With the new house comes the chance to put up a larger Christmas tree. For me, decorating the tree is a fun adventure, beginning with a concept and ending with the final trims. It's also an archaeological expedition - allowing us to venture to corners of the attic and basement and into closets rarely visited to pull out boxes, unwrap treasures, and find them a home for the season.
As a child, I had some ornaments that were sentimental, but the majority of "my" ornaments have disappeared through the years. A precious few remain, and every year I yearn for a way to add to my collection without simply "buying" them.
Kicking off a new tradition, I did an ornament swap with my good friend Kate - where each person makes an ornament and swaps with someone else. It's part of her tradition (she has been doing it for a number of years now) and I cherish the idea of having a tree full of handmade (and hand knit!) ornaments. With that in mind, I set off to find the perfect pattern, and came upon a knitted ornament pattern called "Balls Up" <-- that's a Ravelry link for those interested. Digging through my studio, I found some Knit Picks Palette that was the perfect weight and colors for this years ornament.
I could only find 3" (76mm) styrofoam balls while the pattern called for 2.75" (70mm). I began by knitting a red one - using US 2 needles. The cover ended up a big smaller than it should have been to fit this larger ball size and seems a bit stretched.
Ornaments #2 and #3 were made using US 3 needles and the same size form. The little snowflake stranded pattern is my own design; a modified version of a centuries-old design found in a vintage knitting book. The trick for these ornaments is to knit the majority of the cover in the round, then add the styrofoam ball and continue knitting the last few rounds precariously with the ball inside. It's not the easiest, but after making one or two, the process gets much easier.
I met up with Kate today, and over a mug of hot cocoa gave her one of my white ornaments, and received a sweet hand knit ornament gift from her. (I can't talk about it quite yet since she is involved in a larger swap and her ornament hasn't been revealed) - I CAN tell you, though, that it's sweet, wonderful, and I LOVE it.
So, it's 2012 and I have some hand made ornaments (treasures!) on my tree... they look at home next to the little elf I got a few years ago. (It is a replica of an elf that was on my family tree when I was a young boy.) The holidays are full of memories and traditions... and this one will be a lovely addition.
If you'd like to knit your own version of this ornament, download the free Ravelry pattern, then use my chart (above). Happy Holidays from the Kyle William Studio!