The price of everything

from Bronzino's Christ in Limbo

Knit your own damn sweater.

I don’t usually read long threads of comments, but I followed them all the way down from the fiercely excellent post  “On Devaluating Hand Knitting,” by Karie Westermann.

I’m glad I did, because I found this, unattributed:

“Knitting is like sex; if I like you and you appreciate it, it’s free. Otherwise you couldn’t pay me enough.”

My holiday wish for you, my anonymous internet darling, is a beautiful lover and 10,000 yards of Mongolian cashmere 2-ply. In whatever order you prefer.

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Image: detail from Christ in Limbo by Agnolo Bronzino – public domain

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Emergency Christmas Monster

Christmas Monster

Emergency Christmas Monster

The library is having a toymaking…event thing on December sixth, and I will be bringing my Emergency Christmas Monster, on loan from its young owner. I should have put something in the picture for scale, because this thing is only three inches tall. Since small children are usually enchanted by tiny things, it’s the perfect present for a child who shows up unexpectedly at a holiday party. If you totally ignore your guests, you should be able to finish it in an hour and a half, easily. I’ve actually done this before; my parties run much better if I don’t interfere.

All this monster is is a tiny stocking cap stuffed with fleece. I gave it a waistline of sorts by using a piece of yarn as a drawstring, folded the bottom of the hat to form four feet, stitched that up, knitted several inches of idiot cord for the head, and then added eyes and a mouth. Seriously, the worse this thing looks, the better.

We’ll have other simple patterns available, and if anyone wants to work on their own Christmas presents, that would be great, too. After about a week, I’ll take the gift toys to Lydia Place, in Bellingham (yes, we checked, they do want them :), and I will mail any hats we can churn out before Christmas to Afghans for Afghans, heroic purveyors of knitwear. They have a long and distinguished track record of getting socks and other things to people who are miserably cold.

Some achieve knitting, and some have knitting thrust upon them

yarn photo by LollyKnits

I joined Ravelry today, and was so impressed by their software for keeping track of projects, displaying finished projects, searching for a project to go with a particular yarn…basically everything you’d want to do with your knitting and your yarn stash. It’s just so elegant, with its queues of Fair Isle hats and cabled shrugs.

My Christmas queue, leaving aside gifts for my former mother-in-law and a few friends, is not elegant. My daughter is getting a nest of knitted owlets, because I made nests for two of her friends. I’m a little tired of owlets. The purple Hello Kitty from a few weeks ago was a hit with the birthday girl – with the entire family, really. Her younger brother now sleeps with it, and her older sister would like one. There have been altercations. I will make two more for them, plus one for the child who made me that museum quality potholder; she saw the kitty before I gave it away.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m delighted that my knitted presents lead to jealousy or even violence among the children. But my favorite recipient is another little girl in the group (I can say that – the kids don’t read this.) I’ve made her cotton washcloths for her birthday and Christmas every year since she was three. They’re easy to make, what she asks for, and are greeted with shouts of joy. I will be making them for her until she leaves for college.

Photo credit: Attribution 2.0 Generic License LollyKnit

Ten minute felt projects


Speaking of simple crafts that can be assembled by monkeys, here are some of ours. All except one involve an old wool sweater.

The red bag and the navy striped one are used as my camera bag and phone case, respectively. (The cellphone mitten has been repurposed to hold a powder compact and lipstick.) Each one is a felted sweater sleeve turned inside out, backstitched along the bottom, and turned the right way out again. If it’s felted enough, you shouldn’t have to stitch around the buttonholes at the top. The camera case has a slit at the back for the strap.

Next up, fingerless gloves. I’ve made a lot of these, because I developed chilblains in my fingers two winters ago. I thought that only happened to orphans in Victorian novels, but I guess my house was a little chilly. The gray gloves were salvage, not crafting. I unintentionally threw a beautiful silk and wool sweater in the washer, and got out my good pinking shears to sever the sleeves and cut holes for my thumbs; I didn’t want it to have died in vain. Perversely, I get more compliments on this post-apocalyptic little accessory than almost anything else.

The purple gloves were made by my eight-year-old daughter, and I love the diagonal seam across the inside of the wrist. I would never have thought of such a thing. She also made the black and white gloves in her sewing class; again, the design was all hers.

At the bottom is my gray cashmere hat. It began as a rectangle cut from the torso of a very large man’s sweater, positioned to avoid all the moth damage, and sewed up one side. It’s basically a bag tied at one end with felted yarn. However, it’s a cashmere bag.

The camera bag makes a nice gift; the gloves would, too, but I think you need to do a little embroidery on those to disguise your lack of effort. (That was meant to sound gleeful, not judgmental.) And gift season approaches….

As they say on “Game of Thrones,” Christmas is coming.

Hello, kitty


This is a late birthday present for a three-year-old girl who loves purple and Hello Kitty. (I have Hello Kitty yoga pants; I can’t resist her either.) I found the pattern at Silk and Wool and had a lot of fun making it, although my cat is much more burly and has a faint anime tinge. And, yes, it’s only H.K. inspired, not a perfect replica. As advised, I’ve made the head smaller, and used buttons for eyes after I was reassured that the birthday girl would not eat them. I also felted it a little, because I will felt anything. My daughter contributed the pompom for the collar. I was not happy about that at first, but now I think it’s great.

I can’t decide if late birthday gifts are disappointing, or a nice surprise. It would be best for me to choose the second option, since the gifts I make are usually late.