Friday, 8 January 2016

FO: His 'n' Hers Christmas Stockings

Remember way back towards the beginning of December I blogged about this mad idea I had to make stockings for Rich and I, for the Christmas that was rapidly approaching?

Well... I did it! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...


It was the first weekend in December and I was sat on the sofa at our friends' home in Portsmouth browsing Instagram before we headed out. I have to admit that I wasn't feeling particularly Christmassy as life was a bit hectic and it just wasn't cold enough. Isn't it funny how important the weather is at certain times of year? It's just not Christmas if I'm not bundled up in knitwear, with a hot water bottle in my bed and a hot chocolate in my hands.

But I digress...

While on Instagram, I spotted that Sandra, of Cherry Heart blog, had released her rather lovely Christmas stocking crochet pattern. Of course, it was love at first sight - I had to make it. In fact, I had to make two.

As I walked to the station to catch a train back to London, I pondered just how I'd make these stockings. How would I customise them so that they wouldn't be just two stockings, how would we know who's was whose? I decided that cross stitching initials to hang from them like labels would be a good idea - I'm a pretty quick cross stitcher and I find designing cross stitch patterns quick, easy and fun! (At this point I also had the idea that I could make everyone customised stockings - friends, family... literally everyone. Thankfully, I knocked that on the head very quickly. Maybe this Christmas!)

The project then broke down into three stages:

STAGE ONE: THE LABELS

I wanted nice chunky initials to label the stockings so they'd show up clearly. I also wanted a little Christmas detail on each; I've got a candy cane and Rich has a Santa hat. These took a couple of hours to design - I sketch them out on graph paper and then transfer them to my MacStitch software to crisp them up and make the charts easier to follow.

The stitching was probably the point where I really thought it wasn't going to happen because I had forgotten that stitching is slower than crochet and that it was Christmas and I had things to do. But I managed to finish them in a week, shockingly enough - thanks to one free evening, a couple of long train rides and the fact that plastic canvas travels well.


STAGE TWO: THE STOCKINGS

I chose traditional red, white and green Christmas colours and there were a lot of false starts.

Turns out using all those colours results in an Italian flag stocking. Rip. 

Yep, even using them in a different order - still an Italian flag! Rip. 

Why is this foot so narrow? Rip. 

Why is this foot so long? Rip.

I cannot fault Sandra's pattern - it's a beautiful and clearly written one, with the added bonus that tutorials for all the stitches used can be found in Sandra's Crochet Corner. This was invaluable for me as crochet is not my strong point at all. So I really cannot say what I kept doing wrong - eventually I went up to a size 5 needle and got the look I was going for.


STAGE THREE: FINISHING

I finished Rich's stocking, in green and white stripes with a red toe, heel and cuff, the night before we headed off to Cornwall. A Christmas miracle, frankly, as I was working 12hr shifts all the week before. I cast on the green toe for mine and then crocheted like a demon (while singing Christmas songs at the top of my voice) on the way to Cornwall. I had just finished the heel when we got to Axminster and stopped for a bite to eat at the River Cottage Canteen (fantastic place, even better food - eat there!). I was halfway up the leg when the light failed so completely I couldn't see what I was
doing.

I finally finished mine, in red and white stripes with a green toe, heel and cuff, the day before Christmas Eve. I patiently cut out the initials, discovered the sheer magic of pom pom makers and finished them off, ready to be hung up on Christmas Eve. Which was brilliant timing as I then ended up with a bug, haha!

Phew - what a long FO post! But I really was so very proud of these that I had to share all the details of them. Sandra's pattern is so lovely and easy to customise. I think I might do some non-traditional Christmas colours next year...

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