Christmas Knitting 2015

I honestly meant to update well before now, but while my intentions were good…my followup was crap.

The knitting content has been almost non-existent on the blog for a while, so I will offer up an apology for anyone looking for knitting and finding everything else. My knitting has had a tendency to go in fits and starts the past couple of years. First it was a full-out sock obsession that went into overload, after which I took some time off from serious knitting. I really did burn myself out. The past two years, I’ve recovered in just enough time to get the Christmas Knitting over and done with before sinking back into well-earned break that turned into extended sabbaticals.

So I’m going to try and do better this year. Maybe space out the Christmas knitting so that it’s not all being hurriedly done at once.

Excuses aren’t knitting, however, so here we go!

ONline Supersocke 4-fach Neptun Color
ONline Supersocke 4-fach Neptun Color

These were the first socks completed, sometime in June. I was experimenting with tighter gauge and had knit them on 2mm needles. They fit my foot, but they were somewhat too snug — so they are a perfect fit for my mother-in-law, Sheila. The tighter gauge will ensure that they will last a long time and stay nice and cozy.

momsocks

Socks for my own Mum! These, too, were at a slightly tighter gauge, but for a bigger foot. They were knit from the toe-up using a Fleegle Heel. I couldn’t tell you what the yarn is, but it felt like it was possibly a Zitron/Trekking product from the feel of the yarn. The colour, however, doesn’t seem to be part of that line. Ah well…it was still a good knit 🙂

dadmitts
Knit Picks Palette in Almond & Garnet Heather plus leftover Trekking/Cascade sock yarn for lining

Mittens for Dad! I had made mittens for everyone *but* him last year, and I really wanted to make sure that he had warm hands for this year. They were started last year on boxing day, and I managed to get one mitten finished before putting them aside. Picked ’em up again at the end of November, finished the second mitten, then moved on to the liners. The liners look pretty similar for both mittens, with the greet at the finger tips. I had two small balls of very similarly coloured Trekking (if not two dyelots of the same colourway), which I used for the liner closer to the openings. The fingertips are some leftover Cascade sock yarn. Dad assures me that the thumbs are the right length, and since my only worry was that I’d knit the thumbs too short, I guess we can call these a success!

lilamitts
Kroy Gentry Grey and possibly Bernat Baby CoOrdinates Ombres in Funny Print

A set of mittens for my co-worker Lila, who loves Tolkein and the Peter Jackson version of Middle Earth. She caught sight of these over my shoulder one day when I was glancing at Ravelry, and mentioned how she’d love a pair. She has knitters in her family, but getting them to make anything for her is a trial. These are my birthday/Christmas gift to her. The background is Kroy and the design is actually an acrylic baby yarn that was chosen mainly for the glittery bling that magic doors require. The wool in the Kroy will keep her plenty warm, methinks.

donsocks

Socks for my father-in-law, Don – aka “why do I keep losing the ball bands?”
The yarn is possibly ONline Supersocke 100 Forest Color, but I can’t be 100% certain as…well…I lost the ball band. Probably when I cleaned up my office earlier this fall. Oops. Again, stripey goodness. It keeps me amused.

tashascarf1

Last, but certainly not least, a scarf for my sister-in-law, who can be rather difficult to shop for. She apparently loves the scarf, however, and I’m not surprised…it’s 2 skeins of Malabrigo Mecha in the Lotus colourway. 100% Merino goodness! I used the 1-row scarf pattern, and it worked beautifully with the way the yarn was dyed.

Next time, I’ll try to show a couple of the other projects I’ve been working on but haven’t had time to post quite yet!

Tour de Noel: Tree #4

Last but not least, my parents’ tree!

Mum always threatens to do a theme tree, but I love the familiar jumbled look of the ornaments. Many of the ornaments are new, but that’s because Mum has handed many of the family ornaments to my brother and I (at least, I think my brother has the other half of the old ornaments).

We had a wonderful dinner and a really good visit with my folks. We’re thinking that if we aren’t too flat-out busy next year, we might host instead. We’ll see where we are when that happens.

How did your Christmas celebrations go this year? 🙂

Tour de Noel: Tree #3

Happy boxing day! I’m carrying the merriment forward a day or two, seeing as there were at least four or five trees in my Yule, I present the first of my two Christmas Day trees.

This is the tree in my in-laws’ house. Robin’s parents’ main floor has wonderfully high ceilings, so I needed to actually sit down in order to get the whole tree in the frame.

Christmas bonus: Our nephew trying to open the present that we gave him. He loves Thomas the Tank Engine and anything to do with trains, and so we managed to find him a Thomas the Tank Engine train set. If his reaction was any indication, we get the stamp of approval.

Tour de Noel: Tree #2

Today’s tree is courtesy Robin’s brother and his lovely significant other, who hosted our Christmas Eve festivities. It was a definite non-traditional fare this year, with the main dish being home-cooked Ribs.

And as an added bonus:

Robin with a baby! This is our newest niece, Darby. She’s almost 2 months old. She’s already holding her head up on her own. Won’t be much longer and she’ll be giving her big brother Jax a run for his money. As you can tell from his relatively relaxed stance, Uncle Robin is getting more and more comfortable with the wee ones. I blame it on all the mandatory cuddling that our honourary niece Sarah insisted on…

Tour de Noel

We don’t have a Christmas Tree this year.  We don’t really have any space in the living room, and we haven’t really had a lot of time to get festive with work changes and stuff. Basically, we’re spending Christmas anywhere but home due to the Family Migratory Pattern of events.

So for the next couple of days, I’ll just take photos of everyone else’s trees (the folks we spend our time with). Feel free to follow along!

 

Here is our first non-work-related festive tree of the season! We were pleased to do a pre-Christmas Yule Fondue night with our friends Jamie and Sherri, and this is their pretty little tree (what you can’t see is the beautiful wood fire in the fireplace off to my left).

More trees to come, of course, folks.  Stay tuned!

Nice Cans…

I’m one of those knitters who knits for her family. I tend to be pretty humble about my talents, but having had a role model like my Granny Martin (who knit for her husband, daughter, son, their spouses and their children), it’s natural that I would knit for the people I care about. It started very innocently…I wanted to knit a pair of socks for my Mum. Then it sort of expanded as the other Parental Figures in the family expressed interest.  It led to an interesting question.

How do you wrap something that looks squooshably soft like these? Bear in mind, these aren’t necessarily gifts for others – at least two of those pairs of socks have found their way into my own sock drawer. They’re just an example of how…”poofy”…yarn can look when it’s all knit up.

Now, I’m sure I could just use some wrapping paper just like most people, but I find that wrapping paper and knitting don’t necessarily get along well.  Wrapping paper often becomes punctured and ripped when encasing squishable items. I could probably find some small gift boxes, but again, that’s a lot of effort to go to.

I found cans. The local Michael’s craft store tends to carry them around this time of year. These particular cans have been used multiple times. The deal I generally make with the family is this: If you get a can, count yourself lucky because you’ve probably earned yourself a pair of socks. If you want another pair next year, return the can to me. I have only ever had a can go walkabout once, and it came back to me in a hurry when the recipient remembered that if the can doesn’t come back, he doesn’t get more socks.

The benefit to this method is this: You know who wants and appreciates what you’re doing, you have an attractive way to display a gift, you reuse and recycle your wrapping materials, and you build a little anticipation for what’s to come.  What’s not to like about all of that?

I’d love to know just what solutions other people have had for wrapping oddly shaped presents, particularly knitting. Anyone have a good solution for wrapping shawls? I can see them being particularly difficult to disguise…

Do they know it’s Christmas?

Once upon a time (1984) there was this guy.  We’ll call him Bob.  Bob saw that there was this famine happening in Ethiopia and wanted to do something about it. He was in a band, so he wrote a song, invited a bunch of friends to sing it along with him (they called themselves “Band-Aid”), and thus “Do they know it’s Christmas” was released.

Now, don’t get me wrong…whatever else I might say, the effort did some good. There were some very real political problems keeping food and supplies from the Ethiopian people, and if it weren’t for the consciousness-raising efforts of the Live Aid movement, they probably would have been ignored.

At any rate, Bob and his friends did very well with their single, and it spawned a similar effort in Canada (“Tears are not enough” by “Northern Lights”) and the US (“We are the World” by the very straightforwardly-named “USA for Africa“). I was only about 12 years old at the time all this stuff happened, but I can remember exactly where I was when the concert was taking place that July: I was at our next-door neighbour’s cottage in the Ottawa Valley, listening to the music while sitting on their dock. It was, and remains, my most vivid memory of musical charity. I think there was quite a bit of musical activism happening around that time, what with Peter Gabriel and Sinead O’Connor heading off in one direction, and celebrations for the tearing down of the Berlin Wall bringing musicians together elsewhere.

I’ve heard a bunch of different versions of “Do they know it’s Christmas” in the past couple of years: Glee, the Barenaked Ladies (one of my favourite versions, actually)…but I don’t know if the message is there. It’s a catchy song, but the Glee cast is obviously not singing for starving children in Africa no matter what the lyrics and the royalties forwarded to the Band-Aid Trust say (and while I like Glee, I started checking out when the use of auto-tune overshadowed the actual musicality of the songs). The message has become lost in the catchiness of the melody, and to be blunt, the world has moved on. Sure, there were a couple of musical concerts for the victims of 9-11, and I believe there was some effort for the people of Haiti, but there really is no community of musicians to stand up and lead the way. Musical taste has scattered all over the place, for starters, and there’s so much happening in the world right now, what with hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, fires, and other natural disasters that trying to keep up, keep track, and make an effort would seem to be a measure of insanity.

Plus, I’m not exactly sure where the funds go anymore. You see commercials asking for financial assistance on the TV all the time, but I’m not sure if the money is actually going to starving orphans in Africa for their day-to-day needs, or whether they’re going to a missionary fund. I’d rather a kid got medicine than a bible, and I’m pretty sure that the Christian God would understand and appreciate that.  I’m also pretty sure that there are kids a bit closer to home who could use the assistance as well.

My outlook these days?  Appreciate the music. I have the memory of that time, and that’s something I can tell my nephews and nieces (and possible children of my own) about when they start asking questions about the 80’s. As for the donations of aid?  I recommend Medecins sans frontieres / Doctors without Borders (and if I could find the accent keys on my MacBook, the french name would be spelled correctly). They send aid where needed, whether in far flung areas or closer to home. Also, thanks to the efforts of Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, knitters have adopted the charity as well. You can find more information about Knitters without Borders on her site.

 

 

*I’m surprised I managed to get this update out because, frankly, I’ve been having trouble saying what I’m trying to say in this post. So if I sound rambly….let’s chalk it up to the difficulty getting the words out added onto staying up late to write (I’m on graves right now and I really need to get some sleep
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At least the TV is festive!

I’m not going to say that I have all my Christmas knitting done, because the moment I say that is the moment that someone in the family tells me five different things that they want me to knit that would make them the happiest person on the face of the earth. That said, I’ve done a lot of knitting this past weekend, and have found a few other projects to keep me entertained. I’m also looking at revisiting a few things that have gone on hold during the leadup to Yule.

Photo from a previous Yule when the tree fit in the living room

As a result of this, I’ve spent some quality time in front of the TV, watching movies and various things that have popped up on the PVR. I spent the past couple of days running through The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and right now am working my way through Dr. Who (circa 2005).

Christmas can be a great time for knitting in front of the TV if you like the odd Christmas special and you have a PVR. I’ve seen the Rankin-Bass classics “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” at least once, maybe twice. AMC had a little marathon of “White Christmas”, “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Holiday Inn”, and I even watched a new(er) one called “Fred Claus”, all about Santa’s lesser-known brother.

Usually that’s what gets me in the mood for the season…Christmas movies. I think it stems back to being a kid and looking forward to the “Christmas Specials” that would interrupt my parents’ usual TV habits – though I really don’t recall much of what they enjoyed that wasn’t enjoyed by the whole family.

This year we’re going a little lighter on the Christmas decorating, and part of it stems from the house being in a bit of a state of flux. I’m getting used to a new job, the living room has undergone a big change over the past year, and Yule kinda snuck up on us. As a result, we don’t have our tree up and the house looks more like ‘everyday” rather than “Christmas”.

In the meantime, though, we have the specials on TV and I’ve got my knitting. Yule is still coming, and it might not look like it’s happening around here, but that replay of Miracle on 34th Street is doing its best to convince me otherwise 🙂

Merry Christmas!

So far, today has been nice and relaxing, aside from a little traffic.  We went for a wonderful breakfast, and picked up a couple of things that Robin needed from one of the stores (not the mall, thank goodness).  We’re now taking a little time to rest up for the main holiday events.

I’ve been noodling with the stock standard “really simple shawl” formula, and putting to good use my Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn.  It’s always felt a little too thick for actual socks, and with three different colourways in my stash, there was a limit to how big an object I could knit.  Two of the colourways will become a shawl.  Easy-peasy.  It’s an easy, quiet project, and I’m loving the simple striping.

There are socks blocking in our workout room.  It’s easily the least-disrupted room at this time of year (ha ha) and I’m glad that there’s time for them to be blocked before they have to be rolled into their respective cans & given away.  Last-minute holiday blocking seems to be a tradition in the past few years.

Now it’s just to relax, enjoy knitting my shawl, and wait for the holidays to happen.

Merry Christmas, folks.  Happy Yule, Seasons Greetings.  Thanks for reading & thanks for listening to the podcast.  We’re going to go visit relatives and play with the nephews and niece, and just generally enjoy how wonderfully lucky we are to have each other at this time of year.

Even if it means having to drive all over Calgary for the opportunity to do so 😉