My brother, Noah, was the catalyst for the other holiday gift knitting experience.
Last summer Noah asked me if I could secretly knit a pair of Christmas stockings for himself and his fiancée, Abby. He likes the set of handknit colorwork stockings I made for my house.
These stockings are knit from Nancy Bush‘s pattern, Christmas in Tallinn, published several places, but the only souce that matters is her excellent book Knitting on the Road. I made the first one, the red one, in 2005 for my infant son; Matt’s green stocking was made in 2006; my blue one was made in 2007; and then I had a year reprieve until our daughter came along in 2009. She got a purple stocking. I substituted the yarn Bush’s pattern calls for, Dalegarn Tiur, for Dalegarn Heilo simply because I liked the Heilo palette better. (This was, by the way, the first time I was bit in the ass by yarn substitution. Tiur is 109 yards. Heilo is 126 yards.)
Noah left me in full creative control, so I of course immediate sought out ways to make this project as difficult as possible. First, I had to design my own. Second, if one design was fun, then two new designs were twice as fun! (Right?!) Third, the yarn (O! The yarn!).
I really enjoyed picking out colorwork patterns for these designs. I found everything I wanted, and pretty quickly, in Sheila McGregor’s Traditional Scandinavian Knitting. For the top of Abby’s stocking (green), I chose a boy-and-girl motif; for Noah’s stocking (orange), I chose reindeer. The body patterns on each of their stockings come from the same 19th-century sweater: one was the pattern on the back and the other was the pattern on the front.
Can you imagine knitting that sweater? Maybe…
There was some math to work out to make these motifs go together, resulting in Noah’s stocking being noticeably larger. Noah has no problem with this.
As for the yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, it wasn’t my favorite. Noah and I chose it based on wide color palette and affordable price, but it has just about put me off superwash yarn for the rest of my life. It did not hold up well to repeated ripping and reknitting, coming un-plied and… for lack of a better descriptor, flacid.
Of course then my friend pointed out that many of the high-end end indie yarns, like Mashtosh and Tanis and Plucky Knitter, are superwash now so never say die.