A sweater

On Christmas morning, I unwrapped a box, and it was some strange thing that I didn’t understand.  On the front of the box it said the cables captured audio and visual from "sources" and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how that would be relevant to my life really, and I smiled at Ken, and hoped that like with most odd tech things he’s given me  (like this blog) he would explain how I would love it, use it and need it,  and I would grow to wonder how I’d ever lived with any sort of happiness at all without capturing audio and visual from "sources."

A minute later, I remembered that I had told anyone who would listen that if they were looking for a wonderful present for me, they need look no farther than a large pile of VHS tapes upstairs. They’re the home movies from when the girls were little, and if someone could move them from VHS to – whatever makes sense these days… if they could just, like… capture those images and sounds and… all of a sudden I understood.  The cables weren’t the gift.  What Ken was going to do with them was, and I was a little bit overcome. He’s been working on it for the last few days, and on the night of my Mum’s family party I got a preview, and there they were.  My little babies, and I was captivated by them. Perhaps because they’re all so big and so independent now… I mean, my youngest will be a legal adult in a few weeks… all of a sudden all I wanted was for them to be little again.  As I watched those images with my big beautiful girls beside me, it was all I could do to keep myself from trying to pull a 22 year old woman onto my lap,  but I did, and later when I said to Joe that it was such a wonderful time when they were little and he just looked at me like I had lost my mind, I thought maybe I had. 

What the hell does this have to do with a sweater?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure, but I know that in those movies, lots of them, there are sweaters I knit. Amanda’s stomping through the leaves in the park, two years old in a purple cabled sweater  I made her. Fast forward a few video’s and there’s a tiny Megan unwrapping a blue sweater with bunnies on it on Christmas morning … fast forward again and there’s Sam, my last little baby, snuggled down in that same sweater.  Five year old Amanda talking into the camera, her (new) purple sweater tossed on the chesterfield behind her… A pudgy little Meg toddles beside Amanda as she rides her first bike.. a white and fuchsia sweater buttoned over her. Those sweaters suddenly like a bright neon sign to me, a mark on those girls  telling everyone who will ever see it "This child is loved, this child is loved, this child is loved." There was something, something about seeing them wearing those sweaters, that made me very glad that I knit Megan a sweater this year – and that there’s more on the way for her sisters. 

Owls, by Kate Davies, knit out of two skeins of eco-wool.  (I changed the gauge, and lengthened the sweater. I’ll put details on Rav.)

They might be big, and they might not always (hardly ever) be with me where I can keep them safe -

and I might have to work on some acceptance around that, as they head off to school and jobs and life and their own apartments and deciding where they will put coffee mugs in their own cupboards (while I still try to accept that they drink coffee at all.)  And I might still have to find a way to figure out how to stop wondering if they’re okay all the time when I can’t see them… and I know I can’t make them little again, and I guess I don’t really want to (but I do) but I can keep them warm, and make them sweaters, and have them out in the world with that mark on them.  They can pull those sweaters over their heads, and they can know who loves them…

And that look, and these sweaters will be in the movies we make now, and it will mean the same thing as it did when it was that little blue sweater with the bunnies on it.

Happy New Year everyone.  All our best to you as you ride into a new year.
I’ll catch you on the other side.

My Making

This year’s making on my part, was restrained – or at least I thought it was restrained- but when the time came there was something knitted under the tree for everyone.  This spectacular event was made possible through the magic of The Long Range Planning Box, into which many an item made its way through the year- just to make Christmas glorious.  Ken’s socks were finished in July,  Joe and my Mum’s were knit in March… I knit all year long and into the box they went.  This absolutely sensible behaviour greatly reduced the chances that I wouldn’t be crying at 3am on Christmas Eve trying to finish a pair of socks.  (For the record, it was December 23rd and it was a hat.  The best laid plans are still no match for the fickle mistress that is gauge, and the almost freakish way that I’m 43 years old and apparently still can’t quite count.)  I know I was secretive while all of this came off the ground, so here’s the stuff from the final push that I kept quiet. 

First up, Old Joe’s annual Christmas socks.  Old Joe is the worlds foremost authority on handknit sock appreciation.  He takes good care of them, washes them tenderly and with experience, and shows them off to strangers.  This is behaviour that triggers further sock knitting in me.  We have an arrangement.

Yarn is Regia Strato Color in 5748 (discontinued, I think) needles were 2.25mm and the pattern was my good plain sock from Knitting Rules .  I’m pretty sure he liked them.

My sister Erin is a hat freak, and she never tires of getting them. 

Enter the Icing Swirl pattern and one skein of Peruvia Quick in Rosa (9186).

This pattern + yarn + hat in just under 2.5 hours, which was a thrilling development.

Amanda (I’m just going to say it) Amanda doesn’t like hand knit socks, but like her Aunt Erin, loves hats.  Also like her Aunt Erin, she looks really cute in them.
Amanda got a Jenny Cloche, also out of Peruvia Quick, in Blue Nile (9147) – and this would have been super quick to knit, had I not desperately misjudged everything important, and had this had be the aforementioned 3am nightmare on the 23rd.   

Still, it’s as cute as the vintage button I used on it, straight from my Grandmother’s button bin.

Katie’s baby got a Puerperium Cardigan a lot like the one I knit for Marlowe before she was born. 

I loved that little sweater enough to repeat it.  Black Cascade 220, and a skein of colourful Silk Garden that I ripped up and re-arranged to get what I wanted out of it. 

This baby is coming in February, and I swear it will be cozy. 

There’s one more project to show you, but it’s so pretty I’m going to give it a whole post of its own.  Check in tomorrow, and Happy 5th Day of Christmas.  Hang in there. 

Makers

When the girls were little, we were broke, and by broke I mean that I really, really struggled with Christmas.  There were several years in a row where we often had about $5 to spend on each person in our extended family – and not much more for the people in the immediate herd.  We solved this by being extremely crafty.  We painted mugs, we baked, we canned, we knit and sewed, and we always had great presents.  It was nice actually (not the being broke part, that sucked monkey balls.  I know money can’t buy happiness but if you’re pretty happy already it can take the edge off of the festive season like not much else) we had to really think about our gifts, and consider them, and put time and effort into coming up with an idea instead of just tossing cash around inside the mall.  Anybody can buy you a shirt from the Gap, but tee-shirts painted with your children’s own art?  Priceless.  (It is good to see, by the way, that the time honoured tradition of the handprint reindeer has not gone out of style.)  We painted frames to put family prints in…. we wrapped up cookies and home made marmalade – we even made chocolate spoons one year.  The interesting thing is that I didn’t realize it then, but what I was really doing with my kids was training them for their own inevitable broke years.  What do young students/women with entry level jobs do for Christmas if they grew up crafty?
Well, for starters, Meg and Amanda bought some of those Pebeo porcelain paint markers, and a bunch of dollar store mugs, and they solved some problems.  Problems like that if you call your grandparents "Nana Carol" "Old Joe" and "Gramy"  you can never find mugs that say that.

They made me an yarny art one, and Joe one with the logo for his studio (beautifully hand drawn) on one side, and "The Boss" on the other.

They delivered little bags of handmade chocolate truffles and cookies. (They were delicious.  Amanda used my Pistachio Lemon biscotti recipe to great effect, much as I had done in the lean years.)

Sam though – Sam had access to some pretty handy people, and a woodshop, and she produced a few beautiful things.  First up, a chess set for her Grandfather. (Photo’s produced by way of Grandmother’s cell phone.  Thanks Nana Carol!) 

She built a box, with a hinged lid to keep all the pieces in, then painted the lid like a chess board. 

Thick dowels were cut into different lengths, and then stained two shades, and finally -

She painted the names of the pieces on top of them.  Tall ones that say "King" small ones that say "pawn". Very cool, and designed by our clever girl herself.   When she was done with the Chess set, she decided to break my little heart, and made me a few tools.

I am the proud recipient of a hand made, beautifully smooth niddy noddy, and very fine knitting needles, all with the date burned into them so I’ll always know.

It’s moments like this that make me grateful for all the time I spent with them making stuff when they were little.  I thought I was just occupying them, and being thrifty – but the girls got something out of it I wasn’t expecting.  They really understand that if you don’t have money, you have to replace it with skill and thoughtfulness.  I’m pretty proud of them.

Q&A- There were a ton of questions in the last round of comments, so here’s some quick answers.

Is that your house? 
No.  I dream of that being my house. That’s my Mum’s.

Why are people wearing paper crowns? 
They’re from the Christmas Crackers.   Crackers are pretty rolls of paper waiting for you on your dinner plate at Christmas, if you live in the UK or most of the Commonwealth.  Each one has a (tiny) exploding strip inside that runs the length of the cracker.  You hold one end of your cracker out to the person next to you, and each of you takes one end a pulls.  The strip breaks with a loud "CRACK!" the cracker is pulled apart, and your prize, your crown and your joke tumble out. The prize gets laughed at, the joke is told to your family, and the crown goes on your head for dinner.  (Best joke out of a cracker this year: What do you call a broken boom-a-rang?  A stick.) 

Why are people pointing at each other in that picture?
We are dancing and singing. We are that kind of family.  That would be during "Sweet Caroline" Which in part has the lyrics "reaching out… touching me….touching you…" which should explain everything, including the apparent groping.

What’s that big fish with Hank?
Air Swimmer Remote Control Inflatable Flying Shark. Yes.  It’s that cool. We all should have thrown our gifts in the bin once Ken gave him that.  No competing with it.

Who’s the pregnant lady?
That’s my sister in law Katie. I’ve got to start her blanket. 

Is that Amanda with tools?
Damn straight it is.  She’s 22 and just moved into her own place. Seemed obvious.

Now, if you don’t mind, today is the 4th day of Christmas, and our annual big  party at my Mum’s, and I have a lot of cooking to do.  Wish me luck.  This level of merriment is hard to maintain.

Without a Hitch

I’ve started this post about eighty seven times, and am now ready to admit that I’m clearly too tired to string together any words… so instead of giving up on a post entirely,  I give you the holiday in pictures. 

Tomorrow I’d love to show you some of the beautiful hand made gifts that turned up at (and left) our house.  It turns out that something happened this year, and the gene that controls independent craftiness got turned on in our kids. 

So far, our Christmas is wonderful.  How’s yours going?

Merry Christmas

Gifts for Knitters: Days 24 and 25
These are gifts, my darling non-knitters, that you can give to a knitter without any money, any time, or any planning, and I personally guarantee that they will be appreciated more than anything else you can do.  They are as follows:

Respect

I am sure you respect your knitter every day, but let me just take a minute to speak to you about knitting respect.  Knitting may look like stuff made out of yarn, but it isn’t.  Knitting is actually a container, that your knitter has filled with time and love.  Time that they chose to give to another person, that they could have spent doing anything else in the world.  When you see a knitted object, don’t see a hat, or a sweater, or a pair of socks.  See twenty, forty, a hundred hours of your knitters life that they have decided that you, or someone else is worth.  (How much time did you spend getting their present?) Understand that far from being a thrifty or lesser way of giving a gift, things that are handmade are the most expensive objects there are.  Conduct yourself accordingly as your knitter wraps that scarf for your mum.

Day 25

This gift leads straight out of the last one, and I know that if you give the gift of respect, that this next one will be a cinch for you to pull together.

The Proper Way to Receive a Knitted Gift.

1. Open the gift, and immediately say something positive.  (Suggestions are things like "Oh wow!" or "Oh my goodness!)

2. Hold up the item and smile broadly.

3. If you do not know what the item is, DO NOT SAY SO. 
We understand that knitting can produce some unusual items, and that the nature of handmade objects can further complicate things.  If, after admiring the item for some time you are still not sure what it is, say something like "This is beautiful. Oh my gosh.  Can you show me how I should wear it? I want to do it justice."

4.  After admiring and identifying the item, RUB IT ON YOUR FACE, or at the very least, cuddle it against your neck while saying something positive, like "Mmmmmm".  Knitters love this.  It’s because we’ve been worried that you wouldn’t like it, and knitting is a tactile thing.   Lots of non-knitters find some textiles scratchy or uncomfortable, and we’re worried that will be you.  Making immediate physical contact with the item reassures us.

5. Pronounce the item  the best gift you have ever gotten.  Kiss or hug the knitter, and show the item off to at least one other person over the course of the day.

6. Place item in a place of honour, and continue to admire it at intervals, remarking (see gift re: Respect above) that you can’t believe that a knitter thought you were worth that much time. 

DO NOT:

-Comment that it doesn’t fit.  This is not something you discuss today.  Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after. Or in a week.  Not today.  Your knitter has been busting a move for weeks or months for you.  They probably finished a hat at 2am and are a little fragile.  Save it.

-Similarly, do not say it is scratchy, or uncomfortable or not what you wanted.  Despite what some other non-knitters may have you think, knitting is a super expensive gift - and if someone gave you a Ferrari, you wouldn’t pout and tell them you wanted it in blue. 

Now go forth and love your knitter.  They’re amazing.

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Peace out.  Be kind to each other.  Stay calm. 

Focus of a Ninja

I don’t know if this happens to you, but most years, I have a Christmas problem. I have a feeling that it’s not uncommon among those who are the Makers of Christmas.  I work so hard at making it nice, at making all the traditions, at making all the food and the cookies and presents and then wrapping them, that by the time Christmas actually comes, I’m some weird, exhausted mess with tape in my hair,  right on the edge of  a nervous breakdown.  Even when things are underway, I often feel like the work I did only serves the rest of the family.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to make a beautiful Christmas for them, but early this year I wondered if there wasn’t another way.  A way that would mean that when the halls were decked and the candles lit and the family gathered, that I would be sitting there with them, instead of cloistered in a bedroom frantically wrapping, or in the kitchen cooking like a lunatic while they all play cards by the tree – eating gingerbread and sipping egg nog. 

I did what I usually do when I want something to go better.  I made a plan, and schedules, and spreadsheets and daily to-do lists.  I enlisted Joe – telling him that not only did I think this was going to be good for me, but good for him too. (The promise of the possibility that he wouldn’t be married to someone furious about us having the wrong candles and RUINING CHRISTMAS was a powerful motivator to him.  We got organized,  (Well.  I got organized.  Mostly Joe got even more co-operative than he usually is, which is really saying something.) and today, at 10pm, if all goes well and the planet doesn’t throw us any curve balls, We will be done. 

Done wrapping.  Done knitting, done shopping, done cleaning, done buying – stick a fork in us people, because we are ALMOST DONE, and do you know what that means?

Who won’t be frantically wrapping presents at 2am and crying because it’s all been too much?  Me.  Who won’t be throwing in a load of laundry at 10pm on Christmas Eve because there aren’t enough towels for the whole family in the morning?  Me. Who won’t begin the journey to my mum’s by screaming "WHAT DID YOU THINK "WE ARE OUT OF WRAPPING PAPER BUY MORE ON YOUR WAY HOME" MEANT JOE?  WHAT DID YOU THINK IT MEANT?" Me. Who isn’t going to have a single present wrapped in something weird like tin foil or napkins this year?  Me.   Who isn’t going to be staggering through an assortment of strange convenience stores on Christmas afternoon trying to find just one godforsaken little lemon for the carrots? Me! Who isn’t giving a single, solitary, for the first time ever in the history of the world, giving a present on still on the needles so that she can be teased by her family? Me. 

I’d say it’s a miracle, but it’s not.  Joe and I have busted a serious move this year, and tomorrow, everything is going to be nice.  Really nice. We have been a Black Ops Christmas Lightning strike force.  We’ve had daily State of the Union meetings,  and missions and starting tomorrow, this family is having a beautiful three days together. 

I know that a clean house and finished presents can’t make everything perfect, and my family will still be my family, and all the regular crap will still go down – but this year, when my daughters ask me if I want to be a fourth in euchre, I won’t have to tell them that I don’t have time.   This is the nicest change we’ve made in a long time. For today though, I’m going to need the focus of a Ninja.  The schedule calls, the sheets need washing, the second batch of peppermint bark needs finishing (I decline to comment on the exact location or condition of the first batch of peppermint bark.  Let’s just say it’s "missing") I’ve got one half hat to knit and the last round of wrapping has to be done.

Christmas Ninjas.  We are them. 

Gifts for Knitters, Day 23.

This is an easy one. Gift Certificates.  Your local Yarn Shop has them, and your knitter would like that.  Go now. They don’t close for awhile.

The Light

Happy Solstice my friends.  I wrote what follows in 2006, and I’ve decided to re-post it here today because not only is it still valid, I don’t think I can say it any better than I did then.  Today’s Gift for Knitters is the gift of kindness, and generosity and help.  We’ve updated the Knitters Without Borders in the sidebar.  Today it stands at $1 102 556, up more than $40 000 from the last time, and I am so sure of the nature of knitters that I have moved the goal to $2 000 000, which is completely insane, but the best sort of optimism – well matched to the day that the light begins to return.  Please consider a donation.

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These weeks are the darkest of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, each day we have a little less light. Each day things are a little colder, the sun rises later, sets sooner and darkness overwhelmingly outweighs light, while it gets harder and harder to take a good blog picture of yarn on the front porch. (Maybe that one is just me.) For many of us, our moods head in the same direction.

Luckily, Northern humanity has figured out a way to get through.

Christmas, Solstice, Yule, Hannukah, HumanLight, Kwanzaa, Saint Lucia Day, Diwali, Yalda. Dong Zhi.

All over the world, people gather their loved ones together, light candles, decorate their homes, put up trees, share a meal or exchange gifts with each other and all of their celebrations have one thing in common. They are celebrating (among other fine miracles and beliefs) the return of the light. All of these holidays happen on or around the time of the solstice. The magic day that follows the longest night, when the planet swings far enough over and whether you can feel it or not….the days get longer. Sun wins over moon. The earth begins to warm and another long dark winter is on it’s way out. (You may have noticed, what with February being what it is in Canada that this process is fairly gradual.) The balance shifts.

Balance is what I’ve been thinking about this season. It seems to me that nothing at all is ever going to get any better in the world if we can’t learn to share our wealth. (I know when you’re trying to pay the gas bill it doesn’t always feel like you are rich, but I’m comparing globally.) It should be impossible, in a world that is as decent as the people that I meet in it, that some of us should have three coats and are trying to drop a few (or more) pounds before we fête the season with more food and gifts, that others will starve or die of preventable illness and disease while we party on. I am convinced we can do better. I really am.

It simply can’t be that we are this rich, so far in the sun, that many of us will die of our excess, while others, as worthy and hardworking as we are, will remain so very poor that they will die of it. In 2004 the tsunami killed an estimated 229,866 people and humanity rose to the occasion with unprecedented attention and worldwide fundraising. Now, this year more than four million people have quietly died of Malaria and HIV/AIDS – and we, as a planet, are somehow pretty quiet about that. We need to step up like we have done before. We need to step up every day. We need to learn to share, in a global sense.

Imagine that your family, however big or small it is, gets another member. A baby is born, someone marries, it happens all the time. Now, naturally…as is the case when someone is added to a family, they are welcome at your winter festivities and they will be fed and receive a gift (or, in the case of many of our families, multiple gifts.) When a new family member is added, no-one declines to feed them because you can’t afford it, no-one refuses to buy them a birthday or holiday gift because the family is big enough. You spend a little less on each other person, you spread your budget around, maybe if you’re really broke you make them a card… but you make it work.

The challenge is to imagine this person has been added to the list of people you care for in some way, and to give their share to my favourite good guys, Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders.

In short, and to the best of your ability, I want you to include MSF/DWB and the people they help to your family.

Canadians can give here
Americans here
Knitters from other countries here

MSF / DWB provides medical care to those in desperate situations and is transparent and neutral, without religious or political affiliations. They have won the Nobel Peace Prize and you can read their charter here.

When you’ve done that, send me an email (kwbATyarnharlotDOTca ) and tell me how much you were able to give. (It is very helpful to me if you mention if that’s in Canadian or US dollars) When you do, Natalie and I (and the family elves) will add you to my list of Knitters Without Borders or, if you’re already on it, I’ll up your total. I don’t need to see a receipt or proof that you have given this gift, because I truly, truly believe nobody would lie about this. (If you are someone who has been giving a monthly donation since the first time we did this, let me know and I’ll update your total.)

Here’s the fun part. I would like to stun the world with the power of knitters. I’d like them to see what I already know about you. I’d like you to achieve something incredible and legendary. I’d like to you aim high and make other people inspired.

I would like knitters to double the number in the sidebar. ( Currently about $1 102 556) We are now aiming for Two Million Dollars.

This will be a big job. It won’t be easy, it might even pinch a little, but it can’t hurt as much as doing nothing, or it can’t hurt as much as being one of the people in the world who needs help for a loved one and is watching them die because they have the bad luck to live in a country where you can’t call 911. For my family to manage our goal, we will need to spend a few dollars less on each gift, skip store-bought hot chocolate, ask Santa to put a tiny bit less in the stockings, and bake a few less cookies. (I’ll have to knit from stash for a while, and that’s not exactly punishing. ) I bet your family could find somewhere to trim a little so you could share too. Maybe there is even someone on your list who would like it if their whole gift was a donation, made in their name. Dig deep.

I believe that each of you are going to give the absolute biggest gifts that your personal finances will allow, whether that is one dollar -or a thousand, and I’m not going to judge that amount, or provide a list of names of those who have given, or ever reveal who gives what. I know that every family has their own strains, and their own ability to give, and that what you can manage is deeply personal.  I hope every single person who reads this blog manages to do their best. Share until it feels good – or wonderful, or fantastic. Share as much as you can. Imagine yourself explaining to your family or children about this, imagine explaining about global sharing, and then give, my lovely knitters, whatever this season means to you, and celebrate the amount of light coming into your life. I promise that it will seem a little brighter.

Dark Times

Today is very dark.  Not metaphorically dark – actually dark.  Of all days of the year in the Northern hemisphere, today is the one with the longest night and the least amount of sun, and I’m pretty sure that the weather here got wind of the theme, because it’s so overcast that it seems to be twilight.  It is deeply dark, a total absence of sun, and far from being dismal or dreary, I am finding it appropriate and lovely.  I have candles lit

freshly baked bread just out of the oven,

the meringues (finally) in the oven and I am hunkering down and embracing this day for what it is. Cozy, quiet and dark, with only the light I put into it. 

It is peaceful and lovely, and the kettle is singing in the kitchen, ready for tea, and as I putter through the day, wrapping up loose ends (and literally wrapping) I’m reflecting on the fact that I appear to be not just caught up – but ahead. The baking is done, the house is tidy, and last night when I was on the streetcar, I just about finished the last pair of socks I had on the list. The wee sweater proceeds just fine, and near as I can tell, that means that all I have left to knit is a hat… and I can’t believe it.  I actually can’t believe it to the point that it must not be right.  This morning, instead of being all relaxed and thinking about how nice it must be to be almost finished,  I decided that this must mean I forgot something.  I’ve been over my spreadsheet about nine times (Yes.  I have a spreadsheet. I am that person.) and if I’m missing a knit, I have no idea what it is – but I find it hard to believe that it’s not lurking out there.   I hope it’s nothing big.  The moment is going to come when I figure this out, and when I do, I hope two things.  That it’s not a whole pair of socks, and that it’s not 10:30 on Christmas Eve.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 21

This is a really good one, and again, short – sweet and possibly online.  Your knitter, while knitting, can’t always look at things (like a screen, which is frankly, why they don’t want to go to the movies with you. It’s not personal) but they can always listen.  Consider getting your knitter audiobooks.  I’ve got an Audible subscription, and love it to death, but you can also buy them at bookstores. Sitting and listening while someone reads me a story is one of the nicest things to do.  I bet your knitter would like it too.

PS: Because someone will ask, my current favourite audiobooks are The Hunger Games, The Song of Ice and Fire series, anything from the Amelia Peabody series (it’s better in order) and the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I’m sure there will be more good suggestions in the comments.

Time

I was going to skip today, being as I’m pressed for time in the most ridiculous way, and then I remembered what today’s Gift for Knitters is, and realized that it was the perfect day to make an effort. 

This afternoon I’m knitting my little heart out, labouring under the fabulous delusion that I can still finish it all.  This is mostly a made-up crazy-pants idea.  The thing is that I could be finished this present, if I wasn’t unable to knit while I bake, or stagger around a mall, or try and figure out the perplexing sizing system for tights, or clean the kitchen or throw in a load of laundry, and that, my friends, that brings me to today’s Gift for Knitters, and it is:

Time

Non-knitters, my darlings, my sweets, take it from me, your knitter wants time. Knitting time.  There’s no possible way that you can help with the actual  knitting, we all know that, but right now your knitter is wishing you could, and while you can’t knit for them… you can do everything else.  Tonight, when your knitter says something subtle like "THIS IS A NIGHTMARE I’M NEVER GOING TO FINISH I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE TO DO LAUNDRY AND TRY AND FINISH THIS HAT" and then bursts into tears, you can help.  It’s drastic, but you can do it.  You can turn to your knitter and say the following.

"I have a present for you.  I’m going to do the laundry so you can knit."

Pro-tip: You can substitute any other activity that your knitter mentions is a conflict with knitting.  Shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping – you can create knitting time in a million beautiful ways.  Going somewhere? Drive, so your knitter has knitting time. Ask for a grocery list, and leave the house and go get it all, and if you really, really want to be heroic… take the kids with you.

The magic doesn’t have to stop there, oh no.  It goes farther than contributing to your families gift giving by supporting your knitter… after Christmas, your knitter is going to go right on liking knitting, and he or she is going to go right on wanting to have time to do it.  Think about making up little coupons.  Coupons that promise a whole afternoon where you’ll take over the chores/kids/cleaning/whatever – and your knitter will have time that’s designated just for them and their wool. 

Trust me.  Time.  Do it.

That’s Rushing

I have no idea what to say today, because things are getting wild enough that I can really only do two things. 

1. Keep plowing away at the list of things to do.
2. Attempt to appear absolutely calm about the whole thing, because if I’m not absolutely calm for a moment, eight people tell me I’m "freaking out", and if there’s one thing that’s going to put me right off the almighty ledge of sanity it’s people telling me to be calm, when I bloody well am.

I am unequivocally not freaking out, just rushing rather quickly, and if Joe some people can’t tell the difference between rushing and freaking out, then maybe Joe some people should try a little rushing and see if they don’t understand immediately the subtle but important difference. 

People who are freaking out are ineffective.  They don’t host little parties at which ice lanterns that they’ve been freezing for days twinkle on the steps.

People who are freaking out also don’t have a finished pair of chunky alpaca socks. *

People who are freaking out aren’t able to smirk at the finished Christmas sweater, upstairs blocking on the bed, and people who are freaking out absolutely can’t show you a detail of a very nice hat that they finished -

or tell you that most of the wrapping is done and there’s only a few things left to buy and that the meringues will be made by the end of the day – God willing and the creek don’t rise.  People who are freaking out can’t tell you that they only have a small sweater, a sock, a hat and a pair of mittens left to knit by Saturday, and people who are freaking out don’t have a plan for that. 

You know why they don’t?  Because the difference between "freaking out" and "rushing" is one word, my friends – one word.  Efficiency.  Freaking out is an inefficient state with energy wasted on an emotional reaction to the circumstances in which one finds oneself.  Rushing, on the other hand, is simply moving quickly from task to task with no time to discuss it with the people who think it’s freaking out – and a word to the wise? The best way to move someone from "rushing" to "freaking out" is to tell them that they’re freaking out when they’re actually rushing -especially (and this is key, should you really, really want to see them lose it) if you tell them that they’re freaking out while they’re changing the laundry, washing the floor, separating egg whites from yolks, knitting a hat, making a grocery list, watering the tree, fixing the lights and wrapping your mothers present, because I promise that we, the great and mighty makers of Christmas will take the time out of rushing to FREAK RIGHT OUT ON THAT SCENE.

Just saying.

* These slipper/boot socks are quick, soft and fabulous, and make a ladies medium.  In our family we call them Foot Ovens.

2 skeins of Misti Alpaca Chunky, each divided in half. 
5mm DPNs, or whatever gets you about 3.5-4 stitches to the inch (go with 3.5 if you want a bigger sock, 4 if you’d like it a little smaller
Start toe up with 8 stitches. (I use JMCO)
Increase every other round until you have 32 stitches. 
Change colours, and knit until your work is the desired length. Mine are 19cm from tip of the toe til I begin the heel.
Change colours and work a short row heel on half the stitches, leaving 4 unwrapped in the middle.
Change colours, knit until the yarn runs out, or they are as long as you want them.
Change colours and work 1×1 rib until you like how things are. Cast off very loosely (I use a sewn bind off.)   Repeat with the other half of the skeins. Revel in the speed in which you just made a pair of socks. 

Gifts for Knitters: Day 19

This one is short and sweet, and can be done online.  How about a subscription to a knitting magazine?  Here’s all the ones I can think of. 

Interweave Knits
Vogue Knitting
Knitters
Creative Knitting
Knit ‘n Style
Verena
Simply Knitting
The Knitter
Knitting Today
Sandra