I've been busy whipping up a few things in an attempt to keep my progeny warm and toasty over the next few months!
I started with Child Number One, who is now seventeen. (I KNOW. I can't believe it either. But she must be, because I rarely clap eyes on her unless she's riding shotgun in the Loser Cruiser while I'm driving her somewhere. Usually, she's ensconced in her bedroom doing homework most of the night. She streels through my room at about 1 AM, whispering remembrances of the unholy hour she needs to be driven to school for band in the morning, on her way to use the "good" shower in my ensuite bathroom. There should be a "Hinterland's Who's Who" television vignette featuring The Teenaged Night Owl. Now THAT would be a helpful public service announcement.)
Most seventeen-year-olds are extremely particular about the clothes they wear-- even here in the Great White North, where style would not seem to matter as much as the NUMBER OF LAYERS you put on your body before braving the elements. Child Number One has an elegant style of her own, it is definitely true. But she cares considerably less about the importance of outdoor-warmth than I, her long-suffering mother, do. Hence, when it came time to purchase her a new winter coat, I knew that unless I kidnapped her from her bedroom, or lured her into the Loser Cruiser with the (false) promise of a trip to Dairy Queen, I would NEVER get her to the mall to try on, much less purchase, a parka.
The benefit of having a seventeen-year-old who is particularly studious is that she checks her emails quite frequently. So, in order to preserve my own sanity, I perused the Land's End online catalogue, forwarded her snapshots of my top five choices, and indicated the one that I would be most likely to purchase for her. Most importantly, I also gave her a TIME LIMIT: if no preference was indicated within several days, an order would automatically go in for the biggest, fluffiest ankle-length version, complete with fake-fur-trimmed hood.
Needless to say, I had an answer fairly quickly... and I was able to begin knitting accessories to go with the coat even before I received an order confirmation. (Victory in the Clothing Department is fuel for productivity, that's for sure.)
The hat? Is "Who?", by Sara Aramoso-- and it's brilliant. A quick and easy knit, it's a miracle of cable stitches that form a ringlet of tiny owls all around the wearer's head. I've made several in a blue-and-grey shade of Pacific Colour Wave. It's a beautiful superwash merino wool that is soft enough not to feel "picky" around the wearer's forehead. The colours blend together so nicely as it knits up, I've chosen two more shades to make hats for Child Number Two and Wee Three, as well: one blue-and-green, and one orangey-red (which is slightly weird, for owls... but at least I'll never lose that kid in a snowstorm.) I've added two little sequins for the eyes of one of the owls, and hope that the girlies remember to wear them just a little to the right or left of centre... We'll see.
The scarf was a simple choice-- and not a scarf at all. The Gaptastic Cowl is all the rage right now, the pattern being inspired by an overpriced machine-made article of clothing available for sale at a certain clothing store. Ahem. The yarn is another Cascade superwash merino in a chunky weight, made in Peru-- it feels divine, and drapes so nicely when knit up on slightly larger needles (I used a 9 mm, when the ball band called for a 6 mm). It's knit in the round on an odd number of stitches, so that the seed stitch pattern forms automatically, thus alleviating the need to keep track of rows-- I just kept on knitting mindlessly 'till the two skeins were used up. Child Number One can wrap it twice, if she wants a more casual look when her jacket is undone, or (the more likely scenario) three times if it's DAMNED cold, and she wants something snuggled up to her chin!
At this point in the year, all of my girls are still wearing fingerless gloves. I don't quite understand it, being the type of person whose fingers are the very FIRST body part to succumb to cold and threaten to drop off as soon as fall arrives. I am a mitten-and-glove kind of girl-- preferably ones that stretch right up to my elbows. No matter how hard I try to look stylish in them, I always find myself curling my hands up into balls inside the palms of my fingerless gloves, in order to stay warm enough during dreaded yard duties. However, half-mittens are better than no mittens at all, and keep the mother-and-child relations from boiling over every morning. I dutifully crank out at least three pairs of the fingerless kind every year, as soon as I feel a nip in the air. Maine Morning Mitts is a divine pattern, in a simple K2, P1 rib, which makes the material almost a double-thickness. I had some Noro Keuryon kicking around from a previous project, and so made my first pair out of that. I then found a skein of Cascade "Jewel", a Peruvian highland kettle-dyed wool, in the silkiest deep, dark purple. Gorgeous. The older girls are still fighting over those ones. The last pair will have to be for Wee Three: it's an outrageous self-patterning yarn named "Sunshine", in Splash by King Cole. (Needless to say, they're going to go perfectly with her bright orange hat.) I'll need slightly smaller needles for that pair, but they'll knit up well to fit her smaller hands.
And as an aside... The Maine Morning Mitts pattern was written by the wonderful and prolific Clara Parkes, whose latest book "The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting" is now available for sale, and has become on of my favourite reads of the year. It would make a fantastic Christmas gift for any knitterly friends you may have... or better yet, pop one under the tree for yourself!
There is one other "little" article that I'm making every effort to set aside a certain number of minutes per day to work on. After many years of dedicated work in our district school board, Child Number One's favourite music teacher and his wife are expecting their first baby, who is set to appear on the scene sometime in early December. It was this amazing teacher who changed my daughter's life by handing her a flute and showing her how to play, more years ago than I care to remember. He is the type of educator who looks past the "student" and take a sincere interest in the child. He started with a timid, self-conscious little girl, and has brought her along and encouraged her to become an extremely talented, confident young woman. I am more grateful to him than I could ever express in words... and it is for this reason than I am tackling a very special pattern. It's called "The Heart Blanket"... and if I didn't "heart" this little baby so much, I confess that I'd probably be tempted to attack this half-completed project with garden shears, and then run over the whole mess, needles and all, with a steam-roller. I don't know why the pattern eludes me... I've even written the chart out explicitly in words, IN ENGLISH, and copied it onto a spread-sheet. Every time I finish a row, I grab a pencil and dutifully check in another box... to no avail. With every single repeat, I've had to tink out AT LEAST two or three rows, to figure out where the hell I went wrong. Which is frustrating, to say the least.
Confession (and slight worry): I think it might be bad karma to swear this much when lovingly creating a gift for a newborn.
There are, of course, many, many other projects on-the-go in my arsenal. I was under the illusion that I had my "UFO" habit under control (and by UFO, I mean "Un-Finished Object"). Last summer, during the worst of the July heatwave, I retreated into the air-conditioning of my sewing room and spent a good week or two combing through the stash. I spent hours sorting and thinking and desperately trying to be "realistic" about my Habit... Eventually, projects that were driving me mad (but that I was too stubborn to give up on) were ripped out, the yarn steamed and re-wound, and each collection of skeins secured in enormous zip-loc bags for future consideration. However, to my dismay I realized that all my efforts had been (mostly) in vain by some point in late September. It was then that I deemed it necessary to weed all my "summer" knitting projects out of the myriad bags and containers that I have placed round the house, in order to make more room for the "fall/winter" projects.
I had unwittingly done it again. And now there's a whole new pile-up of crazy tossed into wicker baskets in my basement, waiting patiently to be sorted.
Will it ever end?
I doubt it.
(Actually... I hope not.)