The holidays are hardly here and things area already crazy, am I right? I promise to stick with you guys through it all. Let’s not decide to make hats for everyone in our family this year, deal? Deal.
I always like to put together a gift guide around this time of year. I usually hold onto it longer but with the big sales coming up, you ought to be prepared. As I say every year, there’s no yarn in my gift guides. Yarn is a pretty safe bet (I recommend a luxurious, hand-dyed sock yarn) but it’s been done. Get that knitter in your life something else and they’ll really think you were paying attention when they were ranting about their notions bag. If you impress a knitter come holiday time, they might consider going through some excruciating Christmas knitting for you next year!
1. Knit and Let Knit Tote by Fringe Association
2. Pewter Knit Pendant by Furls Crochet
3. Pouch by Mary Buttons
4. Corozo grommet buttons from Fringe Association
5. Sheepish Notebook by Jill Draper Makes Stuff
6. Moving Mud glass stitch markers from Purl Soho
7. Stitched Away nail decals from Jamberry Nails
8. Oval knit stitch earrings by Jennie the Potter
Don’t forget, knitters love handmade gifts! When in doubt, shop local. You can’t miss!
Knitters, what’s on your wish list this year?
Tags: buttons, earrings, fringe association, furls, furls crochet, gift, gift guide, glass, jamberry, jennie the potter, jill draper makes stuff, journal, knitters gift guide, knitting bag, knitting earrings, knitting gifts, knitting jewelry, mary buttons, moving mud, nail art, nail decals, nails, notebook, notions, pendant, pouch, project bag, purl soho, sheep, stitch markers, tote, tote bag, wishlist, yarn jewelry
I must admit, I am probably the most neglectful of notions. I’ve lost just about every stitch marker, I can never seem to find my tape measure, and, though I once had over 30 tapestry needles that I was lucky enough to pick up (for free!) from a craft office that was spring cleaning, they’ve all gone to that magical land where that one double pointed needle hides in the couch cushion. Because of this, I rarely invest in anything. Many knitters own beautiful hand-made stitch-markers from Jennie the Potter, I could just throw a $20 bill in the trash because those will gone before you can stay wrap-and-turn. (More often than not, I use a paperclips because I won’t cry when I lose them.)
What I’m getting at is that when Sarah The Sexy Knitter asked me if I wanted to give one of her Knitter’s Tool Tins a spin, I felt like I’d really put it through the ringer. Actually, my first thought was that it had never occurred to me that I could have all of my notions together in a travel-sized case (with an adorable lamb on it!). Could the answer be so simple?
The Knitter’s Tool Tin really has everything one might need. And I’m proud to say that in the month and a half since I received mine, I’ve only lost two stitch markers. Actually, I started putting any other stitch markers (that still survive) into the tin for safe keeping and it’s seems to have done the trick. (Maybe those Jennie the Potter markers will one day be a reality!)
This seems silly to say out loud but having all of my notions together in a travel-sized case is a pretty brilliant idea. I keep everything I’ve collected in a big bag so it’s not really portable or organized or sense-making. Before Rhinebeck I didn’t have to think “Where’s my tape measure?” and “Did I pack scissors or are they under a pile of junk on the coffee table?” (let’s keep it real). I just threw the tin into my project bag and when someone at the house needed to borrow a cable needle, well, guess who was ready to help!
The Knitter’s Tool Tin comes with a 2 1/2″ stitch holder, a 2″ cable holder, a mini double-ended crochet hook (which is something I didn’t know I needed), a tape measure, 5 origami stitch markers (that Sarah makes herself, they’re very cute, hope I don’t lose any more), miniature scissors (safe for your carry-on), and 3 different sewing needles that live on a magnetic strip on the lid of the metal tin. It’s just a great little kit. I may buy another to leave in my purse or maybe two so I can leave one in the glove compartment of my car. The tins are $25 each and you can get one with a custom picture for $30.
I’m sure I sound like a complete scatter brain but I’m really loving this kit. Thanks for sending me this one, Sarah! They’ll make great stocking-stuffers for all of the knitters on your Christmas list. Just a hint. But really.
Do you have a tool tin for your notions?
Tags: cable holder, crochet hook, gift, knitter's tool tin, mini scissors, notions, origami, sarah wilson, sexy knitter, stitch holder, stitch marker, stocking stuffer, tape measure, tapestry needle, the knitter's tool tin, the sexy knitter, tin, tool tin, travel, travel-size
Welcome, I’m glad you could all join us for this week’s meeting. Who’d like to share first?
Hi, I’m Sarah. I have Startitis.
Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that I read two issues of Molly Makes and the new Martha Stewart Living while I was off on Wednesday. I want to do everything. I want to renovate an old house and start a garden and build furniture. I just want to make stuff.
I’m so frustrated because I haven’t had any FOs to share in such a long time. I’m working on everything at once so nothing’s done. I’m just wanting to do it all, I’m exploding with inspiration, I’m running in every direction.
Some of this craft mania is due to the fact the weather is changing. I want to be sewing some summer pieces. I want to get rid of everything in my closet and start fresh which adds this urgency to it. I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing when it comes to sewing. I started working on the Wiksten Tova top. It’s kind of a mess but I really don’t want to get into that. I’m making something.
I’m still working on that Grettir sweater for Jon. There’s a lot of stockinette. ‘Nuff said. I have plans to make something for my grandma’s birthday. (And thanks for all of your helpful suggestions!) I still don’t know what it will be. I think I’ll end up working around my stash because I just did some spring cleaning and the amount of yarn I have should be illegal.
And if you follow me on instagram, you know that I’ve picked up my Zelda cross stitch again. It was hidden away for a few months. (Okay, I forgot that I was working on it.) This project has been going forever but I’m actually quite pleased with how far it’s come. I think it’s actually nearing the home stretch. And every time I look at it, I get excited because goddamnit it looks like the real thing! It’s funny, although this has been incredibly tedious and time consuming and I hope I never try this again, I always enjoy coming back to this project. Something about the simplicity of it after doing an intense knit is really satisfying. It’s intricate, I won’t pretend it’s easy but it’s methodical to the point that it’s meditative. And, like I said, look at the result.
So I have a bit of Startitis. I just can’t commit to any one thing. Maybe once I finish something I’ll feel relieved. Maybe I’ll finally be able to figure out what’s next. But until then, I’m just going to keep stitching away.
Because it’s all about the process isn’t it?
In June, my grandmother will turn 90. She’s a really fantastic lady who’s taught me so much, a real maven of the DIY world in her own right. And she’s a hoot and a half and a real tough lady to boot. I’m starting to feel that urge I’ve felt so many times: I want to knit a gift for her.
It wouldn’t be the first time. I want to make things for everyone, we all do. I want to shower people that I love with hats and mittens and cowls. I want my stitches to do what my words can’t: explain in detail how much I love them, how much I appreciate them, how, even though I don’t always know what to say and sometimes I’m forgetful, that I couldn’t imagine life without them. Sometimes I almost feel like I have an endless list of people that I want to knit for, promises I make to myself for years down the road to complete even something simple. There are too many stitches and just not enough time. But I think on the occasion of her 90th birthday, my grandma deserves a little something woolly.
I know there will never be enough time to make something adequate. I’ll be stressed out, I can see it already. Of course, my mind immediately goes to sweaters. I mean, this is a big birthday. But I really know that that might be pushing it. I’d like to at least have a fighting chance.
So I’m starting to think of other knitted things. Perhaps a scarf or a shawl? It’s so hard to decide. Nothing seems like enough. I’ve made socks before so I’d like to go bigger. But deep down, I’m dying to make a really nice, simple cardigan. Maybe one of you good readers will have the heart to talk me out of that.
What do you suggest? What have you made for someone important to you?
Just before the holidays, I went out for fancy drinks with some friends. I had a great time and then something happened that happens to many New Yorkers. I left my hat in the back of a cab. Or maybe I left it on my stool at the bar. Or perhaps it’s floating around in the place where Tina rolled under the bed in my favorite episode of the Twilight Zone also known as the place where adventurous socks disappear to.
Now that wouldn’t be so terrible since that’s how life goes except for the fact that I had been wearing my Olivia sample every day of the season and now I’d lost something I designed and knit myself. I’d never lost something that I knit before, not that I can remember at least. I still have FOs that I made back in high school that don’t fit properly and itch like the dickens but I can’t bear to part with them. I searched all around and came up with nothing. I felt like a real schmuck.
I figured that one day I’d replace it. Maybe in the mean time I’d make something different just to switch things up. Until then, I had some other hats buried in the closet that would be good enough.
But then I got a great surprise. In the mail one day was my hat! Well, not my hat. Even better than that! My mom had knit me a brand new one! It was so perfect, even better than mine. I was so happy, I’ve been wearing it ever since (and being super careful about it). Of course, I always appreciate getting something handmade but it feels really exciting and special that my mom made something for me that I designed. And she’s a pretty great sample knitter to boot!
I definitely don’t knit for my mom enough. She knits for everybody. I really admire how much work she puts into a toy that’s going to a coworker’s baby. Knowing that she stressed over perfecting each stitch for me warms my heart as much as my head! I think she deserves a special knit, too.
So, first off, Vogue Knitting Live was a success! I had a great time catching up with a bunch of people and learning a ton and, oh, right, shopping. I haven’t had the energy to put together all of my thoughts and photos yet but I promise it’ll come soon! Wonderful seeing all of you there and to those I missed, I hope you had a fab time, too!
I guess 2014 is going to be a big year because I’ve seemed to start off with an adventurous spirit. A couple weeks ago I was hanging out around the neighborhood with Ashley and Kelly after a movie date and some beer. And they just kind of convinced me to spontaneously get my ears pierced. I’ve been talking about it for years now but I’m a scaredy cat. (I had them pierced once before and it was terrible and painful.) So I just went ahead and did it.
Now that that’s happened, I’ve been shopping for every earring under the sun because I can! So I put together a few that caught my eye that you might like, too. I do it all for you, not for selfish reasons at all!
I’ll be buying all of these now, thank you. Is it redundant to wear sweater earrings with your sweaters? (Yo, dawg, I heard you liked sweaters so we put sweaters on your sweaters!) I THINK NOT.
Can you tell I’m still loopy from a weekend of excitement at VKL? What’s your favorite knitted jewelry?
Have you finished all of your holiday knitting? Of course not. It’s ok, we’re all in the same boat. As if I didn’t like to spend countless hours hand making gifts, I also really love a gift that looks beautiful. Jon’s family isn’t really into gift wrapping but I really can’t bear to give a gift without at least some nice paper. I think I drive him crazy but it makes me feel like an old-fashioned, thoughtful gift giver.
Generally speaking, I bargain hunt for gift wrap at TJ Maxx. But I really can’t say no to a pretty knitted paper. Maybe it’s a cruel fake out, wrapping up your store-bought gifts in this paper that screams “I’m a hint! Psych!” but I love these knitted gift options that wrap your gifts in their own little “sweaters.”
How do you gift your hand knits? Do you fuss over gift wrap?
Last week I shared one of my favorite gifts to make, the hot chocolate mug. I take gift giving very seriously but I have a limited budget so DIY food gifts are my go-to. When it comes to giving food, you can’t lose and if you’re willing to put in a little bit of time, you’ll save a few dollars.
I’m sure there are still a few of us scrambling for last-minute gifts (as we decide those sweaters will be given Christmas 2014) so here are a few options for DIY food gifts.
A good rule of thumb is that anything in a mason jar makes a good gift.
What mason jar gifts do you give?
Holiday gifts are such a challenge for crafters. It seems like a no-brainer to make a gift but in the end it’s an expensive, time-consuming, soul-crushing experience. Sobs between sips of heavily-spiked eggnog, fingers crooked and bleeding after hours and hours of work. It’s not worth it. Sorry, family and friends. You’re all lovely people and you deserve great gifts but it’s just not possible.
My mom’s family is diverse and pretty large. I can’t afford to buy the kind of presents that they deserve for each and every one of them and I like to think that, since they are all grown adults, they buy themselves the things that they really want. I try to give everyone the same gift (so it’s equal) which presents another challenge. It’s really difficult to find something that they would all like and use or put in their homes. I refuse to give weird pieces of crap also known as “decorations” or “tchotchkies” because I don’t think I’d like to receive any. We don’t have the same taste and that’s ok, let’s just not pretend that we do.
So I like to gift them with food. Everybody likes to eat and generally everyone cooks or bakes at least enough to get by. Buying food gifts can get expensive (gift baskets, fancy chocolates, liquor) so I try to keep everything DIY. I’ll be the first person to tell you that DIY gifts do not mean free or cheap but when it comes to food, you can keep it relatively inexpensive while staying fun and thoughtful. Besides, DIY gifts are like a present for the gifter as much as they are the giftee. Making gifts is fun and rewarding even when it’s exhausting and all of your hair has fallen out.
Last year I put together these hot chocolate mugs. They were really fun and adorable and probably cost less than $5 for each mug. If you cut the marshmallows as I suggest below (using a biscuit cutter that’s just slightly smaller than the opening of the mug), you’ll be able to sip the cocoa through the marshmallow the way you would with whipped cream. It’ll be like a cloud keeping it hot and yummy. This is my favorite part.
While packaging everything up in this “I thought of you and hope you enjoy a cozy evening courtesy of me!” kind of way is lovely and gifty, the key to this present is the marshmallows. People that have never made marshmallows before think that they are witchcraft. They’ve never given any thought to where marshmallows come from (marshmallow trees?). They will be very impressed with you.
Here’s how to do it!
1. Make your marshmallows. While they’re setting up, put together the hot chocolate mix.
2. Line the mug with one of the little gift bags. Pour in hot chocolate mix to fill about 3/4 of the mug.
3. Now that the marshmallows have set, use the biscuit cutter to cut them into circles. Dust them lightly in confectioners sugar and place two or three over the hot chocolate mix. Close the bag and secure with ribbon.
4. Add a gift tag with instructions for the cocoa mix and maybe even include a recipe in case they want more.
Ta da! Merry Christmas!
Next week, I’ll be sharing a few more quick and inexpensive DIY gifts so stay tuned!
What’s your favorite DIY gift to give? How do you gift food?
* The mugs are the most expensive part of the gift. You can pick up adorable Christmas themed mugs at the dollar store or you can go all out and buy a hand-thrown piece on Etsy. Let your budget be your guide. (I used these CB2 mugs because I loved that they came with a little spoon. I believe they’ve been discontinued but here they are on ebay. $3 per mug! ) But this mug will become your relative’s new hot chocolate mug and when you see them next Christmas they will say, “Every time I drink hot chocolate in that mug I think of you!” Awww! Choose wisely.
Shopping for knitters is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to do. We love yarn but we’re very particular. We could always use more needles but interchangeable sets aren’t cheap. We’re always searching for new patterns but with the enormous variety of books out there, it’s tough to pinpoint which might be right.
I tend to advise against buying a knitter yarn (unless they ask for it) as a gift. Usually, we’re all on yarn diets. Of course, no one has ever given me a skein of yarn that I’ve refused. And it’s easy for non-knitters to become sheepish, dizzy, and dumbfounded at a LYS. But around this time of year I like to put together a guide for what knitters really want, those little things that will let them know that you really thought hard about them.
And, don’t forget, knitters always appreciate gifts that are handmade, local, and/or independent!
What gifts would you love to get this holiday?