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Archive for December, 2011

Last year I took a break from Christmas gift knitting. It was a difficult time for my family, and I didn’t need the added stress of that Christmas deadline to add to the problem. Besides, I had no idea what to make anyone last year.

Sometimes you need a sabbatical to get the ideas flowing again, and it definitely worked this time. I had a lot of fun knitting for family (and a close friend) this year, and I am happy that all of the gifts were appreciated. Here’s the roundup:

Project 1–Christmas Stockings: When I was a wee lad my Aunt Gerry made stockings for all of the nieces and nephews. Mine was a really cool intarsia thing with a Santa jack-in-the-box on it and my name at the top. I didn’t get to see Aunt Gerry very often, but every December I thought of her when I put that stocking up. It was special because of that connection, and I wanted the same thing for my 6-year-old nephew, Logan.

The idea incubated over time and I decided this would be a good Fair Isle learning project. Using the Cascade Christmas Stocking pattern, I went to work, not only on Logan’s stocking, but stockings for his whole family. After 3 failed starts and navigating some buckling issues, I finished them fairly quickly and am very happy with the result. I sewed in a fleece lining to keep gifts from snagging on the strands behind the Fair Isle patterning, and my daughter braided loops out of the three colors used in the stockings.

I love this mix-n-match kind of pattern (though the reindeer are from somewhere else), and the fact that they all have similar but different stockings. When the package arrived and was open, Logan cried, not because he was so moved by the fabulous knitting, but because it wasn’t toys. Once he got over that, though, he said “I can’t believe that Uncle Aaron made those…they’re FABULOUS!”

 

Project 2–The Mom Socks: First off, I must say that I’ve been a bad son. In the four years I’ve been knitting, all I’ve ever made for the lovely woman who gave me life and so often wanted to slap that life right out of me during my childhood, is a cell phone sock. This year it was time to make something more for her. The problem is that she lives in Charleston, SC where winter is a few scattered days, so a warm, woolly hat or scarf was out of the question, and there’s no way I had time to make an adult-sized sweater that could only be worn for a brief time anyway.

It had to be socks.

I spent a great deal of time looking for the perfect sock pattern for her. Good, solid, practical socks that look good, especially with the variegated yarn I’d already gotten (the colors are perfect for her!). I ended up going back to a favorite designer, Erica Lueder, and Hermione’s Everyday Socks.

These socks have a nice, subtle texture to them, not quite so blatant as seed stitch or moss stitch. They just kind of flow nicely, and work well with this yarn. Speaking of the yarn, that’s Knit Picks Stroll Multi sock yarn in the Atmosphere colorway. I made a conscious decision to use a machine-washable yarn because I didn’t want to burden my mother with hand wash only socks. And based on my own experiences, Knit Picks Stroll is about as indestructible as sock yarn can get, yet still nice and soft.

Project 3–Slouchy Tam: For my final Christmas project I wanted to make a hat for a dear friend of mine who has expressed a love for my knitting. Furthermore, she has also geeked out, on more than one occasion, over the color of yarn I used in the Cassidy Sweater. Since I had about a ball left over after the sweater and the stockings (yes, I used it in those too), it was time to find a hat.

I knew from early on that it had to be a tam. Some people look great in tams, others look stupid in them. Whenever I looked at my friend with the knitter’s eye–you know, the look you get when you’re imagining what lovely yarny goodness will look like on somebody–I saw a tam every time.

The pattern is the Slouchy Tam from Jimmy Beans Wool. It was written for use with the colorful Plymouth Kudo yarn, but it works really well with a single color as well. And as it turns out, she really is a tam kind of girl…it looks great on her. She told me after I gave it to her that she was hoping I’d make her a hat for Christmas. Glad I could make her wish come true.

 

So that’s it. Now that the Christmas knitting is done, it’s time to do something I haven’t done in quite a few months…knit something for me. More on that in a later post.

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Well, the first leg of Christmas Knitting 2011 (The Event!) has gone into the mail, to be delivered by Thursday according to the lovely automated ATM-for-postal-service at the local PO, and I’m frantically knitting on leg 2 (actually a toe) of Christmas Knitting 2011 (The Event!). The good news is that I’m pretty sure that all recipients of hand-knit goodies this year will be very appreciative of their gifts. This time around I don’t think I’ll get the token “oh, that’s nice…I’ve always wanted ANOTHER SCARF!”

In next week’s post I’ll have several pictures of my hard work. Christmas Knitting 2011 (The Event!) is going really well, and though it is quite frantic, it’s been really the only frantic part of the holidays for me. I haven’t overbooked myself too much, and have had a wondrous time! I’ve kind of been working on the whole concept of Christmas as  more than just a day…it’s a celebration that can encompass the entire month of December (or if you work retail, November and October too). I love the joy of setting up the tree right after Thanksgiving,  baking Christmas cookies with my kids, skating on the Frog Pond on Boston Common, playing Christmas music all month, and just enjoying as much as I can.

Last year I took a break from Christmas knitting, but this year, though it has been a little frantic in the end, I’m so glad I picked it up again. Why not add that to the many things that bring me joy during this month?

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Routine

In the past year, with major changes that have come about in my life, I have come to realize the incredible importance of routines in life. As a teacher, I’ve always known that routines are useful in the classroom, but as a single parent, I’m finding routines more important than ever at home. My daughters have routines for doing homework (which one follows very well, and one is working on following decently). I have a nightly routine for getting chores done (pack lunches for the girls and myself before bed if I want any hope of having time to eat breakfast in the morning). One of my daughters likes to go to bed unassisted, after a goodnight kiss that resembles a secret handshake of the face, while the other one likes her time with me reading “Harry Potter” before going to sleep.

In the past my life has been relatively unstructured, and I think we’ve all suffered for that. Now, I don’t think that every minute of the day should be planned out, but there needs to be a structure in place with some room for “flexible time”. For example,  most nights I find time to knit after the kids are in bed, but not always. Either way, that’s my “flex time” and I treasure it.

If I have any readership left after my sporadic blogging over the past few unsettled months, I hope to include you in my routines. It is my hope to put up a new blog post every Sunday night. I think I need this structure in order to continue with my writing. I do love to blog, but without a set routine, other things always seem to push it aside. Occasionally there may be a little tidbit in the middle of the week too, but for the most part I’ll try to stick to my Sunday routine. Let’s see how this works out….

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