There is something so wonderful about giving someone a knitted gift, especially when it is well received. That said, I certainly wouldn’t want to put in all that time, effort and anxiety (will they like it?) into a project for someone that won’t appreciate it. So I only knit gifts when I feel really inspired, and when I have the time. This year inspiration struck when I discovered this mitten pattern. My Mom loves to feed the squirrels in our backyard and so the squirrel has become something of a mascot for her. I normally don’t buy whole books for a single pattern, but this one was so perfect I couldn’t resist. She loved them.
A few words of warning about this pattern. First, there is only one size, and given the complexity of the fair isle sizing up would be a bit tricky. They knit fairly densely, which is perfect for mittens but means that there is less stretch than normal, so if they turn out too small it is hard to ignore! Luckily my Mom’s hands turned out to be smaller than mine, so they fit her nicely. Also, I’m not sure if my gauge changed or if the different floats on the squirrel-mitten (only one mitten has the squirrel) pulled in, but the squirrel-mitten was noticeably smaller than the plain mitten. While I was initially unimpressed with the thumb construction (no gusset, you end up with a gap between mitten and thumb that you have to sew up), the resulting mitten fits well. Overall, the pattern gave me a bit of anxiety but it all worked out in the end. My pattern notes (such as they are) are here.
The second gift was for my brother. He has long been a proponent of the usefulness of hemp as a textile, so when I saw Hempwol in my LYS I knew I had to make him something out of it. The yarn is a blend of hemp and wool and while it is not scratchy it is still a little too rustic for something like a hat or scarf. Instead, I knit a guitar strap based on the Banshee pattern published in Knitty.
Once I figured out the tab instructions (there seem to be some errors in the Knitty pattern so that the tabs don’t quite match up), the rest of the knitting was smooth sailing. Now, knitted guitar straps aren’t that common since knitting is, by nature, stretchy. Guitar straps aren’t really supposed to stretch. The hemp helped prevent that since it is so strong, and I knit at a dense gauge, but the end results was still too stretchy for my liking. So, I cut up some jean fabric I had lying around (I turned a bunch of my old holey jeans into shorts one summer) and lined the whole thing. It was a lot of hand sewing, but it was totally worth it; the result is much more substantial strap that lies flat and doesn’t stretch at all. My pattern notes are here.
Both my Mom and brother really seemed to like their gifts this year, which is very encouraging for the future! It is easy to get carried away thinking up knitted gifts for everyone on my list but I’m not a very fast knitter; if I made something for everyone on my list I’d have to start in February! As it is, I was sewing away on the lining for the strap until the 23rd, while my brother was in the next room.
Next week I’ll cover some of my other FOs from the last couple of weeks. I’m also planning a little year-end review of my crafting projects and my coldsheeping efforts. Stay tuned!