Knitivity: Holy Family

Years ago, my friend Rachel (my prayer buddy Rachel, or as she is known to my kids, either “Auntie Rachel” or “not-spinning Rachel”) gave me a book called “Knitivity,” with instructions for knitting a playful Nativity scene. It went into the “someday” pile, but this last year I realized my kids are at the prime age to enjoy a knitted nativity. Also, our nativity finger puppets bought from a fair trade sale twelve years ago are getting pretty ragged.

Choosing yarn for such a project, needful of a large number colors in small amounts, is always a challenge. It so happens that, of the 51 Yarns spins that I did during 2019-20, a large number of them are DK-weight. I also finished my Chrysler sweater with a good bit of that medium-brown left – the perfect DK-weight skin color for a beautifully brown family. It’s been on my list all year to work on.

Toward the end of September, during a quiet moment, I pulled the book down on impulse, and the kids and I pulled out all the yarns we would use. They’re so fascinated by these tiny people and excited to see them come together. They know the story so well that it’s like I am making them old friends.

I have become slightly obsessed with knitting these guys entirely out of handspun. So for my own records, I will note which yarns I used. The links are to the ravelry pages of those yarns.

Mary’s dress is made from the beautiful Masham wool that I combed toward the beginning of the 51 Yarns study. Mary herself probably did not own anything blue, since it would have been an expensive dye and cloth. But we recognize her in blue because artists have honored her over the years with this color of royalty. I used the humble yarn made from combing waste for her cape, which Stringbean studded with buttons.

Mary
Body (and bodies of all humans and humanoids): Shetland/Alpaca leftover from Chrysler spin
Eyes (and all eyes) and hair (and all human hair): #7 Icelandic
Mouth (and all mouths) and sandals: #31 Merino/Silk
Dress: #3.2 Masham wool
Cape and dress trim: #3.3 Masham wool combing waste
Veil: #4 Down Suffolk

I wanted some natural, unassuming, dignified colors for Joseph. He ended up looking dapper in all heathers and tweeds. I don’t think I stuffed his feet right, and I forgot to give him “boots” by knitting his feet a different color. So he’s a barefoot carpenter.

Joseph
Tunic: #9 True Worsted Targhee/corriedale
Vest: #51 Alpaca
Veil: #27 Leftovers tweed

The family’s pack animal is knit of a very special yarn, the undercoat of the Icelandic fleece I sampled for 51 Yarns. It was the perfect soft grey. It was rather thin in parts, so I doubled it to knit him; he’s now sturdy enough to carry a very pregnant Mary!

Donkey
Body: #6 Icelandic Thel
Mane and Tail: Leftovers from Icelandic sweater spin
Blanket: Leftovers from Lincoln sweater spin
Blanket stripe: Finn from color study (a bit of the Lakeside colorway)

Baby Jesus got the special treatment; I used my favorite pure white Suffolk yarn for his diaper and swaddle. I think I rather overstuffed him though; getting him into his diaper and swaddle is a bit of a challenge! It’s always a delight to see a healthily chubby baby, no?

Baby Jesus
Body, eyes, mouth as above
Diaper and swaddle: #4 Down Suffolk

If I knit one character a week, we should have a decent showing come Christmas. But at least I’ve got the central characters finished!


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