Saturday, December 03, 2005

Christmas Wish List

Am I hard to shop for? I think when you have an obvious hobby, like knitting or deer hunting, that makes it easy to shop for someone. On the other hand, you can go overboard. Just because someone loves to golf doesn't mean they would love to have a gold-plated gold ball. Wish lists become almost more necessary as you get older. My pre-schooler is happy with a $.50 can of Play-doh, while my husband requires very sophisticated gadgets and tools to have a merry Christmas. I know that someday, Marty will be as hard to please as Rob is.

Anyway, here's my holiday wish list:

  • Gift certificates for Stitch in Time in Howell, Threadbear in Lansing, or

  • Emeril non-stick pots and pans (they have them at Bed Bath and Beyond).

  • I had a beautiful baking dish that I loved. It was a splurge when I bought it, but I've always wanted the other pieces that match. The other night, I dropped the dish and it broke! I got mine at La Bella Vita in downtown Brighton and would love a replacement and any matching pieces. It's the Emile Henry Artisonal Collection of baking dishes, in a brown and cream color - although I like all the colors La Bella Vita carries. You can see what they look like on my wish list, too.

  • My wish list is here, with books and music and stuff.

  • Iron Gate candle holder from Pottery Barn, set of 2

  • Zoe console table from Pottery Barn, in black, plus the square utility baskets to go with the table.
  • Cute knitting warning

    Sometimes it seems so insane to be knitting for my kid. He's as likely to throw it on the floor as he is to embrace it as a beloved item. And the next day may warrant a completely opposite response. Still, these were too adorable to not knit again in the next size up, and this time I've made the matching mittems. (They were finished before Halloween, just to show how behind I am in blogging.) And yes, I have picked them up off the garage floor and other assorted dirty places.

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    The pattern is from Fiber Arts, one of those you buy in a plastic sheet with 3 holes along the side. I recently organized all those sheets and put them in separate binders - Costco had a sale on a set of 6, and I used my label maker to get really anal about the whole thing. I love that all my patterns are now put away and easy to find!

    I've recently finished another item for Marty, a sweater with a very cute reindeer, tree, and snowflake pattern. It was good chart practice for me, and fun to knit. The pattern is from Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Little Cherubs. The downside was stranding colors on the purl side; I'd have preferred steeks and sewing for better results, but it turned out ok. Just as well since the kid is probably going to get ice cream or something all over it. We are going to use it for our Christmas card picture (is that too self-serving, to force your kid to model your hand knits under the preface of spreading holiday cheer? I hope not, because you know this new baby is going to be wearing a hand-knit sweater on his birth announcement!). The yarn I used was lovely, and truly not appropriate for this garment, but I loved it and wanted to work with it and I can always get more. I must make an adult sweater from it, to be sure. It's Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, a 35% silk, 65% wool blend for my 2 1/2 year-old child. But the colors were perfect and there's just the hint of tweediness to it. Here's how it turned out:

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    You'd think I might be done with knitting for Marty, but I recently cast on something very cute from the Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits for Kids. There is a pattern in there that uses Manos, my big weakness, and it has sizes for newborn to 3 years, so I'll be making one for the new baby to match Marty's, and doesn't that sound like a photo op to you?

    I am so looking forward to the holidays and all the get togethers, though at 8 months pregnant it's hard to find something great to wear. The thought of buying maternity clothes for festive occasions was hard to swallow - I only have a few weeks left in my pregnancy, how can I justify buying something new to wear once or twice? (haha ask me to justify the yarn purchases I make!) Of course the solution was to buy yarn instead. I loaded up on various novelty yarns and designed a pattern. I wanted something drapey and sparkley that I could wrap around my arms to wear with a tank. I used Berroco Quest in silver, Berroco Plume FX in black metallic, and SRK Ranee in black. 3 strands held together on size 19 needles, and I had a wrap in 2 nights that I can continue to wear after I have this baby. The photo is not great, but I'll share it now anyway and hopefully will get a shot of me wearing it one of these December nights:

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    You could sell these!

    Don't you love it when friends compliment your work by suggesting you sell your hand knit goods? It really is meant as a compliment, and I try so hard to take it that way. I always ask, "Oh? How much would you pay for this hand-knit baby sweater?" The response is usually around $35, which is probably inflated from what they would truly be willing to part with so that they don't hurt any feelings. It's so fun to then clarify that of that $35, $12 of it would cover the yarn (newborn size at least), leaving me $23 pay for 10+ hours of work. Hey $2.30/hour's not bad (in Taiwan)!

    I recently attended a purse party where a friend launched her hand-made purse business. She had a beautiful display of hand-knit and hand-made gifts. Such beautiful items! I love the way she's creatively shopped for sweaters that she can recycle into purses - you get a discount if you bring her a 100% wool sweater. She felts them and cuts the fabric, which is then sewn into her own purse designs. I bought myself a very cute black clutch-style purse for the odd occasion when a diaper bag is not needed. The prices here (staying on topic) ranged from $59-$150 - much more on target for what a hand-crafted item warrants. Could I buy something similar at Target? Yes, something similar would be $15, though not one of a kind, and not special, and not recycled!

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Knitting Retreat

    Finally, I am posting pictures from my incredible knitting retreat. I left on a Thursday morning and returned on Sunday afternoon. That's 3.5 days of absolute freedom to knit, relax, and socialize without interuption - pure bliss!

    About 16 knitters drove to Michigan's UP (upper peninsula) and then took a ferry to Bois Blanc Island. We stayed at a resort called the Insel Haus, which was absolutely amazing. Two lovely people ran the inn. Christa designs knitwear, teaches knitting, spins her own yarn from her stock of alpaca, and creates truly amazing handknits. She was about to leave for a fiber arts show and shared her goods-for-sale with us (each priced between $175 and $1500). Oh and before she started knitting, she ran her own film editing studio. So interesting! Anyway, here are some photos, none of which do justice to this amazing woman's work.

    Here Christa models a dress she designed, spun, and knit.

    Here's a shot of a coat that Christa created. You can't tell from this lousy picture, but the coat is floor length. And the hood converts to a shawl collar.

    This jacket, like all Christa's alpaca knits, is so soft and beautiful.

    This photo probably shows the best detail of all Christa's knits. These scarves will be sewn into a dress or ruana.

    My knitting teacher, Charlene, hates having her picture taken but agreed to try on a few items. Here, she models a vest:

    And here we see Shelby, our other host and a fascinating man. Ask to see his Emmy. He's modeling another gorgeous vest:

    And finally, I share with you one scene of knitting in a beautiful, remote, amazing place:

    That's Lake Michigan in the background. The island is unpaved, undeveloped, and nearly uninhabited (17 year-round residents). It was a beautiful place to visit and I can't wait to go back there.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Christmas in July

    Finally, my mom's Christmas ('04) gift! Remember what happened to the first one?

    It's the Sleek Ribs Tank from this summer's IK. It was knit from the chained ribbon from Blue Heron Yarns, made from Lempur, in the flax colorway. Clearly, Mom is very happy about it. It fits her perfectly and I am so glad I cast it on 4 times total to get it perfect. Also glad I made the smallest size. Here's a shot of the back:

    Merry Christmas Mom!

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Lots of knitting with nothing to show for it!

    After much searching, I have found a replacement for my mom's unfortunate Christmas gift. I've cast it on 3 times, all 200 stitches of it, and worked 3-4" of it before discovering a misplaced yo 3 times - maddening! So far, all is moving along, but I should be much farther along than I am. As soon as Mom sees it, I'll post pics.

    This weekend, I am going to a knitting retreat with friends from my LYS. I am driving 4 hours away to a remote island, where no cars are allowed, to stay in a house with 17 other knitters where we will make meals for each other and relax. The co-owner of the house, Christa, spins alpaca fleece and produces exquisite yarn. Apparently there is a herd of alpaca on the property. This is the first night I will spend away from Marty, not counting his two overnights at my parents, ever. I can't believe I am going and I couldn't be more excited - three days dedicated to knitting, with no dirty diapers and noone else to take care of! Pics and updates after my return. For now I have to decide what projects to work on!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005


    My first trimester is over, which means I am no longer constantly exhausted and sick to my stomache. 'Too sick to knit' are words I never thought I'd say, but I said them alot these past few months.

    I am finally feeling better and finished baby Gavin's sweater. Welcome to the neighborhood little one!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    Ta Da!

    Many thanks to Rob for getting the pictures up and running again. The thought of re-locating them all, and editing all the entries' links... well, it was discouraging enough to put me off blogging, that's for sure. Now that the pictures are back, I have some responsibility to photograph a few recent yarn purchases. I hadn't been to knitting class for several weeks, and last night's purchase may have been a bit over the top. That is, if you judge by the weight of the bag (well it did have a book in it).

    First we have two more skeins of Peruvian Tweed, 100% superfine alpaca, grown in the Andees about 13,000 feet. Does altitude affect fiber? Referred to on their label as "The Heavenly Fiber," this yarn is so soft and lovely. There are 600 yards in each skein, and I already had 2, but knew I needed the other 2 from the same dye lot before they were lost to me forever. A warm sweater and several hats, perhaps some mittens, are definitely in the future for this yarn. I have a total now of 2400 yards. Here's how the whole big pile of it looks, with a Coke can for comparison:

    Next is the prettiest yarn I have seen in awhile. It's chained ribbon from Blue Heron Yarns, made from Lempur. It is soft and silky and came in such beautiful colorways that I had a difficult time choosing, but finally settled on the flax, a name which does not do this blend of colors justice at all:

    Finally, I got the coolest birthday present - a full set of Brittany DPN's. Thanks Mom!

    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    Dale is 1/3 done

    My Dale of Norway cardigan is moving along. I have finished the front! The back has about 7" to go, and then I get to do the color work pattern again for the sleeves. I really enjoyed that for the body and think the sleeves will move along pretty quickly.

    I recently found out I am pregnant with our second baby, so this cardi will actually be a maternity sweater. Since it is designed to just close at the top, via cute little ties that go throu an eyelet, it can hang farther and farther open as my belly grows. The little bean is due in January, so the timing is perfect for a nice wooly sweater. But I have to finish it quickly, as there is so much new baby stuff to knit now - sweater and hats, longies and soakers - in all the sizes! It's so great to knit something in a newborn size, so quick and tiny-sweet.

    No word yet on the picture front, but I believe secret progress is being made my Rob in the dark of the night.

    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Blogging without pictures is boring

    Still no pictures, but lots of knitting is going on!

    I have finished two sweet baby sweaters for two sweet babies. One was finished just before delivering (the sweater, not the baby), for a neighbor, so I didn't have time to get a picture. That is, I didn't find the camera in time to take the picture. Later, I caught Rob using his own camera (the nerve!), so I know it isn't lost. I'm also making good progress on my own sweater (the nerve!) and can't wait to share pics of that.

    In other news, I met the Yarn Harlot and am still utterly in love. And, I am famous (in blogland)! Here's a picture of me at the book signing (with my booga bag, the only thing I've knit for myself, how sad is that?): Snooze's blog

    You have to scroll all the way down almost to the bottom, but I am in there in the May 7th post.

    Thursday, April 28, 2005

    Yet another Booga Bag enters the Internet

    I have made good progress on my sock, and can't wait to get to the other one so I can wear them. I've also started a shawl, and am right now finishing a booga bag in Noro #95. How many of these are out there? Whenever I was trying to decide what to do, a google produced more than enough results. This must be one of the most popular patterns out there!

    Here I was not blogging because I hadn't taken the time to get any pictures, but I see my pictures are not loading anyway. I'll get on that and get some pics up soon.

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    How I installed a zipper

    Zipper installation can be very intimidating. I sweated over the basketweave sweater for weeks; the gradual arrival of warm weather doomed basketweave for the season and heightened my anxiety. Torn between finishing the sweater or giving it to Rob next Christmas, I finally just picked up a needle and started.

    1. First, I basted the zipper in place. I used bright red embroidery thread and nice long stitches. I zipped the zipper, held the sweater right-side facing, and started at the top. I tried pinning it in place first but that made the fabric buckle. I did tear out my basting several times before it was perfect, but that's the beauty of basting. I basted along the first row of knit stiches, making sure the edge of the knitting was even all the way down and that the two sides of the knit garment nearly met. I didn't want them to be caught in the zipper but wanted them as close to each other as possible, when zipped together. I then basted the other side of the zipper.

    2. I then unzipped the zipper and basted the outer edge of the zipper facing to the sweater. I was less meticulous here and did it more for security than anything else. When done, I zipped the zipper again and admired my work. Once the basting looks great, your sewing will look great too. Bad basting cannot be corrected by good sewing. Baste well, grasshopper.

    3. I used invisible nylon thread to sew my zipper. I bought the good stuff at a nice sewing store and it was so insible I often had difficulty finiding it. I almost went blind sewing with it.

    4. Starting at the top, on the right side, I used a straight stitch, with occasional backstitches for good measure, down the zipper right around where I basted. I pulled the thread until the knit stitch puckered a bit, then released it. I did not want the stitches to be too tight. If you go in between two stitches, there's a nice space there for the stitch to be pretty small. I also, when on the knit side, made my stitches short, even though the thread was invisible and wouldn't have shown anyway.

    5. When I got to the bottom, I cut my thread and started again on the other side. My zipper was too long and needed to be trimmed, but I did not want to do that til it was fully installed. I do not trust my measuring skills, for good reason.

    6. When both sides were installed, I removed my basting thread and gasped at the perfection. Do not skip the admiration steps, they are very motivational. When it's 2am and you are torn between sleep and finishing a project, it's the admiration that will keep you going.

    7. I then unzipped the zipper and used an overcast stitch to tack down the outer edge of the zipper and then remove the basting. Now your zipper is secure and you can unzip and zip and giggle for several minutes, or longer. It really never gets old.

    8. My zipper was about 6 inches too long, so now I trimmed it and wound some thread around the bottom a bunch of times so the zipper do-dad wouldn't fly off down Rob's shirt. This part was easy and made me regret all the time I spent at Joann's only looking at the right length zippers. The zipper world is your oyster.

    Here's the finished result (I installed a knit facing to cover the interior zipper facing - another story):

    That's it! I hope this helps someone gather the courage to install their own zipper.

    Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Basketweave Celebration Dance

    Basketweave is done. DONE!!! It is such a great feeling to have this monumental project completed. I am so happy with the way it all turned out. The zipper installation freaked me out but looks perfect. Charlene at my LYS suggested using invisible thread, and that made a huge difference. I was able to concentrate on getting it straight without worrying where the stitches were going. I am a terrible hand sewer but it didn't matter since my crooked stitches were invisible!

    In the end, I knitted a facing to line the interior of the zipper. I wasn't happy with the contrast between the sweater color and zipper fabric color, and since Rob will not likely zip this thing all the way (althought he can! the zipper works! it's not just for looks!), that interior zipper will always be showing. So here's a shot of that (click for a larger view):

    And here's a shot of Rob heading off to work in his new sweater (I stayed up til 2AM to finish it so he could wear it for casual day):

    I felt such a thrill to see him wearing this sweater. He looks so fantastic in it! He is so impressed with my work and loves it. He told me he felt very loved when he wore it, which is exactly how I wanted him to feel. Merry Christmas, Rob!

    Sunday, March 27, 2005

    Another FO

    Long after the funeral, for which this sweater was intended to be worn, I've attached the buttons. My own design, I think it turned out pretty well. I would make it again for a girl, as the collar is a bit wide and seems a bit feminine to me, even in these boyish colors. Someday I will write up the pattern! It took only a few days (of frantic car-knitting) to knit because I used two strands of yarn held together. Here's the back (click any photo for a larger one):


    And front:

    The sweater is knit from Lana Gatto Labrador, and if anyone remembers, that's the yarn I got at the Super Bowl sale and planned to use for myself. Like most things around here, it went to Marty. Cute though, eh?

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Cute for a Granny

    I was so excited to make these littles cuties, after seeing them discussed in a knitting forum, that I ran to Joann's to buy some yarn:

    They are egg covers for plastic or Cadbury eggs. I used Paton's Divine to make the bunny soft and fluffy, but used something much less expensive for the chick - not sure what it was, but I'm sure it's acrylic. The eyes, pompoms, and pipe cleaners were super cheap. I was planning to make a whole family of them, but lost heart a bit when my mom saw them and remarked that they were a bit old-ladyish. Are they? I still think they are cute, but don't giggle quite as much every time I pass by them.

    Instead of making more egg covers or finishing one of my pairs of something (did I mention I also have one slipper that I made about 5 months ago?), I cast on the Dale cardigan. I loved doing the colorwork chart from the Norwegian mitten workshop, and felt much less intimidated by this cardigan. I'm a bit concerned that it is puckering too muhc, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can pull the stitches into place and that blocking will solve all. I've gotten through all the grey and a bit of the khaki - about 6 inches so far:

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    SES - Second Everything Syndrome

    Here are my most recent cast-offs:

    One clog, not yet felted:

    One mitten:

    I learned how to make this Norwegian mitten at an all-day knitting workshop, led by Beth Brown-Reinsel (author of Knitting Ganseys). It was a wonderful workshop and I learned a ton. It was also the first time I had been gone from Marty all day - from before he woke up in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. Rob took great care of him, even if he did give him cinnamon toast. He even got him down for a nap!

    Back to the mitten: look at the palm!

    The thumb shaping is a bit off, so I will be re-working it. And here's a shot of the back of the thumb, which I love:

    Now with one clog and one mitten, you'd think I'd be working on the second of one of those pairs, right? Not me! I cast on a ribbed sock with my lovely Koigu, and couldn't be happier! I'm using my new 5" DPNs from and am thrilled with the way the shorter needles stay out of my way. I'm also thrilled with the color selection of this Koigu:

    So here I am with one of everything, and nothing to wear!

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Sheep in the news...

    This poor guy,

    evaded his shephards for 4 years. Finally captured, he has 60 pounds of merino on him! Click here for the full news story.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    10 Signs you are an over-ambitious knitter

    1. You plan to knit a toddler sweater for a funeral scheduled for the next day and pack clothes to match
    2. You pack 2 additional projects and extra yarn
    3. You bring all your knitting needles, just in case
    4. You modify the pattern for said toddler sweater in order to complete it in time for the funeral
    5. You get home from the trip and unpack 2 untouched projects, extra yarn, unopened needles, and the book you never opened
    6. You get home from the trip and finish the sweater that was to be worn earlier that day
    7. Your son is the only child not in cold-weather gear, because his sweater isn't finished yet
    8. Things like sleep, eating, and bathing become real nuisances that interfere with your ability to dress your child in weather-appropriate attire
    9. You really start to think that a toddler would like to wear a vest instead

    and the 10th sign you're an over-ambitious knitter...
    You wish the drive to Chicago were longer so that you can finish your projects!

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Honest, I have been knitting

    I have been working diligently to complete two rather large projects. Rob's basketweave sweater is knitted and seamed, and just needs a zipper and blocking (Hooray!). I also made "My Constant Companion" from Knitter's Stash. This is a very large bag to knit; once felted, it is still quite large and will easily hold all my WIPs and more. My cat is really anxious to sleep in this bag, so I may be knitting something for her out of the leftover yarn from this project. I used Reynold's Lopi, which felted beautifully. My favorite part of the whole project was the i-cord bind-off, which I did 3 times to get the contrasting color trim.

    I also recently made this for a friend. While it is not knit, it is for knitting needles:

    I even learned how to use the button-hole attachment on my sewing machine to make the matching pouch:

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    It was on sale

    That's my only excuse. My LYS - Stitch in Time, in Howell, Michigan - had their only sale of the year this past weekend. (It's somehow tied to the Superbowl although honestly I can't see the connection. But who am I to question yarn that is 20% off?) The yarn is piling up and the projects are not coming off the needles as quickly as I would like. I blame it on Basketweave and my very tall husband. I did finish both the front and back, and am halfway through sleeve #1:

    I really want to finish this sweater before winter is completely over, so I must dedicate all my knitting time to this sweater. To keep me going, I will fantasize about what to do with all this yarn that I got on sale:

    Want a closer look? Here's what I got:

    4 skeins of Manos in this gorgeous lavender. Not sure what I will do with it, but the color really grabbed me:

    4 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. A friend recently finished the sweetest baby sweater, and I am anxious to make one as well. With 4 pregnant friends, there will be lots of babies to knit for!

    There will be another blue baby cardigan sweater on the needles soon, since when else can you get Rowan on sale?

    Did you see the Ugg-style baby booties on the Knitty Gritty? Here are all the materials to make them:

    Some yummy chunky Berroco that will be a jacket for Marty:

    And finally, something for me, someday... I came upon this hidden pile of Lana Gatto Labrador. I've never seen it before, but as soon as I touched it, I knew I wanted to wear it. It feels soft like chenille, but is twisted. I grabbed all they had - 10 balls at 66 yards each. Now my challenge is to find something that will fit me with that yardage.

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    The Harlot Strikes Again

    I just assume that if you are reading my blog, you are also reading the Yarn Harlot's blog. In case you aren't, then you are really missing out. Please go there now. I will wait, and not be at all surprised when you never return here. She has fabulous knitting, witty commentary, and more than a year of archives for you to go through. No matter what time it is when you start reading, you will be up far too late. Enjoy!

    If you made it back, then you've likely seen the astonishing total raised for Doctors without Borders. I am so amazed at the generosity of the knitting community. I am doing my own part by foregoing wants this week in order to donate as much as possible. I hope you will find your own way to support the people who sacrifice so much to help others in parts of the world we would never dare visit.

    Perhaps you also noticed the Harlot's Thrum Along? I finally decided to join in (unofficially), and have made some good progress. The pattern is easy to follow (and even better, it's free), and these mittens are so cute:

    More yarn, more projects

    Janine and I left the toddlers with their dads and took a trip to see the boys in Lansing. I highly recommend a visit to Threadbear for anyone in the Michigan area. The place is spacious, friendly, comfortable, and filled to the brim with beautiful yarn, roving, knitting notions and books, snacks, coffee, and fellow knitters. Janine and I spent 3 hours there without realizing it; it's like Vegas, in that there are no clocks and you lose touch with reality - is it night or day? The selection is really fantastic. I don't think they are missing anything, and they are always getting new stuff in. Here's my haul:

    What you see in that shot are some lovely koigu KPPPM - a set for new socks and a set for some Fiesta Mittens by Lucy Neatby (Pattern from Threadbare also. The pattern is complicated - there's something called a flying swallows pattern??!!? - but the sample was gorgeous.); some Lorna's Laces sock yarn in denim blue and a coordinating variegated; and a huge stack of Dale Tiur in khaki, natural, and pearl grey. I fell in love with the Dale of Norway cardigan display at Threadbear and I AM GOING TO MAKE IT FOR MYSELF. It contains a lot of colorwork and some neat diamond patterns, and will likely be most most-challenging project to date. Here's a shot from their catalog:

    I am having so much fun choosing knitting projects lately. There are some babies on the way, and it's so fun to think of things to knit for them. I recently started, and nearly finished the same weekend, this sweater with a Lorna's Laces pattern:

    It's knit with a nice chunky wool and nearly flew off my needles, it knit so quickly. It's in the round til you reach the armholes, with the sleeves knit separately. I love that there will be minimal seaming.

    I have made lots of progress on Rob's basketweave sweater. He got most of the back, still on the needles, for Christmas. Since I am no longer knitting it in secret, it's going much more quickly. The back is complete, and the front is at least 4" tall (considering it's 28" wide, that's a lot!). I am irritated that the shoulders have that ledged shaping built in, and I wish they were just straight shoulders with a 3-needle bind off. Hopefully as I become more confident as a knitter I will just ignore the directions I don't like and substitute them with my own. As it is now, I begrudgingly follow them and complain about it the whole time. Anyway, here's the completed back (click on it for a closeup of the basketweave pattern):

    Well the baby is still napping, which means I have time to knit.

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    Happy New Year!

    What's more satisfying than casting off something cool? Why, seeing the recipient wearing the knitted item, of course! How about two people together, both wearing your knitted goods? Top it off with both people being cute toddlers, and here's what you get:

    I was finally able to retreive the shot of my dad trying on his new hat, which I knit with a lovely Manos wool - the color name is thrush.