Like she says

I have a young friend, she’s pretty little, and we have heart to heart conversations from time to time, and when things are extra meaningful to her, when she really wants you to understand that what’s she’s saying is important, or that you’ve come to the significant part, she’ll tell you and then tack on “IN REAL LIFE.”  I don’t know if it’s because kids today are so well acquainted with all the ways that something can be not real life, like TV or movies or games or cartoons or that maybe the world is getting strange enough that a little kid could be concerned that you thought that things weren’t really happening to her, but to her avatar, but her choice of words always makes me smile. “And then, Auntie Stephie, the big wave came, and it was so high, and it was coming nearer to me, and then it knocked me down.. IN REAL LIFE.”

I was going to come here and apologize for being gone so long, and explain that it was the holiday and then Joe and I went to Edmonton just before the New Year for his work and then we went skiing at Jasper and that whole time that I wasn’t at home the IP address I was at was blocked and the stupid helpdesk who could fix it had a 4 hour wait (because secretly, I think this was a worldwide plot) and I couldn’t connect to the blog from away, and then when we got back late on Thursday night I had a cold and… I thought about telling you all of that, but the truth is that I probably could have gotten here… except for the IP thing, but for one thing, and that was that things kept happening to me IN REAL LIFE.

I would be walking towards the computer, and something would happen. A person who was present would be in front of me, and they’d ask me to do something with them, or for them, and I’d glance over at my laptop, then at their face, and then I’d think “I’ll get to the blog later. They’ll understand.” and off I’d go. Over and over things like this:

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erinandicookies-2017-01-09 louknits-2017-01-06 kidsandlou-2017-01-06 newyears-2017-01-06  ice-lanterns-2017-01-09 familyselfie-2017-01-09 thewitches-2017-01-09 megandalexlou-2017-01-09

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It was all I could do to keep up. IN REAL LIFE. In any case, I’m back, and my cold’s a lot better and I think I’m mostly caught up on the madness and it’s been about 30 minutes since someone asked me to do something, and I have bags of knitting to show you, and I think I’m finally going to take down the tree before it’s nothing more than a stick with ornaments on it,  and can you tell me what happened to you this holiday, IN REAL LIFE?

See you tomorrow. I mean that.

Maybe he has no idea

Last night was perfect.  I try not to get to invested in counting on things being perfect, since so much of the universe remains out of my control and it turns out that matchlessly ironed napkins guarantees no happiness (although I admit, it feels like it should) but it all came together beautifully.

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The traditional Solstice peppermint bark was finished on time, and the candles were lit,

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and the soup steamed on the stove and the ice lanterns glowed outside, and it even snowed, in a perfect, dark, and quiet solstice way.  It was amazing, and the best part was that as I set the last of the lanterns on the edge of the porch, and surrendered my fate to the universe, gave up entirely on ever being finished anything on time..

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The post truck pulled up, and a very nice man handed me my yarn.

Now, it turns out that this may or may not be as good a thing as I had hoped.  I almost thought – as I looked at the calendar and looked at the pile of yarn, that it might have been better if it hadn’t come until after Christmas. I’d have had to go to the store and buy a few presents, but it would have been okay. I could have finished things after the holidays, and avoided the whole mad knitting dash, but the package arriving on the evening of the 21st? I held it in my hands, and I felt something, and it felt like hope. Could I? That’s what I was thinking.  Could I pull off a modified plan, now that it was here? I mean, there’s no way I can make all the things I thought were doable, but…. doesn’t it seem now like it’s worth a shot? I started knitting a little faster.

I finished the first little sweater that was on the needles, and wound the yarn for the second, and at some point I texted Joe a picture of the finished sweater, and he cheered and said it looked good, and I replied that the yarn had come, and that I could start the second one.  “You’re knitting another sweater before Christmas?” he wrote.

“And a cowl.” I replied.

“Honey, you might be screwed.” he typed.

We’ll see about that, I thought, but I just typed “Good night.”  Hold onto your needles knitters, let’s just see.

 

The Longest Night

I am, dear ones, still yarn-less. The package hasn’t arrived, and I keep thinking about throwing some sort of a fit about that, but I find myself unable to work up a good head of steam about it.  Maybe it’s that so much has gone right so far, or maybe it’s that I’ve spent part of the day texting with my sister. There is a perspective in being able to do that this year, the gifts I’ve yet to make don’t seem so important when I think about the gifts we’ve already been given. Erin is reasonable well, Megan is expecting a baby, my friends and family are safe and warm.  Today is one of my favourite days of the year, and I’ve spent most of it getting ready for our gathering tonight, when so many of my favourite women will arrive here, and I’ll light the candles, and the ice lanterns, and bring light to the darkest day of the year.  It’s 3:40 as I write this, and just becoming twilight – a short day indeed. Tomorrow there will be a fraction more light, as this hemisphere moves back towards long days… when the sun reaches far into the evening.

Our Lady Rams of the Comments made a gift of posting this poem one Solstice, and I’m reposting it again today, because it’s just the loveliest thing. Read it over, light a candle, bring your loved ones close, and hold fast against the longest night.  Peace out, knitters.

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

Susan Cooper

There’s always something

Friday morning there was still no yarn, and I snapped. Jen lives near a nice yarn shop (The Purple Purl, if you’re in the hood) and she needed to stop in there for some some emergency yarn, and I thought that if she was going anyway and the yarn wasn’t here anyway, and given that Jen was coming over here that evening to do gingerbread with her kids, that the smart thing to do was to have her trot a little replacement yarn over here. There was no way I was starting the knitting rumpus of a weekend I had planned with no yarn… and besides I figured that the best way to make the yarn arrive was to replace part of it. It stands to reason that some law of the universe would mean that the box of yarn and Jen would arrive at the same time.  I called over to the shop, made a few quick decisions, and got yarn for a hat, and yarn for a little sweater. That would hold me, I thought, and I kept prepping for the party. When Jen arrived, I looked past her for the mail truck, but it wasn’t there.

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Never mind, I thought to myself. I had enough yarn now to get me through until Tuesday, and surely the yarn would be here by then.

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I knit with the yarn I had, and worked on the other tasks that I had the stuff for – and by the time that Saturday night rolled around, and Joe got on a plane after his parents Christmas party, I was ready.  I spent Sunday in my pajamas, gloriously alone, and knitting. I worked on the hat and the sweater, and I only checked the porch for the yarn about 8746 times.

Monday I was back at work, and I knit a little when I thought I could get away with it, and I made a few other non-knitting presents (I know, who knew there was such a thing around here?) and I checked the porch 847365 times. Evey time I left the house for something, I was convinced the box would be here when I came back – and every time my hopes were dashed.  The yarn didn’t come.

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Today – well, today I went to the dentist, and I picked up a few odds and ends for a gathering this evening, and I looked at that little sweater, it’s almost done, and I know I’ll finish it tonight, and … there’s no yarn. (I just checked the porch again, in case the postie left it there and I didn’t hear him. It’s still not there.)

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So, here I sit. There’s still a snowflake’s chance in hell that it will turn up today, so I’m not going to panic just yet, but I think that if I wake up tomorrow morning without it, I’ll have no choice but to come briefly undone. It was such a good plan, and to have it thwarted by the mail service is driving me wild. I’ve never had a package take this long. (It will be two weeks as of tomorrow.)  I can feel in my bones that if I give up entirely and go to the yarn shop in the morning it will be sitting there smugly when I come back, frozen and not at all contrite, satisfied with the havoc it’s wreaked on my spreadsheet. (It has occurred to me that someone might have nicked it off the porch. You hear tell of stolen packages this time of year, people making off with boxes full of gifts. It’s never happened in my neighbourhood, but imagining the look on the felons face when they discover that their plunder is a box full of yarn does have a certain entertainment value.)

Gifts for Knitters, Days 16, 17 and 18.

May I suggest a shawl pin? This will only work if your knitter wears shawls. This can be tricky because there is a weird subset of knitters who knit lots of shawls, but don’t wear them. It is not enough to know your knitter has made some, you need to have seen them try to wrap one around themselves. If you have a pin may be good. These ones at JUL are gorgeous, and I’ve always loved the ones that Romi Hill makes.  They’re like gauges and other knitting stuff though, if you hunt around, you should be able to get one that reflects your knitters style. There’s fox ones, and owl ones, leaf ones, octopus ones, Outlander ones, and yes, Tall Allison. There’s a Tardis one too.

How about knit themed linens? Dancing Sheep has this  tea towel? Not that one? Maybe this one? Tilly Flop has a great one, and if you’re thinking bigger? I love this duvet cover, and I’m pretty wild about this one too.

Finally, how about a little love for your knitters hands? You could get them a manicure, or a hand massage, or at least a nice lotion or balm. Don’t just get anything though, the knitter specific ones are designed not to stick to the yarn, or stain it. There’s lots of different companies, like Happy Hands, and Tender Shepherd, Lo-lo Bars, and Everything Balm from Goodies Unlimited. (Actually, everybody needs that stuff.)

Four packages came

I’d put off writing, hoping that that this post would be a triumphant declaration of Canada’s Postal system, and in a way it is, because four (4) packages just arrived on the porch, and my heart leapt for a moment, only to realize that they all contain things that are not yarn. I actually don’t know what they contain, since they’re addressed to Joe.  I wondered if they were things that take us another step closer to finished, so I texted him with “Open or don’t” and he said “DON’T” so I can presume that they’re boxes he’ll check off on his spreadsheet, rather than things I’ll tick off on mine.   I’ve finished another thing or two today, a little sweater is done, and a hat to go with, and I’ve spent today doing all the things that I can do without the box of yarn.

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Gingerbread dough is mixed up and chilling – and decisions have been made about what this year’s “shapes” will be. (Pato voted for ducks, an unconventional but unsurprising choice, if you speak a little Spanish, and Sam requested stars and dinosaurs, snowflakes, a hedgehog or two, and sharks. I’m still trying to figure out the festive nature of sharks, but mine is not to question why. Mine is to bake the cookies and let the rest of it sweep on by me. ) I’ve started to cook for tomorrow night’s gathering, and to do the bit of cleaning and organizing left. (If you’re curious, that’s a black beak bean and espresso chili.)

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I’ve got a some wrapping to do this evening, but when that’s done… well, so am I, box of yarn and knitting, notwithstanding. (That’s a lie. I have a few other bits tomorrow, but the back of it is broken.) If there’s any time left to me this evening I’ll go deep (and I mean deep) into the stash and see if anything in there can be pressed into service. I suspect not, since I’m well acquainted with the contents thereof, and wouldn’t have ordered a thing unless I needed it, so unless Canada Post really comes through for me tomorrow, I suspect I’ll be making time to go to a yarn store and… you know what? I don’t want to think about it. It’s snowing pretty hard right now, and the only thing worse than heading downtown this close to Christmas is heading downtown this close to Christmas after a big snow is that you can’t ride your bike to make it all civilized, so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m going to pour myself a wee dram of whiskey, cross my fingers, and bake some cookies.  Gifts for Knitters?

Gifts for Knitters Day 14

The knitterly wallpaper was a hit yesterday, so today, let’s stick with the paper theme, and assume you have less space to devote to your knitter’s whims?  I love these cards from Tilly Flop, especially this one. (Seems appropriate.) Lots of pretty sheepy cards here at Worldknit, and if a card won’t do, maybe a notebook? Chickenboots has knitter themed tape (no, that’s not taking it too far) and I think these tags are sweet as pie.

Gifts for Knitters Day 15

Consider something to keep your knitters works of art looking beautiful. You might not know about “pills” but they’re a bane of your knitter’s existence, and away to remove them will always be good.  There’s the old school sweater stone (removes pills, but can leave behind bits of the “stone”. Still, I’ve used it and liked it.) There’s electric solutions – or there’s a nifty tool that I just love, the Gleener.  I can’t imagine a knitter not finding it useful – I use mine a lot, on handknits and storebought clothes alike.  Go forth and shop.

Save

Watching for the post

Friday. That’s the day we’re supposed to be ready (except for the knitting) and though I suppose progress is being made, I’m starting to feel the pressure of the little details. You know, small things like needing a huge number of cookies baked or a mammoth amount of groceries even though the car broke down, and things are getting tight.  I’ve responded to this in several inappropriate ways, like considering cocktails at three in the afternoon,  repeatedly looking over the spreadsheet while sighing deeply, or setting calendar alerts that remind me to worry about all of this in July of next year.

I think the strain is starting to interfere with clear thinking. This morning I consulted the spreadsheet, saw that today is the day I’m to start the ice lanterns for Solstice, and then spent 25 minutes hopelessly cleaning out the fridge freezer to make room for the molds, dejectedly realized it isn’t remotely possible unless I throw away all our food, declared defeat and reconciled myself to a holiday without lanterns, and then walked to the post office to mail a few last minute far-away things. I was stomping along, wishing I could feel my feet, shivering and wondering why I hadn’t worn my long underwear, when it occurred to me that Canada *IS* a freezer at present, and I returned home to fill the molds and set them outside. I’m pretty sure that the backyard is much colder than the freezer – and suddenly I find myself hoping it stays that way.

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Another pair of socks is done, perfectly matching and ideal for the recipient, who really likes things that way – and a little sweater is just a few rows away from finished, and that means I’ve spent the day watching for the post truck, and opening the front door and checking the porch to see if I missed it coming, despite my constant vigilance. It has not. The yarn I need for the next round is still out in the world somewhere, though I know it’s in the country – it can’t be long now, and I’m starting to get nervous. I can start more socks, but…. slippers, a cowl, and a sweater are on in the wind as I type this, and tomorrow I might snap and go to a yarn store to see if I can buy something to be a stopgap. I’ll bake some cookies, vacuum half a cat off of the carpet,  wrap a few things and see what happens next. I know patience is supposed to be a virtue, but the solid week of knitting is supposed to start on Saturday when Joe leaves town, and I’m starting to get sweaty. (Hold on. I’m just going to check the porch again…. Nope.)  Let’s do gifts for knitters. Maybe it will be here after that.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 11

There are not many generalizations that we can make about knitters, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: Knitters love bags.  Few and far between are the knitter’s who don’t have a bunch of them, and don’t want another. The odds are pretty good that a bag will be well received, especially if it’s knitter-specific. Tom Bihn’s Swift was designed by knitters, for knitters, and is tried and true. New to me, but admired by a quilter friend who spotted them in person, My Stow-n-tow look good, and are machine washable and have no zippers or velcro. (These are two of knitting’s natural enemies.) Della Q has quite a few to choose from, and I’ve been carrying a Lexi Barnes for (literally) years and years. If you’re thinking a little more upscale, I’m wild about these from Jul Designs, one that says Make, and the other (appropriately) Knit.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 12

You got a bag last year? That’s cool, you can still stay with that theme, because knitters like bags that go in bags. Project bags are fun, knitters need tons of them (they keep yarn from (theoriticaly) tangling with your knitter’s keys or headphones) and they’re super fun to shop for, because I promise, no matter what your knitter is into – there’s totally a project bag for them.  There’s fabulous box bags from Splityarn (I can’t get enough of them) I think Binkwaffle dumpling bags are sweet, wedge bags are nifty, Tom Bihn stuff sacks are classic (I like the ones with clear bottoms so I can see what’s in them) or, hunt up one that suits your knitter. Get one with yarn on it,  or cats, or dragons, or hedgehogs or (here it comes Tall Allison) get a Doctor Who themed one.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 13

I know there’s only a small chance this could work for your house and your knitter, but if it’s even remotely possible… you should buy knitting wallpaper.

(PS. the yarn still isn’t here.)

The only thing broken is my spirit

We’re home again, after travelling westward from Quebec in a snowstorm yesterday, and I think that the whole adventure was a grand success, if you use that metric that I do, which is to say that my legs are not broken, some knitting was accomplished, and I didn’t meet anyone on the ski patrol in a formal sense.

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I skied, and this time there were a few moments that approached graceful, a few stretches where the skiing was easier than it has been in the past, and some periods of time where the panic I usually feel was downgraded to mild concern. The thing about being a new skier is that everything I do is the first time I’ve done it, and that means there’s a lot of empirical learning. I’d be headed down a run, thinking about how well it was going,  and there would be a flash of a wee dark thing in my way, and before I could make up my mind about anything, I’d be face down in a snowbank, with Joe standing over me saying “Honey, you should really go around rocks.”  (It is a credit to the sort of person I am that I did not once reply to this the way I wanted to, which was to say something like “YA THINK”, but instead murmured “Good tip” into the snow.) The truth is that I still lack the skill to make a whole lot of choices while I’m on skis, and I live in fear of one of the toddlers that skis faster than me getting in my way because I’ve really got no guaranteed way of going around them if they fall. (Luckily, it turns out that most or them ski better than I do – though this time there was a particularly inept six year old who struggled to keep up with me.)

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My biggest claims to fame this time around were that I didn’t fall off the lift even once (big improvement, I believe last time there was only once I didn’t fall off the lift) and that I can now proudly state that I can turn to my right at will – approximately 95% of the time. (That remaining 5% remains troublesome, unpredictable, and usually results in me sliding backwards down the mountain while smiling at the six year old like I planned it and it’s all part of my “style”.)

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I remain, as I was the first time, particularly good at Apres-ski. and much knitting was accomplished – leaving me only mostly behind on the Christmas knitting, not totally behind, as I’d feared.  I finished the Tool Box Cowl

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I freely admit that it was so cold while we were skiing that pretty much the minute I finished it, I wore it.  I know that’s not standard operating orders for a Christmas Gift, but I was really cold, and I’m sure the recipient won’t mind that I tested it. (For the record, it is cozy. I had my cashmere Pretty Thing on first, and that over top.  It was almost enough against the -20.)

I also finished two pairs of socks –

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Almost. One pair’s a secret, I’ll show you later, and that pair above was almost finished on the way home, I’ll make short work of it this evening. (Anybody who guessed the colourway was MustStash R2D2 from the series “These are the droids you are seeking” nailed it.)

Joe and I are still on track to finish getting ready by Friday, if the next few days are magical. I ran an errand or two on the way home from the dentist this morning… and now there’s a little wrapping and baking, and a few things on Joe’s list that I’m trying not to worry about, because it’s Joe’s list.  I’m focusing my concern on the fact that my yarn isn’t here yet, but hold out hope for tomorrow.  Cross your needles, I’ll be ready for it then.

Shall I get start getting caught up again?

Gifts for Knitters: Day 9

Looking for something fun for your knitter’s stocking? Good for you. Lots of knitters have knitting tattoos, but if your knitter isn’t the sort to commit, how about some temporary ones, just for fun? There’s these ones from Ragline Knits, and these ones from Soak, and these ones for the multicraftual, and then these bad boys from Tilly Flop. (I can quietly admit here that I think these are my favourites. Your knitter may vary.) There’s also knit related nail wraps here and here and here. (If you don’t know what a nail wrap is, your knitter might not be into that.)

Gifts for knitters Day 10

Look, I know we’re all having a good time here, and I don’t want to harsh on anyone’s mellow or bring up upsetting things, but the truth is that your knitter has a mortal enemy or two, and helping to defend against their dark arts would make you a hero on the side of light. I speak here, of Moths.  There’s lots of stuff to help. You can consider some of the natural deterrents out there like traps, or some natural deterrents, like this moth chaser, or this repellent, or this one, or cedar stuff. These blocks are a charming weapon, or you can buy bulk. If you know your enemy already dwells too close, think about this. I don’t know if it works of not, but as a knitter, I really dig the phrase “no survivors.”

Randomly on a Thursday

1. This morning Joe and I got up at 6am and got our scene together, and went to the airport. We have a coffee maker where you pour the beans into it, and then it makes one cup of coffee at a time. This morning, I got the only cup of coffee in the house before it ran out.

2. Joe is pretending not to care but I think it is a strain on our relationship.

3. Not as much as a strain as it would be if he got the last cup, I think.

4. I knit at the meeting last night but I didn’t finish a sock.

5. That puts me a little behind but I am trying not to panic because today is a new day.

6. The Tool Box Cowl is bigger but still not done but I hope today is the day because I am sort of panicking about that one. I can handle a single day where I don’t meet a deadline, but two days in a row could start to be a trend.

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7. We’re in Quebec City and it is properly cold and snowy.

8. Gifts for knitters: Day 8.  (See what I did there?) No matter what your knitter is in to, knit wise, they need to block their knits.  How they block things is going to depend a lot on what they make, but there’s some stuff that’s useful to everyone.  For sure, your knitter would find a use for a blocking mat (they roll up and don’t take much space) or a set of these foam tiles that lock together.*  (They’re a little less chic, but it’s super cool that you can put them together into the shape you want. If your knitter makes everything from sweaters to scarves to shawls, that could be a plus.) Toss in some T-pins, and you’re good.  If your knitter makes lace, then they might love a kit with wires. This Inspinknity set is good (and there’s several types there.) This set is just fine, and I’ve owned this set forever. (I actually own those, and the Inspinknity ones, and use them together often.)  If you’re the handy type of non-knitter, you could totally make your knitter a set of blocking wires, and they’d love it.  They appreciate things you make yourself, it’s totally what they’re into. I promise

*Yes. If you think you saw some foam floor tiles like that at the Home Depot or Canadian Tire, you’re right. They’re the same. Can totally be cheaper if you find them on sale. Do it.

The sweaters are small

I know it seems really unlikely, but I think things are okay over here.  I think this even though my yarn hasn’t arrived (it’s okay, I have lots to knit) and even though there’s not a lot of finished anything kicking around. I think this even though I’ve spent a big chunk of the day getting ready for a meeting tonight, and even though I’ve got to go to that meeting. (It’s okay, I’ll knit on the subway on the way there, and at the meeting, and on the way home. Everybody at the meeting is used to me by now.) I think this despite the fact that I’m not (quite) packed for a little trip Joe and I are taking tomorrow – and I think this even though it’s a ski trip (apparently I ski now. I was wondering if that was a one off last year, but Joe’s really into it) and even though you can’t knit while you are skiing, or while you’re recovering from the broken arm I worry about getting while skiing. (I’m not very good.)

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I think this even though that cowl (it’s another Tool Box Cowl, this time knit from a Lorna’s Laces String Quintet called “Flute”) is sort of just started, not “almost finished”, which is what I just almost typed, and I do believe it’s all going to be just fine.  (Pardon me while I tidy the dining room, a wrapping paper bomb seems to have gone off in there.) I know all of this seems delusional, and there’s no way all of this is going to get done, but it doesn’t feel that way today.  Today, I’m a lady with hope, and that could just be because I finished up arranging the stockings with Santa yesterday, or it could be because it seems like there’s still a lot of time – but I absolutely feel like I’ve got this.  I’m sure I do.

Right?

Gifts for knitters: Day 6

Short and sweet, if your knitter wears tee shirts. This one is a total classic (and I’m wearing it right now – trust me, even if you don’t get it, your knitter will.) If your knitter’s a guy? How about this one?

Gifts for knitters: Day 7 (Look at that! All caught up.)

How about a little pottery?  Jennie the Potter is a fabulous thing, especially on the 15th of this month, which she has her next shop update. If that’s not your knitters thing, check out Creative with Clay.  There’s mugs, and bowls, all with knitting on them. Still not right? How about a sheep mug? Not that one? How about this one? Personally, I think I like this one.