Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Notes on the Calendar

I'm not kidding about the time crunch, people. I promised you details on the calendar for Sunday, and it's Tuesday morning when I get around to it.

Advent Calendar Project Notes:

Inspiration: This one from Garnet Hill was the perfect storm of advent calendars. Cute, but not cutesy. Handmade for the home in that Mason-Dixon sort of way, not the Stitchy McYarnpants sort of way. And knitted! My one and only craft! I am endlessly inspired by craft blogs like Blair's and Amanda's, and how they fill their home with their handwork. Let's face it, I have sewer's envy (Ashley, I'm looking at you), and wish I had the time and inclination to finally figure out how to run my machine.

And if you are looking for other inspiration, check out this flickr pool. I especially love this one. And while I am really impressed at the creative ideas for fillers, I am strictly for candy. And Twiglet Queen, Ann and I want to know more about your chocolate Johnny Depp advent calendar, because I am sure that one is way better. Chocolate AND Johnny Depp? Perfection.

Materials: Various worsted yarns, all from stash. Some Cascade 220. The pink is Patons Classic that I unraveled from a shrug that pilled so bad I never wore it. The last bits of some bargain blue Plymouth Encore. Leftover Lambs Pride and Baabajoe's from gifts knitted several years ago.

This project demonstrates the ultimate reason to embrace an inspiring stash. I was inspired, so I went to the stash. I made an heirloom and didn't spend a dime. I felt resourceful. Virtuous, even. And sentimental, too, since I could think about some of the special things I made from those yarns in their first life. I love you, Stash.

Process: I looked closely at the Garnet Hill picture, and selected my colors based on the ones they used. The appeal to me was the use of non-Christmas-y colors, along with more traditional reds and greens, which tempers the cute. And as the project evolved, I realized that choosing muted colors was key.

But this project was all about keeping things simple, or it would never get finished. Ever. I discarded nothing, as there was no time for ripping-and-redoing. The first hat I made (December 1st, left) was too small. Too round. I kept it. A red hat (December 11th, center) was rejected as too primary. Too Christmasy and obvious. Same with December 21st green mitten. I kept them, though, since this project was all about production.

Each hat or mitten took less than 30 minutes to knit, but the mittens took a little longer. Thus, I made more hats than mittens. I would try to crank out at least 4 in an evening, and if I had some time leftover, I would weave in the ends (very cursorily, I must admit, since this won't ever be worn, and its highly doubtful if it will ever be laundered. I saved all the embroidery for the end, since I wanted to be able to lay out each piece to make a pleasing color sequence. I got really good at duplicate stitch after a while!

Other special details: I wanted to customize this for our family, so one of the things I did was made a special hat for December 17th (coughmybirthdaycough). I included Hanukkah colors as well, since we are an interfaith family, but I was stumped with how to really represent the 8 nights of Hanukkah, since it is a moveable feast, sometimes before Christmas, sometimes after, sometimes straddling the holiday itself.

Mr S came up with a great solution: knit 8 white and blue un-numbered hats, embroidered with Hebrew letters or the Mogen David (next year!), and switch them out each year for the appropriate days. This year, gelt will go in the hats for Hanukkah, and that will just have to do.

In all, I am very satisfied with the way it all came out. And of course, the kids' reactions to it was totally worth the tedium and last minute sprint to the finish. They just adore it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting of hats, socks, and sweaters.


Theresa said...

I adore that, too. It is very inspiring. Quite an heirloom. And so cute :)

Bridget said...

What a nice thing to pull out year after year, with all kinds of memories attached to it.

Nice job!

alligator said...

This is adorable! I absolutely love it! I always liked the idea of advent calenders but I'd never seen one that I really liked. This one is so cute!!! And the idea of knitting 8 interchangable Hannukkah hats/mittens is brilliant!

carrie said...

i am UNBELIEVABLY impressed liz! you'll treasure it always, i'm sure.

Kristy said...

It's amazing! A gorgeous advent calendar and a great way to use up bits of your stash. And the idea for the Hanukkah items is inspired!

nova said...

Next year. Definately, next year. Thank you for writing up the details out for us, Liz... I am pondering the sort of Advent calendar I would like to make...next year.

Susan said...

I love that, especially the mix of traditions -- now you've got yourself a one of a kind heirloom that everyone in the family will love. They shut off the viewing of photos on the net at work, and I couldn't wait to get home today to see these photos.

tiennieknits said...

I love this! It will definitely be cherished and enjoyed for many years to come.

Ann said...

It really is just fabulous! I feel totally justified in having a, yet again, growing stash since I want to be able to have the kind of stash that will inspire me to make something like this ... clever rationalizing, no?

Marnie said...

i aDORE it. i love the solution of the 8 interchangeable pieces for Hanukkah. i love your birthday stripes (festive!) I love everything about it!

Madge said...

Seeing your advent calendar brings back so many great family memories. I love that you have an heirloom which includes all your family - the Hanukkah solution is a great one - knitted into its fabric. It's a fantastic piece, Liz.

P.S. I knew you could finish in time. The holiday Force is strong in you, jedi knight.

a friend to knit with said...

oh............i SO wanted to do this...this year, but never got around to it. next year, there is always next year!
love,love,love yours.