December 14, 2011
I'm finding it super tricky to blog about my knitting right now, since most of it is super-sneaky stealth knitting for people who peruse the blog. I've asked some of the recipients not to look, and they said they wouldn't, but they're lying, so pardon me while we go a little light on the pictures for a bit. I missed blogging yesterday because I forgot who I was for a minute, and went to the mall thinking that I could wrap up the rest of the Christmas shopping. I was there for two hours and bought only seven pairs of underpants and a bar of soap, and would have left sooner except that I couldn't find the door that I came in so I could go back out. The mall always does it to me. There's so much choice that after 15 minutes of exposure I can't think of anything I want, suffer some sort of breakdown, enter a vague fugue state where I can't think of anything in the world I need, eat something strange and leave. It was catastrophic, and just left me sitting in the parking lot when it was all over clutching the bag of panties and wanting those hours of my life back. I'm recovering today. The only saving grace is that Joe has the fortitude for mall shopping, but not panty buying - so at least I nailed that part of our daughters stockings, and can turn the rest over to someone with the strength for it. I have no idea how people stand it. I'm going back to the things I can manage today.
Posted by Stephanie at December 14, 2011 3:40 PM
Gifts for Knitters: Day 13
Yesterday's gift for knitters is a scale. I know, my gentle non-knitters, that you're wondering what use a knitter has for a scale, but let me tell you - they're fabulous. Beyond the obvious (being able to accurately divide a ball of yarn in half for a pair of socks) they're also fabulous for estimating how many metres of yarn is left in a ball (if the skein was 100g and 210 metres, and now you have 50g, you have 105 metres left) you can also use it to weigh something you've made and see if you have enough yarn to make a second one. (This can bring a someone who has a second sleeve to knit and isn't sure if he's going to make it a great deal of personal peace.) Just about any scale can work, but it should be small enough to store decently, measure in both grams and ounces, and be able to weigh very small amounts accurately. The ones they sell in corner stores for purveyors of illicit substances work very well for knitter purposes - and can be snagged at the last minute if you're desperate. I had a little one like this but now I've got one a bit bigger, and I use it pretty constantly.
Gifts For Knitters: Day 14
How about knitter related Christmas ornaments? There's some great ones here from Kyle Designs, but this glass sheep would do fine, and I've seen some amazing ones in the local knit shops. If however, you're a kid, or you know a kid who loves a knitter, you can make some pretty cool stuff without too much trouble. Craftster has instructions here, and when Megan was little, she made me some wonderful ornaments by just balling up a little bit of yarn, sticking round toothpicks through them to be the needles, and gluing beads onto the ends of the toothpicks. They were charming, and I loved that she made them for me. (If there's a grownup willing to source a few ingredients, these pom-pom sheep would be perfect too.) If you think your knitter is the right type, there's also a bunch of ornament kits that you could buy for them. Knit Purl has cute tiny mitten kits, Mary Maxim has Angels, Blackberry Ridge does hats and mitts, and Noble Knits does a beaded ball. If you knit yourself, then 55 Christmas Balls to Knit looks fun, and a whole lot more festive than the mall. Just saying.
I'm with you on malls. One of the reasons we moved to Kingston was that I can do all my shopping on foot. We're a 10-minute walk from Indigo, Staples, the Gap, Shoppers, RBC, great local boutiques and restaurants, and a movie theatre. Oh, and a bunch of bakeries plus a shop that sells both WINE and WOOL. What more could any Xmas shopper want?
PS: the scale is also useful in the ordinary kitchen sense. I too have the Starfrit.
Steph, i've had that exact mall experience way too many times. Thankfully here in Fairbanks we don't really have malls. but we have great wool shops! and one right next to a nice coffee shop so you can sit for a spell after splurging next door and enjoy your new finds and a good cup of coffee or what have you.....
I have learned to always look back at my car as I walk away from it in large parking lots. I have lost it several times. Another trick is to always park outside of the same department store. Good luck. Merry Xmas!
You're going to get so much interesting traffic for "bag of panties" searches now. I suppose you already knew that :)
I'll chime in on the 'avoid the Malls' theme. I actually avoid them all year-round, hating, as I do, shopping of any kind.....
Yarn scales: man, they're the GREATEST!!!!
Oh, I do hate malls, too! And I hate shopping in general. Yesterday I bit the bullet and did some clothes shopping (not at a mall) for some of our 8 (yes, that's eight) grandchildren. I could not WAIT to get out of the store. There was a snafu when I tried to pay, having unwittingly picked up a lone pair of pants, separated from a set. I was not allowed to just buy the pants and get out of there. Sob. I had to leave them there and go back today to find pants for the top I'd already bought. And there are still three grands to go! Arrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!! — Love the children. Hate the shopping.
I live pretty close to one of North America's largest malls. People laugh at me in disbelief when I describe the panic I feel at the very thought of going there. And the parking lot. . . designed by drug-crazed hamsters, I'm quite sure.
Last year, a Christmas ornament of a teeny basket full of teeny balls of yarn, with two screws for knitting needles, appeared in my cubicle. I checked with all of my coworkers to whom I had ever spoken about my knitting, and they all said it wasn't them, but it was so cute! So I have this precious, clearly handmade ornament hanging from my cork board, as proof that the Knitting Fairy must really exist.
I don't enter malls after December 1st, except to see the decorations. I try and do all sorts of christmas shopping all year... well starting in July or August. Everyone gets pyjamas and books, why should I have to buy them in December anyhow? Also...I'm 30 and it still brings my parents to tears when I make them decorations. The tree is a little overloaded these days, mind you.
I don't go to the mall. Ever. I used to go to the mall bookstore because it was the only bookstore within a 30 minute drive, but since it closed I haven't set foot in a mall. I can't think of anything the mall has that can't be bought elsewhere with less hassle and tribulation. Heck, I don't even drive past the mall at this time of year. I drive miles out of the way just to avoid the craziness.
I've also seen an excellent use of fun fur/novelty yarn. Buy some clear ball ornaments that you can remove the tops from, open them up, and fill them with several feet of sparkly, furry stash yarn that your great-aunt bought you. You can customize them with other things -- beads, confetti, etc. -- or leave them well enough alone.
A thousand curses upon you for pointing out that book. I did not know I needed knitted Christmas balls until just now, but I will surely die without all of them.
I cannot believe that you have found time to add present ideas every day during the crazy Christmas knitting season!
Went to Yonge and Bloor today and got my daughter some socks (how exciting) my son some pjs (what else does a teenage boy need?) and for myself I got a DVD of the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice. Came home, put the kettle on, and *relaxed.*
I'm not sure if I'm just weird or if it's just that I grew up going to malls, but even though I'm not a "shopper" personality I've never had any trouble with malls beyond my feet getting tired. I live very close to the Mall of America and go there regularly with no issues.
Thanks for the reminder about a scale! I had one but the batteries died and I can't seem to find new ones of the right type. I never was terribly fond of it anyway so I think I'll ask my husband to get me a new one!
I got my scale at the Salvation Army store, and I LOVE it!
Went to the Mall yesterday and even with all the glitz and sales only bought some real bayberry candles for New Years Day. I hate the place. On Friday I'm going to the LYS, a used books stores, a museum store, Half-Price Books and a local coffee/pastry shop. I'm looking forward to it.
I live in a small town. Our 'mall' consists of JC Penney's, 2 antique stores, a sporting goods store and a craft consignment store (plus about 20 empty store fronts).
Mostly, if we can't get it from Walmart or Shopko, we drive 100 miles to a different small town or we order on the internet or we make it.
Love your description of your holiday shopping experience. It rings so true....I thought that it would improve as I got older, and wasn't so rushed off my feet, but it just keeps getting worse. I now firmly believe that they pump something into the air of malls that silently sucks the very life out of us. It can take more than one day to recover from whatever it is they use.....yarn fumes are an excellent antidote!
Shopping for non knitters
I just snagged some 50% off Swiss Army pocket pen knife multitool thingies with USB drives at the mall for my nephews. Turns out my Dad actually loved the one I got him a while back and lost it recently.
Three down.... then I went to the bead store across the street to recover. They had some great buttons and I hope Santa will bring me some buttons and beads for lace projects.
I completely understand about the mall. I had to go on Sunday of this past week to both holiday shop and to drop off my poor laptop for repair.
Unfortunately they repaired my computer too fast and it looks like I will have to go to the mall again before the holiday season is over!
I have come to agree with you about malls. And also about 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. I saw it at Sock Summit, and had to have it. I am deep into the Julekuler now and loving it.
I can't holiday shop at the mall by myself, I need someone to keep me on track or I'll end up in my car 3 hours later with no gifts purchased! Is there some kind of force field there that turns some people's brains to mush?
I have the exact same problem at shopping malls!
And there are actually people who go to malls for fun! People who are not teenagers looking for other teenagers.
I worked with a woman who took her husband and her three small sons with her to malls on Sunday for the fun of it.
Deranged - that's the only explanation.
OMG. That happens to me at the mall too! I wonder if there is a name for it? Poor thing. I find a glass of wine is a good antidote.
Almost forgot! May we see pictures of the Sneaky Christmas Knits post-12/25? I always love pix of your knitting.
Oh, the Christmas Mall Fugue State. Horrible stuff! I got about 100 yards (I typed yarns first. I wish there'd been 100 yarns where I was lol) from the mall today and that was enough for me. I made my mom Christmas decorations this year. Three little knitted snowmen, complete with hats and scarves, are waiting to be delivered this weekend.
My son made me a pom-pom alpaca our first Christmas at the farm. Thanks for reminding me :)
I haven't been to a mall in ages, but I really do not like crushes. As in packed in people.
I had an awww cute! moment when I saw the handmade ornaments. Reminded me of gifts from my sons when they were little. I'd like to make the wreath.
LeeValley has a little inexpensive food (&yarn!) scale. http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=67996&cat=2,40733,40734
You have come up with excellent ideas Stephanie, Thanks.
Mall Fugue State is a close relative of Mall Induced High Blood Pressure - and that one can be fatal. A few years ago I made the decision to make all the clothes my children and I wear and while I claim a lot of high minded and environment reasons for it, the plain truth is that I am largely motivated by Mall Fear. I'd rather grapple with the frustrations of sewing any day over the glare of the flourescent lights and tinny music. Very occassionally I buy things and gratefully accept hand me downs for my kids but I just realised that my life is too short to ever have to visit a shopping centre (the aussie term for a mall) again. I'm even considering sewing underwear.
The only time I ever go to the mall is at Christmas time, to look for the traditional owl calendar for hubby. And this year, I lucked out and found one at the bookstore, so I didn't have to have the mall experience. Hurray!
I love my scale - for all the reasons you listed. Mine is from U.S.Balance, their TT1000 model. After I'd had it awhile, it just quit working. It was past its warranty, so I emailed the company asking for suggestions. They replaced it, with no receipt, no warranty card, no questions. I was thrilled with such wonderful service!
I, too, hate shopping and am NOT a fan of the mall. But, dear knitters, please spare a thought for those people who earn their keep at the mall and get the *full experience* every single day of their working lives!
Power of the internet to raise money for DWB:
I hate malls too and I'm pretty sure the ones here in New Zealand are smaller than yours. Luckily although the local shopping centre calls itself a mall it's lying and is normally pretty ok to go to, except for next week when it'll turn into some sort of zebra stampede and I will have to go in there on Thursday for the meat shopping; ick!
I have a scale from an, ahem, illicit substance store, and one of the best things is I can take it back and get it re-calibrated whenever! My fiance was the one who picked it up for me, and apparently the store clerk was... skeptical about its intended use. :) What, those scales are only ever used for yarn, are they not? And they're accurate to within a 1/10 of a gram! What is there for a knitter not to love?
I am with you on the malls, during the rest of the year I only venture into them on a Monday and Tuesday, being quieter days, and I think 'deranged' is the correct term for anyone who goes there for 'fun'. My teenagers know I am weird.
One of my funnier moments was when the 'illicit substances' sideline of scales that measure small amounts was suggested at Knit Rangers to me. Oh how I laughed - I think this staid 53 yo doesn't really come across many 'illicit substances' nowadays.
The '55 Christmas Balls to Knit' by Arne and Carlos is a scream. I would like to look at that, perhaps next Christmas. Thank you.
And now your daughters are probably horrified that you mentioned their 'stocking stuffers' on the blog.
The only way to survive the mall is to use a list and stick to it!
Scanning the comments I didn't see anything about illicit scales.
I have one (friend wanted his little brother to stop dealing pot). And when he heard I wanted a scale to weigh yarn of all things he was overjoyed that I could use it for good and not evil.
It looks like a CD case, I changed the cover so it has Classic Queen instead of a half naked girl. And it weighs amounts more accurately than ravelry can take, and can handle 500g, which is way more than can fit on it. You open it up, ans presto chango you have a cute little scale.
I bet any store with a name like "Twenty Past Four" will sell one.
Molly : )
I virtuously knit hats for a family of five on the in-laws side. Who just announced, No wool please.
Wait, I want to tell them: you want me to get malled out there?
Oh honey, you can buy panties over the internet. Nice normal ones, not scandalous stripper things. Check Amazon or the store you hate-but-think-you-have-to-go-to at the mall. It'll probably be cheaper too, even with shipping.
Around here (San Francisco, CA), the only way to get your hands on a digital scale is to wander in and out of the various dubious stores lining Haight St. I have yet to work up the gumption, because I am CERTAIN that dreadlocked fellow is NOT going to be convinced of my innocently wooly intentions.
I used to have to take my boys with me when I shopped at malls in Missisauga or Toronto. They always knew where the car was. And that one mall that's a figure 8? They were good about gently reminding me that I'd done that loop twice already. :) For regular shopping at local malls, I agree with the poster above. Park the car in the same area every single time. Then, at least, you're in the ballpark finding it. One last thing that helps is to remember which car you arrived in! Been there done that.....
As an added bonus, the scale would make baking much, much more accurate and leave behind a cleaner kitchen (since you just shake in the right amount of each ingredient and tare out in between)! It's a really easy and essential tool if you're baking gluten-free in particular.
Mall! Breakdown! Fugue State!
KathyB: seek out the nearest high end kitchen store. Lots of recipes from Europe are done by weight, whereas in Canada and the U.S. we work by volume.
Speaking for myself, I HAVE to add Franklin Habit's current-year ornament to my collection or suffer the mental consequences of having a broken set. ;) Also -- it helps a lot that they are always super-cute and ultra-knittyish.
I feel the same way about the mall. I was there Monday, with a short specific list. By the time I got to the right end of the mall, I was overwhelmed and left without buying anything.
I get overwhelmed EVERY time I enter the mall. It's too much stimulation at once and I always end up walking back in the same direction from whence I came making it even more confusing. Forget about trying to find the car after all that!
The Starfrit kitchen scale is thin, sleek and very accurate. And can be purchased at Canadian Tire, which at a bit of a distance from shopping malls -- at least in Ottawa it is!
The Kyle Design knitter frog flask and the pill box would both be useful in a knitting crisis. Did you realize that at the bottom of the page, just above a quote by EZ is a quote from you?
Oh mercy! There are little splatters of red wine on my computer screen! I spit a bit when I snickered at the image of your Joe buying panties at a mall. :D
Hey, Stephanie! Thanks you so much! The glass sheep put me over the moon with happiness. And the pom-pom sheep? Adorable!
My tips for surviving the mall at the holidays:
Avoid them. But if you have to go...
NEVER EVER go on a friday, saturday or sunday and NEVER in the afternoon or evening, basically anytime afterschool.
Stick to weekdays and preferably right when they open, then you aren't fighting crowds.
Know exactly what stores you're going to.
Avoid the foodcourt like the PLAGUE.
Leave yourself with lots of time, because the mall is a huge time suck!
I can't do the mall either. I stopped in to find something for my 13 year old twins and about hyperventilated after 30 minutes. Thankfully my guy is great, he found the gift, steered me out, and bought me a coffee afterwards (at a shop outside the mall).
Love your Gift Giving guides! :)
Oh my gosh, you make me laugh! Stressful job, stressful life, and then I read your blog and crack up so much I almost had beer come out my nostrils. Thanks for keeping it real :)
Wow. Underwear in the stockings. You guys don't mess around up north! :)
Won't be making the 55 Balls this year but I did buy the book in November and I get so happy just looking at it, just the cover makes me smile.
I, too, hate the mall. This is why there is the innernets. Amazon.com is the greatest invention. Well, after yarn, and hot running water, and electricity and such. But THEN! Amazon.com. To be able to point, click, and have items dropped off at my front door nourishes my inner hermit something fierce! The only place I like to shop at is my LYS (well, any LYS) and the library. And I don't think the library counts as shopping, but you go, browse, take things off a shelf, and then take them to a counter for checkout. It's kind of like shopping.
Anyway. It's the kind of shopping I like.
At least you escaped the mall with Christmas panties. (which sounds faintly dirty but I mean it in the most enthusiastic pure way possible...)
I can't handle too much choice, either. For Christmas shopping, I challenge myself to get everything for everybody in one store (say, a bookstore that also sells games and knickknacks). It makes it fun.
Exactly why I can't go to the West Edmonton Mall. There's a wonderful singer from Saskatchewan, Little Miss Higgens - you MUST hear her hilarious song, "Bargain Shop Panties."
Oh Stephanie, you have given me the best laugh. I haven't even started the christmas shopping yet. Lets hope I get inspired when I enter the glass sliding doors of the shopping centre although truth be known I'll have an experience similar to yours.
Happy Silly Season!
Craftshops and bookstores are the only shops I really like and once in a while a delicatessen foodshop, hate even grocerieshopping, what fun is there in buying sugar and rice? The 55 balls book is great, must say they look cispier in wool then in cotton, there is even a ballpattern without any picture you can copy and design yourself or save the small crossstitchpatterns of craftmagazines to knit for next year. A knitted ball, with a safetypin through the topstitches together with a long thread for pulling tight afterwards, filled with wool or fiberfill AND some papermoney, do not forget a note with the advise to look inside the ball, might be a great way to give someone the choice of present without making it seem to be too much of a bother to go shopping or them, after all, you knit the ornament, which took time and consideration (maybe there are some patterns on free pattern sites. Scales are marvelous for knitters, I agree. Diet kitchen scales weigh very accurately. Did you mention crochethooks as knittersgifts? They are very usefull for fixing all kinds of small failures in knitting or finishing of a seam with just an inch of thread left, just do the last bindoff stitch and hook the thread into the seam (or very small hooks for beadknitting).
I think you forgot to recommend the knitting themed drinking flask (or pill box) available from Kyle Designs. Wouldn't that be handy?!
Hmmmm, it's not just malls. I get lost in anything big--giant bookstores, giant fabric stores, even though those are places I like. My mind goes blank, as you said. I guess that's why I stay in a small place. Even Home Depot is overwhelming.
I am quite relieved to see that I have so much company in the hating to shop club/I want those hours back club.
We call it "Shopper Syndrome" at our house. I am fairly confident that the mall is one of the inner rings of hell.
"after 15 minutes of exposure I can't think of anything I want, suffer some sort of breakdown, enter a vague fugue state where I can't think of anything in the world I need, eat something strange and leave. "
So what happened to the soap?
I just finished 6 of those 55 balls to give a step-daughter, and they are really cute. I learned, after the 1st one, not to get so up tight about the carries. Hello, Jody, no one is going to see the inside!? They look better on the outside that way, and the curve of the ball didn't show color behind. I think I am going to try them in miniature next year--sock yarn and size 1 needles. But too late this year! I still have to get to the mall, and unfortunately, it has to be Saturday. I am just going to fortify myself with coffee and go...
There's just something about malls that makes it seem as if I'm in the matrix. I avoid them at all costs. Thanks so much for all the helpful tips!
I find that I tend to go to the same stores at the mall, often entering from the outside. Occasionally I'll stroll the interior, but when it is crowded, I'm totally put off.
Stephanie, I think you'd like another great blogger's description of her hatred of malls. She was lucky enough to have a helper along, but her description of what would have happened otherwise is a lot like yours!
Wow. You and I are like two peas in a pod when it comes to mall shopping. I've actually had to wonder if maybe I'm a wee bit autistic it overwhelms me so much. Luckily I have a Newfie husband as well that can stomach it. Thank God for Newfies.
I simply cannot take the mall anymore. It does absolutely nothing to put me in the Christmas spirit. I do the vast majority of my Christmas shopping online. There is pretty much nothing you can't find and it's delivered right to your door - what could be better than that?
Yes! Mall Fugue! I have to go in with a specific list for a specific store, buy it, and GET OUT. Totally not a shopper. Except for yarn stores and sheep & wool festivals.
What is it about panties in the stocking? My mom still does this, and I'm 34!
Is this a Christmas tradition that I'm not familiar with? Should I be continuing it with my children? Is it acceptable to buy boys undies too? So many questions.
Steph, did you see the Amazon prices on used copies of that book? Hilarious.
All big stores give me claustrophobia, even (and I know this will sound blasphemous) Webbs. I walk around, see things I'd like, keep looking and then can never find them again. I usually leave with a few books, because I KNOW where the books are! AThank goodness for the local yarn shops where I can actually breathe!
...eat something strange and leave... you totally crack me up! Malls were my favorite place as a teenager, but now, I avoid them at all costs!
My husband bought a postal scale a few years back when he was selling things on e-Bay and I have found it to be the handiest thing for figuring out if I am halfway through a ball 100 gram of sock yarn. It is amazing however, that even though it will tell me I'm 56 grams into the ball on my first sock, I'll refuse to believe that I don't have enough for the second sock. Knitted stuff just has to weight more than yarn, right?
Ain't denial wonderful?
I find malls overwhelming places that remind me of all that I don't have. They remind me how poor I really am in the world. Malls and WalMart suck out your soul, rub it on dirty money, and then put it back in you wrong. When we drive by them my anxiety raises and I can't look. My dream is to move out of the city to a small town without malls and without places that emphasize that happiness is "more". I'm happy with what I have. Thanks for making me feel not alone.
I'm with Lindy. The entire consumer culture, of which Malls are the heart and soul, is designed to make us feel bad if we don't have ---- (fill in the blank). This is why I AM moving to a small town where the biggest store is a craft gallery and it is also why I don't have television. TV ads are designed to brainwash us into thinking that things we want (which we wouldn't have wanted until TV said we did) are actually things we need. Ick. Get me out!
Ditto on the mall. I hate that overwhelmed feeling. Just being in a mall for 5 minutes ruins the rest of my day.
Hate, hate, hate malls. Too crowded, too hot or too cold, too much stuff! Give me a thrift store any day (except for buying underwear of course). My Christmas knitting is going sloooowly.
Great gift ideas!
Highly recommended: A&D HL-2000i 2000-gram scale. Accurate to the gram (or tenth of an ounce--push a button.) I gave one to my knitter a couple of years ago for yarn and fiber measurement; it does double duty daily in the kitchen. A well-built, no-problems gadget (trust me--I design electronics.) See frys.com. (Fry's is a California electronics hypermarket much beloved of geeks like me for its breadth of choice and reasonable prices. The scale is their number 4427896.) Oh, and I love her socks!!
i have one of those scales advertised for "elicit purposes" lol its fantastic just used it for socks the other day also amazing for cooking makes measuring cups obsolete! less dishes!
Malls make me feel exactly the same way. They suck the life out of you. Once, I was convinced I'd entered some sort of Twilight Zone and I would stuck forever in the mall at 2pm on a Sunday.
Yet another reason to make gifts, as if we needed one....
The scale suggestion is fabulous - I have to tell you that it was buying a scale for my mother that showed me that I've raised my children as a knitter's children. My mom (a non-knitter) wanted a kitchen scale for her birthday, so we went off to the kitchen store to buy one, and as I was paying, my younger daughter turned to me and asked, "But Mama, why does *Memere* want to weigh yarn?" For all the world as if the only thing one could possibly want to do with a scale is weigh fiber. I think I'm doing something right.
I swear to God the best thing about moving to Northern California has been the lack of malls near me. There's one vaguely mall-like thing but it's outdoors, small and doesn't cause me to twitch.
I haven't been to a mall or a WalMart since I moved here almost five years ago. I'm not even sure I could find one. My mother has no idea how I survive. I think it's fantastic.
I use my kitchen and tea scales all the time, both for the intended purposes and yarn.
My tiny scale is a tea scale, bought from a online tea merchant and in addition to regular measurements, also lets you measure your tea leaves in "standard" 6oz cups. I bought the additional calibration weight too.
So, if you're twitchy about buying a tiny scale because of illicit associations, get one of those.