December 5, 2013
I think I've been pretty clear about how it is that I like to get through the holidays. I find that the more I do in advance, the more organized I am, the more that I engage in this time of year like it's "Operation Ho Ho" than a holiday, the better a time I have. Ironically, since I started pulling this thing together with a list and a schedule and a real sense of how much work it is, we look a lot more like a family and less like a group of shattered people helplessly wrapping things at midnight while silently holding each other responsible for the nightmare it's all become again.
So far, so good this year. There's a tree up in the living room. It's naked, but it's there, and thanks to the system, it is exactly the right height.
(We started taking a measuring tape to the tree place, which sounds obsessive and weird, but it's a lot less weird than having a tree that won't fit and hacking bits off of it with a strange old saw while trying not to have Christmas argument #4 - Working Title: Why do you care so much about the height of the tree/What is wrong with you that the tree has to be a specific height.) Sam and I will decorate it this evening, and then tomorrow I'm off to North Carolina for the last trip of the year (there might still be room for the talk, I'm not sure) and then when I get home, it's full steam ahead on the holiday.
I feel bad this time of year, because the blog sort of dries up knitting wise. Here I am, knitting a veritable mountain, and there's almost nothing I can show you, because it's all sort of stealth. A lot of the things that will be coming off the needles are gifts, and I don't want to ruin anyone's surprise, but that makes things a little boring. I think you're going to have a lot of shots like this one to look forward to - if it's possible to look forward to a shot like this.
That's a little sweater for Christmas, coming right along as I flew home earlier this week. (Before someone asks, the fab box bag is from Splityarn.) Extra bonus points in the boring department go to me, on account of the picture is also blurry.
I'm relying on Gifts for Knitters to make things just a little more interesting, so here we go.
Gifts for Knitters Day 4: Good Tools.
There's a few things that your knitter uses all the time, or if they don't use them, they probably wish they were. A decent ball winder, swift and scale are pretty basic places to start. If your knitter doesn't have these three things, then I can pretty much promise you that any one of them would be appreciated and used. If your knitter is just starting out in the tool department, then good places to start are the Royal Ball Winder, a pretty nice umbrella swift, and a pocket scale . If your knitter is seriously into yarn, and they already have this stuff, then think about upgrading them to some seriously fly gear. I have a Hornshaw wooden swift, and I love it. I make do with a plastic ball winder (I know it's almost used up because it's started making yarn breasts, rather than balls) but when I allow myself, I dream of a Strauch. The scale of a knitters dreams? Lee Valley has it - if only because all their stuff lasts forever, and it weighs in all standard formats, plus pennyweights, and who wouldn't want that. It's charming.
Gifts for Knitters Day 5: Jewelry
Oh, the lovely things there are if your knitter is the type. How about something knitting themed, like these earrings, or these ones, and if that's too cute for your particular knitter, how about something more subtle, like this or this. Wait! This is nice too! Got a funky knitter? Then maybe they'd like this necklace, or this one, made from sliced up knitting needles. When in doubt, remember. Most knitters feel an affinity for sheep.
December 3, 2013
It's Day Three
Is it just me, or is anyone else feeling December slip through their fingers in a way that makes their breathing a little tight? (If you're wondering, I haven't nailed my 3.7 hours of knitting even one day while I've been in Fort Wayne. It turns out working is as incompatible with knitting as it ever is, even when ones job is talking about knitting. Today I'm going to knock it out of the park though. I'm travelling from Fort Wayne to home - and so far, both of my flights have been delayed. Primo knitting time. I noticed there were lots of questions in the comments, so how about a little Q&A today?
Sue G asks: Do you prefer toe up or top down socks...or does it depend on the pattern?
I prefer top down, because it gives me more choices for the heel and fit, but when I have a special yarn and I want to use every inch, or when it's a super-stripey yarn and I want the stripes to stay the same through , I'll do toe up. This yarn (String Theory Continuum) is both, so toe up it is.
Lisa B asks: What pattern do you use for your toe-up socks?
I totally fake it. I cast on 16 with my own version of JMCO, then increase to however many I need (68, in this case) then carry on until it's time for the heel, then do a short row heel on half (I use the one Laura does) and then carry on until the yarn is almost gone, and then whack some ribbing on there. Done.
Heather: Those are cute sock needles! What brand are they?
Signature. They're my total favourites.
Labrista: What bag is that in one of the pictures? I love the yellow interior.
It's a bag from Crumpler, and I've had it for years since my genius friend Ken gave it to me for Christmas. I think it's the "Considerable Embarrassment." It's fabulous for travelling. Has a laptop sleeve and holds lots of knitting. I both love and hate the way it closes with velcro. (Easy to close, even when it's full, but hard on yarn.)
Barbara wonders: What bind-off do you prefer for toe-up socks?
I use a sewn bind off, every time. Works a treat and is both super stretchy and neat and tidy.
Gifts for Knitters, Day 3: Paper Goods. If your knitter seems the type (and I bet they do) pretty paper for knitters might just be their thing. Tilly Flop (big surprise brings us our first candidate, note card versions of the Knitting Rhyme poster from yesterday. (I admit it, I love it. I'm actually pretty bonkers for everything from this company.) There's a collection of greeting cards for knitters here at Buffalo Girls, and I adore these beautiful print cards that are transfers of knitting textures - although you'll have to contact her to find out how you might get some. I've seen them in person, and they're quite beautiful. These letterpress cards with cables on them are charming (to a knitter, I swear it.)
As always, Knitterella has some pretty amazing cards and tags (and they're on sale through today, just a heads up) and KnitLove has a set of graphics you can buy your knitter so they can print at will. I think your knitter would love this design journal, if they're the type that's always drawing on graph paper. If your knitter loves to make knits for others, how about these great custom tags?
Finally, depending on your particular breed of knitter, or the Christmases you've lived in the past, you'll know if your knitter could use this one.
(PS. Wrapping your knitters present in this paper could get you major points.)
December 2, 2013
On the road with a sock
Good Morning knitters. Just a little hello from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where me and a sock are drinking coffee, waiting for the sun to rise and getting ready to teach the last day at Simply Socks (I expect the sock to contribute little.) I don't have a ton of time, so I have two things for you.
First, a (possibly) funny little time lapse of my journey, starting in a cab in Toronto, and winding up in speaking to a crowd in Indiana.
Second, to distract you from the fact that the funny little time lapse of a sock isn't really a blog post of any weight, I give you the return of Gifts for Knitters. I've done this many years in a row now, and the idea is that you can direct your friends and family to the list and help them get some ideas for what a knitter might enjoy getting for Christmas - or you can do what I think is actually happening every year, and buy all this stuff for yourself.
I've tried to put it in order, so that your family actually has time to get this stuff if they want to, and there will be one category or idea per day until the day itself. Happy Hunting!
December 1st. Art for Knitters. Yeah, that's right. We like knitting enough that we don't just want to do it all day, we want to decorate our homes in a way that shows the world who we are. No matter what breed of knitter you've got, one of these will work for them. As always, TillyFlop is a big winner. Keep Calm and Cast On, a Knitting Rhyme Print, or "There's no such thing as too much yarn" I love everything from this shop.
Fringe Supply Co. has a charming Yarn Pyramid poster, and there's gotta be a knitter out there who loves bright colours and whimsical prints who would adore this Working Girls one. If your knitter things less is a little more, how about The Knitter? How about a poster for an edgy knitter? Viva la Yarnolucion? No? Maybe your knitter has the sense of humour that means they'd love to hang up this Knitters Eye Chart? (Trust us, it's funny.)
If you want bonus points after you get one of these, have it framed. We'd love that.
2. December 2nd. Body Art for Knitters. Ok, so maybe we lack the nerve to get a real knitting tattoo (although trust me, a LOT of us don't) but the fake ones are always fun. A cool stocking stuffer, temporary tattoos for knitters are a winner. These ones from Soak are tried and true (and get some Soak wash while you're there, that's good in a stocking too.) Tilly Flop has one I think is cool, and Kate Broughton has a great yarn one. (Her stuff is particularly great if you're seeing a lot of sewing stuff around too, as your knitter has turned out to be bi-craftual.)
I'm sure there's more out there, so check the comments. Happy Shopping, and remember, knitting stuff isn't a silly gift for a knitter. We have this much because we really like it.
PS: Because I posted pictured of me knitting on a plane, I feel compelled to link to this entry. Yes. I knit on planes. Yes. It's allowed.
November 28, 2013
The way thing are
Well. This is it.
There you have it, a little pile of yarn that intends to be things before Christmas. The Day Of Reckoning wasn't that bad...if by not bad you understand that I mean that things aren't as bad as they have been in the past but are still sort of amazingly ambitious.
There's the scarf I need to finish (that's not a present, but still has to happen.) A nearly finished pair of socks, two pairs of men's socks that aren't yet socks at all, a little red sweater, a blue and cream baby set that's only 1/3 of the way to being a set, two pairs of slippers that are invisible because haven't even ordered the yarn yet, and the same goes for a hat. There might be something else in there that I'm not committed to, because if time runs out I think I can buy my way out of it.
That is, to my way of figuring knitting time, about 100 hours of knitting, and about 27 days to knit it in, and that rounds out to about 3.7 hours of knitting per day, which sounds bad, but probably isn't, considering that I have seven flights and seven nights away from home in the next 12 days - and that will help, but will likely be balanced out by the fact that I'm teaching and speaking for six of them. I'm trying not to think about it. I know too that the season also holds cooking and cookies and building gingerbread houses and taking Hank out for our traditional shopping trip, and making sure a few things get into jars and pulling together a celebration for solstice and...
Now is a really good time to remember that these are goals, not mandatory knitting landmarks that I must hit or be damned. I've enjoyed the last few years when I've been organized and relaxed and darn it all the way to H. E. double hockey sticks, I'm not letting go of that feeling.
Still, it might be doable. Right? The next few days will be the test. If I can get the back of it broken, the universe might just unfold as I hope it will. Or more of the ceiling will fall in. No way to know.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, and to the rest of us, Happy 27 knitting days until Christmas. Get busy.