Another Freakin’ Column

Without a word of a lie, I swear in the name of all things woolly that today was going to be easy.  Yesterday’s shopping mission went off without a hitch. I left, I shopped, I returned, and I even got home about an hour earlier than I thought, because it was all so easy.  I poured myself that reward beer and wrapped gifts for that found hour (I see now I should have been knitting. Someone else could have wrapped.) I got the meringues in the oven – right on time, and despite the perilous business of having to turn the oven on and off (it gets too hot otherwise, and the cookies colour instead of just dry out) I did not once forget that they were in there during the “on” phase, and ruin the whole batch. (I used a timer. I can’t be trusted.) I even put a post it note on the button for the stove, so that someone else wouldn’t turn on the oven – not knowing they were in there, and torch the whole thing. (We had a pizza dough incident a few weeks ago. Joe’s right. You should tell people if you’re going to leave something in there.)

meringues 2014-12-18

Last night I almost finished a knitting project, and made the gingerbread dough so that it could chill in the fridge for long enough – and I went to bed early, thinking that today was just about going to be the most pleasant walk in the park that you can imagine.  I drifted off to sleep thinking about what a pleasure today was going to be.  I can only imagine that the high of finishing the shopping did some kind of number on my brain, because I woke up this morning, made coffee, sat at my desk and looked at the spreadsheet, compared it to the calendar, and then opened the top drawer of my desk and threw up into it.   Okay – that part didn’t really happen, but it could have.  I am a delusional lunatic if I think I’m finishing by the 20th.  I can’t even believe that was a goal. See, I think I forgot another column on the spreadsheet.  Social.  We have FIVE family gatherings between now and Christmas Day, and let me be super clear about this, that’s cool.  Actually, it’s better than cool, it’s fantastic.  I love it when the house is full and the family is here, and I feel right and whole and happy and the reason I do all of this is so that we have those evenings, but why the hell didn’t I put them on the spreadsheet? What part of me thought I would simultaneously host the whole family while baking gingerbread and pounding out another pair of mittens? Who exactly did I think was going to cook for that crew? Santa?

cookie cutters 2014-12-18

I’ve moved up the cookie baking to today, so that tomorrow I can cook, clean and get that together, and since knitting tomorrow night will mostly be out while I run with Lou and the girls and put dinner on, that means that today I need to somehow finish the knitting I need for Saturday.  I suddenly regret the bath I took yesterday.  Time wasted, I see that now.

Wish me well, knitters.  Today has to be a miracle, and so far it doesn’t look so good. It’s 3 in the afternoon, and progress has been dismal. I think I’m tired.

What’s Luis hanging today?

I’m embarrassed to say that I had no choice this morning but to look up the word Carlos texted me.  I know I don’t speak Spanish very well (that is an understatement. Lou speaks Spanish better than I do) so usually I’m not bothered when I can’t figure it out, but this one is a word that matters to me so much in English, that I can’t believe I didn’t know the Spanish!  It was “El calcetin”

weesock 2014-12-18

The sock!  Now, this one I remember the pattern for very well.  It was this rather charming bit of business, although I converted it to be knit in the round, and knit it on smaller needles.  Also, when I was looking at that pattern just now? Mystery solved on the mitten.  There’s the chart I used. (I must have been having some sort of urge to make a matched set.) Voila.

Gift for Knitters, Day 18

There is an affinity that lies between knitters and bags that’s hard to explain. Knitters are, in general, so drawn to them that the presence of several bags about a person is a good way to spot a knitter.  (Usually we try to condense this, putting bags inside bags, but sometime we still end up with a couple visible.)  For reasons unknown, no matter how many bags your knitter has, another bag is always a good present. You can get just about any bag you think your knitter might like, except remember two things.  First, no velcro on the bag. Velcro is, along with moths and carpet beetles, a natural enemy of knitting. The presence of Velcro automatically makes something not a great knitting bag. Second, zippers aren’t so awesome either, depending on where they are in the bag.  A lot of zippers on the inside or near the top of the bag is just going to snag yarn in the pulls and teeth, and force your knitter to use language  unbecoming an artisan of their ilk. Last, it should stay open, and stay upright. If you’d like to get them a knitting specific bag? Start here. Tom Bihn had a whole line of knitter-friendly bags, from wee pouches to larger ones that are fabulous. (I have several swifts, and love them.) This Knit and let Knit tote is big this year, I see it everywhere, and this one is cute too.  Namaste bags are to die for, Della Q makes several nice ones, Offhand Designs makes ones that could go with any outfit (if your knitter wears outfits, instead of just clothes) and Green Mountain Knitting bags? Well. just look.  The Nantucket Bagg is super cool (and masculine, if your knitter rolls that way.) Jordana Paige has some good ones – and while you’re there, check out the tool butler. (Your knitter would dig that. They would put it in their bag.) Good hunting.

58 thoughts on “Another Freakin’ Column

  1. endorsement: every time I got to a Big Knitting Event, I say “but I have enough bags”. And come back with a couple more. Which means yes, they’d be a total hit if my family noticed. Good luck, but you already have it, with so much family there.

  2. So here’s what I think: sometimes when we start believing that we have power over the universe and it’s energy, we gently receive a gut check. That’s what happened to you today Miss Steph! The spread sheet, while fabulous, is merely your mind playing tricks on you. Letting you think you’re in control. But we all know we’re not. It is fun to think that way for awhile! 🙂 So, go bake cookies and be glad that we don’t have to rule the universe but humbly roll along with it. Have fun.

  3. Pingback: Another Freakin’ Column | Yarn Buyer

  4. “I suddenly regret the bath I took yesterday.” That’s when you know that you have serously miscalculated! Enjoy having the ladies at home!

  5. I counted the stitches in the sweater I was knitting and came up about 25 short. I don’t know we’re they went. I told my youngest son I had to pull his sweater back to the ribbing and he wasn’t getting a sweater for Christmas – it was going to be late and I cast on a slipper sock for my niece. My kids know if they ask for aran sweaters chances are good they’re going to be late as I can knit fair Isle in my sleep but cables take me forever. I’m not stressing. I’m just giving up.

  6. Aggggh. I’m right there with you, my dear!

    I have never hated a project before (gotten bored one them, sure! But never hated.), but the project I’m working on – the last Christmas gift is on big honkin’ needles that make my hands hurt after half an hour.

    So, I’ve procrastinated, and this needs to be done on the 22nd so that it can have it’s bath and be wrapped…And I don’t know if it’s going to happen.

    I still have a baby cardigan to soak and block for this weekend!!

    Good luck…I’m sure everything will work out. *hugs*!

    Katie =^..^=

  7. Hm. I recently read through your archives, because I do things like read years and years of blogs for pleasure, and I did notice that your Christmases do progress over the past several years. I did wonder, though, if this year’s lofty goal wasn’t a little too lofty.

    For organizing, I love spreadsheets, but when it comes to time, I like calendars. When I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I used Word calendars and typed into them in tiny, color-coded font every single assignment’s due date, various holidays and events, and so on. It really helped me to have it visually laid out like that.

  8. The word for sock varies by country/region. My daughter was getting help on her Spanish language schoolwork from her Peruvian uncle and he didn’t recall the word “calcetin.” After we figured it out by consulting a dictionary, he said he thought it was a Mexican word.

  9. I’m so admiring your meringues, which I can see are a) a perfect colour, and b) have clearly come out of a piping bag, or ziplock with a corner snipped off. Meringue at my house gets blobbed onto the cookie sheet via two spoons, and it always turns brown. Yours are beautiful. Hubby and I just returned from the grocery store, which is not quite as bad as going to the mall, but I definitely don’t recommend it as a fun pre-Christmas activity. The store was full of people with carts moving really, really slowly. At least no one was being rude. BTW, the little sock is just scrumptious.

  10. I like to get my bags from: She makes really great cloth bags that pull shut(with a lock for the drawstring). On the inside, there are pockets for tools and phone, etc. There are yarn guides you can use, but they are snaps – no Velcro or zippers to be found. They come in all sizes from ones that hold a single cake of sock yarn to a big tote that I just finished filling with all of the yarn needed for the Kaffee Fasset blanket from the Rowan website – and the top still pulled closed. I have a cat and two dogs the like to check out my unattended knitting bag – these keep them from playing with my yarn and project!

  11. Ok. If Santa isn’t catering at your house, can I book him do you think?
    Because I have so much left I want to do, and it’s all just not happening.

    The knitting part is done here. But all that means is I have no excuse to sit down for a minute.

  12. So I looked up calcetín in an online dictionary, and it gave the definition (sock) and an idiom. “Darle la vuelta al calcetín” which means to turn things upside-down. As near as I can tell from my rusty high school Spanish memory, the literal translation is “to give a turn of the sock” – which sounds very knitterly (and fittingly describes your current schedule debacle). It does nothing to ease your situation, but I found it interesting, and had to share.

  13. I’ve had to go to the grocery store 5 days in a row – my family can’t get their acts together – if I have to go to Wegmans tomorrow it will be a double hat trick!

  14. I thought I had enough bags until I saw this post.
    Seriously, I get dizzy when I think of all you have managed to do in the past 18 days. Take a deep breath, what needs to be done will be done.

  15. I know the daily blog writing and shopping ideas are only adding to your already overloaded schedule but selfishly I love having the chance to read something from you every day! I’m at the Denver airport, enroute to Winnipeg for some holiday time with the family and am knitting furiously– never been so excited to have flight delays!

  16. We have a good sized family, and as the oldest of the cousins (with a house that can handle a crowd), we host at least half of the gatherings each year. At this point, this means two to five parties of 20-50 people every year. We used to do all the cooking, and then we used caterers when we got above 20 guests, but for the past five years or so we have settled on potluck style meals. We provide the main dish and drinks, almost everyone brings something (sides, appetizers, desserts), and we fill in the gaps. The eldest (over 70) and youngest ( under 30) are not expected to contribute food unless they really want to. It is something you might want to consider.

    Our family loves this, by the way. Those who can’t host a big party (maybe their apartment is too small) in the rotation get to contribute and everyone gets to show off their latest culinary project. It is a great way to build that family bond between the generations.

    It is also a great way to take pressure off the hosts. Now you can focus on making sure the bathrooms are clean and stocked with toilet paper.

  17. I’m so far behind this year that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The 45 minutes or so spent today having to break into my own (locked) car with a coat hanger (and an audience of well-meaning strangers) to retrieve the keys that were prominently on display right there on the driver’s seat did nothing to get me closer to my holiday goals. Well, except that my immediate goal became to get home from the grocery store, so I’m claiming a win.

  18. Haha! Got a kick out of your gift for knitters. It was nice to point out to my partner that I didn’t just invent my obsession with bags, it comes along with my being a knitter! I have never met a bag I didn’t like (although you are right and I am not drawn to ones with “sticky” closure!

  19. Presbytera, I’ve got the beer for those who don’t like wine — but enjoy the Harlot’s whines!

    Harlot, have you considered having one or more of the family gatherings catered? Maybe call for pizza or another favorite “delivered dining”? Yes, carry-out, takeaway, or whatever you want to call it can be a major work-saver. Another would be to let your supermarket or neighborhood bakery handle the desserts.

    P.S.: Just in case, does Joe have all the necessary permits and licenses to shoot you with a tranquilizer dart as on all those nature shows?

  20. Ovens – I remember a story told by one of my sisters-in-law. This was a long time ago – she had one of those huge, pale green, Tupperware bowls, and had put it in the oven with some herb in it, to let it just kind of dessicate with the oven light on. And later turned off the oven light and forgot about it. A day or so later, she turned the oven on to preheat. When the smell alerted her, she found the entire bowl to now be about 3/4″ tall, with the ribs of the oven rack making a wavy bottom surface.

    Lesson learned – NEVER turn the oven on without looking inside first.

    And yeah, I’ve got the knitters obsession with bags. Unfortunately, it also spills over into the area of more normal handbags as well.

  21. This is perfect: “force your knitter to use language unbecoming an artisan of their ilk” !! Ithink there might be room in the world for a language guide for knitters. Including those mumbly little swears we all utter when the yarn goes wrong.
    Thanks for making me smile in the dark of winter!

  22. I am loving your countdown to Christmas … and I’m sure that if all the knitters in the world harnessed their great mental powers, we could will a whole other week in before Christmas starts … because I haven’t even started making yet …

  23. You mentioned cleaning. Have you thought of just dimming the lights and using candles or hurricane lamps in strategic places? Besides, it’s festive.

  24. Your meringues look fab. I always cheat and do Nighty Nite cookies (usually use walnuts instead of pecans though).

    Easy to make at night and no worries about the oven temp since one preheats the oven and then turns it off. No peeking though! You must leave the cookies in the oven overnight.

    For holidays I’ve seen people use glace cherries for colour.


  25. This is my busiest time of year. I work in the lobster industry in Nova Scotia and along with Christmas, tis the season for lobsters. I must admit that I am far behind in my Christmas planning and execution, however, I am oddly calm. It could be the terrible cold I am fighting and the temperature I have been carrying for the last week, it could be the lack of time at home to do anything constructive other than take Advil and try to do some laundry or it could be that I do have the tree decorated and while sitting in the dark with just the glow of the tree lights everything seems to be OK. I can’t see that the house isn’t cleaned, baked goods aren’t baked, presents aren’t wrapped (some aren’t even bought). I am still very calm. It could be the Christmas tree, sitting with the person I love most in the world near me or it could just be the Advil. Merry Christmas to all!

    • Thanks for helping bring “Sandy Claws” to brighten up our Christmas festivities with a seasonally-hued carapace or two. We raise our glasses to you and all hardy lobster-folk.

  26. Your blog posts this season have single-handedly saved my sanity. For some reason my Christmas anxiety levels about shopping/cooking/crafting/knitting have hit an all time high this year…reading your posts just makes me feel so much better and not alone in my Christmas craziness. Your list about the mall (or the maul as some of your readers call it – brilliant) is one I’m going to repeat to myself no less than 100 times tomorrow (yes…tomorrow…the busiest shopping day of the year) when I brave the mall for the last few things on my list. And here I sit at work, reviewing files and knitting the last of my knitted gifts that I plan to give on the 21st. Merry Christmas, to you and yours, and thank you for this wonderful site.
    Kathleen in snowy Edmonton

  27. I was just given a great bag “Keep Calm and Carry Yarn”, how else do you keep calm while out and about at this time of year? We did our one and only mall trip as a family event 3 people in split up and hit 7 stores and out in just under an hour—I think it took longer to find a parking space. Just yesterday I remembered a knitting project I wanted to make for this year and then couldn’t find one of the balls of yarn I needed for it. I think I’m losing my mind I know I made a hat with this yarn that turned out too big so I ripped it out but I don’t remember making anything else with this yarn but I can’t find it anywhere in my house. Luckily it was an accent color and I was able to come up with a work around. Now all I have to do is finish a scarf and knit a hat without my husband noticing. I may just be able to pull it off since both are green so he may never notice which one I’m working on.

  28. It’s always the thing that didn’t make it onto the list…or spreadsheet…that bites you. So, is one of these family gatherings going to decorate the cookies? I just adore your artistic and creative family’s decorated cookies every year- and your gorgeous pictures of them. (Mine get blobbed with frosting and occasionally sprinkles if I’m feeling fancy.)

  29. I’m knitting an aran for my daughter and it’s going right down to the wire. On Christmas morning I plan to throw a bucket of water at her while she’s trying it on and call that blocking.

  30. Sweetie, here’s my suggestion. Work on the parties/dinners. Take a nice holiday card and draw a little picture of what you will knit the person. Deliver said knitting the week after Christmas. Don’t fret…my plan will work. Your family won’t care. xxoo

  31. Wow, Offhand Designs, thank you for the discount. I love your bags. I am also a big fan of 3 bags full mentioned in an earlier comment. Happy Holidays everyone!

  32. On the subject of bags… I buy insulated lunch bags to carry my knitting around in. They are nice and thick, so the needles don’t poke through, and I get the ones that have neither velcro or zippers. Some have a small snap fastening, some have a fabric extension that fastens with a drawstring – those are particularly good if your project is bigger, or you need to stop the yarn popping out of the bag and rolling around. Purpose-made knitters’ bags are wonderful, I agree, but they tend to be very expensive, and these lunch bags cost around $10 – $15. That leaves more money for yarn 🙂

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