I have been knitting for many years now, and I have always managed not to get caught up in the mad Christmas Gift Knitting Frenzy that seems to overcome many knitters at this time of the year. I knit a lot, and I even give most of my knitting away, but the idea of knitting Christmas gifts has never appealed to me. There are a lot of reasons for this. First, I don’t need the deadline pressure during the holiday season. It’s not like I am sitting around looking for something to do. I get caught up in lots of other forms of the Holiday Frenzy disease, and I have always been reluctant to push my sanity way too close to the edge with a lot of knitting to finish before December 25. And it would have to be a LOT of knitting – I have a very large extended family, and it just seems wrong to knit for one or two of them, and ignore the others. In fact, knitting one item for each of my family would probably be more knitting than I have ever accomplished in one year.
There is also the whole “respect the knitting” thing to worry about. Face it, dear knitters – not everyone thinks that handknitted items are as thrilling as we do. A new handknit sweater just doesn’t have the magic for a lot of people that, say, the latest piece of electronic gee-whiz gadgetry does, even if the sweater was more expensive.
This year, though I decided to make a few items for my parents, and for a friend. My parents have had a lot of health problems in the last year, and have reached a stage in life where they pretty much don’t want or need a lot more stuff. They live in Eastern Washington, which is lovely, but also very cold and snowy this time of year. Really, knitted gifts are the most logical thing to give them.
So, that was the plan. Just a few things. I didn’t want to get sucked into the Christmas knitting vortex, just make a few things for a few of the loved ones in my life. My husband claims that I live my life according to the motto “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” So, nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan, right?
First, for my mom, I decided to make Jared Flood’s lovely Juneberry lace shawl. My local yarn store introduced me to several nice skeins of Cascade Eco Alpaca, a heavy worsted undyed alpaca yarn. I started this way back in October – plenty of time for Christmas knitting.
I finished this about the beginning of November. Still plenty of time for Christmas knitting, right?
So I decided to knit maybe a hat for Dad, and, if I had time, maybe a few other things too, like a scarf, and a pair of socks. Any one of those projects takes only a few days to make – surely I could get at least one or two done for Christmas, right?
I started with the hat. Now, in my lifetime, I have never seen my Daddy in a hat that I could recall, so I called Mom for a consultation. She agreed that the only hat he had ever worn that she remembered was a fedora he had back in the sixties, when his work had a dress code and required all of the men to wear a hat with their suits and overcoats. But, she also mentioned that he had lost a lot of hair due to chemo treatments, and probably could be convinced to finally wear a hat. She swore to become an accomplice and persuade him to wear a hat if I made him one, so I cast on, and this was the result.
The pattern is from “Knits Men Want” by Bruce Weinstein, and it is done in Cascade Eco Wool. My husband Jim is modelling it. And it turns out that his modelling it was a mild tactical error, because he liked it a lot and would not take it off. So, it is his now, and I still did not have a hat for Dad.
About this time, I scored a few skeins of chocolate brown Morehouse Farm Merino 3 Strand worsted in a destash on Ravelry. Perfect for a hat, and I had plenty for a scarf, too. I cast on Bruce Weinstein’s Watch Cap pattern again, and this was the result:
It also resulted in a rather firm spousal discussion with my model about how he could not keep all of the hats. Especially as it was now getting to the last days of November, and I still had more knitting to do. So, I repossessed the hat and hid it, and cast on for a pair of boot socks.
The socks were also from a pattern in Bruce Weinstein’s book “Knits Men Want” for Thick and Warm Socks. I truly enjoyed knitting these, imagining the whole while how nice and toasty warm my Daddy’s feet would be in soft, snuggly merino superwash Cascade Greenland yarn. Bruce’s patterns are great, and not only because men actually do love them. The patterns are all written for multiple sizes and multiple gauges, and are laid out beautifully in really clear tables, which make it easy to use just about any yarn with any pattern, and come up with a great-fitting result. Like this:
Yes, those are Jim’s feet. No, I did not let him keep the socks.
So, at this point, it was the beginning of December, and I still needed to make a scarf to match Dad’s hat. I figured I probably needed to get everything into the mail by about December 15 to get them across the country in time to be under the tree for Christmas. In the meantime, I went to a pajama party sale at my favorite yarn store, and came home with some gorgeous Blue Sky Alpaca Silk yarn in a luscious deep wine color that I just knew at once would be perfect for a lace scarf and gloves for a friend, who shall not be named here just in case she actually does read my blog. I don’t think she does, because she is not a blog-reading sort of person, whatever that may be, but you never can tell. And the point, anyway, is that my perfectly rational and reasonable plan to knit a few gifts in plenty of time for Christmas was now threatening to spin wildly out of control.
So, I cast on a scarf for Dad. And ripped it out, dissatisfied with the pattern. And cast on again. And again, and again. Finally, I settled on a simple 3 by 2 rib pattern, which worked out beautifully in the chocolate brown Morehouse merino. But you are going to have to take my word for it, because it was finished and washed and blocked only just in time to pack it up and send it out by my deadline, and in the hurry I forgot to take a picture.
So, on to the lace scarf. I chose Semele, from Asa Tricosa Designs. I have been knitting nearly every waking moment on this, and am still only about half done. With less than a week before Christmas. I think that I may, just may, finish the scarf by Christmas day, if I do no cleaning, cooking or bathing between now and then. And there go my plans to avoid a last-minute rush to meet the Christmas deadline. Because anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Again.