This calm Saturday brings us past the halfway point on these Twelve Days of Christmas Knitting. Day seven, and number six. Today I will describe the “hat” I knit for Jared this year.
By “hat” I mean “knitted thing he wants.” We knit each other something every Christmas, and for the first few years it was a hat, so we just call it a “hat” till we know what it is.
He was not brimming over with knitwear desires this year, so I took matters into my own hands.
A few years ago, my mum did a really sweet thing: she made Jared a little kit, out of pretty blue yarn she had dyed, and designed a pattern with some symbols appropriate to our ecclesiastical loyalties. She thought that he might enjoy knitting his own scarf more than her knitting it for him.
She was sadly deluded in this thought. My husband is a very competent knitter, but it’s been a few years since he has knit anything aside from his annual Christmas “hat” for me. (This year it was a pair of boot toppers, finished on time and everything! I’m so pleased.)
Being a frugal sort, when Jared was not forthcoming with “hat” needs, I decided his “hat” would be his scarf.
Trouble was, the yarn had been sitting in his stash for a while, and it wasn’t in the best shape. It was probably an early batch, and I’m sure we left it in the sun for a while at some point, because it had turned from pale blue to a light barfy grey.
I had a plan for dealing with this, but the knitting came first.
I combined Mum’s patterns with a stitch pattern from the free “Little Red Scarf” pattern by Shana Schasteen. Very cute, almost brainless enough for reading, and easily adapted to the width of the charts Mum had devised.
Between the color and the indefiniteness of unblocked knit-purl relief patterns, it wasn’t much to look at during the knitting. Despite these visual problems, however, Colorstorms Meritime Solids are delightful on the hands, and I’ve never had a problem with the color fading that wasn’t my fault. (Disclaimer: Mum doesn’t pay me to say such things, though she does give me all the yarn I want, we design together, and she sells my patterns at shows. Plus she’s my mum. Biased.)
I was pretty clever about being secretive. I only knit when he was out of the house, but left the bag boldly in view, like any other old project. I figured it would develop a Somebody Else’s Problem Field that would render it invisible to him, like all of my messes. He helped by being very uncurious during the several times that M pulled the bag down from its hiding-in-plain-sight-place and emptied it on the floor.
I was a little more clever, in my never-too-humble opinion, about making the thing symmetrical. The slip-stitch pattern in the middle has a decided direction to it, so I knit the panel, then kept going until half the yarn was used up, then did the same on the other side. I was happy enough how they looked when grafted together, though it’s impossible to make them line up perfectly. Kitchner puts things half-a-stitch off, which is a pain, but I fudged pretty well.
Quite on the sly, I threw a bag of organic black beans into a humdrum Amazon order, made beans from scratch, but secretly saved the bean water. Since the yarn was mordanted back when it was originally dyed, my hope was that a re-dye would hold all on its other. I didn’t know what the result would be (though surely better than dried-puke-grey), and was pleasantly surprised when it came out a very steely blue.
I had to get really sneaky about blocking it. There are only so many places one can pin a wet six-foot-long piece of artwork to dry in this house, and none of them are places my husband routinely avoids. None of them, that is, except under the crib. We don’t even use the crib any more; it just takes up most of our walk-in-closet and we’re too lazy to break it down. I was suddenly grateful for this procrastination as I pulled it forward, spent half an hour threading blocking wires through selvedge stitches, pinned it into place, then gingerly lifted the crib back overtop. A couple strategically placed suitcases, and he’d really have to be looking for it to notice.
The end result of all this labour is that Jared was happily surprised when he opened his scarf. It’s soft, light, wide, it looks good on both sides, and it drapes beautifully.
Having been sternly blocked, you can now see Mum’s charts in all their glory: the Compass Rose of the Anglican Communion, one one end:
And St. John’s Cross on the other.
Happy New Years’ Eve. 2016 wasn’t the best, but there have been many worse years. We like to complain, but we have short memories. I’ve tried to roll a lot of intention into this day, cleaning house, sleeping in, knitting, working, praying, and playing. But my strongest resolution is to let my resolve melt, to relax more, to pray for help instead of pouring on the pressure. To let my love for God and husband center me, and move out from there, rather than giving into the urge to be a perpetual compulsive motion machine. Easier said than done, but any progress will be better for my blood pressure.
What are you resolving tonight? Or not resolving?