A Birthday Gift Unlike Anything I'd Have Imagined

A week or so ago I had another birthday (they keep coming every 365 days), but my mother-in-law had arranged for me to receive my birthday gift while she was still here in December. It arrived just about on the day of, pretty cool, and I want to share it. It came from Celtic Swan Forge on Lopez Island, San Juan Islands, Washington:

It's a breath-takingly glinty, sterling silver, tapestry needle. Yep, those are grooves on the sides of the needle, in a spiral pattern, to make it easier to grip the needle as well as just for attractiveness. She also has knitting needles of many types, and there, the grooves help hold the stitches on, so the needle doesn't slide out. With the yarn needle, though, I think it's more about the beauty of the surface. I love this needle!

Dear MIL lives on Orcas Island (the San Juans are between Seattle and Vancouver, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca) near Lopez, and she met a woman at a party who told her about this lovely operation on Lopez. She being a crazed knitter herself (takes one to know one!), she guessed I'd like that sort of gift and she was correct!

Now to use it to stitch on the ties for a new Little Kitty hat that I made, modifying the pattern so it fits a toddler better.

Old news I never passed on . . .
I made a pair of pajama pants for part of my dad's Christmas gift. He is never easy to think of good gifts for, so this year I decided to make it a gift of time, effort, courage, and flannel. I'm not the seamster in the family (DH actually does far more sewing, albeit of a somewhat engineer's-approach-to-mending sort). But I taught myself enough about following patterns when the girls were little to surprise myself and DH with my ability to stitch up a pair of shorts with elastic waistband for whichever girlie needed them. So, remembering that I did conquer that mountain once, I got a pattern, some really pretty Christmas-ey flannel, and followed the directions.

I had to take several leaps of faith during this process because I don't see things as they are being constructed. If you ever took those standardized tests in junior high and high school, you might remember a section called "Spatial Relations" that involved unfolded boxy things that you were expected to mentally fold together and determine the final shape of--I couldn't do 'em to save my life. So what I'm accomplishing when sewing this seam or that, joining this panel to that, is very difficult for me to grasp. BUT I have learned that if I just trust the pattern makers, I'll end up with a sensible final product. And I did.

Dad liked 'em, he says.

I also felted a hat that has turned out mahvelous, if only I knew who to gift it to. Here's the sequence of photos showing how it went from droopy oversized knit bag to stylish cloche hat.

First I knitted it, using some lovely wool in browns and green/aqua tones.

Next I felted it in the washer:
And then I formed it using Clementine, my handy hat mannequin:

Subsequently, the hat needed a major haircut from all the fuzzy halo that rendered it ridiculous looking. Subsequent to that, DD#3 admitted it wasn't her style, but thanks for thinking of her. Subsequently, I felted it further, trimmed it again, and now have finished a quite lovely cloche style hat, but for the moment it will have to remain an orphan. I'm not much of a hat wearer myself (short hair gets flattened in no time when one wears a hat, and in NorCal it just isn't cold enough the majority of the year to need even a cap. So . . . ah well. Fun project even if it didn't turn out to be the right gift.
More soon. Happy knitting, all!