Archive for December, 2008

It’s December 30, do you know where your knitting is?  

I’ve been working on it.  I have, really. My endless scarf is almost done, really, only a few more inches to go.  I can do it before Jan 1, I can, I can.

But you agreed to knit 12 projects from your stash and/or UFO pile for the Mission Possible group.  Where’s that stuff?  

Well, I did some…

Some?  Do you think that some really lives up to the spirit of the challenge?

 But the scarf is taking forever…  I started it in January for crying out loud and worked on it all summer and everything.  

What about the rest?  You had all year.  What were you thinking when you signed up for 12 projects.  Not thinking was more like it.

But I did most of it.  I did!  I made the Starry Night hat, and finished the Starfish hat, and the felted tweed mittens, and the Sea Shell toys, I made a stenciled grocery bag from my fabric stash, and the Wisp.  I finally used up the Frangia too- if I hadn’t knitted anything else this year that ought to have been enough to qualify me for a medal of valor.

And the sweater?  Are you really prepared to give up 14 balls of angora ?

Ha!  You can’t make me ’cause I don’t have 14 balls, I only have 5 left.  So there Ms Smarty Pants. The rest are in the sweater.  I only agreed to cast on for a sweater.  I did and further more – it only needs 1.75 sleeves…. and a collar…and blocking… and seaming…  but it’s close, really close and I’m not giving it up now- I can knit on New Year’s Eve too you know.

Along with the scarf?  Because you have 4 hands?  Because 2008 has 3 extra weeks?  

Really?  There are 3 extra weeks?  I can so finish the sweater in 3 weeks.

You don’t have 3 extra weeks.    So what are you giving up?  What’s left on the list?

The Natural Wool from Saff that I don’t want to knit with because it still has all the oil and stuff in the yarn. I’d be happy to give that to someone who wants it.  

OK, what else?

The pink Gak  Phoenix that was going to be a poncho for my granddaughter.

And are you giving that up?

I think not.  It’s just not nice to expect someone else to straighten that sort of mess.  


Picture the multi purpose room in the church basement over run with pink furry wisps.   See the enthusiasm of new knitters fade as they spend several hours untangling  mounds of what appears to be fairy snot.   I couldn’t do that to anyone.  

I think for my failure to complete I need to knit some charity project with it- I’m sure  some little girl somewhere would be happy to have a fuzzy pink scarf.  If I can bring myself to pick it up, if I have needles big enough to make it quick- size 17 maybe?  After I finish the sweater.

That’s 11.  There’s one more.  You know what it is.

No!  No! No!  Don’t make me!  Not the Brooks Farm.  Never, never, never… I promise I’ll use it. You can’t make me give it up!  You can’t. 

Besides, what I really learned from this is that my yarn stash is really not that big.  Really, it’s only two shopping bags full.  What’s a few balls of Brooks Farm in the mix? I don’t need to clear it out.  


Music:  What are you Doing New Year’s Eve?


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On Christmas Eve- I finally realized there was an upside to delaying Christmas.  So what if my son is in Mississippi with his girlfriend’s family?  (and isn’t it a good thing I finished the Frangia scarf for her after all?) I did not have to rush around like a demented elf.  I did not have to cook for anyone but me.  I could watch non child friendly DVD’s and knit.  I was not sad, I was liberated.

On Christmas Day- Decatur was completely quiet.  None of the happy folk were out reveling and making me feel abandoned.  No,  I was able to bake some bread  and a pie and actually bring my apartment up to an acceptable level of tidiness.  How often can I say that?  My granddaughter and I finished wrapping gifts and filling stockings and I knitted and watched child friendly DVD’s.  

It gave me time to finish this:

Which I did just in time to shove it into my son’s stocking before he arrived on Friday afternoon.   

People were fed, presents were opened, warm cider was drink, and friends stopped by.  Nothing was missing- except maybe the oven catching on fire.

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A Happy Ending at Last

 After many trials and tribulations our long suffering….  yarn no make that knitter, no I really do mean the yarn…. only I’m the long suffering one here, right?  Ok, I think this will work:  Frangia  was finally paired with the perfect mate.  Chapter closed, romance lives, heartfelt sighs all around.

Here are the happy couple about to leave for the land of happy ever after:

Aren’t they sweet together?

Thank God, that bitch yarn is out of my life.

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Dear Santa,

Please, this year, I just want my Christmas back.

I don’t need snow.  I  don’t need a lot of presents.  I’d really just like to have my family and friends with a little holiday cheer and have that feeling of contentment that comes from drinking warm cider and eating wonderful food with people you like.  I want that sense of  magic you get from staring at the lights on the tree for too long and the peaceful feeling that arises from the complete utter lack of traffic noise that only happens on Christmas Eve.

That’s what  I was going to write because, well, this Christmas is shaping up to be one of the un magical ones. I know every Christmas can’t be perfect because then how would we know which ones were great but this year I really feel like it’s been hijacked.  

Besides the personal stuff- like my son will be MIA on Christmas- I’m finding it hard to feel cheerful and merry when so many people here are out of work and struggling. When  so many places in the world  right now have collapsing economies, governments, crumbling social structures and way too much  suffering.  All I want for Christmas this year is Christmas.

Then last night I walked around Decatur.  It was bonfire night in the square- lots of families out roasting marshmallows and visiting Santa (all for free) The stores and restaurants were all full. One shop had a fabulous country/folk group performing on the porch- hey guys, do you have a CD?  You rock!  The cookware store had wine tasting, the bookstore had a lecture, the Library had a concert- again all free.  There was a guy dressed up as an elf or maybe a Christmas gift?  It was hard to tell but he sure was festive.  There were excited children and smiling parents, happy bargain hunters, and friendly  people out having a good time.  

I think I got my Christmas back.

Thanks Santa.

oh,  just one more little thing- can you bring me a new CD player?  Mine doesn’t anymore and I sure am in the mood for some Christmas music.


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Can I crawl into my cave now?

My brain knows it’s the Holiday season and I couldn’t possibly not notice really, because there’s Christmas musak everywhere- full blast even in the Marta station.  But I just want to hibernate.  It’s a whole month early- I don’t usually get this way until January but right now the life of a bear seems very appealing- I would like to eat as much as I can hold and sleep til spring.

I’m blaming  the weather and not the 2 holiday parties, late nights, and wine  I enjoyed  this week.  Gloomy skies, gully washing rains most of the week and now it’s cold.  Perfect weather for soup and watching old movies and napping under the down comforter.

Unfortunately, Christmas waits for no woman and when UPS and the Postal service conspire together to lose my granddaughter’s gift  and the opera decides to overload January  schedule 3 shows for the beginning  of the year, and I’m going to have to get a handle on the clutter in my house before I can put up my tree- well, let’s just say nap time is over.

However the life of a slug is good for knitting  so this week:  I finished something!  I really finished something!

No, not the endless scarf.  Not the sweater I’ve been working on since July or any other long term WIP (pink mohair poncho?  what pink mohair poncho?) and in spite of the late nights and partying- I have something finished.  Not only that but it’s a Christmas gift.  Aren’t you in awe?  Want to touch it? 

A dishcloth modified from Lion Brand “Tree of Life” sweater with a garter stitch border.  In Tika, a wonderful soft organic cotton from Peru.  The yarn might actually be a little too nice for a dishcloth- it would make a lovely sweater.  The chart was a little harder to read than I expected and it serves me right for ignoring the  skill level listed on the pattern  and I spent a couple of evenings frogging and fixing but I now I can say I’ve tried cables.

The other thing that is making me really happy right now is that my friend Diana surprised me last week with some Knit Picks Harmony wooden needles as a treat for watching her cat while she was out of town.  I love Harmony needles.  Size 6, 8, 9 plus  the 24′ cables.  I already have 7’s and the 32″ cables.  So now I own all the sizes I am most likely to use.  Thank You Diana.

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Let them eat cake!

My previous post got me thinking more about fruitcake. You just don’t hear much about fruitcake anymore- as a Christmas tradition it’s been stashed in the attic with the Christmas tree candle holders and the foil garland Gramma made during the depression.

But I believe it’s been the victim of bad press and it’s time to reevaluate it.

I used to make fruitcake.  Everyone I know got one. Mine was made from dried fruits- raisons, currants, apricots, figs, pineapple- no colored candied fruits, no little green nasty bits and no artificially bright cherries.  Mine  had lots of nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts and a dark rich batter with coffee and whiskey in it.  I soaked it in Southern Comfort.  I aged it.  The longer it aged the better it tasted.  I began making it 2 months in advance instead of 1.  One year I even made it in the summer. 

It was so good my assistant once broke into my desk at work looking for a piece.  Friends would hide it from their family members and eat it in secret.

The thing is- it was still fruitcake, the butt of all Christmas jokes, fruitcake.   I got tired of the jokes.  I got tired of fruitcake curing in every nook and cranny of my house.  I began to suspect that people confused it with the truly awful kind from the grocery store and really just tossed it out or passed it around like a particularly ugly heirloom that no one can stand.

Aunt Maribeth, Uncle Pat, if you are reading this- I really don’t know what happened to the obnoxious rare Japanese vase with the samurai warrior on it, talk to Natalie.

I stopped making fruitcake.

Now no one much gives fruitcake anymore- the jokes and so forth- have made it a social faux pas.  No, now we get little scented soaps in little baskets with miniature loofahs, lavender sachets with ribbon to pretty to throw away but not long enough to recycle, and tiny jars of jam with an assortment of dry biscuits from some place in Europe.  They get put into a drawer or a closet and stay there until someone goes on a cleaning binge.  Come on, admit it, no one really uses that stuff.  One would think this should be the subject of ridicule but you don’t see a lot of SNL skits about sachets now do you?  

What you do run across is jokes about handmade Christmas gifts, even gasp… knitting.  Someone, somewhere who knits  (possibly even me, I’ll admit it) will  always give someone you know some awful too big, too small, too bright, too dull, too not the recipient something.   Bright orange and fushia leg warmers for Gramps  and a red, green, and yellow intarsia sweater with Rudolph on it for your surly teenage daughter?  Ring a bell?

A few more jokes and knitting will be the new fruitcake.

Then those knitted gifts that are well chosen and beautifully knitted with love will be devalued by those who can’t see the lace shawl for the  oversized jingle bell sweater.    

So, knit what you want- gifts and otherwise- because you love it and may the yarn fall where it may but remember that it will be harder to make fun of knitting if there’s fruitcake to kick around.

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There’s no pictures because, well, there isn’t much knitting.  

How did this come to pass?  I ‘m not sure but note my year by year progression:

Knitted for Christmas gifts 2006-  1 feather and fan scarf, 2 fun fur scarves, 1 ribbed scarf with stripes, 1 novelty yarn garter stitch scarf, 1 felted hat, 1 felted bag, 1 simple hat, 1 ribbed hat with stripes.  9 projects total.  Started in June and finished week before  Christmas.

 Knitted for Christmas gifts 2007- 1 novelty yarn scarf, 1 free form space creature toy from scrap yarn, 1 Barbie doll sweater.  Plus I knitted a hat for myself and 2 felted snowmen decorations.  3 gifts, 2 other Christmas related projects.  All done on the fly in December.

Planned for 2008- 1 Skull Isle Hat, 2 cotton dishclothes, 1 novelty yarn scarf, some felted mice for my tree, maybe something for my granddaughter.

Actually started- 1 dishcloth, am not doing 2 the pattern was more complex than I thought.  1 novelty yarn scarf- frogged to be something for me because my son no longer has that girlfriend.

Actually finished- 0

Anyone notice a trend here?

Now I like to make gifts for Christmas- in the past I have foisted on to gifted those I love with hand made free form sand candles, ornaments made from pine cones and sequins, non edible decorative bread dough wreaths and yes, even home made fruitcake.  I was secure and confident that the recipients would just love these things.  How could they not?  The joy I felt making them would surely infuse the gifts and make them treasures, right?  My friends and family would bask in the glow of my superb craftsmanship and the pleasure I took in making them.   They smiled didn’t they?  Said “oh how nice , did you make that?”  and then, secretly, the item went in the Goodwill pile or was regifted in a last minute they-gave-us-a-gift-quick-what-do-we-have moment. Really, if I hadn’t made it myself I would have tossed the bread dough wreath ages ago.

Then I learned to knit and a whole new world of hand made joy to the world opened up.

Now though, I don’t want to knit the quick simple things anymore and I’m too slow to knit something like a sweater or a lace shawl on a deadline. (maybe if I started now for 2012?)  I don’t have any joy in knitting on a deadline, period.

 I might, just might knit up the mice, maybe on Christmas Eve, because they’re quick and easy. I know my son really wants the hat- he asked for it- but I need to modify the pattern to accommodate different yarn and it makes my little head spin to think about it.  Not going to try to do anything else.

So what am I getting everyone for Christmas?  I don’t know yet, but I’m thinking everyone would really like some fruitcake.

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