Knitted christmas gifts 2012

Now I’ve finished my blogging frenzy and caught up with the things I haven’t been able to blog about, I thought it would be useful to pull together a list of the all things I made for Christmas gifts this year. I had a lot more free time than money this year, so thought handmade gifts would be a good option. Some took a little while longer than I had anticipated, but I learnt something with every single project and really enjoyed making them. The recipients also seem really pleased with the gifts, so definitely worthwhile. During the process I also fell in love with Malabrigo Worsted yarn, and with making fingerless mitts. They keep me hands warm enough in most situations, and I can still use my phone (plus I can co-ordinate the colour with my nail varnish!). Anyway, here’s a list of gifts I made for Christmas in 2012:

They’ve kept me busy for the last 2-3 months so now it’s time to knit something for myself!

A manatee for my mentor

This year I’ve been working towards CILIP Chartership and recently found out I had passed – yay! I had a fantastic mentor who guided me through the process as well as providing me with lots of fun encouragement along the way. As part of the process you develop a Personal and Professional Development Plan (PPDP), which my mentor refers to as a ‘piddledypip’ and through the process we referred to each other as mental (mentor) and manatee (mentee) – a bit mad but very much appreciated! I received a number of manatee related gifts throughout the process, and thought I should thank my mentor by making her a manatee friend.

Fortunately I found a manatee knitting pattern, the perfect colour yarn (Rowan Felted Tweed Aran in Dusty), and got to work. It seemed a bit of a tricky project and took me about 4 attempts to actually start it properly but once I’d cast on and done the first few rows the rest seemed to work OK. I did it using magic loop, which worked well as one needle was the top and one the base. It was an unusual pattern (well, I’ve not come across one like this before but then I’ve not done many toys) in that you work on short rows to create gaps where you’ll pick up stitches for the flippers to go afterwards, but that does mean it’s easier to stuff.

So here he is in all his glory with his new owner:

Manatee with his owner

Manatee with his owner

The project notes are available on Ravelry – From Manatee to Mental. I’m really enjoying making these toys, and will definitely be doing more for gifts in future.

Cabled fingerless mittens

I actually made these a few months ago but the cooler weather has meant I’ve been wearing them recently and it reminded me to blog about them. I wanted to try knitting in the round, and also try cabling. This Cabled Fingerless Mitts pattern from Ravelry seemed to combine the two and although some of it sounded a little like double dutch when I initially read the instructions, I knew my knitting friends on Twitter would be able to help me if I got stuck.

I decided to try with double pointed needles, which I saw Katie knit socks on last year and was so impressed by. Handling them is a little like I imagine using chopsticks is (though I’ve never actually tried!), but I managed to get the hang of it. I’m a tight knitter so the laddering at the joins wasn’t too much of an issue. Knitting inside out was a bit of a problem though! I completed all the ribbing and started the cable pattern before realising something was wrong and lots of photographs, tweets and help from patient knitters later I realised how I’d gone wrong – I was using the needles furthest away from me and therefore knitting around the inside of the mitt not the outside. Sadly it’s not something you can just turn inside out really, so I pulled it out and started again – hopefully will help me learn how to do it properly.

As well as knitting in the round, I learnt to cable (nowhere near as tricky as I first thought, though can be fiddly for a tight knitter), pick up stitches, m1l and m1r. And after all that learning, I ended up with a wearable item!

First mitten complete! #knitting by joeyanne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  joeyanne 

I’d really recommend this is a first knitting in the round project for a relative beginner who wants to learn some new techniques. The instructions are really clear, and if you get stuck just search YouTube for the stitch name and you’ll find helpful videos. My full notes from the project are available on Ravelry.