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?

Fourth time’s a charm

handknit fingerless gloves

This post could also be called “Love is a pair of fingerless gloves” because knitting tiny tubes to spec is kind of a pain in the ass.  My husband Matthew and I were laying in bed last night, having that last half hour of reading before drifting off to sleep and I was not reading but measuring my husband’s fingers in preparation of this afternoon’s knitting when his fingers would not be available.

It’s not enough that I am making these to fit (and at least now they do fit) but also going off pattern to make the finger tubes a specific length which is uniform across his hand rather than staggered to fit to each knuckle as the pattern suggests.

But then, what’s the point of handknit gloves if they do not, well, fit like a glove?  Albeit fingerless?  Which is not actually fingerless but more fingertip-less.

handknit fingerless gloves

I started these in early December with the idea that they would be a holiday gift or perhaps a birthday gift (mid-January) for Matthew.  Things did not go well.  The first attempt was plagued by gauge issues and wonky cables.  Rip.  The second attempt, using Ann Budd’s Handy Book, was way too big.  I’m not sure why but perhaps I mis-measured his hand.  Rip. The third attempt, which I am unabashedly blaming on illness, was alarmingly similar to the second attempt.  I meant to go with a smaller size and it seems like I went with… the exact same (too big) size.  Doh.

Matthew gamely tried to claim that they fit well enough but I, who am not terribly picky about fit, let’s be honest, was having none of ill-fitting fingerless glove #3. That was early January and the fingerless gloves went into time out.

I restarted these last Friday, after a pathetic appeal concerning cold hands.  Yarn is from Oak Meadow Alpaca Farm in Walkerton, IN.  I bought it at the Michigan Fiber Festival a few years ago.  It is a bit scratchy because some coarse guard hairs were left in the fiber.  Matthew assures me he wants to wear this on his hands.  Perhaps.  Hopefully.

Meanwhile, speaking of hands, I am completely bewitched by the mawata mittens seen here and here.  I have some blank mawatas a friend left with me this weekend and I have dye….  I should go put those mawatas on to soak.

A hat is a hat by any other name

I started Toasty Topper last night and knit away until my hands were sore and creaky.  No good.  I only made it past the the crown shaping.  Turns out that Cascade 220 is not a good substitute for me for this pattern.  It’s made on US 8 with yarn held doubled.  I can control my tension somewhat, but even with an effort at knitting more loosely, the fabric was stiff and my hands hurt.  There was much indecision and denial but I finally faced the music and ripped it out.

Part of my indecision stemmed from the question: “If not Toasty Topper, then what?”  Because my kid needs a hat.  Knit by me.  That wasn’t one of the other hats we already had in the closet.  I bought this lovely yarn last December for HIM and it was going to go on his head, OKAY?

Okay then.  I switched to making a small Thorpe.

(It is more blue that this picture shows.  I played with all my camera settings but it is a cold, gray day so what’s a gal to do?)

It was in the forefront of my brain for various reasons and I had to laugh when I started because it is incredibly similar in the beginning to Toasty Topper.  (I am holding the yarn doubled instead of using a chunky weight yarn.)  There was one crucial difference: it is knit on a US 9.  So the fabric is now dense and I am still consciously knitting loosely but my hands don’t hurt and it’s smiles all around.

I still hope to have enough leftovers for mittens, for which I will probably use Anne Budd’s Handy Book of Patterns.  And I wonder if I can finish it all before school on Monday (today’s school day has already begun and Friday is a field trip to an indoor destination). . . . because it is not like I don’t have, oh at least four other projects on the needles/hooks.