The Christmas Stocking Tradition

There is a fun Christmas tradition in my family. I’m not sure when this tradition started but I know it was my maternal grandmother who started it. We all have the same hand knit Christmas stocking – they have our names and the year of birth in Fair Isle at the top and a Santa Claus worked in Intarsia on the leg.

20161124_175043

I think it must have been a Herculean effort for her when she started. A stocking for her, and my grandfather, their four children, children’s spouses and all the grand kids. To be fair, I’m the eldest grandchild so there was time to make stockings for grandchildren. But there are eight of us. That’s a lot of hand knit stockings! And now the grandchildren are (almost) all married and having babies of their own. And those babies all have stockings.

My grandmother died about twenty years ago and that’s when my mother took over knitting the stockings. My partner and my son have stockings made by her as do the spouses and children of many of my cousins.

20161124_175127

Last year, the pattern was passed to me. I am now the keeper of the stocking pattern and it’s my role to produce a stocking for new babies and spouses. I have three to make this year.

20161124_175239

I still have the first page of the original hand written pattern and a ‘chart’ of sorts which was produced later for the Santa picture. But the chart I have doesn’t match the pattern on my stocking so I’ve made a new one (and then I changed it a bit. Don’t tell.).

20161124_175313   20161124_175333

And maybe I’ll actually write the second page of the pattern which is about turning the heel and knitting the foot and toe.

I’m not sure who I’ll be passing it on to. I know my niece has learned to knit. Who knows, maybe in another 30 years, she’ll be the keeper of the pattern. And oddly, for something that is more than 40 years old, it doesn’t look all that dated. Then again, I’m looking through the lens of love and nostalgia.

Edit – by popular request, I am making the pattern available. You can download it from here

4 FOs

Hey look – I have a few more things finished!

This is my Qiviut that I was spinning a few weeks ago. I’m calling this a finished item because it now looks like actual yarn. I’m still thinking about what I’m going to make with it. I have 235 yards of a heavy lace / light fingering weight yarn. Any suggestions?

20161030_144712

Socks. This is my third pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks.

20161030_111156

Love. Them.
Seriously, if you don’t have a pair go cast some on!

I didn’t show this last week with the rest of my work basket tour but it’s been lying around for a while now. I think this is the first thing I’ve ever knit – and finished using my hand spun yarn. I’m pretty impressed with myself for getting something even enough to consider measuring gauge.

20161030_202139

The yarn is a handspun made up of Yak, Merino and Silk. How decadent is that!

20161106_132320

This blend came from Noble Fibre Mill in Almonte and the pattern is Alhambra by Anne Hanson of Knitspot fame. You can purchase this pattern from here. I’ve made this scarf several times; usually to give as a gift but I do have another version of it for me made of cashmere and silk. This is the great joy of knitting (and spinning frankly). I can knit the lux things I can’t afford to buy and in the case of the qiviut, I can’t even afford to buy the yarn – but I can spin it.

And lastly, I have a cowl to show you. The yarn is called Alpaca 60 by Estelle Yarns and it fell into my bag while browsing in the yarn shop last weekend. I have no idea how these things happen.

20161112_205731

Anyway, this is quite a bulky yarn and I don’t often knit with bulky so I’m always so surprised at how quickly things knit up with it. This cowl was a few hours of pretty mindless knitting and then it was done.

20161114_130133

The colours in the second picture are closer to true. My initial thought was that these aren’t my colours and that I was going to give the cowl away as a Christmas gift but the more I look at it (and touch it – oh, this is gloriously soft), I think I might keep it for myself.

WIP Update

I have nothing so dramatic as the newly completed Bear Lake Pullover to share this week, but making and creating continues. There are three projects on the go right now: a pair of socks, a baby cardigan and some spinning.

Lets start with the spinning – gosh, this one is so exciting to me. Looks kinda dull and boring eh?

dsc_0134

Actually, it’s Qiviut. Never heard of Qiviut? It’s the softer-than-cashmere, down from Arctic musk-ox. Yes, it’s also crazy expensive and everything they say about it is absolutely true. This is a bag of soft. Is that a thing? I don’t know but that’s the sensation when I touch the roving. This preparation came from Noble Fibre Mill just down the road in Almonte and I’m really pleased with it. The current plan is to make this into a two ply yarn that will become some fluffy, lacy neck thing. I know – not painting much of a picture with that but honestly, the fibre hasn’t quite told me about what it wants to be.

What else do I have? I have this adorable little cardigan.

img_20160809_123757

The pattern is called Jessica by Linda Whaley (Rowan) and I’m actually using the recommended yarn for the knit! Does anybody else do that? I don’t normally – I have a substantial stash so I often shop there first and fudge the numbers if my gauge isn’t quite right – but I’m just so pleased with how this looks that I just might use recommended yarn a little more often! I’m knitting this for a little miss who is due to make her debut at the end of November. This is a 6 – 9 month size so I was hoping she could wear it next spring or summer. That said, it looks awfully small to me. We’ll see how it goes. It may end up being a layering piece this winter.

This knit was the first time I’ve ever used a picot cast on and I have to say, I’m smitten with it. It’s kinda fussy and I’m not usually one for frills (hazards of being a boy mother) but I really do adore the little bit of flounce on this cardi.

20160807_161151-2

And lastly, there is a pair of socks. The pattern is Hermione’s Everyday Socks and you can download it here for free. These are made using a traditional top down, flap-heel construction and this is the third time I’ve knit these socks. I like how the pattern is simple enough that it’s a relaxing knit but isn’t boring.

img_20161020_221118

But mostly, I like how these socks fit. Do you have a favourite sock pattern? Drop me a note and tell me about it!

Bear Lake Pullover

I’m so pleased with this! Really, I can’t say enough good things about it. This was one of those knits which was started on an impulse, I picked what I thought would be a good yarn out of the stash and after a halfhearted gauge swatch, I cast on. The knitting Gods smiled and the whole thing worked. Don’t ask me what the yarn is, I don’t know. I bought it 10 years ago in a bag with no label, just a lot number from a going-out-of-business shop in Ballarat Australia. I’m pretty sure it is mostly if not all merino.

img_20160903_123719

The whole thing knit up quite quickly and my son is thrilled to have a new sweater.

20160906_173943

I did an initial fitting for this right off the needles and while I knitted exactly to gauge (no really – I did – stitch AND row! I was so excited!),  I found the fit a little off for my son. I’m a big fan of Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter and frequently adjust patterns for myself, but it’s been a long time since I’ve knit a sweater for him. Come to think of it, it hasn’t actually been that long but while he was growing the way only a teenage boy can, I wasn’t about to knit him something he would outgrow before I finished the first sleeve.

october-13-2016-015

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to actually measure him and compare with the schematic – I did a chest measurement to select a size but that was it. He’s tall and thin with long slender arms. I’m happy with the fit of the body but I really should have adjusted the arms. I may yet take them off and re-knit them to be longer and narrower.

20161023_150404-2
On the other hand, blocking fixes a lot of problems.

If you want to knit this too, the pattern is in Fall 2016, Interweave Knits or can be downloaded from Ravelry.