Festive Friday: Homemade Christmas Gifts!

Several weeks ago, I read a post from Rae where she was talking about knitting, and I mentioned to her that I am also an avid knitter (I’m full of surprises over here) and that each year, I make knitted ornaments for my friends and family for Christmas. I mentioned earlier this week that there’s a reason I’ve been MIA lately. Well, it’s December and I’m behind on my ornament knitting so I’ve been knitting until I can’t feel my fingers anymore. It’s a great excuse to sit on my couch and watch TV. My husband even buys into it because people seem to love getting these as gifts and many of his family members are the recipients.

Side note: I’ve also been known to knit sweaters for my cats:

image

That was my Mr. Miles, who has since passed away. He loved his sweater. I don’t do Christmas cards, but I did the year that I knitted that sweater. I had that picture printed as a Christmas card and sent it out to anyone I had an address for. Yes, I realize knitting alone probably earns me some sort of cat lady status. Knitting cat sweaters  and sending my cats out on Christmas cards probably means I’ve achieved Crazy Cat Lady Status: Expert Level. Whatever. My cats look cute.

Anyway, I digress. I’ve been knitting since I’m 8 years old, but only started knitting ornaments a few years ago. I proudly refer to them as ball sweaters, and ball sweater season is in full effect at my house. Here’s the progression over the years:

2011 – The first year that I had the brilliant idea to give everyone homemade gifts (I’d love to knit everyone socks or scarves, but those take too long for everyone on my list and I would probably need to start in May). I made this cute little basic ornament and I had a pattern from somewhere online:

image

2012 – I was all about owls for some reason. I really don’t know why. I actually had to buy this pattern because it was before I started writing patterns myself:

image

2013 – I was really into ugly Christmas sweaters and found a cute Fair Isle chart for a flower/star/snowflake/whatever but I had to start writing my own patterns. I could probably replicate it if I had to but I never actually wrote the pattern down. To date, these are my favorite:

image

Notice the quantity. I need to produce mass quantities of ball sweaters – thus why I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I’ll be back regularly before 2016. I promise.

2014 – While I loved this pattern too, I was still not quite as excited by this one. 2013 still wins for my favorite. This was the year I began writing the patterns down:

image

At the end of 2014, I had a ton of leftover yarn from all of the years of ornament knitting. Over my Christmas break that year, I spent the week making these just for the hell of it.

image

So not only do my cats have sweaters, but my Christmas tree is covered in knitted ornaments. I’m an 85 year old lady in the body of a 32 year old girl. It’s cool.

This year, I wanted to do a Moravian Star. I live in the Lehigh Valley and that’s like a thing around here – especially in the town of Bethlehem. It’s kind of hard to replicate for such a small surface area, so after a few feeble attempts I decided to do Christmas trees. However, I was unsatisfied with how those came out. I finally settled on my version of a Moravian star. Some look at it and see a snowflake. I don’t care. It’s probably too similar to my 2013 ornament but I am still so obsessed with those that I can’t help it. This is what they will look like – although this one has plenty of mistakes and is a quite sloppy since it’s my prototype:

imageI use a site called Tricksy Knitter to generate the charts. I’ve spent more hours staring at this than I care to admit. If you’re a knitter and want to try your hand at some Fair Isle ball sweaters that resemble a Moravian Star, here’s my final pattern. I’ve knitted enough of these that I don’t think I will need an errata, but knit at your own risk and let me know if you have questions or if you find a mistake.

Fair Isle Moravian Star Knitted Baubles

Materials

  • Finger weight yarn in your choice of color – choose a minimum of two colors! I usually buy 4-5 different colors so the possibilities seem endless. Non-Christmassy colors look really cute too.
  • A set of US Size 2 double pointed needles (DPNs)**
  • Place markers
  • Plastic baubles (see note)*
  • Darning needle

* These can be found at Micheals or a similar craft store. There are usually available several sizes and I prefer the medium sized baubles. This pattern is written for a medium sized bauble, and can be adjusted to larger sizes.

**I use four DPNs – three to hold my stitches and one for knitting, but you can use as many as you feel comfortable using. You might be able to get away with a small size 2 circular needle but I’ve never tried it.

Key

  • K – Knit
  • M1 – Make one stitch using your preferred method
  • k2tog – Knit two stitches together
  • MC – Main color
  • CC – Contrasting color

Pattern

Note: This ornament is knit from the bottom up. 

Round 1: With MC, cast on 10 stitches. Join the round, place marker, and knit one round. I like to put four stitches on the first needle, three on the second needle, three on the third needle and knit with the fourth needle. You can do whatever works best for you. (10 stitches)
Round 2: *K1, M1 repeat from* – across (20 stitches)
Round 3 (and all remaining odd rounds): Knit
Round 4: *K2, M1 repeat from* – across (30 stitches)
Round 6: *K3, M1 repeat from* – across (40 stitches)
Round 8: *K4, M1 repeat from* – across (50 stitches)
Round 10: *K5, M1 repeat from* – across (60 stitches)

Join the cc and knit the chart below. Since you are knitting the ornament from the bottom up, you technically read this chart from right to left, bottom to top – opposite of how you would read anything else. I’m pretty sure that this is how you read most knitting charts, but I write most of my own patterns these days so I don’t know what the proper knitting protocol really is. I’m not a real designer and I’ve never published a pattern before so proceed with caution. If this is confusing for you, I flipped the chart so you can read from left to right, top to bottom.

The original chart:

regular chart

The flipped version, just in case:

upside down chart

Upon completion of the chart, cut the CC and proceed with the MC as follows:

Round 1 (and all remaining odd rounds): Knit
Round 2: *K4, k2tog, repeat from* – across (50 stitches)
Round 4: *K3, k2tog repeat from* – across (40 stitches)
Round 6: *K2, k3tog repeat from* – across (30 stitches)
Round 8: *K1, k3tog repeat from* – across (20 stitches)
Round 10: *k2tog repeat from* – across (10 stitches)

Cut the MC and leave a few inches of yarn. Use a darning needle to thread the tail through the remaining stitches and pull. Voila! You are now one step closer to achieving crazy cat lady status, and your lucky recipients will anxiously await your yearly ornament reveal.

People seem to really love homemade gifts. Personally, I LOVE getting homemade gifts! I love making these and giving them out each year. Plus, the possibilities for making fun patterns and designs are endless. Give them a try!

Are you crafty? I’m actually not. This is the only craft I enjoy.
Do you give any homemade gifts around the holidays?
Do you like receiving homemade gifts?

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57 thoughts on “Festive Friday: Homemade Christmas Gifts!

  1. Katie Pridgen December 4, 2015 / 11:45 am

    CAT IN A SWEATER. That’s the cutest thing I’ve seen all week.

    I love that he loved the sweater! If I tried to get my cat into a sweater, there would be blood.

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 11:47 am

      Hahaha he loved it. Except the funny part about cats in sweaters is that when you put something around a cat’s body, they can’t walk. It’s like a real thing. So I think he liked it because it meant I had to carry him around and snuggle him. He was such a cuddler! My newer little guy, Newton, would probably scratch my eyes out if I tried to make him wear one!

      • Katie Pridgen December 4, 2015 / 11:49 am

        Cuddly cat in a sweater that can’t walk and needs to be carried everywhere.

        Cuteness. Overload.

  2. Brittany December 4, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    I can’t knit but growing up I did a LOT of cross stitch. My Christmas tree is full of cross stitched ornaments my mom made while she was recovering from surgery. Our tree growing up only had ornaments that were given to us or homemade so it was kind of necessary to feel “homey” in my own home!

    Those owls are SUPER cute though. Also, my dog needs a sweater so maybe I should knit…

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 12:58 pm

      That’s why I am a fan of the homemade ornaments – our whole tree barely has the filler ornaments, all sentimental ones! I love it. It doesn’t look like a tree you’d see in Macys or Bloomies, but it’s special to me 🙂

  3. sarahdudek80 December 4, 2015 / 12:54 pm

    I love knitting but haven’t learned how to read patterns or do anything other than scarves. I am self taught, although I did figure out a pattern to knit a heart into a scarf once. I LOVE these ornaments. They are so beautiful. There is something so awesome about making gifts for people, and being the recipient. I’m amazed!

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      You could totally make these ornaments no problem. I highly suggest trying it – it would be a good way to play with double pointed needles! You could do a plain one like I did the first year to start – in place of the chart, you would just straight knit something like 24 rows (I think that’s how many rows of pattern I have, I already forget!). However, the fair isle is not that hard. I still have trouble making my stitches look perfect because I carry the yarn with uneven tension, but by the end of the holiday season they look neater because I’ve perfected it! I usually only knit in the winters and abandon knitting by the spring!

  4. Hollie December 4, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Those are so awesome. I’m not that crafty at all but I would love to learn to make one of those guys.

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 1:47 pm

      We can have a knitting lesson this winter 🙂

  5. Heather Shoe December 4, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    Is there anything you can’t do? Those fair isle ornaments are awesome! I’m going to need to learn to knit before next Christmas.

    Also my little kitty just told me she is cold. She could definitely use a sweater. Just sayin’.

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 1:48 pm

      Haha!! My new kitty doesn’t like his sweater so yours can borrow his 😉 You definitely need to learn to knit! It is the yin to my running habit!

  6. thisrunnersrecipes December 4, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    Ooohh, I want to learn how to knit so badly. Those ornaments are adorable! The kitty sweater is too cute and I want to learn how to make my puppy a sweater!

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 1:50 pm

      If you lived close, we could have knitting lessons 🙂 One year, I taught a whole group of teachers to knit over our lunch everyday. If you look up local yarn stores, I bet they have classes. I learned when I was 8 from my grandma, and after she passed away I sought out knitting stores for my questions! It was something special that I shared with her and I like to think everything I still has a little bit of her in it. She was my BFF!

  7. Laura December 4, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    These are so cute! The owl is completely adorable.

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 1:51 pm

      Thank you! I do love the owls. I’ve thought about doing more with cable patterns like that, but I think that would be hard to top!

  8. Rebecca Royy December 4, 2015 / 1:49 pm

    WOW! You are awesome!! Do you ever sit still?
    I like to knit too…but just straight knit, no patterns, no shapes. I’ll make blankets. That’s it. I’m getting a bit tricky this year by mixing up knitting and pearling in the same line! Once I knit my son a blanket. It took a whole year, with thin needles, and cotton yarn. We now affectionately call it the 20 pound blanket. It’s so heavy, you can’t use it, or else you’d be crushed to death!

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 1:52 pm

      Hahaha omg I love it – the 20lb blanket! Haha! I love making blankets. That’s my favorite thing to do. With chunky yarn, so it goes fast! I’m due for another blanket project soon. I made a yellow, gray, and white chevron one a few years ago when we finished our bedroom – it’s cute! If you can knit and purl, you can do anything! I am dead serious. All this pattern has is straight knitting because it’s in a round. You should totally try it!!!

  9. Rebecca Royy December 4, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    I might! You are inspiring me! I only knit in the winter too. I find it very soothing. Guess that’s a bit odd. But I find ironing and sweeping the floor soothing too!

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 2:21 pm

      I definitely find knitting soothing, but I am the opposite with ironing!! I think I break out my iron once or twice per year! I wish I liked it!!!!

  10. Anna @ Piper's Run December 4, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    Oh shit……here’s a new project for me! Ha ha! I love to knit but just haven’t had the time in the last few years. I made hats for everyone one Christmas – so many hats made. The biggest thing I’ve made was a felted purse! These ornaments are awesome. As I was reading you got me thinking “I wonder if I could knit an ornament”…then you share the pattern. Oh no!!!!!!!

    • allisonfiorini December 4, 2015 / 2:22 pm

      You could TOTALLY knit an ornament! If the fair isle scares you, you could always sub out the chart for straight knitted rows. I love fair isle but tend to struggle with making those stitches look nice and even – its the tension on the yarn that is tough for me. It’s so pretty, though!

  11. Lisa @ TechChick Adventures December 4, 2015 / 3:36 pm

    First, LOL on that cat sweater!! It does look totally cute and I’m glad your cat was down with it. My daughter is trying to teach my cat to walk on a leash and she keeps liking the harness less each time she puts it on! Those knitting patterns are quite impressive!! I have a kids “learn to knit” kit and I made a promise that I was going to learn. That was two years ago. So, I’m a bit off. I got frustrated and gave up 😦 But I do want to try again now that I see your beautiful work! I do consider myself crafty because I can usually replicate things I see other people make. I just don’t have a knack for coming up with it on my own.

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:38 am

      You should definitely pick up that kids knitting book again and try it! If you need help you can always as me 🙂 It’s such a relaxing hobby and such a good way to unwind from everything else! I’m so not crafty, so if I can do it you absolutely can!

  12. DarlinRae December 4, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    OK, I’m seriously impressed right now. You write your own patterns?! That is way more advanced than me. I’ve never even used a chart before. I think AFTER the holidays, I may try my hand at these and start saving them up for next year. Mine will probably suck.

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:40 am

      Yours will so not suck!!!! You’d be good at them. Fair isle knitting is a lot easier than it looks, you just carry both strands of yarn and switch colors based on the chart! The hardest part is keeping the yarn from getting tangled.

  13. runningprincess78 December 4, 2015 / 4:10 pm

    LOVE the cat in the sweater. And he looks just like my cat Molly!
    I’m not in at all artistic or good at crafts, but my gran had a wool shop and my mum knits too. I was never any good at it but I had plenty of knitted stuff when I was growing up!

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:42 am

      How cool that your gran had a wool shop!! My grandmother was the one who taught me to knit when I was eight. When she would come and visit, there was a local yarn store that she loved so we would go together. She’s since passed away, and the yarn store closed but the owner actually opened a new yarn store close to my house and I go there often. Even though it’s a different location, I still think of my grandma every single time!

      • runningprincess78 December 7, 2015 / 11:32 am

        When my gram visited she would always have extra balls of wool with her. I’d wake up in the morning and find I had a new cardigan or bobble hat!

  14. Sam December 4, 2015 / 9:28 pm

    I am not crafty at all, but these are super cute!

  15. Jess@Run Pink! December 4, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    What?! That cat. Cuteness overload. I love this. You a woman of many talents! I actually can not sew, knit, or anything of that nature. Zero craftiness. My creative juices just aren’t flowing! However, I love hot tea before bed. Which is usually 9 pm. 75 year old woman in a 30 year old body. 😉 I may end up baking some cookies as a homemade gift. I’ve recently become obsessed with cookies baked with coconut sugar…but again… That cat. Love. Love. Love. 😉

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:43 am

      Awww thanks!! I have really good intentions of baking Christmas cookies this year, too. I was supposed to start over the weekend…and I never did! Maybe I’ll try again next weekend 🙂

  16. Fallon @ Slacker Runner December 4, 2015 / 11:15 pm

    I can’t even get my cat into a collar let alone a sweater! She would Houdini out of it and hide it (she shoved her collar under the refrigerator). Seriously, though, those ornaments are adorable!!! And you make your own patterns?! I can’t knit or crochet. I tried to teach myself both this year and failed at both. I can be crafty with wood/paint or jewelry but I usually get easily distracted. 🙂

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:44 am

      You could totally knit! Try again and ask me questions if you need help!! I recommend finding a local yarn store (they exist and are way more common than you think) and see if they have classes. They usually charge like $5 for a class and they are pretty fun!!

  17. BakeNBurn December 4, 2015 / 11:38 pm

    Those are so cool and what great gifts. I’m impressed. I am not crafty, wish I was. Also your cat sweater is glorious, I put my kitty in sweaters (but I buy them).

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:45 am

      Thank you! This is seriously the only craft I can do. So hilarious that you also put your cat in sweaters. I think it’s the cutest thing ever!!

  18. Alanna December 5, 2015 / 6:20 am

    These are so pretty! I’m not crafty at all. When I give homemade gifts they are food related. One year I made my dad a delicious flourless chocolate cake for Father’s day and decorated it with fondant tools. Thankfully it survived the 5+ hour drive to deliver it to him. 🙂

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:46 am

      Thank you!! Okay, I will trade you one of my ornaments for one of your AMAZING desserts. 🙂 I might be able to knit, but if I tried to make a flourless chocolate cake it would be like one of those Pinterest disasters!

      • Alanna December 7, 2015 / 8:38 am

        Haha that sounds like a fair trade. Flourless chocolate cakes are dangerously delicious. 😄

      • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 8:56 am

        Mmmmmm now I want chocolate. Crap!!

  19. Brittany December 5, 2015 / 10:27 am

    STOPPPPP with that cat sweater, you made that!?!?! I am so impressed, and your cat is so cute. He surely lived a lovely and dapper life in that sweater. These ornaments are ADORABLE.

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:46 am

      Haha yes, I did! He was the sweetest! I miss that little guy.

  20. Megan @ Meg Go Run December 5, 2015 / 11:48 am

    These are all so beautiful I love receiving homemade gifts, and I always hang my homemade ornaments together. When we were kids, we had a lot of homemade ornaments because we didn’t have a lot of money to buy them. My mom was really crafty, though. She loves knitting and crocheting and she actually makes hats and scarves and goes to all the big craft shoes here in PA in the winter to sell hair hats and scarves. She works all year just to make enough product so she can go to the shows!

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:47 am

      I believe that she definitely works all year and stockpiles for those shows – that stuff takes forever sometimes! I can’t imagine selling it. How does she put a price tag on it! All of those hours of work. She sounds so awesome!!!

      • Megan @ Meg Go Run December 7, 2015 / 6:54 pm

        She is so awesome. She actually has such a big customer base at this point that she CAN’T make enough for all the shows she normally does- so she has raised her prices a bit. “Supply and demand” she says. But yes it truly is a skill and art form and that is what you are paying for. I could never make anything like she does, I could never make beautiful ornaments like you, I am just not artistic at ALL in that sense. I am more of an, “Ooh that beautiful ornament you made looks just perfect hanging HERE” hehe.

      • allisonfiorini December 9, 2015 / 8:39 am

        You could TOTALLY make ornaments like me. I am so not creative. It is literally the only crafty thing I can do!

  21. hellyontherun December 5, 2015 / 10:25 pm

    Color me impressed!!! Sadly, I have no creative genes. Nothing, nada. 😦 I’m really good at putting together outfits and worked in retail for a long time and got to play personal stylist for the store. But yeah, that’s about it, lol!

    I would LOVE to learn to knit. I think it looks cool–people while doing and the final outcome of whatever they’re creating. It’s all cool.

    • allisonfiorini December 7, 2015 / 7:59 am

      You should definitely learn!!! I recommend looking up where your local yarn store is – there are more of those around than you think – and taking a class. They are usually super cheap and really helpful!!

  22. ambertherunner December 7, 2015 / 8:09 pm

    You are just full of talent! I LOVE that you knit your cat a sweater. Totally dorky but ALSO the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
    I think your 2013 and 2014 ornaments are a toss up! Both look great! Though maybe this year’s win the prize since you made the pattern yourself.
    I used to do hook rugs, but unfortunately they take quite a while so I think it would take me a full year to make just a couple as gifts – lol!

    • allisonfiorini December 9, 2015 / 8:54 am

      I’m a huge dork, hahah! I know, the fair isle makes the ornament looks a lot more intricate than it really is. I might like this year’s the best. I’ve made a bunch now and they are really cute!

  23. Gracie December 12, 2015 / 10:52 pm

    New to your blog but have to comment on these cute ornaments! I don’t knit, but I should – I am into lots of other crafts, including crochet. A small project like this would be a good start!

    • allisonfiorini December 14, 2015 / 10:35 am

      Hi Gracie! Thank you so much! You should absolutely try knitting, it’s great! I actually don’t know how to crochet. I need to learn that! Thank you for stopping by!

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