Mini Stockings: The Sequel

Pattern: Mini Christmas Stocking Ornaments

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Mini Skeins (blue label fingering weight)

Needles: 2.7mm (US 2) I knit these on a pair of dpns, and they are the smallest needles I’ve used in a while!

I first knit this pattern in 2016 as an advent calendar for Lila. She has absolutely adored it, and every single morning in December she is so excited to ‘get her sock’ and seeing her face light up makes me so happy that I knit them. You can read all about the journey to making them here and here, with a whole post about how to tackle a big knitting project right here.

But here’s the thing about knitting for one of your kids- you have to do it for the other one too. Little James is going to be 3 years old this December 1st, and he’s definitely big enough to want to do and have everything that his big sister has. I know that I’d have to knit him a set too- and if sibling relationships tell me anything, they better be identical. If I knit the socks in a different colour, there might be fussing about who gets the purple socks, or something like that.

So this year, I’ve been knitting James his very own set. I’m using the same yarn- I adore Tanis Fiber Arts and the rainbow mini skein set is pretty much perfection. Her mini skein sets sell out fast, but if you can ever get your hands on them, go for it- No one ever regrets having rainbow mini skeins in their stash.

I’ve gone into the details of how I tackle a big knitting knitting projects when I knit these the first time, but they are easy to chip away at over the course of the year. I find it takes me about 2 hours to make one sock, from cast on to cast off, so it’s definitely doable to fit in and around other knitting projects. The free pattern comes with charts for 8 different designs (and you can always improvise your own!), and I like knitting them- I knit 3 of each design. I know there are only 8 socks in these photos, but I’ve completed 5 more socks since then! Yes, I’m behind schedule, but I’m not worried- I remember in 2016 when I knit them for Lila, I was still knitting the last week’s worth of stockings when the first bunch were hung and Lila was opening one each morning.

Deadlines, so motivating!

Knitting 24 of these mini stockings is a happy labour of love. I know that James is going to be so excited, and just thinking of him and Lila bouncing around each morning thrilled to get their little sock has me already looking forward to December.

Mini Stockings! Or, How to Conquer a Big Knitting Project

 

They are done!! And Lila loves them.

Pattern: Mini Christmas Stocking Ornaments

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label Fingering Mini Skein set

Needles: 2.75 mm (US 2)

Ravelry Project Page can be found here. 

This is my big year-long project, and the smartest thing I did was develop a clear plan with obvious results. My goal was to knit 2-3 mini stockings every month, so I would be done in time for December 1st. I didn’t quite get them all done in time for December first, but I hung up the first twelve and Lila got pretty excited about the daily treat inside! I finished the remaining 6 quickly (I got off schedule, it’s true), and completed the set.

Knitting these has been such a joy! Each sock is small enough that you can cast on and finish it up in the same evening, but there will be lots of ends to weave in. The smart move is to finish the knits as you go, so that you don’t end up with an overwhelming number of ends to weave in or buttons to sew on. You can read some of my earlier thoughts on the pattern and process here and here.

The loops are made by casting on 35 stitches using the long tail cast on method, and then casting off. I sewed one end to the inside of the stocking, and then added a button on the other side. The button loop was made by holding some yarn out while weaving in the ends of the knitted loop for the stockings to be hung. if that makes sense.

This is the first time I laid out an actual game plan for a big project, and it worked SO much better for me than just generally ‘knitting’.  I’d like to share my tips for conquering a big project on time (or on time-ish) so that if you are planning a bit knit in 2017, you will be ready for it!

How to Conquer a Big Knitting Project

Before you Begin:

– Get all the yarn together. Using a mini skein set for the colours took the guess work out of ‘matching’, but if you are going to search out yarn to match up complimentary colours, get all your yarn organized in advance.

– Figure out how many squares/socks/whatever you are going to need. For my mini stocking advent calendar, I needed 24. If you are knitting a blanket, you need to figure out approximately how many squares or shapes you need in order to make the right sized blanket. If you need 40 squares for your blanket and you want to finish in a year, then you need to knit 3.5 squares each month in order to accomplish that.

– Choose colours that you love, in yarn you are excited to work with. Because if you don’t really love the yarn, it’s going to be hard to keep up momentum.

– Put everything you need for the project into one project bag, to keep everything together. If it’s a physically big project, like a blanket comprised of knitted squares, get a big bag to corral all the squares and yarn and a smaller one that will fit inside for the current square/sock/whatever you are working on. Make sure you have everything you need in that smaller bag- stitch markers, small scissors, tapestry needle, etc.

– Figure out the timeline, and be realistic about the inevitability of getting off course. If you want to knit something for December, start in January. Don’t wait until September, the fall is always hectic and you are going to be rushed.  This way if there are setbacks, or if you need to rip back substantially in order to fix a problem, you have time. And if you finish ahead of schedule, that’s the icing on the cake!

Getting Through It

– Chip away all year long. My goal was to knit 2-3 mini stockings each month, so that I’d have them ready by December. It was way easier to knit the socks when taking a break from another project rather than trying to churn out 24 mini stockings in November.

– Make the process easy. If you know that the project requires your full attention, then look forward to times when you can knit on the train, or on road trips, or any other times when you can sit down and focus on the pattern. If it’s a fairly mindless knit, take it with you everywhere so that you can work on it whenever you find some pockets of time.  Having that smaller project bag we discussed in the first section will make this part much easier.

– Celebrate your progress as you go. Take photos! Splash it all over Instagram! Seeing how great it is looking in the middle stages and hearing great feedback from fellow crafters can be hugely motivating.

– Weave in ends as you go, so that you aren’t going to be faced with hundreds of ends to weave in at the end of your project. This not only will help keep the momentum up, but makes it easier to photograph when you are doing the previous step, of Celebrating as You Go.

– Don’t make this your only knitting project. Unless you want to. A project that has smaller parts and monthly goals provides opportunity for you to take a break here and there with the special big project, not just have it be your sole focus.

The Home Stretch

– If you are are getting near the end, don’t get cocky and think you can slow down. Keep. Going! You would be surprised how many projects stall in the last little bit, when the squares all need to be joined or the ends woven in or one more piece to go…. it can easily lead to a gigantic unfinished project.

– If you know that you have really busy times in your life – say, October is always crazy for work and December is… December, then plan around it. Push a little harder on your project in advance of those challenging times, so that your efforts don’t get derailed by the inevitable craziness that life will throw your way.

Lesser known fact- I started to knit a baby blanket for James when I was pregnant with him, after I found out it was a boy. It was a garter stitch blanket knit in rectangles with alternating, randomized stripes. As you probably have already figured out, I never finished it. Not only did I not give myself enough time to knit it (I was convinced I could do it in 3 months), I was using yarns I thought would look great together when viewing it online, but when they arrived the colours just weren’t what I had hoped. I made a few switches for different colours in similar yarn, but at best it felt like an ‘okay’ project. Needless to say, it’s languished.

Having completed this mini stocking advent calendar makes me feel so satisfied. The joy on Lila’s face every morning – and the request for her ‘little sock’ that often comes when she’s standing beside my bed before the alarm goes off and my feet have yet to hit the floor – makes me realize how I didn’t just knit 24 little socks, I knit a tradition, one that is setting the stage for all the Christmas memories she will gather in her lifetime.

One morning, I was standing near the bookcase pictured above,watching Lila reverently open her little sock to find out what treasure awaited her and Guy said to me, “You know, you are going to have to knit another set for James. Opening the sock is the best part, they can’t take turns on that. Not without a lot of fighting.”

So – January 2017, I’ll be embarking on another set of minis stockings! Are there any big knitting projects you would like to tackle in 2017?

More Progress: Mini Stockings

Mini Stockings | knittedbliss.com

This is my progress on my mini stocking advent calendar. I’m a bit behind, but this is exactly why I wanted to start early with the goal of knitting two a month- so it wouldn’t ever get too overwhelming.  The top four stockings are the newest ones, they represent March and April’s contributions. I haven’t knit the ones that are supposed to be knit in May and June, but I will get to them soon! I have 12 different colours (plus the contrasting white), which would mean there will be two of each colour when I’m all finished. I so love the idea of having an advent calendar for the kids, it’s a tradition I always adored but we didn’t really do when I was a child- except for those fun little chocolate advent calendars! There’s the secret, of course- I say I’m knitting an advent calendar for the kids, but clearly I’m doing it for myself. I mean, just look at them:

Mini Stockings | knittedbliss.com

I haven’t wet blocked them yet, they are all going to get a bath together when they are done and be pinned out properly, so I anticipate a bit of growth and evening out of the stranded designs.

The stockings are all knit in Tanis Fiber Arts blue label, as part of a mini skein set. The new colours are Pink Grapefruit, Royal Flush, Garnet, and Grape; Knit Picks Stroll the contrasting white.  I’ve also been knitting little loops to attach to the stockings, but I need to source some tiny white buttons for them.

Although it’s strange to knit these flat and seam them up the back, it’s very fast going. I’m so please with how many little charts the pattern has, too- it adds to the joy of making these tiny stockings, which are so fun that I am actually looking forward to Christmas this year already! Wait, can I even say that when it’s June? Maybe I’ll enjoy summer first.

In Progress: Mini Stockings

One of my knitting goals for this year is to knit a little mini stocking advent calendar in time for December 1st. I figured the best way to do that was to commit to knitting at least two mini stockings each month, so that I won’t get to November and be trying to knit 24 stockings like a madwoman. I’m the sort of person who thrives on mini deadlines to keep a project going, so here are my stockings so far:

Mini Stockings | knittedbliss.com

Colourways from left to right: Seabreeze, Peacock, Midnight, Grape

I’m knitting these from the mini sock yarn skeins from Tanis Fiber Arts in the rainbow colour pack (the mini skeins packs change all the time, so if you see one you like it’s worth snapping it up quickly before they sell out!), with a skein of Knitpicks Stroll in white for the contrast. I held off winding them into balls as long as I could, because it was really such a joy to have all these pretty little skeins together:

Rainbow Minis Skeins | knittedbliss.com

Is there anything more fun than a yarn rainbow?  I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to knit two of each colour (minus the grey), or have some mixed with a few different colours. There’s so many options!

The pattern is a little different, in that that stockings are knit flat and seamed, but I’ve seen some mods where people re-engineered the pattern to be knit in the round instead. I’m fine with knitting flat and seaming, so I’ve been sticking with the original pattern and happy to see how quickly they knit up.  One of the things I really like about the pattern is that it comes with 8 different chart options to chose for the socks, and of course you could substitute your own.

Mini Stockings | knittedbliss.com

I’m loving how they look so far. I haven’t blocked them yet, but they are currently about 2.5 inches tall from the bottom of the heel to the top of the stocking. I’ll re-measure when they are all done and blocked, but I’m not anticipating much growth. I’ve worked with Tanis Fiber Arts sock yarn before, and one of the benefits of using yarn you’ve worked with in the past is that you know how it will behave both before and after blocking.

I have a fantasy about this advent calendar. I imagine hanging up the mini stockings every year, and Lila and James being giddy with excitement at each day discovering what’s in the stocking (candy? a little toy?). Even when Lila and James are teenagers and act like they are so over Christmas, I picture them still loving the advent calendar (favourite chocolates, maybe?). I imagine it being something cherished, a tradition so embedded in our family that even as adults, when they come back home to us for Christmas, they will see it and smile at the flood of childhood Christmas memories it brings.

Except knowing my kids, it will play out like that time we took Lila apple picking.

Let’s have another look at that yarn rainbow, shall we? This is my new laptop wallpaper, I just love it so much. I could look at this all day.

Rainbow Minis Skeins | knittedbliss.com

Modification Monday: City Limits Sweater

My own knit is the Mod Monday today!

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Orange Label in a one of a kind colourway, Green Bliss.

Mods:  Knitted it in a solid colour, and added embroidered details at the cuffs. the pattern has options for an icord neckline, cuff, and hem or ribbing – I chose the icord. See my project on Ravelry here. 

I had a sweater’s worth of this very special colourway in my stash for a while, and when I saw Tanis’s City Limits Sweater, I suddenly remembered this beautiful yarn, and knew it was just right. I had to rip back at the beginning- I knit the yoke, divided for the sleeves, and then when I tried it on it was coming out way too big. So I ripped it back, and went down a needle size. I ripped back to just where the german shorts finished up, because I find they take ALL my focus and I wasn’t excited to knit them again. They look great, though – invisible!

I went with the icord for the hem, cuffs, and neckline and I love how it looks. It creates a slight blouson effect, which I really like- it’s a casual look that I think works really well. To make sure I could still be comfortable around the hips, I added about an extra inch of icord at the cast off, to give myself a teensy bit of extra stretch. And I think it worked out great.

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 I also did super simple embroidery stripes into the garter stitch at the cuffs, and it is just how I wanted it to look! It did quite a bit of time, I used leftover fingering weight yarn from these mini stockings, and did each strand individually, wove in the ends…. it was a LOT of ends! But totally worth it, right? Look at those happy rainbow cuffs! It was SO easy to do this, and I think would look amazing on a lot of different sweaters- I think this would look amazing with stripes from the neckline to the sleeves as well, I just didn’t have enough of the rainbow colours to do that!

When that cold weather hits in the fall, I’ll be ready to have this little number in heavy rotation.