I had this brilliant plan this weekend, that I was going to get all caught up and today I would be all gleeful and cocky again. That just wasn’t how it went. I’m not sure what happened, but somehow the girls doing a bunch of baking took up tons of my time, and there was an incident that involved a lot of gingerbread dough stuck entirely to the countertop. (Flour. You need to put flour on the counter before you roll it out. I can’t stress it enough, and it’s really not an optional step. Flour.) I went to Zellers to buy underpants for Christmas (as gifts, not an outfit) and the nightmare that is a big store twelve days before Christmas has me pretty badly scarred and might have slowed down the knitting a little. I saw two women argue over the last tube of blue wrapping paper. I don’t care what you’re wrapping – or if that’s your “theme” this year. There’s absolutely no reason on this earth to treat each other that way over paper. See? Scarred. This is why I don’t go shopping at Christmas. That moment.

I had to knit practically a whole pair of socks to get over it.


I don’t know if you know, but knitting a gift is the spiritual opposite of ripping a stranger a new one over blue wrapping paper. Snowmobile socks. Misty Alpaca Chunky 2 ply. Half (almost exactly) a skein of black, one full skein of periwinkle. Worked according to my sock recipe over 32 stitches on 5mm needles.

Those done, I boogied along and wrapped up the next pair of gift socks.


Earl Grey socks, 2.25mm needles. Men’s size 10. (Really big on me there.) Madeleinetosh Sock in Glacier.


Then I worked on this bad boy,


which is an entirely crappy picture of a pair of Hedgerow socks in a new to me but really yummy yarn called Fiber Optic Foot Notes” – in an entirely charming (and appropriate) colourway called “Black Coffee.” Reader Sarah sent it to me and it’s knitting up into socks I want to keep. (I won’t though.)

As if that weren’t enough, I cast for a sweater.


Yes, I know. It’s just a few days before Christmas and I’m casting on a sweater. I’m going to tell you what I told everyone else who flipped out. It’s a small sweater. It’s going to be fine – I think, though when I cast that on I was only three knitting hours behind (which you can really come back from) and then I spent the morning working on the billions of emails you’ve all sent for Knitters Without Borders. I’ve added all the names and amounts up to the 10th of December and that, my friends is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails. I was going to wait until I was caught up to give away karmic balancing gifts, but dudes. I don’t think that’s possible. As fast as I enter them, you send them, and I see the folly of it now. I’ve decided then to just keep entering as fast as I can, and just keep giving away gifts as fast as I can because if I wait to be caught up I’m just going to be chasing my inbox forever. The fact that the tally is up to (brace yourself )

$ 560 379.00

is more than enough of a reason to celebrate with some presents. As always, the knitters were chosen by way of random number generator, and as always, donating anything at all puts you on the list. Donating more doesn’t get you more chances, and donating less is no less worthy. We all give to the best of our abilities. No judging.

The exceedingly generous and talented Eloise did these beautiful illustrations for the Twist Collective, of lovely beasties of all sorts wearing knitted things, and she’s had the good sense to turn them into a set of 12 notecards. (You can see a set here) and she’s very kindly donated five sets to knitters without borders, and a set each will be going to: Evie M.. Ellen S., Sarah H., Harriet O. and Tammy W.

(If you think that’s you, check your inbox. I’ve emailed the five of you.)

Not to be outdone, the lovely Mary (from Lady A’s Crafts) has offered up either of the two kits (Learn To Knit Socks or Jackie’s Baby Sweater) in the winner’s choice of yarn, and she’ll be shipping that to Rebecca H. (I emailed you too.)

Happy Monday everyone, and thanks!

(More karmic balancing gifts tomorrow.)

91 thoughts on “Behinder

  1. wow. I love that colour blue. *sigh* good job Mrs. McPhee! My own post today was full of sadness so it helps to see someone else have success.

  2. Oops… another email with my monthly MSF donation is goint out to you… (I know, at this point = more work for you, but it is worth it! Thanks!)
    Love the socks!
    See you at Knit Night!
    Maria Naveiro

  3. So your loved ones will have the gift of having contributed your time to Medecins Sans Frontieres. Even if all the knitting doesn’t get finished, that’s way cool.

  4. Here is the url for Patons Divine: They don’t list a Diva under their discontinued yarns, but Divine is a chunky mohair blend. And they still sell it. Good luck with the schedule. It sounds like it will work if you stick closely to it (ie: shove the new sweater in a bag until you’re done with your holiday knitting.) 🙂

  5. Dude. I was going to laugh at your folly right up till I saw the KWB tally. Now I can’t.
    Well, maybe a little snicker wouldn’t hurt…

  6. I am knitting one thing for Christmas, but have only the time when my kids are at school to do it in. It’s kind of obvious what it is and who it’s for, so I can’t have anyone walk in on me and my knitting. I can do it, really I can. Really.
    I’m as always impressed with the knitting you attempt at this time of year, and super-impressed at the knitters without borders! Way to go us!

  7. As of yesterday, I have an entirely clean knitting slate — no WIPS at all, anywhere! (I know. I can hardly believe it myself.) The mind boggles about the upcoming casting on flurry to come! I started Twist Collective’s Sylvi last night.
    Since I’m wearing some super thick socks at this moment and have been encouraging 10 y.o. knitting dau, Leah (cottonhollow on Ravelry), to make a pair for her bro for xmas, I’m going to show her how great yours look. She’s not fond of knitting socks at 60+ st/round, but I’m sure she’d be psyched about how fast a pair cranks out in the 35-ish stitch range.

  8. You gave yourself the mozz as soon as you mentioned the schedule. When you did that I could almost hear the gods cackling from on high, determined to punish you for thinking that you could do it.
    Push on! Lovely black coffee yarn, by the way.

  9. Half a million dollars. That’s a lot of rehydration therapy and milk mix stuff for starving kids! WOW! Have they got a special “knitters” tab over there yet? I’ll be donating this week, so I guess I’ll find out!

  10. I have to give you another Karmic opposite to wrapping paper…
    I was short(financially) one year–not that it’s a lot better this year, but we’re making it… and I took my three kids into the store because I had NO wrapping paper. I bought the BIG tube (used it for 2 or 3 years now)(we also have a big family– DH has 15 grandkids to buy for).
    Each of my 3 kids (around 8,6, and 4 at the time..I think) picked out a tube, and it was $5 each. Now, I do suffer from Knitting Delusions on occasion (all the time!), but never wrapping paper delusion! I don’t know why I was shocked when I got to the register ant it was $17.– with tax.(yes, I could have done the math first, but … oh well), and I just *couldn’t* see spending $17 on paper when we have to eat, and asked the kids for a volunteer to put one of them back. my oldest (God Bless her!) paused and said.. ok, I will.
    Well, that was all the lady behind me needed, and bought the extra roll for her so that each could have their own. I still think about her, every so often, and look for ways to pass it on, when I see a haggard mom, just trying to make ends meet.

  11. You are so going to do this! Good for you. But I really don’t think any of us want to prevent you getting everything done. Maybe after Christmas is soon enough to catch up on totals.
    I barely go to the grocery store at this time of year (or late at night). Late Sunday night is a great time to Chrismas shop.

  12. A.
    Staring, but have lost the ability to blink.
    Lovely shiny distracting MSF total. And a nice try.

  13. Your Christmas knitting seems to be progressing along well. 🙂 I finished mine last week and blocked the last gift last night. Now all I have to do is finish my wrap for my Christmas party this weekend and do 2 quick sewing projects. 🙂

  14. Wow! We kick serious butt! Yay knitters.
    And yep, that scene with the blue gift wrap is exactly why I avoid shopping at this time of year if I can avoid it. Online shopping is a boon to me, although I do love going into the little local shop in my teensy town, buying stuff made by people right here. I pay more, sometimes, but well worth it! And knitted gifts, as well as the baked gifts and the candies and so on, that’s the stuff that brings both stress (am I gonna finish in time?) and joy to me at this time of year. I can’t for the life of me imagine caring about getting the last roll of blue gift wrap, honestly — it’s that sort of madness that makes me sad for the people who’ve had the fun and happiness squished right out of them by holiday frenzy, and I’m sure they wouldn’t behave like that under normal conditions. Makes me wish I could make them all sit down with a big mug of tea and some cookies for a while.

  15. Okay, so the flour thing is bad, but this story will make your toes curl in horror. When I was 12 or so, a friend and I decided to make sugar cookies. We floured the counter, to be sure, BUT said counter was tiled. And of course there’s space in between each tile. When we were done, there was flour filling every single grout tile. I thought my mother was going to kill us. (A few years later, when we replaced that countertop with a single sheet of granite, I ironed a quilt – at my mother’s request! – on top of the towel on top of the counter. The counter cracked. We told my dad three years after it happened and he still hasn’t forgiven me.)

  16. Whoa! You went to a department store on a weekend before Christmas. You are a braver knitter than I am! I dipped fast and loose into Amazon, and still bought sock yarn to take the edge off.
    Under the influence of a newbie knitter, I bought enough yarn for a vest for her from Webs, and then she pointed out that if I got the sock yarn that it would hit the discount and come out to the same price. Sneaky knitter, that little one!
    I’m resorting to gift cards for the rest of the bunch, but still need a gift for my Mom.

  17. Love the idea for the chunky socks…a must have for my mom! I finished all shopping last month, except for Steve’s folks because I cannot deal with the people. They just don’t care. Hello? Baby Jesus, people! Why do you think we’re doing this in the first place??? Anyway, rant over. You’re doing wonderfully, and hitting the half-mill mark is incredible!

  18. I had to go to Target this past weekend for Hanukkah gifts for my three nephews and some household supplies. Came back, sat right down and knit. I had to.

  19. i am flipping out just to know i can purchase those little animal painting notecards!!! i was SO in love with those illustrations when i saw them over on the twist site! yippee!

  20. that is a beautiful total for KWB. I hope that balances out the blue wrapping paper incident for you. The Earl Grey socks are lovely by the way.

  21. Fiber Optic is AMAZING. You haven’t spun until you’ve tried her merino-tencel blend roving. Her colors, customer service, oh my… And no, I am not in any way a paid spokewoman. 🙂 Just discovered her rovings on etsy and haven’t recovered…

  22. Is there any way to donate to Knitters Without Borders using paypal? I don’t have a credit card, but I’d still like to give to this worthy cause. Please let me know!
    Also, those earl gray socks are fantastic! I’m working up the courage to knit a pair!

  23. Hmm, maybe I should wait until after Christmas to donate? (That tends to be when Grant hauls out the year’s big-donation spreadsheet anyhow. A phone call from the credit-card company about “unusual activity” has become a post-holiday tradition.)
    Or would that just screw things up on your end even more?
    Must get busy on socks…

  24. After seeing the sweater, all I have is two comments:
    (1) It had better be something that was already on your list, and
    (2) It had better be a baby sweater!
    And, of course, (3) If it’s a gift that can be given after Christmas, that probably won’t hurt, either.
    Me, I’m thanking the heavens this year for online shopping. Between that and knitted gifts, I have not had to darken a single shop door yet this year. I hope to keep it that way.
    And that KWB total definitely is a thing of beauty!

  25. I’m with Rams. A Sweater? Now, you are still my hero and all, but I when I saw that, I felt those little scratchy fingers of doubt in my head…
    However, chunky socks are terrific – am stopping myself from casting some on right now.
    Regarding the wrapping paper, I have a war in my head between Martha Stewart Deb and Cheapskate Deb. This year Cheapskate is winning. I aim to let my kids color on a leftover roll of blank newsprint (free at the newspaper office!) and wrap with that.

  26. Gift wrap? I bought one of those big rolls of commercial kraft paper 4 years ago (in red) with a dispenser. I haven’t purchased paper since. For soft things (socks, earflap hats, scarves, gloves this year) I use fabric bags that I sew (not hard to sew a bag) using $1/yd fabric purchased on sale.
    I must say that I love that you’re still blogging through your knitting schedule – I’m snowed in today in the Northern California Sierra Foothills – kids have a snow day, so they were outside at 9am – I don’t expect to see them again until dinner time. A nice day for me!!

  27. Love, love, LOVE the snowmobile socks. Those are the perfect answer to my sister’s request for another set of house socks. Plus, I can get those done in time for Christmas still (if I can ever finish this darn sleeve…)!

  28. You should get one of the girls to help enter the KWB info! My mom used to make me do stuff like that, by throwing a little cash my way. Always worked for me.

  29. Knitters are awsome! I love reading your knitting marathon for Christmas. You are a brave warrior woman.

  30. I wonder if it’s appropriate to sing “We Are the Champions” by Queen here. I mean, we knitters are freaking amazing.
    And the sweater? Use the happiness that comes from knitters generating that much money to propel you through it. It’ll help, I think.

  31. It was a very nice try, distracting us with that remarkable Knitters W/Out Borders update. But I still have one question:
    What happened to, “If I do what’s on the schedule, and only what’s on the schedule, it will all get done?”

  32. *gasp* Oh, no! You found them and you OUTED Fiber Optics. Oh, no! So much for waiting till Friday! I’ve got to get that skein I’ve been wanting now. Man, “Bessame Mucho” you’ll be mine faster than I thought!

  33. I remember reading the Knitters without Borders story last year this time, and it made me cry. That the number has gone up so high since then is encouraging – hope for change from the bottom up. (we’re the bottom, if you didn’t get that part).

  34. Personally, I hit a “going out of business” sale on Saturday. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I made it through without bloodshed (and managed to spend too much $$). Sunday, I stayed safe at home.
    Love the socks (both pairs)!!

  35. Seriously? Fighting over blue wrapping paper? Somebody needs more eggnog (the real stuff , not that fake crap in the dairy section). Sheesh.
    Good luck with the gift knitting!! I’m nearing the end of mine, but I’m making small things, no sweater.

  36. Oooooh. I’m with Rams.
    Freakin’ amazing total btw – so much for the global recession! Yay!
    but…a sweater? Okaaaaaaay *backs slowly out of the blog*

  37. I avoid Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving at all costs.This year I’m making all of our gifts-and surprisingly-I’m still on schedule.I haven’t actually said that out loud though for fear of the Crafting Fates striking me down in some horrid way…well,better get back to my schedule…

  38. I’m loving the earl gray sock pattern. You should post it or at least tell us the pattern for the cable. I suppose another alternative would be to offer it for sale proceeds going to Doctor’s without Borders. Love it. Love it. Love it.
    PS We rock the world.

  39. So, is that MSF total in Canadian or US dollars? Or a mix of both? Not that it matters. I forget which one is worth more this week…

  40. The Paper Caper you witnessed is the reason why I vowed to stay far away from stores (except the necessary grocery-, drug-, and such) between Thanksgiving (US) and New Year’s. It’s just not worth what it does to my already dim view of humanity.

  41. For your entertainment pleasure…KnittingDaily@interweave press- today’s entry=you’ve seen the socks, check out the video-it’s on u tube, too-
    Dancing feat does not begin to describe this- and do not be drinking anything hot, or you will snort hot coffee up your nasal passages…handknit socks can inspire feet to do anything (and they do…someitmes in pairs!)

  42. Roll them out on parchment paper – that way you can get them off without breaking them and you don’t have the white marks from the flour (I hate the white marks from the flour).
    Still learning the hard way,

  43. I just found Fiber Optic sock yarns yesterday. I didn’t order anything because I couldn’t decide on just one.
    My coworkers get updates on MSF totals. They aren’t interested in knitting but they are impressed with the totals. I’m the only knitter they know so they can’t quite wrap their minds around the idea that there are enough knitters to come together in such strong support of an amazing organization.

  44. Dear Stephanie – I want to thank you from the bottom, middle, and top of my heart for your mention of the Fiber Optics Foot Notes yarn in your blog. I am knitting my father a pair of socks for Christmas in the black coffee colorway. My girls (age 9, 6, and 2), my husband, and I all sat at the computer to see Mommy’s yarn being used by the Yarn Harlot – my baby boy slept through the momentous occasion I’m afraid. I am so unbelievably humbled. Thank you again. -Kimber

  45. Half a million dollars for Drs. without Borders. That’s way better than blue wrapping paper. And so are you.

  46. Presbytera, a little snicker is always appropriate around this time. I’ll join you. Sit back and have some popcorn with me.

  47. I just ordered two custom dyed skeins of merino/seacell the other day from FiberOptics.. she’s super nice and I can’t wait to play with the yarn!!!
    Congrats on the fantastic amounts Stephanie and to all who have contributed thus far!! 🙂

  48. Only you could put together 5 words that would ordinarily be just 5 words… and have me laughing for the next 10 minutes. “As gifts, not an outfit”!! I had visions of you so proud of your new Christmas underwear and your choice of that as an outfit. Too funny. Hang in there. You knit more today than I have in the last few months!!

  49. I’m blown away at how much knitting you get done at crunch time. And I’m blown away at how generous knitters are. Even my non-knitting roommate who thinks all this yarn/knitting obsession is more than a little odd is impressed.
    I’m also confident we’re going to hit a million dollars soon.

  50. You are henceforth crowned the Sock Queen. Lady…I just don’t know how you crank them out so quickly and even have time to clean up after the kids.
    Were side trips such as these built into the famous spreadsheet?

  51. Hey, that sweater looks interesting! It’s so hard to stay on track, don’t you think? (I’m thinking that it wasn’t on the schedule…)
    Keep counting that money — awesome!

  52. Thought of you tonight in the car with the children (how could we be out of milk AGAIN!?!) as they tried to get each other to say underwear: “look under there!” “under where?” Hee hee, you said underwear! They’re 5 and 8. And are getting felted clogs for Christmas.
    Good luck w/ the schedule – I’m rooting for you!

  53. Glad to see the “Black Coffee” knitting up so well. (Thanks Kimber!) And such lovely Earl Grey socks too. And only you, Stephanie, would START a sweater at this time. Brilliance is often confused with insanity. And vice versa.
    My own modest Christmas knitting took a back seat to cleaning up after a sick dog (there went the newly cleaned carpets). Dog’s better; knitting’s that much further behind.

  54. The cards are sweet. Is there a way we can get some if we aren’t a winner? Of course, the charity is the winner, but the cards are really sweet.

  55. A Sweater? A Sweater!
    Sheesh, woman, and here I am just trying to finish a vest, which I had most of the front done…and wondered if I could finish it in time.
    Really, A Sweater?! (shakes head in wonder)

  56. I don’t know if you read this far down the comments, but I must warn you about Misti Alpaca Chunky: IT SHEDS. I made a seed stitch afghan out of it in a stunning burgundy color. I was convinced that it was going to be the most beautiful throw in my house…and it was, with one small problem — all the guests who used the blanket left my house plastered with burgundy fibers. Even the nieces and nephews stayed away from it after awhile, not wanting to endure the need for a masking tape roller session (“Aunt Aileen, I didn’t want to tell you, but I left your house and I was ALL RED.”) From a 10 year-old, I kid you not.
    And then came the year-long effort to prevent the shedding — I won’t bore you with the gory details (although it is chronicled on Ravelry, which helped with my pain). In short, after many consults with alpaca experts, I shocked the fibers (didn’t work), and then I washed them. IN HOT WATER. It no longer sheds, but it is now (as I type) in continual use as the most beautiful and expensive dog blanket that a Standard Poodle ever slept on.
    Please tell whomever receives those beautiful socks: be careful with Misti!!

  57. Oh, wow! Is there some way I can help with the counting to keep you on schedule and the karmicness (?!) rolling??

  58. Hey, RachelH, Presbytera, got enough popcorn for one more? I know, I’ll bring the caramel popcorn… *settles in front of computer, cat on lap to watch the show*
    Katie at December 15, 2008 2:19 PM : DWB/MSF accepts donations by mail- you download a form from their site and mail it in with your check. Stephanie has an excellent explanation of the whole KWB idea- just click on the Knitters Without Borders link on her main page.
    And Melissa at December 15, 2008 4:22 PM: Stephanie posted the Earl Gray Sock pattern last year. I highly recommend her blog archives for reading entertainment…I did them in reverse and was quite sad when I got to the end. But you can find the sock pattern here:
    From the mention of a .pdf in the 12/10 post, I suspect Stephanie means to put up a link for it in her sidebar.

  59. KWB=amazing. I have to admit, ive been tearing up to think that my few dollars helped make that enormous total. Let’s go for a cool million.

  60. The bit with the women arguing over wrapping paper – what’s scary is that the stores are even less crowded than usual this year….yet still people are behaving like beasts! You are right not to go shopping during this time – I don’t, either. I used to revel in it. Now I stay home and play with my yarn! I got shoved and hit over a “Tickle Me Elmo” the year they came out and that was it for me. I used to love to go Christmas shopping – but not after that!

  61. I am afraid to go into the store, because I was scarred just going to the grocery store yesterday. But I made a batch of peanut butter balls to take the edge off. It helped a lot!

  62. Stephanie…You are forever a wonderment.
    A bit of true magic walking around on two socks.
    A Very Merry Christmas!

  63. I gotta think that your karmic balancing is going to help you out with the schedule in the end. If anyone deserves a break from the vagaries of the knitting fates, it is you!
    The socks are all fabulous, especially the Earl Greys! (Are they scented of bergamot?)

  64. Congrats on overwhelmingly sweeping the Activities blog category on the 2008 CBA’s. I’m sure you have “Best Blog” all sewn… er, knit up, too.

  65. You know… asking for us to donate to MSF during holiday knitting season, whilst full of good intent, is probably a little like shooting yourself in the hand, speaking as one knitter to another… no, as a pretty good knitter to a far better knitter. Did Lene figure those e-mails into the Schedule? Just sayin’.

  66. “My list contained 15 items to be knit before Christmas. The list is now sealed. Nothing will be added to the list during the execution phase, for that way lies madness.” what was this about a sweater?

  67. RachelH? It’s late Monday night and I’m running out of popcorn — Steph didn’t blog today, and I’m having waaay too much fun imagining why.

  68. It’s always better with a floured countertop, but girl, have you heard of waxed paper? It’s glorious. You can crumple it up and voila, clean counter!

  69. After I made my KWB donation, I told my co-workers about it. I asked them to guess the total.
    They were floored when I told them it was well into HALF A MILLION!!
    I’m very proud of all of us! The best gift is the gift of a better world.

  70. Hey Monica and Leslie:
    Don’t the parchment paper or the waxed paper slide all over the counter while you’re rolling out the dough?

  71. Wow! That is one impressive total! Both bucks & knitted objects.
    Sometimes I just put my knitting on the corner of my desk, within reach. I figure any world that still has knitting in it, can’t be all bad.

  72. You can’t see me, but I’m bowing to the sock-goddess. Wow. I’m majorly impressed at how fast you can knit . . .

  73. It seems you are moving right along Stephanie…. except for the S.W.E.A.T.E.R…. Hmmmmmm. What pattern is it? Gorgeous yarn for it.

  74. For some reason, my computer took a crap when I tried to respond to this one earlier… that’s FANTASTIC about the donations… (I’ve managed to talk Mate into a wee little donate myself…) And the knitting is fairly spectacular. I know you’ve had a few setbacks in the knittine, et al since this entry, but this was very pretty to look at…

  75. I usually wrap my presents in newsparper. Bevause I am too cheap to but wrapping paper that will just get thrown out. This year I did something different. I bought some handkerchiefs and furoshiki’d 3 presents. Just for kicks. I was excited about it. I blogged it. Does that make me weird?

  76. Is there ANY way that you could post a video of you knitting fast under a deadline like this? PLEEEEEZ!! I wanna see how you do it… turning out stuffs this fast…

  77. OMGosh! Amy of MadelineTosh is my best friend! I feel fortunate that she lives so close to me; so, I can go see all the neat colors anytime I want.

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