For the last week I have been knitting like a mad woman. This happens every year. I say I’m not going to knit anything and low and behold, I end up frantically knitting gifts at the last minute. The piece I’m working on right now is actually for myself.
It all started with a simple compliment. One of my son’s teachers complimented his hand-made mittens. They are his favourite because they are fingerless. They are designed for lighter weather, but he’d wear them in a blizzard if I’d let him. They are warm enough, but they aren’t as warm as those puffy ones that make your hands about as dextrous as giant snowballs.
I had been on the fence about what to get his teachers for Christmas, my best chance at buttering them up and pushing my little cherub into their good graces for the upcoming year, when I decided that those mitts would be perfect. They are made with super wash wool, making them washable and super-warm, they are fingerless, meaning that the teachers won’t have to take them off every time a child needs help with a zipper or a runny nose, or to take pictures for the class blog. As well, the wool is also very hearty and long-lasting – my son is on his second (or third?) year with his and he will likely outgrow, or lose, them before he destroys them. He is a very rough and tumble boy who cannot keep anything nice. The fact that his mitts have survived really says a lot about the quality of the wool.
So for my son I had made mitts and a full toque, but for myself and his teachers, I went with ear warmers instead. Ladies tend to wear their hair in different styles and toques are rarely forgiving to those styles so an ear warmer is generally better suited to do the job without too much collateral damage.
I wish I’d had some time to come up with an interesting pattern or some colour work, but I figure spending about six hours per teacher on a straight up ribbing and stockinette set seemed reasonable. If you count time plus materials, it’s a seventy dollar set, and that’s being as fair and generous as possible. He has three teachers, whom he adores, so they each got a mitt and ear warmer set in their own colour which I personally chose based on their skin tones and eye colours. I had to do one size fits all, which is pretty safe when it comes to mitts and hats because, if I’d tried to measure them the jig would have been up.
But I haven’t done much reading, and I haven’t done any writing. And now I have more sets to make.
I am visiting my birth-mother after Christmas – long story, not for right now. And I decided that instead of giving her some of my hand-made soap – or in addition to, I haven’t decided yet, I’m going to make her the same set that I made for my son’s teachers. And of course I can’t forget my sister, who is my best friend and well worth a handmade gift. If I make for her, I would also love to make a matching set for her daughter, which means altering the size slightly, no biggie, and less materials. But the rub with that is that I’ve now made a few things for my sister and her little girl, and I’ve made nothing for her son or her husband and I really don’t want to overlook them again. So I’m trying to come up with a complimentary colour to use for them, I’m liking navy and I have it on hand so that solves that, but for the boys, I have only two skeins of navy and I will need to make full toques for them, so I’m likely to run out of navy before I can get them all done. Meaning I will likely have to work another colour in there and spare the navy wool using some clever colour work.
I’m halfway finished my own set, making four total, and I still have five sets left to make. That will be nine sets total. That is fifty four hours of tireless labour. Even if you exclude the six hours I spend on my own, it’s still 48 hours of knitting, and there are less than four days till Christmas. I may be a bit of a masochist.
I’m guessing that there is no way my sister and her family’s will be done in time for Christmas, but she is my sister and she loves me so she will forgive a belated gift. Especially one of my gifts. I don’t half-ass things. If you’ve made it onto my ‘nice’ list, I can gauran-got-damn-tee that you are going to get a gift that will knock your socks off. Or maybe they will be socks. Beautiful, hand-made ones, the luxury of which you have never felt in your life.
The point is, a lot of love and time goes into hand-made gifts. Those teachers put a lot of love and time into my son who, admittedly, is a handful, and they deserve every hour spent on their gift, I only wish I had time to make gifts for the gym/music teacher and the librarian, who I overlooked, and the crossing guard, who I almost overlooked and winded up getting a Timmies gift card, and everyone else who makes my son’s time at school a safe and educational experience. Really, they are my heroes. Knitting them winter warmies is the best way I know how to say Merry Christmas and thank you… I mean, show it with actions. Obviously I could easily just say the words, which I did, but showing gratitude with thoughtful gifts made with love and quality materials is my way of expressing my feelings for them, which are warm and fuzzy feelings.
So I guess in closing, Christmas is not about material things, but also, it is. I really hate when cheapskates prattle on about how commercial Christmas is. As if there’s no reason for it. When you love or appreciate someone, you show them by doing something for them or giving them something thoughtful and special. Actions speak louder than words and while thanks are always appreciated, giving back is generally more appropriate and better appreciated than simple lip service. I could tell my son I love him till I’m blue in the face, I could smother him in a million kisses, and I’m probably closer to two million by now – I like to get him while he’s sleeping, muahahahaha! But those words and kisses don’t put food in his belly and I show my love for him by feeding and clothing him. So, go out there, think about the person you love and appreciate the most; what they’d love to have but would never buy for themselves, and get them that thing. If you can make beautiful things, then invest the time and do it, if not, then buy, and if you can’t do that, then do them a service that you can offer.
Don’t be that grinch who just uselessly complains about everything as an excuse to be stingy and selfish. Or be that grinch but just know that that attitude will not get you on my nice list and will not get you any cozy winter warmies from me! To everyone else: Merry Christmas!!!