One last post about Christmas knitting

I issued myself a Christmas knitting report card last post and let's say, by the numbers, my 2016 performance was a little disappointing.  But, as with real report cards, the full picture is sometimes obscured in the details.  In actuality, I concluded that it was all worthwhile all because of one response to one of the gifts I had knit.*

I have a theory that a maker whose handmade gift is received with true happiness experiences tenfold happiness themselves.  Of course, there is the joy we derive from the making itself and the love we put into each minute of that process, but we can only hope and not expect or demand that the recipient will love that thing as much as we do.  And even if the recipient is a three-year old child who would likely have been delighted with just about any gift, sweet kid that she is, I feel just as much satisfaction as if I had been judged worthy by a panel of experienced knitters. Maybe more.

For a good friend's daughter, I decided to knit a polar bear girl from Julie Williams' (aka, Little Cotton Rabbits) Girl Bear pattern and some clothes from the various LCR animal clothes patterns.  I was really taken with the beautiful winter-themed animals Julie posted on her blog and I convinced myself that a little dressed polar bear was just the right thing for this particular little girl, whom I will refer to as "E".  So, I made Polly Behr:

Making Polly and her little travel set was almost as fun as seeing E open her present.  Polly is knit with an Ontario grown-and-spun alpaca yarn I purchased from the lovely Alpaca Avenue shop.  The clothes are knit with various yarns I had in my stash.  The nice thing about doll clothing is that you don't need much yarn so I could dip into my collection of partials and singles and make a wardrobe, although it did limit my colour palette.  I made a few attempts at knitting some of the Fair Isle dresses Julie published, but unfortunately, stranded knitting is not my forte, especially under time constraints, so I settled for simplified colourwork and accessorised instead.  It wasn't intentional but all the accessories are of Danish design (which I deeply love, so probably not really a coincidence).  The little suitcase is made by Maileg (purchased from Kolkid, here in Toronto but available online).  The gift box, a red tin mailbox, and the teddy passport (how could I resist?) are from a Flying Tiger store in NYC, (which is where I happened to be last month).

My little friend has a great imagination and I decided to give Polly a little back story about having travelled from Greenland to attend nursery school in Toronto and needing a nice place to live.  E, who is many wonderful things, also happens to be none too fond of nursery school.  I think (I hope!) it helped her relate to Polly because she seems to have taken Polly's "care" to heart.  E's parents tell me she puts Polly to bed in her house (the red mailbox) at night and tries to keep her warm when they go outside to play.  I already thought it was a great triumph that E was so excited about Polly's removable "shacket" (aka, jacket, aka, cardigan) when she opened her gift but the update from her parents really made my day. :D

Needless to say, E has earned herself a lifetime appointment to my knit-worthy list for this alone!


Footnotes

*This post may have the slight stench of the humblebrag.  Try to forgive me this weakness, but E was so happy.  I'm just going to bask in this for a day or two.

Christmas knitting report card

So Christmas 2016 has come and gone.  From the perspective of a knitter, the success of Christmas might be measured by how much knitting was or was not done.  For the organised and rational knitter, a good Christmas holiday would have included some stress-free knitting in a comfortable, warm nook.  For the rest, there would be varying amounts of (probably frantic) knitting taking place during any free moment available, sometimes in unlikely places in order to meet a deadline.  Since I decided to embark on Christmas gift knitting sometime in early December, I should have fallen squarely among the latter group, but I did rein in my ambitions to three, relatively small projects, which had to be done or abandoned before I left for the holidays.

But that said, how did I do, really?  I decided to assess it by the numbers and I issued myself a Christmas knitting report card based on the three projects I had decided to make.

In truth, I don't really deserve that A+ for attendance because the majority of the Christmas gatherings I was invited to were all scheduled for days I wasn't even in town.  Which is to say, my performance for a mere three small projects was pretty disappointing even if I thought it didn't go as poorly as some previous years.  I think the conclusion is obvious; I should really just knit for myself and I can do it guilt-free because this report card confirms everything I knew to be true about (my attempts at) gift knitting.   Which is, it rarely ends well.

(If you would also like to issue yourself a Christmas knitting report card, feel free to print one for yourself.

If this were a fancy-like blog, I would have it generate your grades for you, but that is not where my skills lie.  You'll have to do it the old-fashioned way.)

Luckily, internet shopping has reached a level of efficiency that allows me to get to inside a week of Christmas Day to decide (objectively)* if the project in hand can be completed in time or if I need to order something right now.  Incidentally, I used to think I would rather be kept awake for three days straight by the barking of dogs and the clashing of garbage bins being knocked over by raccoons rather than brave a mall even once in the weeks before Christmas.  This year, having been forced to make a few trips to various malls, I found that it was surprisingly not utter pandemonium.  I'm going to attribute this to the rise of internet shopping.  Some people think the internet is destroying meaningful human interaction but I'm now rather inclined to think that it might be saving us all.

But back to the subject at hand.  Clearly, deciding to knit gifts a mere handful of weeks before Christmas is never a sound plan, yet somehow I convinced myself to give it a try anyway.  It would probably be smarter to set the publish date for this post for sometime in November of 2017 as a sort of wake-up call, a reminder to my future self of the inevitable outcome of last-minute gift knitting which you know I will be contemplating again in eleven month's time, but that would be planning ahead.


Footnotes

*I'm not sure if I'm alone in this, but in the past, when the clock was running down and I still hadn't completed a project, I would then, through some strange logic, convince myself the answer was to forego some hours of sleep per day for the remaining days before Christmas instead of just going out and buying a gift to replace the one I wasn't going to be able to finish.  Like I said in my last post: madness.  Internet shopping allows me to get that close to a deadline and not lose my grip on reality.

Christmas Madness

I'm not referring to the parking lots at the mall or the back-to-back Christmas gatherings or the number of lightbulbs per square foot in my neighbourhood.  I'm referring to the affliction that annually strikes many knitters (and probably crocheters and sewers too) as early as the first week of December but usually in the second and third weeks of this otherwise run-of-the-mill-crazy month.  Certainly, I use words like madness and insanity in a rather loose manner (and entirely too often) but sometimes I can't help but wonder.

What I'm talking about is gift knitting and the belief that December is a perfectly rational time to start it.  A hat, you tell yourself will take no time at all.  And a little baby sweater for your cousin's newest baby?  So easy!  And yes, knitted toys are a little finicky to work up, but so small and relatively quick compared to the hours I could spend shopping for something half as adorable.  Then I should probably finish that sweater I started for my significant other which only has the rest of the front, back, sleeves, collar, and button-bands left.  And while it's blocking, I do have all these colourful partials that would make the cutest colourwork miniature stockings that I can adorn all these presents with.  Wouldn't that be a great stash buster and ridonculously cute?  And so the list grows into something gargantuan that couldn't have been conquered had you started in June like you should have.

A knitter's ability to reckon time is already suspect, but the nearer Christmas looms, the less a knitter can grasp that time is immutable (for all practical purposes) or accept the limits of their human biology.  But reality does set in, and we sleep, and we eat, and we don't completely shun our families and friends (we just take our knitting with us to their parties and hope no one notices).

The scary thing about it all though?  I've done this countless Christmases and I've long ago banned myself from gift knitting, because frankly, the majority of those gifts were never completed* and some, I'm not too proud to admit, are to this day still in the skein stage, yet I start toying with the possibility of just knitting a few small things for the people I think will actually appreciate it--every single year--around this time.  I'm not sure I can be convinced that this isn't a form of madness.

I thought I might be recovering from this condition after years (perhaps even decades) of denial.  Last year, I made exactly zero attempts to knit something for anyone other than my own self, even if I did give it some consideration.  However, this year I foresee a set-back.  You see, that hypothetical gift list a few paragraphs ago isn't.  I actually made that list yesterday, right before I pinched myself hard and looked for a bucket of ice water to dunk my head in.

Maybe just the hat then?

And the doll.

Knitting with  The Gaynor Homestead 's divine  Rambouillet 3-ply worsted, "Home" .  My only hope is that I decide no one deserves a hat this nice except me.

Knitting with The Gaynor Homestead's divine Rambouillet 3-ply worsted, "Home".  My only hope is that I decide no one deserves a hat this nice except me.


Footnotes:

*Once I abandoned all hope of finishing the gift in time, I would end up spending hours, last-minute, scouring the internet to find that person something just right and in time.  As in, I spent double the money (and time) I would have otherwise--buying yarn that didn't get used plus a gift that I probably could have bought a month earlier during Black Friday sales.