I've been thinking a lot about the thought and care that goes into swaps like the HSKS5 one I've just been involved in. I think it is a testament to the generous and, for lack of a better word, noble nature of knitters.
With few exceptions, when we give our word we stick to it, even if it takes a few extra days (weeks, months) to finish our project. It's a huge leap of faith to participate in a swap, and although I wasn't as active in HSKS5 as I thought I would be due to end-of-year nonsense and a death in my family, I thoroughly enjoyed being a lurker and participating in this world.
(I know there will be some angel packages, too, which both disprove AND prove my point, no?)
Tomorrow, when my camera is charged up, I'll post more about Lavender Ackerly's package to me. For now, I want to write about Lavender Diggory-Dolohov's package, which I had such fun putting together. And, thanks Lavender for the photos, which I am borrowing with her permission (on my own bandwidth...) I won't write about every single item (yawn!!!) but if you have any questions, feel free to add a comment.
For her knitted item, I wanted to design something on my own, and I had a bag idea in mind, sort of a conglomeration of a bunch of different bags I've seen online and in books. I wanted the bag to be simple (i.e. no intarsia or fancy colorwork), sturdy, pretty, and useful. When I found this Moda Dea Silk-Wool yarn in Charcoal and Wasabi, I knew I had my Slytherin colors.
I used Judy's Magic Cast-on and knitted the rectangular bottom in one piece, a double-thickness of yarn that made a long flat pouch. I reinforced the bottom by cutting a piece of plastic slightly smaller than the rectangle, rounding the corners so nothing would poke through or slice the yarn, inserted the plastic into the pouch, and then knitted the two live edges together. That gave me a flat rectangle with live stitches on one short end. I picked up stitches around the other 3 sides, ending up with a multiple that would work with my chosen stitch pattern. I then started working in the round up the sides of the bag using a 16" needle.
If you read Mason-Dixon Knitting (the blog or the book, ravelry link) you will recognize the stitch pattern from the Ballband Washcloth. It's a simple slip-stitch pattern that creates a yummy reverse-stockinette texture. In these colors it looks a bit like snakeskin, which I thought was Slytherin-appropriate. I continued the stitch pattern up as far as I thought it could go and remain sturdy, then did an I-cord bindoff for a little extra body to the edge.
The knitting went very smoothly; the lining was more of a challenge. I had already found the fabric I wanted to use, so that was easy. I'd just never lined anything without a pattern before! I winged it, reinforcing the lining with some light interfacing I found stuck in my (sorely neglected) sewing crates, and it went all right.
Once the lining was sewn, I was ready to put the whole shebang together...bag, lining, handles. But once again I was stymied. What to do with the handles? Should I attach them to the lining? or to the knitted bag? I tried attaching them to the knitting, first, but it just wasn't stable and the heavy-ish handles distorted the knitted fabric. So I sewed little straps into the lining, attached the handles, slip-stitched the lining to the bag, added the flap and a Nicky Epstein knitted i-cord button, and VIOLA (as my mom says...vi-oh-la)--it was done.
It was marvelously creative, combining sewing and knitting, and (a teensy bit) of designing, or at least the Dr.-Frankenstein-style borrowing that is my substitute for actual design sense.
For some reason I had a hard time finding Harry Potter merchandise in my town, so I stepped off the beaten path in my search for goodies for Lavender's package.
Lavender has been struggling a bit with her love life. Her sweetie, Sirius, has been MIA this term and his fate is unclear. So I made her a mix CD--we all remember how mix tapes got us through the painful throes of first love, don't we??--of love and heartbreak songs. The first half of the CD is a bunch of my favorite love songs, so if he returns she can listen to that half...and, if he doesn't return to her, the second half is tailor-made for nights of crying, chocolate, butterbeer, and railing at the injustices of love.
The stitch markers were so fun, because they came from CelticFrog's Etsy store...it was fun to help out a fellow Ravenclaw. I also bought a set of Ravenclaw ones for myself--they are really pretty and useful.
THE SOCK YARN
The yarn was the major reason I didn't mail my package immediately after I finished Lavender's bag--I couldn't send it without the sock yarn, could I???
I had ordered some KnitPicks Gloss in (what I thought would be) green and grey, but the colors just weren't right--more like teal and light blue--and I was at a loss. Then I stopped into my LYS, Apple Yarns, and found THE PERFECT YARN. It's Cascade Heritage Paints color 9824, and the colors are beautiful, and what's more--there was the perfect pattern for it in the book I'd already bought, in the gauge appropriate for the needles I'd already picked out! It could not have been better. Well...it could have....if I'd been able to keep it FOR MYSELF. I'm just saying.
Lavender has been busily creating Twilight merchandise for the Twilight swap...and how amazing that there was a pattern named Twilight in the book I got her?
With the remainder of the lining fabric, I sewed this tote bag from these instructions. I hope it will be useful for trips to the grocery store or filling with lots and lots of yarn. If you're looking for simple tote bags to replace plastic shopping bags, check this pattern out--each bag uses just a yard of fabric (I used 1.5 yards, because I had that much to spare--did I think I would be lining an elephant or something???) and is self-lined. SUPER SIMPLE and very practical. I'm thinking of making some more for us and for Christmas presents...and I haven't had my sewing machine out in YEARS.
There were other goodies I won't explain in detail...suffice it to say that I had a ball putting this package together and I am so glad that Lavender likes it.