Monday, November 1, 2010

Handmade Christmas gifts

I misplaced the cable cord & battery charger for the camera so until I find or replace them, there won't be any pics on the blog.  That'll teach me to take such things to work.  Listen here, work: get a camera for the office!  It's not my camera, either: it's the one I bought for Hubbie a few years ago.

I'm nearly done with the afghan I'm making for my dad for Christmas.  Two years ago I spent countless hours knitting gifts for my parents and brother.  My dad received a pair of handmade socks, Mom got a hat and matching mittens, and my brother got fingerless gloves.

If you don't knit, you don't realize how much work that is.  Each item I made was something I stretched my abilities and knowledge to create.  My mom's hat (not pictured) contained my first cables, and my brother's and father's gifts were the first (and, to date, only) gloves and socks I'd ever made.

That Christmas Eve I found myself wracked with self-doubt: what if my hand-made gifts weren't good enough?  What if they thought I cheaped out?  What if the things I'd labored over for hours were received with disdain, or worse... apathy?

In a fit of pique, I dug through my yarn stash and made up a card for each of my family members.  In each card I taped a sample of a yarn and an offer to make an item of that person's choice. 

My brother selected a hat, which I completed by his birthday 3 weeks later.

My dad kinda shrugged and did the Dad-thing where he goes, "whatever you want to do".

Mom pointed out a pattern in a knitting book and said she wanted that one.

A couple of months later I pulled out the knitting book and started making sample swatches of my mom's afghan.  The pattern she had picked drove me nuts but I finally got the hang of it and knitted up a whole bunch of squares.

Then I looked at them all together.  My guage varied so widely that the swatches didn't look like they were done by the same person, much less were the same stitch.  In frustration, I put the yarn away and have tried to ignore it, despite the telltale-heart murmurs it has made all this time. 

In the past two years, however, there's been a tremendous baby boom both at (my former) work and among my friends.  Every time I made a set of booties or a sweater, I did so with extreme guilt, condemning myself for not finishing the afghans I'd promised my parents.  It got to the point that I didn't tell my mom about my knitting projects for friends' babies because of my imagined reproach.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my dad's afghan, I just never got around to it.  I wanted to do a cabled lattice like this one (note: not mine... see aforementioned lost camera parts):

About a month ago I started it in earnest.  It looked great, I was knitting, all was good!

As I finished up the first skein, I realized that the 2 skeins I had purchased were not going to make a lap blanket.  A lap runner, perhaps, but nothing that would approach the warm snuggliness I had envisioned. 

I headed out to the craft store to see if they still carried that particular yarn.  Turns out that they carry the brand but not that color.  Crap!  I wound up purchasing a complementary color scheme and decided to do the middle of the afghan in blues and beiges, whereas the ends will be blue and white.  C'est la vie, non?

I'm nearly done with my dad's afghan, having switched back to the original color for the last foot or so last weekend.  I'm going to give it to him next month for Christmas, unapologetic for its homespun nature.  It's beautiful, cozy, and resident feline-tested.  It contains about a mile of yarn, hundreds of cables, and approximately 63,000 stitches.  I can't wait to be done with it.

I can't wait to be done with it because last week I bought myself 3 skeins of a gorgeous eggplant colored alpaca and merino wool yarn.  Last winter I lost my favorite orange hat and pink gloves and it's time I got a replacement set.

Still no real idea what I'm going to do for my mom's afghan... not that I'd post about it (hi, Mom!).

1 comment:

  1. I know all about promised handmade gifts...I've owed my brother a renaissance doublet for about five years now...I feel so guilty but I can't seem to find the time to finish the thing!
    And he reminds me everytime I see him!
    Good luck with the knitting projects!