More Christmas FOs

I made two other things for Christmas this year. One was a market bag for my Mother-in-law (because I love mine!) and the other were a pair of mittens for my Mom. The mitts are gorgeous (if I do say so myself!) but I’m going to babble about the market bag for a moment.

Pattern: Elisa’s Nest Tote
Yarn: Hemp yarn from Allhemp for Knitting

I really don’t remember any other details! I made this quite a while ago seeing as we had to send it off to the UK for the holidays (although USPS thwarted my plans on that one — did you know they no longer do ground to Europe? What’s up with that?!)

It was hard to get a good picture of, as you can see. I do like this pattern — it’s more finished than my previous effort. I like the i-cord hand (doesn’t stretch as much as garter stitch), and I think the vine trellis stitch (or whatever this stitch pattern is) is very, very pretty. So I think it’s a prettier bag than mine. Which of course makes it a fabulous gift.

However, I don’t think it’s nearly as stretchy, which while that’s good for the handle is less good for the bag. I also made the same modifications as the Saturday Market Bag in that I did it in the round (although more intelligently this time — a simple purl stitch separated the two panels instead of trying to incorporate them into one round pattern like I did, and failed miserably at, last time) and used a three needle bind-off for the bottom.

I have to say I don’t know why these bags keep being constructed length-wise with seaming up the side. Surely the bottom is where you need strength and the sides are where you want stretch, no? Plus a three needle bind-off is infinitely easier than trying to seam something this… holey, if you will. I feel like I must be missing something in that so far two of these have been constructed in a way that defies logic for me.

Anyway! My MIL appreciated the gift, I think. She’s even going to make an effort this year to shop at her local green grocers (it IS England after all) which I think is just superb. And she’s going to use this bag. Hurrah!

Now! My mom’s mittens!

Pattern: Bird in Hand Mittens
Designer: Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Cascade 220
Needles: Size 3 DPNs

Above, the front, and these are the backs. See the little birdie on the thumbs? How cute is that? This is my first official colorwork project. I started some Norwegian mittens by Elizabeth Zimmerman first, on which learned what I was doing, but so far only one of those is done and these got done as an FO first! So there you go.

I just love this pattern! It’s just so pretty! I can hardly get over it. I had a hard time packing these away because I want some for ME!

I did have some gauge issues. My mom and I both have the same size hands (how convenient is that?) and large hands at that, so I made them large. But they were too large. So I had to start over with smaller needles. The width was perfect but they were ridiculously long. Not “I can live with it” long but a good inch or more too long, in both the hand and thumb. Whoops.

I’m happy with the solution for the thumb — I just ripped out some of the colorwork leaves and I think it looks good. The best part to rip out from the mitten itself though was at the bottom and there was no way I had time to do that, so I just left off the top part. But then there was this bit red splodge that didn’t look so great, so I ended up double-stitching a heart in there. They ARE for my mom, after all 🙂

I think they look good. The original pattern is better, but this is good. Incidently this is the first decent double-stitching I’ve ever done as well. A good project for some firsts, apparently!

And finally, the insides. Aren’t you impressed? I know I am!

Some other details. I adore the braid around the wrist. It’s quite possibly one of the coolest knitting operations I’ve performed and I love how it looks. Although the loops are a little loose on top, so must work on that. Love the picot edge at the bottom. Since my only other experience is with EZ’s mittens, I have to say I like this construction better. I’ll talk more about that later, but for now suffice to say I think I need my thumb to stick out at the sides. My palm is too big for an inset construction.

Despite efforts to make these the right fit on knitting them, they got bigger when I washed them (whoops, shoulda done a gauge swatch!) so I ended up gently hand-felting them back to size. I like the felting! It sort of blurred the lines a little and certainly helped with the carry-overs in back sticking to each other. Made them a little thicker which should make them warmer which can only be a good thing in a mitten, no?

I’m not entirely sure my mom liked them though. I admit it’s a wierd present — I can’t say I’ve ever known her to actually wear mittens. I was hoping they would be pretty enough to make up for that. She does walk a lot and I thought they’d be handy for winter walks in the neighborhood. Time will tell, I suppose.

And here’s where I get to say how my original plan for my mom was an abject failure. I was planning a felt nativity scene. I should take a picture of the sad objects that were supposed to be Mary, Joseph, and the three kings. Sad, sad, sad. In no way giftable. The really sad thing is I was so utterly confident that this project would work that I made no backup plan.

Bad idea. Always have a backup plan.

Anyway, when I finally had to admit defeat otherwise I’d have no gift for my mom at ALL, these mittens had just been published, I was smitten, and I really did want to make my mom something beautiful. I also happened to have the yarn in my stash. I had bought it sort of spur of the moment a few months ago thinking something Christmasy but without anything specific in mind. How fortuitious is that? It’s like someone was telling me something. Hmm.

So there you have it! Christmas gifts. I’m very pleased with them this year. Not too many, and that’s a good thing. My quality is definitely increasing! As for next year, I’ve joined something called the Year Long Gift-along, which should be brilliant. The idea is that you set monthly tasks for gift knitting so that you’re all set come the holiday season!

I actually don’t have many problems when it comes to planning time for holiday knitting, due in part to having to have some things done really early for UK relatives, and in part because I’m pretty good at not being overly optimistic on my time restraints (ha!). What I end up not having time for is anything else — like decorations! So part of my knitalong (KAL) effort will include holiday decorations like an advent calendar, stockings for me and H (and the babe?), ornaments, and some “stashed” emergency gifts. Because apparently I need such a concept in my life.

So there you have it! A good holiday for crafting, in both the production department and humbling department. And now on to knitting for me!

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2 Responses to More Christmas FOs

  1. Liane says:

    Lovely mittens! Now you need a pair for yourself!

  2. Gen says:

    Those mittens are FABULOUS!! I so badly need to get off of my ass and learn to knit something other than scarves…

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