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I know that this isn’t terribly significant, but it feels good nonetheless: I’ve successfully completed step #1 of my first resolution for 2008. I decided to try to knit a pair of socks every month, which will not only result in a dozen pairs of happy feet, but will also bring me closer to completing Resolution #2: to reduce (significantly) my stash of yarn.

These January socks are being mailed to my sister Deanna, as a belated birthday gift.

Retro Ribs Socks stand
Pattern: Retro Rib Socks by Evelyn A. Clark
Source: Favorite Socks (Interweave Press)
Yarn: Regia Stretch
Needles: 2.50mm Pony Pearls

The yarn is interesting… very stretchy, which was strange at first, but it did result in a custom-fit feel.

Retro Ribs socks toes

And here is what happened when I sat on the floor to try to take close-up photos:

Miette camera Jan 27 2008

Sigh.

Happy Birthday, Jess.

23 years ago today you were born, and you began to change the lives of one young couple in ways that we couldn’t possibly imagine. We sailed into parenthood with enthusiasm and rose-coloured glasses, and you were our first happy passenger, along for the ride. And what a ride it has been!

Jess - baby hearts sweater
Pattern: Toddler sweater made for Jess in 1986, from Phildar magazine
Yarn: Kadischa by Phildar

From a very young age you showed us your strength of character, intelligence, and determination. There was not one moment in your upbringing where we doubted that your innate moral compass would guide you correctly, and we were right.

Over the years, your teachers, coaches and employers have all remarked on your outstanding work ethic, and that you are among the most amazing people they’ve known. We have to agree. In your unassuming way, you always shine, and those who know you well are lucky indeed, as they also experience your humour, creativity, and ability to nurture those you love.

baby JB Feb 9 1985
First outing for baby Jess, Feb. 9, 1985
Pattern: Baby sweater set made for Jess in 1985, from Patons booklet
Yarn: Patons Beehive baby yarn

Best of all, you appreciate the little things in life so much…a gift that will enable you to deal with stressful times in the years to come. As you go through the next few intense years of studying, don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember to take the time to relax and appreciate every day.

You are a special person, a good friend, and a wonderful daughter. We love you very much.

xo
Mom and Dad

I made a pair of Log Cabin Socks for my husband for Christmas. Here they are in progress, languishing on the deck last fall:

Log Cabin Socks...in progress

I fell in love with the pattern the first time I saw it, and knew that I would make them for someone. My hubby was the chosen recipient, since he lives with
a) hardwood floors
b) a cold climate, and
c) a wife who loves to keep the house ridiculously chilly.

So the thing about my husband is this: he doesn’t really get the knitting thing. He doesn’t mind that I shush him when I’m concentrating on something intricate, he doesn’t complain about the rather large stash of yarn bursting out of inadequate containers, and he even supports my addiction in a passive kind of way. But does he understand it? I don’t think so.

To make the socks, I had to lie to him about who they were for.
Me: “I’m making these for Jess.”
Him: “That’s nice.”
Me: “I brought the yarn all the way from Massachusetts.”
Him: “Oh.”
Me: “Sure do have to concentrate on these cables.”
Him: “Uh huh.”
Me: “Feel how heavy the yarn is… these babies are going to be warm.”
Him: “Yeah.”

Unbridled enthusiasm.

So when I gave the socks to him at Christmas, he was surprised, but he didn’t exactly seem excited about them, at least not enough to please the knitter.

Me: “Do you notice how the cabley things actually move from one side to the other?”
Him: “Hmm.”
Me (darkly): “There’s llama in them, you know!!”

Silence.

Him: “Llama? You’re kidding!”

Finally.

Log Cabin Socks finished Dec 2007
Pattern name: Log Cabin Socks
Source: Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza (50% wool, 50% llama)

My friend Debbie had a moment of knitterly Christmas inspiration at the last possible minute. She decided to knit pairs of wee tiny socks out of self-striping yarn remnants, and to turn them into Christmas ornaments to give to family members. Now, despite the fact that Christmas was VERY near, she knew she could do it. She’s like that.

So when the family vehicle was due to be in the garage one morning, Debbie turned down the opportunity to be driven home, and opted instead to wait in the garage waiting room. It was the perfect excuse to work on the teeny socks. And she did just that, minding her own business, and concentrating on the task at hand. Hours later, she overheard the mechanic at the front desk talking to a co-worker in the garage bay:

“Nope, she’s still here. Yeah, she’s been waiting the whole time. Well, we offered her a drive, but she’s working on some… cat booties or something.”

Cat Booties?

That cracked me up. The guy was serious! Obviously he has never had a cat.

The photo above includes a regular, human-sized sock to help illustrate how tiny the cat booties were. Heh.

Debbie also produced three pairs of lo-o-ong manly socks for her husband and two sons. She calculated that, at minimum wage per hour, the socks were a gift worth about $600.00. Not bad at all. Note how the socks encouraged male bonding and ritualistic behaviours:

Debbie's dudes Dec 2007
Debbie's dudes' socks2 Dec 2007

Debbie says, “The socks were knit from ” Opal Silk ” ( ‘seide’ German) in three
different, yet similar colours. One ball makes a pair, with a little left for at least one pair of cat booties :)”

My sister Deanna is celebrating her birthday today. She is a very special person, and we are all much better for having her in our lives. She also just happens to be the mother of my adorable godson, Elliott, and it is no coincidence that he is a remarkably intelligent, expressive and loving little boy. (Sorry, Shane, but on this day, you get no credit for your son’s genius.)

Happy Birthday, Dee, and thank you for being you. Oh, and sorry for all those things I (supposedly) did to you when we were little. It’s always good to humour the birthday girl. Tomorrow I will revert to complete denial and vows of innocence.

Since you probably won’t receive your card on time, here are some birthday flowers (from our yard) for you:

Purple campanula glomerata 2007

Grammie's bush 2007

Elliott Johns 2007

Oops. Another gratuitous Elliott pic. Can’t help myself.

First – wow, thank you for all of the comments and messages! Feels good to know you are reading. I tried to answer all of you, but I’m still figuring out just how to do that properly! Rest assured that your feedback is appreciated.

Just before Christmas I flew to Newfoundland (pretty much my favourite place in the world) to visit my Mom and Dad, and my sister and her family. None of us are native to the province, but when my sister married a St. John’s lad, I guess we just became honorary —or wannabe–Newfoundlanders. In any event, while I was there, I scored BIG in the knitted gift points department. Oh yes. Here’s how:

IMG_5742

Observe the beauty of the knitted–then felted–clog. These babies are guaranteed to please the recipient. How do I know? Because my mother (yes, my MOTHER), actually liked them. She really, really, liked them. She promptly wore them. She remarked upon them, and showed them to people. I could barely contain my glee, because she is not the easiest person to please when it comes to gifts. She isn’t ungrateful, just…discerning, shall we say.

But wait. There’s more.

Before I went to Newfoundland, I called my nephews (ages eight and ten) and asked them to tell me their favourite colours and then measure their feet very carefully, because I was going to knit them some slippers. Now, I know that in the eyes of young boys slippers may be low on the gift wish list, but I have to say that they were a terrific success. Here’s why: what I didn’t tell them was that you have to knit these clogs super-sized and THEN shrink them to fit, resulting in a very thick, cozy, warm slipper.

So they were understandably perplexed when I gave them the oversized (not yet shrunken) products. They posed politely:

Boys with big slippers Dec 2007

Then I let them off the hook and told them that they could help me shrink them ON PURPOSE. Think they were relieved?

Boys with big slippers2 Dec 2007

The results were good, and the boys actually enjoyed the miracle of shrinking/felting. Their enjoyment of the process, which took about twenty minutes, was punctuated with several wrestling matches and brotherly punching contests, as well as an incident with a laundry basket. I have new respect for people raising boys.

Ben's felted clogs Dec 2007

Andrew's felted clogs Dec 2007

All of the above are made with Paton’s Classic Wool, using the Fiber Trends “Felted Clogs” pattern.

If you’re thinking of trying to create your own, take heed — here’s what happened when my friend Lexy started making some for Christmas presents:

Lexy's clogs too

Yikes.

The good kind of blues: a sock in progress, one of Evelyn Clark’s Retro Rib Socks from Favorite Socks.

Retro Rib Sock in progress

This is also my first stab at reducing my yarn stash in 2008. I’m going to try very hard to knit only from my stash this year. There, I’ve said it in public, so all of you who are my yarn enablers can throw this in my face the next time I try to use some fancy pseudo-scientific knitter lingo to try to convince you that I need more yarn. I don’t think it would be possible for me to need more this year, not even if I lost my job and was confined to my home with amphetamines and a maid and chef to take care of the time-consuming drudgery of daily life. Nope. I’d still have lots of yarn.

The bad blues: missing my older daughter, Jess, who left to go back to university this morning. Sad me. Sad dog, too.

Jess & Miette Christmas 2008

And I miss her for more than just her shovelling, although that was pretty awesome.

Jess shovels Christmas 2007

Red Beret Emily Dec 2007

I decided to make another beret for my younger daughter, Emily, since the one I made last year was an unprecedented success. Let’s just say that Emily is… well, suspicious about knitted gifts, at least until she is sure that she’ll love them.

A two-day trip to Maine to visit my in-laws after Christmas was the perfect opportunity to whip up a jaunty red beret. Done like dinner, and mighty cute on her, if I don’t say so myself.

Red Beret 2 Emily Dec 2007

Okay, I know she doesn’t look excited in this photo, but she was, I swear. She was just all about being nonchalant and je ne sais quois.

Tres chic, non?

The pattern is Kristen TenDyke’s “Tweed Beret” from the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits. I used Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds (washable and low-maintenance… perfect for a university student), on 5mm needles. I made the smaller size, but it is loose-fitting, nonetheless.

And done just in time. We have had SO much snow, it’s crazy. But I confess that I love it. The snowbanks are higher than they have been in years. Lots of businesses were closed down today, as the city was blanketed in the latest of several winter storms. I say, “Bring it on!” Then again, I’m not the one clearing the snow…

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