it's hard to believe that christmas is over again. and the new year has begun! this year everything has been much easier, because we had the usual irish christmas weather: wet, windy and grey. we had to time shopping "expeditions" into town to avoid the heavy rains we had, but all in all this was much easier to do than trying to do everything on impassable icy roads! the forecast is for a cold and maybe snowy night tonight - but we'll be back to mild and wet again from wednesday onwards. I used to miss snowy christmas times, but after the last two winters we had - not anymore:))
the downside of all the rain is this: puddles everywhere, and before they have the chance to dry out we get more water from "upstairs"! all the tanks and bins are overflowing and there's no end in sight. the only places where the ground isn't muddy and squishy is under the old big ash trees - they use up so much water from spring to autumn that the soil beneath them is dry after the first 2 or 3 inches.... not even the soggy times we've had can saturate the soil underneath!
the veggie bed looks desperate, only the garlic stands like a field of little soldiers:) and there's still some kale nero di toscana, but it needs more time to regrow - and higher temps, too... and in the patch underneath the crab apple everest the allium "hair" is growing back again after mowing, despite the low temperatures.
inside a few christmassy bits are visible (apart from the tree and the textile decorations - I am not allowed to put them down before saturday!). normally I make one wreath for the door - but this year DH cut so much greenery that I just didn't have the heart to throw the lovely pine away.so I made a simple one with just a linen ribbon and two pine cone "layers" (they do look odd without the branch in the middle:) for the outside of the porch door....
and a more elaborate one for the door from porch to kitchen. I try to use a lot of different evergreens from the garden, but I only ever use my red ribbon and real holly, no artificial decorations allowed. I used to hang this in the kitchen, but because it's warm in there and relatively dry, the green used to shrivel and shed needles very quickly. now that it's hanging towards the unheated porch, the lovely scent is kept much better and the wreath looks good well beyond the 6th of january...which means it will probably hang there until it really starts looking shrivelled:)
by now I have put away all the textile christmas projects. the last embroidery I finished didn't make it into a christmas card, but I didn't want to put it away unfinished. (so next christmas I'll have one finished card extremely early :)) this wasn't down to a difficult pattern - just to lack of suitable materials.
I started out with the four denser areas in white stranded cotton. the plan was to add small silvery beads instead of crosses to the more open "darts" - but it turned out that the ones I had were a teeny bit to big for the aida I used; they started to push each other into odd directions, which made the whole star look messy:( I unpicked them and replaced them with one thread of DMC satin thread. it has a lovely shine, which unfortunately isn't visible in the photo. thanks to Renate/stickeule for the freebie pattern....
this year was no exception to my "I have to hurry to get everything done" christmas. I finished several other presents, but had no time (or light!) to take photos. so these are the few bits I did manage to shoot:
I had planned to give a subscription to a german magazine, but wanted to give something handmade with it. I bought a magazine holder made from timber, which I sanded and varnished. then I copied the title of the magazine on a long ribbon made of wool felt and embroidered the title in multicolour thread. it's only fixed on the back with one small seam, could be taken off for washing etc. not a sensational design, but I hope it adds a bit of personal touch to an otherwise rather impersonal gift.
I also made some slippers in knitfelt... well, I tried to make some. I bought two different yarns for this, both are made for that purpose and I followed the instructions to the dot. after knitting they did look rather odd, very high on the foot? but I have felted in the washing machine before, so I wasn't overly worried. again I followed the instructions in the pattern - but it just doesn't work. the length of the foot is ok, but you'd have to have hooves to make the rest of it fit:( the short rows leave a knob of knitting under the heel and the sides are far to wide, even after the second felting. back to the drawing board or rather back to another pattern. not sure if I'll have enough yarn though! if all else fails the recipient has to wait until I can order more.... and what do I do with the two very oddly shaped "bits" now? any ideas?
not all the gifts turned out to be faulty, though. I knitted Yolanda Teague's "Snapdragon mittens" and the pattern worked out perfectly. the main part is worked like any hand warmer with thumb. then stitches are taken up from the main part and some are cast on additionally to knit the mitten part, which is attached only on the upper side. the rest is a straightforward mitten shape, apart from the small piece of i-cord at the top. this forms the loop to attach the mitten, when it is worn flipped back.
the yarn is black alpaca with wool, quite warm - and deep black, even though it looks more like charcoal because of the flash... the cable pattern around the wrist was interesting to knit - I am sure I'll work that pattern again!
and today I finished my first pattern of the new year! well, ok, I cheated a bit:)) I made another pair of knitfelt slippers - in the hope that the new pattern fits better. so far it looks good, even though the unfelted slippers look gigantic! most of the second one was done yesterday evening, but eventually I had to stop because the countdown for 2012 started! I finished the tip and closed the heel with kitchener stitch this morning and they are "going for a walk in the washing machine" as we speak (yes, ok, I admit, I do wash whenever I need to, even during the holidays...). now I have to hurry to work on a quilt - I'll cut the paper tonight and can hopefully start the sewing tomorrow! high time, too - the next birthdays are creeping up!
I hope all of you had a good start into the new year - enjoy it as much as you can, even those days that don't run quite as smoothly as you'd like them to! and of course - always enough ideas and materials to play with:)