The Gift of Gift Knitting

It’s really no fun to read about how crummy someone’s vacation was so we won’t dwell on it.  I’ve only just recovered, psychologically, this week.  Farewell, 2013!  Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out!

The BEST part of winter break, for me, this year was seeing how genuinely happy my husband and children were upon opening their handknit gifts.  Does that sound too cute and saccharine?  It’s true.  There were big Os of surprise, there were smiles, thanks, hugs, and kisses from four through thirty-six.  GO ME!

boot socks

(It does help that I have made it clear that the best way to get on the handknit list is to appreciate the things I make, sincerely and loudly.  This elf is making her own kind of list and checking it twice.)

For the past few years — in my efforts to enjoy the winter holiday season rather than just survive it — I’ve stepped way back from trying to make something for EVERYONE (that’s 11+ people).  It seems like a good idea in the planning stage (I looooove the planning stage), but the execution of the plan goes on too long for my available knitting time.  There’s the amount of knitting time I actually have and what I wish I had or sometimes just think I have.

Full disclosure: I was on the crazy holiday knitting train at times this season.  And then I got off.  Got on. Off.

red scarf

I try to have a pair of socks on the needle for one of the four of us at all times.  So when Z’s latest pair came off the needles in mid-November, I decided it was serendipity and tossed it in the gift knits basket.  Then I saw, in that basket, a lovely, drapey, moss stitch scarf in heathered burgundy Paton’s Classic Wool.  Guess who likes burgundy?  Not me.  But Matt does.  (Like me, his favorite color is green, so this really wasn’t obvious to me or him while I was knitting this scarf, off and on, for a couple, um, years.)

purple mittens

That only left my four-year-old, who could use a handknit pair of mittens.  Something to balance out all the pink and leopard print.  I finished on Christmas Eve, after tucking my puking children and husband into bed.

She, by the way, wins at appreciating my work.  She reminds me almost daily how much she loves her mittens. Aw! Her savvy father, in between appreciations, has already put in his request for a Purl Soho Shawl Collar Cowl.

I wish I had better pictures to share, but here I am, working at home, and my family and all their handknits are out of the house.  The dark purple of those mittens is especially difficult to capture at this gloomy time of year, while attached to a four-year-old.  More information and photos are available on their Ravelry project pages, linked above.  An account on Ravelry is required to view.

How did your handknit holidays go?

Bumpy Road

Sorry to myself for not writing more.  I actually think about the blog every day but am usually up to my elbows in small children and mundane household needs.  I think the real kicker was Elinor started walking in December and now I am like a circus conductor with the 1 year old, 5 year old, 2 year old GSD, and 2 cranky cats.

In the past two months I have knit myself a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s mitered mittens, finished my Jaywalkers, finished the entrelac scarf (today!), and ripped out the green socks for Elinor, who is growing faster than I can knit.  And walking, so she needs non-skid socks.

(I’ve screwed up my camera card and so pics of the scarf will have to wait.)

I also took part in the Knitting Olympics (Yarn Harlot and Ravlery).  I wanted to make my Ribby Cardi finally.  I cruised along for the first 14 days or so. I wasn’t going to earn the gold because work was jerk again and a project overran (and is still overrunning) its schedule, eating up a lot of my personal time.  But I was having loads of fun watching winter sports, rooting for various people, kvetching about NBC’s broadcast, and knitting when possible.  I knit the back of my sweater and half of one of the front pieces.

Then disaster struck.  And I do mean disaster.  As in airlifted off the ski-run.

Two of my adult sweaters – the Must Have Cardi (my first adult sweater) and the Urban Aran Cardi (Matt’s birthday sweater) – were felted in a tragic dryer accident.  I discovered what happened right before I went to bed and so cried myself to sleep, I am not ashamed to say.  There was a lot of work and love in those sweaters.  For three-quarters of the next day, I was just flattened, numb, mourning.  It felt weird to hurt so much because ultimately these things are replaceable; they’re not living creatures.  As deeply as I sank in sadness, I did bounce back quickly.  The kids got me laughing late in the day and we played a silly game (omigod, watching Elinor try to do the same things her brother was doing so that she could play too!  Priceless!) and after that it wasn’t so bad anymore.

Unfortunately, I could not find solace in my Ribby Cardi in progress because I had some doubts about the fit but kept telling myself, “It’s not your only handknit cardigan so it’s okay.”  Oops.  I went for a smaller size so that all of my sweaters would not be huge and swimmy on me.  But the gauge swatch lied to me and the sweater came out even smaller.  I am going to rip it all out and restart.  It’s a relaxing knit so I don’t mind redoing but I always need some distance before a big frogging.  I spent the remainder of the Olympics tinkering away on the scarf and a (another!) birthday gift.

I did get a beautiful Smartwool henley sweater from Matt in condolence for my loss.  And the weather is warming. The bulbs are beginning to peek out of the mud.  There is so much to look forward to.

Can’t…stop…casting…on…

My Castonitis has gone critical.

Here’s my latest symptom:

Mitered mittens; pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman; yarn is Malabrigo.  What can I say?  My hands were cold Friday and Saturday.  By Sunday all arguments that I at least finish my scarf first–because I could use the leftover yarn and have matching accessories, a thing unheard of in this house–were broken down by my stronger self and I even took the DPNs away from the entrelac (they are happy on straights so there’s no project abuse going on here).

The project I was going to write about next that was trumped by mittens:

An entrelac scarf for moi using yarn my brother gave me for my birthday.  As Matt said, “It looks like that yarn was made to do that.”  By “that” he means “entrelac,” I’m pretty sure.

But since this is a post about my Castonitis, we’ll move on to the next symptom:

Yes, in fact, that is the same photo from last post.  Because that was probably the last time I touched these. Uh… Out of sight, out of mind?  I have no excuse.  I am weak.

Then there’s this beauty of an excuse to buy yarn for a project that was begun to bust stash:

I do actually pull this out and work on it a bit here and there because, turns out, the only thing more mindless than stockinette is shell stitch.

It breaks down from here because I cannot find all these pictures again….they’re too old…hah… So I direct you to pictures on my Flickr page.  I’m sure I could embed them somehow.  (Resolution #491: learn how to do technical stuff on your blog.)

An overdue gift and socks I started one year ago to this day:

Lace Ribbon and Jaywalkers

And this, my birthday gift:

Hourglass Stole

So that is … seven unfinished projects I am copping to.  And I am dying to start my Ribby Cardi.  Gulp.