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...


Virtuous said...

Now those stockings were something else!!! Great work on those! Whew!

And you know I love those little raglan sweater ornaments! :o)

Wishing you a wonderful 2009!

Kara said...

Darling! I bet those stockings made your family's Christmas.

SJ said...

Those stockings are seriously impressive! I have no doubt that those are going to be treasured family heirlooms for many, many years.

Ella said...

I know I post on it every time, but I will never get over how patient (and flippin cute) your cats are.

That said, I LOVE the knitting. Your stockings ROCK! I'm inspired for next year....

sula said...

Oh, my! You are just too much--what a treasure for the family! Loved the sweaters-on-cat pictures, too. ;)

Beth said...

Once again, I love everything. I'm sad Christmas is over because I love those ornaments. I have a hand knit stocking knitted by an elderly woman (who has passed away) that is almost exactly like the ones you needed. She used bigger needles though and old timey yarn, acrylic.

ayla said...

The color difference might just be the age of the yarn. I think you did a great job on the stockings, congratulations!

hyeknitter said...

You sure were busy! The stockings look great.

YarnSnob said...

Those christmas stockings are aewsome, did you not suffer from the one sock syndrome? ...then again they are an interesting knit and I love those lil sweaters , very cute. Bugs, you model them well and so handsome :) a great way to wear socks!

LizKnits said...

I so love all those little ornaments!

Lauralness said...

Wow! Everything looks awesome! Great job on the stockings. That was incredibly sweet of you to do that.

Anonymous said...

Your Christmas knits are fabulous! I especially love the little ornaments - too cute!

Alison Boon said...

What a great way to create a keepsake. Love Bug modelling with the sweater and stocking decorations.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed by those stockings! Wow! The little ornaments are so adorable. You were BUSY knitting for the holidays. Hope everyone loved their gifts. Great job.

Anonymous said...

I love Bug! I wish my cat would let me use her as a prop. Maybe I'll give it a try. All of your projects are beautiful!

Lin said...

LOL at Bug, he is game for anything, love him! The knits are great, the stockings something I have meant to do for years.

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

How is it that Bug and Moana are so compliant? You must be spiking their kitteh kool-aid...

Nicole said...

oh my! those are all amazing!
the tiny sweaters and tiny stockings are adorable!

mistress of fiber said...

Good Lord Girl! That is some amazing heirloom gift giving you did! :) I am so impressed! And again, Bugs has got to be the most photogenic patient cat I have ever seen, makes for great shoots!!!! Thanks for sharing.

Rima said...

Wow, wow, wow. Thats all I am going to say for now.

Kasia said...

WOW! I adore your xmas knitting! So cool and Bug seems to hate it dearly ;)

Laiane said...

Those Christmas Stockings look eerily familiar. I was born in the mid 1960's, so it's highly likely I saw them when the pattern first came out.

Bug is debonair and charming, as always. Emma wants to know if he's single and if he likes older women (She's 14 this summer)

Nell said...

That's the most patient kitty ever.

laughingmuse said...

Not only are the knits (especially the tiny ones) adorable, but Bug may be the most awesome cat ever. The posing, the gravitas, the camera eye contact. SO CUTE.

myriam said...

Il est adorable!

A said...

WOW!!!! My sister and I received the SAME stockings when we were small children in the early '50s!!! I've been looking for the pattern for years, since my beloved (now deceased) Mother-in-Law said she would knit them for us. Now I just need to learn how to knit -- at an obviously advanced level! You did a beautiful job!

Piper said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I am currently knitting the same stocking for my daughter off my husbands that was knit 40-ish years ago. I was having a hard time with the heel and went searching. I wish I'd done some searching before I knitted it though. I love your candy cane better, too! The original one is kind of funky. I want to make one for myself, so the pdf pattern will be so great to work with!

Krista said...

I'm just discovering your post almost a year later. This stocking was knitted for me by a family friend shortly after my birth in 1955. I'm now 55 and I still have it! Couldn't believe it when I saw the photo. I just tried to link to the pattern and got an error message. Is it still available?

Krista Carter

Carla said...

I was so excited when I came across this post, my Grandmother knitted one of these for each of her 5 children in the 50's and then made a slightly different, smaller version for her grandchildren. I was the last of the grandchildren to receive a knit stocking (even though there are many more of us) I would like to make this stocking for my son, but I couldn't seem to get the link to the pattern to work. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Laura said...

Me, too! My father and his sister have this stocking from the 1950s. His aunt made a different stocking for myself and my two sisters in the 1980s that was similar. I would like to make this stocking for my daughter, husband and new brother-in-law. Can you please send me this pattern when you have the chance? I have been trying to do it without a pattern but Santa's beard ends up being enormous. I would really appreciate your help!

Sarah Carter said...

Any way to get the pattern? The link isn't working :(

Octopus Knits said...

Hi Sarah! You can now find the pattern for free on Ravelry:

I just edited the link in my post to reflect this.


Carol Rinehart said...

My great aunt made these for my family. we still have them. Rangeing from my brother at 70 to my youngest sister at 59!! There were 5 of us. They are in every family photo. I still use mine every year. How wonderful to see them. I knit, but not THIS well. I'd love to make them!

Octopus Knits said...

Hi Carol -- That's fantastic :) I love how these stockings play a role in so many families' happy holiday memories. You should definitely give knitting one a try!

DD said...


Thank you so much for this post :) My cousin and I both have this Christmas stocking, each with our name on the top. We were born in the mid 1980s, and as my mom recounts it, she and my aunt went to the hospital to visit another baby being born, and some elderly ladies with a booth were taking orders for these stockings.
I haven't seen anyone else's to date, except I happened on them on Pinterest. I thought the pattern was from the 1970s, not the 1950s!

Mine has a really fluffy beard- I wonder what type of angora wool they used.

Thanks for your post- I'll be knitting one up for my partner soon :)