Monday, January 19, 2009

Christmas Knitting Wrap-Up

OK... so it's been a while since Christmas, but now that everyone has received their knitted items (and I'm finally getting around to posting), here's a summary of my (no longer) secret Christmas knitting projects.

Santa Claus Stockings


Santa Claus Stocking by Ruth Homrighaus (with permission from Bernat, original publisher of the pattern)
US 4 (3.5 mm) bamboo circular needles (used for knitting flat)
US 5 (3.75 mm) bamboo dpns (used for knitting the toe in the round)

Yarns used (yardages are per stocking):

  • Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Brush, 80% Baby Alpaca, 20% Acrylic, (110 yards / 50 g per ball), ~0.07 balls "White"
  • Valley Yarns Lenox, 60% Alpaca, 30% Merino, 10% Cashmere (109 yards / 50 g per ball), ~0.05 balls "Ballet Slipper"
  • Cascade 220 Wool, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, (220 yards / 100 g per skein)

    • ~0.39 skeins "Natural"
    • ~0.35 skeins "Christmas Green"
    • ~0.20 skeins "Christmas Red"
    • a few yards of "Black"

When they were small, my husband and his siblings all received personalized handknit stockings from an elderly (and very generous!) family friend. She used an old Bernat pattern (published in the 1950's, I think) in holiday appropriate red, green, and white. My mother-in-law had mentioned that she would be interested in having me recreate these stockings for my nephews and niece. So, in November of 2007 I set about trying to find the pattern. Extensive web searches revealed that many other people were searching for a similar sounding pattern.

Eventually I discovered that Ruth Homrighaus's family also had a tradition involving this stocking pattern, and that she had knitted a number of them from a photocopy of her grandmother's pattern from the original kit. I contacted Ruth and - to make a long story short - she was kind enough to get Bernat's permission to make the long out of print pattern available via PDF. I know she put some serious work into it, recharting the pattern and typing up the instructions. Thanks so much, Ruth! I (and many others) really appreciate it :)

After finding the pattern, I needed to find the right yarn. As I was still living in Connecticut at that time, my mother-in-law mailed us my husband's stocking, and we went to Webs' year end sale to look for good yarn substitutions. We weren't able to find exact matches, but we came away with Cascade 220 in Natural, Christmas Red, and Christmas Green (how could I pass those names up?) as well as a brushed alpaca yarn for fuzzy Santa hair/beard and a peachy pink for his face.


Here are some in progress shots of one of the stockings:


As you can see, it's knit flat from the top down. The colorwork is a combination of stranded knitting and intarsia. When you're knitting Santa's head, you need to have a lot of different yarn strands/bobbins going at once (my maximum was 13).


Part way through the mirrored candy canes on the top of the foot, you put stitches to either side on holders, finish the instep, then slip the previously held stitches together onto a needle (so that the back opening is in the center of the needle). You knit a heel flap across these stitches and turn the heel. You now have the instep stitches and the heel stitches on two different needles/holders, as shown here:


Then you knit in the round on all the stitches, decreasing for the toe. This leaves you with 3 seams to sew up: 1 long seam up the center back above the heel and 2 short seams (one on each side of the foot) between the instep and the heel itself.


After making the first stocking, I thought that Santa's beard/hair could look a little fuller, so for the second stocking I doubled the alpaca brush yarn. This was more difficult to deal with logistically, and it resulted in a wider Santa head / wider stocking in addition to a fuller beard, so I went back to a single strand for the final stocking. You can see the difference here (single strand on the left, double on the right):


...and when all the stockings are layed out next to one another (fat-headed Santa on the far right):


I didn't try too hard to get the same gauge as the original stocking (on the left), so, as you probably noticed, my stockings are much longer. You can also see how different the colors are - both the red and the green in the original are much yellower than the yarns I was able to find.


P.S. I changed the candy cane chart, because I thought the original version was pretty weird looking. Mine aren't fabulous either, but I think it's an improvement.

Tiny Sweater Ornaments - 2 Types


1. Mini Weasley Sweater Ornaments by Alison Hansel in Charmed Knits
Miscellaneous leftover DK to heavy worsted yarns
US 4 (3.5 mm) bamboo circular needles


2. Cheers! by Cheryl Niamath
Miscellaneous leftover DK to heavy worsted yarns
US 3 (3.25 mm) Knitpicks Harmony dpns

I made these entertaining little sweater ornaments for various friends and family members.

Bug had fun modeling 6 of the 7 the tiny sweaters for me (I hadn't made the last one at the time of the photoshoot)...


So dignified ;)

Tiny Stocking Ornaments

IMG_9070 IMG_9069

Tiny Sock Ornament by Everwhelming Liz
Leftover fingering and DK weight yarns
US 0 (2.0 mm) Knitpicks Harmony dpns (for fingering weight)
US 3 (3.25 mm) Knitpicks Harmony dpns (for DK weight)


Bug decided these tiny stocking ornaments were the height of ear fashion:


I'd have to agree! He was sad to see them go to their recipient...