02 January 2014

My grandmother's vests - Holidays 2013

As promised in my last post (which I have now updated with the totals of items I knit and crocheted for charity in 2013), in this one I tell about the vests I made for my grandmother.

This is a longstanding tradition.  I am not sure for how many years I have given her a vest for Christmas.  We see her for Thanksgiving (Christmas celebrated with my SIL's family) and leave her Christmas gifts, wrapped, for her to open when appropriate.  One year, I wrapped the vest with a big book of crossword puzzles, which my grandmother loves to work, and she was disappointed that the gift I left was clearly too heavy to be a vest.  Another year, I asked in the fall what she wanted, and my grandmother said that she didn't need a vest, she had plenty.........then in November she whether I was giving her a vest that year because she was "cold" (I think it was in the mid- to high 60's(F)), and when I protested that she had told me in September that she didn't need one and I wasn't sure I had time to make one, my grandmother said that I should not listen to what she says in September because it's not yet cold enough for vests!  Of course I hadn't listened to her, and she did get a vest that year.

This year, I found some really fun brown self-striping yarn, and tried to make a zig-zag with it that was just not cooperating.  The weekend before Thanksgiving, I realized I needed to do something else or there would be no vest.  A quick search and I found a pattern for an afghan square that was done in three colours, which I translated into (trust me, the camera doesn't take quality pictures, and yes, I'm replacing it) just two - peach and rust:

I made up the rest of the vest around it.  Then I wrapped it and left it for Chanukah, which overlapped with Thanksgiving this year.  My SIL and I agreed to give my grandmother one gift for each night of Chanukah, since we would be there for several and she loves getting gifts.  The best item she opened while we were there was a one-pound Snickers® bar.  My grandmother didn't open the package with the vest before we left, but I heard several times about how wonderful it was after she did, even to the point that she had to completely change the outfit she planned to wear to supper that night so she could show off the vest.
The full-length picture has colours that are closer to actual, and the sides are straight despite what you see in this photograph:

When I got home, after finishing some of the other items I needed to get done, I returned to the original vest and decided to do a pattern I have done before, which is simply columns, and straight across on the back.  I like both ways the yarn worked out:

This close-up shows how interesting the yarn is in shorter stitch counts.  The above photos are truer to the colours, which are warm browns; the one below is rather cool and a bit washed out.  Yes, I did the front as intarsia, rather than having to sew together columns:
My grandmother sometimes wears the backs as the front, I wonder if she will do it with this vest?  This one went out just after Christmas (I'd left a gift for my grandmother to open for Christmas, never fear, and as expected she opened it on Christmas Eve - it is a scarf out of a ruffle yarn, which made me nuts trying to get it to work out properly) and I guess will be an Epiphany gift or something.  With it is a print of our family Thanksgiving portrait in a glam frame, and a note explaining that the vest was just included as padding in the package.  ;)

I really like the yarn and am sad it is a nameless millend so I cannot get more for another project.  I do have some that will probably turn into hat and mittens.  Since I tend to make both as seamless tubes, it will be interesting to see how differently the colour patterns turn out in those items.

01 January 2014

20 Hats and a Blanket

Those who know me will not be surprised that in the last days of 2013, I finished a bunch of items for various charities.  OK, I know that in the past I have designated the week between Christmas and New Year's for "selfish knitting" = something for me, and I did mostly finish a crocheted bolero for myself while on my Christmas trip to North Carolina.  But I had a number of items OTN/OTH and decided to fill a box and.........

For the Children's Comfort Tote Project, which gives a lidded plastic tote to kids in shelters and going into foster care in Maine, each of which contains new pajamas, hat, mittens, scarf, and blanket, plus toiletries and a stuffed animal, I made an afghan:

I'd had ideas about making several, but time ran short for assorted reasons.  It's a simple granny ripple done in a multicoloured yarn.

I didn't find the chemo caps dropoff point at Stitches East (where I'd received a very soft ball of orange yarn, that they asked us to use to make chemo caps, last year) earlier this fall, so I decided to send the caps to my usual recipient, PatPat's Hats.  Then with one thing and another, hats being handy for carry-around knitting, I ended up filling a box:

It contains twenty hats, mostly knit but also crocheted.  There are five pairs, where a skein or ball had enough yarn for two hats:
The two orange ones are from the yarn I received last Stitches East.  I also have ten "singles," with just one hat of a particular yarn:

Here is a closeup of the two crocheted hats with ribbons.  I did the purple one second and made the row of stitches in which I wove the ribbon taller than on the orange one, where I learned that it needs extra height to not scrunch the ribbon as much:

This is the top of the other orange hat.  I did a random cabled pattern that I made up on the fly, and I really like how it came out.  Unfortunately the light orange didn't photograph well, this is the only one I have that shows off the cabling:

The packages are received, and I am taking a bit of a break from charity items so that I can finish the bolero and work on a couple other items.  My mother loved the crocheted vest I gave my grandmother for Hanukah so much, I think I will make one for her.  I'll post a picture of it and my grandmother's Christmas vest (this year, she received a bonus) in another blog post because I have to track it down.

Update:  I thought about adding the totals of items I have knit and crocheted for various charities this year.  These are my records, there might have been more because one record just said "wool hats" but not how many:
  • 11 Sweaters
  • 3 scarfs (and I finished one more but didn't get it mailed in 2013)
  • 2 pairs mittens
  • 2 pairs socks
  • 39 hats
  • 3 shawls
  • One afghan

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou, Y'all!

Hello from a chilly New England at the start of 2014.

I spent last night working at our First Night Hartford celebration.  Every year I've been working at the Wadsworth Atheneum for their mask-making activity, then help clean up and go to FNHHQ for my evening assignment.  This year it was selling wristbands at one of the outdoor locations; past years I have checked for wristbands at venues or sold them at City Hall.  Another woman named Megan was all event in the little shack outside the Bushnell Park Carousel, I took over from a man named Frank at 6:00pm and was there until we were told to close up about 10:30pm.  Although the event continued, people would not need wristbands after then.  It was a COLD night but we both had bundled up in layers and Megan brought a small portable heater.

Today is a beautiful brilliant blue sky and sunny, very optimistic start to the new year.  And COLD, so I am putting the microfleece sheets on my bed.  Also mostly doing "house-elf" stuff, and might get together with one of my knitting groups later.  We're still deciding.

In the interest of tradition, I left a crockpot with black-eyed peas bubbling, and ate a bowl for breakfast (I was too full of tamales, veggie wraps, and chips to eat when I got home from First Night) which may not be traditional but was tasty on a chilly morning.

Also in the interest of tradition, I made some resolutions, which I hereby announce so we can keep track of how well I do this year:
  • Each month I will try doing one new thing.  And it cannot be a variation on something I have done before - snorkeling in new waters, or going for brunch to a restaurant where I've been only for supper, or sorting food donations at the food pantry at whose mobile distribution trucks I've volunteered for several years.  This might take some real thought.
  • I will try to keep this blog more up-to-date, hopefully blogging at least once per month.
  • I am going to update either my kitchen or my upstairs bathroom.

So keep your eye on the blog to see how I do over the course of 2014.