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?

Oooo… Pretty!

Once upon a time there was an average 30-something mother of two who went to a Halloween party.

M arrived and said, “Did you check your email today?  I have something in my trunk for you.”

“No…” I fumbled for my schamncy new smartphone, trying to get to my email as I trailed behind M to her friend’s car.

You will not believe what she pulled out of the trunk!  It was just about the last thing I could have imagined.  Right after a dead body…

A LOOM!

For me!  For free!  I was speechless.  I may have skipped across a leaf-strewn field and pumped my fist in the air.  (There is some backstory to heighten the dramatic unveiling, involving a near purchase a year ago of a beautiful loom for $150, over which my husband and I exchanged harsh words.)

This is TIA

Welcome to my new baby, a 1976 TIA 20″ rigid heddle loom, complete with a stand gifted to me by my weaving enabler (and ultimately the person responsible for turning M and her free loom in my direction), G.  A week later, G taught me how to warp her and I was off and weaving a sari silk scarf.

This beautiful skein of sari silk is almost one of my oldest pieces of stash.  I foolishly bought just one skein and have never been able to settle on a project for it.  Nor apparently just go buy another skein, don’t ask me why.

I can't wait to see how the texture blooms after its first bath

The sari silk is working out well as a scarf.  The warp is Paton’s Kroy sock yarn and some leftover yellow cotton, Classic Elite I think.

The only question is: what do I weave next?

Always ready for a close up

Snow Day

The Orphan Foundation of America Red Scarf Project is wrapping up in the next month.  The deadline on the OFA is December 15 (two more days!) but the Ravelry group lists in bold letters that the deadline has been extended until the first week of January.

I am going with the extended deadline, otherwise there is no hope for me.

I am making a moss stitch scarf in a heathery burgundy shade of Patons Classic Wool.  This is actually a picture from October – the scarf is now about a foot and a half long. I had hoped to make more than one scarf but so far this looks to be it, even with the extended deadline.  Too many chilly heads and hands and feet in my house need attention also (I am on fire to knit myself seventeen different hats and five cowls).  I might churn out a garter stitch red scarf if fancy strikes me after Christmas, which is also after my last work deadline for a while.  I know, I KNOW a real vacation at the end of the year for once.

To my surprise, all schools in our county were cancelled today.  The snowfall yesterday was not tremendous compared to what we have seen (4-6 inches in our neighborhood) but the temperature dropped quickly in the past 48 hours to just above zero degrees F (-10 windchill).  Sadly, we still had to pry ourselves out of the house to go to the dentist today.  Dentists don’t have snow days, far as I can tell.

Neither do stay-at-home parents.  Or freelancers.

Back to working on my hat (Lisa’s Beret in Yarns of Distinction Licorice Twist “Meadow”).  Toddlers don’t sleep for long and tomorrow morning will be a bitter walk to school in the morning.  Maybe I should drive.  For my daughter’s sake.  Yeah, that’s it.

The much anticipated results

I know you are all dying to know.  I know because you’ve asked.

The needle blocking experiment was successful!

Successful in that the scarf laid flat and the lace was open.  It was not a tight lace blocking but I didn’t think that was necessary for this little ditty.  My only concern is that the blocking will wear out over time and need to be redone.  Hopefully its new owner will not be shy about asking me.  If she notices.  If she cares.  About blocked lace, that is.  I’m not wallowing here.

Well, life continues it complicated, convoluted, not to be anticipated route.  Entangled indeed.  I am all astonishment that it has been two and a half months since my last post because I compose posts in my head nearly every day.  Blogging in general seems to be falling out of vogue in favor of other social media but I find that doesn’t make me want to do it less.  I am a writer and therefore journal by nature.  The public journal thing weirded me out at first (as a writer not a reader; I love reading them) but I find I am warming up to it quite nicely.  Not that one would know from my infrequent posts.  But I feel the shift.

The Great Needle Blocking Experiment

Lace Ribbon is all done (details on Ravelry).  All done but for the blocking.

So block it we must.  But what’s a gal to do with a big lace rectangle and no blocking wires?

Luckily I have a jar full of 14″ knitting needles in all sizes.  I stuck to US 3 and under. I think this would have been easier to pin out if it had points to pin but no, it’s just a rectangle with lace inside.

No, it’s not a perfect solution but this is a scarf, not a state fair entry.  And I figure if it comes out really wonky then I can just reblock it.  With wires.  There’s a welding supply store just down the street from my house and the talk out in the ether is that stainless steel welding wires work and are cheaper.  For me, perhaps easier to acquire as well.