Category Archives: Norwegian Christmas Stocking

It’s already ready already.

I am a Christmas Sock That Rocks Forget all these people and their Socks that Rock – I’ll show you a sock that rocks right here (Jingle Bell Rock, that is). Finished with hours to spare on Saturday, the stocking was a big hit with all parties concerned, including yours truly. I have no illusions that it’s perfect, but I’m not ashamed to give it as a gift, you know? In fact, for all the other projects that stall out or become “the item I like in spite of its flaws”, I liked this project for itself, and for the doors it opened for me. Apparently, my head is turned by all knitting things Norwegian (all those patterns are just so, so organized and tidy!) and two-color knitting is no longer a huge mystery, just a skill to master. Without even knowing it, I gave myself something for Christmas (all together now, “Aww!”). Plus, I do not think anything has impressed Knit One Purl Too’s Expert Christmas Cookie Making Staff (aka my husband) as much as two-color knitting. His exact words? “This is so much better than self-patterning sock yarn – you’re making your own patterns!” If that isn’t incentive to make the Water Garden Fair Isle from IK Summer 00 (I love your work, Ron Schweitzer, call me!) or the Mossbank Pullover from Jaimeson’s Book 3, for him, I don’t know what is. I will be filled with treats by Santa

And now, we bring you a brief cookie interlude, courtesy of Lovely Lemon Cookies:

1 cup butter
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 cups flour
1 t. lemon extract

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the butter until creamy, then add the lemon extract, sugar and flour. Form the dough into little balls that fit in the palm of your hand and press to flatten into little disks. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until just brown around the edges. Cool.

For the frosting:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 T butter at room temperature
1 T lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Frost cookes and store between layers of wax paper, or begin eating immediately. Theoretically makes 5 dozen.

This is for Tiffany, who was nice enough to ask me to participate in a recipe swap – I was in the middle of Stocking Frenzy at the time; some things fell by the wayside. These are The Official Christmas Cookie of Knit One, Purl Too (though we also think The Barefoot Contessa’s Jam Thumbprints are fabulous).

And with that, off I go through the woods and on the Turnpike to Mom and Dad’s (the Official Parents of Knit One Purl Too) – the post-holiday knitting report will include much Banff progress and photos of my new favorite FO, the Tote-Around. To all a knitting good night!

Why didn’t I start, like, four months ago?

Dear Curtis and Claudia -

It's like a spy photo from Alias, courtesy of my Palm PilotHi. How are you? I am fine. I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to let you know that you might be able to celebrate Christmas on December 25th with the rest of us because it is entirely possible that I will actually finish the Christmas stocking I promised your son before Christmas. Despite my best efforts to underestimate the amount of time this project would take and knit mistakes into the work which require huge amounts of tedious frogging, I am finished with the heel, which means that with good knitting momentum, I should finish the last motif early tomorrow morning today. Then, just the toe stands between me and a finished Festivus Stocking (or as I am calling it privately, The Project I Should Have Started in July).

Raise your hand if you desperately need blocking to reach your full potential I realize that this note may seem like I am falling down on the job as far as my Fairy Godmother duties go, that even though I am not an official caretaker or role model in your son’s life, I may still serve more as a horrible warning than a shining example in the human behavior department. Lest you worry further that I will fail to complete my holiday task, let me remind you that I am 99 percent sure that FedEx delivers on Christmas Day, and I am even more sure that I will not have to resort to that. Because I am going to finish the stocking. On time. Early, even. Let us not mention the fact that I was forced (forced, I tell you) to start a new pair of socks because a. it would have been foolhardy to try and take the stocking on a cross-country plane trip – I have trouble not making mistakes when I’m sitting still. and b. I left my Retro Ribs (and my knitting box and my ballwinder at my parents’ house over Thanksgiving (I know that this is like “the dog ate my homework” excuse).

Socks for mom - who couldn't love that?What? A vacation, you say? I’ll tell you, a week in San Diego (non-knitting, beach and sun pictures here) seemed a lot more reasonable before I realized that the first week in December is prime Christmas knitting time (yes, I realize I’m going to hell for suggesting that I would forgo vacation to stay on deadline with this nutty stocking project). And yes, not only was I away from the stocking all week, I knitted something else too. (Fortissima Colori Socka Color, #9069, if you care) But they’re for my mom. So I’m in the clear. My mom wants socks, no deadlines, no strings attached, so of course, they fly off the needles. But I swear I haven’t touched them since we got back! It’s been all stocking, all the time since we returned to the land of snow and ice, because I love you two and I love your son.

Love (and I mean that),

Donna

P.S. I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Please come as late in the day as you possibly can.

You call it Banff, I call it solace.

It's a sleeve, and a good-looking one at that.Reading this site, you might get the idea that all I do is knit, talk about knitting and think about the next time I’m going to get the opportunity to knit. Not quite true, but I am keenly aware that having a knitblog means that blogging about knitting (rather than the cheese sandwich I ate for lunch) is job one around these parts. I don’t start writing until I have some progress to show, and occasionally life intervenes while I’m crafting an entry. In the post originally slated for this space, I started writing about how much I was enjoying two-color knitting with the Festivus stocking – by the time I got around to taking pictures, I was enjoying it less because the pattern was humbling me. These sessions of frogging and reknitting were brought to you solely by my own boneheadedness; though the pattern is written in a minimalist European style, it’s perfectly clear — just read the whole damn thing through a few times before plunging ahead. I was back to enjoying the stocking once more last week, preparing to post away about the joys of knitting for the holiday, when my grandmother died.

Unexpectedly, all I wanted to do was knit stockinette. I am not one for prayer shawls, but I had a need for comfort knitting that could not be denied, and since I am now the Official Knitter in the family, I couldn’t exactly wait around for someone else to cough up a cozy Ene’s Scarf for me (isn’t that version beautiful?). So I turned to Banff. Coincidentally (or perhaps providentially), I had laid in provisions in the event of such an odd knitting emergency – the wilds of EBay recently yielded the perfect yarn at a bargain price. For the record, I am not the kind of knitter who absolutely, positively must knit the item in the yarn recommended by the pattern. But in this case, I’m so glad I can; Tahki Soho Tweed is tremendous stuff. I had to go down several needle sizes to find gauge love; instead of the size 9 I was expecting, I’m knitting Banff on 6s – yes, you read that right. But three and a half stitches to the inch is three and a half stitches to the inch, whatever needle you’re using; I completed the first sleeve in six days, a record for me. And I love it. I can’t wait to wear it, whenever it’s finished (which will probably be pretty soon).

The observant among you will recognize that this means the Lush sweater is even further down in the pecking order with just one sleeve to go. In considering Banff, my thought process went something like:

I want to knit a sweater.
I want to finish a sweater.
I’ve always liked Banff.
I don’t think the Lush sweater is going to fit – it looks too baggy.
The yarn is soooo fuzzy.
I’m not sure I have the skill to set in the sleeves properly yet without working the yarn to death.
Why did I want to avoid seaming so badly?
The Lush sweater looks desperately homemade to me, and I don’t think I’m being overly critical.
Have I mentioned that the yarn sheds like a Golden Retriever?
I could try a different pattern.
I could try a different yarn.
I could knit Banff.

A slightly blurry closeup, because I was in a hurrySo there you have it. My grandmother was not a knitter, not even particularly crafty. But like me, she was opinonated, and as my uncle reminded us in her eulogy, she’d often say to her kids “Why ask me? You might as well go ahead and do what you want, because you’re going to do it anyway.” Apparently that had the effect of squashing childhood urges to do stupid things. I feel like it’s advice to keep right on knitting. Thanks, Grandma. Thanks, again and always, for everything.

I’m not at Rhinebeck either.

All done, with huge thanks to Laurie for the lovely yarnI am at a weird place, knitting-wise. I’m doing a good job of finishing old projects to get them off the needles and moving newer projects along. However, this requires a little “one step back, two steps forward” knitting manipulation that’s unsettling in that…it’s so “business as usual”. There are no tears, there is no gnashing of teeth, there is no trauma – there is just fixing. To wit: before you can finish the summer socks and free up these needles for the Christmas stocking, you need to rip out the too-short sock toe. Toe doesn’t want to rip? Then cut blithely away with your trusty scissors, rip, put the sock back on the needles and knit on. Having trouble picking up stitches for your Retro Rib sock gusset? Suspect a too-short heel flap is giving you headaches? Rip and reknit, my friend. That’s the kind of thing I’m doing. And progress is my reward. A finished pair of socks (I am officially over any fear of grafting – doesn’t that toe look nice?), a finished sleeve for the Lush sweater (pictures to come; I am still apprehensive about the actual sweater assembly, but we will knit that stitch when we come to it), a heel flap, and…a circle.

If this isn't from the very bottom of my stash, I don't know what isNot just any circle – this is the bottom of the felted bag that gave me fits when I first started knitting in earnest two years ago. It’s the Tote Around from Janet Scanlon – I figured out last week how to start it myself! Forget the deadly combination of huge needles and small hands, Magic Loop to the rescue, dude. If anything, I am in a Magic Loop rut – when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Marshalling my forces for the Festivus Stocking, this morning I was making sure I have the right needles – I actually found myself looking at a 16″ needle this morning, thinking “Is that long enough?” But the Loop of Magic is working for me, so that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Just like the looping, I’m also all over the ToteAround – it’s the potato chips of knitting. I can’t seem to put it down, even though I know there are other projects calling to me. If it could talk, the Lush sweater would be particularly bitter at being thrown over for something new, but I had to take a small break so I could forget the angora fuzz flying everywhere during each session on Sleeve Island. But the words “first finished sweater” are worth pulling out the lint brush for, so I’ll be on to Sleeve Two soon enough.

Through all of this fixing, I’m thinking about the kind of knitter I am, an the kind of knitter I’m becoming. When I first started knitting, I considered myself lucky to complete a project, let alone a finished object I could be proud of – “Can I do this?” was a real question in my mind as I struggled with wee cabled mice and felted bags. More often now, the question is “How am I going to do this for the best result?” I wouldn’t mind knitting faster, but quality is emerging as more important than quantity (thanks in part to knitters like Melinda, who is fearless in her pursuit of fine finished objects – the sweater she’s currently finishing is a perfect example of knitting as craft and art). What kind of knitter am I? I hope I will be a knitter who is always learning as I knit, even if I am looking forward to finishing something and moving on. What kind of knitter are you?