Holidays gone, so back to business!

Back in England after wedding season in Italy!
It feels good to be home, even if I have to admit I enjoyed being on holiday and able to relax.

One of the most amazing things about Italy is that the weather really differs from region to region.
For the last wedding of the year (congratulations again Laura and Mauro!) we were on Garda Lake. The sun was shining and we had about 28 degrees. Not too bad for late September!

Have a look and judge for yourself if it doesn’t look like we were still in full Summer!

These pictures were taken in Gargnano, one of the beautiful little towns on the Garda Lake (and some of my family lives there, so I guess advertising is always good).

The wedding was on the weekend then on Sunday afternoon we traveled to the Alps to my beloved Bormio. As a child first and as a teenager later, I spent most of my Summers in there. There are so many good memories for me stored in the narrow cobblestone roads of that town and I enjoyed sharing them with Steven (the BF).

Our time in the Alps was really lovely even if we got surprised by … the SNOW. Yes it is not uncommon for it to snow at such altitude, still it was only late September! Despite the couple of gray days we also had a really clear sky and a preview of the Alps in white, which is always something magical.

As I said in the beginning now we are back in England and life went back to our normal routine.

Going to Tesco to do our normal food shopping run, I noticed that Christmas food, decorations and themed items are already on display available for purchase.

It always seems that Christmas creeps on me with little or no notice, so this time I decided to start working on my handmade decorations early (or at least I am trying to).

So off with my first project.
I tried my hand at a knitted star decoration. I made this using King Cole Glitz (variegated yarn in Christmas colours). Here it is:

The pattern is not mine, so I am just going to leave you the link if you want to try it yourself It is called “Iron Craft Challenge #24 – Knit Star Ornaments”

I think the result is really pretty, but the amount of sewing required to assemble the star is not for me. I guess it depends on your own pet peeves, mine is sewing so this one will remain a lone star 😀

On the other hand, I like the yarn. It is really festive and it feel great while knitting (despite being a 97% Acrylic 3% Polyester mix).

So I tried it on a different project.. A classic Christmas bauble! I modified a basic pattern called “Pretty Christmas Bauble from Val Pierce” published on Deramores website. The pattern is worked flat and designed to cover a stiff plastic bauble. Instead, I worked it in round and filled the bauble with polyester filling (that’s also why my bauble is not a perfect round shape).

I can see these projects are cute, but they are not what I am going for. I guess I will have to keep experimenting and trying different ideas. I still have to finish a crochet project that I started this late Summer and maybe that will do the trick.

For now I enjoy having this lovely Christmas yarn and scouting the internet for inspiration. If you have a pattern that you think it will work well with it, please feel free to share it with me!

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The memory blanket – finished!

Oh Glorious day, I finished knitting my monster blanket!
I was so excited about having completed this knitted project that I snapped a souvenir picture of the last stitch I casted off. (I am a little ashamed of such childish reaction, but sometimes also foolish things in life need to be cherished and enjoyed)

I have to admit that while I was knitting the second half of it, I started to worry about not meeting the deadline for this project. As I previously wrote, this blanket was commissioned as a birthday present, for 21st April (If you are interested in the background story of this project you can read my posts in the WIPs section first post and this was my update).

Once I had knitted the second half of the blanket I was able to check how the end result would look like.

I was quite satisfied on the colour scheme, it was exactly how I had designed it in my mind.
Before sewing it together and starting embroidering the names on it I performed a quality check. We all know that on such big projects errors might be overlooked, namely because of the amount of stitches you need to work on each row.
I found that one the border instead of knitting in garter stitch, on one *insert any curse of your choice here* row I had worked it in stockinette stitch.
It was too late to do anything, but at the same time I didn’t want to leave such an abomination in my pride and joy, so I opted for a cosmetic remedy instead.
You can see how I used the thread to mock up garter stitch bumps on top of the stockinette stitch.

Happy with it I decided it was time to start embroidering the names with duplicate stitch. Luckly in my youth I had been fascinated by embroidering and cross stitch, so I had an embroidery loop at hand. I still had the two parts of the blanket separated, but the fabric was heavy nonetheless. The loop helped me immensely.

Names written I started to sew together the two halves. I don’t know which kind of black magic causes this, but everytime I put together two pieces of knitted fabric I always end up with asymmetrical end bits.
Every time I reached the black garter stitch band, I had to undo few stitches because they never matched. I guess it depends on how skilled and experienced you are, but I was determined to sew them even, neat and pretty. You can guess it, it took me a whole morning to do it.

I proceeded to block it and it is currently drying out as flat as I can …. well almost flat… oh come on … it is way too big for my airer it is not my fault!!

I turned it already a few times because it needs to be shipped to Italy asap (tomorrow morning at the latest), I am even considering turning on the heating to help it dry! (BTW, today we had a gorgeous sunny day in England.. this alone should be a reason to celebrate).

Anyway, without digressing too much, this is the end result, what do you think? center
I simply love it, even if it took me approximately 80 hours to do it and it caused my several headaches and anxiety attacks.

And now? Don’t worry, another project is already on the way!

Presents are always welcome, not only at Christmas.

One of the reasons why I enjoy my crochet-knitting so much is that it allows me to create something unique for my family and friends.
Handmade presents speak directly from the heart, and when they are unexpected, the look of surprise and joy on people’s faces is the biggest rewards of all.
This last Christmas it has been a yarn celebration. I had planned all the projects and I started to craft in October, but on December 23rd I was still putting the finish touches to the last project.
I know many other knitters will relate.

Anyway, as the holiday season passed I collected my yarn and set off for new wolly adventures.

I recently found out that one of my friends back in Italy was expecting (a baby girl!) and, since I love knitting baby garments I decided it was time for a new project.
I was at The Sewing Shop for the monthly Knit-ad-natter meeting (they host all sorts of workshops and work groups) and I fell in love with this yarn.

Smooth - King Cole

It is called King Cole – Smooth and it was a bliss working with it.
I opted to make a simple plain cardigan in order to compensate the multi color texture deriving from the yarn itself. I created a topdown pattern that would fit a baby 3-6 months old. This is the result.
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I am planning to put the pattern on Ravelry once I will have the time to write it down properly… at the moment it appears to be just a multitude of weird looking scribbles and drawings.
It was a fun project and the reaction of my friend, when she got it in the mail, was priceless. Surprise and happiness at pure state, it really warmed my heart.

As many other crafters, I never work only one project at the time. I always have a knitting project and a crochet one casted on at the same time.
This time, however, I had two knitting projects going along.

This second one was a long overdue promise I made. My friend (and PhD collegue) Fabiana had asked me back in September to make her a replica of her favourite fingerless gloves, since her pair was falling to pieces.
I felt terrible for being so late on delivery… so I really urged myself to work hard and fast for this one.
It was a simple pattern to create, but even if so, it was my first pair of gloves, so I was a bit nervous.
Two weeks later I managed to finish them. Here they are in all their glory (click here for the Ravelry link).

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They are on their way towards Manchester, so I cannot tell you if they were exactly like she wanted them…
Luckly (?) here in England the weather is still keeping us in the cold cold weather, so she will be able to test them soon enough.