I have no idea how many Christmas presents I'm going to knit this year. That's right. I don't have a plan. Oh, I have lots of ideas and possibilities jangling around in my brain...just no plan. The truth is, I don't like when the holidays become unnecessarily stressful. Some stress can't be avoided, like when your kids are involved in a dozen different concerts or plays or parties, trying to coordinate family get-togethers when everyone lives hundreds of miles from everyone else, driving through Iowa the long way (diagonally NE to SW) during an ice storm...so why pile on more things to worry about if you don't have to? Like giving everyone something you knit yourself?
On the other hand, I really enjoy knitting for other people, and sometimes I just can't help myself. So I have decided that this year I'll knit what I like for whom I like, and just hope no one else gets their feelings hurt. Everyone I care about is bound to get something hand knit from me eventually anyway, just not all at the same time.
With that said, I present to you my first Christmas knits, a pair of fair isle stockings:
A big reason I made these stockings was to practice two-handed colorwork. By the end of the blue stocking, I think I was finally getting the hang of it. Here's a close-up:
Blocking helped smooth out some of the puckering and uneven tension. I soaked each stocking for about a half hour in warm water and wool wash. I believe a second bath would probably help even more, but at this point I don't plan to do it.
Remember my woes with the short-row heel? This is how it turned out:
I tried Revknits' trick of not picking up the wraps when I did the heel on the blue stocking and you know what? It came out looking exactly the same. I decided to forgo the stripes because I wanted consistency between the two stockings. Plus someone said in comments that the colorwork pattern was busy enough without a striped heel, and I agree.
These are technically not quite complete because I still have to do an i-cord loop so they can be hung by the proverbial chimney, but I'm calling 'em done anyway.
Pattern: Henry's Stocking from the August-October 2009 issue of Cast On.
Yarn: Cascade 220, 1 skein each of Christmas Red, Forest (dk green), Bleach for the first stocking, and a dark and medium heather blue plus the Bleach white again for the second stocking. I have quite a bit of yarn left over, even the white, which I used for both. One of these days I'll have enough leftover Cascade for a stripey charity blanket.
Made for: Not telling!
Mods: The pattern called for DK weight yarn, and I used worsted weight with size 7 needles to make a more robust stocking. I also left out the stripes in the heel and toe to make everything look a little neater.
Comments: I definitely improved my two-handed colorwork technique, but I have to admit I didn't much like using DPNs. I have a couple other fair isle projects in mind - sweaters for the kids - which I will get to eventually (hopefully sometime this winter), and I think using a circular needle will be much less awkward.
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