I’ll begin this glorification of buying gifts on a date in December because of some anxious Christians taking over a pagan holiday by saying that my mother is hit and miss when it comes to gifts. She likes giving people surpise gifts. This can work wonderfully if the surprised gift receiver is actually over the moon about the surprise. (Bear with my build-up, there are much pictures for this post)
This doesn’t work if you and that mother share vastly differing tastes. Despite the fact that our personalities are so similar that it is frightening, our likes and dislikes are a bit far apart. I’ll pet some creamy neutral wool and she’ll make a face and show me some denim sock yarn. I look at some bright blue cotton and she holds up a skein of glitzy worsted in gold purple and pink. My mom doesn’t knit but she does sew, so she enjoys looking at all the yarn colors and pretending to look for yarn for this mythical shawl that she wants. Her indecision (like mine) means that I will probably never knit this shawl unless the Holy Grail of yarn presents itself to her and simply rips the decision from her hands.
Anyway. I was prepared this year, like most years, to get an assortment of gifts with one or two really good ones and the others producing that, “It’s the thought that counts, it’s the thought that counts, pretend not be a greedy American child with inflated expectations, AHHHHH!”
I did have a wishlist at my LYS but didn’t expect anything from it. So on Christmas Eve, I sat down and watched the other children open their gifts. Our family tradition is that all the gifts that the children buy for each other are given on Christmas Eve. The most obvious success was the (storebought) hat for my brother, the Stunt Artist (ie: he’s invented more ways of falling than the Niagara) which he has refused to remove for the past few days.
When it came to my gift, I had an oddly squishy package, but it was too big to be yarn. I noticed a tiny, wee little package taped to the outside of the wrapping and my two sisters started to giggle. It was a yarn needle. Another one. And actually, it came in handy. I opened it and jus squeed. Roving. They had bought some dark brown, silky BFL roving that I had on my wishlist! There’s no pictures for this but it is fluffy and silky and lovely and there’s 8 ounces of the stuff!
I had one other package from my oldest sister. She lives in SC and mailed everything in boxes. I felt hopeful about this gift because she IS a Knitter and understands. She sent me a beautiful copy of the Yarn Harlot’s little mini book, signed to me, for my birthday. I know she reads my blog, so here’s a big huge shout out: M, I LOVE YOU, THIS GIFT WAS PERFECT!
What was the perfect gift? A skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Moss colorway. It feels like a glass of cool water made into a heavy, slippery skein of yarn.
The color is a delicate spring green that makes it difficult to photograph, but I think this picture comes close to it. I am thinking a slight, slender shawl or something similar. I treasure it greatly.
Another yarn gift that came from someone that understands the importance of yarny gifts: Jen from the irrunnaked blog! This is Malabrigo sock yarn in the Turner colorway and it is squishy and wonderful and I love the colors. So does my older sister but she is NOT stealing this from me! I’ve wanted to try Mal sock for quite some time.
Now for the big surprise. The next day was the gifts from my mother. Mom-with-different-tastes. Mom that doesn’t like buying from wishlists.
And somehow, she managed to surprise me anyway—but in a good way.
Noro Silk Garden Lite—two skeins.
Noro Sock yarn.
Yes, my mother bought me Noro yarn from my wishlist. In a typical move, she sidestepped all the neutrals and fall colors on my list and bought the colors that she thought were beautiful but I don’t care. I’ve wanted to try Noro for months and I was so shocked I could hardly speak. I just petted the yarn and mumbled incoherently.
I’m rapidly turning the Silk Garden into an entrelac scarf, which I will post about this week. My camera is still horrible but I’ve managed to find a way to work it.
Isn’t it odd how that worked out. My mom, by buying something that she thought I would expect, managed to surprise me anyway.
1. Acrylic: It melts
2. Stockinette stitch: It curls
3. Alice Starmore books: THEY WILL NEVER BE IN PRINT AGAIN
4. Crochet versus knitting:
Someday, we will hammer our knitting needles into crochet hooks, and beat crochet hooks into knitting needles and cashmere will flow freely throughout the land. Until then? DIE, CROCHET! (1)
5. Socks: Yes, they are fun to knit
6. Ads: Stop linking your Etsy shop in every post
7. The next Knitty issue: It will come out as soon as Amy knows that everyone has given up hope and gone to pick up a gallon of milk. She has powers, people. Mind powers.
8. Copyright: No one really knows what’s copyright is, but you can bet that there’s going to be a lot of links to girlfromauntie’s blog.
It does not actually exist. The money is being funneled into a secret operation that is testing the effects of fads and the herd mentality as it relates to online shopping. It’s a tale so twisted, so bizarre…that it MUST be true!
10. “Is (insert technique here) really hard?”
This question is framed badly. No knitter or crocheter will ever tell you that any aspect of their craft is hard, because they want to suck you into the black hole that is their latest multi-color lace argyle body suit designed by Kaffe Fasset. Warning signs that knitters are lying to you include: ‘don’t do this while talking,’ or, ‘let your family know that you may not be available for the next three years,’ or, ‘It’s REALLY easy, I’ve made 37 pairs in two days!”
Merry generic holidays, dear readers.
1. Yes, merry holidays, even to the crocheters. I was teasing you. Mostly.
I’ve reviewed the first book that Kate Jacobs wrote about knitting, the Friday Night Knitting Club. Here’s the post, but be warned that it gets kinda goopy and it’s as much of a review as it is about me and an old friend.
However, THIS is a straight-up review of her sequel, Knit Two, and oh, boy, am I ready to review this book. I want to review it right down the road. If you want to buy it, here’s an Amazon link, but stick around for the review and maybe go to the library instead.
The first book covers the life of Georgia Walker, a single mom with a daughter, a woman dumped by her boyfriend and struggled through life to open up her own yarn shop on NY. The sweetness and angst is about as subtle as someone ripping out your heartstrings with a sledgehammer, but I digress.
The plot revolves around Georgia gradually reuniting with her husband and learning to trust an old friend that betrayed her. Along the way, she is always admired and gathers a group of friends around her that attend the Friday Night Knitting club. Anita, an older woman, Petri, who works at the shop, KC, a sterotypical NY person ( I have no other way to put it, KC sounds like all the cliches of a single older woman in NY slapped together) Darwin, a grad student with a secret, oh, and Cat, her traitor friend. There’s also Luci, the woman that gets pregnant by an unsuspecting dude because she wants someone to love. After all, the best reason to have a child is to fulfill your own emotional needs. Fear my sarcasm, ladies.
I’m not going to go into the entire plot of the first book. Suffice it to say that after everyone is happy, Georgia dies of cancer. Wah, wah, wah, Hallmark movie moment. Pass me a box of hankies.
Knit Too picks up 5 years after Georgia kicks the bucket with one perfect, cowboy-booted foot.
About 5 pages in, the author lost me.
The plot is, to be the kindest that my grumpy, love-starved soul can possibly be, NON-EXISTENT.
Yep, you heard it. No plot.
James, one of the most compelling characters in the book, has faded into obscurity. Darwin is pregnant with twins, hurrah. But, no plot. Anita and her BF decide to get married, RAH! But, no plot. Cat is sleeping around and having fun! But no plot. Petri is pissed and making handbags. Rah! But no plot. The closest that the book comes to a plot is hinting that there might be something between James and Anita and then snatching it away.
Dakota, Georgia’s daughter, has completed her first semester at NYU and acts like a spoiled brat whenever Petri tries to change anything. She is the Angst Princess. Sure, her mom died. But that gives her no right to act like the sterotypical ‘owner’s daughter’ and pull some guilting BS on Petri, who actually runs the shop. When Petri tries to call her on acting like a kid, Dakota breaks into sobs and pulls the “my mommy died, UR mean card,” and I am NOT kidding when I tell you that she actually said, “My pain trumps yours.”
Yes, that’s right. Because when you’re a brat, it’s all about how you’re not responsible for it because your pain trumps that of the woman that has kept your mom’s shop together for the past five years.
But, there’s STILL no plot. The characters wander aimlessly through the pages. Oh, and the knitting content? Pretty much ZERO. Yeah, everyone knits and talks about it once in awhile, but don’t kid yourself, this book is as much about how sad women are without a man and bebehs as it is about knitting. I kept reading, hoping that a plot would emerge SOMEWHERE. Somehow, a plot would come to the fore and I would chuckle at the cleverness of the author.
Unfortunately, no such thing happened. I already wasn’t a fan of the first book, but the second was so much worse that it made me positively angry. It is NOT worth the money to someone that wants a knitting novel, it is NOT worth the money to someone that wants a cozy romance, and, to be blunt, really shouldn’t have been published. Jacob’s publishers should not have accepted this book. At least the first book had a plot, sacchraine as it may have been. Knit Two doesn’t even try.
The conclusion of the book? Well, huh. Since there was no compelling plot or conflict, there is really no resolution. Sure, Dakota decides to be a pastry chef, in spite of her father’s objections. Sure, Cat hooks up with some dude. Sure, Anita reunites with some long-lost sister. But, you really didn’t care about most of these ‘problems’ in the first place, so the end is about as muddled and unrewarding as the rest of the book.
PS. Did I mention that I also feel like crap today? I think that’s partly the reason that I have no patience for more crap in the written form. Sorry if you liked it despite the flaws, I can’t bring myself to really care about this book.
My knitting mood swings wildly.
I have some beautiful gray wool in my stash and I fully intend to buy enough to knit a sweater. However, right now? I don’t want to knit a beautiful gray sweater from lightweight yarn. I want to knit an intricately cabled Aran sweater, preferably the pattern found in both Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitters Almanac and Knitting Around. In cream, probably.
I think that I would chose Knitting Around simply because there is a very lovely picture of Meg Swansen’s husband Cullen; in which he is wearing an intricate Norweigan sweater and his hair is Shiny and Pretty.
Not that that has anything to do with knitting. Er.
Moving on. Knitting moods. Ah, yes. Aran sweaters.
Periodically, the mood strikes me and I want to harken back to Ye Olde Days of Knitting. Natural wools. Traditional patterns with no shaping that look like intricate and finely detailed wool sacks. (I’m looking at you, Starmore!) Pullovers that, while beautifully executed with the requisite stripes, look like you fell out of bed and walked into the world wearing your nightclothes. Warm and useful and usually not very attractive, but heck, when it’s under twenty degrees outside, you just want something that will keep the wind from taking the skin off the back of your neck. Which, in Ye Olde Days, was probably a pretty good trick, considering that not dying was a remarkable feat.
Unfortunately, just before I commit my precious spending money to some foolish venture, I remember why I don’t knit shapeless sacks, no matter how traditional. I think they look darn ugly. So I put my money back and buy beautiful subtle gray colors and plan for a lovely cardigan that I will be able to wear for years and years, probably.
The urge has been stronger lately. I know that I must buy Christmas presents for my dear family and I will. I know that I will buy the rest of the gray wool that my kindly LYS owner is holding back for me, and I will. But I will be eyeing the Cascade Ecological wool she has on the shelves. It’s aran weight and comes in a lovely cream color.
I sense my resistance fading. I sense that my knitting mood will eventually overcome my rational brain and…AHHHHHHHHHHHH!
(slaps self repeatedly)
But, then again..
In Knitting Around, there’s Shiny, Pretty Hair.
This reminds me of why I try not to shop when it’s below twenty degrees. Weak resistance, you understand. At least, that’s what I think I’m planning to blame it on.
I am a selfish knitter and not in the way that it has been defined by anxious knitters trying to explain why they’re selfish (but not actually) because they don’t knit for other people.
I’m just selfish.
I knit a pair of handwarmers for my older sister and she’s demanding a reknit because she says they’re too baggy. (They are, but I think they stretched a bit in washing. They can wait.) Other than that, I studiously avoid knitting for other people.
One part does have to do with a limited stash. By limited, I don’t mean that I don’t have enough yarn, it’s just that I can’t go out and buy yarn for a project whenever I feel like it. But the other part has to do with the fact that I refuse to knit for another human being that will take it and say, in a carefully-modulated voice,
I like people to enjoy gifts and so I don’t want to knit for someone that won’t like it. But for some odd reason, Christmas (which, let’s face it, is THE holiday that’s been pimped by the retailers) always spurs dozens of anxious forum posts from knitters.
They want to know what they should knit for their fashion concious son, or if their mother-in-law deserves a 9 foot by 9 foot Orenburg lace shawl knit entirely from yarn whose fibers have been combed from the disgestive tract of the rare cashmere-and-silk devouring Yarnimal and hand dyed by holy priests dedicated to the art of color and the harmonies of craft.
And this is after their mother-in-law took their last knitted gift (an classic aran cardigan blessed by the hands of Norah Gaughan herself) and used it to mop up her spilled coffee.
My question is NOT what you think it will be. It is not, “Does Norah Gaughan bless sweaters and if so, can I arrange an emergency exorcism for that Orange Thing under my bed?”
No, no, my question is nothing like that. It’s a lot less sensible, a little more plaintive and lot more cosmic.
If you can buy your surly teenager son an iTunes gift card and call it a day, why would you spend 8 hours combing through patterns to find a beanie pattern that he won’t wear anyway? Why do you finally settle on coffee colored Aran slippers to accompany the disdained cardigan and hope that this year, your mother-in-law will refrain from laughing as she opens her gift?
After all, most people do know someone that appreciates handknit gifts. Why not cross mother-in-law and surly son from your list and concentrate on the striped socks for your grateful aunt?
It’s gotta be the symptoms of a disease, you know? Unreasoning grace and blessings in the face of ingratitude and bad treatment. Merino wool in return for malice, silk lace for spite? It’s like living with someone that can’t be pleased: people simply try to come up with better and better offerings in an attempt to make them happy.
Maybe it’s cruel to call out people for being too kind and too generous. After all, if everyone did something good, regardless of what they received, we might get something good flowing here. The holiday spirit would descend on all and love and harmony would fill the air as you peacefully knit that beanie for your loving son that puts it on and says, “Gee, Ma, just what I wanted,” and skips off with his friend to make snowballs.
And Norah Gaughan would come down every knitters’ chimney and bless every cardigan and pullover…
even if it’s coffee-stained.