Things that I didn’t want to post about before I actually handed them over as presents for Christmas/birthdays, because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise:
Scarf, by request. Grandma, Mama’s mom, died back in April. Unexpected and expected all at once. Some months later, Mama asked if I would knit her a shawl. Franklin made a shawl for his grandmother which sounded like something my grandma would have liked. He said, “I wanted to see if I could make lace look pretty, but tough…just like my Grandma.” Like Franklin’s grandmother, Grandma was pretty and tough and always working in her garden. Even after she was using a walker and couldn’t lean down to do her own gardening, she was still telling the rest of us what weeds to pull, where to put plants in the ground, and explaining at length the differences between related plants. This shawl was in memory of her, and for my mama.
I had the worst time finding the right yarn, because I knew I wanted a dark green/brown variegated yarn. The first yarn store I went to had something in the right colors, but not dark enough, but I bought it anyway. After all, there’s never too much sock yarn, so I figured I would have it on hand if nothing better came along. Then I found this, Madelinetosh yarn, in a store in Manhattan. I bought two skeins over Thanksgiving, went home and started knitting frantically. After a while, I decided that it was too wide and I was going to run out of yarn before I finished, so I tinked it all and started again with one less repeat of the pattern. Even so, after about a skein and a half, I didn’t have enough to finish the scarf. I called a dozen LYSs (local yarn stores), but none of them had the right brand, weight, or colorway. I called the store in Manhattan. Even before I finished explaining the problem, they had offered to check their stock and mail more to me if they had it. I said yes, asked for two more skeins, gave them my credit card info, and hoped they’d hurry up. Less than a week later, the yarn showed up at my doorstep.
I finished the scarf three days before Christmas.
Scarf, surprise. It is very difficult to buy presents for one of my roommates. Not that any of the others are very easy, but this one is particular is hard. He doesn’t like interesting food, doesn’t need clothing, doesn’t read books, doesn’t watch movies . . . . Bah. But last year, he asked me for a scarf. I gave him the standard answer for people I love: buy me yarn that you like, and I’ll knit for you. Did I mention that he’s also lazy? The yarn never showed. But I was sorting through some half-finished projects, and I came across the Japanese bamboo yarn. I bought the Japanese bamboo yarn when we were in Japan, visiting Himself’s sister, about two years ago. It was beautiful and soft yarn, and I bought lots of it, in three shades of blue. Apparently, in Japan, the store stocks huge skeins of yarn, really gigantically big, and then the customer tells the sales person how many yards she wants, and the clerk gets out a ball winder and a swift and winds just that much (using weight in there as well, if I recall). It was all very interesting. So I brought the wonderfully soft yarn home and started trying to knit it into something. I say ‘trying’ because it was very frustrating yarn. It’s a little slippery, and has no stretch whatsoever, and so I quickly learned that it didn’t want to be intarsia, and it didn’t want to be anything that would require stretch or returning to shape. I finally knit it into a striped ribbed scarf almost out of desperation, and even weaving the ends in, a very simple job usually, nearly drove me to distraction.
But he loved it.
Slippers, sort of by request. We were visiting Himself’s parents, and his mother was looking at a pair of slippers in a knitting magazine, and called them to my attention. I’m still not entirely sure if this was a subtle hint or not, but I interpreted it as such. And it was a challenge. I’ve knit lots of socks, but never before a pair of slippers.
So I sat down to think about it. The toes of slippers and socks are very similar, so start there. Okay, cast on, knit past the increases for the toes . . . hmm. I couldn’t just cast off in the middle of the foot and keep knitting stockinette, because the edges would curl. Okay, need something along those edges to make them lay flat. Ribs? Gets complicated. Seed stitch? Maybe. I finally decided on linen stitch, which may have been a mistake because while it lays very flat, it has no stretch at all, and is somewhat tighter that stockinette, causing a slight rouching effect in the stockinette. But I cast off a few stitches right in the middle of the top of the foot, started adding the linen stitch along both sides, and knit merrily along for a while.
Well, that looks alright, but how am I going to get them to stay on? After all, I opened the top up pretty far down, so I didn’t trust them to stay on without help. Ah, straps!
Okay, got that, and button at the end somewhere to hold things in place. Great! And just finish the heels with short rows and keep the linen stitch around the edges, and I’m done! Or . . . not. I redid the heels twice. But still, it worked!
Boxed them, mailed them, and sent them off in time for Christmas. Yay! Only three knitted presents this year, and they were all done in time – all though Mama’s scarf was a close thing!