Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's a trap, get an axe!

On Friday I had a nice, relaxing day that I almost allowed to turn into a holiday knitting disaster. Watch and learn from my near-escape, all ye who knit gifts!

It seems like the mantra on lots of knitblogs these days is "I'm going to knit less this holiday season" and I am no exception. I decided that it's enough to have grade-related stress right around the holidays, and that I don't need to add the stress of finishing up lots of projects to the mix. I narrowed down my must-knit-for list this year from 7 people to 2. These are the two who will love and wear my knitting, or who will at least lie to me convincingly about loving and wearing it. Some people got knocked off the list because I suspect that they do not cherish handknitted items as much as I'd like them to, and others because I found something much better for them than another pair of felted slippers or cotton dishcloths. Either way, I had way less holiday knitting going on than I have in the past four or five years, and I was pretty much on top of everything. One knitted gift was finished, and the other had about two hours of knitting time plus buttons left before completion when Friday rolled around.

After a long week at work (it's the end of the semester, always a little nuts for me), I used my day off to do my get-in-the-spirit activities: hanging a wreath on our door, watching cheesy Christmas movies, eating leftover curry, and wrapping gifts. Since I leave most of my friends behind and stay with my parents over Christmas, I have to leave about 2/3 of my gifts wrapped (with very clear, firmly attached name tags) for the significant other to distribute in my absence. As I was wrapping up cleverly chosen, personally appropriate, non-knitted items and congratulating myself on planning things so I could start a new pair of mittens next week if I want to, I also started going over who I still need to get gifts for. I like to feel I am on top of things, but I'm not like my mother who has 90% of her holiday shopping done by October. My list still has a few holes: there are some people who are getting gift cards (specifically requested), some people for whom I have half a gift right now, and one who is a bit difficult to shop for; so far I've put off shopping for them. And when I finished wrapping all the completed gifts, my brain said "Wait a minute! We can just whip out a pair of fingerless mitts for the hard-to-shop-for and half-of-a-gift people! I bet we can have 'em finished before you have to leave for the party in two hours." Seasoned crafters are probably already shaking their heads at this point, recognizing the siren call. I had already looked up patterns on Ravelry, scoured the stash for yarn and appropriately sized needles, and was battling with the correct number of cast-on stitches (being reworked from the pattern for a substitute yarn) before I remembered that I'd decided not to knit for so many people this year. I got caught up in the illusion that knitting can feel instantaneous sometimes (like with my cowl). I'd forgotten how much work I would have dumped on me after this week, and my simultaneous goal that I would finish all this work before I get on the plane home, instead of taking it with me like I've done every year since I got this job. With the whole weekend stretching in front of me, I felt like time was nothing, putty in my hands, mine to shape with yarn and needles into fashionable knitted accessories with a mere wave of my wrists. It was the quick-knit delusion, people. And it nearly got me. I came thisclose to tripling the number of knitted gifts this year. The worst part is that I didn't stop because I came to my senses about time and reasonable scheduling and all that. I got frustrated trying to figure out the right number of cast-on stitches, trying to strike a balance between two different patterns with yarn and needles that would give me a gauge in the nebulous space somewhere between the two. After the third botched attempt at a cast-on, I pulled the yarn off the needles and realized I better stop because I had to be out the door in ten minutes. I thought vaugely that I would come back to the project when I got home.

Only later, as I rode the bus to have dinner with an old friend who's leaving the state, did I realize how far I'd gone. It was close. Too close. The pull of yarn and the desire to share my love of knitted things is stronger than I anticipated. I don't know precisely when or where the turning point was, but I knew I'd gone over the edge last year when I announced to my sister that I needed her to sneakily measure a sweatshirt from my brother's closet so I could knit a sweater for his 6'5", 220 pound frame. Maybe it was fate that pulled me back from the edge this year, perhaps some kind patron saintess of handcrafts decided that I couldn't be allowed to martyr myself and showed me the clock, reminding me I had other obligations this holiday season than to clothe every single relative, friend, and passing acquaintance in squishy warmth. Or maybe I just needed some distance from the stash. It's a rare occurence for me to spend more than an hour in such close proximity to the wool fumes these days. I'm not sure. All I know is that somehow I got away. Don't let it get to you, too. I'm off to grab an umbrella (the rain just decided it's TIME) so I can find buttons. My second gift knitting (for a recipient who reads the blog, so no pics) is done, all ends woven in.

Think I can whip out a hat on the plane ride home? I could do it on big needles. Maybe I'll just go peek in the stash...

3 comments:

wildtomato said...

I hear you! I went wild last year and knit a lot of gifts in the months of November and December. This year, I have the same mantra: only give to those who can appreciate the time/effort that went into the gifts instead of those who just think that I'm being cheap! I *almost* knit a hat for my husband's grandfather last night before coming to my senses. The lure of giving some just the perfect knitted gift is strong!

Have a safe trip! And of course you can knit a hat on the plane ride over...

Anonymous said...

you can total knit a hat, I did one last night, it was on 11's with super chunky yarn. the Harlot's Unoriginal cable hat, I had to go up a few needle sizes, cause I guess my head is huge, but I finished it last night, and wore it today in the cold
R

Tracey said...

there were so many great fingerless mitts last sunday at our knit group, i nearly succumbed myself. in worsted weight, they couldn't take more than a couple hours... i knit the quickie cowl on the plane last year, just in time for my mom's bday. clearly fatter wool is the ticket for last minute additions to the holiday knitting.