Quick Knits for the Holidays

In just a few days we'll be turning the page on the calendar to December and realizing that the holidays are just around the corner. For some of us that means gift giving. And for some of us that means hand knit gifts. 

Yesterday, the Yarn Harlot wrote a blog post saying it was her day of reckoning. The day that she takes stock of what she has knit and what she wants to knit to give as gifts this year. She approaches the holidays (from this point forward) like a job, with spreadsheets and daily quotas.  I prefer a slightly more laid back approach, but to each their own.

If you find yourself in a similar position, with gifts that still need to be knit, you'll probably be looking for quick knits. One-skein projects. 

I thought I'd help by putting together a list of some quick projects from some of our HK friends (plus one really cute ornament I couldn't resist). Hopefully one of these ideas will help you get closer to your goal.

Let's start with Melissa Goodale's gorgeous Wild Cherry, knit with one skein of DK Lively. Ah, DK! So much faster than fingering weight (shown in Cherry Fizz in DK Lively).

 Photo by Mariana Kajlich

If you have a little more time, Verybusymonkey has lots of fingering weight shawls that would make stunning gifts. Dendrology has a nice garter stitch section that would help it move along quickly (shown in Equinox in Entice).

Slippers make a snuggly gift at this time of year and Andrea Rangel's Dinar slippers look super comfy with the yarn held double for a squishy sole (shown in Rick's Cognac in DK Lively).

Perhaps fingerless mitts are what you're looking for. Jennifer Chase-Rapport's Queen Anne mitts are lovely. And she has a pattern for a matching cowl if you're itching to make a set (shown in Frost in Artisan Sock).

But I live where it is pretty darn cold at this time of year, so I need my fingers covered. Might I recommend my own pattern, Willowmere? Taking less than 300 yards, mittens are are great choice for the time challenged (shown in Ruby Love in Artisan Sock).

Anne Hanson's Sparrow Song Cowl would make an impressive gift. The smallest size uses less than half a skein but there are other size options as well, if time permits (shown in Song Sparrow in Entice).

Every year I like to add new handmade ornaments to my Christmas tree and I think I just found this year's pattern. I'll be casting on for Sheep Balls later on today. I'm thinking of using Red Carpet, Sedge, Fudge and Nekkid. I can't wait!

Do you have any last minute gifts to knit? Or do you have any pattern ideas for quick knits? I'd love some more suggestions.


What the HK is on Your Needes? Vol. 34

Time for another look at Hazel Knits' projects knit by other knitters. And what a talented and creative bunch of knitters I've discovered for you today.

Check out this gorgeous shawl by ravname: patocenizo8. It's a test knit of Dee O'Keefe's Catoctin Shawl in Artisan Sock in Spanish Wine. Lovely!

Olga (ravname: endlessQ) was able to get two preemie vests and hats out of one skein of Artisan Sock in the club colour Big Red using the pattern #1301 Baby Vests as a guide. That's an amazing use of one skein.  

Cathy (ravname: CTea2478) used a tiny bit of Low Tide in Artisan Sock to knit this cute Key Cozy. I can't tell any of my keys apart. I totally need to do this soon!

Robin (ravname: robobin) used Iris in Artisan Sock to knit this beautiful Thistles, Thistles shawl for her Grandmother. Lucky Grandma!

How about this awesome pair of Ann Marie: Pink Ribbon Stockings for Breast Cancer Awareness that Jessica (ravname: miscues) knit for herself using Low Tide in Artisan sock. This is an amazing commitment to one pair of socks. Love 'em!

Sid (ravname: sidhex3) knit a fantastic Pasando Hat in DK Lively in the colour Quill.  Quill is currently an exclusive colour to Gauge Knits in Austin, Texas. This hat is terrific as it qualifies for our current Knitalong featuring patterns by Melissa J. Goodale and doubly terrific as it will be donated to Halos of Hope (a charitable group that provides hats to cancer patients) as part of the the Podcaster Throwdown (a group challenging their listeners to knit hats for Halos of Hope to be delivered at Stitches West 2014). Did you know that we are hosting a mini KAL to support the Podcaster Throwdown  in our group? You can read about it on our Ravgroup.

Siobhan (ravname: FLgirlinFI) knit this cozy pair of Old Joe socks in Artisan Sock in an old exclusive colour Sugar Maple with toes in Fudge. Delicious! And I totally want to use the fireplace now.

And finally, Judy (ravname: Camanoah) knit this snuggly Willow Cowl in Entice in Aquarius. I love the way this long tube collapses on itself to create a slouchy look. Check out the project page to see how the cowl looks laid out flat.

Once again, I'm blown away by all the amazing projects. Thanks to everyone for allowing me to share their knitting. Such inspirations!


Hitch Winner!

I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments on my last post. It sort of made me realize that I haven't seen very many Hitchcock movies myself. I know I've seen North by Northwest. And I've heard of so many others and recognize them when they are referenced in other movies and tv shows. But I'm not sure I've actually seen very many. At least not all the way through. 

It's like these movies are so much a part of the mainstream consciousness, I'm so aware of them, but I'm not sure I've actually experienced them. Strange.

I think I may have some viewing to do. 

In the meantime, how about I announce the winner.

The name, randomly selected from the comments submitted, was gigiformilo. Gigiformilo, I'll be in touch for your mailing information shortly. I hope you enjoy you copy of Hitch.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I hope to have more interviews/giveaways for you soon. And congratulations, gigiformilo!


Hitch Interview and Book Giveaway

Today we have the absolute pleasure of hosting the next stop on the Hitch Blog Tour.

Hitch is a new book from Cooperative Press which features sweater and accessory patterns from numerous talented knitwear designers from around the world each inspired by the movies of Alfred Hitchcock. Whether you are a movie buff or not, this book, edited by Stephannie Tallent, is full of fun and beautiful patterns. Keep reading to find out how you could win a copy.

One of the designers in the book, Katherine Vaughn, teamed up with Hazel Knits and used Artisan Sock to design the delightful Stella Gloves, shown here in Nickel and Vamp.

Katherine kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us as part of our stop on the Blog Tour.

HK: Let's start with the basics. When did you learn to knit and who taught you?

Katherine: My mother taught me when we were living in Germany in about 1985. My dad was on sabbatical at the Uni Heidelberg, and honestly I think my mom was desperate for something that would occupy my 10 year old attention in a foreign country! I made a stockinette scarf in pink, blue, and white (that curled horribly) and then a cozy for my Swiss Army Knife that I designed on the fly.  And then I put my needles down for more or less 15 years until I got hit (bad!) with the knitting bug in my mid-twenties.  I’ve been madly knitting for about 15 years now, and have managed to teach both my husband (he did one washcloth, declared himself a knitter, and hasn’t touched yarn since other than to move it around the house) and my young daughter (who has completed a garter stitch scarf and is ready to learn the purl stitch).  My Oma was a very accomplished knitter, and one of my prized sets of items are the baby sweaters that she knit for me that were also worn by both of my children – as well as the matching blankets that she knit for them specifically.  My son’s blanket is the last thing she knit; her hands are too arthritic to handle the needles any more, so she sent me all of her supplies a few years back.  I’ve now taken over baby blanket knitting duty for the family. 

HK: Do you take your knitting with you everywhere you go or do you only knit at home?

Katherine: I used to ride a bus for part of my work commute, so I had my knitting with me at all times.  I’ve recently moved, and am a lot closer to work now.  The downside of a quick commute is the lack of knitting time! When I know I’ll be sitting for a while – on a trip, at a conference, vacation – I have both my purse and my knitting bag with me.

HK: Do you do other crafts? Hobbies?

Katherine: Yes, I also spin (yarn, of course), have tried my hand at weaving on my rigid heddle loom, and do various food and garden hobby things.  I like to grow herbs and native plants, and have recently gotten into dehydrating fruits and herbs.  I tried my hand at solar dyeing yarn and fiber, but my somewhat amateurish attempt only reinforced my happiness at working with pros like Hazel Knits!

HK: You have a wide variety of patterns. Do you have a favourite thing to knit? Hats? Shawls? Sweaters?

Katherine: Ooh, a fave? I’m not sure I could pick one kind of thing.  I like shawls because you can just launch into a shawl and not worry about doing all the math ahead of time.  I like sweaters because there’s that magical moment when I put the sweater together and – shazam! – it actually fits!  I also like socks and mittens because there’s a similar wizardy feeling that I get about turning a heel or constructing a nice gusset.  But probably my all time faves are hats: quick, enough shaping to be interesting but not so much that it’s annoying, a nice canvas for stitch patterns, lots of options for construction, plus they’re practical, stylish, don’t wear out fast, and can be much wackier than pretty much any other item of clothing.

HK: Do you focus on one design at a time or do you have many designs in the works?

A: I have lots of stuff in the works.  Right now I have about a dozen items to send off to the photographer, five that need writing up and to be sent to the tech editor, two on the needles, one swatched, and one in the sketching phase (that’s my NaKniSweMo sweater!).  I fully admit to having knitting ADHD – I like having a variety of things available so that I can decide what I’m up for at any given moment.  The ones on the needles right now - oh dang, there are three, not two – are a pair of mittens needing their thumbs (giving me trouble, those thumbs are), a scarf all done but the ends, and a baby blanket that’s about 2/3 knit.  The mittens are small but fiddly, the scarf is at the bottom of a pile, and the blanket is big but simple.

HK: Besides your own designs so you have time to knit for pleasure? Do you knit other designers designs?

Katherine: I very rarely knit someone else’s design. I find that when I try I have a hard time shutting down the technical editor part of my brain – always critiquing patterns, that part – and I find it’s just not relaxing.  However, I often knit things without intending to publish them as patterns.  The mittens-awaiting-thumbs from the previous question? Those may never see publication, but they’ll still keep my daughter’s hands warm.  I really just like to knit, and being a designer means I can design what I like to knit.  This is a great situation to be in!

HK: I know you are also a knitting instructor, what is your favourite thing to teach/level to teach? Do you like to get a hold of new knitters and show them the path to a knitterly life?

Katherine: My favorite is seeing the lightbulb go off for people who have just figured out the knit stitch (or purl, cast on, whatever), so beginners are my favorites.  It seems like most people “get” knitting after a little practice, some get it right away, and some just never do.  I’ve learned to coach all three groups so that they at least enjoy a class, even if they don’t end up lifelong knitters because of it.  At least they’ve tried, and that’s all I can really ask of people.  In my beginner classes I cover a lot of non-knitting topics, such as types of yarn, types of fiber, how to read the label, etc. These are things that will also be useful to people in regular life, even if it’s just understanding why different sweaters should be washed differently.

HK: For this book, Hitch, you designed a lovely fingerless glove pattern called Stella Gloves. Can you walk us through this pattern and how it was inspired by Hitchcock?

Katherine: I had the idea that I wanted to work some gloves – such a 60’s staple, gloves – and I wanted to do them in colorwork, which is unusual for me.  Usually I’m more of a cables and lace kind of girl.  These movies though, they are different from what I usually watch, which are costume dramas and science fiction.  I love Hitchcock movies, even though they are a bit of a stretch too.  So I was flipping through my beloved Walker Treasuries, looking at all the patterns, and so many of them are named something dealing with windows.  So then I thought about Rear Window and how people in wheelchairs are often depicted in the movies with blankets on, but no one worries about their peripheral circulation (these things bother me. I want accurate knitwear in movies, thank you).  So I adapted one of the window stitch patterns (“Windowpane Stripes”) to be the background fabric for some 60’s era gloves, with the slit and buttoned cuff.  Stephannie Tallent, the book’s editor, suggested making them fingerless – or really, stub-fingered – to differentiate them from the other gloves in the book.  I think this actually worked particularly well with these gloves, as well as with the premise.  Not only do they keep the fingers warm and stylish, but they don’t sacrifice the ability to finely adjust the focus on your binoculars.  Your yarn worked perfectly with the stitch and the construction – the Artisan Sock was a nice balance between good stitch definition and soft hand.  I expect these gloves could hold up to some handling (pardon the pun) while still looking nice and feeling great.  And the colors! When Stephannie said she wanted to hold the palette to reds and greys I wasn’t so sure about that.  I haven’t had a chance to work with a red that was this deep – I don’t know how you do it, and I don’t need to know, I’m just glad I got to play with it! So I think Stella ended up being a nice partnership all around – fun premise, good stitch and construction, and great yarn.  It’s not often that all three of those come together quite so well, in my experience, and so it made designing the pattern extra fun.

HK: Do you have a favourite Hitchcock movie?

Katherine: Yes, clichéd as it is, my fave is Psycho. I saw that movie in the 6th grade at a Friday the 13th birthday party (for a girl named Cheryl. Funny the details you remember), and it scared the living daylights out of me.  I was completely unprepared for the way that Hitchcock makes you think it’s about Vivien Leigh’s theft, when – WHEEK, WHEEK, WHEEK – she’s stabbed in the shower and suddenly the movie takes a left turn to Crazytown.  Sadly I think this movie is spoiled for a lot of people who already know what’s going to happen.  It’s just not as freaky the second time through. My other two favorites are Rear Window and Dial M For Murder.  I also loved the Castle episode this year that spoofed Rear Window (mmm, Nathan Fillion)!

HK: Several of your patterns are whimsical, I'm thinking of the Jayne Hat and the Fauxhawk Baby Hat here, how important is it to just let go sometimes and have fun with your knitting?

Katherine: Oh! I always have fun with my knitting. Sometimes I have FUN! :) If it's not fun, why do it?

Thanks so much, Katherine for taking the time to answer our questions with so much thought and detail. I love have these glimpses into the windows of a designer's mind. You can see more of Katherine's patterns on Ravelry or follow her on Facebook.

And don't forget to have a look at rest of the patterns from Hitch on Ravelry or visit Cooperative Press  to purchase your own copy. There is also a Hitch group on Ravelry where you can join knitalongs for each of the patterns from the book.

While it's fun to talk about new knitting books and interview designers, it's more fun to give away prizes. So, if you would like to win a copy of Hitch please leave a comment on this post before midnight (Pacific) Sunday, November 17, 2013, telling me what your favourite Hitchcock movie is. If you aren't a Hitchcock fan or have never seen one of his movies (is that possible?) you can tell me that too. I will randomly select one winner from the comments.

Please be sure to include information so that I can contact you if you win - email address or ravname, please. Comments are moderated - it may take a while for your comment to appear.

There are still a few more stops on the Hitch Blog Tour. You can check out any of the stops on the tour by visiting the blogs on this list.
9/28/2013: Sunset Cat Designs
10/5/2013: Knitting Kninja
10/05/13: Knit One, Heart Too Podcast
10/7/2013: Herrlichkeiten
10/8/2013: Knit and Travel
10/9/2013: Knit & Knag Designs
10/10/2013: Wooly Wonka Fibers
10/11/2013: Verdant Gryphon
10/15/2013: Impeccable Knits: Shifting Stitches
10/16/2013: Rewolluzza
10/21/2013: Knitwear Designs by Carolyn Noyes
10/22/2013: Peacefully Knitting
10/23/2013: Dark Matter Knits
10/24/2013: Turnknit: Dani Berg Designs
10/25/2013: SweetGeorgia Yarns
10/28/2013: doviejay knits
10/29/2013: Triona Designs
10/30/2013: Tactile Fiber Arts
11/4/2013: A Knitter's Life
11/5/2013: Catchloops
11/6/2013: Yarn On The House
11/07/2013: Ramblings
11/12/2013: Hazel Knits
11/13/2013: Knitcircus
11/19/2013: indigodragonfly
11/9/2013: Fyberspates
11/25/2013: knittingkirigami
11/2013: A B-ewe-tiful Design


November/December Knitalong

During the months of November and December our Ravelry group will be participating in another Knitalong. For this KAL we have returned to one of our favourite designers and long time HK friend, Melissa J. Goodale of Stick Chick Knits.

Melissa has been kind enough to create an exciting Mystery sock pattern for our group. The first clue was released on the 1st of November with four more clues to come.  If mysteries aren't your thing, any of Melissa's other patterns can also be knit as part of the KAL. And she has so many to choose from. Including Oviatt, the first mystery sock pattern she designed for us in 2010.

I've knit several of Melissa's patterns myself and look forward to seeing the mystery unfurl over the next several weeks.

Here's a peak at some of my favourite Stick Chick projects that I've knit over the years.

Sprout Hat in Euphorbia in Artisan 

 Rhythm Hat in Hoppy Blonde and Woodland in Artisan

Tuileries in the club colour April Showers in Artisan 

Oviatt in Shannypants in Artisan

To find more information on the Stick Chick KAL visit the Hazel Knits group on Ravelry.

And in case you missed it, you can read more about Melissa and her design process in the interview I conducted with her a few months ago.

We'd love to have you knitalong with us!