Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Motherhood and More: Confessions of a Christmas knitter*

I did it to myself again.

Every year I decide I’m going to make things for Christmas. I alternate making cookies and candy for everyone I’ve ever met in my life with knitting warm, woolen items for everyone I’ve ever met.

I make myself nuts trying to accomplish everything I want to, no matter how idealistic and unlikely to complete I am.

Every year I start out large and plan to make 15 different types of cookies, and let’s not forget the salted caramel pieces, which are delicious, yet if you don’t pay enough attention to them they become caramel rocks instead of soft, chewy candies.

Or I decide that everyone in my family younger than 20 gets hand-knit, colorwork-filled gloves, even though I’ve never actually knit a glove before, but I’ve conquered lace and cables, so how hard can it be?

Answer: not hard, just when you make five pairs it can be a bit time consuming. Kind of like that time I decided to knit four pairs of felted clog slippers even though I had never done that before either. They took days and days to dry and so my sister ended up with a slipper IOU because hers still were wet and stuffed with newspaper. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a knitting IOU. At least for me.

One year, before I fully got the hang of knitting, I knit sweaters for three nieces and a nephew and I’m pretty sure none of them wanted them. Yes, I’m that aunt who gave away knit gifts complete with uneven sleeves and weird yarn discoloration.

Of course, the baby’s sweater wouldn’t even fit over her head, so she doesn’t count. There’s logic in there somewhere. You have to find it yourself.

But I want to make things that people will enjoy. I want everyone to understand that I love the knitting process, and I love them, so I want to put those two things together and create a magical, wonderful, Christmassy, fantastic day filled with scarves with a falling leaves lace pattern or reversible, double-knit hats.

Not everyone understands this, and that’s OK. I’ll keep knitting things that make me happy and giving them away, even to people who don’t want them. And I’ll keep shortening my list as the holidays get closer and I realize that I have some unrealistic expectations regarding my knitting speed and the fact that I have to sleep sometimes and also take care of children who require things such as food and diaper changes and other items that hinder my knitting process.

One good thing about setting a knitting deadline for me that is out of reach — and some would say insane — is that I’ve started knitting in front of my children. I avoided doing that in the past because anytime I am not giving them my undivided attention they do whatever they can to get it, usually something that annoys me and nothing annoys me more when I’m knitting than when a small person takes my ball of yarn and runs away with it, thus unraveling all of the intricate cables I’ve just spent a good while and a fair amount of cursing creating.

So I just didn’t let them see me doing something I enjoyed.  It was for their own good health, really. But I’ve had to do it this holiday season because I sort of convinced myself I actually could finish my knitting list, even though really I wasn’t fooling myself at all. And so I’ve knit. And they’ve seen me. And there have been times when my ball of yarn has been ripped away from me and I’ve had to chase down the culprit. But the more they see me do it, the more used to it they are, and the more they see that Mom is just a crazy knitting lady who shouts out "Just one more row! I’ll get you your milk if you just let me finish one more row!"

I’m OK with that.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on December 26, 2012. 

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