Christmas is coming much too fast for me. And probably for you.
When you design knitwear, for
pete’s sake, everyone on your list expects…knitwear. If you’re
me, they also want a jar of your home canned Plum Ketchup or
your gingerbread cookies. And you’re knitting your fingers
off. This year, my knitting for gifts has been mainly
Fingerless Mittens and Cuff Kerchiefs and Not-a-Scarfs. I found
an inexpensive yarn for several of these: Paton’s Rumor, which
works up as a tweedy mix.
I buy very few Christmas gifts, and
don’t much enjoy shopping to the assaultive music of the
season. Incessant rendition of The Little Drummer Boy can
destroy my Christmas spirit justlikethat. In consequence, I
make most of my gifts. But I mess up the gift list. I add to
it. I give gifts early. When I’ve finished something nice and
warm for someone, and the weather turns cold, I give it when it
can be most welcome.
So my friend Terry already has his
Not-a-Scarf and his matching Fingerless Mittens, because we had
an early blizzard and miserable sub-freezing, even sub-zero,
temperatures. My postman Alex has his new Turtleneck Dickey and
a matching pair of Fingerless Mittens, for making his rounds in
the cold. My neighbor, Julie, came home shivering one night, so
I gave her the Cowboy Hat I’d been holding for Christmas.
My other knitting at the moment is a
lunatic project. What was I thinking? That I’d made a whole
series of charts from examples of Congolese Kuba cloth, which is
beautiful and has geometries completely different from anything
originated in Europe or Latin America. I needed a new rug.
Sister Knits had Cascade Ecological Wool.
It’s one of my favorites, and natural colors would be perfect
for a Kuba rug. Before Christmas. Oh, yes!
So I’m working on
it. It’s meant to be felted if I can find a local laundromat
with a machine big enough, or work up the courage to do it in
the tub. I think of Lucy and Ethel stomping those grapes!
It is 4 ½ feet
wide, and 6 ½ feet long, knit in the round, and now bound off
and getting its top and bottom edgings. That done, I’ll chain
stitch two rows on either side of the steeks cutting line; cut
it, work those edings, and figure out a way to felt it.
It is easier than
it looks—just a 10 stitch by 11 row repeat. I’ve used the
in-the-round technique for lots of sweaters, but it was only
last summer—when I was faced with the need to make three baby
blankets in a row—that I hit on the idea of using it for flat
considerable advantages in it. The pattern is always facing
you. If you knit faster than you purl, it is faster than
knitting back and forth, especially on jacquard. This is two
strands of each color worked on 13s, so it goes quickly. When
I’m done, if the prospective rug is a success—which is far from
certain—I’ll put up something that will be not so much a pattern
as a recipe, with the Kuba charts, and pictures of the steps
involved, and notes on this whole knitting adventure.
If it fails? Chewbacca, my
dog, will have a new bed.
If you’re going to
try this, especially if you have problems with your hands and
wrists, please make something smaller and less awkward and heavy
as it nears completion, leave it as an at-home project, and be
ready with a crochet hook to correct mistakes. At this writing,
at a little more than 6 feet, I’ve had to rip out only three
rows, all done when I was tired or much-interrupted, or had
failed to work the first repeat on a row to remind me where I
was. It is nice to keep a more portable and less demanding
project working at the same time. Here, in any event, is the
chart, if you want to try it.
I’ve also been
talking customers through projects. I helped a customer,
Christy K, in Calgary, and her son, Matt, find a really good
pattern for him. He can’t buy sweaters, being a young man of
awesome size, who need an XXL and XXLong. We twiddled with the
specifications for an XL so it would fit him, changing to a
slightly larger yarn that will give the needed measurement, and
slightly larger needles, so that all she needs to change is body
and arm length. She’s knitting away, and probably will be for a
No, not one of my
patterns, but an old Icelandic one, with a round yoke. The
yarn in Sandnes Alfa. We used the Craft
Yarn Council measurement standards, a version of which is on
this month’s Tips and Tricks and compared
the pattern’s standards for ease. Written for a standard lopi
yarn at 14 stitches/4 inches, it is being done in Sandnes Alfa
at 13 stitches/4 inches/10 cm, which will add the requisite
A few days later , I encouraged Mary W, in
Savannah, who had finished a cowboy hat and wrote to tell me
that she thought there…might…be…something…a…little…wrong.
There wasn’t. But as it always is, the hat as knit seemed too
huge ever to make a hat. But it felted into a one that her
husband loves, and for which he chose the yarn. The whole
process seemed magical to her, as it still does to me.
I wish you all the best of this festive
season, and hope that the recipients of all your lovingly made
gifts are pleased by them, and that they appreciate the hours of
time and thought you devoted to make those gifts of warmth. Thank you for making the first few months of High Country
Knitwear a success, and for giving me the gift of being such
And do check out a new Independent Designers webring, at
With warm wishes,