I have made the objectively poor decision to knit for my family again for Christmas this year. I’m about 95% sure that they don’t read this blog — they know of its existence, but they think the whole concept of a knitting blog is a little nuts — but before I go blithely posting shots of their presents in progress, I thought I would regale you with tales of what I knit for them last year. Family, if you’re out there, please leave a comment or forever hold your peace. If I don’t hear from you in a week or so, I’m going to start spoiling surprises here.
Last year was the first year I attempted to knit gifts for my family members, despite having been knitting for about five years. Gift knitting, as many of you know, is risky business — you put zillions of hours into a project, and if it’s just a little bit outside of the recipient’s tastes, it never gets worn and you both feel kinda awkward about it. So last year I sent my family members a survey asking them what sort of knitted articles they would wear, what fibers they prefer, and what colors they like. Here’s what I made:
My brother asked for a scarf, since he’d never really had one before. We were both raised more or less scarf-free, despite the freezing east-coast winters — our family just never really owned or wore them. When I went away to college in upstate New York, though, I made friends with scarves real fast. My brother had started to hear rumors that there was a way to keep the wind from freezing your neck in the winter, though, and was interested to try one. He left the color choice up to my “artistic decision,” so I figured Noro was about as artistic as you can get. This is a Noro Striped Scarf, where 2 different Noro Silk Garden colorways are striped together. One of the colorways I chose was basically shades of gray, to avoid competition with the more colorful yarn and to stay sufficiently muted so that a heterosexual man could wear the scarf and still feel reasonably heterosexual. I think I succeeded pretty well, and he seemed to like it.
My dad asked for a hat and informed me that he was allergic to wool, so I made him this:
It’s a Catawampus Cap, but I kind of messed up the mosaic pattern — it was supposed to be more pointy. But I still think it looks fine. I knit it out of Caron Simply Soft, which is basically the only acrylic yarn I recommend — it really is soft, and not at all scratchy or plasticy like most acrylics. The hat is here modeled by Pat, who is very patient with my various knitting needs. In the background you can see my erstwhile bed, which I painted myself and referred to as my “Leafy Bower,” which is a halfassed Keats reference. When Pat moved in we needed a larger bed, so we dismantled the Leafy Bower and bought an identical unfinished bed in a larger size from Ikea and painted it together in dark blue with an array of gold stars. It’s pretty awesome, guys. In fact, I may as well show you a picture of it while we’re on the subject.
The flash makes the blue look a little brighter than it in fact is; it’s not quite so 5-year-old-boy blue, I swear. After a lot of trial and error, we decided that the technique that was going to give us the coolest stars was spraypaint & stencils, so there you go.
Anyhow — my mom never responded to my damn gift survey, so rather than make her a garment that she might not like or ever wear, I decided to make her a thing to decorate the house.
This is a Jameson doily. I decided to make it because I’d just taught myself to crochet a few months earlier and I wanted the practice, and I was excited about the wide word of crocheted doilies. (Shut up.) This is a pretty basic pattern as far as doilies go; it’s written for self-striping sock yarn, which makes the color changes random and wacky, but I decided I wanted control over the color changes so I used three different colors of Hemp for Knitting Allhemp 3. It worked pretty well; the hemp yarn softened up a fair bit upon washing and blocking, and it’s very sturdy. My mom was pleased with the doily, but she got scarf-envy when she saw the Noro scarf I knit for my brother, and she demanded one for herself. But when I questioned her about what she specifically wanted, she said “well, what if the yarn were all silk? And could it have a more interesting texture? And what if the colors were a bit more intermixed?” Sigh. So she footed the bill for some Artyarns Regal Silk (which is delightful, by the way), and I spent most of January making her this:
This is a Prismatic Scarf; I liked the way the bars break up the color pooling, but I also really liked the way the colors pooled in a zig-zag. I added a crocheted scalloped edging because it looked like it needed something.
This year, however, I have decided to throw caution to the winds and just use my family members’ previously-stated preferences to come up with some surprise gifts for them. What could possibly go wrong? Find out next time!