Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Month: December 2006 (page 1 of 2)

These Hands

The stories they could tell throughout the years.

In high school they excelled at typing and shorthand – skills that led her to secretarial work – in a law office, for the California Highway Patrol, in the guidance counselor’s office at Mom’s high school.

During World War II, as a young bride they wrote letters to my grandfather when he was a Navy Seabee in the Pacific.

They learned to knit at a Sear’s class with her neighbor and best friend, Velma.

They knit and crocheted incredible items for everyone in the family.

They tended her backyard garden – strawberries, raspberries, spinach, the huge avocado tree…

In 1997, they taught me to knit.

In 1999, they learned to use email as a way to communicate with family and friends as an alternative to her faithful letter writing.

These days her hands aren’t nearly as busy as they used to be. They can often be found petting the kitties.

These days her hands are rather Fetching, don’t you think?

What do you give a 92 year old Grandma who doesn’t need much these days? Some rather fetching handwarmers to keep warm the hands that have done so much for so many.

This was a last minute knit decision – so much fun! More of these will be knit for me & others in the near future. This pair – Koigu Kersti from the stash. The colors seem vintage to me – a great choice for a great lady!


Home & Handknits for the Holidays

I hope that each of you had a lovely time celebrating the holidays with those near and dear to you. I was able to enjoy a week at home in the ‘Ville with the family.

If you had asked me 5 weeks ago what my Holiday Handknits would be this year I would have said “1 gift.” By the time that Christmas rolled around, it turned out that I had many more handknits to gift.

As I mentioned earlier, I knit several Christmas trees while at home for Thanksgiving. I also finished up a 6th tree that was gifted to family friends on Christmas Eve. In addition to my own “mantel forest” that I’d like to knit before next Christmas, I’ve had several other requests from Mom & Dad for trees to gift next year. Stay tuned.

In addition to the trees, here are the other handknits that I gifted this year.

First up, the “secret knit” that I worked on starting in August. Earlier this year, when my Dad & I were in the yarn aisle at JoAnn ETC he jokingly gave me a not so subtle hint about wanting a knit scarf. Now he has an Artisan scarf. I bought this yarn at Stitches Midwest – Brooks Farm Limited Edition Sock Yarn. The pattern is the “broken rib” pattern from the Knitting to Go deck (& sent to me by Judy for the Vacation Knitting Swap earlier this year) on size 9 needles. This was the perfect project for my plane commuting to/from Chattanooga. The colors of this yarn are gorgeous – blues, greens, browns – it goes great with many of Dad’s coats and jackets.

Dad's Scarf

Next up, the first installment of the “Artisan Dishcloth of the Month” club for Mom and Rebecca. Each month in 2007 they will get a new dishcloth from me. These are “grandma’s favorite” in the Sugar’n Cream Mistletoe colorway. The second dishcloth was knit (start to finish) at the Chicago airport last Thursday when the flight was delayed because of rain and fog.

Christmas Dishcloths

The “last minute” knit that I alluded to earlier was indeed a pair of Fetching gloves for my Grandma. (Stay tuned for a longer post on them…)

Additionally, a couple of my felted bowls were gifted.

On the receiving end of gift giving, I received 2 great items that will help with Artisan Knitting in the coming year: a swift and the One Skein Wonders book. Thanks Grandma!

Christmas at home with the family was a lot of fun. Our traditional Christmas Eve movie was on the 23rd this year – Night at the Museum was delightful. After church, on Christmas Eve family friends came over for a yummy dinner, gift exchange & a “newer” tradition of watching The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Lunch episode. Later in the evening we watched It’s A Wonderful Life as we always do on Christmas Eve evening. Christmas Day was lovely – when we first get up we open our Christmas stockings (which are all needlepoints from Artisan Dad) and then enjoy breakfast before opening the gifts under the tree. After delicious homemade cinnamon rolls and peppermint coffee the gift opening began. We don’t open the gifts as a free for all – rather, Dad hands out the gifts & only one of us opens a gift at a time. I think the gift givers are as excited to see the reactions to gifts as the gift receivers are to open the gifts.

The day after Christmas was a day trip up to Chattanooga to visit friends from my 6 month project there earlier this year.

While at home I also taught one of Rebecca’s friends how to knit. A couple of hours one morning and Sheila was well on her way to making a “grandma’s favorite” dishcloth. Sheila is the 3rd person that I have taught to knit – as I was teaching her I was very aware of “what” I was doing with each step of the dishcloth. Sheila is so crafty so she picked this up rather quickly.

As 2006 winds down and 2007 begins I’m looking forward to a couple of days of reading, knitting and cooking – some of my favorite things that seemed to be in short supply for a lot of this year.

Weaving In the Ends

Just like every knit project has the “final ends” that need to be woven in before the project is complete – this post is a bit of the knit bits that I’ve been meaning to mention & wanted to post about before the holidays get in full swing.

Bejeweled KAL

After you are finished with your holiday knitting, how about starting off 2007 with a little bit of lace? Lolly is hosting a Bejeweled KAL for Shobhana’s lovely little scarf pattern. Go purchase the pattern by the end of the year & she will donate her profits towards the shipping costs associated with the Dulaan knitting project.

I have several yarns in the stash that would look lovely with this pattern & I will be casting on for the scarf after the holidays.

ISEVictoria in Canada knit me a lovely scarf for the International Scarf Exchange. This is a lovely, dense scarf knit in one of my favorite color combinations – chocolate & turquoise. Thanks Victoria for a great scarf that will be used in the winter months ahead.

ChicKnits PatternsBonnie Marie is launching a hard copy version of her lovely knit patterns. On Dec. 10th, Arcadia Knitting hosted a trunk show to celebrate the launch. Most of her knits were on display and she also led a seminar on how to get the right measurements. While I’m not yet ready to tackle one of her beautiful sweater patterns, I did pick up the felted bucket hat pattern and a black tweed yarn to knit it up in the new year.

Comforting Jenn – A belated picture of the square I knit for Cathy’s Comforting Jenn blanket. A dusty sage & dusty mauve superwash held together & knit into a “Grandma’s favorite” square.

One Skein – I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I was working on some felted bowls from the One Skein book. The first batch were knit with Lamb’s Pride Bulky or 2 strands of Cascade 220 on size 15 needles. I think they need felted a bit more.

The second batch were knit with the wonderful private label yarn from Sit’n Knit over in New Buffalo. These were knit on size 10.5 needles. I love how they turned out & will definitely be making more of them with this yarn.

It was fun to look around the house to find assorted bowls to shape these against – I have some ideas for the next batch.

A Last Minute Knit – Because I didn’t have enough to do to get ready for the holidays…I’ve decided on a last minute knit gift. Thankfully it’s a fast knit and I’m loving it! I’ll reveal more after it has been gifted.

‘Tis the Season – Finally – a bit of holiday fun. If you haven’t done so already, go check out Purl’s Radio WKNP – the 12 days of Knit-Mas – yarn inspired versions of your favorite holiday songs.

A Cup of Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea

With all of my business travel this year I have been fairly disconnected from my girlfriends here in Chicago. On Sunday afternoon I was able to catch up with a lot of them – over a cup of Christmas tea.

As I’ve mentioned before, I find the act of afternoon tea to be a lovely “timeout” from the rest of life and this was no exception. Until this weekend, most of December had been filled with work – including trips to the client site in WI. But once this past week wrapped up I had passed a large milestone on the current project and could turn my attention to things Christmas-y.

First up, a holiday tea. Among the many things that my Mom taught me was the art of simple hospitality and entertaining. As I was pulling everything together I thought of the many times I was in the kitchen helping Mom get ready for gatherings at home. Given my recent schedule, I knew the menu would contain more store bought goodies than I would normally include. However, I did find time this weekend to make several treats – all were simple recipes.

On the menu: Sugared Cranberries; Peppermint Truffles; Mom’s Sausage & Cheese Biscuits; Cran-Pumpkin Mini-Muffins; Ham & Turkey Roll-ups; Cucumber Sandwiches; Amish Friendship Bread (Thanks for bringing it Michele!); Mini-Quiches, Pastries & Cookies from Costco; An assortment of yummy teas.

As everyone arrived and introductions were made for those who didn’t know each other we were gathered around “the spread” in the dining room. Once everyone had loaded up their plates and customized their tea to their liking we moved to the living room where we enjoyed several hours of chatting with each other surrounded by the light of the Christmas tree, the nativity mantel and other Christmas decorations. It was so much fun to see friends who didn’t know each other before yesterday find commonalities and have fun conversation.

As we wrapped up the afternoon we all agreed that this was a great timeout from the hustle and bustle that can consume the holiday season. For me, it was a wonderful chance to reconnect with dear friends who make Chicago “home” for me.

Next up, getting the Christmas cards in the mail, a few packages to ship to their destinations and pulling together everything to head home to the ‘Ville for Christmas later this week.

As you are in the midst of your own holiday preparations I hope you are able to find the time to take a “timeout” and connect with the people near and dear to you.

O Tannenbaum!

One of my favorite parts of decorating for Christmas is the Christmas Tree. The smell of the evergreen, the twinkle of the lights, the assortment of ornaments – each time you look at a decorated Christmas tree you see something new.

Our family collection of ornaments is a story of our lives – ornaments Mom & Dad hung on trees as children, momentos from places we have lived, collections of favorite things/animals, and on and on. There are so many ornaments that each year we choose which will be on the tree – I think we would need at least a 12 foot tree in order to put them all on the tree. Each year our collection grows – on the morning after Thanksgiving, Rebecca & I always have an ornament waiting for us at the breakfast table. For the last 10 years or more, most of the ornaments have been hand painted by Artisan Dad. (Note to self…need to photograph all of the hand painted ornaments & blog about them some day…)

Artisan Dad Ornament 2006

This year’s Artisan Dad ornament is very appropriate given the resurgence of my knitting this year.

Dad & I subscribe to the “you can never have too many lights” school of tree decorating. For the 8 foot tree at home I think we use at least 500-600 mini lights. For the last couple of years we have bought our tree on the day after Thanksgiving so that I can help Dad put the lights on the tree before coming back to Chicago.

Since I have been up in Chicago I have amassed quite an ornament collection of my own – I haven’t even brought any “childhood” ornaments from home. I’ve had assorted Christmas trees – decorating a potted Norfolk pine, a small fresh cut tree, silver ornament trees when work had me traveling in Dec. When I moved into my current apartment I started getting “full size” Christmas trees. Again this year the Frasier fir is in the living room by the window and the fresh cut evergreen wafts through the air. As I was putting each ornament on the tree I was reminded of dear friends and fun travel among other memories housed in the ornaments.

Artisan Tree 2006
Last December I came across Lolly’s posting about the fun knit Christmas trees that she pulled together based on Anjo’s tree pattern. I thought these were a great idea & made a mental note “next year.”

The day after Thanksgiving I was wondering what to knit since my scarf was finished. So I pulled up the blog entries about the trees and went to Hobby Lobby with Artisan Dad and Artisan Sister. We had a fun time picking out yarn combinations – although I think Dad & Rebecca were still a little skeptical about how these would turn out. We came home with 2 different tree combinations and after lunch I got started knitting. Within an hour, the first tree was knit up so I just kept going. In no time the 2nd tree was done and so I started on a 3rd tree. After dinner I ran out of one of the yarns so Mom & I were back to Hobby Lobby – while there we picked up yarn for more trees. By Saturday evening 5 trees were off the needles & fully assembled.

Knit Christmas Trees 

Row 1: For Aunt Clara Pearl in Ohio; For Mom & Dad; Row 2: For Rebecca; For Miss Doodlebug & Miss Butterfly
My modifications: All of these were knit as triangles & then seamed together. Some of the trees started with 36-40 stitches instead of 30. The smaller trees were size 11 needles, the larger were size 13. Instead of stuffing trees 1/2/3 I put them on floral styrofoam cones that had been wrapped in batting. The bottom of the cone was covered in felt. For the girlie trees, Mom made a tree form out of Christmas fabric with felt as the bottom – she then stuffed the cone, then put the tree knit over the form & stitched it to the felt bottom. The ornaments & bows on tree 1 are from the “mini-tree” section at Hobby Lobby.

The yarn combos: 1 & 2 = LB Chenille Thick & Quick, LB Wool-Ease Chunky, Yarn Bee Playful; 3 = LB Jiffy (2 colors), Yarn Bee Playful; 4 & 5 = TLC Essentials, Patons Brilliant, Yarn Bee Feather Wisp

These are a fun project! I think that a couple more may end up being gifted this Christmas. I also want to make some for my own Christmas decorations – although I’m pretty sure that they won’t be completed before next Christmas.

The girlie trees have already been sent to Texas & are in full play use by the girls. Aunt Clara Pearls’ tree is bringing some Christmas cheer to her room while she is in a nursing home receiving some rehabilitation services based on recent health issues.

Aunt Clara Pearl's Tree in Ohio

Thanks Ruth for sharing a picture of the tree in Ohio!

What are some of your favorite Christmas tree and Christmas ornament memories and stories?

Click here to share yours!

« Older posts

© 2024 Amy Artisan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑