My nephew Hank turns eight today, which I can scarcely believe. (Remember when he was four?) and I decided to knit him somthing. He's exactly what you would expect from an eight year old who carries McPhee genetics (meaning that he is fast, loud, difficult and opinionated and can talk his way out of anything with his superpower - large measures of charm) so I knew that there was a chance, or even a probability that he wouldn't like what I made him, no matter what I knit him. I don't invest much in knitting for children (except babies, who you can force to wear it) just for this reason, but I decided to take a shot and make him the Sock Monkey hat from Knitty.
It was a super quick knit (one evening - extra time allotted for getting the nostrils straight - which seemed to me to be critical to hat acceptance) and I took it along to my Mum's last week when we celebrated his day.
(I will not say that Hank is cute, because he would hate that, but he can't stop me from thinking it. )
He started unwrapping his presents, discarding underwear from my mum (which I can totally understand) and moving pretty quickly through the new pants and shirts and stuff (also, I can see how from an eight year old perspective, as much as he is loathe to be nude, this would garner less excitement.) then he opened a Pokemon Wii game (I have never played Wii, but I hear it is big) from Ian and the kid flipped out. Loved it. This shattered all my hopes that a hand knit Monkey hat could compete on any sort of a level, and I praised myself inwardly for not being too invested (which was sort of a lie, but I still think the pretence was valuable.) I held back our other present (another Wii game which the guy at the store told Joe was cool if you were eight) so that if he thought the hat was lame I would have a way to recover my cool factor in Hank's eyes, and I forked over the hat.
Dudes, not only did he like it, he wore it, and is seen here doing a monkey impression which, while it has certain rabbit influences, is still excellent for a child growing up in Downtown Toronto with very little actual monkey exposure. It's a little small, which is disappointing, but now that I know it's acceptable, I'll maybe knit him a bigger one. (After I knit another 12 or so, since ever person in the family wants one. Including my mother, which is sort of flipping me out. I feel a very odd Christmas coming on.) He got the other Wii game after (which did help with my image) and even with receiving TWO video games, Erin phoned me that night to tell me that Hank was wearing his hat while he played the games, and that he had said that it was his second favourite present. I couldn't be happier. What a heartening moment for a knitter. An eight year old ranked a hand knit hat ahead of a video game. The child shows great promise...maybe it's in his name.
Hank shares his birthday with my niece Kamilah (who would point out that technically, she had it first) and I'd offer to make her a hat, but she's a good enough knitter that she could make her own. Happy Birthday Kamilah! Happy Birthday Hank!
(Kamilah, you can have a hat if you want. All the cool kids are wearing them.)
Note: Sock monkey yarn is Patons Shetland Chunky, 75% acrylic, 25% wool, purchased at The Madrona Retreat from Linda's Knit 'n Stitch, where she had it conveniently kitted up (with the permission of the designer) for the impulse driven auntie with a hat fetish. Totally worth it, just to get a monkey impression.