Zero pressure gift knitting
My latest WIP: “Strata” hat by Tif Neilan from “Worsted” by Aimée Gille, made with LolaBean Cool Beans Worsted. Kits here.
I’ve noticed a trend the past few years…
More and more people seem to be swearing off holiday gift making.
Maybe it was the pandemic, that made people re-evaluate how they spent their free time.
Maybe it’s the (welcome) shift to more self-care, that’s made it ok to say “My knitting time is valuable and I’m just knitting for me.”
I know I’ve definitely whittled down my gift knit to-do list over time. The past couple years, I’ve only knit one gift – my annual “surprise” knit for someone I knew wouldn’t expect it. The UPS guy, the Starbucks barista, the teammate who went above and beyond…you get the drift.
This year, I’m taking a different approach. I’m choosing a few simple projects I know I’ll really enjoy making. With happy colors and really soft yarns and easy slipstitch patterns.
(P.S.A. I am LOVING slip stitch patterns these days – whether single color or multicolor, the texture they create is so modern and they seem to go extra-fast).
I’m unabashedly casting them all on – and here’s the key – with zero pressure to finish them. When and if I finish each gift, I’ll then decide who will get it. It might be someone I love…someone I barely know…or it might just be me.
With each stitch I’ll remind myself that the real gift is the creative time I give myself.
Maybe you’ll try this approach for yourself this year?
Knit Star Summer Lee and Ross Taylor of Twisted Ambitions Yarn during the Flagship trunk show – his first ever! “These skeins just leaped into my basket. How rude!” Summer jokingly posted.
To inform your no-pressure gift making, I’ve gathered a few project ideas inspired by Ross Taylor of Twisted Ambitions Yarn.
We invited Ross to do a trunk show at our Flagship Store for Black Friday. Unbeknownst to us, Ross had turned down all other trunk show offers “because I wanted my first one to be at Knit Stars, and I was waiting for the invite” he said!
So when he got the call, Ross sprang into action, dyeing more than 700 skeins in all weights – and most of them are brand-new colorways.
We were so blown away, we decided to hold over the trunk show a couple more weeks. (Plus this gave our team more time to shop, LOL)…
I asked Ross what kits we should feature, and found out he “only makes Stephen West designs – well, and the patterns I design myself,” Ross said.
So I went perusing Stephen’s latest patterns, and fell hard for his new Painting Columns Scarf.
Photo courtesy of Stephen West via Ravelry
The simple slip-stitch pattern lets you work with one color at a time, and I love how the i-cord border creates a clean edge (a Westknits signature that Stephen demonstrates in Knit Stars Season 1!)
Use the leftover bits from your Painting Columns scarf to make a Fantastitch Hat! It’s a mixture of fun stripes and slip stitches, plus a smidge of cabling.
This is what I mean by fun gift knits! Who wouldn’t love to make this…or unwrap and wear it all winter long?
Photo courtesy of Stephen West via Ravelry
Fantastitch calls for 9 colors of DK weight yarn, with anywhere from 15 to 45 yards each…so you can also go diving into your own stash, and maybe add a couple of Ross’ trunk show skeins to liven things up.
Wanna keep things even simpler? Check out Ross’ own design called Hip N’ Slip Hat.
Ross says it’s quick and exciting to knit with the modern slip stitch pattern, and the result is squishably soft in his yarns.
Beckysknits on Ravelry says, “Absolutely lovely pattern! Such a fast, fun project. Highly recommend!” And jeeter95 wrote, “A wonderfully simple pattern!”
Sounds like a make-on-repeat gift pattern to me!
Photo @twisted.ambitions.yarn Instagram
Shop the full Twisted Ambitions Trunk show here, while it lasts.
Even better…plan a trip to the Tulsa Flagship Store to shop it all in person!
Christmas just came 3 weeks early!
We really weren’t expecting to get this new Forté special edition needle set in time for holiday shipping…
But lo and behold, the big brown box appeared on our doorstep this week!
The bad news is, we only received 20 sets…and most of our team has had their eyes on them 👀
But the team has agreed to hold off and let you have the first shot at them 😎
This Special Edition set from ChiaoGoo includes tips that are an elegant combination of sleek stainless steel and luxurious African Blackwood. The set also boasts their new SWIV360 interchangeable cables.
The set includes 14 pairs of 5” (13cm) tips US2 – 15 (2.75 – 10mm) including US2.5 (3mm). Each threaded stainless steel join is laser etched with the tip diameter and join size which will not wear off ever. Six memory-free SWIV360™ cables, stainless steel scissors, a measuring tape, end stoppers, stitch markers, darning needles, a needle/swatch gauge and more come with the set! Plus, all Forté parts and pieces have [S] or [L] size joins so they are switchable with all of their other similarly coded interchangeable parts.
Cable knitting…without a net?
Over the years, I’ve tried knitting cables without a cable needle, but could never get over the fear I would drop my stitches.
In our Masterclass Season 7, Fatimah Hinds finally helped me over the fear.
Watch her clip above, and perhaps you’ll free yourself of the cable needle once and for all!
Photo by Half-Baked Harvest
Creamy Gnocchi Soup with Rosemary Bacon
This week we made this Creamy Gnocchi Soup from halfbakedharvest.com – which might seem out of place in south Florida, until you read the “rosemary bacon” part. I mean, who could resist? OK well maybe you’re vegetarian or vegan…in which case this recipe is easily adapted by skipping the bacon and cheese and subbing another fat for the butter. Another plus? Teghan has Slow Cooker and Instant Pot options on her website. We enjoyed it with Natura Pinot Noir, my new favorite organic red. Bon appetit!
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 6 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1-2 teaspoons fennel seeds use to your taste
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4-6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 4-6 cups roughly chopped kale
- 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk, heavy cream, or whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 pound fresh potato gnocchi
- Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add the rosemary. Remove the bacon. If there’s excess bacon grease, drain off all but 1 tablespoon. Add the olive oil and onion and cook 5 minutes, until golden. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, basil, fennel, crushed red pepper, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes, until very fragrant.
- Stir in the butter and flour, cook 1 minute. Add 4 cups broth. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
- About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the kale, cream/milk, parmesan, and gnocchi. If the soup is too thick, add additional broth.
- Serve the soup topped with the rosemary bacon and parmesan. Enjoy warm…preferably with a crusty piece of bread.
As made by Shelley
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