December 18, 2012
The whole reason I started this blog last year was to write about the experience of hand-making stuff for Christmas. I freelance, and it was a slow year- something I tragically failed to notice. I continued to spend at my usual rate until I was way broker than is comfortable. So when the Christmas season rolled around, I had lots of time but no money. Instead of buying gifts, I made stuff. Mostly knitted stuff, because I’m terrified of making useless stuff. (I know, we’ve talked about it before). There were hats and cowls and…more hats. Plus mittens. Etc. There were no socks, because knitting socks for other people is a recipe for tragedy, right? What if they didn’t like their socks? Then you would have to kill them.
Anyway, work got crazy busy around August, I think I’ve mentioned. At which point I was still scrambling to make sure I had RENT every month. Not like dinners out or anything. I’m talking about shelter here. But I was working like the proverbial ant, and eventually the money started to trickle in. I went from totally freaking out, to a couple of months of being pretty much ok, to having more money in the bank than before the whole thing fell apart. Yay, me, right?
Frankly, I’m looking forward to January, when I anticipate a bit of a breather. You’ve probably already figured out the logical problem here. No time to make stuff. I’ve done some knitting, mostly in front of the t.v., mostly socks. Nothing exciting. Nothing for anybody else, apart from the occasional baby sweater. But that still doesn’t mean I want to spend a lot of money on stupid junk, just to have gifts for everyone on my list. I just can’t bring myself to buy stuff that looks like garbage in the making. Even to save Christmas face. I kind of waited and let the whole thing get out of hand. Mostly I’m going to end up buying people gift certificates, I think. Movies, dinners out, books, winter clothes. Oh, and I did make some soap earlier in the year. Everybody with whom I have a casual gift-giving relationship (read: friends, not family), is probably going to get soap. I’ve been making soap for so long now that it seems kind of underwhelming as a gift, but whatever. Everybody needs a shower. It might as well be nice.
And then there’s my sister- the one that has given me elaborate stuff for Christmas every year since I was born. Like, several gifts every year, generally including something big, at least one item of clothing, and a couple of gift cards in cute packages. And some small stuff: fuzzy house socks, or gloves, or a hat. When I don’t go home for Christmas, she sends a big box full of stuff, including home-made candy. It’s a lot to live up to, but in this case the amount of work involved with knitting works in my favor. I may not be able to send her a big box of stuff, but I can spend lots of time making something. So there.
And when I asked her what she wanted, she requested something warm, like a nice sweater or a pair of socks. You caught that, right? Or a pair of socks.
I’m a pretty slow knitter. And I was still working like a fiend. There was no way I was going to get a pair of socks knitted before Christmas. So I figured, hey, what about sport weight socks? Of course I’d just recently been to Romni Wools in Toronto, which is the kind of store that has entire walls filled with sock yarn. I could’ve found the best sport-weight sock yarn of all time- if I had know I needed some. But I didn’t. I went around to a few local yarn shops, none of which had sport weight sock yarn. (The guy at schoolhouse yarns seemed to think machine washable sock yarn was low class). I even considered giving in and making worsted-weight socks, which would’ve been good for nothing but wearing around the house. That would be ok, right? I couldn’t decide. And then finally, I looked online, and ran across a hand-dyer that had sport-weight superwash merino in a hundred gorgeous colors. Ding ding ding! We have a winner! I ordered some of the stuff. It wasn’t even that expensive. I picked a color called garnet, with a gorgeous range of bright, saturated reddish purplish.
It turned out she had to dye the stuff. She didn’t just have some pre-dyed, lying around. So I waited. When it showed up, I tore open the package, and out came something quite…dark. Not so many streaks of lighter color. More oxblood-ish. Oh, well. I swatched, and started knitting a really big sock. Because this sister, the one who sends me lots and lots of stuff for Christmas every year, has really big feet. Like, boats.
After a few inches, it was pretty clear that the first sock was too big even for her. I frogged and started over, the next size down. (I’m pretty sure that I did the same thing the first few times I knitted socks for myself, until I figured out exactly what size I need. The swatching is basically a useless exercise). I followed the directions to make a sock the right length for her foot, according to the measurements she gave me. The thing grew and grew. And grew. It grew so much that I started to worry it would be too big. Because really, could her feet be that big? What if she measured them wrong? A quarter inch either way would be enough to make a sock fit wrong. But there was no way to know. It’s enough to make you grind your teeth.
So here’s my solution: I’m going to knit one sock. I might even leave it on the needles, just as it is, all done but the binding-off. I’m going to give her the one sock. I’m going to watch her put it on. I’m going to check and make sure it fits right. If it does (please god), I’m going to make another one. If it doesn’t, then I’m going to frog it and re-knit. And then make another one.
Good thing it’s a sport-weight sock.