On the sixth day of Christmas, I present to you a rather unique commission. A very nice lady, whose name is also Rebecca, and who also attends classes at Trinity has a lovely habit of commissioning one local artist every year to make ornaments for her family members. I jumped at the opportunity in the middle of the insanest part of the semester and made these little beauties.
One irritating thing about recycling yarn is that, in making skeins that are consistent in yardage from sweaters of all shapes and sizes, I end up with little leftover skeins. I wind them into little balls and knit swatches out of them so I can report their gauge accurately, but I still have lots left over. When I got this commission, I was so glad that I had saved every last one of those little scrap skeins, because my client didn’t care what I did, as long as I used my recycled yarn.
The glass balls were obtained from a craft store, and the ornament cozy pattern is free and can be found here. (It’s a great pattern – works with any gauge with perfect accuracy. And don’t get clever and think you can do it in the round – I tried it and it was oh so tedious trying to knit the top half while the thing was already on the ball. Seaming it is a lot easier ad surprisingly invisible, even with lace.)
I also taught myself a new technique for embroidering. Well, I’m sure it’s not new, but I didn’t bother looking around for techniques, so I did invent it, even if I’m not the first. You just do a running stitch of the entire name, then go back the way you came, going over everywhere you went under. It’s the only thing I could figure out that would work on something very small, very loose, and very transparent.
Of course I am a great over-informing dweeb, so I attached cards explaining what the recycled fiber was, what the dye was, etc.
Two of the commission recipients were boys under the age of 5, so the idea of giving them anything glass seemed ill-advised. So they got two Christmas trees, made out of EZ’s very clever “Christmas Fiddle Faddle in the Wilds” patterns found in her Knitter’s Almanac. (This famous book has just been re-released in a special commemorative hardcover edition. Is it wrong that I want it, even though I already own the book?)
I learned a very important lesson from this project. First, small-gauge embroidery is impossible in worsted-weight yarn. Hence the single initial on one side and the last two digits of the year on the back. Second, duplicate stitch on garter stitch is an idiotic idea, especially when you don’t want it to show at all on the opposite side. I managed it anyway, but don’t try it; I will never be doing it again. And we will not discuss how many times I had to pick out little red embroidery on little trees before I found a way that worked. But they are cute, they are not breakable, and they met all the required specifications. I call that a success!
Despite the experimentation required, these are all happily adorning trees of people who are very much loved. Thanks for the challenge, Rebecca!