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Happy New Year!  I hope 2014 has started well for you.

Personally, 2014 is going to be a year where things can start changing.  I may be able to move to a location that is much more to my liking later in the year.   This is an extremely exciting prospect for me, and I’m trying hard not to get too excited, in case it doesn’t work out.

On the knitting front, I have to admit clock watching the end of 2013 just so I could start these pretties…

Smaug socks

I was so excited about starting them that I had the yarn wound and all ready to go beside my knitting chair in readiness!

I felt that knitting Smaug as the first sock of 2014 would be a good thing.  For one, it’s Chinese New Year at the end of this month, and it’s traditional to wear red and new clothing during Chinese New Year.  I think these socks fulfil both criteria!  Plus, it’s a dragon, which is a Chinese symbol of good fortune.   (Does this betray an intense hope for better fortune in 2014 to you!?)

The yarn was a very generous Christmas gift from Audry – the same yarn that she used to knit her Smaugs, Handmaiden Casbah Sock!  I felt very spoilt to get this luxurious yarn from her.  Thanks again Audry!

Also, a lesser reason, but I suppose still a mitigating factor in my choice of sock for this month was the release of the latest Hobbit installation, The Desolation of Smaug. Watching it made me want to knit something Hobbit-related.  Just for fun. :-)

The socks got put down for a day to do some guilty conscience knitting.

It was the young man’s birthday a few days after Christmas.  As he’d already had his official party a little earlier, I took him to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. This particular film really caught the young man’s imagination, and he’s spent the past few months stalking every trailer he could find, as well as the website for the movie. Going to the movie was a must-do.

He came out of the cinema positively foaming at the mouth for a ‘Barry’ (it seems to be spelt this way, although it sounds like ‘Berry’ in the movie), and was so inspired that when we got home, he promptly transformed his room into a jungle, appropriating items from around the house to use as props (hanging vines from the ceiling, using his pom poms as cute ‘jungly’ things around the room…), and even put up the tent on the floor, and got me to insert his mattress into it, where he still sleeps at night… he’s funny.  Click on the link above for the website to see images of what I’m talking about if you’re interested.

We had a look online to see how much a Barry would cost. Hmm.  Something in the region of NZ$60 for a mass-produced, not-very-well-done plushie, plus postage!!! Absolutely no way was I going to spend that sort of cash on a stupid toy.

I had been feeling guilty about not knitting him anything much last year.  I knew that he’d really appreciate it if I did knit him Barry the Strawberry.  So I did, and this is it:

The boy with Barry the Strawberry

It’s based on a fabulous free pattern I found on Ravelry for a giant strawberry.  I improvised the arms and legs.  I’m totally useless at embroidery, so we cut out felt eyes and I stitched them on.  The entire project was directed by the young man: he picked out the yarn colours and the felt colours.  He told me whether my designs for the arms and legs were ok (that was several tries to get it right), and how big to make the strawberry and the eyes and the length of the arms and legs. In the end, he got the exact size, shape, colour and look that he wanted.

It is entirely knitted in wool, which appears to make the best medium for good quality soft toys!  (At first I tried cotton for the legs and arms, but it looked awful).  Even the stuffing is clean fleece offcuts that have been rejected for yarn spinning.

Barry the Strawberry

And all that for a total monetary cost of $6 for the felt and embroidery thread. Everything else was already in my stash.  Thank goodness for the ability to make one’s own, I say!

One happy boy and one guilt-assuaged mother later, back to my socks. It’s a good day for knitting.  There’s a wind storm outside, and now it has started pouring with rain… :D

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