go like the wind.  Especially if worked on while watching period dramas - Pete gave me Our Mutual Friend this year, which features 351 minutes of gripping knitting time.

These few days between Christmas and New Year's are the most precious in the year for me.  I've noticed that any other time I decide I need a break, it's nearly impossible because nobody else is doing it.  But this week?  This week almost everybody is taking time off.  The phone doesn't ring and the parties are mostly done and I can just sleep all day if I want to.  Which I usually do, and which proves disastrous all night if I give in.  So instead I try to fit in lots of movies and lots of knitting and a little bit of tidying up, to pass as exercise, and to give me a chance at starting the new year right.

Is this week quiet for you too?  How would you like to spend yours?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Last minute makes: felted wool trivet

If you have felted wool around and find very basic embroidery stitches soothing, then this is the project for you! 

It doesn't have to take long, and a felted wool trivet is infinitely customizable - for a tea service, for a kitchen, for a favourite mug - in whatever size suits the need and the available fabric.  My fabric supply is mostly from sweaters purchased at Goodwill to ensure I'd have a stash of emergency gift materials and not at all because I am overly optimistic about how many projects I can take on in a year, ahem.

For a tea trivet, you'll be aiming for a circle or square about 6.5" across.  I like a circle, because I can run my rotary cutter neatly around an overturned sandwich plate, and I find blanket stitch more peaceful when I'm tracing a curve.  If you don't have a rotary cutter straight lines are a lot easier to cut - so square is your friend.

While you're at it, why not cut a few?  You'll need two circles (or squares) for each trivet - one for the pretty front, and one to hide the ugly stitching on the back of the pretty front - and it doesn't hurt to have a few in storage for real emergencies, like needing a reason to calm down with blanket stitch, or a gift for somebody who really does have everything except something hand made, by you, for the kitchen.

See that circle on the top with the sort of ridged design?  It was originally a wool vest, seriously cute with buttons down the front, but when I found it the years had taken their toll - it was sadly shrunken and in possession of a hole.  However: the grey was the perfect colour for my project, and the ridges were inspiring.

How often do you get a fabric with built-in guides for Japanese-style running stitch patterns?

There are so many options for running stitch, like these tiny examples I did when I was making bookmarks:

Or, you could applique designs onto your trivets, as I did with this improvised bird backs on a pair of felted wool mittens:

Still love these mitten birds SO MUCH years after giving them away... they are worn out now, apparently, but I bet the birds held up!

Okay: back to work.  Sadly I accidentally deleted the photos I took of the process, but I can tell you I paired the flimsy grey wool with a serious, thick black wool for heft and for better countertop protection.  To give me a guideline for how close to the edge my running stitch could go, I pushed standard-size paperclips onto the edges of the grey felt.  And when I was done, I put the two pieces of felted wool together with the right side out on the embroidered front, and blanket-stitched them shut.  You don't need to be perfect with the blanket stitch, either:

However, it is a good idea to press the finished trivet under a damp cloth so it goes flat, heh.

I am so excited about this trivet, even though it is not nearly as pretty as the turquoise and red one I made and can't find to photograph for you.  Or as clever as the one with the steaming teacup (appliqued sweater cuff for the cup, needle felted fleece for the steam) which I also can't find.  Why?  Because this trivet is a custom match for my aunt and uncle's gorgeous granite countertop! 

The counter is primarily the colour of the yarn I used - the mere fact that I had something that graduates in and out of different shades of honey is a miracle - and the rest of the counter shows veins of dark grey and black.  These two have everything and are at the point in their life where they are downsizing, but they do enjoy tea and coffee together daily.  I'll pair the trivet with some delicious cookies and wrap it up with ribbon: how better to offer love and good wishes?

This trivet took me about three hours to make, from cutting to not quite pressing.  You can save time by choosing a patterned sweater for one side of your trivet (no extra detail required) or by topstitching around an applique shape, like a heart or something.  Or by not being so fussy every time the running stitch comes out looking wonky.

Well, that's it for me today.  I have wrapped absolutely nothing, I have baked even less, and I'm supposed to be going to a birthday party tomorrow.  So off I go, shaking slightly with panic, and wishing you a wonderful Christmas Eve to come!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last minute makes: felted wool pins or ornaments

When there's just three or four making days left to Christmas, people who make presents are either flat out frantic or finished and suddenly wondering what other unrealistic goals we can set for ourselves.  So today: instructions for the felted wool pins I made this year.

It's a bit late at this point to offer somebody a Christmas pin unless you are seeing them, like, today - they only take a couple of hours to make once you have your gear together - but you can replace the pin with a string at the top and make it an ornament, or you can do something other than holly with berries and make it a pin for winter, like Jan's snowman:

If you start today there would still be time for you to gather materials, but if you're like me, you probably have them around the house already from previous projects (or laundry disasters).

Basically you are looking at felt, either from ruined wool sweaters - your own or from a thrift shop - or from a craft aisle in a bigger store, where you can buy it in colourful sheets.  Wool sweaters produce a thicker fabric but otherwise the process is the same.  It's just nice if one of the pieces isn't too floppy, so that the pin or ornament has some heft, so if you're using something really flimsy, you can add another circle to toughen it all up.

You will need:

Sharp-point scissors for detailed cutting
2 green holly leaves cut from felt, in 1" to 1-1/4" lengths
2 circles, at least one of which must contrast with both green and red, cut to about 2" diameter
(if you cut the back circle a shade bigger, you get a scalloped edged pin; otherwise it's flat)
3 tiny holly berries or 3/8" red bells - or you can make french knots with red thread
1 1" bar pin
1 needle and sewing thread
1 comfy chair and a good light

First off, you want to sew the pretty front of the pin.  Position the holly leaves as you wish (and I recommend having one of them overlap the border a bit at the tip), then attach them with a simple running stitch, with the first stitch coming up from the back so the knot doesn't show on the front.  Eventually I discovered that it's fastest if you start at the bottom of one leaf, then come to the top, stitch on the berries, then run down to the bottom of the second leaf.

If you use the very tiny felt berries - I got mine at Michael's - run your needle right through the middle so they don't tear off later.

Now it's time to sew your bar pin onto the back piece.  My stitches are always very sloppy and it doesn't matter with this design because you will be hiding it later.  See?  Messy:

And hidden.

And now it's time for blanket stitch, my favourite!!  This is where you sew the two sides together - pin side out on the back, holly side out on the front - and the key is to start your stitch just under a protruding holly leaf so that if you mess up with the ending knot it won't show.

Now you will begin to work your way around...

... tugging out any excess felt from the back piece with the tip of your needle to get the nice scalloped pie crust edge effect.  Or not, if you chose to make your two circles the same size.

When you're finished, all that's left is the wrapping!

Or you can tie your finished gift onto a wrapped present in place of a bow.

Tomorrow, with luck, I will have another Last Minute Make to show you - also with felted wool but you'll need bigger circles for this one - about 8" diameter.  No bar pins though!  Meanwhile: best of luck with your projects in hand. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The perfect knitting sofa

Ever since we started planning the new edition of our house I knew that it would be full of knitting nests and that they'd all need seating - I've just been too afraid to think of what kind.  Because even if I have measurements, I really need to stand in a space before I can see how much will really fit in it, and anyway I knew the space-related numbers would be very very bad.  But this week, we entered the stage with custom cabinetry and shelving where those decisions have to be made.  YAY!!

This down-filled, linen-covered settee from the Art Shoppe is incredibly comfortable and I love it - I mean, I really, really love it and want it very badly and have done for well over a year now and I was so excited to see it's still available - but I have to admit, in addition to still not being a favourite with Pete, it's not a perfect knitting sofa.  It's unlikely to accommodate the entire frame of a prone knitter, and the arms are too far apart to prop up the elbows of an upright one while s/he works.

What knitters truly need, apart from the classic rocker, is a comfy chair to can sink into for relief from a busy day... and then get up out of if we really have to.

Also, excellent lighting. 

Entertainment nearby, in the form of people who also need good chairs, or a TV running movies, or a stereo for music, or a table for your audiobook player.

And of course, a place to set a plate of cookies and a cup of tea.

My much-loved apartment size sofa is, at 72" long and a shade over 36" deep, too big for our 11' x 11' living room (or at any rate, it will be whenever we go to put a Christmas tree in there.)  It will however fit into the niche in our bedroom, so that knitting nest is taken care of, whew.  On either end, we're installing these reading lamps from Schoolhouse Electric:

The matching armchair (36" square) will fit perfectly into our new, large, sundrenched front hall as a welcoming sight upon entry and a comforting spot for shoe-donning upon exit and a midafternoon knitting space, but would be a space hog in the living room or the dining room. 

The only place we can put the 84" sofa bed and the big comfy recliners we bought for the condo will be the basement, parked around the TV there (Pete is super happy about that.)

All of which leaves the living room empty and in desperate need of small, clean pieces with airy looking leg areas.

I've got my eye on this one, which - like all the other pieces I'm considering - comes in a huge range of upholstery options, so that will be another hurdle for later:
It's only 65" long, which is probably still pushing it for the living room, but at 36" deep it'll feel luxurious.  The low, straight arms mean I can sling my legs off the end if I am lying down to watch a movie, and that we can snug a small side table right up to it.  Also, Barrymore Furniture builds all its own furniture and does custom work beyond just upholstery, so worst case, I can have it shrunk down the littlest bit.

For chairs in this tiny room, I am torn.

The design of this William Chair (also from Barrymore) is pretty midcentury modern for my preference, but you can't argue with its 31" x 31" footprint. 

But I really like the idea of this wingback from The Art Shoppe paired with the sofa from Barrymore, don't you?

It's 31" x 35" - maybe too much for the living room, but so trim.  Let's put them together:

They look like they're from the same set, without being too matchy.  Swoon.

And - oh dear, what about a pair of tiny compact chairs for sitting by the fire after we've pushed the dining table a bit out of the way?

The William chairs with their 31" dimensions would probably be great here, but I sat in this traditional wingback while we were deciding whether or not to buy the big sleeper sofa at The Chesterfield Shop and it is SO COMFORTABLE.  I'm not really a fan of the legs, but the curl of the back and the height of the arms feels fantastic when you're sitting in it.  Also it's got a 32" square footprint. 

The question is, which style goes better with this expanding dining table

H'mmm... probably neither.  But I do like the very stable central base on that table, the better for walking around while smoothing pattern pieces over fabric while cutting out sewing projects!

At least it's only three different furniture stores we have to go to for a seating check, right? 

Here's what I'm really happy about though: I've finally got a solution for the open 76" x 30" slot in my office!  In addition to a long desk and much-needed storage for yarn and fabric, I wanted a comfy seat in there for quiet knitting.  Because the space is so tight though, it also has to serve as a credenza for spreading out papers, and a staging area for sewing projects in progress.  And I want to be able to nap on the comfy seat if necessary.  I mean come on, who doesn't need a nap after doing all that paperwork and sewing??

I was thinking I'd have to have something custom built but then I found this:

It's 31" deep but I think I can work around that, don't you?  And if not - again, it's Barrymore, and they can make it smaller for me.  Can't you just see it with some big colourful cushions to lean back on for gazing at the view of treetops, and a cheerful throw blanket, and some pull-out storage underneath for on-the-go knitting?

And while I'm asking you things - have you noticed that all of this furniture is boxy and spartan?  I just did, putting it all together here.  I'm not really a boxy or spartan person, but I have a feeling the fabrics and patterns we end up choosing would make even this stuff look curvy.

Okay, enough dreaming.  If we're going to check out all these places over the Christmas break, I'd better step up the pace with getting our other stuff done!  Take care and I hope I see you again soon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Embroidery with the incompetent

I really wanted to make a snowman pin for Jan, but I didn't have orange felt for the nose, and at a little less than two inches across the scale was way too small to do anything but embroidery to pick out the details.  Interestingly, even though I am terrible at embroidery, every time I showed him to somebody to ask whether I was messing up horribly this little guy evoked death-by-cute expressions and cries of "Can you make one for me?"

Answer: No.  If it hadn't taken over an hour to get him this far, and a complete fluke of bad stitching that resulted in the charmingly bent carrot effect, I would do tons - but as it is, I'm just grateful for photography so I can always remember my little snow friend.

As you might have guessed, things have continued to be crazy busy here at Hugs.

The house is completely under control - heavenly, even, after some changes resulted in a streamlined process toward a home we actually want to live in.  Our city building inspector is happy too, always a bonus!  And I'm learning a lot about construction and renovation and all the parts that go into a building - enough that Ray thinks it's a shame I'm not renovating another house after this one.  It's kind of like planning a wedding though - you can only learn to do it by doing it, and the whole point is to try never to have to do it again.  Not for yourself, anyway.

The condo is looking pretty great too because other changes resulted in me taking on a major clutter reduction project.  As I type, I do have a few things that have to go down to the storage locker (which is already full, hence their presence behind the sofa) and a couple of bins with lids waiting for soft objects to be stored in them, but I also have a Christmas tree in its stand just waiting to relax enough for lights and ornaments.  YAY!!

I've known for quite a few years about a Christmas tree market that sets up on the north side of Front Street, aka across from the St. Lawrence Market, but it has never occurred to me to buy a tree there, or even one of the gorgeous wreaths they sell.  We always get our stuff from the grocery store.  Today I walked past the tree market for the second time in a week and thought, why are we not shopping here?  So we did and it was awesome.  Pete and I picked a tree in no time, got a fresh cut for the trunk, and carried it home (two doors away, basically.)

That's something I really appreciate about this building - it's on a block that is extra wide, with not one but two lanes included in it that have been turned into pedestrian walkways.  Because I have older relatives I know what an advantage it is to be able to get errands done on foot without ever crossing the street once your legs get unsteady.  Admittedly I'm not likely to carry a Christmas tree home when I'm 85, but I do think there's something to be said for hanging onto this condo once the house is done, so we can move back if stairs get to be too much for us.

I mentioned this to Bob and he said well, but surely it would be a bit big for you to retire to.  I made no comment.  Bob doesn't knit, so he doesn't understand about the concept of Yarn Stash and the space it takes up.  After a moment I pointed out that it would be good to have a guest room in case friends came to visit.  This, he can't argue about, because he's slept on our sofa often enough.

Speaking of stash: that's the next big clutter reduction installment.  I keep coming across yarn I've had for ten years at least, and never knit with: I don't want to start out in the 'new' house with all that baggage, so I'm going to deal with it now.  I just think I'll enjoy this condo experience more if I'm not looking at a wall of boxes all the time.

And speaking of a wall of boxes... we have one, again.  I worked SO hard to unpack enough not to have to look at one of those as I fall asleep at night, but then Restoration Hardware had a sale, and some of the bathroom stuff we want was so hugely discounted it didn't make sense to wait to get it.  Yesterday the concierge called to say I had five boxes at the front desk and when I went down expecting to see, oh, five small book parcels maybe - I suddenly remembered what I'd done.  The five boxes were massive!

The upshot is, we are now storing five sets of bathroom light fixtures and four train racks (for towel storage) in the bedroom, because the storage locker - yeah, I mentioned that didn't I.  It's full.

With so much going on beyond the usual day to day meals have been pretty disorganized.  But this weekend Pete offered to go to a new pizza place he'd liked when he tried it.

The other pizza place I liked had closed, but this one is pretty awesome!  I think I'm not really a fan of giant uncooked basil leaves on the top of my pizza, but my goodness they look beautiful, as did Pete's arugula.  Also the pizzas were delicious.

Okay, before he melts, let's take another look at our little snow friend.

The trick with a Christmas pin is to give it to the person who's getting it long enough before Christmas that they can get some use out of it.  I am pretty sure Jan waits till Christmas Day to open my present, so I put the snowman on the front of her bag - that way, she can take it off and wear it now.  And hopefully later too - after all, it's winter, and snowmen are all about winter, right?

I didn't say how I stitched this guy.  I got the snowballs onto the blue background with running stitch in regular white sewing thread, then stitched in the bits of coal with regular black sewing thread.  I used sort of a backstitch for the stick arm that shows and then improvised another stick hand resting on his other hip.  The carrot nose is a bit of orange stripe from some Vesper Sock remains, and the red scarf is actual shiny embroidery floss.  The only part of the scarf that really worked was the tail, and I love it, and am so grateful because it elevates the rest of him.  Finally: blanket stitch for the backing.  If you cut the backing a little bigger than the front and then blanket stitch them together, you get that lovely scalloped edge.

I'm never going to win awards for my embroidery, but you don't need to be an expert to pull off folk art, thank goodness.

Okay, that's it for me today!  Take care of yourself and I'll be back again as soon as I'm able.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Every day is a magical adventure

One of the first things I did after moving into the condo was to put Unikitty (from The Lego Movie) into a kitchen cupboard, so that every time I go to get a plate or a mug I'm greeted by her smiley face:

All these months later, I still smile back.  And then I close the door on her again which you'd think she'd find insulting but No, there she is, still smiling the next time I'm making tea and reaching for something to pour it into.  Possibly because she's made of Lego and only has feelings inside my head.

Still, I think it's important to build happy little surprises into your day to day life, because who knows when you might need one?

I haven't needed one this week, even though I haven't had a minute to post anything here.  Seriously - ALL WEEK?  How is it that I didn't get any time in four business days to sit down and write us all a Hug??

Well, at least I'm here now.

Today was definitely not a day I needed nice surprises even though I did have to go the dentist.  Norm told me several times what a wonderful job I'm doing keeping my teeth clean so that was pleasant. I'm sure his suggestion that I get a Sonicare electric toothbrush was in no way meant to imply that he really thinks I need help keeping my teeth clean but is just too polite to say so (even though Norm is incredibly polite and kind.)  And when my dentist did come in to check for cavities, he found none, which is what you always want to have happen at the dentist's.

Ironically, before going to that appointment, I stopped at the chocolate shop and spent nearly $200.  That is even more bewildering than the fact that a Friday post is my first of the week.  How can a person who's given up chocolate drop $200 on chocolate?  How many people am I giving chocolate to over the next couple of weeks, anyway?  And how much yarn would that get me?  Best not to think about it.  Better to be relieved knowing that errand is complete, and that my knitting arms didn't fall off carrying it all home.

Another thing I did this week instead of scattering Hug messages was to spend nearly three hours in the icy cold of our house.  We don't have windows yet and even though the weather has been, thankfully, mild - Ray and Al are delighted to have the chance to finish so much work outside while that's the case - the inside was where I needed to be.  It is actually colder inside than out, which is also true at the cottage in spring.  This always amazes me.  Next time I have to be at the house I am totally bringing long underwear and mittens, but this time I found myself writing up notes with stumpy frozen fingers, while standing on stumpy cold legs. 

Still, it felt good to be there.  It's starting to seem like our house again after a period of being an unfamiliar hybrid.  One way I can tell is that even though we have added a floor and redistributed the rooms, every room is revealing itself to be... still really small.  Andy and I have been puzzling over the kitchen for ages trying to fit in seating and effective workspace while creating the illusion of an English country cottage.  Andy is a very, very patient man.  I think I should bring him a scarf if he has to meet me there again.  And maybe one of those hats with ear flaps.

It looks like my comfy old sofa will tuck into the window niche in the master bedroom which is a relief, since it's not going to fit in the living room and it's too familiar to give up.  And in bonus Yay, we will need to buy new furniture for pretty much everyplace else!  Normally this would be devastating since any house, never mind ours, goes way over budget... but it's exciting to think of shopping for a new dining room table and a kitchen table and a living room setup.  In fact, just the other day I saw some alluring sofas that looked super compact but long enough to stretch out on (who else here likes to knit while mostly lying down and watching a movie, and maybe even nodding off a little while your fingers keep working the needles?)  Now I know I can go back and measure them for consideration.

What is really awesome at the house though is how Ray and Al have it set up.  They keep finding random bits of furniture and for a while there while the water was still hooked up, we had a salvaged, fully functional laundry sink in the front hall.  They have comfy office waiting room chairs for their breaks, and a couple of rescued tables for spreading out their drawings and tools.  And let's not forget my favourite:  leftover lengths of joists set horizontally and nailed to the framing to serve as shelving for odds and ends.  This time I saw that they'd screwed an old coffee can to the exterior wall of the living room to hold all their pencils and the cute steam engine pencil sharpener they found in the wall at another job downtown.  They are making it practical and cosy in the house, just like when we lived there.

One more observation: while I was upstairs, I looked up at the light tubes that will bring daylight through the attic and into the main upstairs bathroom, and I saw puffy white clouds in a blue, blue sky.  I have a feeling I'm going to spend a lot of time standing in that bathroom, looking at puffy white clouds in a blue, blue sky.  It is really peaceful to do that even when you're freezing.  Can you imagine how awesome it will be when you're cosy warm inside your cute house?

Last weekend feels like years ago but I did finish my Christmas pin for the concert, and afterward I made another jangly one for Lannie:

The concert was FANTASTIC.  Every year the boys' choir school here - the one affiliated with the cathedral, not the private choir school whose name I forget - does two weekend concerts at Massey Hall and for the last few years we have gleefully gone to both.  It's great to do that because once you've heard all the different songs and decided which ones you love most, you get to go hear them again the next day and lock them into your memory.  Plus, the performances are incredible.  To give you an idea of the caliber of these kids, here is a clip of some ten and eleven year olds doing a Gordon Lightfoot cover from a TV spot the week before the concert...

... and there are some other videos on YouTube from the concert if you want more. 

This weekend I have to make two more pins, and I am so looking forward to more armchair time to do it in.  I've taken loads of pictures for a how-to, and hopefully I can post about that next week while there's still time for you to make some little presents if you're so inclined.  I am going to two more choral concerts in the next week or two and am so happy to have a holly pin to wear to them. 

Isn't it ironic that my dad - who was a choirboy at the cathedral himself in the years before the school opened, and who grew up to be such a great singer everybody in town wanted him for their family's weddings and funerals - tried unsuccessfully till he died to get me to like choral music, and now I can't get enough?

Well, life is full of that kind of surprise I guess.

Today I came home to find that the lobby of our building had been transformed into an incredibly fragrant holiday wonderland:

And that was a welcome surprise too.  Even better was turning the corner to get the elevator and finding this little bonus tableau:

So many magical moments.  Hope you've had a few this week and have a few more until I can pop back in again!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday night crafting

It's taken me weeks to pull together enough energy to make this mess:

I don't know why I find it so relaxing to cut shapes out of felted wool, but - eh, who needs to know?

Sometimes it's enough just to pick up some very sharp scissors and some very soft fabric and make things.

Especially when you really want to wear the things the next day.  Yeah, I'm going to a concert on Saturday and I have a new black dress coat that needs a Christmas pin.  I have a Christmas pin - several in fact - but I have no idea where it is.  I'm just grateful I found the dress I want to wear, frankly.  Moving house: so crazymaking, even months later.

The question is, will I wear one with bells on it, or just little holly berries?

HA! I kid.  The real question is, once I've put away the extras, will I be able to stay awake long enough to stitch all these parts together?

Wish me luck, and I'll do the same for you - hope you have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you here next week!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Converting yarn to kits

When  you have a lot of yarn, it's tempting to feel you have more than you can ever possibly get through.  Because, you know, most of us have WAY more than we can ever possibly get through.  Like this stuff, which is worth about six months of knitting time.

But fear not.  The first step in making good use of your yarn - after deciding whether you really need to keep it all, and moving it on to a place where it will be made into useful objects if not - is to pin down what you want to make with it.  Then you can package it up with a note, or an actual pattern.  Instant kit!


I don't need to add a note to this yarn because it's all socks - of course.  Though I do dream of a pair of fingerless gloves in gorgeous hand-dyed mohair/wool blend.  And I might just have set aside some of the yarn for this purpose.

(yep, this isn't all of the Stoddart yarn I bought last May.  Most of it, but not all of it.)

(It's December now, isn't it.  I've had this yarn for more than six months and hadn't even gotten it ready to knit, even though it is one of my super favourite yarns.  what on earth is happening to me??)

(let's not think about that. let's just look at sock combos.)

When I was winding all these cakes, I panicked a little because I had no idea how I would put together all the different colours into sock kits.  But once I'd divided the cakes into two, it became pretty obvious.

For example:

Who doesn't want a pair of blindingly yellow sunshine socks to keep warm in over the winter?

Not to mention the allure of blue sky socks, with a field of wheat stretching across the heels and toes.

Okay I have to be honest here, I really want a pair of the blond socks with just a bit of accent, and I may swap things around to make it happen.  But I like this colour combo too. 

And then there's the festive cranberry kit:

This blue-and-neon combo makes me think of a summer circus, for some reason.

I think this one has to be my favourite.  I don't have anything else in this spectacular green, with its amazing colour shifts.  It will be so pretty with the superbright contrasting heels and toes!

Another chance for the blond yarn to shine:

This tawny colourway was so beautiful, I bought two skeins of it - so I have a little extra I am TOTALLY using to make fingerless gloves with, eventually.  But I'm also thrilled with this colour combo for socks, too.

Evidently I bought a lot of this blue yarn, too.  Hmmm, maybe sky blue and  dusty rose aren't really the way to go.  Or maybe the quirkiness is what will make them work?

So difficult to tell with these large cakes, isn't it.  You really have to stitch yarns together to see how they'll play with each other.

It was a long journey to get these yarns from skein form to workable cakes - there was a move in there, and some possible moth damage that led to a stint in the freezer - but it was very satisfying to tuck them into Ziploc bags and tuck them into the baskets that live in my coffee table cubbies.  Now, when I need a new hand/eye therapy project, I can simply pull out one of the baskets and chose a kit.  It's like a yarn shop in my living room!

You know, more than just owning an extensive supply of yarn is like having a yarn shop in your living room.

(do you have a yarn shop in your living room?)