The Christmas decorations in the Starbucks stores are also fibrey this year--balls of glittery green yarn arranged with red glass balls. And there is a poster with a knitted background. Knitting meets lattes--Utopia at last!
So, we're home from the big city and settling in for the next few weeks. The weather has been unseasonably warm, but there is a good layer of snow on the ground to spur on the Christmas knitting. As usual, I am freaking out at the number of planned projects, but I have kept it relatively simple this year. No fair-isle sweaters or elaborate shawls (not that anyone on my Christmas list is much of a shawl-wearer), so there will be a minimal amount of midnight knitting, I hope.
I often ponder the whole handcrafted thing at this time of year. With all the commercials telling me that what they really want is cell phones and big-screen TVs, I am madly knitting gifts for my family and friends. Why?
This began as a necessity back in the days when I had small children and a limited budget. A pair of handmade mitts or a scarf were reasonably affordable, and tucked in with some home made cookies, kind of unique and personal. Then it became tradition, and people would start hinting at Thanksgiving about the hat or sweater they might like to get for Christmas. They still do, so I know the gifts are appreciated.
Over the years, there have been several mad Christmas Eve collar-knitting sessions, and a few boxes of yarn presented as "some assembly required" gifts. But all in all, I love knitting the bulk of my Christmas gifts. And no matter what the commercials try and tell me about the "perfect gift", my hands are busy making something to keep someone warm and cozy. No matter how many tales of knitters who slave for months to have their gift greeted with "oh, is that all", I know that my gifts are useful and (usually) appreciated. It's kind of my job to spin and knit, so I sometimes feel like I am stealing office supplies and giving them as gifts, but then I realize that I could be selling these things, but that I have given them to someone who is special to me.
Case in point, the Skelly Socks. A few months ago, I ran a little competition amongst some friends to name our local knitting community, with a pair of handknit socks for the prize. The knitters didn't pick any of the suggestions my friends gave, but the entertainment value of this group of hilarious women competing for a humble pair of socks was priceless. I decided to surprise them each with a pair of socks on their birthdays (though after the first birthday, the surprise factor was somewhat ....gone). I had culled color preferences and shoe sizes, so I bought various sock yarns and spun a few others. And I always have time to knit a sock or two. Karen got handpainted purple and black socks, Ruth got hot pink superwash merino, and Lisa...well, Lisa got Skelly Socks.
The body of the sock is mostly basic black Kroy sock yarn, but the skellies are handspun Corriedale top from Louet held together with Aurelia Wool's Retro Topaz Corriedale blended top while drafting, then Navajo plied to make a sturdy sock yarn. The color combo was inspired by Halloween, rich and autumnal.
And I am happy to say that I made waaay too much yarn, and have enough to knit another pair of socks! For me! Mwahahaha!
As I knit and spin things for others, like the socks, or the current Christmas list, I think about the person I am knitting/spinning/weaving for. I could be making a piece on commission, or selling these things on Etsy, but I'm making them for the people who make my life better. I can afford to go out and buy stuff now, but I still knit for friends and family. I am giving the gift of my time and skill, wrapped in warm thoughts and good wishes. It makes me feel like my time was well spent. Which is more than I can say about my money sometimes.
Now don't get me wrong, I will also be buying gifts. And I do not judge others who buy gifts for me--I know that time and thought have gone into their choices too. But I have also been granted a gift--the ability to create--and I want to share that with others. That's why I teach, and that's why I give handcrafted gifts.
Plus, it gives me an excuse to stay home on cold, wintery days and knit. And now that Starbucks has embraced the glory of knitting, can the rest of the world be far behind?