It’s that time of the year.

Time for knitters and crocheters to start kicking themselves for not starting their gift projects earlier.

Time for bleary eyes and strained wrists as they stitch frantically into the night trying to finish up that last hat or a second sock.

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Don’t let the stress ruin your holiday or lead to injury!

In keeping with my annual tradition, I offer you these Unfinished Gift Letters to include in the box as a way of explaining just what happened.

Click on the image of the version you want (knit or crochet, or both!). This will change the screen so you see a bigger version. Print the letter as you normally would. (They look really small on a mobile device, but they’ll be the correct size on a normal computer.)

This one is for knitters.

Knit version

Knit version

Print it out and fill in the blanks!

This one is for crocheters.

Crochet version

Crochet version

As for those unfinished gifts…you can start earlier next year!

Please Accept This Unfinished Gift

My Dearest [insert loved ones name]:

Enclosed please find the [scarf/hat/socks/gloves/sweater] I’ve been making for you. The yarn and project were carefully selected with you in mind.

It isn’t finished because my ambition outstripped my [knitting/crocheting] time.

Please know that I’ve spent many evenings of late, thinking of you fondly, as I worked on this project. There is love in every stitch.

I know you are disappointed that you won’t get to start using it right away. Believe me so am I! There is nothing that makes a [knitter/crocheter] as happy as seeing the [scarf/hat/socks/gloves/sweater] they made put to good use.

Now that you’ve admired your present, please return it to me so I can get back to work. I can’t tell you when it will be done, but I promise it will be soon. Definitely before next [insert gift giving occasion]!

All my love,

[your name here]

Not to make you panic, but Hanukkah starts next Wednesday and Christmas Eve is the following week.

It’s time to start thinking about chunky yarns for your gift knitting!

In previous Handmade Holidays posts I covered heads and hands, now it’s time to sink our teeth into necks. (heehee)

Cowls are great for gift giving for a variety of reasons: you don’t have to worry about sizing, they are good for all ages and genders, and they can be relatively quick projects.

Here are some suggestions to fire up your cowl craving.

DB Roma capeThis Cabled Shoulder Cape is in Issue 13 of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine. This is the current issue, so it will still be easy to find at local yarn and book stores.

The cape is knit using Debbie Bliss Roma yarn, a super-bulky 70% Wool, 30% Alpaca blend. Worked on US 17 needles, you’ll finish this project in a couple days (depending on how much time you get to spend knitting!)

ER Twist cowlThe Textured Infinity Scarf from Ella Rae uses just three balls of their new Twist yarn.

This 90% Acrylic, 10% Alpaca blend is both soft and machine washable! It’s a great choice for the busy people in your life who might not handwash your handknit gift. All 10 colors have an eye catching, tweedy look.

The Twist Infinity Scarf is knit on US10 1/2 needles.

JMF Stars fallingThe Stars Falling cowl from Juniper Moon Farm is a lighter gauge than the previous cowls (10.5 sts/inch on a US 10), but I think it’s too charming not to highlight.

This cowl is knit using one ball each of two colors of Herriot Great, a 100% Baby Alpaca yarn. Alpaca is a warm yarn to begin with, but when used in a double knit fabric like the Stars Falling cowl, the wearer is sure to be warm and toasty. They will laugh at the wind and cold!

Noro CowlThe Reversible Cowl from Noro Knitting Magazine issue 4 has been popular.

It is knit using just two hanks of Obi yarn, a chunky 55% Wool, 35% Silk, 10% Mohair blend.

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Our sales rep Cherry has been enjoying wearing hers as the temperatures drop.

EB Maypole cowlFor the little ones in your life, it’s hard to pass up the adorable Maypole Beanie and Neckwarmer set.

The set takes just two balls of the very popular Maypole, a chunky 100% Polyester yarn that is machine washable.

The hat and neckwarmer are both knit flat, which make them good projects for an advanced beginner knitter.

QC Superstar cowlIf you want to add a little sparkle to your winter wardrobe, check out the Superstar cowl from Queensland Collection. The cowl takes three hanks and the scarf takes two.

Superstar yarn is a 63% Polyester, 15% Acrylic, 11% Wool, 11% Nylon blend that has both metallic threads and patella to catch the light.

This yarn is knit on a US10 needle for quick projects. Last year I knit a one-skein cowl in 2 1/2 hours!

IMG_5018If you want to stick with soft and chunky, grab some Ushya yarn from Mirasol. This super bulky, 98% Merino Wool, 2% Nylon blend has a chainette construction, which helps keep you warm by trapping more air.

I’m working on a Vite cowl, which should take just one hank. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry that looks great worked in Ushya yarn.

Are you knitting cowls for gift giving this year?

Pantone Reveals the Color of the Year for 2015 as Marsala, a naturally robust and earthy wine red.

img_pantone_color_of_the_year_2015_press_releaseMuch like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors. (www.pantone.com)

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An incredibly versatile color for beauty, Marsala is an appealing and sophisticated shade that’s flattering against many skin tones.

Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

Why not choose a yarn in this timely color for your next project?

JMF FayetteThe Fayette Stole from the new Juniper Moon Farm book “Modern Country Knits” is shown in Mulberry color of Findley yarn.

JMF Findley MullberryThe shawl takes just one ball of this beautiful 50% Silk, 50% Merino Wool Laceweight yarn.

Mirasol topThis Sleeveless, Turtleneck Tunic from Mirasol is knit using Nuna Fina yarn.

Nuna Fina is a 40% Merino Wool, 40% Silk, 20% Bamboo Viscose blend that has great drape and shine.

Why Marsala?
From Pantone

Equally appealing to men and women, Marsala is a stirring and flavorful shade for apparel and accessories, one that encourages color creativity and experimentation.

ER LMW sweaterThis shade looks great on children, too, as you can see in this Textured Sweater from Ella Rae. This pattern takes just 2 to 5 hanks of Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted yarn.

ER LMW merlotShown here in the Merlot color, this 100% Superwash Wool yarn is machine washable on a cool, gentle cycle, but you should let the garment air dry.

LH OrielleFor a little bite of shine in your knitting (so appropriate for the holiday season!), look for Louisa Harding Orielle yarn, a 97% Baby Alpaca, 3% Metallic Polyamide blend.

The staff at your local yarn store will be able to help you find more yarns, and appropriate patterns, to help you incorporate this popular color in your knitting projects.

To learn more about the Color of the Year, and why it was selected, visit the Pantone website.

Read up on color trends for Spring/Summer 2015 to help inspire your next project.

Continuing to provide you inspiration for your handmade holiday, let’s take a look at mittens, gloves, and fingerless mitts.

If you work these garments two-at-a-time, you might not actually finish faster than if you knit them separately, but it will feel that way!

Noro MittensDon’t these mittens looks wonderfully winter-like? So crisp and cool.

These are the Bobble and Vine Mittens from Issue 5 of Noro Knitting Magazine. They are knit using a neutral shade of Silk Garden Sock yarn, but would also look great in those famous Noro colors.

The Bobble and Vine Mittens are one of four mitt patterns in this issue of the magazine.

167356I’m totally in love with the Trail mitts from Louisa Harding’s Esquel book!

The leaf pattern is charming and the color used for the sample is eye catching. They are small and will probably knit up in the blink of an eye.

Esquel yarn, which is a 60% Merino Wool, 20% Wool, 20% Llama, 20% Silk blend, also comes in four shades of green, if you want to evoke spring leaves instead. The mitts take just one ball!

Katia crochet mittsHere’s an idea for the crocheters out there.

These fun mitts are in the Katia Special Beginners book. They take one ball of Azteca yarn, a wool/acrylic blend.

Even better, Katia has it as a free pattern on their website, and has videos for the tricky bits (scroll down until you see the “Beginners No 2-Model 59-Azteca” entry).

Personally, I tend to crochet faster than I knit, so these would be a pretty quick project for me.

Huasco DK setIf you’re looking beyond the hand, this Araucania set could be a good option.

The broken rib pattern will keep you from getting bored, and should be simple enough for an advanced beginner. The hat and mitts are both knit flat & seamed, making them a great option of you don’t like knitting in the round.

You would need three hanks of Huasco DK, a 100% Extrafine Merino Wool yarn, to make the entire set, or one hank for each piece.

EL point glovesThe Point gloves from the Elsebeth Lavold book “The Out of The Blue Collection” have a lovely texture cuff. You won’t find neat gloves like this in a store!

The gloves are knit using Designer Choice Silky Wool yarn, a lovely 45%Wool, 35%Silk, 20%Nylon blend, which is good for both warmth and durability.

Online sockOk, I know this is a picture of a sock (which is another great gift idea!), but stick with me.

This is an example of the Super Sock #172-Jupiter Colors from the On Line brand. This fingering weight yarn would be great for gloves! You would just have to find a nice pattern at the correct gauge.

This Super Sock yarn is a 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon with Aloe Vera and Jojoba blend. The Aloe Vera and Jojoba will be nice for your hands will you’re knitting, and continue to benefit the person wearing the garment–either on their hands or feet!

Keep those needles clicking and those hooks flying! By selecting small, simple projects, you’ll meet your gift making goals.

Thanksgiving is the start of crunch time for people who knit and crochet items for holiday gift giving.

It’s just over two weeks to the start of Hanukkah and just over three weeks until Christmas.  Now is the time to put your hooks and needles into overdrive, while still being careful not to injure yourself!

Allow me to make some suggestions to help you focus your mind when it’s time to select projects.

Hats Off to Hats

Hats are a great choice for holiday gift giving. Most people need one this time of year. They are small, which makes them both relatively quick to make and also portable. In November I was able to knit an adult size hat on US7 needles in just under a week.

If that’s not enough to convince you, keep in mind there is an endless variety of styles, which keeps you from getting bored knitting or crocheting the same thing over and over.

Adding some colorwork to the hat keeps it interesting for you, and also allows you to personalize the hat to the person receiving it.

Debbie Bliss Beret

This beautiful fair isle beret is from Issue 5 of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine. It is knit using Rialto 4-Ply, a 100% Extrafine Merino Wool yarn available in a wide range of colors.

This hat would be a good choice if you aren’t knitting many gifts and really want to impress someone with your skills.

JMF Champernowne hatThe Champernowne hat from Juniper Moon Farm uses two colors of their new Gabriella yarn in a simple pattern that yields stunning results. Gabriella is a 100% Recycled Superfine Merino Wool yarn that comes in 204 yard skeins.

It feels good and is good for the environment, too! Look for this yarn and pattern at your local yarn store.

I like how structural this hat is.

Mirasol Llama Una hatFor less intense colorwork, you can make the Easy Ombre Slouch Hat using Mirasol Llama Una yarn.

Depending on the colors you use, I think this could be a great unisex hat. You can make a family set by just changing the colors.

Llama Una is a soft, warm 100% Baby Llama yarn available in 15 shades.

Ella Rae Phoenix DK hatsIf you’re making hats from someone in a warmer climate, or who is allergic to wool, check out the Phoenix DK set of beanies from Ella Rae.

Phoenix DK is a 100% Combed, Mercerized Cotton yarn that comes in 273 yard hanks, and a wide range of colors.

All four hats are knit flat and seamed, which make them a great option for a newer knitter who isn’t yet comfortable working in the round. The PDF includes all four designs shown, which is sure to keep you busy for a while.

168434Another good pattern for a beginner knitter is the Rustic Tweed hat from Queensland Collection. Colorwork doesn’t get must easier than stripes! If you can add a new ball of yarn, you can knit stripes.

Rustic Tweed is a 63% Wool, 27% Alpaca, 7% Acrylic, 3% Viscose blend yarn that comes with 318 yards per hank. It’s also machine washable, but air dry the garments flat.

Odin hat mittsIf you don’t have the patience for colorwork, or are worried it will slow you down, you can get a similar look with a self-striping yarn.

This pretty set uses Viking of Norway Odin yarn, which does all the color changes for you.

Viking of Norway Odin is a 100% Superwash Wool yarn that comes in a variety of solid and variegated colors.

I like how the crochet trim on the hat and scarf matches the fingerless mitts.

These are just a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. You can browse more patterns on our main website.

I’m sure the staff at your local yarn store can help guide you to the perfect hat pattern, too.

Will you be knitting or crocheting hats as gifts this holiday season?

NIVO-introducing-pattern-storeWe hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Maybe you were able to enjoy a long weekend, too.

An extra day off would come in handy, considering it’s crunch time for gift knitting and crocheting.

We know that many of you are planning to make this a “handmade holiday”. To help you out we’re doing a Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale on our digital patterns.

We’re offering Buy 1, Get 1 Free in our online Pattern Store from Thursday, Nov. 27, through Tuesday, Dec. 2. EXCLUDING patterns from Indie Designers and Juniper Moon Farm.

You’ll get to browse patterns from Araucania, Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine, Ella Rae, Euro Baby, the KFI Luxury Collection, and Noro & Noro Knitting Magazine.

There is a wealth of possibilities for immediate gift knitting, as well as future projects. Follow this link, or click the blue PDF Store button in the navigation bar above to start browsing.

You don’t need a coupon code. The discount is instantly applied as soon as you place two qualifying patterns in your cart.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be highlighting projects that I think will be good for your gift knitting and crocheting needs. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, Instagram account, and here on the blog to find inspiration for your holiday stitching.

Heading into the weekend I received a private message on Facebook asking how to sew up the Handwraps in the Debbie Bliss Roma book.

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She wrote that even with the stitch markers in place, she couldn’t figure it out.

After skimming the pattern, I agreed that pictures were probably in order. Since I didn’t have any Roma yarn at home, I used Araucania brand Maipo yarn in color #4.

IMG_6188When you finish knitting the handwrap you have a innocuous looking strip of fabric. The pattern says to “leave a long tail” for seaming, and it isn’t kidding. The cast on tail is used for seaming a large part of the handwrap.

IMG_6202You place Marker A as you’re knitting. The other markers are placed based on their relation to Marker A.

As far as I could tell, Marker A was just for measuring and didn’t factor into the seaming.

IMG_6190Step 1 is to insert the darning needle at Marker B, which establishes the spiral that will close the handwrap. After some twisting and turning, I realized that what you are doing is attaching the shaped edge to the side of the straight portion.

IMG_6191In this picture, the flower is Marker B and the blue disk is an extra marker I used to designate right side/wrong side. The blue disk was clipped to my first row. The seam is traveling down the fabric from the top left to the bottom right.

IMG_6192If you keep following the path you’ve established, you’ll start attaching straight side to straight side. The silver disk peeking out of the top right of the fabric is Marker A.

IMG_6193Eventually, you’ll continue to twist around and reach Marker C, which is the blue/white bead with the silver star.

At that point, you beak the yarn. The thumb hole is the space between Marker C and Marker D.

IMG_6194By now, I was starting to get my head around what was happening. I was also very glad I’d used a variety of markers since it helped me tell the difference between them!

IMG_6195The next step is to continue seaming by bringing together Marker D (the black cat with the gold star) and Marker E (the hematite balls with the silver star). Marker E is positioned where the decreases start for the other shaped edge.

IMG_6196You have to twist the fabric to bring them together and maintain the shape of the handwrap.

At this point, you are going to once again attached the shaped edge to the straight side. The seam will be traveling to the left, from my markers toward the cast off.

IMG_6198Here is the back of the finished handwrap. You can see the seam in the middle of the picture.

IMG_6199And here is the front with all the stitch markers still in place. Can you see the seam spiraling around the fabric?

IMG_6201I used a whip stitch for my seam, because I was doing it quickly for purposed of the photo tutorial. I suggest you use a mattress stitch for a neater finish.

Roma yarn is available in solid colors, which will also help things blend in better than the colorful yarn I used.

Maipo is a slightly different gauge and less yardage than Roma. I used a US15 needle and think my gauge was a little off. If you decide to substitute it for the Roma, approach with caution.

On the other hand, this single handwrap took me an hour and a half from start to finish. That includes puzzling over how it should be seamed and pausing to take pictures.

The fast knitting time would make these handwraps a good option if you are looking for quick gifts.

Debbie Bliss is hosting a knit along!

Debbie Bliss is hosting a knit along!

The project is a blanket composed of individual blocks measuring 4 3/4″ x 4 3/4″ each.
You can either make a baby blanket of 40 squares (23 1/4″ x 37 3/4″), or a throw blanket of 60 squares (28 1/4″ x 47 1/4″).

Debbie Bliss KALThe Knit Along starts on Monday, November 24, which is when the first pattern will be released. Edit Nov 24: Download the first block

Another block pattern will be released each Monday until December 15. On the last Monday, December 22, she’ll discuss ways to embellish and personalize the blanket.

The patterns will be available on the Debbie Bliss Website, here on Knitting Fever, and on the Designer Yarns website. (Designer Yarns is Debbie’s distributor in the UK.)

I got a sneak peek at the first two blocks. One has texture and one has color work. If they are anything to go by, this will be a beautiful blanket that is fun to knit!

Remember, when you participate in a virtual knit along the idea is everyone is working on the same project at their own pace!

Materials

8 (12) balls of Debbie Bliss Mia yarn in Ecru color 02 (Main color) and 1 (2) balls of Mia in ruby color 09 (Contrast Color)

US 6 needles, or size needed to obtain gauge

Gauge: 22 sts x 28 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

Mia is a wonderful 50% Wool, 50% Cotton blend yarn with approximately 110 yards per 50g balls.
I used it a few months ago to knit a pair of Susie Roger’s Reading Mitts and it was wonderful to knit with.

EDIT Dec 2: There was an error in the pattern about how many of each block to make:

Week 1
STAR MOTIF SQUARE make 10(15)
SNOWFLAKE SQUARE make 6(10)

Week 2
REINDEER SQUARE make 7(10)

Share Your Progress

I created a Ravelry project page for the knit along: Advent Blanket KAL 2014 so you can add it to your queue.

ravelryPeople are using the image above as a place holder until the Knit Along starts.

Debbie created a Ravelry group where you can ask questions and share in the fun: The Debbie Bliss Holiday Knit-Along

You are also encouraged to connect with her other social media accounts: Facebook: debbieblissonline, Instagram: @debbieblissknits, or Twitter: @debbieblissnews

Gee, I guess that’s all I can tell you for now. Stay tuned to our Facebook page on Monday for the release of the first block.

Get ready by visiting your local yarn store to get your Debbie Bliss Mia yarn.

Is there anything as enticing as a ball of Noro yarn?

IMG_4372The colors, the textures, the potential!

It’s no accident that Noro yarns are so mesmerizing. A lot of time, attention, and care go into creating them.

An earnest feeling for the purity in and preservation of nature has been part of the Noro philosophy from the start.

The premier issue of Noro Knitting Magazine included an article by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton titled “Noro: Behind the Scenes”. That issue sold out quickly, so we are pleased to offer the article in PDF form.

Mr Noro

Eisaku Noro during his visit to KFI headquarters in September.

In the article, Hamilton recounts her visit to the Noro headquarters in Japan. She provides a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the care and attention that goes into creating the yarns you love.

The preservation of nature is such an important part of his business that Mr. Noro leaves nothing to chance, personally overseeing every aspect of production from sheep to yarn ball, including all machinery, labeling, yarn bags, boxes and even the garbage that the company produces.

I think the article will enhance your appreciation of this beautiful yarn (if that’s possible!).

Noro machinesTo learn even more about how Noro is created, check out the video from when Noro was featured on the Japanese TV show Great Gear.

Years ago I came to regard each skein of Noro yarn as an individual. Now I can really understand why. Having seen how the yarns are produced has only deepened my respect for Noro yarns.

After reading the article, do you agree with Hamilton’s respect for Noro yarns?

The time for running around barefoot is, sadly, coming to an end.

IMG_0681The weather forecasters here on the East Coast have themselves all in a lather about the possibility of snow this weekend.

This early in the season, I’m sure it will be more rain than snow, and it probably won’t stick, but I suppose it’s still exciting.

Even if there isn’t snow, the nights have been getting cold, which means the mornings require slippers.

Lucky for us as knitters and crocheters, we’ve got our toes covered!

DB slipper socksThese cozy, cabled Slipper Socks are from Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine issue #3. They are knit using her Cashmerino Aran yarn.

The pattern includes directions for make the sole using felt or leather, but your local yarn store might have those nice suede and sheepskin ones in stock.

DB bootiesAnother lovely Debbie Bliss slipper pattern are these fun booties from Debbie Bliss Magazine issue #5. They are knit using Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran yarn and are sized for US Shoe 6.5-7.5(8.5-9.5).

That issue of the magazine includes a cute pair of baby booties, so you can make a pair for almost everyone in the family!

JMF sheepSpeaking of slippers for the entire family, the Juniper Moon Farm Lamb Shoes are sized from Toddler to Adult Large.

They take 1 to 3 skeins of Juniper Moon Farm Yearling yarn, a yummy Merino Wool/Cotton blend

ER Pdk bootiesIf you’re just concerned about the smallest toes in the family, take a look at the Phoenix DK Beanie and Bootie set from Ella Rae.

You need just one hank of Ella Rae Phoenix DK yarn to make the set. Don’t be fooled by the pink sample shown, this is a great pattern for a boy baby, too.

Considering this 100% Combed Mercerized Cotton yarn comes in over 35 colors, you don’t have to limit yourself to pastel pink and blue!

Katia slippersWhile all the patterns I have highlighted so far have been knit, I know that crocheter’s have cold toes, too!

The Big Ribbon Slippers shown above are a free pattern from our friends at Katia. They are made using Big Ribbon yarn, a Cotton/Polyester blend that is machine washable. That could be a good feature for slippers to have!

The Big Ribbon Slipper pattern has a non-traditional format that could be confusing. I wrote a blog post about how to interpret it.

Noro slippersFor a more straight forward crochet slipper pattern, check out this wonderful pair from the premier issue of Noro Knitting Magazine.

They use 2 or 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon yarn. I made a pair when the magazine first came out. I ended up crocheting a back panel on mine for extra warmth.

The patterns I’ve highlighted are available digitally on our website for instant gratification. They are also available at local yarn stores that participate in the Ravelry in-store pattern sales program. Ask the staff at your favorite local yarn store if they participate!

Don’t let your toes get cold! Knit or crochet some slippers this weekend.