Tuesday 25 July 2023

12 Months; 8 Projects

Okay, so it's July 2023, and I'm finally getting around to posting my 2022 knitting project round-up post. I did eight projects in 2022, and as I think you'll agree when you reach the end of this post, the eighth was a doozy. New Year's Eve 2022 found the eighth project perhaps 95% finished, but those finishing details were such a pain that I kept putting the project aside for anything else for months.

Anyway, it is finally done, and my write-up of it (which took me a day to write!) finally added to this post, so let's have a look at the eight knitting projects I completed in 2022. 

On New Year's Eve 2021, when I was making plans for the coming year (and with me, making plans means making to do lists), I was looking over my gift list and realized I needed to plan a Christmas 2022 gift for the grandnephew who was to be born in February 2022, and despite (or perhaps because of) the effects of a tumbler and a half of homemade Bailey's, that evening seemed like the perfect time to plan a sweater for the little guy. What better pandemic-style solo New Year's Eve could I have?

I browsed patterns on Ravelry, and selected the one you see depicted above, the Everyday Pullover Sweater, designed by Raya Budrevich. I've made it before (for my grandnephew Bug's second birthday), and I remembered it as a quick and easy knit that I'd been satisfied with. Then I checked my stash to see what yarn I might have that would work for this project. I found some chocolate brown worsted (the ball band for which was long gone), and most of a skein of Red Heart Soft in Leaf. I thought the two colours worked together and there would be enough of both to get the job done.   

And here's the finished product, which I knitted in a size 12 months in January 2022. Sawyer turned ten months old in December 2022, and he would have been able to wear it all the rest of the 2022/2023 winter. 

I also gave Sawyer a teddy bear I had sewn for Christmas 2022. It amuses me that the bear and the sweater go so well together when I didn't plan for that. In the pictures my nephew sent me of Sawyer wearing his sweater and holding his teddy bear, Sawyer looked like a particularly well-accessorized baby. 

This sweater took 30 grams of brown yarn, and 110 grams of green yarn, with a total net stash decrease of -140 grams. 

When, in August 2021, I first began searching Ravelry for patterns for a baby blanket and booties for my nephew's expected son, I thought something hockey-related would be a fun idea. Luke loves hockey as much as most of the Canadian men I have known do, which is to say to an extent that is beyond all reason. During a hockey game in late 2007, when Luke was 20 years old, he got hit in the face with a puck, and it smashed four of his teeth. Luke then proceeded to remain on the ice, playing and spitting out fragments of teeth, until the game was over. Surely my needlework skills could produce a softer, gentler tribute to his love of hockey that would be much easier on his dental work. I had initially even toyed with the idea of making a Maple Leafs baby blanket for the baby in tribute to Luke's favourite team, but I would have had to design one myself, which I wasn't particularly interested in doing, and besides, Sawyer is an Albertan. I didn't want him to be a social outcast or a laughingstock among all his baby friends. 

Among the hockey-related patterns to be found on Ravelry were a few designs for hockey skate booties. There were both knitted and crocheted examples of that design concept, but though I don't enjoy crocheting, there was no denying that the crocheted version was the best one. Generally speaking, crocheting is stiffer than knitting, but while knitting tends to be the better choice for clothing because it drapes better, crocheting often takes the lead when it comes to shaped objects like toys, because crocheting holds its shape better. The sample knitted hockey skate booties looked so limp and floppy compared to the crocheted ones. I set my teeth, resigned myself to crocheting my grandnephew's booties, and went with the Newborn Hockey Skate Booties, designed by Jamie Louise, and pictured above. 

When I checked my yarn stash, I was pleased to discover that I had black, gray, and white worsted yarns on hand that were suitable for this project. I no longer have the ball bands for any of the three yarns I used, but they were run-of-the-mill acrylic worsteds. I did have to buy a 3.75mm crochet hook, but now I'll have that size hook in my crochet hook collection for the next time I need one. I made the booties over the course of a few evenings in February 2022. You can see the result above, and I think they turned out well. Luke got a kick out of them. 

These booties, which were made entirely out of stash yarn, weighed in at 50 grams when finished, so that's a stash decrease of -50 grams. 

One day in March 2020, while idly scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw a tweet authored by my friend Christine in which she'd posted the photo composition you see above of Celine Dion in two very unfortunate outfits that were reportedly styled by a friend of hers, with the query, "... if your friend does this to you on purpose, are they really your friend?"

I must admit that if a friend of mine tried to get me to wear any of these outfits, I'd question their understanding of me and my taste, their motives, and possibly also their sanity. I've made a number of pieces of clothing for Christine over the years (by my count, and if I'm not forgetting anything: four sweaters, a suit jacket, and a jersey dress), and couldn't help thinking complacently that all of those pieces definitely looked better than... what you see in the photo above. 

Our little exchange of tweets on the matter got me thinking that it had been so long since I'd made Christine anything -- I believe she received the last item in 2010 -- that she had probably worn out all the things I'd given her, and I really ought to make her something new. I added "sweater for Christine" to my knitting project list and picked out a pattern for it, but I didn't get to it that year, nor in the following year. In late 2021, when I was working on a tartan table set for my friend Lindsie and deciding that it would be her 50th birthday present, I also determined that I would definitely get Christine's sweater made in early 2022, and that it would be her 50th birthday present. 

The sweater above is the Veneto Sweater, designed by Handmade Closet. It's a lovely design and it struck me as being perfect for Christine. I could just picture her in it. 

As for the yarn selection, Christine's favourite colour is cranberry red (two of the four sweaters I have made for her have been that colour), so I decided this sweater would be a cranberry red with, if possible, a variegated yarn in warm cream/tan/light brown tones for the contrast colour. Christine is blond with a tan skin and brown eyes, and such a colourway would suit her very well. 

It took a few yarn store visits to find what I wanted, but I eventually purchased 300 grams of Sandnes Garn Sisu Superwash in Cardinal (shade 4228) from EweKnit, and one skein of Pro Lana Golden Socks Fjord 4-Fach (shade 181).  


Here's the sweater, which knitted up without difficulty. I made it in a size 3, which has a 36" bust. I did make the body longer than specified in the pattern. Christine isn't tall (I'd estimate her height at 5'3"), but she has a proportionately long torso, and the 20.5" length called for by the pattern would be too short on her, so I added one inch to the yoke length and two to the body length. I also added waist shaping. I've never measured Christine, but all of the pieces I've made for her have fit quite well. With knitwear, one can usually just eyeball the size.

This sweater was knitted from newly purchased yarn, and I had 30 grams of the red yarn and 60 grams of the variegated contrast yarn left over, which is a net stash increase of 90 grams. 

My fourth project of 2022 was an addition to my initial list of 14 projects. In the spring, when I was making my honorary niece Olivia a dress for her sixth birthday present, I decided I didn't like the idea of making it the purse out of the jersey fabric I'd used for the dress. It was a very stretchy fabric, and would require interfacing and interlining, which is a pain when one is making such a small item. I looked through my yarn stash to see what I had in the way of coordinating yarns that might be used for a knitted purse. I had a turquoise and a lime that were very similar to the stripes on the jersey. I did not have a fuchsia yarn, and would probably have reverted to the idea of a sewn purse rather than go to the trouble and expense of having to track down and buy a skein of yarn in that shade, but happily it occurred to me to check my box of embroidery floss. It turned out that I had some embroidery floss in a very similar shade, so the knitted purse concept was a go. 


 When knitting the purse, I used the Squircle pattern I have used a number of times before, and went with a reversal of the dress fabric's colourway: lime, with turquoise and fuchsia stripes in duplicate stitch. The lime yarn is a very soft yarn, so to give the purse a little more structure, I cut a circle of very stiff interfacing the size of the bottom of the bag, knitted a second bottom, and then stitched the second bottom inside the bottom of the bag, slipping the interfacing circle in between the two bottoms mid-process. The resulting purse coordinated pretty well with the dress, which you can see in this post

This little project used up 30 grams of stash yarn.

This next project was another that I planned on New Year's Eve 2021 in between swigs of homemade Bailey's. (Don't tell me knitters don't know how to party.) I'd picked out a pattern for my honorary niece Olivia's Christmas 2022 sweater the previous August, but when I was writing up my yarn shopping list for the coming year on New Year's Eve, I checked my stash to see if I had anything suitable.


This is the Sverrigsgade pattern, designed by Sanne Bjerregaard. It's a free pattern, it's quite strikingly attractive and visually interesting, and as multi-coloured striped patterns tend to be, it's an excellent stash buster. I love the colourway used in the sample pattern, and had rather hoped to replicate it, but after a look through my stash, I wound up going with the alternate palette I found there. When it came down to my paying what is for me a considerable chunk of money to buy the ideal yarn for this project, or using the suitable and attractive no-cost yarn from my stash, it was an easy call.  

I had in my storage box of DK yarn 200 grams of Premier Anti Pilling Everyday DK in Almond that I'd bought online from Mary Maxim in 2021 to make what would become my eighth project of 2022, and that proved not to be the right shade for my purpose when it arrived. I would have returned it, but the Mary Maxim customer service person told me it would cost me more to send it back than the refund would be, so I sighed resignedly, kept it, and simply ordered more in the right shade. I decided those two inadvertently purchased skeins would work quite well as the main colour for this design. I also had small amounts of red, wine, dark green, and kelly green DK yarn left over from other projects that I thought worked together well and went fairly well with the almond, and so would do for the contrast colours.

The completed sweater in a size eight. I'm pretty pleased with it. The colourway isn't bad at all for something put together out of odds and ends while not entirely sober. It has a Christmassy look, which is a plus for a Christmas present, but not so much so that it can't be worn all winter. It will also suit Olivia's colouring of brown hair, olive eyes, and faintly olive-tinged fair skin quite well. This pattern is well-written and knitted up without any problems. I was keeping an anxious eye on the red yarn, as I feared it might run out before the sweater was done, but it went the distance. I went with neutral buttons on the shoulder, as I couldn't seem to match any of the contrast colours in the sweater to anything on  Fabricland's button racks. 

When calculating the stash decrease/increase of this project, I counted the almond yarn as newly purchased yarn. I used 130 grams of the 200 grams to make the sweater, which meant there was a stash increase of 70 grams. But I used up 45 grams of red yarn, 60 grams of the wine, 50 grams of the kelly green, and 60 grams of the dark green while making this sweater, and those were all certainly stash yarns. Those stash yarns I used totalled 215 grams, and 215 grams less 70 grams is a net stash decrease of -145 grams.   

My grandnephew Bug turned nine in July 2022. Like a good knitter and a passable great-aunt, I began planning his birthday present sweater well in advance. Ravelry tells me I added the pattern I used for his sweater to my queue on August 26, 2021.  

The design I chose was the one you see pictured above, the imaginatively named 1208-02, by Sandnes Design. I've had my eye on this pattern since Bug was a preschooler and have always thought it had quite a bit of style. In December 2021, when Romni Wools was having its annual December sale, I bought the yarn for the project: Drops Karisma in Vert Mix (colour 50) for the main colour, and Light Pearl Gray (colour 72) for the contrast. I had to go with marbled gray buttons for the placket as the blue proved impossible to match. 

And here's the finished product, made in a size 10. The pattern wasn't the best written and I wound up having to redo the sleeve cap, armhole, and shoulder shaping a few times -- as well as recalculate and rewrite the directions -- before I got it right. But eventually the sweater was completed and I was pleased with the result. Bug received his birthday present in August, at my parents' 60th wedding anniversary party. He put it on to model it for us and then refused to take it off, despite repeated urgings from his mother, for what must have been close to an hour, even though the temperature couldn't have been much under 30 degrees Celsius. But hey, it was a brand new sweater and we all told Bug how handsome he looked in it, so who can blame him. (I've known many a grown man to be more susceptible to flattery than Bug was being that day.) It was a little big on him, but not unwearably so, and I consider that ideal as it means he can probably get two years of wear out of it rather than just one before he grows out of it. My niece told me at Christmas 2022 that the sweater had proved to be a favourite of Bug's and that he had worn it often.

The lovely tweedy blue colour did really suit Bug. He has light brown hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, and blue is very much his colour. This was the ninth sweater I'd made him in his life and seven of the nine were blue or partly blue. I keep telling myself that I need to make Bug's sweaters in a variety of colours, that he'll get tired of always getting blue sweaters, but then I go yarn shopping and see a beautiful blue yarn that would look soooo good on him, and I just can't resist. Oh well, I have used a variety of shades of blue and different designs, and I doubt Bug feels like he's getting the same sweater from me every year.     

This project was entirely made of newly purchased yarn, and the yarn left over from it constitutes a stash increase of +50 grams.  

Several years ago, after being forced to discard a worn-out brown cotton thrift shop top that had been a very useful, reliable piece while I had it, I decided that I'd replace it with a hand-knitted brown cotton top that I could wear with a number of my skirts, shorts, and trousers in summer. I searched Ravelry for a suitable pattern in a fingering weight yarn, couldn't find one, and promptly decided I would just have to design one myself. I envisioned a sleeveless top with a stockinette body and an Art Nouveau-style panel of stitchwork running up the front.

Then I needed yarn. I looked at similar projects on Ravelry to get an idea of how much yarn I needed, and concluded that this project would call for about 200 grams, and that I should get 250 grams to be on the safe side. But I had some difficulty in finding the dark brown cotton fingering yarn I wanted. I checked all my usual go-to yarn stores (Romni Wools, Ewe Knit, Michaels, Mary Maxim, Spinrite Factory Outlet), and none of them had a cotton fingering in the shade of brown I wanted. Brown can be a difficult colour to work with, as it comes in so many shades. I often can't find the kind of rich dark chocolate brown that I use as a base neutral in my wardrobe, and even when I can, it often comes in an unfortunate tone -- purplish, pinkish, or greyish -- that does not look right with the other, autumnal-tone items from my wardrobe. But I was sure that the yarn I wanted must be out there somewhere, and I turned to Ravelry's invaluable yarn search function to find it. Eventually I tracked down a yarn that was just right: Knit Picks Comfy Fingering in Coffee. I always find ordering online to be a bit of a crap shoot, because I can't be sure the yarn I order will have the right colour tone and a nice feel to it, and so I placed my order with some trepidation, but upon arrival, this yarn proved to be exactly what I wanted. The colour was just right and it was a lovely yarn to work with and, true to its name, comfy to wear.   

Then I had the yarn, a vision of what the top would look like, and good intentions... and the yarn just sat there from the time I received it in June 2019 until June 2022. At that point I decided I wanted to wear the top to my parents' 60th anniversary party in August with one particular skirt of mine, and that it was time to get cracking on this project. Realistically, I wouldn't have time to fuss around and create my own stitchwork pattern for the front panel, but I had five different knitting stitch reference books, and surely I could find a suitable stitch pattern in one of those. Accordingly I went through all of those five books. I looked for something that had an Art Nouveau feel to it. Eventually I settled on pattern #1 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible by Hitomi Shida

And here's the completed top. It took me much longer to knit than I hoped, though I suppose that's to be expected when there's no pattern and one is just figuring out the mechanics as one goes along. The back, which is plain stockinette, knitted up very quickly and without issue, but I had some difficulty figuring out some of the instructions for the lace panel for the front. There was one particular stitch arrangement I just couldn't seem to figure out from the instructions. After a week of being effectively stalled in one place, I got the hang of it and began to progress again. I finished the front, did the seaming, and then I knitted the neckband, only to find I had picked up too many stitches for it, so much so I didn't even bother to try it on. I ripped the neckband out and did it again, and this time discovered that while the neckband was fine in itself, I had made the neckline too low for my or anyone else's comfort. It wasn't indecent, but I am 49 now and it is time for me to start covering it up and putting it away. I took out the neckband and the shoulder seams and ripped the front back to where I began the neckline, and added another repeat of the lace pattern before shaping the neckline and reknitting each side to the shoulders. I re-seamed the shoulders and put the neckband in again, then moved onto the armhole bands, where again my first attempt involved too many stitches. I ripped out and redid it with 112 stitches instead of 128, and this time it worked, so from then on it was clear sailing to do the other armhole band and weave in the ends of yarn. I am pleased with the finished piece. The shaping is good, the lace panel is very pretty, and the yarn I used is perfect. 

The jersey print skirt that you see in the photo above used to be a dress, which I had originally made circa 2005. Thirteen years later the dress had become dated and too young for me and I no longer wanted to wear it, but as documented in this post about three skirts that I made out of former dresses, I loved the fabric so much I couldn't bear to throw it out, and in 2018 I cut it down into a skirt that I can wear until it's worn out. I am so happy to now have this knitted top to wear with it, as they work very well together. I had hoped to wear this outfit to my parents' diamond anniversary in August, but with all the difficulties I ran into, and given that I was also concurrently working on Bug's birthday sweater, which had to take precedence, it was not finished in time. Instead I paired the jersey skirt with a dark brown silk top I had sewed for myself in 2018. That combination made a nice outfit too, even if cotton would have been better than silk for such a warm day.

This project took 190 grams of yarn, which left me with a stash increase of 60 grams. 

And now we come to the eighth and last project of the year. 

Shortly after my honorary niece Olivia was born in 2016, I came up with the idea of making her a doll and a little wardrobe of outfits and accessories for the doll. I decided to save the idea until she was old enough to really enjoy and appreciate having a doll like that, and I designated four as the ideal age. Olivia turned four in 2020, but I didn't get to the project at all that year. In 2021, when Olivia  turned five, I began doing some work on the project, but I didn't get that far. In early September of 2022, when Olivia was nearly six and a half, I began working steadily on the doll project with the idea that Olivia would get it for Christmas that year, but though I spent four months straight working on it, the end of the year found the doll knitted but not assembled, and three of the outfits not quite finished. It wasn't until June 2023 that I finally finished making the doll and her wardrobe of seven outfits, and then in July 2023, I visited my friend Lindsie's home for two days for the first time since October 2019, and gave her seven-year-old daughter the doll and its accompanying accoutrements. I suppose seven isn't such a bad age for such a gift -- Olivia should still have about three doll-enjoying years ahead of her -- and at least the thing finally got done.  

All through my doll-making endeavour, I thought of the doll provisionally as "Little Olivia", with the expectation that Olivia would want to name her doll herself. I looked forward to seeing what that name would be, and was gratified when Olivia promptly named her doll... wait for it... Rainbow Sparkle Unicorn-Animals. Lindsie tried unsuccessfully to get Olivia to go with a nice Scottish name, such as Isla, but while that would have been a pretty and suitable name, Olivia's choice is peak seven-year-old girl in a way that makes me crack up whenever I think of it. And, now that Miss Unicorn-Animals is finally finished, duly named, and enjoying life with her mommy, let's take a tour through the process of making her and of her completed wardrobe.  

When I was in the early stages of planning this project, I kept an eye out for suitable knitted doll patterns and ideas for its wardrobe. I set up a Pinterest board entitled "Little Olivia and Her Wardrobe" to keep track of the cute knitted dolls and doll outfits and other ideas I came across. When it came time to plan more definitely, I searched Ravelry for knitted doll patterns. Its database contained some real cuties, but I soon zeroed in on the "Knit a Teddy" constellation of designs by Sarah Gasson. Gasson has designed an entire collection of stuffed dolls, bears, cats, bunnies, etc., with numerous outfits designed to fit them all (the stuffed toys are all the same size through the body and the patterns have options for adding tail and ear openings if one is knitting for a stuffed animal). The dolls are darling, with hair that can be styled in multiple ways, and the outfits are amazing, with outfits for every day as well as a number of theme outfits. One can start by knitting the basic doll and then proceed to make any number of outfits. If you want to make a cheerleader, firefighter, nurse, doctor, paramedic, police officer, soccer, golfing, graduation, elf, fairy, bride, superhero, princess, Christmas, or Halloween outfit, Sarah Gasson has you, or at least the stuffed toy you've made, covered.   

Prior to beginning this project, I'd been wanting to make a doll and a wardrobe for it for awhile. Whenever I did my weekly tour of the thrift shops in my neighbourhood, I would often see an array of those "collectable" porcelain dolls (i.e., of the type intended more for display than for playing with) on the shelves among the knickknacks, and I would think about how much fun it would be buy one, take it home, and then research, design, and make some period accurate wardrobe for it as a gift for one of the little girls in my life. And then I would remind myself sternly that I have very limited physical and mental energy due to my chronic fatigue issues, that I'm not making a living, that its costs would add up, that there is so much that needs doing around my house, and that I don't like sewing or knitting in the very small scale at all, and I keep walking. But then the same scenario would play out again the next week.

This particular doll and wardrobe project seemed like an acceptable way to scratch that "I want to make a doll wardrobe" itch. I'd only be working on it in the evening when I don't have the energy to do much else anyway, and it wouldn't take much research, or much money. It would be easy and fun to plan it and come up with little creative touches for it, it wasn't on such a small scale that I would mind working on it, and it would be a good way to use up my boxful of odds and ends of DK yarn. 

So, I bought the Sarah Gasson doll pattern, and some of the outfit patterns, and got started.  

The above photo is the sample shot from the Pink Stripy Dress design. I wanted this doll to have some everyday type outfits as well as some theme outfits, and this was one of the first of its everyday outfits. 

I wanted the doll, or Rainbow as I suppose I should call her, to look as much like Olivia as possible. Little girls mother their dolls, and they tend to especially like having a doll that looks like them. This doll's facial features being set by the pattern, I could only make the doll look like Olivia by simulating Olivia's colouring. As I said above when talking about Olivia's Christmas 2022 sweater, Olivia, who is a strikingly beautiful little girl, has gorgeous long brown curly hair with lots of blond and lighter brown highlights, as well as a slightly reddish tone to it, olive-coloured eyes, and a slight olive tone to her skin. I used two different shades of brown yarn for Rainbow's hair and tried to choose skin and eye colour yarns that were as close to Olivia's colouring as I could get them. The result, while not photo realism accurate, wasn't bad. Lindise commented that the doll really did look like Olivia.

I goofed on the hair by knotting it much too thickly over the back of the doll's head. The pattern called for 50 grams of yarn to be used on the hair, and I used 110 grams of yarn. I suppose it's not such a bad thing for Rainbow to have what we'll call very luxuriant hair, but it's not as easy to style the doll's hair when it's this thick, so if I make another doll like this one, I will not put as much hair on it. 

The body of this doll was knitted from a single 100 gram skein of Premier Anti-Pilling Everyday DK in Linen, which I purchased for this project. (As mentioned above when I was describing Olivia's Christmas sweater, I ordered 200 grams of the same yarn in Almond first, then decided it was way too yellowy to work as the doll's skin tone, but I counted that as new yarn for the Christmas sweater project so I won't add it to the tally for this one.) For the hair, I used up 40 grams of Sirdar Country Style DK in 530 Chocolate that I had in my stash, and when that proved not to be enough to cover the back of the doll's head, I bought two 50 gram skeins of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK in 23005 Brown. The eyes were done with a unmeasurably small amount of green yarn of unknown make that I had in my stash, and I used embroidery floss that I had on hand to do the eyelashes and mouth. When the doll was done, I had 25 grams of the new linen yarn and 35 grams of the new brown yarn left, and when I subtract the 40 grams of stash brown yarn I used, I find that this project added 20 just grams of yarn to my stash.    

This striped dress, bloomers, and shoes outfit was made entirely from stash yarn. I made the dress from spring green and coral yarns, which used up all the coral. I then made the bloomers and the shoes in the same green with cream trim, and to pull the outfit's colour scheme together, I crocheted a cream flower with a green centre, and tacked it to the waistline of the dress.  

I forgot to weigh my odds and ends of stash yarn before I began this outfit, but it weighed 120 grams when completed, so that is a stash decrease of -120 grams.

The second "everyday" outfit that I picked out for Rainbow (after some deliberation, because there are so many cute outfits one can hardly choose) was Sarah Gasson's Flower Pinafore design. 

I planned this outfit around an unidentifiable skein of dark green yarn that had been sitting in my DK yarn box for years and years. I had some red and some assorted cream yarn that went well with the green, so I went with that.

A shot of the sweater and bloomers by themselves, since the sweater design isn't visible under the pinafore. Fortunately Olivia will be able to mix and match her doll's outfits somewhat.

This outfit was made entirely from stash yarn, and weighed 180 grams when completed, so that's a stash decrease of -180 grams. 

Olivia's father's last name is Wallace, he is of Scottish ancestry, and he and his family are quite into their Scottish heritage. They talk about it frequently at family gatherings. I asked Lindsie if they do face-painting and kilt-lifting at their family gatherings as William Wallace's men do in Braveheart, and she said, "Thankfully, no." When it comes to embracing his heritage, Lindsie's father has only gone so far as taking up the bagpipes, and marching in town parades, all kilted up, with whatever little bagpipe regiment he's in. 

When I saw the Highland Dress design among Sarah Gasson's collection, I decided it should be one of Rainbow's outfits, because it would be a nice way for Olivia to celebrate her Scottish heritage. It's adorable as is, but when I made it I did end up making some tweaks. 

The first change I made was to the tartan pattern itself. I thought it would be nice to make the doll's kilt, sash, and tam in a Wallace tartan if I could. I googled the Wallace tartan, and found that I could get the kilt's tartan design quite close to the modern dress Wallace tartan you see pictured above by simply changing the colours from red, green, and white, to red, black, and yellow.  

I was pleased with my version of the Wallace tartan. 

Tweak number two was the result of my thinking, wouldn't it be cute if the kilt had a little kilt pin in it? Some online and in person comparison shopping later, I concluded I couldn't buy a kilt pin of the right size unless I bought a hundred or so of them, so next I looked into the possibility of making a single kilt pin of the right size. In the end, I made one in fifteen minutes using this very helpful video tutorial

I haven't worn a kilt since my elementary school uniform days, so I did some more googling on the topic of correct kilt pin placement. From what I understand, a kilt pin is supposed to be worn clasp down on the right side, and two inches from the bottom hem. I adhered faithfully to the first two stipulations, but had to cheat on the "two inches from the bottom" rule because that would have put the kilt pin more than halfway up the doll's kilt.   


Tweak number three came about because I didn't have any silver or gray yarn suitable for the buttons, didn't want to buy a whole new skein of it when I needed such a tiny amount, and didn't particularly like look of the crocheted ones anyway. I used some tooled metal buttons from my button tin that I thought were just perfect for the jacket.

Tweaks four and five happened when it occurred to me after I'd made the bow tie that Sarah Gasson's design was the masculine version of traditional highland dress. I did a little googling to find out what the feminine version entailed. Did women even wear sporrans, sashes, and bow ties in traditional highland dress for women? According to my googling results (and I could easily be wrong about any of this!), in traditional highland dress, women don't wear sporrans or bow ties, but  they do wear sashes and shawls, and sometimes lace jabots. I nixed the sporran and the bow tie that the pattern called for, made the sash, and cobbled together a lace jabot out of a few scraps of lace I found in my ribbon cannister, using some photos of lace jabots that I found online for reference. I thought the result was, if not up to lace jabot industry standards, pretty decent as a finishing touch on a doll for a seven-year-old.

The finished highland dress outfit. Olivia will be able to take Rainbow along when she goes to see her father play bagpipes in her town's parade, and sit her up at the table when she and her parents are hosting a Wallace family gathering. 

When I was visiting Lindsie and we were watching Olivia with her doll, Lindsie asked me which of the seven outfits was my favourite. I said I didn't know if I had a favourite, but that the Scottish outfit was the one I was proudest of. It wasn't until I was writing this post that I realized that I totally forgot to make the flashings for the socks, which is seriously undercutting that sense of pride, sigh. Well, I suppose if it bothers me enough, I can make some, take them with me when I go visit Lindsie in October, and sew them in at that point.

For this outfit, I used some white yarn I had on hand, and I also purchased some skeins of Patons Astra DK in Cardinal, Black, and Maize Yellow. I had 40 grams of the black left, and 10 grams of the yellow. I used up the remaining red in one of the other doll outfits, so I won't count that in my tally for this outfit. But I have no idea how much white yarn I used, because it seems I forgot to weigh it before I started work. I have a note on one of my patterns that says a completed sweater of this type weighed 50 grams, so I think it's safe to say that I would have used at least 60 grams of white to make the shirt and socks for this outfit. I'm going to estimate that this outfit resulted in a net decrease of -10 grams 

And we come now to another too-adorable outfit of Sarah Gasson's. This is the Christmas Jumper design. How freaking cute are those little Timberland-style boots? And this is one of those (rare!) knitting design samples that has such a perfect colour scheme that I just have to replicate it.

My version of the Christmas outfit, with which I am very pleased. For this outfit, I used the remaining red yarn from the Scottish highland dress outfit, and I bought more Patons Astra DK in Cardinal, Navy, and White. For the reindeer face and antlers and the boots I used tan and brown yarns from my stash.

When I was done this ensemble, I found I had used 15 grams of the brown, 10 grams of the tan, and that I had 25 grams of the new red and 5 grams of the new navy left. (Whatever white yarn I had left went into an upcoming outfit.) So, that's a +5 gram stash increase.   

This is the Snowflake Gown ensemble from Sarah Gasson's collection. I decided to make this one because one of my nicknames for Olivia is "Princess Olivia of Bolivia". (No, Olivia is not any part Bolivian and yes I am aware that Bolivia is a democratic republic -- I just happen to like the rhyming aspect of it.)

I had to improvise a new colour scheme for Princess Rainbow's outfit out of the offerings at Michaels. I thought a white and a pretty soft second colour would be a nice combination, but they didn't have many options. A lot of the inexpensive acrylic colours are downright crude and ugly. After some traipsing back and forth through their aisles, I bought Loops & Threads Baby Cuddles in Lilac, and Loops & Threads Snuggly Wuggly in White. I also used a very small amount of a light green yarn from my stash for the device on the bodice. 

The tiara is supposed to be sewn to the doll's head, but I didn't want to do that, as the tiara would definitely not go with all, or for that matter any, of Rainbow's other outfits. Instead, I knitted the tiara twice and stitched it together at the ends, turning it into a crown that could be worn and taken off. I also raided my beading box and found some amethyst chips and some purple stone beads, and sewed them onto the crown. I wish I had found a more artistic arrangement of the gems on the crown, but again, and as I often reminded myself while working on this project, this is just a doll for a little girl, not a PhD level dissertation in costuming.   

I used up the white I had left over from this project on my last two projects and I had just 20 grams of the lilac left, so that's a stash increase of  +20 grams for this princess outfit.

Almost from the beginning of this project, I planned to make the doll some sort of nightwear, such as a nightgown and cap, so that Olivia would be able to put her baby properly to bed at night. When I saw this Onesie pattern in Sarah Gasson's Ravelry store, I knew it had to be one of my selections.

For this pattern I used the white I had bought for some of the outfits you've already seen, and some medium blue, light blue, and old rose I had in my stash, as well as a very small amount of cream yarn and a little dark brown embroidery floss for the detailing on the teddy bear slippers. I had to be a little creative about making the odds and ends of yarn I had picked for this onesie suffice to finish the job. My first attempt at striping this sleeper had me running out of colours so quickly I knew halfway in that I'd never be able to finish, so I ripped out what I had done and began again with a more white-dependent stripe pattern. When it turned out that I didn't have enough of the old rose and light blue left to stripe the sleeves, I made them plain white.

I'm pretty happy with the result, and so was Olivia. When I was visiting Lindsie for those two days, Olivia undressed Rainbow and changed her into her onesie and slippers before carrying her off to bed on both nights, and then she would have her doll dressed for the day in one of her other outfits by the time I came downstairs in the morning. Lindsie told me via email that Olivia has continued to do this since my visit.

For this project I used 15 grams of medium blue, 20 grams of light blue, and 30 grams of old rose, so we'll call that a stash decrease of -65 grams.


This was the last outfit I made. For this one I used the basic sweater, pants, and slippers instructions from my other patterns, and improvised the rest of the design. It was intended to be a sort of Valentine's Day outfit, but it's not so theme-oriented that it doesn't work as just a cute outfit for every day. Again, I had to be a bit creative to make the yarn I had suffice, which is why the pants look a little on the skimpy side. I wish I'd made the last few rows of knitting on the slippers in rib instead of garter, as it would have made their fit more secure.

For this outfit I used the last of the white I bought for the other doll outfits, and (at a guess, because I don't seem to have documented this) 45 grams of blue yarn and 15 grams of burgundy yarn from my stash. I had nothing but a handful of scraps of the three colours left when I finished, so that's a -60 gram stash decrease.

Another idea that occurred to me early on in the project planning phase was that Olivia would need a place to keep all of her doll's clothing and belongings. My first thought was that I would get her a little wooden box, and paint and decorate it in such a way that she could still enjoy using the box after she'd outgrown the doll. I kept an eye out for a suitable box when doing my weekly thrift shop tour, and eventually bought one. But once I began working on the doll's wardrobe, it soon became clear that the box was far too small for such a purpose, so much so that I don't understand how I ever could have thought it would be adequate. (I stowed the box in a drawer in the attic for a few years, with the idea that I would be using it for some other project eventually, and I have since indeed come up with a good use for it, which I'll be posting about by the end of this year.)

With the box idea ruled out, my next thought was that I would make Olivia a tote bag for her doll's things, which was an even better idea than a box because she could so easily carry it around with her. And I knew immediately what fabric I wanted to use for it. Back in 2021, I had made Olivia a quilt, and when I went fabric shopping for that project, my first choice of fabric was the one you see depicted above. I thought those interlocking Os in an olive green colour made it the perfect fabric quilt for her. To my disappointment, there wasn't enough of the fabric left on the bolt for the quilt. I did find another pretty fabric for the quilt that I was happy with, but that disappointment was clearly still lurking in my mind, because when I came up with the idea for a tote bag, I was so glad that I had a chance to use that perfect first fabric for something else for Olivia. Back to the fabric warehouse place I went, and I dug around determinedly until I found the interlocking Os fabric. 


And here is Rainbow Sparkle Unicorn-Animals with all of her things packed and ready to go to meet her mommy for the first time. I put each of the outfits in a separate zippered plastic bag so that Olivia would know what items were intended to go with what other items, although I don't expect they'll stay that way.

 This was a decent stash-busting project. Let's review the numbers:
  • doll +20 grams
  • striped dress outfit -120 grams
  • pinafore outfit  -180 grams
  • Scottish outfit -10 grams
  • Christmas outfit  +5 grams
  • princess outfit  +20 grams
  • onesie and slippers -65 grams
  • Valentine's Day outfit -60 grams
According to my math, that's 390 gram stash decrease. Not bad at all, and I definitely saw the difference in my DK stash box, with a number of odds and ends that had been sitting there for years finally used up. 

This was a seriously time intensive project on a scale I will almost certainly never attempt again. I think this project must have taken a total of six months of my knitting time. Admittedly, I am toying with the idea of making my grandniece Holly a doll like Rainbow in a few years, but she'll only get two or three outfits with it, not seven, and then maybe I'll make her one outfit a year to add to her collection until she's ten or so. And... I will be making Olivia more outfits for Rainbow, but again, it'll be just one a year, and only for a few more years. I also no longer pine over the porcelain dolls I see in thrift stores in the same way, so I consider that itch to be successfully scratched.

And that's the end of my 2022 projects. I didn't do so badly to (almost) complete eight projects given that the eighth one essentially constituted eight projects. And when I tally up the year end stash increase/decrease, I find my yarn stash decreased by -555 grams. Not bad!

Wednesday 9 March 2022

12 Months; 7 Projects

Another calendar year has passed (over two months ago, but oh well), which means it's time to do another round up post of my knitting projects, something I have done annually most years since launching this blog. (My 2018 and 2019 round up posts still aren't done, but I do intend to get them done eventually, and meanwhile you can check out all my other annual posts here, or visit my blog Modwardian to read posts about all my knitting and other projects.)

In 2021, I had fourteen projects on my list and I completed just seven of them. But then there were mitigating factors. I spent the first six weeks of 2021 finishing a mammoth project that I then counted as a 2020 project, and in the fall I spent nearly two months on a cross-stitch project, so I actually didn't do so badly from a needlework productivity standpoint given that my actual knitting year was considerably abbreviated. There were also a few projects I put some serious work into but didn't finish. That'll give me a leg up on this year, when again my knitting project list is fourteen items long. I'm hoping to get more of my planned projects done this year, and this hope is bolstered by the fact that, nine days into March 2022, I've finished two projects and have done quite a lot of work on three more. But we'll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, let's have a look at the seven projects I did finish last year.       

My first project of 2021 (if we don't count that albatross of an afghan project that took me until February 13th, 2021, that is), was a reknit. Back in 2017, my friend Christine gave me two skeins of yarn she had bought at Pembroke Farm, Prince Edward Island, while she and her family were in P.E.I. on vacation the summer before. I was quick to knit up most of the yarn into a shawl/wrap pattern. But then I found I had knitter's remorse on two counts. One, the shawl, though pretty, was such an awkward shape and length that I didn't like wearing it. Two, I had 60 grams of the Pembroke Farm yarn left over, which was not enough in itself to make anything, and I couldn't seem to find any yarn that coordinated with it -- it's an offbeat shade of old rose. Eventually I decided to take the wrap apart and knit a rectangular scarf that I would like better, and to use a design with a repeating pattern that I could just knit until the yarn was gone. 

I searched Ravelry for a suitable scarf pattern and found the Duo Columns Reversible Scarf, designed by Quenna Lee, as depicted above. It's a nice-looking design, and is available for free. 

Here's the finished scarf, with both its sides on display. I thought this scarf design would look better fringed, and as I had plenty of yarn to work with, I went ahead and did so. When I was getting close to the minimum scarf length I wanted, I stopped knitting and fringed the cast-on edge, cut a second set of fringe lengths and set them aside, and then resumed knitting on the length. I worked until I had just enough to cast off with, then added the pre-cut fringe to the cast-off edge, with the result that I had no yarn at all left over. 

The completed scarf is 82" long, which is much longer than I would normally make a scarf. I usually wear my scarves singly around my neck, with the ends reaching my waist. The ends of this scarf reach to my knees when I wear it a single time around my neck. 


But then this is a scarf that looks best wrapped a few times around the neck anyway. 

I don't particularly like making or wearing big needle knits, but there's no denying that they make for gratifyingly quick and easy projects. It also made me smile to use my 9mm needles. Some years ago I saw them in a Salvation Army thrift store, priced at $1. I knew I didn't have a pair of 9mm straights, and I stood in the store with the needles in my hand for a few minutes, mentally debating buying them. With money so tight, I try never to buy anything unless I am absolutely sure that I will use it. At the time, I'd never used size 9mm needles in 35+ years of knitting, and maybe I never would. But I told myself, "It is just a dollar, you'll never get a better deal, and if you don't buy them and do need 9mm needles at some point, you'll kick yourself because you'll wind up having to pay a lot more." I bought the needles, and then just three months later was gratified to find that a pattern I'd picked out called for a pair of 9mm needles. This project is only the second or third time I've used these needles, but I'm still smugly satisfied that I made the right call that day. 

This project used up the 60 grams I had left over when I knit this yarn up the first time, so I'm going to count this project as resulting in a net stash decrease of 60 grams. 

My grandniece Cauliflower turned 12 in August 2021, and of course such an occasion called for a sweater.

I searched Ravelry for a suitable pattern and found the Daisy Delight sweater pattern and the coordinating hat pattern you see pictured above. They are both Drops designs, and available for free. In March 2021, when the stores in Ontario were briefly open, I went to Romni Wools on Queen Street and bought 450 grams of Drops Karisma in Rose (shade # 80). I had some cream Drops Karisma DK left over from another project that I decided to use for the daisies, and a little Jamieson's of Shetland DK in Leprechaun (shade #259) left over from this project that would do for the daisy centres -- the sweater pattern requires just two rounds of the daisy centre colour, so it wouldn't take much. 

Here's the finished sweater, in a size 11/12. It knitted up in just a few weeks and with no mistakes to speak of. I was reasonably pleased with it.

Here's the hat. It turned out fine too. A matched sweater and cap set is such a cute look on a young girl. 

This photo shows Cauliflower's gift in its entirety. It's not much fun for a kid to get a wool sweater in August, so I threw in a few inexpensive items from the dollar store and thrift shop: a planner pad with stickers, a temporary tattoo kit, and a little owl ring (Cauliflower has a thing for owls). Not too shabby, and I hoped it was cool enough to suit a 12-year-old. It's going to get harder to please Cauliflower from here on in, as she'll be developing her own tastes and becoming more conscious of what's in and cool, and meanwhile her middle-aged great-aunt is becoming increasingly out of touch with what's in and cool.  

I had 25 grams of the new rose yarn left, and used 23 grams of the cream yarn and 2 grams of the green yarn that I had on hand, so I broke even on this project in terms of stash increase/decrease.  

My grandnephew Bug turned 8 in July 2021. In late 2020, when I was planning my projects for this coming year, I searched Ravelry for a suitable sweater pattern for him. I ended up selecting the one depicted above, which is the imaginatively named "Boy's Sweater, No. 7", designed by Gretchen Baum. This pattern was originally published in 1948. It amuses me to think that Bug's great-grandfather (born 1938), grandfather (born 1963), and father (born 1981), could all have worn a sweater made from this pattern without ever looking the least bit out of date. Such is the staying power of classic knitwear design.

The pattern called for a dark green and white colour scheme, but when I was shopping for the yarn in March 2021, I selected 250 grams of a tweedy charcoal (Drops Merino Extra Fine Mix, shade 03, Anthrazit) and 50 grams of a cream (Drops Karisma Uni Colour, shade 01, Off White) for my version. 

Here's the the finished item. I'm pleased with the look of it. It's a handsome sweater for a handsome boy. I used a DK for this project although, according to its Ravelry page, it calls for a sport weight. I think it might actually be intended for fingering. As a result I used considerably more yarn than the pattern called for. Thankfully Romni Wools had the three extra 50g skeins I needed in stock. The knit was also stiffer in its feel than I would have liked, though wet blocking helped somewhat. I can't say I regret my choice of yarn, though, as the resulting sweater turned out a modern size 8/9 (I checked the measurements against another contemporary pattern), rather than the narrower 1948 size 8/9 of the pattern. That should give Bug a little room to grow in, because he's on the small side of average for his age.

 And, because a wool sweater is not an exciting gift for an boy turning eight in July, I added a few dollar store trinkets: a scavenger game that can be played in one's own home, and two Hot Wheels miniature cars. 

This project used 2 grams of cream Drops Karisma that I had left over from another project, and there were 10 grams of cream and 15 grams of charcoal left over from the new yarn that I bought for this project, so that's a net stash increase of 23 grams. 

A few years ago, I decided I wanted a scarf and hat set in green. I have a pair of spring green leather gloves I'd picked up at Winners for $20 years before, and I wanted a set that would coordinate with them. That spring green would also look nice with my dark brown wool coat. 

I say I decided this a few years ago because it took me several years to find just the right shade of green yarn in the DK weight I needed for the pattern I'd picked out. Greens can be tricky to coordinate. If they're the least bit off, they look terrible. I took one of the green gloves with me whenever I went yarn shopping, and struck out many times. Eventually, in the spring of 2021, I found what I wanted: 400 grams of 220 Superwash Merino in Peridot. (220 Superwash Merino is officially listed as a worsted, but it really isn't a worsted -- it's between a DK and a worsted.) The green was several shades darker than the green of the gloves, but the right tone, and the gloves won't be right next to the hat and scarf when I've got them on, so I thought it would do. 

It makes me smile that the yarn shade is called Peridot. I was born in August, and peridot is my birthstone. When I was growing up, I used to hate peridot and wish I'd been born in any other month so that I could have a birthstone I liked, but one day in my early thirties I clued in to the fact that peridot green actually really suits me and goes with my wardrobe's colour palette -- I even had several pieces of spring green clothing in my wardrobe already. Since then I've acquired a little collection of peridot jewelry that I love, and sometimes buy or make additional clothing or accessory items in that colour. And then I ended up working on and completing this peridot-coloured project in August, so it was doubly appropriate.  

For the hat pattern, I chose the Armley Beret, designed by Woolly Wormhead. It's an attractive design, and I thought the little tapering cables around the brim looked like little trees, which would accord well thematically with the green I wanted to use for the yarn. As for the scarf, there was no pattern, but that's never stopped me before when I was making a set. It's generally so easy to improvise a design for a scarf that will go with a hat design.

Here's the finished hat and and scarf. I'm pleased with both. The hat knitted up quickly and without any problems that I recall. 

The one modification I made to the hat pattern was to trim it with a tassel rather than a pom pom, as I'm more of a tassel type. 

And here's the hat and scarf with the gloves. They don't look as though they go very well in this photo, but that's just the lighting -- the combination looks better in person than it does in the photo. Better that than the other way around, I suppose.


As for the scarf, I toyed with the idea of doing repeats of the tapered cable motif for the entire length of the scarf, but that would have meant having to repeatedly adjust the number of stitches and I didn't want the hassle. I wasn't sure it would look all that good anyway. Instead, I worked three continuous lines of the bottom cable, and for the edging I used the 2 x 2 twisted cable that was used on the hat brim. I had a ridiculous amount of trouble getting the edging right, so I'll just write here for my own future reference that when picking up stitches for edging along a cabled knit, picking up *three out of every four loops* gives one just the right number of stitches so that the edging will be neither too full nor too taut to sit right. The scarf is just over 6' long and 7 inches wide. 

Incidentally, I've resolved that this set must be my last new hat and scarf set for some time. Besides this new peridot set, and the reknitted old rose scarf featured above, I have a cream set, an old rose set, a plum set, a variegated set, a brown and orange fair isle set, a mohair tam, and a peacock design wool tam, all of my making, plus some other assorted purchased scarves. All of these items are in excellent condition, and guess what, I only have one head and neck to wear them on. I have hats and scarves to go with every one of my coats and with every possible outfit, and it would be a senseless extravagance for me to spend any more money on others until I've worn out some of the ones I already have. 

I'm sure the crazy knitter part of my brain will try to make a case for yet another set pretty soon (i.e, "I don't have a red set!" or "I found this irresistible pattern that I MUST make!"), but the logical, budget-conscious part of my brain intends to be very stern and a hard sell on the matter. 

I had 10 grams of this peridot yarn left after I completed this project, so that's stash growth of 10 grams.

When it came time to pick a design for my honorary niece Olivia's Christmas sweater, I searched Ravelry for a suitable pattern. I soon narrowed my choices down to two patterns, then decided on the above design, which is I Can Sing a Rainbow, by Jenni Bennett. The other pattern was a classic design, but I thought screw it, I was going with the fun one. The time will come when I'll be making nothing but classic styles for Olivia. At present she's 5 years old, and this is my window for making her cute, whimsical designs because at this age she will relate to them rather than thinking that they're uncool. This pattern also only ran to a size six, so this was my last chance to make it for her. 

As for yarn selection, my first step was to go through my stash of DK yarn and pick out the heart colours. This is a great design for using up a lot of little odds and ends of yarn, as it only takes 10 grams of each colour. I found seven that looked pretty together, and made a yarn sampler that I could take to the store to use as a convenient aid in selecting the main colour for the sweater. I liked the idea of a neutral background colour, and decided I wanted an olive shade. It was a bit hard to find the right olive DK, but in the end I went with Sandnesgarn Alpakka in shade 9554, which is a sort of olive khaki. I bought six skeins, or 300 grams. 

And here's the completed sweater. I'm a little meh on the results. I wasn't thrilled with my arrangement of colours in the heart, but I wasn't going to rip it all out and do it again, either. It will do, and I was confident Olivia and her mother would both like it, which is what matters. (They did.) 

It only took 200 grams of the olive yarn to knit this sweater, and I was able to return 2 skeins for store credit at Romni Wools, and to use that store credit when buying yarn for my 2022 projects in the December sale at Romni. (I always think of whatever extra yarn I've purchased for a current project as a down payment on my next project.) 

Then I had just 10 grams left over of the newly purchased olive yarn, and I used approximately 10 grams of each of the rainbow-coloured stash yarn (or 70 grams), so that's a net stash decrease of -60 grams.   

On my birthday in August 2021, my favourite gift of any that I received was the news that my nephew Luke and his wife were expecting their first child in February 2022. Of course, my immediate response was to start planning what I was going to make for my impending grandniece or grandnephew. By the end of that day I had decided I would make the baby a knitted baby blanket and pair of booties, and also a framed cross-stitch motif with the baby's name on it out of a kit I had on hand. I then selected suitable patterns for both a baby boy and a baby girl, and messaged Luke on Facebook with my congratulations and a request that he let me know what he and his wife were having in advance, as I'd be making something for the baby and would need some lead time. Two months later, he dutifully let me know that they were expecting a boy. 

The pattern you see above is the one I'd selected for a boy, the ABC Baby Blanket, designed by Jenny Williams. It's an attractive, easy, quick knit. It could even be an excellent stash buster if one knitted the squares in different colours, but I wanted a solid colour for my version. 

The yarn I chose was Lion Brand's Wool Ease in the Stillwater shade, which I would describe as a light sea green. It's 20% wool, 80% acrylic, which gives it both the nice feel of wool and makes it easy care and (I hope!) durable, which is just what one wants in a baby blanket.

This project knitted up quickly and without issue. As I worked, I thought back to the baby blanket I had made for Luke when he was born in September 1987, just a month after my fourteenth birthday. In those days I didn't have much access to patterns or yarn. I never even knew Vogue Knitting magazine existed at that point -- that revelation would come when I saw it on the newsstand in a convenience store when my mother and I stopped to get milk one evening in the spring of 1988. The baby blanket that I made for Luke wasn't made according to a pattern at all. I knitted a number of garter stitch squares in baby fingering yarn in white and pastel blue, and sewed them together. I'd never make something so basic now. I don't think I even wove in the ends, and I know the squares weren't properly seamed. I was, after all, only thirteen. But that amateurish baby blanket became Luke's blankie and he was very, very attached to it. Over the next several years blankie became very much the worse for the wear. It was no longer the fresh blue and white it had been when new, but grayish and discoloured, with a number of "you don't even want to know what made that" stains, and it was fraying and raveling in a number of places. It got to the point that it was such a disgusting object that I could never see it without wanting to scream, "KILL IT WITH FIRE," and stuff it in the wood stove at my brother's farmhouse, but Luke clearly didn't care what his beloved blankie looked like. 

Then one mid-winter day when Lukie was four, he took his blanket outdoors with him when he went out to play, left it outside, and didn't realize it was missing until bedtime. Luke became quite agitated and demanded that a search be made for it, but trying to find a grayish blanket after dark on a farm in mid-winter in Southwestern Ontario is an exercise in hopeless futility if I ever heard of one. The blanket could have been anywhere in quite a large, unlit area, there were piles of snow everywhere, and it had snowed that afternoon. My brother tried to take the tough love approach, saying to him sternly at eight o'clock, "No Luke, you took your blanket outside when you shouldn't have and you lost it, and you're just going to have to go to bed without it, and we'll have a look for it tomorrow." This reasoning was apparently lost on Luke, as when ten o'clock arrived he was still screaming. Sympathy, substitutes, bribes, and threats were also of no avail. My brother and his wife were, as my sister-in-law has put it, "out there in the yard with flashlights and shovels like a pair of fools until well past eleven" in a desperate effort to find the blanket, while Luke stood at the storm door, alternately sobbing loudly and repeatedly shrieking, "FIND IT!!!!! FIND IT!!!!!" They couldn't find it, and Luke eventually passed out from sheer exhaustion at about midnight, after he'd been crying and screaming non-stop for four hours straight.  

I have thought of that first baby blanket I ever made and of that incident every time I have knitted a baby blanket since, and hoped I wasn't kickstarting a similar chain of events for the new baby's poor parents. And now I've come full circle, and have knit a baby blanket for Luke's son. I wouldn't wish an evening like that on any parent, but I suppose if it should happen my brother and his wife's reaction will be something along the lines of, "PAYBACK SOMETHING SOMETHING, BOY."   

The finished blanket. It's much nicer than the one I made for Luke, with a better design, better yarn, and better workmanship, and I am pleased with it, but I can't help feeling that perhaps it should have been scarlet or some other eye-catching colour, lest it get left outside at night. I've made the baby a pair of booties too, but in 2022, so those will be included in next year's post. 

I purchased all new yarn for this blanket, and had 55 grams left over, so that's a stash increase of 55 grams. 

Further up in this post, I wrote about the sweater and cap I made for my grandniece Cauliflower for her twelfth birthday. Then at the end of 2021, I impulsively started working on the one for her thirteenth birthday, in August 2022. It just seemed like the most appealing project on my list for the coming year. I have been alternately making a dress for her on her "odd" birthdays and a sweater on her "evens", but the dress I made her for eleventh birthday in 2020 was the last one I am ever likely to sew for her. She's reached the age where she needs her dresses fitted on her, and I can't do that as I so seldom see her, so it's sweaters from now on. My sister-in-law tells me this is just as well, as Cauliflower isn't currently as much into dresses as she was when she was little, and would probably just as soon get sweaters anyway. 

This project plan began with my finding 100 grams of bright blue (left over from a cardigan I made for my father years ago) and 190 grams of Patons Decor in Rose Temptation (left over from a cardigan I made for me in 2018) in my stash, deciding they looked nice together, and looking for a sweater design that would be suitable for them both, with the addition of some new yarn in a coordinating main colour. 

This year I directed my search to adult-size designs, instead of children's patterns, as Cauliflower has recently begun to wear women's size extra small. It didn't take me long to settle on the Vintersol sweater, designed by Jennifer Steingass, which I would be knitting in its smallest size. I already owned a copy of it as I have used the design before to make a sweater for me, so that was a cost-efficient plus. Not that a teenaged girl would want to wear the same style of sweater as her middle-aged great aunt, but again, I seldom see her, and will just have to remember not to wear that particular sweater around her for the next few years. 

For my main colour of yarn, I went to Michaels with a yarn sampler of the two colours I already had, and selected Lion Brand Wool-Ease in their Riverside shade, or as I'd describe it, a rich dark blue. I bought three skeins of yarn a skein at a time with Michael's coupons, which brought the total cost of this project to $16.59. 

The finished sweater. It didn't photograph all that well -- the rose colour looks a little psychedelic -- but I am quite pleased with its actual appearance, and I think Cauliflower will like it too. The design is so effective, and the colours work together well. I'm going to put together a manicure kit for her as well, to accompany the sweater and help Cauliflower embark on her teenage years in style.     

This project used 80 grams of the bright blue yarn and 80 grams of the Patons Decor Rose Temptation from my stash, and left me with 10 grams of the new Lion Brand Wool Ease Riverside, so that's a net stash decrease of 150 grams for this seventh project.   

When I add up all the increases and subtract all the decreases, I find that I have a year-end stash decrease of 182 grams, which isn't bad. My yarn stash resides in four plastic boxes kept under my bed, and while I've been wanting to reduce it to one or two boxes for years, it at least isn't growing, and the boxes are gradually becoming emptier. 

This post has been held up so long not because I didn't have my photos and project information ready -- I had all that done by mid-January -- but because the effort of coming up with some pithy words to sum up the year that has passed and the current one as it's progressing, has felt beyond me. Again and again, throughout late January, February, and so far this month, I would open the draft, read and edit and type a few words at the end, and then close the draft with an exhausted sigh. Our world seems to be a constant and ever-worsening state of crisis, what with the seemingly never-ending pandemic, the looming climate emergency, ever-growing financial disparity, numerous wars and countless terrorist attacks, the rise of right-wing extremism, government incompetence and corruption, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist oppression, and the tide of deliberate misinformation designed to mislead and distract us and to destabilize our society. And then, in my own life, I struggle with chronic fatigue issues, financial difficulties, and extreme isolation. I'm not even making a living, and it makes me feel terrible that I'm not pulling my own weight, let alone doing my part to make the world a better place by lending a hand to others. Even though I try to keep myself on an even keel emotionally by being grateful for what I do have -- so, so many people in this world are far worse off than I am -- and to focus on what I can do rather than what I can't, I often feel helpless, useless, overwhelmed, and afraid of what's to come. 

But... I can knit. Every evening of 2021, whatever happened that day, when my fridge died, when it took 40 days to get a new one, when my microwave died, when my beloved Trilby died one September morning at the age of 15 leaving a small, cat-shaped hole in my heart, when a routine task such as a trip to the grocery store had left me too tired to do another thing that day, when I'd been too low in energy that day to even really get up at all, and when I was in any case always too fried by that hour of the day to do any really taxing mental or physical work, when I realized it had been months since I spent any time with anyone, I would sit up in bed, propped on pillows and knitting or doing other needlework while I watched the news, and then while I watched something more relaxing and enjoyable, such as a murder mystery drama or horror film. My evenings relaxing in bed with my knitting and watching whatever's playing on my laptop often feel like the calm centre of my life. And then too, the things I produced in that time were of some small use: keeping a baby warm, making a child feel extra-loved and special on their birthday, or helping me look and feel more put together. 

Not everyone is so fortunate as to have the physical dexterity to knit, the opportunity to learn how to do so, or the time and the access to yarn, needles, patterns and other technical resources that I have, and while knitting doesn't do a lot to make the world a better place, it is a help in the task of staying calm and carrying on, and that in itself is valuable. So, when I say I count my blessings, my ability to knit is one of them. It's a little thing, but when one is adrift in a stormy sea, sometimes those little things can serve as a flotational device, making a crucial difference in keeping one afloat.

And in these days when everyone is having a hard time, my hope for my readers is that, whatever happened in your lives in 2021, whatever is happening at present, that knitting is a comfort and a pleasure to you as well, helping you cope and making it easier for you to deal with whatever else you have on your plate.