My Holiday Home

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I love decorating for the holidays. Starting in October, I begin putting little gourds and giant, knitted candy corns around the house. But when December comes along, I really go crazy. Here’s a look at some of the decorations decking my home. Many of these are vintage (like the Santa Babushka dolls from my mom’s childhood and the Little Red Riding Hood/Goldilocks painting) or handmade (like my prized, knitted advent calendar).

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Make This: Little Knitted Cactus

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Last weekend I attended a housewarming party last minute, and it didn’t feel right to show up without at least a small gift. I thought: what can I make in two evenings? Oh yeah, my world-famous, tiny knitted cactus. By world I mean my friends who I’ve gifted them to/taught to make them over the years. This is really a fast project, because as you can see, I got it done in time.

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Knitted Cactus

Materials: Scrap green yarn (just enough to fill your fist), scrap yarn in yellow and white for the flowers (really, you can use whatever colors you want), four double pointed needles, tapestry needle, toy stuffing

Cactus body
Cast on 6 sts. Divide between 3 needles and join in the round.
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: KFB (12 sts)
Round 3: *KFB, K1* 6 times (18 sts)
Round 4: Purl
Round 5-12: K1, P1 to end of round
Place 6 sts on a stitch holder or piece of scrap yarn and just work the remaining 12 sts.
Round 13-20: Continue in K1, P1
Round 21: K2tog to end (6 sts)
At this point, you can stuff the main body of the cactus.
Round 22: K2tog to end (3 sts)
Cut yarn and pull through remaining stitches, securing tail of yarn.
Arrange the six stitches that were left on a holder among three needles (2 on each needle) and join in the round, stitching together any holes that may form at the joint.
Continue to work in K1, P1 for 5 rounds.
Stuff the arm and cut the yarn, pulling the tail through the stitches and securing.

The cactus shape came out looking a little mitten-ish, but adding the flowers helped. If you’re feeling confident, play with the shape or even add more arms.

Flowers
Cast on 36 sts
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: *K1, cast off 6 sts* 5 times, K1
Cut yarn and thread through the six remaining stitches, pulling tightly to bunch the petal together. Sew onto cactus body.

I used the same exact pattern for both of my flowers but different weights of yarn to produce different sizes and textures. knitcactus2knitcactus5

For presentation’s sake, I found an appropriately sized pot on my garden cart and filled it with rocks. I made a little crater once the rocks were about 2/3 of the way up the pot and placed the cactus inside. I then built up the rocks around the sides of the cactus until it felt pretty secure. This is a pretty simple and crude way to present the cactus, but I also like that it incorporates some natural elements. I ended up giving it to my hostess paired with an actual, living cactus. Quite a cute pair – just don’t accidentally squeeze the real one or water the knitted one.

Make This: Cherry Brooch

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I just finished knitting this cowl scarf, which is beautiful but took me almost forever to finish. Honestly, I’m surprised that I even finished it, because too often I get bored with big projects and leave half-knitted scarfs and hats under my bed to die a slow, dusty death. (Of course, the next hurdle is actually wearing it, but I have quite a few months until it’s cold enough to do so.) After finishing such a long project, I needed a palate cleanser and made this cherry brooch in the time it took to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Seriously, this is such a simple pattern, and it’s so rewarding to be able to finish something in an evening. And hey, I even wore it the next day!

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Cherry Brooch

Materials: a bit of red and green lightweight yarn, 2 double-pointed needles (I used US size 5), tapestry needle, toy stuffing, brooch pin

I knitted these flat but used double-pointed needles because you will need them for the cherry stem i-cord.

Cherries (make 2)
Cast on 4 sts.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: KFB (knit through the front and back) 4 times (8 sts)
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: *KFB, K1* 4 times (12)
Row 5: Purl
Row 6: *K2tog (knit 2 stitches together), K1* 4 times (8)
Row 7: Purl
Row 8: K2tog 4 times (4)

Cut the yarn, leaving a tail. Using the tapestry needle, thread the yarn through the four stitches and pull tight. Sew the edges together, stuffing with a little toy filling (or scrap yarn if you don’t have any) as you go. Don’t overstuff because you want to cherries to lay somewhat flat.

Leaves (make 2)
Cast on 1 st.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: KFB (2)
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: KFB 2 times (4)
Row 5: Purl
Row 6: KFB 4 times (8)
Row 7: Purl
Row 8: K2, K2tog, SSK (slip, slip, knit), K2 (6)
Row 9: Purl
Row 10: K2tog 3 times (3)

Starting with the right side facing you, begin i-cord stalk with remaining 3 stitches. For a good tutorial, check out this one. Continue i-cord until it measures 1 inch. Cast off.

Sew the bottom of the stem to the top of the cherry and weave in ends. Crisscross the finished leaves and sew them together at the base of the leaves. Glue a brooch pin to the back (I got a whole box for quite cheap at Michael’s) and you’re done!

My next project? This lobster, the first of many sea creatures.