Tag Archives: Christmas

finished object: diagonal cross-rib socks

These are Steve’s (non-secret!) Christmas present, modelled by Alex. I hope he likes them! Here are the details:

Pattern: Diagonal Cross-Rib Socks, by Ann Budd, in Favourite Socks

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in colourway Stonechat

Needles: 3.25mm and 2.75mm

Modifications: I added woolly nylon to the heels to make them more sturdy. Other than that, I followed the pattern exactly.

What I learned: How to do the Old Norwegian cast-on. This was fiddly to learn, but is a pleasingly stretchy and unobtrusive cast on.

Notes: I found it quite hard choosing a pattern for this yarn. I’m not really a fan of variegated yarn –  I’m such a control freak that the unpredictability of the colour combinations makes me go a bit wobbly! I also dislike how multi-coloured yarns tend to obscure many stitch patterns, and yet how without any stitch pattern there is even less chance of controlling what the colours may choose to do.

I chose this yarn because the colours are so beautiful, and they are also the colours that Steve wears often, so I could be pretty confident that he would like it. And in the end, I think the simplicity of the stitch pattern works reasonably well with the Malabrigo.

As it has turned out, I don’t mind the stripes that have emerged too much. But there are elements to the colour patterns that the perfectionist in me would rather not have. If you look at the bottom photo, you can see that the stripes at the top of the sock are quite narrow; they get broader further down the leg and are broader still on the foot.

This is because the top of the sock is worked in larger needles to accommodate manly calves. After a few inches you change to the smaller needle. The slightly smaller circumference is what causes the broader stripe. Then on the foot, the circumference is smaller again, as the cable pattern takes up more yarn than stocking stitch in which the underside of the foot is worked.

However, moaning and control-freakery aside, I adore the Malabrigo sock yarn. Over the Christmas break I plan to finish off my Lacy Cable Stockings (also in Malabrigo) so that I have them ready to wear in the New Year.

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advent calender

I mentioned recently that our advent calender comprises a series of mini-books, that each day tell a little more of the Nativity story. The calender is held together with sellotape, and the books are showing their age. But this is kind of the point of it. By telling this story together over meals, day in and out, year in and out, we have developed a comfortable familiarity with the story, the books, and the period of Advent.

Nowadays, it is true, my boys have developed the skill of dripping irony with every word to something of an art form. And yet, while I am sure they would not turn down a chocolate-filled calender if one were to be offered to them, it is touching that they still enjoy continuing with this tradition of ours.

Thank you all so much for your well-wishes. I’m not at death’s door or anything, just languishing in bed with a temperature and a sore throat. Steve is too, and we’re taking it in turns to make the tea…

Quick knitting note: I finally finished Steve’s socks this evening – just one each of Will’s socks and Alex’s BMP Knucks to go! I’ll post photos soon…

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christmas concerts

So, there are some things that I love about this time of year. Yes, it’s manic, no, there’s never enough time to get everything done, yes, I’m panicking over the gift knitting and the gift buying, and stressing out about the cards, and the food, and hoping that no-one gets ill, or if they do, that they get better in time for Christmas…

But then there are the concerts, and these moments are among the ones that remind me that life is precious, and fleeting, and that my beautiful children will only play this piece, here, now, just this once, and I need to concentrate and appreciate it because soon it will be gone. And because I always think thoughts like this when I watch my children perform, I always cry, and have to pretend not to, because they will be embarrassed and I will be panda-eyed. And because I want to concentrate fully on the moment, I never video the concerts, and what photographs I take are hardly worthy of the name; instead they serve as markers in time, reminders that we were there, then, and that piece, that moment, happened.

Every year, Alex busks with his cello group to raise money for charity. When he started, he was one of the little ones at the front wearing the Santa hat or the reindeer antlers. Now he is one of the big ones at the back (to the right of this photo), clad in black and with his floppy fringe covering his face.

The last day of term at my boys’ school is always the end of term concert. This year Will (on the left) and a friend performed the Leonard Cohen song ‘Hallelujah’, and Alex and a friend performed the Tears for Fears song ‘Mad World’. Both songs were beautiful, and yes, both made me cry…

On Saturday (which was also Will’s sixteenth birthday), both boys performed in the musical  The Music Man with their drama group. You might be able to spot Will at the back on the right, with a top hat on, and Alex over on the left, wearing a dark jacket and a straw boater. It was the first time they have performed on stage together, and it was lovely watching them.

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christmas cards

Some years I make all my Christmas cards; some years I make just some of them. My worst year was the one when I made all the cards, wrote them and then forgot to post them until they were discovered in a pile, after Christmas. As a general rule I would rather give and receive fewer than more cards, but I realise that not everybody feels the same.

So, this week is card-writing week. I must get the ones to other countries sent out soon – knowing that they are hanging over me bothers me enough to cause me stress, and yet not quite enough to make me do them right now. I was touched recently when two of my German cousins told me how much they loved getting my handmade cards – it hadn’t really occured to me that people would even notice; I make them because I enjoy it.

These ones are made with a couple of rubber stamps, waterproof ink, watercolours and a glitter pen. I like the simplicity of the design, and the way that changing the paint and glitter colour can give a really different effect.

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A Tale of Two Stockings

I’ve finished one each of Will’s and Steve’s socks – yay! In the end I chose the Thuja sock pattern from Knitty, Winter 2005 for Will’s sock (on the left), using Rowan Pure Wool Aran. It was incredibly quick to make, just taking two evenings and two train commutes to complete. Steve’s sock is the Diagonal Cross-Rib pattern from Favourite Socks, made in Malabrigo Sock (yum!)

So, with one of Alex’s BMP Knucks also completed, that is half of my Christmas knitting done! I’m going to make the second of Steve’s socks next, as that is the most time-consuming item left, and then the other two things should be a breeze!

I still haven’t got it right with regard to taking photos during the hours of daylight; at the moment it’s dark when I get up, and dark when I get home from work. I think I need to be more organised and take lots of pictures at the weekends instead of as I go along during the week. These pictures were taken this evening, and for once it wasn’t the lack of light that was getting in my way: click here to see tonight’s obstruction!

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