Like the Wind

Status update? Not too shabby.  Last night, I knit like the wind and Sam, clever girl that she is, baked the first batch of Gingerbread.  The price exacted for doing this chore was that Sam got to do it her way, and so this year we’ll have our traditional trees and snowflakes and stars and moose, with the addition of foxes, hedgehogs, snails, pterodactyls and T-rexes. (The extensive cookie cutter collection is in full use.)

While she created a plethora of festive cookies (it turns out the hedgehogs are pretty festive) I knit and knit.  So, yesterday I was here:

and today I am here:

A few changes.  The scarf is gone, because it’s blocking – which is a tiny step forward, but is still forward indeed.  One of the pairs of socks is gone, because they’re in my purse to be travel knitting.  I only got an inch done on them yesterday, but still, that’s not too bad, considering that this time of year it’s too cold to knit while you’re walking. The buttons for the little sweater aren’t on, but they are in my pocket. (I know that’s a seems like a small step forward, but it took me 20 minutes to choose them.) No progress on the red sweater or the nearly finished men’s socks, and that baby hat haunts me in my sleep, but see the pile of knitted kindling in the back?

Whammo! All the pieces for two pairs of French Press Slippers. I forgot how truly quick they are, and I don’t just mean quick for me – quick for anybody.  I started when we got back from an errand downtown in the early evening, and by bedtime I was all done both pairs, except for the seaming, and that won’t take more than an hour.  (They don’t have to be sewn up nicely. They’re going to be felted.)  One evening, two presents. It was like watching a knitting hurricane happen.  They went so fast that I while I was knitting them I was thinking crazy things like "I should make more pairs, everyone could have slippers. How much more time could it take?"   Then I realized I was having the some kind of  quick present induced knitting stroke and put down the needles.  Near miss, that one.  It’s intoxicating to have it go so fast. 
Today I seam (and put icing on hedgehogs) tomorrow, I felt!

Gifts for Knitters:

If your knitter is forever spreading out wet knitting on the carpet or your bed, and you’ve got a million pin holes in your mattress, this idea might work for you.  For the precise knitter, who likes to have all the right things, a blocking mat with a grid on it might be just the ticket. If your knitter is a little more guerilla, or if they like to make big things, then you might want to stop by a store that sells flooring, and pick up a couple of packages of those foam tiles that are for kids to play on. They’re easy to stick pins in, easy to clean, don’t get soggy wet and can be interlocked into whatever shape your knitter’s knitted thing is.  Long scarf? Sweater? Triangular shawl? They can be rearranged to suit whatever, and when you’re not using them, they stack and store easily.  Get a couple of packs and while you’re at it, buy some pins for their stocking. Knitters who block things always need more pins.  (Get rustproof ones, and they should have the little balls on the top.  Makes it easier for us to find them before you step on them.)

Maybe Behinder

On Saturday morning I woke up and decided that this was the weekend to "get it together".
This decision by itself did very little to fix things around here, but I got out my Christmas spreadsheet and made a very large pot of coffee, and I took stock of the way things are around here, and tried to do some realistic thinking about where I’m at with this thing.

Joe and I have a completely unrealistic goal of being finished with the shopping by Wednesday – a goal that seemed totally doable when we set it last Wednesday, but I’m starting to understand that one of us needs to commit to going to a store to make it happen, and neither of us have quite faced up to that. There’s a cleaning schedule in place, one that should have the house spotless and shining by the 20th. Alarms set to remind me to wrap gifts for 15 minutes here and there, and I planned out when I’ll bake what. (The baking thing is getting reined in this year. We didn’t eat or give away all of it last year, so even though it’s a lot of fun to do it,  it’s time to check the volume. Sam and I have agreed that even if nobody eats them, we aren’t ready to give up gingerbread moose.) I even got the pickled beets done, and three jars of lemon curd, and ran them through the canner. 

There’s only a little more to do there for the "food gifts" (Peppermint bark, I’m looking at you) but after a weekend of applying myself to the thing, I feel like it’s all possible, possible as long as I don’t think about the knitting.   On November 28th I showed you this. 

That was the pile of yarn looking to become gifts, and today it looks like this.

That’s a considerable improvement, and I’m not just talking about the tree being up.  The scarf? Finished, but for the blocking. Of the two pairs of men’s socks I hadn’t even started yet, one pair is DONE and the other pair is 1/4 of the way there. (Note to self: PANIC ABOUT THAT.) The little cream and white baby sweater and hat? The hat’s halfway done, and the sweater is totally finished, but for two wee buttons that need sewing on. (Note to self: FIND BUTTONS.) The two pairs of slippers that I hadn’t even got the yarn for? I got it, and it’s wound, but no magic elves have turned up to fix that little problem.  (Note to self: SLIPPERS TAKE A LONG TIME TO DRY.) There’s a little red sweater in there, and the back is done, but a back alone doesn’t make a sweater – and there’s still a pair of men’s socks unfinished.  So, taking stock?

1. Finish red sweater. Two fronts, two sleeves and a collar.
2. Finish blue and white baby set. Sew on buttons, complete the hat. (Remember it has six hours of duplicate stitch.)
3. Finish the socks that are only 1/4 of the way there.
4. Finish the socks that have only 1/4 of the way to go.
5. Knit two pairs of French Press Slippers and felt them.

Doable? No way to tell, but I can tell you this: I could really use some elves who want to make gingerbread and scrub the bathtub while I knit… and that brings me to:

Gifts for knitters: Some Sort of Time Machine.

You’ve probably noticed that your knitter likes to knit. You might even have noticed that they like it a lot better than all of the other stuff they’re supposed to be doing (see above re: bathtub scrubbing.)  I could be projecting here (but I am pretty sure I’m not) when I say there’s nothing your knitter wants more than a few more hours in a day to knit – and I know what you’re thinking. "Hey Crazy Lady who watches too much Dr Who, there’s no such thing as a time machine", but you’d be wrong.  You can be the time machine for your knitter.  An awesome gift, as we come down to the wire, or you run out of money, is your time, given freely to your knitter.  A written commitment to doing some of the things that your knitter likes less than knitting to give them time to knit is an amazing gift.  A little note that says "I will be YOU for six hours" or "This coupon entitles the bearer to four undisturbed hours of knitting while I do chores they hate" or "This magic note can exchange 1 hour of cleaning for 1 hour of knitting" is going to be make you a rock star of gift giving.  Don’t forget to use your best handwriting, and wrap it. 

Not Finished

In an impressive and entirely predictable turn of events, the planned post about finishing isn’t finished, mostly because the finishing isn’t.  There’s a little thing I’m making for Christmas.  The thing is little, but the amount of work isn’t, and the first wave of all the pieces is done, and now there’s just the finishing.  It’s a fussy little Norwegian baby sweater, and just the sort of thing I like, although you wouldn’t have known that from the impressive wave of regret I experienced yesterday when I realized that although I’m done, I’m far, far, far from done. 

That there is the tiny little pieces.  A sweater body, and wee sleeves, and if you look you can see that not only isn’t it sewn together, but that the sleeves, body and hems look funny, and that’s because every single one of them needs for me to sit down and sew the snot out of them.  I started yesterday and just about came undone.  Sewing up one little sleeve hem took about 30 minutes. It’s all so tiny and so particular, and like I said, I’m usually all over that kind of particular. It’s less fun on a deadline – and really, I’m not ready to talk about the duplicate stitch. 

There’s a pattern on the front in the picture, and I swear that I thought it was intarsia. When I got to the place in the pattern where I was confident the colourwork should start, it didn’t. There were no instructions for it, and I sat there looking at the pattern, trying to figure out what that meant.  Skip to the end of the pattern, and there is is. The entire front design is duplicate stitched on, and that, my friends, was a plot twist I didn’t see coming. That lands the finishing on this sweater that I thought was going to be finished a long way off, and we haven’t even talked about the neckband. Or the button plackets, or oh, man – the bodice tuck. (That’s right, there’s a bodice tuck.) 
All I need is one good Christmas movie and I think I can have the bulk of it done, but it means that there’s a few more hours in this than I thought there were, and that throws off the socks and… now it really feels like Christmas. The pile of yarn I showed you two weeks ago is being slowly converted to knitting, but maybe not fast enough, and the only thing keeping me relaxed and easy going is that I refuse to face the music.   Denial is a powerful tool, and I’m using it.

Ready for a few more gifts for knitters? Go!

Needle cases: Needle storage can be a big problem for knitters, and there’s lots of good solutions your knitter might love.  If you see knitting needles strewn around your house like kindling or the occasional dpn is found wandering your home or drifting through your knitters bags, then one of these might be the ticket. Della Q has several beautiful ones, and I especially like the look of this travel wallet, but their circular organizer is pretty fly too.  This from Crafter’s Tool Butler from  Jordana Paige is awesome, but it’s hard to go wrong with anything from them.  Lantern Moon makes pretty needle rolls, and dig Namaste’s Double Wide Circular case. (Trust me, faithful non-knitter. That’s a sweet ride.)

Of course, knitters (being makers themselves) like handmade things too, so maybe something from another maker would turn their head?  How about a beautiful handmade needle case? This  DPN needle case is so beautiful (and it’s organic linen and has a vintage button) this one has glasses on it, this one zips up, this one has skulls, and this one has little birdies. Like project bags, there’s a million choices.

If you’re looking for more of a stocking stuffer, something like this Clover Knitting Needle Tube Case would come in handy if your knitter uses DPNs. (Those are the short needles with points on both ends.)  

Books for knitters: These are some of my favourites, and if your knitter doesn’t have them on his shelf, I know they would be useful.  These are the "Joy of Cooking" for knitters.  Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book,  The Principles of Knitting,  Finishing School: A Master Class for KnittersReader’s Digest Knitter’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Techniques of Handkni
tting
.  If your knitter likes to read this website, then may I humbly suggest  Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot’s Bag of Knitting Tricks?  It’s the only useful book I’ve ever written, and it’s got some handy stuff in it, I swear.  If your knitter already has those? This new book is getting rave reviews.  Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting.

Books knitters would like kids to have:
 Let me tell you what knitters would love. A world where knitting is seen as normal, and the path to that starts with the young.  These books are wonderful introductions for knitting families. Yetsa’s Sweater (a wonderful story about Cowichan sweaters)  WoolburKnitting Nell,   Extra YarnAmos’s Sweater (that one is a favourite in our family.) For something festive, consider  Shall I Knit You a Hat?: A Christmas Yarn.

Hey, Does that wall have writing on it?

This afternoon, as I sat down to write to you about finishing (the sweater kind, not the getting anything done kind) I looked around me at my home and something snapped.

When I finally got home on Tuesday – late in the afternoon, I threw my suitcase inside the door, grabbed Sam and left, and we went downtown to meet up with the rest of the family so that we could go to the new aquarium.   Ken thought the thing up for us all and if you’d have told me we were going to like it as much as we did… well. I think that we had all sort of agreed to go along with Ken’s plan because he’s so nice and that’s really generous and we love him and want him to be happy. 

It turns out that Ken’s a genius, and of course it was brilliant and we had a ridiculously good time and it was super unbelievably fun. The girls all loved it, and it was a fantastic way to spend some time together as a family.

I don’t know why we doubted him for a minute. I think maybe the girls thought they were too old for a field trip like that, but er… look at those faces.

This is Sam touching a fish.

This is Sam finding out that the fish she’s touching is a shark.

Here I’d spent the whole day, in the airport, on the plane, in the cab on the way home thinking that all I wanted to do was pour a glass of wine the size of my head and drink it in bed while I got my knit on, and I even lied to Ken when he said "I’m sure this is the last thing in the world you want to do right now" and I said "No, no.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world." I’m so glad I went.

I LOVE family outings, and I’m never happier than when all three of my girls are in one room and I would have hated that they had fun without me.  Ken’s so clever.

It was a wonderful time, and then we had dinner downtown and I made everyone take a family selfie at the bottom of the CN Tower (they love me. It was about -20 and I’ve got everyone on the stairs outside yelling "SMILE! IT’S A FAMILY SELFIE"

(I’d like to point out that they are smiling, and I don’t think they were just humouring me, but they would lie and say they were – and also, this family selfie is much better than the first one, in which only my forehead and part of Meg’s face appear – but I did get the sawfish in that one.)

It was very good fun, and then yesterday I worked on finishing (again, the sweater kind, not the getting anything done kind) and then last night I had an evening out planned with our Bike Rally Team (yeah. I think we’re a little attached) and then tonight I’m reprising my role as "Joe’s Wife" for the studio holiday party and I’m really, really trying to find my lipstick – but after all this, being out of town and working and then all this other stuff?

My house looks like it was broken into by a marauding squad of macaques. No – let me be clearer than that.  My house looks like someone had a party, put up a tree, left everything to do with all that lying around, then forgot about recycling day, cooked several meals while thinking about the disaster, then shopped for Christmas stuff and left that out while bringing the wrapping stuff upstairs without actually wrapping anything, left a suitcase in the living room, dried their hair, then brought in a weeks worth of mail, studied for a test, put a layer of skeins of yarn and knitting projects over the whole thing and then brought in drunken macaques to "clean up." That’s what it looks like, and it was only when I sat down to blog I could see it all – and so now I’m totally going to have to clean it up, and that’s why there’s not a blog post about finishing. (The knitting kind.)

I’ll see you tomorrow, after I dig my way out of this.  Maybe I should just sell the house?

Patience is a Virtue

It is about 1100 kilometres (or about 700 miles, if that’s how you think) from Toronto to Raleigh, North Carolina.  It takes about 90 minutes to fly there, and I know that because on Friday at lunchtime I got on a plane in Toronto and flew straight there, and then I had a terrific time. Really great, and for a bunch of reasons. First, it was warm there.  It was super warm there on Friday, and then on Saturday and Sunday it was less warm, but I still thought it was an upgrade from the weather at home.  The locals kept saying it was cold, but let me show you a picture I took. 

Right? I was so blown away that I emailed that picture to just about everyone in my family with a note that said "Look! Flowers blooming in December!" (The response from just about everyone was "where they in the ground?" It boggled our Canadian minds.)  Then there was Mary and her fabulous staff at the two stores, they were helpful and kind and accommodating and everything you’d expect from a shop in the South.  Then there was the knitters.  See them?


They were pretty awesome too.  I don’t know if you’ve been to the south, or had a lot of contact with knitters from there, but they are smooth.  They’re so smooth that it’s about 15 minutes into a conversation with them that you realize that the charm is just a cover for the fact that they’re delightfully bonkers… and although it sounds strange, one of my greatest wishes for every  person is that they have the experience of being criticized by a Southerner. They’re so good at it that it’s about three days before you realize what happened. (Pro tip – "Bless your heart" isn’t always good.)

It was awesome, and then yesterday morning I packed myself up and went to the airport (thanks for the lift, Mary!) and breezed through security, and got told a very funny joke by a really nice officer, and that, my friends, that was the last thing that went right.  When I book flights to and from shops, I try to get the most cost-efficient ones I can.  Arriving in Raleigh I had the talk on Friday night, so I took a direct to eliminate the chances of having a connection screwing me up. Heading home I don’t worry as much, and the flights with connections are much, much cheaper.  So off I headed, with a flight from Raleigh to Washington, Washington to New York, New York to Toronto. 

Things started to go wrong in Raleigh.  The inbound plane was late, then we sat on the tarmac so long waiting for a fuel-top up  that I knew there was no way I was going to make my connection.  In a way, I like knowing that there’s no way in hell that you’re going to make a flight.  As long as there’s hope I feel compelled to try, to rush, to keep checking the time… once you know all is lost, you might as well knit, really, so that’s what I did.  Arriving in Washington, I discovered that it had snowed there the day before, and even though the snow was gone, there was no ice and the ground was dry, they were dealing with being screwed up from then, so there was a million people there from a million cancelled flights and the lady at the airline just about laughed at me when I asked when I was going to fly to New York. 

It turned out that she didn’t have a basically optimistic nature though, because I did fly to New York, although that flight was delayed (also on the tarmac – why can’t they delay you before you get on the plane? It’s like all day steps were taken to come between me and food)  arriving there last night at 5:24, which was sort of good, because at least I was one step closer to home, but sort of bad because my connection to Toronto left at 5:30, but closed it’s doors at 5:20, so I knew I’d missed that too.  The nice lady at the desk told me that they’d rebooked me onto a 6:30 flight, and the 7:30 as well, just in case I couldn’t make the 6:30 in time – and all I had to do was get to the other terminal so I could switch airlines. 

It turns out that to do that there’s lots of stairs and and escalator and a strange hallway that it felt wrong to be in and I had to ask for help three times and take a bus that I waited for outside.  Then I had to do security again, and by then it was past the time that I could maybe get on board for the 6:30 … but I didn’t panic, I just kept going as fast as I could because I was sure they’d just bump me to the 7:30, on which I was so conveniently booked.  I arrived at the desk, sweaty, jumbled, hungry and tired, and handed my now vintage boarding pass to the agent.

I knew the minute I saw her face that I had a big problem.  "I’m not booked on the 7:30?" I asked her, and she nodded.  I was – or at least my name was on the list, but she explained, the fact that the other airline had "booked" me on that flight didn’t magically create a seat to put me in.  She scanned the list of flights with a deepening frown.  They were all oversold and overfull, although she decided to put me on standby for the 8:45, because it was the least screwed up, and there was a slim chance.  The place was packed so I sat on the floor and waited, until she came and found me at 8:00 and told me there was zero chance I was going home.  We rebooked me on a flight for this morning, and she told me to go back to the other airlines counter, and they would give me a hotel voucher.

Back I went, this time changing terminals by way of a longish walk outside in the dark, until I somehow found the airline counter, where to make a very long story short, they first said that I wasn’t getting a voucher because I was late for the 5:30 flight (I don’t know what I said in return. Something incoherently corrective) then said I wasn’t getting a voucher because the delay was due to weather – even though the weather wasn’t at the airports I was at, there was weather somewhere that impacted my flights so no dice. (I did point out that this policy meant that they would never, ever have to give out a voucher, and they had nothing to say to that.) They gave me a number to call to get a hotel room that at least had a discount, so I went staggering off in search of a payphone, where the hotel broker phone thing put me on hold for 30 minutes and never gave me a room, at which point I sort of snapped a little, hung up the phone and staggered over to a really nice information lady and said "I need help solving this" and promptly lost control of a few tears, which was both humiliating and apparently effective.
She helped me, I got a room, and a shuttle and an hour later I was lying face down on a bed where I stayed for five hours before reporting back to La Guardia to watch the snow start to fall, because it would appear that now I’m in the middle of a snowstorm.

Me and my sock are waiting now, and I’m sort of tired and so far we’ve been delayed four times, to the tune of four hours…  but it’s not snowing that hard. Right?  No matter. I have a whole other skein of yarn and it has to stop sometime.  I’m just going to knit, and list all of the things I’m not in charge of.  Let’s start with how it can take 90 minutes to get to Raleigh, and more than 30 hours to get back.  

I guess the hat is stupid too

Here I am, writing to you from Raleigh, North Carolina where it is about 26 degrees.  This came as a total surprise to me, because when I glanced at the weather for here last night I assumed it had defaulted to Fahrenheit, which apparently it didn’t, because when I stepped off the plane today my hair instantly frizzed, and the warmth swept over me, and I saw the concrete shimmer, and I thought "Oh man. Look at that.  I have finally managed to get my computer to default to Celsius" because it was obviously that  26, not the Fahrenheit 26, one of which made tons of sense for December, and one of which is actually summer.  

I adjusted quickly (and happily) but someday lets talk about how all of the things I’ve brought with me are stupid.  Hold on. I’m just going to shove my mittens in my bag. 

This morning before I left (and right before I packed three scarves that are taking up real estate in my suitcase for no damn reason) I packed up my knitting. This time of year is no season to be unprepared for knitting, so I had everything bagged and ready. 

See that? The picture of varied and prepared sneaky Christmas knitting (socks, socks, sweater, sweater) and seeing it there gave me my idea for Gifts for Knitters: Day 6. Bag it.

Now, if you’re a non-knitter, let me tell you something about your knitter that you might not know – or you might know it in your heart but not quite have owned up to it.  Your knitter doesn’t just like yarn. They like carrying it around with them.  They like shoving it into little bags and stashing it all over the place, and because most knitters are usually knitting several things at once. they like to have a lot of bags.  As a matter of fact, I think that knitters and bags go together like Thelma and Louise.  I’ve got a bunch of them pictured up there, but trust me, oh trust me – I have more, and I still don’t really feel like I’ve got enough.  If you left me to my own devices it’s possible that I would individually bag every bit of yarn in the house, and I’m not so sure that I’m unusual. 

The blue and white gingham one up there is a Della Q project bag, charming, simple, inexpensive,  but can you stand how cute this one is? (Ok. If you’re a non-knitter you might not be feeling it, but trust me.  That’s cute.)  They’ve got a little pocket inside, and they’re soft cloth that keeps everything clean and together.

The black and white one there is a classic Tom Bihn stuff sack, crazy useful, and don’t get me started about the fact that they have a clear bottom.  Super useful. As a knitter, I have multiple projects in multiple bags and being able to flip it over and see what’s in there without opening it? I love that little feature, and these are extra double plus good for knitters who have a gift for misplaced liquids.  They’re pretty much waterproof.

The brownish one with the knitting fabric is a winner from MisoCrafty. It’s a gorgeous box bag with a handle on the top and like the yellow one from Splityarn next to it, it holds nice big projects and all their stuff, plus your knitters wallet, if she or he were just stepping out for a minute. (Also, because some knitter will ask, Yes. Splityarn is also where you get those funny tee shirts. For the non-knitters, yes.  That shirt is funny.)

Other options? Slipped Stitch Studios has, as always, a killer assortment of fabric bags with pockets and spots for your mobile phone and are reversible.  Sock bags, two skein bags, great big bags.  Awesome stuff, and so many fabric choices that there just has to be one that reminds you of your knitter. (Maybe bikes? Oh, wait. That’s me again.)

As a matter of fact, no matter what your knitter is into, I’m pretty sure that you can find someone who makes a project bag that reflects that. Squirrels and RabbitsFunny little owlsDots? Not those dots, these dots?  One like a tardis?  One with a lot of Tardises? (Tardii?) This one has yarn on it.  This one is plainer. This one closes with a knot. This one too.  This one is sort of scary. This one has bunnies. 

Keep looking. Your knitters bag is out there.

Stealth

I think I’ve been pretty clear about how it is that I like to get through the holidays.  I find that the more I do in advance, the more organized I am, the more that I engage in this time of year like it’s "Operation Ho Ho" than a holiday, the better a time I have.  Ironically, since I started pulling this thing together with a list and a schedule and a real sense of how much work it is, we look a lot more like a family and less like a group of shattered people helplessly wrapping things at midnight while silently holding each other responsible for the nightmare it’s all become again.

So far, so good this year. There’s a tree up in the living room. It’s naked, but it’s there, and thanks to the system, it is exactly the right height.

(We started taking a measuring tape to the tree place, which sounds obsessive and weird, but it’s a lot less weird than having a tree that won’t fit and hacking bits off of it with a strange old saw while trying not to have Christmas argument #4 – Working Title: Why do you care so much about the height of the tree/What is wrong with you that the tree has to be a specific height.) Sam and I will decorate it this evening, and then tomorrow I’m off to North Carolina for the last trip of the year (there might still be room for the talk, I’m not sure) and then when I get home, it’s full steam ahead on the holiday.

I feel bad this time of year, because the blog sort of dries up knitting wise.  Here I am, knitting a veritable mountain, and there’s almost nothing I can show you, because it’s all sort of stealth.  A lot of the things that will be coming off the needles are gifts, and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s surprise, but that makes things a little boring.  I think you’re going to have a lot of shots like this one to look forward to – if it’s possible to look forward to a shot like this.

That’s a little sweater for Christmas, coming right along as I flew home earlier this week. (Before someone asks, the fab box bag is from Splityarn.) Extra bonus points in the boring department go to me, on account of the picture is also blurry. 

I’m relying on Gifts for Knitters to make things just a little more interesting, so here we go.

Gifts for Knitters Day 4: Good Tools.

There’s a few things that your knitter uses all the time, or if they don’t use them, they probably wish they were.  A decent ball winder, swift and scale are pretty basic places to start.  If your knitter doesn’t have these three things, then I can pretty much promise you that any one of them would be appreciated and used.  If your knitter is just starting out in the tool department, then good places to start are the Royal Ball Winder,  a pretty nice umbrella swift, and a pocket scale .  If your knitter is seriously into yarn, and they already have this stuff, then think about upgrading them to some seriously fly gear.   I have a Hornshaw wooden swift, and I love it.  I make do with a plastic ball winder (I know it’s almost used up because it’s started making yarn breasts, rather than balls) but when I allow myself, I dream of a Strauch.  The scale of a knitters dreams? Lee Valley has it – if only because all their stuff lasts forever, and it weighs in all standard formats, plus pennyweights, and who wouldn’t want that. It’s charming.

Gifts for Knitters Day 5: Jewelry

Oh, the lovely things there are if your knitter is the type.  How about something knitting themed, like these earrings, or these ones, and if that’s too cute for your particular knitter, how about something more subtle, like this or this. Wait! This is nice too!  Got a funky knitter? Then maybe they’d like this necklace, or this one, made from sliced up knitting needles.  When in doubt, remember. Most knitters feel an affinity for sheep

It’s Day Three

Is it just me, or is anyone else feeling December slip through their fingers in a way that makes their breathing a little tight? (If you’re wondering, I haven’t nailed my 3.7 hours of knitting even one day while I’ve been in Fort Wayne.  It turns out working is as incompatible with knitting as it ever is, even when ones job is talking about knitting. Today I’m going to knock it out of the park though. I’m travelling from Fort Wayne to home – and so far, both of my flights have been delayed.  Primo knitting time. I noticed there were lots of questions in the comments, so how about a little Q&A today?

Sue G asks: Do you prefer toe up or top down socks…or does it depend on the pattern?

I prefer top down, because it gives me more choices for the heel and fit, but when I have a special yarn and I want to use every inch, or when it’s a super-stripey yarn and I want the stripes to stay the same through , I’ll do toe up.  This yarn (String Theory Continuum) is both, so toe up it is.

Lisa B asks: What pattern do you use for your toe-up socks?

I totally fake it.  I cast on 16 with my own version of JMCO, then increase to however many I need (68, in this case) then carry on until it’s time for the heel, then do a short row heel on half (I use the one Laura does) and then carry on until the yarn is almost gone, and then whack some ribbing on there.  Done.

Heather: Those are cute sock needles! What brand are they?

Signature.  They’re my total favourites. 

Labrista: What bag is that in one of the pictures? I love the yellow interior.

It’s a bag from Crumpler, and I’ve had it for years since my genius friend Ken gave it to me for Christmas.  I think it’s the "Considerable Embarrassment."  It’s fabulous for travelling. Has a laptop sleeve and holds lots of knitting. I both love and hate the way it closes with velcro. (Easy to close, even when it’s full, but hard on yarn.)

Barbara wonders: What bind-off do you prefer for toe-up socks?

I use a sewn bind off, every time.  Works a treat and is both super stretchy and neat and tidy.

———————

Gifts for Knitters, Day 3: Paper Goods.   If your knitter seems the type (and I bet they do) pretty paper for knitters might just be their thing.  Tilly Flop (big surprise brings us our first candidate, note card versions of the Knitting Rhyme poster from yesterday.  (I admit it, I love it. I’m actually pretty bonkers for everything from this company.) There’s a collection of greeting cards for knitters here at Buffalo Girls, and I adore these beautiful print cards that are transfers of knitting textures – although you’ll have to contact her to find out how you might get some.  I’ve seen them in person, and they’re quite beautiful. These letterpress cards with cables on them are charming (to a knitter, I swear it.)

As always, Knitterella has some pretty amazing cards and tags (and they’re on sale through today, just a heads up) and KnitLove has a set of graphics you can buy your knitter so they can print at will. I think your knitter would love this design journal, if they’re the type that’s always drawing on graph paper.  If your knitter loves to make knits for others, how about these great custom tags?

Finally, depending on your particular breed of knitter, or the Christmases you’ve lived in the past, you’ll know if your knitter could use this one

(PS. Wrapping your knitters present in this paper could get you major points.)

On the road with a sock

Good Morning knitters. Just a little hello from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where me and a sock are drinking coffee, waiting for the sun to rise and getting ready to teach the last day at Simply Socks (I expect the sock to contribute little.) I don’t have a ton of time, so I have two things for you.
First, a (possibly) funny little time lapse of my journey,  starting in a cab in Toronto, and winding up in speaking to a crowd in Indiana.

Second,  to distract you from the fact that the funny little time lapse of a sock isn’t really a blog post of any weight, I give you the return of Gifts for Knitters.  I’ve done this many years in a row now, and the idea is that you can direct your friends and family to the list and help them get some ideas for what a knitter might enjoy getting for Christmas – or you can do what I think is actually happening every year, and buy all this stuff for yourself. 

I’ve tried to put it in order, so that your family actually has time to get this stuff if they want to, and there will be one category or idea per day until the day itself. Happy Hunting!

December 1st. Art for Knitters. Yeah, that’s right. We like knitting enough that we don’t just want to do it all day, we want to decorate our homes in a way that shows the world who we are.  No matter what breed of knitter you’ve got, one of these will work for them. As always, TillyFlop is a big winner.  Keep Calm and Cast On, a Knitting Rhyme Print, or "There’s no such thing as too much yarn" I love everything from this shop. 
Fringe Supply Co. has a charming Yarn Pyramid poster, and there’s gotta be a knitter out there who loves bright colours and whimsical prints who would adore this Working Girls one.   If your knitter things less is a little more, how about The Knitter?  How about a poster for an edgy knitter? Viva la Yarnolucion? No? Maybe your knitter has the sense of humour that means they’d love to hang up this Knitters Eye Chart? (Trust us, it’s funny.) 
If you want bonus points after you get one of these, have it framed. We’d love that.

2. December 2nd. Body Art for Knitters.
Ok, so maybe we lack the nerve to get a real knitting tattoo (although trust me, a LOT of us don’t) but the fake ones are always fun.  A cool stocking stuffer,  temporary tattoos for knitters are a winner.  These ones from Soak are tried and true (and get some Soak wash while you’re there, that’s good in a stocking too.) Tilly Flop has one I think is cool, and Kate Broughton has a great yarn one. (Her stuff is particularly great if you’re seeing a lot of sewing stuff around too, as your knitter has turned out to be bi-craftual.)

I’m sure there’s more out there, so check the comments.  Happy Shopping, and remember, knitting stuff isn’t a silly gift for a knitter. We have this much because we really like it.

PS: Because I posted pictured of me knitting on a plane, I feel compelled to link to this entry.  Yes. I knit on planes. Yes. It’s allowed.

The way thing are

Well. This is it.

There you have it, a little pile of yarn that intends to be things before Christmas.  The Day Of Reckoning wasn’t that bad…if by not bad you understand that I mean that things aren’t as bad as they have been in the past but are still sort of amazingly ambitious. 

There’s the scarf I need to finish (that’s not a present, but still has to happen.) A nearly finished pair of socks, two pairs of men’s socks that aren’t yet socks at all, a little red sweater, a blue and cream baby set that’s only 1/3 of the way to being a set, two pairs of slippers that are invisible because haven’t even ordered the yarn yet, and the same goes for a hat.  There might be something else in there that I’m not committed to, because if time runs out I think I can buy my way out of it. 

That is, to my way of figuring knitting time, about 100 hours of knitting, and about 27 days to knit it in, and that rounds out to about 3.7 hours of knitting per day, which sounds bad, but probably isn’t, considering that I have seven flights and seven nights away from home  in the next 12 days – and that will help, but will likely be balanced out by the fact that I’m teaching and speaking for six of them.  I’m trying not to think about it.  I know too that the season also holds cooking and cookies and building gingerbread houses and taking Hank out for our traditional shopping trip, and making sure a few things get into jars and pulling together a celebration for solstice and…

Now is a really good time to remember that these are goals, not mandatory knitting landmarks that I must hit or be damned.  I’ve enjoyed the last few years when I’ve been organized and relaxed and darn it all the way to H. E. double hockey sticks, I’m not letting go of that feeling. 

Still, it might be doable. Right? The next few days will be the test.  If I can get the back of it broken, the universe might just unfold as I hope it will.  Or more of the ceiling will fall in.  No way to know. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, and to the rest of us, Happy 27 knitting days until Christmas.  Get busy.