It’s that time again.
Every August (or even July), the emails begin: “It’s not too late to start your Christmas knitting!” “Five Quick Gifts You Can Make in Your Sleep!” “A Totally Not-Crazy Plan to Make a Fairisle Stocking for Everyone On Your List!” Every year, I resist. Through the chill of autumn, through the holiday gift posts and knitting magazines, I stand firm. Then, sometime in November, I lose my damned mind. “Just a couple of things for the kids,” I tell myself, “and maybe a nice hat for someone. Just a few small things.” I know this is a bad idea, and so I stop myself, and the pressure builds in that small, nagging part of my brain that thinks there are 48 hours in a day and that the whole needing sleep thing is Illuminati propaganda to keep us weak.
This really is a bad idea, though.
For a start, I have a gift knitting backlog, and those gifts take priority over any new projects sparked by my well-meaning but unrealistic brain. Exhibit A:
This is the shawl I’m making for my sister’s 30th birthday…which was two years ago. It’s Lucy Neatby’s Poinsettia Shawl, in a yarn that doesn’t seem to be available any more. It’s actually quite satisfying to knit, though it does require attention and a certain frame of mind, which is why it has taken so long. Well, that and the fact that the first run at this shawl was in black. Ah, hubris, thy name is Cusser. Do not attempt if you’re even the least bit tired, trust me. (Also, do not attempt this in black. What was I thinking?)
This is the first of a pair of mittens for my other sister’s birthday last July (my Let It Be Spring mittens, in Sunday Knits 3-ply for a slightly larger size). I made a mistake and have to tink back, and so it went into the naughty pile to think about what it’s done. (I haven’t even started her ‘big birthday’ present; fortunately we’ve changed what that will be, so I get to hit restart on that while we swatch and decide on yarn. Sometimes procrastination pays off.) Then there are the projects for two babies who were born in September. (I’ll get them done, baby parents. Honest. Hopefully before the children are too big to want them.) Plus, there will be another baby in the family next spring. Fortunately, all the recipients are great, knit-worthy people who understand that when I say I’ll make something, it may take a while, as by day I am a monogamous knitter, and so am a fickle, fickle butterfly when it comes to recreational knitting.
Should the pile of unfinished gifts fail to stop me, let us not forget the lesson of my first Christmas here in the Dirty South, when all of my knitting was purely recreational. That year, making everyone’s presents felt like a tangible way to tell my family how much I missed them, as well as a way to give them beautiful, thoughtful gifts while opting out of the spending spree. Starting in August, I knit. And knit. And knit. Toys and a jacket for The Niece. (The Nephew was just a vague notion then). A scarf for my sister. Socks and colourwork mittens and more scarves, and finally, a cardigan for my mum. Every time I picked up one of these projects, I felt closer to my family, picturing them opening their gifts and knowing that I’d been thinking of them for months. By some miracle (and much to my surprise), everything was done by December 7, which meant it should all get to Canuckia in time. Pleased and proud, I girded myself for the Ordeal of the Post Office. My family is scattered across the frozen North, so there were several parcels, each headed to a different destination. One package was a bit large, and so by the arcane and ever-changing rules of USPS international shipping, had to go by Priority Post. About an hour later, when all was done and dusted, the bill for mailing was $70. Seventy. Dollars. To send knitting to the country next door. (Here I would like to underscore the fact that in this burst of extraordinary organizational ability, I began knitting in August and barely got everything done in time, when those presents were the only projects on the go.)
Which is why this year I am not knitting presents. Well, maybe a hat for Dad. But only because I’ve spun the perfect yarn for it, and have some indigo to dye it with. That’s it, though, I swear.