Now that the holidays are over, I finally get to post pictures of my homemade Christmas presents!

To start, there are the knitted gifts.  I got requests for three different knitted gifts this year.  My mom wanted a small gift, and my cousin M had requests for her daughter, A, and her brand-new granddaughter, L.  I guess the knitting I did for Christmas last year, and L’s knitted baby gifts, have let the cat out of the bag when it comes to my knitting abilities, but I don’t mind.

M’s first request was a hat for her granddaughter, L.  The original pattern she found was a purchaseable  pattern on Etsy.  It was made from a chunky yarn, and absolutely adorable.

the inspiration

But M wanted a hat that was multicolored, and specifically asked for all different colors so that it would go with anything.  I looked around a little bit, and found a very similar free pattern for the POOF baby hat by Julie Armin online.  Her pattern had a smaller gauge, as it wasn’t written for a chunky yarn.  I figured, in order to get the multicolored hat, I would find a nice variegated yarn.

Well, I’m not sure that the yarn I chose would be described as “nice.”  In fact, blindingly bright would be a better description, I think.  But it was the only yarn I could find that wasn’t variegated in a single color scheme.  I hoped that M and A would like it, since I knew L wasn’t going to have much of an opinion.  But honestly, I was so worried about the color, I almost made L a second hat in a different yarn just in case.  The only thing that really stopped me was the fact that I ran out of time!  I wanted it to be a little chunkier, so I actually knit this up with double yarn, finding the same point in the variegation so that the colors of the two yarns would remain consistent, even though differences in tension made the colors creep a little bit relative to one another.  The only thing working for me was the fact that the variegation lined up in a way that it looked tie-dyed, and not just a jumbled mess.

is it tie-dyed?

The next request was from my mom, for some little pumpkin decorations she also saw on Etsy.  They were super cute, tiny fall decorations, in an interesting color palette. 

tiny pumpkins

But they were actually made from solid wool felt, and weren’t knitted.  I know how to make felt from raw wool, but I had no idea where to find raw wool.  So I decided to knit them.  I tried to duplicate the colors, but my options in 100% wool were rather limited.  I found a more saturated pink and a much brighter green than the mossy green shown here.  I also now realize that I completely forgot to put stems on them!  But I knitted up completely round balls in garter stitch, stuffed them with fiberfill, pulled the tails through the centers to help flatten them a bit, and then felted them in the wash, with each one tucked inside the toe of a sock.  I then used the tension of some brown embroidery floss to really flatten them and to make the ribs, and made hanging loops from the floss as well.  They have a very different texture than the originals because of the knitting.  I think they came out pretty cute, but I now realize, I never got a finished picture of them!  Tragic.  Here are the first two steps at least.

knitted

felted

The next request was from my cousin M again, a pair of long cabled mittens for her daughter, A.  I recognized them immediately as  Twilight-inspired knitting, and had little difficulty finding a free pattern online at Subliminal Rabbit’s blog.  I haven’t done a whole lot of cabling, but this looked like a fairly easy cable to work.

the original

M specified that the gloves should be either black or gray, so I decided to go with a nice, soft silvery-gray washable nylon yarn, to make sure that they would hold up to some washing without a lot of special treatment.  The pattern knit up quite easily, as I suspected the cable pattern was fairly simple, and the only problem I had was with holes appearing around the added stitches around the thumb gusset.  But I always seem to have that problem, so I simply used a long tail on the end of each thumb to help fill them in.  The silvery yarn didn’t photograph very well, so this is the best I could do.

finished mitten

Once I had these three project finished, I realized that there was one more cousin I needed a gift for, my 15-year old cousin C.  It seemed like it might be nice to knit him something too.  I asked his mom what he might like or use, and she said he liked to go snowboarding, and tended to wear earflap hats.  She also said that he had a hat with a mohawk on it, so I decided that the wilder this hat was, the better.

I had tried to knit earflap hats before, but had always added the flaps onto a completed hat.  This time, I decided to find a pattern and do it properly.  I surfed around and found a basic pattern by Leef Bloomenstiel that seemed to be clearly written.

the inspiration

I wanted to do a completely different design from hers, however.  I had a skein of thick, black wool yarn, which I realized wouldn’t be really easy-care for a teenaged boy, but it should do a good job of keeping his head warm.  I decided to include some of that rainbow yarn that I had used on the baby hat, to add interest.  The hat pattern starts with the earflaps, then you cast on the remainder of the circumference and knit the rest of the hat.  I settled on black and rainbow stripes that start on the earflaps, and then stop a short ways up the hat.  Instead of the rounded top, I took the final stitches and knit them as an I-cord for a little less than an inch, to put a little point on the top.  I finished it off with braided black-and-rainbow ties on each flap.  I finished it very early the morning before I had to mail everything out to RI, so the pictures I took are before I finished weaving in all the ends, but I think it came out pretty good.  Just ridiculous enough for a teenaged boy to think it was cool, I hoped.  I also included a slip of paper warming C’s mom that the hat needed to be hand washed, unless they wanted it to shrink to a third of its original size.

snowboarding hat

The biggest news in all of this was the fact that I finally, for the first time, “fixed” the way that I knit.  Ordinarily, I purl correctly, but I knit into the backs of my stitches.  This puts a twist into those stitches, but if I am working on a two-sided project, my purl rows undo the twists.  If I am working in the round, however, like you do when you knit hats, socks, and mittens, my twisted stitches never untwist.  This tends to make the tops of my hats spiral, and also makes my socks and other projects spiral.  In hats, it’s not a big deal, but with other projects it is a problem.  The one pair of socks I have knit for myself almost never get worn, because the heels are always trying to make their way to the top of my foot.  Since I didn’t want this to happen with A’s mittens, I taught myself to knit “properly,” knitting into the front of the stitch.  No twisted mittens!

I also made a bunch of non-knitted gifts for my family, like I do every year, but that will be the next post.  Stay tuned!

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