Amy Artisan

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Category: Gift Knits (page 2 of 3)

An Artisan Family Christmas

The Artisan family has always said that our holidays aren’t about tradition – they are about being together. Over the years, we have developed some traditions; however, we also know that the holiday will “go on” if we don’t do the traditions. Christmas 2008 was a real test of our holiday approach…looking back now, I think we all would agree that we succeeded.

A week before Christmas, Grandma was admitted to the hospital for unknown reasons – it was obvious that she was in general decline. After a couple of days she stabilized and we learned that she would be discharged to nursing home care – once a bed became available. Needless to say, it was tough being up here in Chicago away from everyone as this was all unfolding – I was counting the days until I would be flying home for the holidays. I made a last minute decision to fly out on 12/23 instead of on 12/24 as originally planned. On the 23rd I awoke to a snow storm here in Chicago – before I even left for the airport my flight was already delayed an hour. I didn’t care what the delay was – as long as I was able to get home! One hour turned to 2…3…4…but finally the flight was in the air.

Christmas Eve was filled with last minute shopping (groceries), visiting with Grandma and the final preparations for Christmas. Mid afternoon, while sitting with Mom for a bit at the hospital, I taught her how to knit (more on that in another post!). For dinner, I pulled together “a taste of Ikea” comfort meal – with a packet of the Ikea gravy mix, a bag of frozen meatballs and a pan of roasted potatoes & onions we quickly had a delicious dinner. Our Christmas Eve evening tradition is to watch It’s a Wonderful Life – this year, we were in the mood for Christmas in Connecticut instead.

When we awoke on Christmas morning, Mom made her delicious orange rolls for breakfast & as we enjoyed peppermint coffee we opened about half of our presents in the morning. Mom & Rebecca then went to the hospital to see Grandma. One of Rebecca’s friends brought us a delicious spread for our Christmas dinner in the early afternoon. Afterwards, we finished opening our gifts. After our traditional Christmas afternoon of napping & diving into the new books, Mom & I went up to the hospital for a bit – we took a plate of Christmas dinner for Grandma.

The day after Christmas, we received notice that a bed was available for Grandma at the nursing home – by dinner time she had been transferred. We were all relieved to have Grandma out of the hospital. On Monday afternoon she was transferred to the memory care unit – something that we all agreed was needed. The rest of the holiday time was spent visiting with Grandma, watching movies, reading new books, simple meals and just being together.

Rebecca got a new kitten, Maylene Noel, the weekend before Christmas who was more than happy to provide us with extra love & cuteness whenever we needed it. Because she was recovering from her “fix” surgery, she was just a lap kitty – although she was ready to get on the floor & explore.

Underneath the Christmas tree, there were many handknits. After months of keeping quiet about some of my knitting it was fun to finally share the projects with them!

For Rebecca, a Sunday Market Shawl in Dream in Color Butter Peeps. For Dad, a Hurricane Hat in Creatively Dyed Yarns Woodbrook. For Mom, a Christmas Lace Scarf in Brooks Farm Yarn  Four Play. I actually gave Mom her scarf when she was here in October – it was a cold weekend & it provided her with just the extra warmth she needed.On Christmas morning I placed a Mitered Hanging Towel on the oven door handle for Mom – I was thrilled with the JOY button that I found for it.

One of these days, I will knit socks for everyone in the Artisan Family – this was not the year for it. However, I was still able give everyone hand knit socks. This fall I discovered Fernwood Woolworks – Lynette uses her antique knitting machine to knit socks to your size specifications using the yarn that you send. So, I dove into my stash & found yarns for each of us. These socks are great – they fit us all perfectly!

Not all of the yarn under the Christmas tree had been knit by me. The Peruvian yarn feast continued with 2 more presents from Rebecca. I’m amazed that she was able to bring anything else home in her bag. In my stocking – a small skein of alpaca in 2 natural alpaca colors. Under the tree – a cone of beautiful forest green alpaca. Hmm…maybe a colorwork project?

All too soon, it was time for me to repack my suitcase & fly back to Chicago. While none of us could have predicted that this was how our Christmas would be this year, we all agreed that it still was a memorable one because of the the time we had together just “being a family.”

As this new year starts, so too starts my 4th year of blogging here at Amy Artisan – I’ll save my “year in review/looking ahead musings” for another post.

Miles & Miles…

It seems like life has been rushing by at a million miles an hour for the last several weeks. Blog silence hasn’t been because of having nothing to blog about – just the opposite. It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

As always seems to be the case, October was full of fun with family & friends – Picture Perfect was just the start. When Maya was in town for a quick weekend, we enjoyed a fun evening of dinner & conversation with our friend Elaine – the sunset city views from her deck were amazing.

Later in the month, Artisan Mom & Dad came for a long weekend – they stopped in Michigan City on a Thursday. Friday morning, I took the South Shore train over there & we spent the day in Harbor Country & visiting some of my favorite places over there. The train ride over there was a wonderful transition from the hectic work week – the tree colors were brilliant & I felt like I was indeed in the midst of a vintage postcard.

At the end of the month, it was time to head to Dallas for Halloween with Miss Butterfly & Miss Doodlebug. Of course, it was a delightful time! There was trick-or-treating…

…and plenty of playtime indoors & in the yard…

The girls are getting so big & it was so fun to see their imaginations at work. One afternoon we played “The 3 Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf” in the front yard for over an hour.

Through all of this, the knitting needles have been busy. While I didn’t finish my Cubby Bear socks in October, I have less than half of the 2nd sock until I’m finished – I figure it will be airplane knitting next week as I head home for Thanksgiving. It’s “that time of the year” where a lot of the knitting can’t be revealed yet. While in Dallas, Maya modeled one of my recent gift knits – a lace capelet for her birthday. Again, the “yarn name” got me – this beautiful green is called Maya. The yarn & the pattern came together perfectly – although I did have to reknit the capelet a second time because my cast on was too tight the first time.

With all of the “on the go” time recently, it seems only appropriate that this past work week ended with my trusty car turning from 99,999 miles to 100,000 miles.

I think there are enough pictures in today’s post, I won’t bother to insert the picture of the snow dusted back deck that greated me when I got home from work this evening. Needless to say, with the return of the cold weather the hats, scarves & other hand knits are in full rotation these days…

Blooms & Blossoms

I have always liked flowers – both in nature and in art. Whenever I visit a museum I’m apt to pick up a postcard or print of any flower art that I’ve seen. On one bedroom wall is a collage of assorted prints from Redon, Renoir, Redoute and Cezanne. In the dining room, the floral bouquets of Jan van Huysum decorate the walls. When I see these prints I’m reminded of fun trips to the National Gallery of Art, the Getty Museum, and more. When given the chance, I enjoy planting flowers outside & watching them bloom. Summer visits to the farmers market mean coming home with armloads of assorted flowers & making flower arrangements to enjoy inside.  Trips to the botanic gardens in Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas have been filled with fun times and photo ops with family and friends. Sunflowers always make me smile.

This time of year, I enjoy watching amaryllis (actually hippeastrum), paperwhites and hyacinths bloom indoors.  This week it has been fun to see the 3 blooms emerge from this year’s bulb. The cheery red blooms brighten the room.


 Cheery Blooms

As the blooms have been growing in my living room, blooms and blossoms have also been growing from the knitting needles.

 Bloomin' Baby Hat

Bloomin’ Baby Hat

A friend is having a baby girl in a few weeks. I wasn’t able to make it to her baby shower; however, this little hat was there. Since Baby T will be joining a big brother I knew I wanted to give a decidedly girly gift & I wanted to branch out from the standard baby patterns that I’ve done before. Enter Ravelry – a search on baby items yielded the hat pattern. With the pattern in hand I dove into my stash & found a fun yarn combination. Within an evening the hat was on & off the needles. Once it was finished I knew it needed a little “something” extra – the original plan was to crochet a few flowers to add to it. Instead I knit a morning star flower from the pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts and then attached it to the hat with a button I had pulled from Grandma’s button box.

Details: Lilly Hat by Larissa Brown; Jaeger Matchmaker Merino & Koigu Kersti held together on size 9 DPNs.

Cherry Blossom Neckwarmer

Cherry Blossoms Neckwarmer

When I was in My Sister’s Knits earlier this month I saw this yarn & immediately thought of cherry blossoms. Many people think of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC each spring – my first thought for Cherry Blossoms is Macon, GA – in high school and college the Artisan family always enjoyed the great festival that celebrated the early blooms of spring. My original plan was to knit the skein into the Ribs & Ruffles scarf from the vendor website. Once I got the yarn home and was looking through my Ravelry queue I decided that a neckwarmer would be a great use for the yarn.

The details: Cherry Garcia from Hello Yarn; Misti Alpaca Chunky handpainted on size 10.5 DPNs.

Before too long, it will be time to pick up tulips from the store & bring cheer to the house…and then it will be time to think about what gardening will occur on the deck and in the flowerbed this year.

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…

Getting Crafty

How appropriate that after blogging about the sounds of summer this past week treated us to a taste of fall weather. And how better to spend a fall-like Saturday than at a fair? The Renegade Craft Fair was in town this weekend so that became the starting point for a fun Saturday with friends. After picking up Kristy & Elaine we headed over towards the fair. We spent several hours looking through all of the booths of fun, quirky, unique and beautiful items. While I didn’t leave with nearly as many things as previous fairs this summer I did pick up a few things as a jump start for Christmas gifts. (As such, they are tucked inside the cute zippered pouch that I picked up for me)

Renegade Loot

Our time on Division ended with a great mid afternoon meal at Aki Sushi. It was our first time at Aki and we weren’t disappointed with our order. Since we were feeling crafty we decided to check out a “new to us” local yarn – Knitwerks. For several months I had been wanting to check out this store and after hearing Lolly and Nova rave about it when they were in town I knew I needed to get there soon. All of the buzz that I’ve heard was right – this is a great addition to the Chicago yarn community. So many beautiful yarns and colors – you just want to touch it all. Cherrl was so welcoming and friendly – Kristy’s sandal had broken and she offered a nearby store to pick-up a pair of flip-flops, our next visit will need to include time to check out the nearby Italian cafe that she recommends. Of course, we didn’t leave there empty handed. Elaine discovered the beauty of Dream in Color yarn and picked up a couple of skeins – she isn’t sure if she is going to crochet a scarf or have me teach her to knit one. I also picked up some needed needles and also some yarn for gift knitting (so no pictures here).

Speaking of local yarns – have you seen It has just launched and aims to collect all of the local yarn shops in one “go to” site with ratings and comments from local knitters. As someone who travels a lot, this will be a frequently visited site. I’ve already added one of my favorite shops to the mix.

Saturday’s weather was perfect for revealing a new knit project. Earlier this summer I made a scarf as a gift for Elaine (either a very belated gift for her last birthday or an early gift for this year). I gave it to Elaine first thing and it turned out that it matched her turtleneck perfectly so it immediately was put to use. Introducing – Sage Friend:

A Sage Friend
The details: Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style; 2 skeins of Baby Pima from Catalina Yarns; Size 10 needles; This was a very fast knit. The yarn was very soft and even after blocking it retained the softness.

There has been a lot of knitting happening around here in recent weeks. Some has been gift knitting so it can’t be revealed. Other items are ready to show.

First up: Silky Summer Scarf

Silky Summer Scarf
The details: Montego Bay Scarf from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007; 1 skein of Brooks Farm Yarn – Limited Edition 3 (picked up at Midwest Fiber & Folk Art in July); Named Silky Summer because of being a summer knit – which will keep me warm in the fall & winter. This yarn was such a treat to work with – it was so fun to see the colors change from one to another and also see the yarn change from really thick to really thin. I’m glad I picked up 2 more skeins of this for another project.

Next up: Knit for a Cure

Knit for a Cure
The details: Based on Bejeweled; 2 skeins of Lion’s Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Strawberry; Size 13 needles; Knit in preparation for a Breast Cancer Awareness event. Stay tuned for details. This was my first time working with this yarn and it was great to work with – I think I might add it to my list of baby blanket yarns. The resulting scarf is so soft. As I’ve said before, the Bejeweled stitch pattern is a great go-to pattern and each time I knit it the result is beautiful – on the large needles this was a fast knit – I started & finished it this weekend while catching up on my Netflix.

During the odd bits of time & while watching movies at the theater I’ve continued to build up the dishcloth stash.

More Dishcloths

Many other projects are currently on the needles – including some holiday gifts (so no pictures). The knits that can be shown are very appropriate for this final month of Project Spectrum 2.0 – variations on browns.

Brown Knits

Chocolate & Spice Socks – my current “basic sock” (in Trekking XXL #183) that stays in the work backpack or purse; Celebration Tote – my latest felted bag starts with a lot of brown knitting.

While the list of projects I want to knit seems to be never ending it is nice to see projects get completed and come off the needles.

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