Friday, December 16, 2011

Ugly Christmas Sweater

Yesterday I decided I needed a Christmas gift for a family we know, so I thought an ornament might be a good idea. 

As I searched through the Ravelry pattern database looking for something to inspire me, it occurred to me that an Ugly Christmas Sweater would make a fantastic ornament. 

I was right.

I'm not publishing an official pattern, but I am happy to share the charts and the general process for anyone who wants to make their own Ugly Christmas Sweater ornament.

I used Knit Picks Palette but any fingering weight yarn would work (I bought the original complete set of 30 balls when it first came out, so I had all the colors on hand),  I used size 2 needles, which gave me a gauge of 7.5 sts/in. The final measurements are about 3" across the sweater body (not including sleeves) and 3.75" in length.

Click on the image to embiggen.
Gray boxes indicate "no stitch," which means CO 22 sts, then inc 1 st in Row 4. At the top, they show where the neck bind off occurs and additional rows are worked for each shoulder.

Black dots represent purl sts (i.e. first 2 rows are k1p1 ribbing)
Single squares of color (like for eyes or buttons or nose) indicate French Knot. 

I knit the front and the back, using the intarsia technique, although I did strand the white across the back of the tree trunk and the star, since they were so small.  Later, I added French Knots for the snowman's eyes and buttons, as well as the reindeer's eyes and nose.  I knit in the reindeer's head, but used duplicate stitch to add the antlers.

I left the shoulder sts live for the front and back and joined using a 3-needle bind off.  I picked up the sts for the sleeves and knit down to the cuff.  For the sleeve with the snowflakes, I knit it all in green and embroidered them on later.  The snowman's arms were embroidered using outline stitch.

For the tree, I had some stretchy silver beading thread  that I used to string the "lights" and the tinsel was silver metallic embroidery floss, which was a real pain in the rear to work with.  Oh, and I added some fringe to the snowman's scarf with short lengths of the green yarn and I embroidered a carrot nose, too.

I did all the embellishing and wove in ends before doing the seaming.

I seamed using mattress stitch (just a 1/2 st each side for the sleeves, but a full stitch each side for the body).

I didn't bother picking up sts and knitting a ribbed neck, although I originally planned to.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mother!

Today is my mother's 74th birthday, and I'm hoping that the package I mailed out to her on Saturday hits her doorstep today.

This fall I've been knitting a lot of things of my own design. Some have been relatively mindless knits, and can hardly be called "designs," like the plain stockinette socks I made for my daughter and her boyfriend (no, they aren't matching pairs, although the socks within each pair match, because I'm one of Those Knitters).

I'm back to working on Michael's Aran sweater that is part of my Level III work for the Master Hand knitting program.

I've done a lot of swatching of stranded designs for the Fair Isle hat (also for the MHK program), and have finally come up with a set of stitch patterns Sophia likes that I will turn into a hat, possibly over winter break.

I designed a shawlette pattern that I quite like (still not sick of it after knitting it three times) and it is currently with test knitters.

There was a cabled earflap hat of someone else's design that I completely re-engineered.

The package my mother will receive today (I hope!) was one of the few items I knit this fall that was not of my own design or heavily modified.

 My mother had back surgery in September and has been recovering well.  The pain meds have dampened her appetite and she still isn't very mobile, so she's been complaining about being cold.  Back pain means that it's a big deal for her to put on clothes and take them off, so I wanted to make her a shawl that would be easy for her to put around her shoulders if she needed some extra warmth and would stay put, even when she got up and moved around. This is especially important, because a couple of weeks ago she fell and broke a vertebra above the ones that were plated and pinned and screwed together in September.  She's going to be encased in what she describes as an "Iron Man suit" for the next month.

The pattern is Fundamentally Faroese, by Cheryl Oberle, and is knit bottom-up. What I like about Faroese shawls is that they are structured so that they stay on the shoulders.  When blocked and finished, the upper edge curves where it will lie across the shoulders.  The day after I finished it, I wore it all day, including while teaching, just to make sure I didn't need a shawl pin.  It stayed on my shoulders, no problem, never once slipping off.

The yarn is a handpainted, 2-ply DK from Rovings and is 70% Polwarth wool and 30% mohair.  I got this yarn from a Canadian vendor at Yarn Over a few years ago.  It has a gorgeous sheen and a wonderful halo. 

If this shawl wasn't intended for my mother, I don't think I'd have the strength to give it away.