I’m not much for Christmas shopping, or shopping generally, and, in most years, I make most of my own gifts. This year, it isn’t so much knitting as sorting the stupefying number of jars of late-summer preserves into boxes, to which I’m adding other small things: some beautiful Christmas ornaments that caught my eye, home-baked treats for local consumption (I’m a maniac for decorated gingerbread cutouts, and have a big collection of cutters and molds), and odds and ends that somehow speak to me when I happen to be in a local shop.
The best so far:
--a slingshot for my friend Terry, whose has so far been losing his endless war with the marmot-sized squirrels that plague his orchard and kitchen garden. They are greedy, but not stupid, retreating when his two vigilant collies are patrolling. He set a trap, hoping to relocate them, but they have learned to roll it over, which opens the door and lets them go; only three have undergone relocation in the last year. He has tried spraying his trees with a washable combination of Tabasco, Green Apple, and detergent, but they take a couple of bites of the skins, spit them out, and then consume the flesh.
--a Sonoma Lavender spa blanket for a friend from grammar school who is undergoing surgery in Boston right after New Year’s. This fancy item is soft and plushy, and has an insert that goes in the microwave to warm it up, making it perfect for chilly hospital use. I make a version of this using flax seed, lavender, and inexpensive table napkins, as a footwarmer that takes a couple of minutes in the microwave and is nice to have on cold nights, of which we have many.
The town of Fort Collins has undergone one of its periodic disputes. Last year, they declined to permit a menorah in the town holiday display on town property, which was, in a word, idiotic, and maybe bigoted. It caused an outcry.
So a Task Force was assembled, and like all Task Forces, it went overboard, and tried to be inclusive of everything, including Islam and Wicca, laying down dictates that were more than anything incomprehensible and downright weird. Suitably for the season, they read like the assembly instructions for something complicated, such as so many of us have found ourselves cursing at of a Christmas Eve, with the children asleep and us trying to figure out if parts are missing and just how to insert Tab A in Flap B. The paper was beset with letters from purported Christians threatening to boycott the local merchants for the excesses and self-importance of the Task Force, under the wild impression that This Is the End of Christianity As We Know And Love It And A Sneaky Encouragement of Terrorism. What?
Fox News termed us the Dumbest Town in America, perhaps the first time this year they’ve been right about anything. The council meeting told the Task Force, more or less, to go peddle its nonsense—white lights only, Wiccans, and all—elsewhere. The display can now have colored lights, and a menorah, and will include Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa. There seemed to be some vivid feeling on the Task Force that colored lights were a violation of separation of Church and State, instead of being merely….colored lights. The Downtown Business Association has College Avenue decorated in white lights, which are lovely, and set off the colorful store windows, full of tempting and colorful merchandise, but that’s marketing, not religion, and there is, after all, an obvious difference.
As the season comes on, I’d like to thank those of you who have sent photographs of your knitting. Here is Meg, in Michigan, with her three boys, in their cowboy hats.
And here, from Donna in Missouri, working hard on Bison scarves, is a portrait of her herd’s bull. Isn’t he beautiful? He could pose for coinage, couldn’t he?
Has everyone joined, or gotten in line to join, Ravelry.com? I would encourage it, if only for access to seeing some of the patterns you may want to make in the many varieties of yarn in which knitters make them, and to have access to designers you may not have found yet, at a time when the publications (and I’m naming no names here) seem to be flagging a little in taste, wearability, and imagination, and seem to live in a world devoid of men and children but of women who can afford yarns of mind-blowing expense.
Okay, Ravelry’s in beta testing (computer lingo for sometimes-it-works-and-sometimes-it-doesn’t), but it’s a great idea and will sort itself out.
There's a great mitten pattern is just up on the inventive Kate Gilbert's website, It's do-able in time for Christmas if you're experienced with jacquard. Called Bird in Hand, it's worked in cheerful red and white, with a swirling floral pattern on the back of the hand, and a lice pattern interrupted by a single snowflake on the palm. The cuffs are decorative, and a tiny bird is worked into the end of each thumb. At $5.95, it's worth every penny. I wish I'd thought of it first.
Whatever your beliefs or the lack of them, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and a Happy Kwanzaa, a fine New Year, and good knitting. I thank you for giving me a good year, and a prospect of a better one.