Thursday, November 16, 2006

Drudging up some pre-Christmas memories

When my sisters and I were little, my mom purchased five Christmas stockings from a local church. They were handknit in Aunt Lydia's 100% cotton rug yarn by Marie Kattermann, a local woman who loved to make Christmas stockings. Each was a little different - two were plaid, and three were striped. Every year we hung them, using the same nail holes from the year before - my mother warning us not to chip the paint on the mantel as we or my dad hammered the nails in. I can still picture them distinctly decorating our fireplace Christmas morning - the cotton stockings bulging and sagging to hold the contents.

Mrs. Kattermann's stockings were coveted by many families in town - in fact, as many of the children grew older and had their own children, "Aunt Marie" kept making the stockings until she could no longer knit. Unfortunately, that great old cotton yarn morphed into an acrylic version - which just wasn't the same. My mom still has our Christmas stockings and our kids now hang them at their "Mum's" when they are visiting her for the holiday.

For the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits, I designed a quick to knit project which Pam titled a "Rustic Holiday Stocking." I think it fits the title. I love the photo - the little paintings at the right pick up the colors in the stocking. The twinkly lights add a festive touch. The location looks like a cozy cabin in the deep woods - which would be a great place to spend a Christmas holiday.

When I was making this, I was thinking of the knitter who would want to whip up a stocking in a couple of nights with a thickish yarn. I used Nashua Handknits' Creative Focus Chunky Wool/Alpaca in a mossy green, a rich red and a rust shade. For the gold, I doubled the Creative Focus Worsted. You could easily use Julia although you'd need to use smaller needles and you'd end up with a smaller stocking.

This is a totally simple stocking - a perfect project for a knitter who wants to try a sock for the first time and who is slightly timid. It begins with garter stitch for a nice stripey edge and then the rest of the stocking is made in stockinette stitch. Because it's knit at such a nice large gauge, it isn't as daunting as small needles and small socks. Turning the heel is easy (no heel stitch to master) and shaping the toe goes quickly.

After I was all done, I made some festive pom poms to decorate the top band and the toe. I added my favorite embroidery stitches using chain stitch and an easy cross stitch. The embroidery gives the stocking a little bit of zip. If you have put embroidery on your "to learn" list, this project might be the perfect one to try it out on.

p.s. Apologies for the scan.... I still haven't quite figured out how to get my Epson scanner to de-screen images from a mag. Because it scanned awful, I started fooling around in Photoshop hoping I could turn the photo into a "watercolorish" looking image. Needless to say, I didn't succeed and this is what I got - kind of an antique-y looking picture.


Francie said...

As always, your designs are beautiful. I might try my hand at a stocking this year - yet another inspiration from you! It's so true that this time of year goes too quickly. Would love for everyone to open one hand-made gift this year from me...but it's so hard to knit when there are so many other tasks on my list, plus work and three children (and a new puppy, yikes).


Brigitte said...

What a lovely, beautiful stocking! Love the colours, the stripes, the pom-poms, the embroidery. It's perfect, simply perfect. Too bad though that over here on the European continent we don't have Christmas stockings :-), but your design is a wonderful inspiration for other things as well!

Mercy's Mama said...

Your designs are beautiful! I just found your blog a few days ago after researching your yarn... I just ordered some with a friend and we are going to knit those awesome legwarmers that were in the Fall Vogue Knitting. I am so excited to do this project! And I am also doubly excited that I can come and read your blog, the designer!!!!


Anonymous said...

Love your designs, Kristin, including your lovely stocking. I might give it a try for my first "sock" and expand my range from scarves and hats. I think I'm ready. I don't usually comment but I lurk every day! Happy blogging!

Karen Budnick

Mrs. Staggs said...

Hello Kristin,
I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your blog. I am not a knitter, but I enjoy seeing your beautiful designs and outstanding workmanship. I really like your Tea and Memories post and your gift giving idea.
I am so sorry to hear that Streeter's in closing.
Hope you have a nice weekend!

Green Kitchen said...

To de-screen a scanned image from a magazine I would use Photoshop. First apply a Gausian Blur filter (Filter > Blur > Gausian) with a level of 1 or less. Then I would apply the Unsharp filter (Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp) with an ammount somewhere between 50 and 100% depending on what resolution you scanned at. The radius should be around 1 pixel, maybe a little more. And, the Threshold should be abount 1. You can play around with these to get the best results. Scans of printed images are never great, just do your best. You could also google "reducing moirés." Moirés happen when you lay a screen over a screen and get a wavy line effect. Hope this helps.