Tag Archives: Christmas

Reality check


Before I begin: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Okay, today is one month from Christmas Eve, the date by which I would like to be entirely finished my Christmas knitting and happily enjoying my family’s many holiday traditions. We’re a family who does the same thing the same way every year, and we like it like that, so me holing myself up in my room to knit secret things would put a real damper on that. That means it’s time to get real about what I have to knit and when things need to be done.

Details on everything to be revealed in good time. But, on the off chance my family ignored my warnings, I don’t want to be too specific yet.

That pile of yarn? That all has to be knitted into things by the holidays. I’d say Christmas, but some of it has an earlier delivery date. I was actually a little overwhelmed for a minute, and then I decided to break it down. In that pile is: two pairs of mittens, one hat, and one pair of large men’s bed socks. That, to me, seemed reasonable when I broke it down. And then I realized something was missing. Kindly add this ball into the above picture (it, too, is destined to be a hat):

So, that’s two pairs of mittens (one cabled, the other fair isle); two hats (one in fair isle that exists only in my head, the other a sort of textured pattern); and large bed socks. Is it crazy to think that I’ll get all that done in what is, essentially, four weeks? Clearly I will not knit a stitch for myself during that time, but I do have two jobs and a life that needs some maintaining. I won’t lie, I’m a little worried. But maybe that’s healthy? The kind of worry that will propel me instead of result in me crying in a corner while clutching needles and wool? I think so. And really, I can’t be the only knitter looking at their to-knit list and wondering if they’ve gone crazy, right?

In addition to all of this, I still have the tea cozy to finish, but there are only a few inches left, so I think I’m okay. The only concern I have is that I’m likely to run out of wool. I can get more, so it isn’t a disaster, but I would rather figure out how to make what I have work. I was going to just power through and finish it this weekend, but honestly, I’m so tired of knitting plain stockinette that I think I’m going to cast on one of the mittens just to spice things up a little. It’s all holiday knitting, though right, so it’s not cheating.

So, stripes: Too random? Just random enough?

Anyway, what do you think of the striping? I’m making it up as I go along – thoughts?

(Aside: L just came in and asked what I was doing. “Nothing you need to worry about,” I said. “Uh oh,” he replied, “Sounds like it is.” “No no,” I said, “Just about Christmas knitting.” “How much you have to knit and how much time you have to do it?” “Yeah.” “So why are you blogging about it instead of knitting?” Humph. What a cheeky man.)

Elizabeth Zimmerman made me do it


Let me set the scene. On Friday, I came down with the flu. (Sick again! I know, it’s been a rough fall.) I got halfway to work, realized I was being an idiot, got off the subway, called in, got back on the subway, got home, and went to bed. L had plans that night already, and since it didn’t seem fair to ask him to stay home so he could listen to me moan, he went out. I could knit or read, so I wrapped myself up in two blankets and watched Serenity (I tend to like action-y movies when I’m sick) and while I managed to tweet about it a little at the beginning, but the end I was in rough shape. Then I watched Good Will Hunting, which was probably a mistake.

Anyway, I was feeling a little better on Saturday and although I still couldn’t really knit (I managed a few paltry stitches and gave up), I decided I could maybe manage reading if the book would lie passively in my lap. My current novel was out, so I was casting around for other options when I remembered I had picked up a copy of EZ’s Knitting Without Tears on a whim on Thursday. Perfect. I read the whole thing this weekend. Yes, I got sick and read a book of “chattily written” knitting patterns, techniques, and tricks. Try to stop reading when you pick up one of her books. Just try.

On the one hand, this was a good stand-in for knitting. On the other hand, it just made me want to knit everything (especially sweaters!) and that’s a dangerous feeling to have just as you’re coming off being sick. The result has been a bit of a frenzy of knitting all kinds of things in a short span of time. To being with, I finished the first of my Seafoam Socks (not even Christmas related!). Then I went at my sweater.

I cast on for the Woodstove Season cardigan a few weeks ago. I wasn’t totally sure about the size (my measurements put me between medium and large), and cast on for the medium anyway. It’s knit top-down, so I figured I’d know if it was too small before I got very far. I knit the collar and 12 rows into the body and then put it aside for Christmas knitting, but really also felt like it was coming in too small. I wasn’t sure I wanted to rip it out quite yet, though, and then I read EZ and, well, it went from this

I’m knitting this in SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in Cypress.

to this.

Two rows of ribbing. Sigh.

And it may well stay in this state for the next month while I finish other things. The size seems better, though.

I also started my mom’s tea cozy, which I’m making up as I go along. I honestly thought this would be a quickish knit, but it turns out that a big tea pot and a tight gauge combine to require more stitches around than your average sweater. The shaping is all in my head at the moment, but here’s how it’s turning out so far (I’m going for random-ish looking stripes):

It’s growing on me.

What do you think? I wasn’t sure about the colours, but L assures me they suit my parents’ house, so I’m going with it.

And third (fourth?), I’ve decided I need a new hat. I’ve been thinking about it, and I jotted down a little sketch for myself, and now I’m knitting. EZ got me all fired up with the confidence to rely on my own mind, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll let you know how this goes.

I just cast this on last night. It’s AslanTrends Royal Alpaca in Plum.

In sum: I am still sick, but I am knitting. Oh boy, am I knitting. Next time you need a little push, or to feel clever, or just to be inspired when you have a fever, pick up something Elizabeth Zimmerman wrote – that woman is a force for all that is good and woolly.

Tentatively on schedule


I say that despite not getting by sister’s Christmas socks finished on the weekend (I didn’t even knit on them over the weekend, if we’re being honest). Nonetheless, it’s mid-November and the most time-consuming item (at least, what I think will be most time-consuming) is finished. Oh sure, I still have fair isle mittens, hats and a not-yet-designed tea cozy, but I’m not worried. In my head, that all seems doable and straightforward. I’m going to miss working on these socks, though.

I’ll have real photos after Christmas. Promise.

I’m placing an embargo on shots of the finished items until after they’re gifted, so while I’ll post some photos as the knitting progresses, the finished shots will be a little vague. Even though you can’t see them properly, know that I am totally happy with these socks. I’ll post details below, but I just want to give a shout-out to indigodragonfly, whose Merino Silk 4-ply sock was the perfect substitute for the A Verb for Keeping Warm Metamorphosis yarn the pattern called for. The indigodragonfly has a higher silk content and is slightly lighter weight, but it was perfect for Cookie A.’s pattern.

Colourway: Don’t You Have an Elsewhere to Be? (Cordelia)

Also, second sock syndrome? Not over here. I’m not sure why, since these socks are basically a repeat of the same 12-row chart from top to bottom, but honestly, I think I just enjoyed the yarn so much that watching the same shapes come out of it never got boring. I can’t decide if that’s sad or not, but maybe I don’t care? I can tell you that I seriously want a pair of these socks in this yarn for myself, but that will have to wait until after the New Year (and after L’s birthday).

Are you embarking on Christmas knitting this year? How’s it going? I feel like it’s early enough to be optimistic and still be enjoying the whole process, so for heaven’s sakes let’s engage in a little of that before the manic must-finish stress rolls in. (There’s no way that’s just me.)

Pattern: Daphne by Cookie A.
Yarn: Merino Silk 4-ply sock by indigodragonfly in Don’t You Have an Elsewhere to Be? (Cordelia)
Needles: 2.75 mm bamboo dpns
Modifications: Not many to be honest. I made the largest size (we are a family of big feet), but instead of using te sport weight wool called for, I used a fingering weight. I don’t think it really made much of a difference. Other than that, I used Cat Bordhi’s hungry stitch ssk method for both the gusset decreases and the toe shaping. The biggest change, I guess, was that to get the right length in the foot before starting the toe, I ended after row 6 in my final chart repeat (that’s the half-way point). It worked out fine and I don’t think it looks weird. Each repeat for me was 1 inch, so it was easy to calculate. I also have yarn left over (enough to do surprise toes on a future pair of socks, or work in as stripes somewhere), so considering I made the largest size for size-10 feet, that’s pretty awesome yardage. It’s ravelled here.

A Proper Mother’s Day


I don’t have kids, but it was my birthday yesterday, and since I’m the oldest that means Mother’s Day this year fell on the actual anniversary of my mum becoming a mother. In the year I was born my birthday was actually a couple of days after Mother’s Day, so my poor mum had to wait a whole year for it. Now though, I like to think that the waiting has paid off.  Unfortunately, what with my parents living in Nova Scotia and me living in Toronto, I didn’t get to see my mum over the weekend – instead, L and I did birthday stuff.

I had to work yesterday (I’m a copy editor at the National Post, and since there’s a Monday paper, I have to go in on Sundays to work on it), so we did birthday stuff on Saturday. As t turned out, the weather was so lovely all weekend that either day was basically the dream of a Spring-born. Obviously we had to take advantage of the 20C weather, so we bicycled to Kensington market, bought picnic supplies and then bicycled down to Toronto Island (well, we took the ferry, but you know what I mean).

One of my favourite things about the ferry is its life jacket ceiling. So reassuring.

We spent the afternoon on the Island, eating a lot of delicious bread and cheese, bicycling around, tossing a Frisbee, and admiring the lovely houses. Then we bicycled home (it’s just about 8 km each way to the ferry, entirely downhill there and thus, entirely uphill back, so it wasn’t as lazy a day as it felt). After a nap, we went out to meet some friends for drinks and dinner and, I have to say, it was just the kind of low-key fun day that I always hope my birthday is going to be.

Our bicycles resting under a Norwegian maple (according to the sign) while we ate our picnic.

I didn’t get any knitting time on Saturday, though, so on Sunday I went with L to a Frisbee practice before work and while he ran drills I sat in the sunshine and knit. Remember those 67 stitches I cast on last week? Well, they are (hopefully) going to turn into the Autumn Leaves Stole by Jared Flood (rav link). I’m really enjoying the knitting and it has been flying along (I’ve had about two hours total to work on it and I’m halfway through the first chart) and then yesterday, while I was knitting in the sun, I realized something was wrong.

Can you spot the errors?

Can you see it? There on the right – the garter stitch border is not, shall we say, consistent. I do this when I swatch sometimes (you know, forget to knit the last X number of stitches on a purl row) and I thought I was catching myself as I went along, but apparently not. I’m planning to give this to my mum for Christmas (I am starting early this year!), so while I might have decided I didn’t care that much if it was for me, I decided that I should rip it back and do it properly for my mum. Have you ever ripped back lace knitting? It’s terrifying, what with all those yarn-overs and k2togs and whatnot.

So many live stitches – thank goodness Ganymede was otherwise occupied.

I ripped back 10 rows (there’s no picture, because I was too tense) and then, when I picked up the stitches, I only had 61. I counted again. Still 6 short. I checked, and there were no obvious dropped stitches, all my yarn-overs had survived, but there were definitely only 61 stitches where there should have been 67. I decided to start working the chart, since I assumed it would become clear where the missing stitches at least should have been, and yes, when I hit the middle of the first leaf (where it’s slip1, k2tog, psso), there was no stitch to slip. I found the dropped stitch (which had basically melted away), picked it up and kept going. Sure enough, this was the case for every leaf but one. I’ve now reknit those ten rows, plus two, and I’m pleased I decided to rip back when I did, rather than waffling as I continued to knit, which is what usually happens.

Totally worth it, right?

An hour’s work just to end up back at the beginning. Oh well. By the time I get to the end I’ll be glad I did it.