A Few 2020 Gift Suggestions

A typical morning – a little cuddle with the kitty, a little reading, a whole lot of coffee (not pictured)! 🙂

I haven’t done a gift guide in quite a long time, as I don’t like to make suggestions unless I personally use the items and love them. This is not a super long list, but I love all these things and I think they would be helpful and enjoyable gifts for any maker in your life. If you are having trouble finding ideas, I hope this will help. Enjoy!

My favorite read this year was this book! It is not a dry, boring history book. It is colorful with all kinds of fun trivia such as the samurai being credited as the first knitters in Japan. Aside from being fun to read cover to cover, it is also a great reference tool. If you find yourself feeling bored with knitting sometimes (as we all do), I dare you to page through the book and not find something new you feel inspired to try!

These stitch markers are the best. When I worked at the yarn shop, my boss gave us all a set as a holiday gift one year, and they are still my favorites!

Not going to lie, I did not technically NEED new crochet hooks. I have all the old traditional thin metal ones in multiples, and how many times does one need to replace indestructible crochet hooks?! But…these come in such a pretty rainbow of colors (my initial reason for buying them) and I realized when I started using them they are much more comfortable to work with (the reason that I don’t use my old ones anymore). So I guess I did need them – for ergonomics’ sake??

In another life, I was a Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes all rolled into one. As a kid, I used to read every mystery book I could get my hands on, and I may or may not have destroyed some wallpaper in my parents’ bedroom trying to unscrew a panel that I just KNEW led to a secret passageway. (I did get that panel off, without proper tools no less, but sadly, it was just plumbing to their master bath and no secret stairs in sight!) Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was feeling nostalgic and decided to read Hound of the Baskervilles. I hadn’t read it in so long it was like reading it for the first time again, and this time it appealed to the maker in me that loves to curl up with a handmade blanket, a warm drink, and a good book – especially one with descriptions about English manors and cold, gloomy moors. Alot of makers love Jane Austen, and I do too, but I included this volume on MY list because I think Sherlock Holmes deserves our attention too. 😉

As I recently posted on my Instagram, I am learning to spin. It has been hard to find a book that would walk me through getting started – alot of spinning books on the market assume that you already know the basics. The other issue is that they assume you have a wheel, which as you probably already know, is a huge investment. At some point I may decide to get a wheel, but I am very happy right now with just this book, the fiber from my own sheep, and my little basic spindle. If you have ever admired those beautiful fiber braids at the yarn festivals and wanted to give spinning a try without spending alot of money, this book will show you how to get started and make the most of your spindle.

I am hesitant to include a yarn in any gift guide, because how can one choose from the endless variety of beautiful yarns available?! Yarn needs to be chosen based on the needs of a project. That said, I couldn’t resist including Chroma Twist on this list because it comes in such fun colorways, and is so soft and enjoyable to work with, AND it is so reasonably priced! You could gift a few skeins of this yarn to any maker in your life and they would not have trouble finding a fun project for it. You may also want to browse on Knitpicks, as they have alot of reasonably priced pattern kits, as well as many good gift ideas.

I hope this helped you if you were coming up short on ideas for some people in your life. Or if you are wondering what to put on your own wish list. 😉 I’d LOVE it if you dropped a comment if you have more good gift ideas. I miss being part of a knitting and crocheting group, because other makers always give me the best tips! Happy shopping friends!

100’s

hue shift afghan by knitpicks
Knitted Op Art – I didn’t see it as I was knitting, but the photo is definitely playing tricks with my eyes.

My posts have been rather few and far between, but this one will explain alot. I made this as a thank you/housewarming gift to people who helped me a great deal when I moved to California. I kept pushing myself to have it done – first by Halloween (which didn’t happen), then by Thanksgiving (didn’t happen), and then by Christmas (success!).

I am calling this project 100’s because it is a story of hundreds. The pattern is Hue Shift Afghan by Knitpicks, and yarn is Brava Sport.

It is a hundred mitered squares, which took me 100 days to knit. It could have taken more or less, but it gets old knitting mitered squares, and so to keep the momentum going on this, I set a goal of completing an average of 1 square per day. (Meaning that some days I did multiples to make up for days I wasn’t at home to get knitting done.) Proud to say I stuck to that goal!

A note about mitered square projects – you will save yourself bunches of tedium if you pick up and knit stitches onto previously completed squares rather than making all the squares separately and then sewing them together later. I speak from experience! This particular pattern is written to use picked up stitches, in case you’re wondering.

The border is hundreds also – 250 stitches per row, each side, to be exact. Knitting the border plus doing all the finishing (lots of weaving in of ends!) took me another 100 days I would say. Lots of powers of 10, hence the name.

hue shift afghan by knitpicks
The finished piece – photographed as flat as possible. It is hard to not get perspective going when photographing something so big, but I am happy I captured the optical effect.

As is the case with most big projects, I was very tired of it and happy to be done by the end. That said, I am very happy with it, and more importantly, the recipients are happy with it. It is a fun project, and you can do so much play with color.

Apologies and Updates

So here it is, a ridiculously long time since my last post, and a horribly long time to respond to the comment my fellow knitter so kindly left me. We will keep it brief about where I’ve been because it all boils down to being miserable and sick with allergies and flu, and no one needs to suffer through a post about that!

But lest you think it’s been a month and a half since I did anything creative, not to fear. The things I get myself into…you would think that after cranking out about a million Christmas gifts and being completely and utterly exhausted by the time the holidays actually came, I would have learned my lesson. But…no.

I received a Knitpicks catalog in the mail about a month and a half before Easter and simply could not resist buying Chroma yarn. I think I was really afraid my life would end if I did not buy this yarn because it’s so beautiful! Around the same time, I was looking through Creative Knitting magazine, and I had one of those lightning bolt moments when one instantly knows she MUST knit a certain pattern with this one EXACT yarn. And so I  made the very insane commitment (at least it is for me, considering my knitting speed) to knit my daughter an Easter dress out of Chroma in Smoothie complete with a long-sleeve bolero jacket.

I knitted like a madwoman the entire month, took time off to go to bed on the days the flu felled me, and carried on as soon as I felt better. I realized one important thing however, when I was about halfway through the project. Chroma is merino wool. I live in Los Angeles. It could, and has been in recent years, 90 degrees on Easter. A wool dress with a wool jacket could be extremely hot if worn on such a day. You will be happy for me that yes, I did finish the whole thing (although there was not time to block it before she wore it on Easter Sunday) and yes, Easter this year was a cool day. But word to the wise: consider the fiber content and the time of year when matching projects to yarn. Then again, there are projects and matching fibers that instantly speak to your soul, and when you have such a moment, my advice is to seize the moment (and the yarn!).

Catherine’s Easter Smoothie Dress