Keeping up with Yesterday

I’m starting another project. I know, I know, I’m a little out of control.   I know I have Fox Paws, and I probably have another pair of socks due, and the sweater… There’s a lot on the needles, and I’m tempted to cast on even more, which is all a sign of the times.  Three things are coming together here to put knitting forefront on the agenda, whether I have time for it or not.

First, the time of year. It’s cold here. Someone flipped the switch on this part of Ontario and there’s snow in the forecast, and it’s going below zero at night, and when it gets like this, some part of my knitterly intelligence doesn’t say to put on woollies.  It says to knit them.  I’ll be sitting in the house and get chilly, and I don’t think “Oh, I should get a sweater” I totally cast one on.  It’s a disease.

Second, in a week it’s the start of the November Strung Along Retreat, and it will be all knitting all the time for three days, and to get ready for the knitting I have to think about the knitting, and plan the knitting and organize the knitting and I’m just so excited about three days of knitting that I’ve been giggling a little bit when I think about it. (Technically, I’ll be teaching, not knitting, but it’s almost the same.)

Lastly, there’s Christmas.   I’m sorry, I know I just dropped the C word on you with no warning there, but really, it’s coming.  There’s no need to panic, but it is close, and I’ve got no interest in being hit by the festive train that flattens me some years.  I’m working the same spreadsheet as I have the last few years, because it’s changed everything – although I’m already a little behind, because there’s one gift that I want done early, by December 1st, actually, and if that’s going to happen, I have to start right now. Or yesterday.  Or maybe the day before that. Here’s the plan.  I have a whack of felt, and I’m going to cut out a tree shape and sew it to the background, and then knit/sew  24 ornaments that will stick on the tree. There will be 24 pockets on the background, and every day, starting December 1st, you take an ornament out of a pocket, and hang it on the tree, and when you’ve got them all on, you know it’s Christmas Eve.  I’m going to stick a dowel through the top and bottom so it hangs nice.

adventtreestart 2014-11-07

I have no pattern, and really, I’ve just explained the entire idea to you.  The whole thing. That’s as much as a plan as I have. Today I’m going to lay the whole thing out, and cut pattern paper into the tree shape, and see if I can get it sewn on.  Then I have to knit the first ornament. (Maybe two or three, I’m a little behind.) I don’t know what that’s going to be either, but I bet I can figure it out.  I was looking on Ravelry to see if I could find a starting place for knitted ornaments, and most of them aren’t quite what I was thinking.  They’re lovely, and so many of them are perfect for a real tree, but the ones I’m looking for need to be two, rather than three dimensional. (I suppose they could be slightly puffy, but that’s it.)  I’m on a hunt.  Not all of the ornaments will be knitted, but I’d like most of them to be. I’m going to embroider on a few pieces of felt, and I have some beads. I’m not sure what I’ll do with that, but we shall see.

The first step though, is laying it out, drawing the tree, tracing it onto pattern paper, figuring out where the pockets can go and how big the ornaments can be, sewing the thing together and then getting Joe to stop and buy me the dowels. Operation knittertree is afoot.

Unless I knit on the sweater. I’m a little chilly.

131 thoughts on “Keeping up with Yesterday

  1. Check the Berroco website. For a few years now they have been publishing knitted miniatures ornaments, and many of them are flat. Good luck!

    • I just headed over to comments to post this one too – I love her patterns.

      I was just browsing the garland and wondering if I had enough time, what with the other 20 projects on needles, to crank it out to send to my niece and nephew for 1st December. Maybe next year…..

      • From a Master Procrastinator, I will say.. you do not have to have them done by December 1st. You only need the first one done by then. You could send them in installments, if you were close to making the deadline. Also, advent calendars are boring if they are exactly the same.. you don’t have to finish them all the first year. Good luck!

        • Great suggestion. I love the installments idea.

          And if I screw up and only complete a few then I can just send chocolate! (Yes, I am *that* aunt)

  2. Oooo… Operation Knittertree – love that! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s suffering from a bad case of Startitis. (Probably because I was home sick yesterday and watched a bunch of knitting videos. I can blame it on Youtube, right?) Can’t wait to see the tree! And remember, load the early days into the pockets first; if you are missing a few on December 1, no one will know the difference. 😉

      • Bring it on, Steph! Bring it ON!

        PS: Look at knitted doily patters for some inspiration. The centers may make lovely snowflake ornaments. You may have to make them from crochet cotton and starch them. That’s what my crochet-crazy grandmom did one time (of course, she used crochet patterns instead of knitting patterns).

  3. You can thank your snow forecast on Typhoon Nuri which is headed for the Aleutians and said to be the largest storm to ever hit that part of the Pacific. It has moved the Jet stream, pulling the so called “Polar Vortex” into your part of Ontario.

  4. Pingback: Keeping up with Yesterday | Yarn Buyer

      • What an awesome idea. My family always puts an ornament on a package so when the kids grow up they are ready to decorate their tree. Now I know what the wee ones will be getting.

  5. I did a similar project a couple of years ago, but decided that little pockets for everything to go in was just too much work. So I have a nice drawstring bag which hangs beside the picture, and we take a piece out and add it each day of December and I didn’t have to sew all those little pockets.
    Just saying…. 🙂

  6. Why not put the pockets on the front, and make them deep enough to hide the ornament? Then you don’t have to reach behind the tree, just reach in to pull the ornament out…the ornament string could be fastened in, and maybe the pockets made out of lining fabric so they’d be slippery.

  7. I am a big fan of Harry Potter – My eventual goal is to knit tiny Weasley sweater ornaments for all my family. Those are basically flat, if not 2- D.

  8. If you find five good patterns or ideas, you’ll just have to make five each in different colors (as opposed to 24 totally unique ornaments). Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  9. You’ve described exactly my own advent calendar, made for me by my mom nearly 35 years ago (complete with dowel and tiny pockets for ornaments). Mine is in all pinks (recall, 5 year old girl) and the tree/hanging is quilted while the ornaments are cross-stitched (two of my mom’s fiber arts), and I love it so much. I haven’t been able to use it with my little girl (turning 5) yet because we typically travel during Dec. to far-away families. I declared that this year we’re staying put, so that she can have the holidays in her own house, with her own tree, and with this advent calendar of which I have such fond memories.

  10. I made a whole mess of tiny sweaters one year. 16 sts on 3’s. I used bobby pins for little hangers. I knit in initials and other small designs. I also made tiny hats and mittens that same year. Crazy fun!

  11. I’ve been knitting mini socks and sweaters, both of which are pretty two-D, but they may not fit your idea of what to knit. The recipients have been very gushing so I’ve been happy with them.

  12. Did you try limiting your Ravelry search by selecting Attributes > Shapes > 3-dimensional and then switching to NOT? It’s only as good as the tagging of the pattern, but it looks like there are some flat or nearly flat patterns that come to the top then… (mittens, mini sweaters, little stockings, a heart and a wreath)

  13. We had an all-felt version of this when I was a child. My mother made it. Simple pockets with numbers at the bottom, and she never got around to making ways for them to attach so we used straight pins. I’d suggest little loops and tiny buttons (or your beads, if they’re big enough). Velcro would not be knitting friendly. Keep the shapes simple – snowman, stocking, ornament, present, etc. And Dec 24 in ours was always a star for the top of the tree.

  14. I vote for the following as ideas: A leaping reindeer, sled, present, candy cane, glass ornament ball, bird, star, tear drop ornament, icicle, sun (for the solstice!), pear, orange/pomander, gingerbread house, snowman, mitten, stocking, sweater, hat, snowflake, holly, dreidle?, Christmas light, pomegranate, carolers, gingerbread people, moose (use your cookie cutter!), … that’s 26 or 27 right there… the next challenge is… how to cut all those things out… I say look for decent simple clip art, resize the images to work for you and go to work!
    Also… you realize this sort of project could easily take a full month’s worth of work, right?

  15. If only you crocheted!!! There are TONS of crocheted decorations patters, quite a few of them flat: snowflakes (LOTS of snowflakes!), Santas, Christmas stockings etc…

  16. I know you aren’t crazy about crochet, but I’ve made Santas and wreathes by crocheting around little plastic hoops that would be perfect ornaments. Really fast.

  17. I was just on this hunt yesterday. I’ve been making ornaments for a friends Xmas party coming up. This year was knitted red gnomes I found on Ravelry, using wine corks as the body. I had to take one for the team and drink a lot of wine for this! But…that is what I did since I won a wine glass/carafe set at her party.
    But try this: google “free knitted ornament pattern”, click on the images.
    Now you owe me one. I need an idea for the Xmas party for an “ugliest” xmas ornament.

  18. Just Google “knitted miniature christmas ornaments”, then hit the word “Images” (right beneath the search term slot) and WOO-HOO!!!!! — screens-full of the cutest little ornaments you ever saw!

  19. I know you don’t like crochet, so know that I know that you might ban me from the blog for suggesting this, but it lends itself nicely to cool, ornamenty type shapes that are flat, but pretty robust. And with all the tutorials out there, and that fact that it’s quicker than knitting, you might want to consider exploring your bi (craftual) side.

  20. For the non-knitted ornaments sprinkled in, I cut shapes out of felt tracing around my Christmas cookie cutters for various shapes (pairs). Christmas trees, snowflakes and reindeer are my favorites. Then I use a few beads and sequins and embroidery threads to stitch decoration on one side. I sew the two pieces mostly together, stuff in a couple fluffed up cotton balls and sew shut. The “hanger” can be a piece of stitched in yarn, rick rack, metallic thread, etc. Keep or toss!

    • I love that book! Those guys were instrument in starting the new Norwegian knitting wave. (Norwegians never stopped knitting, but now two thirds of the mothers in my baby-group knits, how awesome is that???)

  21. Get thee to knitters almanac. I know there’s a flat star. And maybe a tree or leaf or something. Anyway. The Christmas fiddle faddle in the wild chapter.

  22. My mom made an advent calendar almost exactly like that when I was little! She drew and cut out a big tree from green felt, and stitched it on a big red felt background, and sewed a pretty white felt decorated base for the tree, and stitched twenty-four pockets in two rows of twelve along the bottom, and made twenty-four ornaments from felt and ribbons and beads and sequins and such which were pinned to the pockets. Inside each pocket was a story or poem or something that she had collected from magazines to read when we put up the ornaments. And it had a dowel at the top and one at the bottom to keep it hanging straight and evenly. My sister and I took turns putting the ornaments up, hoping the other wouldn’t take our favorites, but it was always agreed that the star went up last on the top. When I had my kids, the calendar went to them, and now that my daughter has a one-year-old daughter of her own it will go to her. So many warm happy Christmas-y family memories around that calendar… how lucky whoever gets the one you make will be!

  23. My Mother made a similar calendar when I was young. Of course they eldest sister got it (’cause she’s that way). Was always a highlight. Wishing you enjoyment while you create.

  24. Sounds like I’m not the only one with an Advent Calendar just like that:-) I still have mine, my sister has hers, and our cousin has the other one. I still wonder how my mother made three of those things with a three-year-old (me) and a baby (DS) in the house two months before Christmas. I love mine– such nice memories, and now my three kids get to use it, too (although, there being only one, they have to take turns). Cut-out felt ornaments are probably easier and will fit in the pockets, but a few could also be knit.

  25. Check out Interweave on their website, I’m sure I’ve downloaded some little knitted ornaments. sweaters, socks, mitts, animals, etc. etc. Free patterns, I think they add one or two a year, so there should be a rather nice collection. Also KnitPiks I think has some patterns. Have lots of fun with this!
    Chris S

  26. Every year, my grandma picks a theme and makes a pile of felt ornaments for the whole family, usually roughly 2-D or a li’l puffy. There’s usually a pun involved somewhere. On top of that, because she is a lovely and generous person, she also puts a pocket in each ornament and stuffs it with a couple pieces of candy and some cash and then we all tell her she didn’t need to do all that, she already made these excellent, adorable ornaments and about pulled her brain out her ears getting them all done in time.
    Memorable years include: pickles with arms and legs and little faces, oysters, snails, penguins, and stockings.
    Personally, I have a special fondness for the ones that are seasonally inexplicable. It’s just so appropriate to my family.

  27. I’ve seen a darling old school version of this (albeit out of felt) on the purl soho website!
    Happy knitting, regardless the item. And send some moisture down to california if you can. We are super duper OVER the sun? But Mother Nature is not really caring….

  28. re: knittertree plan — you truly are just insane.
    re: angry owl hat — you truly are just a GENIUS.

    Perhaps that’s why we all love you so much. ?

  29. My mother made me and my sister one when we were little. She made me one last year for my home – which contains little festive card or jewelry charms hung on thin gold wire. It’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas.

  30. You’ve reminded me of this advent tree idea I had about four or five years ago, which I’ve still not got round to….

    Loving the mini stockings on Pinterest; I think I just died of cute!

  31. Hi – What a cool idea! I immediately thought of Kristen Nichole’s work. I’d bet that you could use her embellished knit circles to make really cute ornaments. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  32. We’ve been below zero day and night now for a while in this part of Ontario! Brr. As much as I like winter, I just hate being cold.

    I have the same issue. When I get chilly I cast on yet another sweater. I won’t even try to count how many sweaters I have started recently. Let alone all the socks, hats and scarves. And I just ordered yarn for knitting fox paws! I can’t wait to start it! Oh, and I also ordered enough sock yarn to keep me busy for many, many years. Only thing I need more of now is hours in my day to get these things done.

      • You once blogged that you were not a Christian and that Jesus is not the reason for your season. So, I am a little perplexed on how it can be both?

        • The Christmas season has both religious and secular features. Such things as the tree, lights on houses, etc. are not part of the religious tradition. And, although Steph did not say, there may be others in her family who are Christian and celebrating with and for them is really quite appropriate.

  33. My MIL made one for us sans pockets. Each ornament had a tiny loop on top. At the bottom of the tree was a row of numbered buttons, while 24 more buttons were scattered on the tree. The children took turns moving the ornaments each year. Unfortunately at some point/move/storage space a wee mousie thought it a cozy nest, so I need to make a new one for the grandchildren someday.

  34. Focus! But, if you get wall hanging portion completed, you could knit an ornament or two early in day…then knit on sweater or whatever else is of interest.

    After all, how much time would one ornament or two take?

  35. I am highly entertained by the pre-Christmas related shenanigans of my friends. I am also quite entertained by the accounting of your personal pre-Christmas insanity. I enjoy sharing a pint(s) of grog at Christmas parties, loving my friends, celebrating with them, and then… I go home to Chanukah which is a rather minor holiday in the Jewish pantheon. However, catch me just before Passover and I will be immersed in my own tribal insanity because EVERYTHING must made just so or my mother will roll in her grave as will maternal ancestors going back centuries. Have added one thing that will make future generations shudder – a Moses action figure that gets center stage on the table. Once he is in his place all is well. What is the final thing that you do/place/make at Christmas that signals that all is well and the celebrating can begin?

  36. You can do both a sweater and an ornament if you use Fifty Four Ten Studio’s Christmas Tree Mini Sweater Ornament pattern on Ravelry! Now THAT is multi-tasking.

  37. Get some large, large, large sized squared gingham…maybe three to four inches sized squares. Make that your lining fabric for the felt tree. Bingo, there are your “landmarks” for each ornament. Center each ornament opposite the center of each gingham square (on the other side of the tree) and that is your layout.

  38. My favorite knitted ornament of all time is a pair of teeny, tiny mittens knit out of sock yarn, with a crocheted thread between them to hang them on the tree. Just think of all the miniature socks, sweaters, hats you could make!

  39. Make an Iris von Armin tiny cashmere keychain sweater. See them at her site or on Pinterest. Small, and technically 3-dimensional, they’re flat. You could leave off the ring.

  40. I also endorse checking out her patterns. I believe she has several advent sets, and many of them either are flat or could be easily converted to two dimensions.

    What a great idea Stephanie. 🙂

  41. Sounds like you’re doing what my mom did several years back. She created a felt tree on a white background that hung from 2 scroll-looking dowels, which then hangs from a string like any frame. (she uses some gold rope-ish stuff). have you thought of sewing ornaments? my mom has sewn felted ornaments, with designs on them. Or, if you want to knit them (here’s a great stash-buster) just knit little puffy circles (or hexipufs!) for your ornaments! Also, my mom hangs them on bells. Just thought you might like the idea. I know you might not get to this comment at all, but I just wanted to put it out there, to give you an idea. Also, I believe my mom used felt glue on the tree and while background, and it’s stood the test of time, so that might be a good way to save some time, too.

  42. In Eliz Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac, there’s a chapter called ‘Christmas Fiddle Faddle in the Wilds’, which features two-dimensional star-shaped and Christmas-tree shaped ornaments.

  43. I am sweater-knitting junkie! I don’t knit socks, very rarely shawls (just for gifts), but one sweater after another. So, I am with you! Looking for something to cast on right now.

  44. What a great idea! Can’t wait to see how it turns out. I had the oh-my-gosh-there-are-only-47-days-until-Christmas panic the other day and started knitting like crazy. My list is long this year because it was very short last year, and may be a little over ambitious, but I figured who cares? I can always gift them on the needles and finish them after!

  45. I have no idea how you manage to teach at a retreat and actually get knitting done. I’ve just returned from teaching at one (in Prince Edward County) and the entire weekend, all I’ve accomplished is the first three rows of a top-down sweater. Pathetic, that’s what it is. It seems that I can’t knit and talk at the same time!

  46. Dear Yarn Harlot,

    I know Christmas is coming up, so I’m sure you’re strapped for time, but I have a question, and I feel like you’re my best chance for an answer (or your amazing readers, I’ll take their advice as well). I don’t like knitting socks, so I rarely do it, but the problem arises in the fact that my father loves knitted socks, chunky ones, with textured soles. He wears them to bed, and loves them forever. I have knit him one pair so far, and that went well enough, but I’m having difficulties finding interesting patterns to knit in worsted weight yarn, that go to a men’s size 13. I don’t actually know the dimensions of my father’s feet. I knit them so they are too loose for my husband, and that fits my Dad. They don’t need to be a perfect fit, with negative ease, they just need to be close.

    So my question is: can I knit socks from a pattern that was designed for women’s feet, using fingering weight yarn, but knit the socks in worsted weight yarn, and have them come out close to a men’s 13? There are so many beautiful patterns for women’s socks in fingering yarn.

    Thank you for your help. I’m thinking I may need to measure my Dad’s feet next time I see him…
    Good luck with the ornaments, I’m sure it will be great!

    • Ann Budd has a great book, “Getting Started Knitting Socks.” There are lots of stitch ideas in it and directions for different stitch gauges. It’s my go-to book, especially for the men in my life. Good luck with your dad’s knitting … he’s totally worth anything you come up with!

      • Once again, the inimitable Elizabeth Zimmermann comes to the rescue with her “men’s thick hunting socks” pattern from Knitting Around. (Also in Opinionated Knitter) It is made in Knitting Worsted and you can absolutely tailor it to fit anyone, as I have proved repeatedly, from my own size 9’s to my younger son Gigantor’s size 18’s. Also, Steph’s very own “Knitting Rules!” gives a lovely chart for sock sizing, and a dandy way to estimate the size of a person’s foot.

    • I just made a pair of worsted weight superwash socks for my brother…size 12 foot. Size 4 needles (but I work tight…) Toe up, cast on 22, do a short row toe, so the whole sock’s 44 stitches around. 45 rows from end of toe to heel, do short row heel, 15 more rows more straight stockinette, then p1 k3 rib for 55 rows, sewn bind off. I did the heel and toe in a contrasting color, and did the top with 40 rows ribbing, then 5 rows contrasting color rib, 4 rows main color rib, 4 rows more in main color rib, then bind off). meow! >^_^<

  47. I grew up with a felt tree & ornaments that my grandmother made! The one I have for my family is a quilted version made by my mother. Love the idea of knitting the ornaments – can’t wait to see your final product. The recipient will love it!

  48. 32 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I made a felt advent calendar just like this. The ornaments in the pockets are also felt with sequins and beads and velcro on to the tree. While I was making it we lived with my grandparents. I remember my husband and grandmother competing to see who could get up the earliest to put that day’s ornament on the tree. Later, my three daughters used to alternate days putting things on the tree, but now I get to put them all on myself. Kind of sad about that, but my 2-year-old grandson is coming to visit this Christmas and I can’t wait to show him.

  49. Is the family furnace challenge on this year?

    Also, I have a booklet of mini sweaters that can be used as ornaments. They are 3-D but could be adapted to 2-D. Various triangle or fold- in- half hats come to mind….. Besides Chhristmassy symbols…..

  50. I love me an advents calender. Hope to get a praline one again this year. Maybe I should start hinting to hubby.

    My brother and I used to have a macrame tree and it had sweets on it, one for each day. It looked very bare on Christmas Eve, so I think decorating is a great idea.

  51. When I was a kid my mother had a felt advent calendar just like the one you described. It had a tree and St. Nick pulling a sleigh. There were 24 split key rings sewn on, and every year my mother would make 24 numbered candy bundles out of red paper napkins, and my sister and I would have to find the right one each night. I have it now and used it for a few years with my kids, but it is falling apart and we’ve moved on to something else. It’s a great way to count down to Christmas. Looking forward to seeing pictures of yours when it is finished.

  52. I have the cold weather disease, also. Here in Ohio it’s getting chilly and crisp and frosty, and instead of putting on one of the 5 I already have knit I ended up casting on a new one. Nevermind that I need to finish a holiday stocking for the baby, or that I really should be doing other things than sitting and knitting.

  53. My mom made something similar for my sister and me back in the 1970s. She edged the tree and all the ornaments with sequins held on by beads.

    Sometimes the sequins matched, and sometimes they contrasted, depending on the ornaments. She had angels, candles, small trees, round balls, stars, packages with bows in sequins, and a Santa for Christmas Eve. She never finished the second Santa, so we had a Santa pin instead. The little pockets that held the ornaments had numbers on them in white (no sequins). I believe there was even some rick-rack involved. (What? IT WAS THE 70s!)

    I always liked the candle ornaments best. My sister and I are very competitive, so there was jockeying for position on the arms of the tree and rearranging of ornaments that had been placed previously, including an ongoing star vs. angel battle for the top of the tree. We just used straight pins to put the ornaments on. It’s brightly colored and garish and one of my very favorite Christmas traditions. My mom is gone now, but my sister puts it up for my nephew.

  54. Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark are the two knitters who wrote the book and figure on the cover of their book – not sure of the film star’s spelling, but I used to go to Mel Clark’s wool shop that she ran from her home in Auckland, New Zealand. It was published quite a while a go now, at least 5 years, but Amazon might still carry it. It has good patterns.

  55. Looking forward to seeing your advent calendar. My family has one that I purchased at a Church Christmas craft bazaar in the mid 1990’s. The ornaments are made of felt and hand stitched. It’s one of the many things we look forward to using each Christmas.

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