Friday, December 14, 2012

Elf Clothes on the Christmas Tree

I save every left over scrap of yarn throughout the year. At Christmas I design and make elf clothes for the Christmas tree.  The ordinary work clothes I string with miniature clothespins to kite string or twine and use as garlands. Because the elves are pure imagination I make their clothes smaller or larger, depending on the amount of yarn available and what the elves look like in my imagination at the time. Some elves are the size of Barbie dolls and they seem to get the bulk of the sparkly evening wear pieced together from glitter and sequin yarn that has gone into adult party wear. The rough pants and sweaters used in Santa's workshop come in some pretty wild color combinations.  There are ponchos in shades of pink and blue; lavender seems to be a favorite color for elf socks. I promise to post photos when my son-in-law has time to take them.

This year I am sharing how I make wardrobes for Santa's helpers with the patrons of the Crawfordsville District Library. This sunday December 17th from 2 to 4 p.m. I shall be demonstrating and teaching the techniques for elf wear. There is a small display ofo an evening shrug, sweaters and trousers in the main room at the library. Sign up if you can. I would like to meet anyone in the Crawfordsville area who reds the blog.

Knitters are generous people and I love to meet with others who share my passion for taking a piece of string and creating a new piece of art or clothing.

I hope to meet and greet you this Sunday afternoon. Call the library and let them know you will be there. Bring your needles and your imagination. If you have any left over bits of string you wish to use for elf clothing, bring that, too. I shall bring my left over balls.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

If you live in the United States, there is still time to shop at Poison Garden before Christmas!  Here are the shipping deadlines for the United States Postal Service:

First-Class Mail                        December 20th
Priority Mail                             December 21st
Express Mail                             December 22nd

Our standard shipping method is First-Class, but if you would like to receive your package in time using Priority Mail or Express mail, please let us know and we will change the listing to reflect the shipping price.

Happy Holidays!
Crystal, Melissa and Suzette

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Who is J.C. Horsley?

In simple: the designer of the first Christmas card.  

John Calcott Horsley (1817-1903) was an English painter, who attended the Royal Academy of Arts.  Most of his artwork featured historical scenes, such as this painting of Mary Queen of Scots: 
Mary Queen of Scots in Captivity, J.C. Horsley
Then in 1843, Sir Henry Cole, a British civil servant, commissioned Horsley to design a card for him that he could mail out that Christmas.  The card's main image depicts a family sitting down to a meal.  But on the sides, scenes depict people providing food and clothes to the poor.

That year, approximately 1,000 of Horsley's cards were printed using a lithograph technique, and were hand-colored.  However, they were expensive (1 shilling each) and it took quite a few years for the tradition to catch on.  

Amazingly, a few of the original cards still exist:
Horsley Christmas Card 1843, Auctioned in New York, 2010
So, if you are thinking of carrying on a Victorian tradition this Christmas, remember J.C. Horsley and Henry Cole, and send a Christmas card!  In fact, you may want to make or buy handmade cards:

French Christmas Card by Darby Cards, Nasheville
Vintage Cards by Claryce Design
Angel Card by NewCreatioNZ
Steampunk Card by Immortal Visions
Vintage Card by GoGoSnap
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Riibbon Candy and Brioche Knits

One of my favorite Christmas memories is sneaking an extra piece or two from the box of ribbon candy that appeared in  our kitchen early in December.  I loved the folds and wrinkles that made the candy sparkle. The intense flavors of the season--cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, and spearmint-- delighted me. I remember the sweet tang of spices and the sharp bite of the broken edges of the strips of candy. My mouth waters when I think of it.

Memories of that candy flooded in early this  month as I put the finishing touches on a brioche scarf I made for a friend's birthday. It may have been the colors, pumpkin and clove, or it may have been the alternating light and dark rows, I'll never know. I do know that when I folded the scarf for mailing, I flashed on the s curves of ribbon candy.

What would happen, I wondered, if I took the colors of ribbon candy and knitted them in reversible knit?

I grabbed a skein of red and silver yarn and a second skein of green and gold fleck yarn. The result is a seven foot piece of knitted ribbon candy, ready to keep neck and head warm. I made a pair of wrist warmers to match. They are going on etsy tomorrow. I started a second set of knitted candy this evening. It is red and white, clove and peppermint, of course. I can almost smell the spices and sense them on my tongue. Best of all they are calorie free and do not impair my dental health.

I started my search for real ribbon candy Thanksgiving weekend and I shall keep searching until i find it Just as a precaution a box of ribbon candy is going on my list for Santa.  this year. In the meantime I shall knit more ribbon candy scarves, hats and gloves in keeping with the season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Socks by any other name

Most socks are utilitarian. They insulate your feet from cold and damp. They keep new shoes from rubbing blisters on heels and toes. Some men have only one color and kind of sock to end confusion and save time searching for a missing mate to a particular sock. Most of us do not give much thought to our socks. Some fashion mavens opt for a pair of socks or stockings to match every outfit. Some outdoorsmen have special socks for cold weather and other socks for wet weather. Homeless people always seem to have holes in their socks, or no socks at all.

I knit socks as an exercise in creativity. I included pictures of two of the socks I make. The red ones are in no way utilitarian. They are meant for the boudoir, to accent a peignoir or negligee, as a sexy turn on or to add the finishing touch to elegant lounging pajamas. They are private and intimate items of apparel. They are made of fingering weight lace in a combination of silk and the finest wool. The Victorian insistence on secrecy in the bedroom was a perfect venue for these small beauties. You can find them on etsy at Nona'sKnits.

The lavender socks are pedicure socks. They  are designed to keep one's feet warm while  applying color to the toenails.  They also keep softening creams and lotions in contact with the skin and off the sheets. This pair is made of Turkish yarn that is a combination of nylon and acrylic so it holds its shape and is durable enough to go through the washer and dryer.

I have red socks for matchmakers and exercise socks for dancers and fitness buffs who need some warmth at the ankle but have to have their feet free for movement.  One of the advantages of hand knit socks is that they can be made to measure. If your heel is deeper than the average heel, if your toes are longer than usual, wide feet, narrow feet, made to measure socks accommodate all of that. There is no end to the fun socks can be.

If you have never knitted a pair of socks for yourself, get a skein of Pattons sock yarn and give them a go. When you get hooked on making and wearing made to measure socks, branch out and make two at a time on round needles, toe up or cuff down. Experiment with casting on and kitchener stitches. Take a class in sock making at a local yarn store or corner your grandmother or aunt to show you how they kept their family in fitted footwear before mass produced socks.

One of my knitting friends wooed her first love in the sixth grade with argyle socks. She doesn't remember what he looked like, but she swears she would recognize the socks anywhere.