Quitting is for…quitters.

Realistically, there are three days left. Three days…and I still need to finish two pairs of mittens, with a third pair needed on the 28th that I haven’t started yet. This is pair #1.


I’m feeling pretty good about them, despite having knit most of them in between wet basement psychotic breaks. (We are not speaking of the basement. The important thing is that I am not down there now and I am not planning on going down there for at least a day. I’m not going to think about it until the vein in my forehead stops beating out an SOS message that is visible to others.)

Sometime in the next 24 hours I need to figure out how these would be “Dragon mittens”. I also need two pairs of clogs and a pair of socks. This is a lot. Even I can see that. The pair of socks are getting close, but I haven’t even looked at the clogs yet. This is worrisome.

There comes a time in every holiday season when even the most insane determined of knitters has to admit that maybe she isn’t going to make it. That maybe it’s too much. That maybe it can’t be done. That maybe, it’s all about peace and love and spending time relaxing by the tree and just letting go of all the material crap that weighs us all down and remembering that it’s the thought that counts and that your family would rather get a gift still on the needles than have you an exhausted gibbering mess.

Now is not that time.

Do not give up. I can understand how you might be thinking those mushy things, but I can assure you that there is lots of time. Tons. I don’t need my knitted stuff until the afternoon of the 25th. That means that I have 72 hours left. What could you knit in 72 hours? Seriously, think about how long it takes to knit stuff. There is 72 hours available. What could you do with 72 hours? Hat? Mittens? Scarf? Do not be deluded by the number of days left. Let go of the idea of “days”, it’s only discouraging and once you are knitting around the clock it’s largely irrelevant anyway. Press on.

Three tips.

1. Coffee. Do not worry that you are drinking too much unless your family says “What is that thumping noise?” and you realize it is your heartbeat.

2. Sleep is for cowards. Besides, the tree looks prettiest at 4am and if you really luck out you can get to see “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians“. I assure you they don’t show these gems in prime time.

3. There is no place in the next three days for negativity. If anyone tries to talk to you about the knitting pace do not allow them to cloud the issue with facts and logic. If they persist, ask them if they are trying to ruin Christmas.

Gifts for Knitters Day 22.

Ok. Do this. Go to the store and get 2 plastic boxes with lids. Make sure that one of your boxes is at least 9 inches long. Label the top “DPNS”


Go to the yarn shop and get the things in this picture.


Tape measure, wool needles and holder, crochet hook for picking up stitches, row counter, needle gauge, stitch markers, scissors, stitch holders a notebook for writing in and a pack of post-it notes. (The post-it notes are handy for putting notes on a pattern without marking it up, keeping track of where you are in a chart…etc.)

Put them in the other box. Wrap both boxes and feel like a genius.

Do not worry if you think your knitter already has this stuff. This stuff is transient. As an example, I personally have bought at least 94 tape measures in my life. I don’t know where they go. Ditto for stitch markers. There is a doorway to the seventh dimension that sucks knitting notions into an invisible swirling vortex of doom. There are 98765345623467 pairs of scissors in there. The entrance may be the crack in the side of the couch. Be careful.

64 thoughts on “Quitting is for…quitters.

  1. Other important tips:
    4. Make sure your SO agrees to drive you to all holiday gatherings so you can knit in the car.
    5. Take off the 23rd as a vacation day so you can knit all day.
    6. Find something really good on TV. Knitting goes faster that way. Really.

  2. Great idea on the plastic bins. It’s much safer than non-knitters trying to buy yarn for us. Keep going, Stephanie, if anyone can do it, you can. Besides, you can sleep next week, right?

  3. Stephanie, you are an inspiration to lunatics everywhere.
    I found myself yesterday contemplating a felted cat bed, while casting on for a knitted “wine cosy” as a hostess gift. If one doesn’t allow that silly notion of “common sense” to intrude, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
    MaryB in Richmond, wandering off while humming “Impossible” from Cindarella…..

  4. There are probably even more stitch markers in the vortex than there are scissors and tape measures.
    Now that I’m DONE WITH ALL MY HOLIDAY PREPARATIONS (I didn’t yell, uh uh), I’m enjoying watching you… um, get ready.
    I’m just a wee bit sadistic.

  5. You’ll be just fine. Remember you’re the record-holding four-hour clog knitting champion. That’ll leave you with 64 hours for everything else.

  6. I love the DPN’s/Notions box ideas. Just the other day I searched high and low for a pair of 4 DPN’s that I knew were in my house somewhere…I finally found them in an old knitting bag in the back of my closet. (about 3 hours later) I’m not waiting for someone to gift me with these plastic boxes…I’m going out today and getting some!!

  7. To turn those into “dragon” mittens:
    * Triangles along the outside edge
    * Red I-cord “tongue” between the thumb and fingers (or maybe yellow for flames?)
    * I-cord “claws” at the end of the thumb and across the fingers.
    I wouldn’t do them all on the same mitten, just tossing some ideas into the ring.
    I finally finished the body of my snowdrop shawl and will take a picture as soon as my digital camera shows up (the camera is a present, so I might have to wait for it a few more days). I plan to add the edging, but not by Christmas. I don’t have the same sorts of superpowers you seem to have.
    Happy Holidays to the whole Harlot family!

  8. Claws? Three or four triangle points at the top edge, and one on the thumb. That’s all I’d do, then I’d consult with the giftee, post gifting, about what else s/he can imagine (thus saving you some time??)
    “The post-it notes are handy for putting notes on a pattern without marking it up, keeping track of where you are in a chart.” – I use the giant ones, and I thought I was the only one who did this!
    I know about that seventh dimension; it’s where several of my favourite, bestest darning needles are hiding.

  9. I have all but given up knitting for my family for Christmas. I only knitted one gift this year (socks, for my mother). That doesn’t mean I’m all ready, of course; since shopping doesn’t take as long as knitting, starting it can be put off longer.
    You could relax a little by letting Megan take over the blogging until after the 25th; she did such a great job yesterday.

  10. I would only add that the blurriness of one’s eyes at 4 a.m., after umptybazillion hours of knitting and watching Santa Claus Martians, would only contribute to the beauty of said tree.
    Be merry.

  11. Firstly I would like to apologize to Meg for not adding a note to her blog (sorry), but I thought the mini knitting tree ornament was a great idea! Possibly a safety pin could turn it into a great coat ornament too!
    I thought you gift ideas for today are fab. You can never have too many of anything! I have a full case of crochet hooks! Of course I inherited those… does that count?
    I had a thought though.. have you ever noticed how cute those wine glass decorations are.. looking at your photo I started thinking they might make great stitch markers… I mean really nobody I know would notice them on wine glasses, they would be too busy with the wine!

  12. Thanks for the pep talk, I feel so much better. I have 1.5 legwarmers and a Harlot Poncho to finish by Christmas. And since I’m on the Left Coast, I have 74 hours till Christmas! Woo and Hoo.

  13. You know that quantum doorway I was thinking you stepped through to knit? That’s probably where you left your tape measures.
    Next time you’re there, find them, tie them together end to end, and put one end in a box. Wrap it, and give it to a time-challenged knitter (like me) so that she can find her way to that magic porthole.
    Voila! Gifts for knitters, Day 22. 5.
    (okay, now I know you’re never speaking to me again, because, I will admit, that was a little odd).

  14. itdoenst’tmatterifihavetypos because i’n typicfastthakstocaffeinand hey knittingdoesn’t haf26choisecjust two!

  15. I got my “fourth” wind this morning…any one who asks if I am going to be able to finish everything in time is going to be slapped. I am not kidding.

  16. I know you did this purposely: You put the Chibbi in there so the guys would get all excited and RUSH to the yarn store, because they think it’s a sex aid. Clever girl, you.

  17. My personal strategy for increasing my pre-Christmas knitting time – get as sick as a dog and take two days off work to recuperate. Of course, there’s always the danger that you’ll be so sick that you won’t feel like knitting. Today is my first day back at the office. I’ll probably be needing advice on warping the space-time continuum, sometime tomorrow night, I suspect.

  18. I suggested renting the DVDs of season one of 24. Trust me that you will be so obessed that you won’t want to go to bed. Extra bonus: You can convince yourself that there are other people in the world so dedicated to their jobs that they too are up 24hrs a day.
    Good luck!

  19. to turn those mittens into dragons — down the center of the hand — the “spine” of the mitten — pick up X number of stitches. Knit one of those zigzag garter stitch edgings, very tightly, so it stands up. Add googly eyes and a knitted flame of some sort (hey, you’re the genius — you figure it out!) puffing from the mouth area. Actually, I have this great fuzzy scarf yarn (does not occur in nature) that’s reds and oranges with metallic gold bits. . .
    Elizabeth in PA

  20. Great idea about the notions. I never can find the tape measure — and I know that I’ve put at least three of them into my knitting bag. Ditto also the scissors. I buy the cheap fiskars kind that are for kids at school. They cut suprising well and I don’t worry about what dimension they chose to live in. (As a side note, when I was a child there was only one pair of scissors in the house and one roll of tape. Made trying to wrap Christmas presents fun! Also, that one pair of scissors was for sewing, clipping coupons, hair cutting, and even trimming the edge of the lawn!!)
    Happy Holidays to all — and esp you Ms. Harlot!

  21. Why is it, when I read this blog, I have the music from PowerPuff Girls (“Go Monkey Go” sung by Devo) going through my head, but with the lyrics, “Go Holiday Beserker Go!”

  22. And you realize, that pets are the harbingers of doom when it comes to BRINGING those objects to the vortex – aka under the couch which you only go and clean once or twice a year.
    The space underneath my really low-to-the-floor couch is not big enough for the cats to go under, but it’s big enough for them to slap stray objects under and it’s like a time capsule when I go to see what’s collected under there (i.e. Oh, THAT’S where the nail polish I bought last July got to!)

  23. I’m with Kat and I’m taking off the 23rd so I can knit all day. That and run an errand or two. .5 socks and .75 ponchos to go! That’s after I got real and put several WIPs into bags in the back of the closet. And I do agree that sleep is for cowards (and men).
    P.S. It’s nice to know someone else loses their knitting notions to the seventh dimension. I thought the only portal was in my living room.

  24. I know you can do it!
    And thank you for finally coming up with the perfect gift for knitters everywhere. If I got this from someone, especially if it recurred annually (hell, who am I kidding, monthly) I would kiss their feet. Seriously :-0
    Happy Holidays everyone!!

  25. I finished my “Christmas knitting” today. It is a Snowdrop Shawl, using vintage Mission Falls laceweight, in dusty rose. It is a thing of beauty.
    I shall wear it in the airport. Thus, when CTV shows up to film all the stranded Christmas passengers, I will be the one looking comfortable and serene.
    Thank you Stephanie, for this truly magnificent design.
    Santa has you at the very top of his “Who Has Been a Good Girl?” list.

  26. Oh man, I just HAVE to get that mitten pattern! I just cannot find a pattern that I like. Would you be willing to share Stephanie? I can wait until after the holiday as I know you will be frantic for the next few days. Thanks!

  27. beloved harlot–
    mere weeks before christmas, I damaged a tendon and some nerves in my right hand while pulling an all-nighter deckle-edging photographs and gluing them in an album. No, I do not scrapbook. Doctor actually said “absolutely no knitting.”. Album was for state adoption selection committee–and HEY! they picked us and I now have a brand new 3yr old, 1 yr. old, and 8 month old added to my 10, 11, and 14 yr olds.And yes, they are enchanting! Hopefully I’ll be able to knit for them before June. So, I’m vicariously enjoying your holiday escapades (or is that ice capades?). Keep knitting and maybe your socks will curl at the ends and glitter will appear on your harlotty cheeks. Be sure to hide a little gift for yourself. –yo

  28. I’d suggest you stop & take a deep breath, but I know you don’t have time for that. You’re beginning to toe the line between normal lunacy & bouncing off the walls/find the nearest rubber room lunacy. Just don’t cross over until you’ve finished with your projects!

  29. I like getting blank retail hangtags – better than postit notes – because they are ON A STRING and you can do things like write a note about the damn stitch you have it strung through

  30. Thank you for explaining, in writing, about the vortex of doom that sucks scissors. My husband had not been acquainted with it until he met me. Apparently the vortex follows me around, but not him.
    I have Christmas cards to do that are in the way of knitting. I may be giving out IOU cards, instead.
    Happy not quite Christmas.

  31. Well harlot, I won’t mention the B word, but it might cheer you up to know that I have spent 3 hours cleaning my oven, and I’m not done. My feet aren’t freezing off, but I will never eat again–ever. If you find that vortex entrance, let me know, because two of my overdue library tapes(from two different audio books)must be there. If you go out to eat on Christmas, that will give you more knitting time, unless Joe is cooking. Me, I’m serving Cheerios with fruit.

  32. must finish sweater…
    I’m sure that we have all given IOUs or WIPs as gifts. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

  33. While I admire the Harlots perseverance, I have reached my limit. I am leisurely working on the niece’s sweater, but given that my hormones are already driving me to the brink of madness, I’m thinking it’s wise not to push it.

  34. When I first figured out how to knit sox, I made one for my brother for Christmas. We were still in our teens. A few years later, I gave him the second one, by which time the first had holes worn in it and was waay too small. I don’t know what was the other half of that pair. A bunch of years later, I knit him TWO mittens and gave them to him safety-pinned together, and he asked why so many?

  35. Even better than a PLAIN plastic box are the translucent, hinged boxes for pens and pencils that office supply places sell. Inexpensive AND they have a little removeable tray for the small but choice knitting items!! Just as important, the top does not get lost …
    We are all cheering you on. I am on the cuffs of my husband’s angora bed socks. Having finished everything and then some early, I decided two days ago that he really, really needs these.
    Those darn Canadians sent us the cold … Brrrr.

  36. yay steph! in amongst my (for me, anyway) relatively large amount of holiday knitting, i found time to go to the post office today and mail off 7 packages and a whole stack of cards. seeing as it’s going to canada, your card should get there, oh, around january 6th or so. i figure i have, feasibly, about 40 hours to knit a charlotte’s web shawl. i’m hoping that fear will set in and make me knit faster. it’s not “due” until the 30th, but i have to work 40 hours in between now and then, and lace knitting and work don’t mix well. i think i’ll go procrastinate some more by working on *another* scarf.

  37. Oh God You’re/I’m NOT ALONE!!!
    I’ve got just 24 hours to clean the house, wrap the gifts, pack the stuff and finish three slippers.(thats singular one of the two pair is done) and I have four more hours of work before I get to go home and get cracking (these 4 hours will be spent caffenating and stratagizing rather then working). After 24 hours its home to the parents and a Brandy Alexander…
    Who needs sleep?
    You can do it lady!

  38. Is 72 hours enough to complete one “measly” braided cable scarf, one daughter poncho and one newly requested ruffled cardy for daughter who thought it only fair since sibling is supposedly getting a poncho?
    Must stop using pronouns. Also adjectives. Maybe just grunt. Point.
    Duh duh duhduh, duh duh duhduh, duh duh duhduh, duh … sweedleouuu, sweedleouuuu … duh duh duhduh DUH.

  39. Go Harlot GO!! You are my inspiration to crochet bind-off the 1,000 stitches of my Adiago shawl and block it for gifting tomorrow. I just have to figure out how to get the shawl to dry in the time warp and I will be fine, just fine….

  40. You know, maybe we can use these portals to the seventh dimension for something useful, like hiding in until we get the gifts knitted? Avoiding unpleasant relations? Missing boring parties? “Oh, I’m so sorry, but that dreaded portal sucked me up and I just couldn’t get away..”

  41. OK ladies, in the name of helping you make more time for knitting. RETHINK THE CLEANING. there is a lovely phrase ‘spring cleaning’ that implies this is the wrong time of year for that. Certainly don’t clean anywhere they won’t look (like the oven).
    Ignore the dusting. If anyone asks about large dust bunnies tell them they are for the unicorns. Really. My daughter (at age 6) once made me stop sweeping them up so the unicorns wouldn’t starve. People think this is a hilarious story. Of course if you don’t have small chidren they might cart you off…
    Happy holidays all.

  42. Dragon mitts: would the dragon socks in Socks Sock Socks help? Duplicate stitch the little darlings?

  43. Yay Stephanie!!! First off, don’t answer all of these letters. Takes time away from knitting. We will all be here waiting after Christmas. About the gift of notions, I solved that a long time ago. I told my family and friends that I collect needlework notions, old and new. I especially mention scissors when asked what I collect. When anyone doesn’t know what to get me, they automatically reach for scissors, needles or tapemeasures. Just put out the word. Mention notions….They will come.
    Merry Christmas, Harlot. Happy Knitting!

  44. Giving a sweater in bits with the needles still in the last piece is totally acceptable. I know this because I have both given and received them. Damp items are also acceptable. I am still waiting for those little elves that visited the cobbler and cobbled his shoes to come to my house and work on the Christmas stocking, or the socks or one of the four toques, or maybe the back and both sleeves of the sweater.
    My vortex sucks up bodkins…the really good ones with the nice rounded tip. I figure if it weren’t for me the factory would have closed years ago.
    Barb B.

  45. As for the “crack in the couch” vortex – I had a party at my house one night, and one guest sat down, made a face, then pulled out some circular needles from somewhere in the couch. She held them up and said, “This thing just appeared out of the couch, what do I do with it?” John was embarassed, but I was glad to see they had finally returned!

  46. I totally subscribe to the couch portal — too many things have disappeared when near the couch.

  47. I just wanted to tell you that I am insanely jealous that you were that close to Gord Downie. He is a hottie!!!!!
    Merry Christmas.

  48. “If they persist, ask them if they are trying to ruin Christmas. ” HAHAHHAHHAHHA!!! *chokes on laughter and possibly more than just a little saliva*

  49. S – A – N – T – A C – L – A – U – S
    Hooray for Santy Claus!!!!
    (Cha cha cha….)
    Hang in there, harlot.

  50. If anyone can finish in time, you can! You could make those into dragon mittens by doing a ridge of triangles down the top… like that Patons dog sweater pattern from a year or two ago…
    Good luck! And by the time you have time to see the basement, it’ll probably already be all dry! 🙂

  51. You slay me. I know I’ve said that before, but I’m running out of ways to express how hard I laugh at these entries. I will be sending productive knitting and dry basement thoughts your way. You can do it!

  52. Dear Yarn Harlot,
    sit down
    have a supersize cup of wonderful fragrant tea (coffee would be counterproductive )
    turn on some nice music
    relax (did I say that already?)
    smell the flowers (aka Christmas Tree)
    enjoy the knitting
    … and nobody will mind to get a great handknitted gift a few days late…

  53. Well Stephanie, you wonderful creative knitter. I have total faith you will complete your intended knitting missions – when in doubt “Remember Rhinebeck”! (Think of the rallying cry “Remember the Alamo”.)
    As an aside, a heartfelt thank your for a lovely poncho pattern. At about 3:30 AM this morning, I finished your pattern. To create time, I have taken it to the dry cleaners. My neice is not a fringe lover….and I had no time to even dip it to block, since I am now at work.
    I have only recently discovered your wonderful, delightful, hilarious blog…it has given me the gift of laughter at work, great gift ideas and the belief that if more of the world knitted it would be a better place.
    So…in the Spirit that is Christmas, may you have the joy, happiness and laughter you have given us back tenfold. Merry Christmas.
    When you wonder if your mission is attainable – “Remember Rhinebeck”!

  54. Go, Stephanie, go! Don’t listen to those who mock the thrill of staying up until the wee hours of the night on Christmas morning to finish an insane amount of hand made gifts. I’ll be right there with you, most likely finishing up that last pair of socks, basking in the special lovliness that only the pre-dawn quiet can bring and feeling like an extra special Christmas elf.
    Merry Christmas to your clan, and may your knitting be speedy and error free 🙂

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