Absolutely Making Progress

Some Random Things About Our Christmas Tree

1. I like that because we live in the city, Joe and I just walk over and buy a tree from the same kid from Georgian Bay every year, and then carry the tree home though the street.  I’m sure cutting one down in the forest has a certain feel to it too, but this is how we rock it urban style.

2. It snowed a little while we were doing it. Very festive.

3. I decided that Sam was old enough to take charge of the Christmas lights.

4. I am very particular about putting up the lights. I have certain lights that go up on the inside branches, and others that go on the outside branches and I have strong feelings about the distribution of same.  I know that this seems overly serious, but the Christmas tree is important to me, and there are only going to be probably fifty trees that I put up in my lifetime and I don’t see why any of them shouldn’t be really all that they can be.

5. I know that’s intense.

6. That’s why I make Sam wear the light up antlers that play "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem."  Keeps it light.

7. The antlers may not be Sam’s favourite part, but I just keep telling the kids we’re building memories. 

8. The tree is up and it is perfect. Sam did a great job. Now I feel like Christmas is really coming along. 

9. It’s really hard not to feel that way with a ten foot tree in your living room.

10. I love it. It makes me want get the whole Christmas done, and I think it is speeding up the knitting.  I should have three things finished tomorrow. The tree is magic.

Gifts for Knitters 3:

I know it’s confusing, buying things for knitters, because not all knitter stuff works like regular stuff. With regular stuff once you have a thing you probably don’t need another one of it, and it in knitting there’s some stuff like that, but this isn’t one of them.  With this gift, it doesn’t matter if your knitter already has one or two (or three or four) they could probably use another one.  It’s project bags. I’m not talking about the big knitting bag/purse/backpack that your knitter carries around, I’m talking about what your knitter puts the project that’s in his backpack in to keep it from getting a pen tangled in it, or getting it muddled with the other projects that are in the bag. (Project bags are also great if your knitter has pets. Keeps the layer of dog or cat stuck to the wool at a minimum. ) These are pretty easy to buy, because there are so many kinds and types and because most knitters have a lot of kinds of projects, you’ve got a good chance at getting a match.   I like these ones from Stitchy McYarnpants – they’re mostly vintage and vintage-look.  The Dancing Sheep has ones with holiday prints (and socks. I like the socks one) Slipped Stitch Studio has  about five awesome options – size wise, and it’s hard to beat the utility of the Tom Bihn ones (I find mine pretty water-resistant, if that’s the sort of thing that matters to your outdoorsy knitter. Looking for a stocking stuffer?  WEBS has these inexpensive cotton ones.  Go nuts, and – since knitters love it when you make them stuff, if you’re any good at the sewing machine, you can get creative yourself.
Just about any sort of bag is going to be handy to a knitter. Just remember NO velcro.  It’s one of yarn’s few natural enemies. 

Gifts for Knitters 4

Obviously, this is going to be for a specific sort of knitter who is not me at all, but I keep thinking that my friend Beth would be pretty wild for it. They’re knitting related nail decals. These ones have green and blue stockinette on them… and these ones? Balls of yarn.  Ridiculously entertaining – for someone else, you understand. Looking for something like that for a knitter with less "joie de vivre" in the fingernail department?
How about the super funky Soakboxes –  Yarn, wool wash, hand creme, a pattern and a nail polish that matches.  Bam. For the co-ordinating knitter?  Should do the trick.

66 thoughts on “Absolutely Making Progress

  1. OK, that whole “making memories” thing – I’m stealing it for whenever I need to make one of my 5 boys do something they don’t particularly want to do. THAT, my friend, is magic.

  2. Steph,
    I know I’m a few beats behind, but have you finished Joe’s want list? Would he be interested in a refurbished oscilloscope. My late husband left me several, and I would love to donate one to someone who might be interested? Let me know.

  3. Gift card from WEBS – perfection. Makes it easy to treat yourself to a more expensive yarn than you might consider without it. Just saying. Chanukah begins Saturday at sundown. Happy Eight Days to all who celebrate it.

  4. Wow, your attention to detail boggles the mind. While I wait to put up our tree on the 15th, and do it as simply as possible, you’re actually concerned about layering the lights! Ever since the year I went into labour on New Year’s Eve and came back a few days later to discover tree needles embedded in the cracks between my floorboards, I’ve switched to an artifical one. (For the record, I knitted until I went out the door, and the knitting was sitting on the chesterfield when I came back, right where I left it.) And I confess that I leave the lights on the tree and just put a big bag over the whole thing and stash it in the basement. Now I’m so ashamed.

  5. Wait, you mean, I might not have to keep each of my projects in a plastic grocery bag?? Tell my friends and family!

  6. I didn’t realize that the Christmas tree was such a thing for me until last year. This year I thought I was going to be able to let it go a little. Nope. But I thank you for giving me a little more perspective. Only putting up about 50 in a lifetime sounds about right, and it makes me appreciate the trouble we go to to make it a family experience rather than a blah blah holiday doing.

  7. Don’t be ashamed, Elizabeth @ 12:35, I’m with you. Our tree looks like it’s made from white wire hangers and has attached white lights. All of the ornaments are ocean themed (mermaids, tropical fish, seashells), we use a Caribbean sarong as the tree skirt, and the star on top is made from cone shells. I take off the ornaments, bag the tree, and send it back to the basement for another year. Our whole family scuba dives and lots of the ornaments come from diving vacations. That tree is full of family memories with none of that sticky pine sap gluing the ornaments together.
    Thanks for the gift ideas again this year, Steph, and Sam’s a good sport, plus beautiful. I’m jealous, my antlers only light up, they don’t play music.

  8. I just really wanted to say thank you for doing the knitter’s gift list again. It’s amazing! Everything you pick out is awesome and I do totally want them all. Just leaving the website up on our computer for my husband to see has resulted in way better gifts for me. Though, now I’m really going to have to up my game for him…

  9. Alas, I can’t leave this post up at home as my 9 year-old Mr Christmas will re-start nagging me about the tree. Maybe if I “made memories” with the antlers he’d be less enthusiastic. Time to make some cookies I think…

  10. “joie de vivre” in the fingertail department – Stephanie I have been reading the blog for years, but I have never thought of you in that context, I don’t think I have thought of anybody in that context!
    I’m more of a hands on person who doesn’t wear nail polish (much to my daughters’s regret), typing, washing and gardening come into my life too much for it. But I do think it looks lovely on others.

  11. We’ll get our tree next weekend, from a small family farm about two miles away. Not picky about lights here. . . hubby does it & I’m just glad for the help. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the two puppies discover the tree. They still love to chew (have gone through three orifice hooks & three sets of dpns). As for knitting, one sweater done & halfway on second. Handspun Christmas socks done. Basket full of yarn for miscellaneous hats & mitts. Company coming soon. . . beds ready.

  12. I just went out with my daughter to help her buy her HUGE (and expensive) tree. And there was enough room in the van for me to buy one too (small, less expensive). BUT–
    My tree comes from Nova Scotia
    My daughter’s tree came from– NORTH CAROLINA???
    Um, we live in Toronto.
    I don’t get it.

  13. I have different lights for the inside and outside parts of the tree too! Really makes a difference, the tree sparkles. My daughter will love the stockinette nail decals too, she is one of your biggest fans and will recognize where I found the idea after pulling them out of her stocking.
    (we don’t have reindeer antlers but we do have bunny ears that the 19yo has worn for every Easter since she was 4. memories, indeed.)

  14. Those nail decals are hilarious. I’m not one of those people either. Last bottle of nailpolish I had was around to use as a cheaper from of fraychek.

  15. I also take the Christmas tree very seriously. This caused me many conniptions and grumbles when my Wicked Stepchildren were little, because *of course* they wanted to help, the idea of ornaments left in the box was ridiculous to them, and they were short, so everything was hung on the bottom.
    Solution: I just moved everything around after they went home at the end of the weekend, which felt like decorating the tree twice. Which is awesome.

  16. One year my dad decorated half the tree with the red balls, and the other half with the golden. Not sure why. The antlers rock.

  17. oh lord. i don’t even “do” nails and I NEED THOSE STOCKINETTE NAIL DECALS!!!!! i don’t even know why. it ain’t like i’m gonna wear em. ps- haven’t started the tree. i’m having a hard time getting there as this is the first house i’ve ever had that fits one, and it has to be just as perfect as yours. sadly, the husbot does not understand.

  18. Is it socially acceptable for non-knitters to make and give project bags to knitters who don’t use them now?
    Especially if you struggle to pick up projects left around the house, on the car seat, at the kitchen table etc., without losing the needles, dropping the yarn, or having the cat get at it?
    – Signed,
    Desperate non-knitter
    (my knitter does intarsia in her car. Also 4 needle knitting in the round.)

  19. I am so glad to know that I am not the only one with tree light issues. 🙂 So glad it’s making you happy.

  20. Oh my goodness, another light lover! I’m very serious about placement of lights. I’ve even changed bulb if too much of the same color is together. This year, hubby was watching and remarked that I had already put lights on those branches. Yes, honey, I put them their on purpose. SHEESH….never heard of double-lighting?!?!

  21. Whilst trees grow like, um, trees round here; we order our tree on line from a garden supplies place and it gets delivered. We changed our car last year and whilst a decent size tree would fit in the old, nothing except shopping bags and people fit in the new (but on the bright side it is easier to get my less than able mother into the new one). So I am waiting (very impatiently) for tree to arrive (sometime between 10 – 14 December).
    And I can’t put up any decorations before the tree, because the tree is always first.
    So please, another photo of yours so I can share until my tree gets here? Pretty please?

  22. :-O I think I snagged the last set of stockinette nail decals for a special person’s Christmas stocking. Feeling lucky today! As usual, I love your suggestions.

  23. Amazon.com just lit up with people searching for antlers that play music…seriously. And the people who sell them are wondering “WTF?”

  24. “There are only going to be probably fifty trees that I put up in my lifetime and I don’t see why any of them shouldn’t be really all that they can be.”
    Wow. I am Very Particular about our Christmas tree and always feel a little guilty for being too ‘intense’ about for everyone else’s sake — No More!! You nailed it Harlot! Thanks…

  25. My tree is going up tomorrow, after my 15 yo son finishes finals. He’s been putting up the lights for me since he was about 11. After he finishes, my 13 yo daughter puts on all the ornaments. It makes me enjoy the tree all that much more! And gives me more time for my knitting!!

  26. Are sig others (like boyfriends) likely to gift you with a bag of expensive yarn (Mad Tosh vintage) comes to mind if you ask? Is it really realistic to get $125 worth of yarn in a present? Or should sig others give things like immersion blenders, iTunes gift cards or even a six-pack of some new exotic (at least to me) dark beer that’s never seen this side of Illinois? Just saying…I can imagine a guy going into a yarn shop unless prodded with a sharp object yielded by a woman.

  27. Re: number 5. intense is an understatement .
    Number 7. Builds memories and character. Put a little money aside for the therapy later on.
    Give a knitter a box of gallon size Zip lock bags. She or he will know what do do with it. Only resort to this of you are left scrambling on Christmas Eve and only have a Loblaws on your radar.

  28. jenne-YES..give him/her project bags! First of all the thrill of receiving a knitting related gift will shock and surprise, then the realization that they make life so much easier for a knitter will win you all around brownie points. Speaking of light up antlers, after the Thanksgiving post, I ordered the cookbook “Plenty” from my local library. When I picked it up the librarian had this to say….”I had a really hard time getting this! It must be very popular!” No, I said, it’s The Harlot!

  29. Gift idea: Dansko clogs with stockinette pattern. Use fave search engine for “dansko knit clogs” and see what pops up. Expensive? Certainly. Worth it? You’ll have to decide. I put them on my feet and hemmed and hawed for about 5 minutes, during which I was certain I was going to buy them, but had to convince myself I needed them. I did.

  30. I’m with Jennifer R. I can make a great use out of gallon size ziplock baggies and they are good for more than one thing, which is always a bonus!

  31. I’m still hung up on how darn cute those Ringlets are… there are markers all over my house, in every bag, in the carpeting, in the cushions of the couch. Do I deserve more? Of course I do!!!

  32. I love those soak boxes. I bought two to knit up the gloves put back into the box and will give them to my non-knitting family members. Thanks for sharing such awesome gift ideas.

  33. Can someone please switch the antlers? They seem to be reversed. Also, Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer is the most wonderful song.

  34. I think it was very brave of you to let your daughter hang the lights.
    The first Christmas I was with my husband, we (him, me, and my stepson) decorated the tree together.
    I took all the ornaments off the next day and put them on the right way.
    Since then, we’ve built our memories together by making ornaments. I’m still working up the courage to let any of the kids hang them up by themselves.
    We’ve moved into a MUCH bigger house and there is a new, smaller tree in the upstairs front window (because when 6 of your new neighbors tell you how much they loved the tree the previous owner put in the window, you take the hint). I’m considering giving it to the kids to decorate on their own. Is it wrong to have a “theirs” and “mine” tree?

  35. I agree wholeheartedly with the ziplock bags, although I use them for spinning fiber, rather than knitting. Favorite sizes are gallon, 2-gallon, & quart, in that order. Another inexpensive gift idea might be pencil cups or kitchen utensil containers which are useful for double-pointed & single-pointed needles, respectively.

  36. To Susan D. @ 1:35- Lunneburg, Nova Scotia is the Christmas tree captital in Canada. I know they ship them just about everywhere in NS, but as far as Toronto?!
    In my family we would go out to a lot and tramp through the cold and snow and pick out a tree and cut it down ourselves. Then it became to hard in the old car and we were always so busy so we started getting them in the city.
    Then in grade eight, we went on a field trip to a clear cut and a sustainably managed woodlot. This woodlot also had organic christmas trees! (diseased limbs removed by hand and ladybugs to remove the aphids) That winter my family went back and we picked out two beautiful trees (with a wonderful price!) and had a wagon ride and hot chocolate and it was amazing!
    We’ve been back every year!
    For those of you interested it’s Kevin’s U-Pick in New Germany, Nova Scotia.

  37. Tell Sam she’s a great daughter…and she looks like she might almost be having fun wearing those singing antlers.
    Now off to point someone who loves me in the direction of some project bags…

  38. I love the nail decals. I don’t wear them but I would wear those! Can we see a picture of your tree? Maybe I will try putting the lights on the inside. Last thing – do you know a good source for wrapping paper that looks like knitting? I like to knit my knitted gifts in that. I may have to make some but I am behind the curve!

  39. I love project bags but then wrap each project in a pretty tea towel to keep it protected from other stuff in the bag. This also gives the yarn a clean place to hang out while knitting is being done. A flat tea towel is easier on small bit of knitting as socks or lace and wraps up easily to put back in the bag at the end of stolen moments of time for knitting. Of course that also means I have a tea towel stash that never sees a wet tea cup or glass.

  40. Okay, I love your blog, enjoy reading it and usually have an LOL when reading, if not the actual post then the comments. Tonight, have to give the shout out to whomever said “Dansko knit clogs!!!” It is definitely an OMG moment… even if I never get them – THANKS!!

  41. Thank you so much for posting those great project bags! I was looking for some just yesterday. I found the ones at Webs, but gave up searching further because apparently I’m too lazy to shop even when I don’t need to leave my couch.

  42. Ah-hah! You had Sam put the lights on the tree so you could get caught up on your knitting! Do you think the Knitting Deities will not notice this? I think a holiday knitting disaster may be looming. . .
    Note to Sam: Your mom owes you BIG TIME for putting that photo on the ‘net. Scheme with your sisters for an appropriate payback.

  43. Your daughter is absolutely beautiful! Nice that she is also helpful at home and with the blog.
    I have boys. Boys expect Christmas but they expect “someone else” (aka ME) to do it. I have less and less of the Christmas spirit as the years go by and I always wondered (as a child) why my mom was such a grinch. Now I know – great big back-breaking amounts of planning and hard work for very little appreciation. Maybe if we still had a big extended family with grandparents it would be better, but it’s just us; and some years it’s been pretty bleak. I’m still trying to get past the emotional bleakness of the last two years, so my Christmas ooomph has taken a bit of a beating. Also I live in a miniscule house with no room for a tree unless I put half the furniture outside on the deck for a month.

  44. Love Sam’s sweet smile in that picture.
    Love the project bag idea, though the sock ones are long gone now. Lucky knitters out there.
    Went to the Madeline Tosh shop in Texas today and looked wistfully for your yarn.

  45. electric palm tree is plugged in. garlands going up the stair wells. ornaments hung across the windows and boughs of fir brought in and on the window sills. I just love winter and christmas. And project bags…i used plastic bags forEVER, but they make noise…

  46. I feel the same way about decorating the tree! There is a very specific order things have to go on in (lights, garland, baubles, ornaments) otherwise it’s wrong and things won’t go on properly. How are you supposed to put your lights on if you’re wrangling them past your glass ornaments?!
    Glad I’m not the only one 😉

  47. To Dorothy on December 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM – I think “theirs” and “mine” trees is perfectly reasonable!

  48. Last year you posted a link to a sewing instruction for a project bag. Thank you so much for it! I have made three of them by now, in different sizes, and they’re absolutely perfect. And besides, I learned some neat sewing tricks from the pattern. 😀

  49. I, too, have to weigh in and say how much I love decorating the tree, and how little I want anyone else to do it. 🙂 I LOVE the idea of a “theirs” and “mine” tree. I tell my kids that they may need therapy (they are 25 and 22) because I didn’t let them do much with the tree. I am one of those that strings popcorn and cranberries (no one really fights me to do that, I have to say) and use red velvet bows to hang them. But then each set of ornaments has to go on in sets. How else do you know whether all the pretty glass ones are evenly distributed? Or the Victorian icicles? Or the red Czech balls? None of this indiscriminate hanging of things at our house! 🙂 They all love their slightly insane mother anyhow. I am going to use Stephanie’s line about the “only 50 or so trees” with anyone who gives me a hard time, however!

  50. Please remember to take photos of all your ‘secret projects’. I can hardly wait to see them. It’s just like another gift.

  51. I would very much appreciate a list of your knitting books. I am a book nut and anything you use must be good since you are such an epic knitter and picky consumer. Thank you Stephanie for taking the time out of your busy like to entertain and inform us with your blog. I certainly appreciate it and also know what kind of committment it is to keep this up when you have so much on the go. thanks again merry christmas susan

  52. Yes, the tree is magic!
    I had had a frustrating week and even more frustrating morning yesterday when I went to the garden center to buy some branches for our window boxes. I ran into a friend who works there and we started talking about Christmas trees. In my 17 years of marriage we had always used an artificial hand-me-down tree that never looked particularly nice. After the talk to my friend I knew I just had to buy a tree right then. And I did! And this made me so happy that I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day even though I could not even take it home right away as I was on my bike.
    I know I will get a real tree every year from now on because it is a very special tree.

  53. #4 yes that is intense! I think I have done maybe 15 trees so far and I am 59. The magic of a tree is delightful. I will start back working on the few that I have left. Thanks for the past and future memories! Peace and Joy!

  54. It’s like you know me! You picked a bunch of things I want this year, and I’m always saying project bags are the best knitter gift bc you can never have too many.

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