If only his hat was right

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends, and… happy Thursday to the rest of the world.  Here in Canada it’s just a Thursday, and I’m spending it knitting tiny things.

starurchin2 2014-11-27

If all goes well, that will be a star (and a more clever pattern, I don’t think you could find) despite the way that it looks like a some sort of deflating sea urchin right now.  The tiny things are like this, I find.  I knit several odd looking wee bits, and then right when you can’t see any hope that it will resemble anything at all, you sew up (or stuff, or graft, or sew together) four or five little stitches, and bang.  A gnome pops of the needles.

I am here using the word “pops” incorrectly.  “pops” makes it sound like a quick process, or like it happens all of a sudden and really, it’s nothing like that. There’s something about the tiny things that means that they take much longer than I expect.  I’ll look at a tiny little Santa, think something like “oh, he’s so wee, it won’t take more than a minute to knit that” and then two hours later I’m crying into the waning light because I’ve sewn his spectacularly small beard on crooked, and one of his embroidered eyes has gone all wonky.  There is no room for error with the tiny things.  In a great big sweater, one misplaced stitch represents 1/15000th of the finished thing. Nobody will ever notice one little stitch that isn’t quite right, but in these things, one misplaced stitch and Santa looks like a bedraggled drunk elf who got trampled by a vicious band of reindeer on his way home from the local.  I took twelve runs at his stupid little nose before it was on straight, and don’t get me started on the gnome with the seemingly dislocated shoulder. As I noted on Twitter last night, if this project is what finally puts me off the rails, it will be the sewing, not the knitting that does it.

It’s three days ’til deadline, and I have nine to go, although only two more are knitted, and the rest are lovely, woollen felt.  I labour under the bizarre notion that although it’s the sewing that’s giving me fits, those will go faster.  I’ll thank you not to disabuse me of the notion, because I’m pretty close to the end of my rope.  Last night (as I attempted to sew the arm on straight to some bitty thing with arms)  I said something out loud like “^$#!% this *&^$*()ing *&#$, I (*$#¬˚˙ƒing hate it.”  Joe inquired gently about maybe I wanted to buy a few little ornaments and put them in the remaining pockets.  “This doesn’t appear to be super-fulfilling” he said.

I stared at him.  “It’s fulfilling.” I replied.  “Just not… now.  It’s going to be fulfilling the whole month of December. Just. Not. Now.”

With that, I realized that this time, it’s not the process that’s the payoff.  It’s going to be the product.  Three more days of tiny things.

80 thoughts on “If only his hat was right

  1. Have complete faith that you’ll make it through the trial of wee things and emerge triumphant. I’d suggest booze to get you through but we all know that’s not wise with seams.
    Best to you and yours!

  2. I hope you will show us each day’s ornament so we can vicariously count down the days without actually having to make our own tiny ornaments. It sounds maddening.

  3. Pingback: If only his hat was right | Yarn Buyer

  4. I have a dream of a small, tabletop knitted tree. Something where I’ve knit all the ornaments, the lights (yes, there’s a pattern), the garland, the popcorn, tree topper, etc. One of these days I’ll actually do something about it. LOL

    I had to laugh when you said what you were doing, because I HAVE THIS ADVENT CALENDAR. I’ve had it all my life. red felt, little pockets with numbers, a dowel through the top, and little hand-made ornaments to pin on the green felted tree on the top. I’m 43 and don’t remember a single Christmas where this wasn’t hanging on a door somewhere.

    So while the ornaments may be frustrating, it’ll be something treasured. TRUST ME. I know.

  5. Yep. A whole new realm of Christmas crazy. Let’s face it: If Joe is questioning your sanity, you’ve already lost it. I hope you put a tag on its collar so that whoever finds it can return it to you.

  6. You are definitely braver than I. Years ago, I saw a grouping of tiny “Dickensian” knitted mice, all decked out in their Victorian clothes, singing Xmas carols. Of course, I bought the pattern, but it’s been sitting at the bottom of a shelf for the last decade and a half.

  7. That star pattern looks interesting! I’m rooting for you to finish on time. I think you’re right. This time it is the product that will be fulfilling, after the tiny things are all snug in their pockets. I’m looking forward to seeing all the tiny ornaments! Knit on, dear Harlot!

    • Look back through previous posts about the Advent Calendar and you will find lots of suggestions and links. Not all from the same source.

  8. Keep your pecker up – it will be done in no time and you can sit back with a nice frothy head on your beer while you admire all the wee bits – and vow to never do it again. Which I bet will last until the first grandchild is born. I see three more of these calendars in your future 🙂

  9. I also recently had this revelation, where one says “I just cast on this x item” and realized that in that one simple sentence, you have: hunting down needles, sourcing the yarn, winding the yarn, counting how many stitches, casting on 3 different times in long-tail cast-on because you can’t get the length of yarn quite right, and then realizing they called for some other cast-on because yes, it really does matter for this particular project. Things never just “pop” off the needles. Solidarity!

  10. This December and each after. Sometimes it’s worth the cursing. Also, I do think the felt will be easier. Sewing up knitted seams and on knitting is sooo much harder than sewing up felt or just about anything else. You can do this.

  11. Please, please tell me you’ll show us how you did it! I’ve handsewn 4 of those felt and sequin Christmas stockigns for my family, and I’d LOVE to make an advent calendar like this for next year.

  12. You’ve inspired me to knit tiny ornaments, but… I’ll start knitting them in the spring, so that they’ll be ready for next year. I still have too many Christmas gifts to knit to cast on anything else! 🙂

  13. Cross stitching little ornaments on miniscule canvases: the thread falls out, the thread knots, can’t see the hole, miss the hole, wrong color thread, thread gets caught on my fingers, missed a stitch somewhere, dropped needle, dropped scissors, dropped thread, can’t find thread, ran out of thread of particular color . . . %^&$*!!!@=*!!?! But they look so good after they are done that I start on yet another. I can relate.

  14. Oh it will be so lovely & worth it in the end. A beautiful family heirloom & tradition for many years to come.
    My husband asked me when I first started to knit why I did it. “It’s fun” I replied. Apparently I swore more than I knit & to the outside world it didn’t appear to be fun or rewarding at all…so glad I stuck with it!

  15. I think as long as Day 1’s ornament is in Pocket 1 on Day 1, you are good for that day.

    And the same for Day 2 and its ornament and pocket.

    So really? You are already way ahead.

  16. As someone who has recently made 48 little knights out of wine corks and three kiddie-sized fox hats, with potentially another 48 wine cork-sized things to go, I feel your pain.

  17. “There’s something about the tiny things that means that they take much longer than I expect.”

    Truer words were never spoken. May the force be with you, and the tiny things become… done!

  18. Those stars are very cute, maybe for next year’s ornament gifts. A few years ago I knit a couple dozen stars from a Webs pattern and they were very easy and fun, though probably too big for your purpose here.

  19. It occurs to me (I don’t know if anyone else has already suggested this) that, provided that the 9 you have left aren’t intended for Dec 1-9, would the world end if Dec. 15-24 weren’t actually done before December starts? I do understand the desire to have it all ready for the 1st, but if it’s that or your sanity…

  20. band of vicious reindeer–love it.

    You amaze me at what you get accomplished with your knitting. I think you will get it all done before Dec. – and if not, well, Dec. has several days before Christmas day that will help get it done. 🙂

  21. Thank You. I love it, and will treasure it always. Even if no one says this to your face, your loved ones are thinking it. When you see the calendar hanging year after year, you will be glad you took the time with all those wee fiddly bits.
    Knit On

  22. Years ago I crocheted an angel for the top of our tree. The embroidered expression on her face isn’t quite symmetrical — she looks a little bit worried, or hurried. It bothered me until I realized that that is the way we all feel at Christmastime. So if your tiny people aren’t perfect, it’s OK.

  23. Maybe chocolate would be a good substitute and skip the knitting portion for a day? You could stuff tinfoil with white yarn coming out the tip? I’d call it fiber art. And you could eat the chocolate as part of the process. Or stick to your original plan; it’s brilliant.

  24. This is why I have never attempted amigurumi, or that designer of tiny flowers and insects and sea creatures. I almost attempted Frankies (on Ravelry) woodland wreath, but OMG I need my sanity, at least while I’m still raising kids.
    Good luck with your project. Can’t wait to see the Dec 1st itty bitty knitty.

  25. Look at it this way: after these ones are done, you NEVER have to knit anymore wee tiny ornaments on such a deadline EVER again! You can reuse these ones year after year and if anyone bugs you about wanting an advent calendar, you can just go into fetal position in the corner and whimper… or give them the “are you out of your freaking mind?” look 🙂

  26. All the commenters on all of the posts saying “have you thought that you don’t have to be done by 12/1” are driving me quite crazy. They all seem to think theirs is a unique idea, none of them seem to have read any of the previous comments where numerous people are saying the exact same thing. IT IS OBVIOUSLY A GIFT!! It should be finished on time. That little rant aside, you are doing a stellar job.

      • I think I said something similar, and then I noticed Stephanie wasn’t responding with a sigh of relief to realize that she did indeed have more time. I thought about all those pockets along the bottom of the calendar, and realized that they are there to contain all the little ornaments. And that hanging the calendar up (or indeed giving it to you can guess whom) with some of the pockets empty would totally destroy the effect. So she winds up with this year’s Christmas knitting insanity and it should all be over soon. Go Stephanie!

  27. I can get you another month worth of time, ok? You only need to have ONE done by December 1st, then 2 done by December 2nd and so on… You have plenty of time! You only pull out each item and stick it on the tree … 1 per day.

    You are WAY ahead – so relax! All the pockets don’t need to be filled on Dec. 1. 🙂

  28. Hi Stephanie,
    Sewing and knitting tiny things is HARD!! Try a bright lamp and one of those magnifying glasses embroiderers use – some have their own stand and some you wear around your neck. Good Luck!!

  29. Far be it from me to discourage self-induced insanity… but you have enough to fill the first many pockets of the calendar. Would it be do terrible to still be filling the last ones after you’re emptying the first ones? As long as you don’t catch up to yourself, you should be fine. And you’re right – store-bought as an option is RIGHT OUT.

  30. Someone may have already mentioned this, but it occurs to me that you don’t really have to have all 24 ornaments done by December 1. If it’s going to nearly kill you, you can allow some slack in this deadline. You have enough ornaments to use for at least the first 2 weeks of December, right? Technically, you have nearly a month to get the rest of the ornaments done on a rolling basis. Maybe you could alternate them with your less-fiddly gift projects. Just sayin’.

  31. Had to laugh at your description of what small things look like with just a detail or two “off”. One of my sisters has a beloved family ornament that we all call “Crack Santa” for that very reason.
    (For those who might be offended: we’re not horrible people laughing at drug use; like most, we know the toll addictions of all kinds take on people and their families; we believe that humour helps us cope.)

  32. So completely understand about adorable wee things that will “take only a minute” to knit! Had a bit of some perfect pink, blue, and white sock yarn and decided to knit up a “quick” pair of socks for a friend’s yet-to-appear baby. When I finally finished, I swore I would Never knit socks for an infant again. And then my adorable great-niece came along….

    Yours is is the generous, loving crazy to which we knitters are prone. Good Luck!

  33. I so understand your comments about the tiny things that will knit up in no time at all. Not so long ago I had a bit of left over pink, blue, and white sock yarn and decided to make a quick pair of socks for a friend’s yet-to-appear baby. Hours later when they were finally finished I swore I would NEVER knit socks for an infant again. And then my adorable great-niece came along….

    Yours is the generous, loving crazy to which we knitters are prone. Good Luck!

  34. Maybe you could borrow Sam’s young eyes and fingers to sew up the tiny seams. And, will we see her wonderful artistic cookies this year? I want to adopt her!!!!!!

  35. If you don’t get all the pockets filled by Dec 1, put a piece of your favorite chocolate in the empty pockets and reward yourself with it when you replace it with the ornament.

  36. Wow! Hang in there Steph! Your posts about this process are scarily close to what happens to me when I start these kinds of projects.

  37. I’m grateful Stjarna is back up – I’ve been looking for the pattern for a month but have only been able to download the fancy cast-on instructions. I’m going to make a really big version for the top of the tree.

  38. Frankly, when you started this project, I thought you’d lost a few kangaroos from your top paddock. But I’ve been reading this blog long enough to know that you’re not a quitter. If you develop any odd twitches though, best to seek help.

  39. Reminds me of my crewel embroidery phase when I tackled a Nativity scene. Yarn on felt. Got the principals finished in time but the woolly sheep nearly did me in. A gazillion French knots closely packed. There were supposed to be 2 of the critters. Years later I found the half-finished #2 hiding in my UFO box. My daughter and I had a good laugh at the memory.

  40. Oh my. I have years of accumulated tiny balls of sock yarn left over from making socks that I can’t throw out because I might need to mend the socks. As you do, you know? It now strikes me that I have many many Christmas ornament kits!!!

  41. I can’t help hoping that the blog will have one ornament photo posted every day in the insanity that is December. A selfish wish, of course. How nice it will be to be done! Smooth sailing with the rest, and may every tiny stitch be worth it!

  42. There may or may not have been a bit of addict-like knitting of those stars in this house back around mid-summer in prep for a Christmas in July promo at our LYS. I adore that pattern and it works so well with just about any yarn we tried.

  43. Joe is a peach. And they’re going to look fabulous. Also? Having given away hundreds of little Peruvian-made handknit finger puppets, a touch of wonkiness here and there looks totally okay. (And that’s probably as close to actually knitting something that tiny as I’ll get for awhile–good luck, hon.)

  44. You have me wanting to knit Tiny Things, and I don’t even like knitted decorative items. I will have to tell my husband that you are to blame if I develop a compulsive need to hang our Christmas tree full of tiny knitted stars and candy canes 😉

  45. Can’t wait to see the finished product. Loved opening the advent calendars relatives would send from Germany each year when I was a child.

    I so want to knit a star right now! On Monday, I had my gall bladder out and can distinctly remember my surgeon saying “don’t pick up anything heavy.” My huge bins of yarn definitely qualify as heavy. Stars will have to wait. Don’t want to see them before I knit them.

  46. I was crocheting a summer sweater in Knit-Cro-Sheen cotton. I was about 8 or so inches into the front bottom when I noticed one of the shells was 4 dc and not 5 dc. I stopped and ripped out down to the error. Friends said I was mad to do that, but I knew the error was there and would see it forever, Forever. It didn’t take me that long to restitch but I felt better.

  47. Margaret Atwood just tweeted about you! Oooh I hope you talk about this in your next post…my two favorite Canadian authors 😀

  48. Should we send a search-and-rescue to your house? It’s Dec. 1 and I’m getting a bit nervous that you’re lost in a corner of the stash room wearing ear plugs and muttering, “One moooore tiny thing… yes… all the tiny things but one mooooore…” while Joe’s pounding on the door crying, “Honey, it’s just not worth it!”

  49. Seriously? A whole week? and only one? In any case, it’s truly a superb advent calendar and a high treasure of a gift. Thanks for letting us in on the project…

  50. “Santa looks like a bedraggled drunk elf who got trampled by a vicious band of reindeer on his way home from the local”

    I think I’d like that ornament!

  51. Your advent calendar last year inspired me to try to make one of my own. My son will be almost 2.5 at Christmas so a similar age to Luis last year. THIS STAR IS DRIVING ME BONKERS!!!! I have tried knitting and reknitting it a million times (well not really but it sure feels that way). I’ve made silly mistakes but I’m also just so confused. Can you help me? I’ve knitted one side of Star A, do I have the right side facing me when I picked up stitches to knit the other side (or does that not even matter), and then when I start knitting the second side, is the right side of the first side facing me or the wrong side? Does that even make sense? Any guidance you can provide would be so greatly appreciated!!

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