Sunday, December 11, 2011

Balls (and a December giveaway) (and I'm not trying to be puerile, it just comes out that way sometimes)

I should probably stop pretending that these actually happen on the first of the month. I do have a giveaway for you all for December. This time it's courtesy of Sarah at Creature Comforts Craftworks.

Isn't it pretty?
Decadent - Merino/Nylon/Stellina
What you would be getting is 50g (half a skein) of her lovely merino/nylon/stellina (for that extra sparkle!) sock yarn in the colorway "Decadent". That's a little over 200yds of soft, glittery goodness. 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, and 5% stellina.

I hope you'll go take a look at Sarah's shop to see all the other lovely things she makes as well. Her fiber is lovely, too.

To enter this giveaway I'd like everyone to take inspiration from the colorway and tell me what they do in December that's just a little decadent. Something you do to treat yourself, take a little break, get away from it all. December is stressful in a lot of ways, whether it's holidays, family, the end of the academic year, finishing projects for this year and preparing for the next, etc etc etc. In the northern hemisphere the days are getting shorter and seasonal affective disorder can start setting in. So, tell me, what's something you like to do that helps you take a little break from whatever is getting you down? And if nothing is getting you down, how do you celebrate feeling good?

To take a break from all my worries, I like to watch a fun movie and knit something easy. To celebrate feeling good, I like cranking up some music from my heedless youth and dance around like a loon... until I run out of breath in 30sec because I am ridiculously sedentary, and then I sit down again, but it's fun while it lasts!

I'll let this run through Saturday, Dec 17th and have the randomizer pick a winner on the 18th (and the group if you'd like to double your chances). So tell me, what do you do?

Meanwhile, I have been knitting some ornaments and I figured it's a timely topic for this blog. I've admired knit ornaments for a while, the kind that cover a plastic or glass ball, and so I experimented a little with some sock mini-skeins and came up with 2 super simple patterns.

One useful thing is that sometimes ornaments age in storage and look awful once they're brought out again. The white ball I covered with the Happy New Year colorway is starting to shed its frosting like the uncovered one in the picture above. It has strange discolorations and some of the finish is flaking off. Covering up makes that a non-issue.

Follow the jump for more pics and the patterns.

Rav project page: "ornamental"

The balls I used were 2 7/8in in diameter which seems pretty common, but the covers will stretch to fit slightly larger balls as well. The lace pattern takes about 5g of yarn for each, and the helical spiral takes 3g of each color. For a solid color instead of a helical stripe, I'd say 6g because the cover isn't stretched a lot like the lace one is.

These cover the balls permanently. I haven't tried using elastic or a drawstring tie to close the top so they're removable, but it's theoretically possible, although it might distort the stitches too much to take them off and put them back on again.

Spiral lace: takes about 5g of fingering weight yarn, gauge over stockinette: unstretched 6.75st/in; 9r/in using US#3/3.25mm needles.
This covering is meant to fit snugly so the lace pattern is stretched open. I realized in hindsight that this looks better over an opaque ball. Transparent balls makes it hard to see the lace pattern.

Lighter circular cast on 6st (or any favorite circular cast-on)
working in the round
r1: knit
r2: k1, yo] x6
r3: knit
r4: k2, yo] x6
r5: knit
increase in this way to 36st total.
r: k2tog, k4, yo] x6
r: knit
work these 2r 6 times.
r: k2tog, k2tog, k2, yo] x6
r: knit - weave in starting end - remove the cap and hanger from the ball and insert the ball any time before the last decrease round.
r: k2tog, k2tog, k1, yo] x6
r: knit
r: k2tog, k2tog, yo] x6
r: knit
run the end through the stitches and cinch it closed, weave in the end, replace the cap and hanger.

Helical stripe (or a single colorway): takes about 3g of each color, or 6g if worked in 1 color, of fingering weight yarn - this one is meant to fit well, neither too loose nor too tight so the ball doesn't show through. Gauge over stockinette: about 6.75st/in; 9r/in using US#3/3.25mm needles.

Lighter circular cast on 6st with MC (or any favorite circular cast-on. If working a single colorway ball, disregard all the switching color stuff)
working in the round
r1: join CC and knit. For all the following rounds, don’t cross the 2 colorways.
r2: MC - k1, yo] x6. The last yo will never be anchored when working helically, just make sure to put it back and work it on the next round.
r3: CC - k1, k1 tbl] x6. Essentially, knit across the round but twist all the yo closed.
r4: MC - k2, yo] x6.
r5: CC - k2, k1 tbl] x6.
continue increasing in this way to 48st.
knit 12r total, continuing to alternate the colors.
r: MC - k2tog, k6] x6
r: CC - knit - weave in starting ends - remove the cap and hanger from the ball and insert the ball before the last decrease round.
r: MC - k2tog, k5] x6
r: CC - knit
decrease 6st every other row in this way until 24st left and finishing on MC, pull yarn through remaining stitches, cinch closed, weave in end, replace the cap and hanger.

This is one project where a circular needle technique such as magic loop is useful, especially if you need to tailor the pattern to fit a different size ball. When using dpns, it helps to distribute the stitches on some extra needles once the ball has been inserted. It makes that last couple rounds a lot easier to do without too much excess stretching.

Essentially one is knitting a cone, a cylinder, and then part of another cone and the ball pushes everything out into the proper spherical shape. So if it's too big or too small, try removing or adding to each section until it fits. Try it on the ball at the halfway point of the pattern and see if it's matching up to the halfway point of the ball, and adjust from there.


InJuneau said...

We always have fondue on Christmas Eve, which seems decadant, but necessary to me! Nom--cheese and wine and bread! No matter how hectic the holiday season is, taking the break to make and eat that is wonderful.

Audrey said...

December is the only month I don't guilt myself about baking cookies or making fudge. Plus I love Christmas lights and force my family to drive around and look at them. :)

sally711 said...

As the days get shorter I give myself an earlier time to "quit" my daily activities/chores and watch t.v. or read. I would never sit down at 4:30 in the summer!
My feel good would have to be cooking a big pot of soup!

Anonymous said...

I'm taking a vacation! I have no family around, so I'm going to visit an old friend in Kyoto instead.

Wooly Knits n Bits said...

Decandant at this time of the year would be to spend a whole day watching Christmas movies as I did yesterday! Of course, with an easy knitting project.
I look forward to knitting your Christmas ball pattern, I have lots of those old balls that don't make it to the tree anymore.
Rav: zenitude

Kendra said...

Very first comment by InJuneau reminded me that we used to do Fondue when I was a kid. I am starting that tradition again this year!

I generally have a very clean, uncluttered home but during the holidays the closet Victorian comes out. I over decorate with ribbons, decorations, candles and general frou frous. The trees are overloaded (yes 2-- one is the living room and one on my kitchen island), every surface and wall has decorations and anywhere else that I can imagine.

cthulhulovesme said...

My favorite decadent thing to do during the holidays is spending an entire day kicking around in my PJs once finals are over, shirking pretty much every adult responsibility to watch bad movies and knit.

Chrstina B. said...

I love eating Christmas cookies while watching It's a Wonderful Life. Along with a good glass of wine.

Jenn Lopez said...

Egg Nog. Must have Egg Nog. I know it’s totally fatty, but it’s also completely delicious and I only have it this one time a year so I just don’t care. Goodness..I think I need to go get some now :) My second fave would be cider, but since I don’t confine that to this particular time of year Egg Nog is my clear winner for December.

Jenn Lopez said...

Oops..forgot my rav id: beeanimated

lorraine said...

i like to carve out sometime by myself..pop in a funny movie and knit and laugh..or i like to drive around my neighborhood looking at all the decorated houses :)

student5 said...

Carving out time for myself is the biggest luxury ... I turn off my cell phone, don't answer the land line, put on an old movie and snuggle up with my uber-busy better half for a "no-interuptions" movie night.

Pyai said...

I love my mother's poundcake, but one of the best things about it when we were kids was getting to lick the beaters after she was done making the batter. There were two of us (me and my sister) so once she was done, she'd take them out of the mixer and let us lick off the batter. I can't tell you how much I love that tradition. Even after I went away to college she would save a beater for me, in a bowl covered in plastic wrap until I got home.

rogue1 said...

As soon as I am done with work on the last day before break (this year it's Tuesday), I sit day with a hot beverage and a chocolate snack and read, knit, and open my Christmas cards.

E. Engman said...

Too late for the giveaway--decadent=Christmas goodies with no guilt!--candy, cookies, egg nog shakes--yum!

Thanks for the ornament covers patterns. I have boxes of glass ball ornaments that I don't really use that could use a transformation. Maybe by next Christmas. Happy New Year!!!