Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Down To The Wire

Stephanie wrote:

This time of year can be busy and hectic, at times a blur. We run from one thing to another, barely taking time to savor the moment.

Even with all the planning and preparation we're busy down to the last minute. And then it's here.

My own holiday preparations are still in the making. I've had to call in reinforcements. My sister is here baking cookies and bringing order to my chaotic household. We secured a tree. It waits outside for us to clear a space. All in good time.

I continue to knit and make progress on my list of holiday gifts. I have resigned myself to the fact that not everything will be completed in time for the opening of gifts. But there is something to be said for gifting a ball of yarn with a promise for what it will become. And then the knitting will be easy, done out in the open with no pretense of secrecy.

Just the other day I experienced a knitter's rush. I've been hard at work on several Cairn hats. It's been fun to sift and sort through stash, playing with different colors to toss together in a hat. I knew I was cutting it close with this one. I had estimated the yardage of the contrast yarn but wasn't sure if I had quite enough.

As I worked through the crown decreases the ball dwindled before my eyes. But I kept knitting. At one point I was called away on an errand and had to leave my knitting behind. I hated to leave - the suspense was killing me. Would I have enough yarn?

This time the knitting goddess smiled on me. Yes, I had enough, just enough. There were only inches to spare. I couldn't have cut this one any closer. I topped off the hat with a feeling of accomplishment - and relief.

We've been fortunate here in New England. There's nothing like a good storm to provide a festive atmosphere.

Winter white . . .

. . . with a splash of color.

No matter how you mark this time of year, be sure to enjoy the season and savor the moments.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Simple Life

Stephanie wrote:

I try to lead a simple life as much as possible. My kitchen is not full of gadgets, and I have a cell phone only because my kids insist on being in constant communication.

And I try to keep the holidays simple. Granted my long list of holiday knitting projects may not appear to be simple, but for me it's much easier than a trip to the mall. The mere thought of going near a major retail outlet this time of year is sure to bring on a migraine.

This week when my teenage daughter said she wanted to knit a holiday gift for her friend, I was feeling mighty proud. After years and years of watching me knit gifts, she was going to do the same. If my kids have learned nothing else from me, at least they've learned how to knit.

Imagine my dismay when said daughter presented me with this tangled mess.

And this isn't the worst of it. This is how it looked after I had spent a considerable amount of time following various twists and turns. You'll notice it was so bad I had to start from the other end and work my way through the tangles.

The real kicker in all of this is that I had suggested she put the skein on a swift and use the ball winder. While I may not have kitchen gadgets, I do have yarn gadgets. When she handed off the mess, I asked about the swift and ball winder. It turns out she used the back of a chair - which is fine. But then she took the skein off the chair and that's when the whole process went awry. I'm just glad she had enough sense to give me the tangled mess before she took a scissors to it. With a little more time I'll have it all sorted out.

I continue to make progress on the Red Scarf (deadline is just around the corner) and have started a pair of Felt Clogs for my son's birthday next week. I have outfitted the entire family a couple of times around with these clogs but have yet to make a pair for myself. One of these days . . .

And when no one is looking, I work on various secret projects.

The beginning for a couple of projects.

While almost everything is still in some form of production, I have completed a couple of items. My favorite project this holiday season is Cairn. It's quick and clever. The color work is achieved by slipping stitches so you never work with more than one color on each round. Believe me, it's sure to impress the recipient.

Thanks to everyone who responded with comments to the last contest. Fresh ideas full of creativity and inspiration are always welcome. The winner of the winter installment of our Four Seasons Mitten Club is Kate. Congratulations!

Before I head off to select the colors for my next Cairn, I leave you with this.

I love the dark days leading up to the winter solstice. During this busy season I make time for lighting candles and quiet reflection.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Scarf On The Go

Stephanie wrote:

This time of year, with so many knitting projects in the works, I'm forced to maximize my knitting time. I'm sure those of you who knit for the holidays can relate.

I find myself getting up extra early to grab some quiet, secret knitting time. And I stay up later on the other end of the day to knit just one more row - or twelve.

Since the deadline for the Red Scarf Project is rapidly approaching, that project is getting lots of attention. I've set aside my Waffle Rib Socks in favor of the red scarf. Now the scarf goes everywhere with me.

And it's the perfect project to kill time - a one row pattern over and over and over. But already I feel like I've fallen into a hole with this project. I keep knitting and knitting, visibly reducing the size of the ball of yarn. But the scarf doesn't seem to get any longer. How can that be? I'm trying not to dwell on it. I said I will knit until the yarn is gone. As long as the ball gets smaller, I know I'm on the right track.

The scarf made a trip to the skating rink.

The kids and I go ice skating every week. This week I sacrificed my ice time so I could work on the scarf. The kids were bummed I wasn't skating, so next time I'll have to be out on the ice. Maybe I can skate and knit at the same time.

And for a bit of culture the scarf went to a play.

For once I had the benefit of a well lit set.

Thanks to all who posted comments and entered the contest. What an ambitious, creative bunch! If you haven't done so already, there's still time to enter. Post a comment and tell us what you're knitting for the holidays. If you don't knit for the holidays, let us know what you're currently working on. The winner receives the winter installment of the Four Seasons Mitten Club. But hurry - the deadline is Sunday, December 6.