Amy Artisan

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Month: December 2007

Merry Stitch-mas

Now that Christmas has come and gone, it’s time to reveal the assorted gift knitting that has been occupying some of my time in the recent months. This year I ended up with more knit gifts than last year – although there were a few other things that I would have liked to have completed – maybe next year. I started on things several months ago so I’m pleased that there were no late night knit adventures trying to get everything done in time.

Coffee Cozy 

Coffee Cozy for Mom & Dad

The Details: Hello Yarn French Press Cozy in Little Turtle Knits 2-Ply After the Rain (picked up at an Arcadia swap, summer 2006); modifications – none. When this was unwrapped on Christmas morning it was immediately put into use keeping warm the Cinnamon Spice coffee that we were enjoying. (It looks better on their French Press; however, I forgot to snap a picture while I was home.)

Dashing Dad! 

Dashing Dad

Pattern: Dashing in Dream in Color Classy Nightwatch, size 7 needles; modifications – shortened the length between the 3rd cable & thumb opening by 6 rows, didn’t knit the thumb in the rib pattern.

Fetching Mom! 

Fetching Mom

The Details: Fetching in Dream in Color Classy Beach Fog, size 6 needles; modifications – I lengthened the hand by about 8 rows

Fetching Rebecca! 

Fetching Rebecca

The Details: Fetching in Dream in Color Classy Cool Fire, size 6 needles; modifications – none

I knit a pair of Fetchings for Grandma last Christmas & then made a pair for me earlier this year. Now the whole family can keep their hands warm in handknits. I think Dream in Color is a perfect yarn for these patterns – just enough color play to make it interesting. All of these mitts softened up wonderfully after a Soak bath.

Hang On Little Tomato 

Hang on Little Tomato Scarf for Kristy

So named because this colorway reminded me of the colors of the Hang on Little Tomato album by Pink Martini; that song is one of Kristy’s favorites. The Details: Montego Bay scarf, Woolly Boully Meanie yarn in the Red Robin colorway on size 8 needles; modifications – no fringe; this scarf really grew when it was rinsed & blocked.

A Forest of Knit Christmas Trees 

Christmas Trees

Another forest of Christmas trees has been knit and assembled and delivered to friends and family. And, I still haven’t managed to make a tree for me yet. As I mentioned earlier, I knit the triangles and then Artisan Mom & Dad transformed them into trees.

The Details: Crafty Modster’s Furry Little Tree Pattern; all were knit as triangles; across the 5 trees there was quite an assortment of yarns used – throughout the year I would pick up green or white ‘fun’ yarns when they were on sale. One tree was decorated with a nativity ornament set. The others were decorated with red & white ornaments. All were trimmed with garland.

Washcloths for Grandma 

Grandma’s Favorite Washcloths

When Grandma’s get to be 93 it can seem hard to figure out gifts. A “kinda” last minute gift was to knit her 3 washcloths in the Grandma’s Favorite pattern. I used some of the Bernats CottonTot that I had leftover from assorted baby blankets.

(More pictures of the gift knits are here.)

Now that the holiday knitting is over, I must admit that I’m ready to do some more knitting for me. My first sweater has been rather neglected this fall – it’s time to get stitching on it again – the few times that I’ve worked on it so far have been enjoyable. Additionally, my Christmas trip home to the ‘Ville (or rather the flight delay) allowed me to make great progress on a scarf with the Knittery yarn that I received in my Knitters Tea Swap 4 package – since I’ve been back home I’ve continued on it & should have another project off the needles before the end of the year. And socks are always on the needles as well. And my project queue continues to grow… And since I enjoy knitting for others as much as I enjoy knitting for myself I know it won’t be long before I’m gift knitting again – I already have some ideas for next Christmas…

Holiday Home

Christmas this year was another fun time at home with the family in the ‘Ville. Friday evening I flew home – well, actually after the 4 hour flight delay it was about 1 AM on Saturday when we landed. Thankfully I had a new scarf project in my carry-on bag – by the time we finally boarded the plane I had knit close to 20″ on it. It was late enough and I was tired enough that I knew better than to knit (even on this simple pattern) while flying – so Christmas tunes on the iPod passed the time on the plane. My time in the ‘Ville was very laid back – it was great to just spend time with the family. Grandma’s health has been up & down more in the last year – so it meant that we spent more time at home.

Christmas Tree Forest

On Sunday evening we went to a beautiful Christmas service at church – Rebecca read one of the scripture selections. The selection of scriptures and songs in the beautiful candlelight made for lovely start to Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve was consumed with wrapping presents (note to self for next year – wrap early!) & finishing up with some decorating around the house. We ended up not seeing a movie (as has been tradition). After a yummy pasta dinner we did keep the tradition of watching It’s A Wonderful Life – it’s a story that we never tire of watching at Christmas.

Christmas Morning!

On Christmas morning the tree was surrounded by what seemed like a mountain of presents – the Artisan family must have been pretty good this year.  We opened our Christmas stockings (all needlepoint by Artisan Dad) and enjoyed Mom’s orange rolls for breakfast before “tackling” the mountain of presents. As in years past, it was as much fun to watch others open their presents as it was to open your own. Included in the mountain were handknits for everyone (more details in another post). We also continued the tradition of receiving lots of books – so we all spent lots of hours with our noses in books.

Christmas Table

For the last couple of years I have taken charge of the Christmas dinner menu – it’s a chance for Rebecca & I to have fun in the kitchen and give Mom a break. This year was another delicious spread. Earlier this month I came across the recipe for Pork Roast with Cardamom Mushroom Sauce and that became the starting point for our dinner. The rest of the menu included Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Couscous, Sweet Onion Casserole, Creamed Spinach (thanks Rebecca!) and Mom’s Sour Cream Yeast Cresent Rolls. From a favorite winery in Michigan we enjoyed a tasty Edel Doux white wine. Dessert later in the evening was a delicious Pear Cranberry Crisp. We all agreed that the recipes were winners – I look forward to making them again!

Warm Hands

Before long it was time to head back to the airport and fly back to my home. Just like most families, we have assorted holiday traditions; however, I’m also thankful that we have a family trait of flexibility – even though we didn’t do “all” of our Christmas traditions this year it was still a fun time of being together as a family and focusing on the real reason that we celebrate – the birth of Jesus!

(stay tuned – it’s time to finally reveal all of the Christmas knitting…)

White Christmas

The odds are pretty good that I won’t experience a White Christmas next week when I’m home in the ‘Ville to celebrate with the family. This past Sunday was truly a White Christmas for me here in Chicago – a wonderful chance to celebrate the season with friends! What was initially forecasted to be “a bit” of snow ended up being 7+ inches by Sunday morning. While the earlier snowfall this month may have provided a bit of winter wonderland the new snowfall definitely kicked it up a notch.

The snow outside plus the house finally decorated for Christmas brought the holiday spirit into the house to stay. Last weekend I was looking to get my Christmas tree and at the 5th lot I finally found one that had charm; didn’t break the bank; wasn’t sprayed green and was just right – as soon as I brought it in the house the scent of a pine forest wafted throughout.

O Christmas Tree!

As the snow fell on Saturday I spent the time prepping for my 2nd annual Christmas tea with girlfriends. I was thankful that the snow didn’t impact our plans – most of the gals were still able to come by on Sunday for a cup of Christmas tea and a great afternoon of friendship.

Candy Cane flowers

Once again, the afternoon managed to pass by without a single picture being taken. These flowers were in the center of the table and the platters were filled with: cucumber sandwiches (really, I don’t think it’s a tea without these); ham roll-ups with cranberry orange cream cheese; spinach dip tortilla roll-ups; mini quiches; mini cranberry pumpkin muffins; brownie bites (with a hint of coffee & cinnamon); Mom’s Swedish brownies; strawberry jam shortbreads & a lemon chocolate pound cake (thanks Jen!); & a box of See’s candies. My silver snowman tray was filled with an assortment of tea bags & everyone customized their tea with some sugar, cream, lemon or mint.

Like last year’s tea, the afternoon was filled with fun conversations among friends in the living room surrounded by the Christmas decorations. The glow of the lights on the Christmas tree, the nativity mantel and candles throughout the living room was enhanced by the glow of friendship and conversation. It was fun to see “my friends” find commonalities among each other & dive deep into conversation throughout the afternoon. Everyone seemed to enjoy a few hours of slowing down and pausing over a cup of tea. I think that this will be a Christmas tradition for years to come.

 Nativity Mantel

After the tea, it was time to celebrate Christmas with my Chicago family. Jen’s husband Greg joined Jen, Kristy & I at my house. We ordered dinner from a favorite restaurant and had a fun evening of laughter, stories and exchanging gifts.  The first of my “secret” knitting was gifted – details to follow in a Christmas knits post once all items have been gifted.

The month seems to have just flown by – one week from now I’ll be at home with the family gathered around the Christmas tree. Each of us will be enjoying a mug of coffee (& maybe homemade cinnamon rolls) as we begin to open Christmas presents. Later in the day, Rebecca & I will prepare Christmas dinner. When we look out the windows we may not see white; however, we don’t need snow on the ground to have a cozy family Christmas.

Sometimes a White Christmas is a state of mind and sometimes a White Christmas is covered in snow.

Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland

Over the weekend we had a glimpse of winter with a quick snowfall. Yesterday afternoon through today we were treated to a real taste of snow. In a few hours the world was transformed from the “ick” of the gray end of fall dormancy into a winter wonderland.

While driving home from the north suburbs last night in the storm wasn’t that fun at least people for the most part had remembered how to drive in snow (slow down). By the time I went to bed the neighborhood was covered in several inches of white frosting with more on the way.

Winter Wonderland

At one point this morning I looked out the back door and saw a neighborhood gathering of pigeons on the line. Several times throughout the day today they were back on the line keeping watch over everything.

Winter Wonderland

The sidewalks are being cleared by neighbors – the scrape of shovel on pavement is a soundtrack of the day. When I went out to the alley this afternoon to “dig out” my garage I was pleased to see that this is a very fluffy snow & while it looked like a lot to shovel it was a rather lightweight task. While outside it is fun to see the snow art that is created by the combination of snow, wind, nature and other objects. A few of my favorites from this snowfall:

 Winter Wonderland

The neighbor’s patio table looks like a snow cake…

 Winter Wonderland

Lounging in the deck chairs seems like a distant memory…

 Winter Wonderland

Reserving your dug out parking space with a chair…

Winter Wonderfland

The garden gnome is almost lost in the snow…

 Winter Wonderland

A neighbor’s christmas ball decorations have become snowballs…

 Winter Wonderland

The trees have captured the snow in their crooks…

 Winter Wonderland

Snow balancing precariously on the fence…

(all pictures here)

Even though I haven’t decorated the house for Christmas yet, nature’s frosting in the neighborhood only adds to the holiday spirit!

From Head to Toe…and more

As I mentioned in my last post – my Thanksgiving travels provided me the opportunity to start and finish a new winter hat and also finish up some socks.

Purple Purl Beret

From Head…The Purple Purl Beret…As I was packing for my trip home, I picked out a skein of Malabrigo in the Pearl Ten colorway from my stash & put it in a ziploc bag with my size 9 DPN needles – I figured I would improvise some sort of hat as I went along. A quick search on Ravelry pointed me to The Last Minute “Purled” Beret over at Knit & Tonic. I printed out the pattern & added it to my bag. Once I got to the gate, I cast on for the hat. As the afternoon progressed into evening my flight was canceled & the next flight was delayed for several hours. By the time I arrived in Atlanta over half of the hat was complete. This hat was a quick project to complete & has been in use every day since I’ve been back from Thanksgiving. The beret is very warm and doesn’t leave me with hat head when I come indoors. An added bonus is that this beautiful colorway compliments my Silky Summer Scarf that I made from the Brooks Farm Limited Edition III earlier this year.

MTM Socks

To Toe…My MTM Socks…My fourth pair of socks and the first “real” pattern that I’ve followed. And my favorite socks to date. I have often said that I’m a sucker for well named yarns – this yarn was one of those moments. I saw this Mary Tyler Moore colorway in the TV Yarn collection and knew that I needed it. I’ve always enjoyed the show – when I moved to Chicago over 8 years ago I remember an email from my Dad on the day that I flew up here where he imagined me throwing a hat in the air on Michigan Ave. as I walked into my new office. Through Ravelry I discovered the Ampersand pattern and thoroughly enjoyed knitting it – I will use it again in the future. On the foot of the second sock I accidentally went down to 23 stitches on the 2nd needle which caused the blue pooling towards the toe. The yarn was great to work with – I’m sure I will knit with it again (although I need to work through my stash a bit before picking up another yarn).

Silly Sis!

And More…Earlier this fall I finished up an iPod case for Rebecca and sent it home with Dad before I took a picture. While home, I managed to document the project. The flap is the “Grandma’s Favorite” dishcloth pattern – I used bits of Cascade 220 from my stash.

Over 2 weeks ago my sister had an encounter with a deer while driving home from school. When she called to tell me about the accident she referenced the scarf that I knit for her earlier this year. Being the silly sister that I am, when I saw a skein of Bernat Camouflage yarn in pinks while in Meijers I knew a simple scarf was in order. I cast on 25 stitches & worked the yarn in a K1P1 pattern until I ran out of yarn. The gauge and width of the scarf cause the camo coloring to knit into more of an argyle pattern. I don’t expect that this scarf will get a lot of use but when I saw the yarn I couldn’t resist.

First Snow 

Not only is the holiday season in full force these days – the handknit warmth season is in full effect here in Chicago. This weekend saw our first “real” snow of the year. As the snow moved through and changed to sleet and then rain it was “perfect” weather for staying inside and continuing to make progress on holiday knits. The forecast for this week looks very chilly – so handknit hats, scarves and wrist warmers will definitely be in use during the commute.

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