Niece the Elder's birthday is on New Year's Eve, which gives you an idea of how far behind on blogging I am right now.
Ahem. Let's start again.
Niece the Elder's birthday is on New Year's Eve. Besides dooming her to a life of birthdays where there's always a party, it means that she tends to get gifts a little late from me. It's hard to come up with distinctive Yule and birthday gifts when the birthday happens only a week later.
Niece the Younger, meanwhile, is not quite old enough to see her sister get a gift without her getting the same. Her birthday is at the end of March, so I told them I would get them both little gifts for each one's birthday, so they both got things both times.
Right now they are both into all things Pokémon, especially the trading cards. My mum found them some commercially-made Poké knits, and suggested I make them hats and matching mittens.
There are a lot of patterns on-line for Pokémon, of varying degrees of aesthetic success. My hat and mitts are based on this free pattern, though I followed the advice of other people and crocheted the circle motif instead of duplicate stitching it. The other mod I made was to only cast on 80 sts for the hat, instead of the recommended 100 — a lot of posters commented 100 sts was too big for their kids. I got 80 sts by remembering that Elizabeth Zimmermann calculated a hat to be the right size if it were half the circumference of a sweater, and looking up how many stitches at the same gauge I would need to knit the nieces sweaters.
The mittens are the same basic two-needle pattern from a free Paton's leaflet I've been making since I was twelve years old. It's so basic, in fact, that it's very easy to adapt to specific colour patterns, as done here.
Here's Niece the Younger modelling a hat while her big sister attends hockey practice:
I gave them a booster pack of trading cards to go with the knits, plus some lenticular bookmarks with wildlife scenes on them. I think the cards and especially the bookmarks were a bigger hit, but they liked the knits. Niece the Younger pointed out it meant she would always have three Pokéballs on her in case she found some monsters to catch.
The best part (for me) is that the black, silver, and white yarn were already in stash because of the kitties I made them, so I only had to buy the red. So I managed to work some stash-busting in too.