Monday, December 30, 2013

Advent Calendar Scarf - Finished

I'm finishing off 2013 with, not 1, not 2, but 3 finished projects!  First up, the Advent Scarf from the knitalong on Ravelry.  Beginning on December 1st we were given a small part of the overall pattern, plus we were to knit the spacer section between each day's design.  I finished a few days after the last clue was published on December 24th, but given all there is to do around Christmas, I'm satisfied with my progress.

Click on the picture to enlarge it


Pattern:  Advent Calendar Scarf by Kristin Benecke
A free pattern - English version is found here und
die Deutschen Adventskalenderschal ist hier.

Yarn:  Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball
Approximately 1.5 100-gram balls
Color:  #1874 - Sugared Almonds (Ombre) -
a very gradual color-changing yarn:
brown/copper/orange and red.

  Needles: US 2-1/2 / 3.0 mm

Note:  The original pattern is more than twice as wide as mine.  On the Ravelry knitalong there were groups making various sizes, e.g. full size with 103 sts, or smaller with 58 or 49 sts.  Mine is the 49-stitch option.  The finished size, after blocking, is 72.5 inches x 7 inches.
Started:  December 1, 2013
Finished, including blocking:  December 29, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

After Christmas

I hope that all of you had a nice Christmas or whatever holiday or time you celebrated in the past few days.  Even though I didn't blog, I have been knitting.

About a month ago I found a knitalong group on Ravelry in which the participants were going to make an Advent Scarf.  It sounded intriguing so I signed up.  The designer published a bit of the scarf pattern each day, starting on December 1st, the last one being December 24th.  Each section would be different and separated by a Spacer section of 8 rows.

The scarf, as written, was going to be 20 inches wide (103 stitches), too wide for my liking.  I was interested in a scarf width, not a shawl width, so I knit with the 49-stitch group and my finished scarf will be about 10 or 11 inches wide when it's blocked.

As of today I'm almost finished.  I've completed to the end of Day 23, plus the next Spacer more Day and one more Spacer to go.

I'm using Zauberball yarn, color  #1874, in a brown/copper/red combination.  It looks quite autumnal.  The colors in the picture aren't exactly accurate.  The scarf and yarn are more red, less pink, "in person"... and not nearly so neon/fire-y in appearance.

Unblocked Advent Scarf 2013
While I like the colors, I think that, if I was to make another one (which I won't), I would use a single color instead of a yarn with long color changes.  I like the yarn, but the changing colors detract from all the lace and cable stitches in my opinion.  

I've enjoyed the knitalong and would do a different scarf if the opportunity arose again next year.  I'd want to have my Christmas knitting done in advance, however, as knitting the scarf is quite addictive.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Time is a curious thing.  If you're waiting to leave for vacation, or a child waiting for Santa, time seems to be moving at a snail's pace.  However, if you're trying to knit projects for Christmas, the same amount of time can just fly by. 

I was looking forward to some whimsical Christmas projects for this year.  One was going to be a Nativity scene.  I have patterns by Knitables and by Alan Dart and was going to use bits of each.  I also planned on making a cute decoration for which I have the pattern, now long-since discontinued.  It's called Santa's Clothesline:  Santa's laundry hung on a clothesline with little clothespins ... his longjohns, coat, hat, pants, socks, mittens and scarf.

As you can see I fell very short of my goal.

Click to enlarge.

On the right are Santa's longjohns. minus a sleeve and the buttons, and blocking, of course.  The item on the left is a little harder to distinguish.  It's one of the three Wise Men from Alan Dart's Nativity pattern.  That's the head at the top!

In my own defense, I did get distracted by a knitalong on Ravelry in which I'm making an Advent Scarf.  The pattern is also available on the designer's website, click here.  If you follow the group on Ravelry you'll find that there are options.  I'm doing the narrower version of the scarf, working with 49 stitches.  I think, for me, it will be more practical than the 103-stitch version which is more of a stole width.  Starting on December 1st a new section of the scarf is revealed each day for 24 days.  Each section is different.  It can be lace, cables or textured or a combination of any of these - separated by an 8-row spacer sections.  I've kept up fairly well with the clues, only one day behind.

My plan for the coming year is to leave the yarn and patterns handy and work on my little Christmas projects throughout the year, hopefully finishing in time for Christmas 2014. Check back with me at this time next year to see if I succeeded!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

'Tis The Season

There are lots of holiday parties going on these days and at work we had our annual potluck on Friday.  I made meatballs in sauce last year - a good choice and well-received, but I wanted to do something very different this year.  A couple of months ago I saw a picture online, can't remember where, of Penguin hors d'oeuvres that were so cute that they stuck in mind.  They looked easy to make so I got the ingredients:  a fairly large carrot, a tin of large black olives, a tin of medium black olives, cream cheese and toothpicks.  I made penguins!

Click pictures to englarge

They turned out well, in my opinion, and it's a good thing.  I didn't have a Plan B and it was too cold to run out to the grocery store for something else.

How to make the penguins:

1. Clean the outside of a large carrot.  I used a potato peeler to do the job.  Then, slice the carrot into thin slices for the feet.

2.  Cut and remove a little triangle from the carrot slice and save this piece for the beak.

3.  Drain the cans of olives and lay out on a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture.  I found that one can of each size was all I needed. 

4.  Make a slice down on one side of a large olive, then fill the olive with room temperature (for easy spreading) cream cheese, any flavor you like.  I used plain but I might try a flavor next time.  Either is good.

5.  Insert the 'beak' into the large hole in the medium olive.

6.  I found toothpicks with a bit of festive cellophane on the top.  Put the toothpick through the medium olive (head), down through the large olive (body), then through the carrot (feet), letting the toothpick go all the way through and sticking out a little bit...about 1/8" inch is plenty.

7.  Using a wet paper towel clean off any excess cream cheese from the body.  For me, this was the slowest part as the cream cheese is rather sticky and wants to spread instead of coming off.  It got easier and quicker as I went along.

I made penguin after penguin after penguin, ending up with more than 3 dozen. was I going to display them and be able to carry them to work?  A friend and I talked it over and came up with a number of ideas, finally settling on one that worked out very well.

At Michael's I bought a sheet of 1/2" thick styrofoam and cut it to snuggly fit inside a cookie sheet.  I didn't have anything to properly cut the styrofoam so I used scissors.  It didn't make for the smoothest of an edge, but it was okay.  I rounded the corners, too, to make a good fit.  Before I placed the styrofoam on the cookie sheet I covered it with plastic wrap, taping it on the underside so that it would stay put and tightly-covered.  This served two purposes.  Any possible bits of fly away styrofoam would be contained, and it made the surface shiny like ice.  I arranged the penguins in a single file, each following the other. The penguins were anchored on the sheet by the little bit of toothpick that stuck out on the bottom of the feet.  I didn't want them to fall out of line or fall over when I carried them to work.

At Michael's I also picked up a bit of greenery and berries and stuck this in the 'ice' to give a festive touch.  What you don't see here is the little sign that made  and put in the middle:  "March of the Penguins". I made the sign from a blank business card, folded in half lengthwise.

They were delicious and everyone seemed to like them.  As a matter of fact, quite a few people took out their cell phones and snapped pictures.  The penguins had paparrazi!  Some even took a penguin home to show their family.  It was a very rewarding, and an easy appetizer to make.

Now, what will I make next year?  I'd like to come up with something new and just as interesting.  I've got a year to think about it.  Suggestions welcome!