Optimism is my middle name

With the advent calendar done – and thanks so much for all your lovely comments, I’m so very proud, I sat down with the spreadsheet to figure out what remains to be knit. We’re right properly into December now, and that means I’ve got 22 days to finish what’s left on my list, and lucky me, the list doesn’t seem to be too bad.  (Right now Presbytera is scoffing into her coffee mug, and writing down the date and time I’ve said that. She’ll be posting a link to the statement in the comments in about 20 days when I’m a crazy person.) I’ve got a pair of dress mittens to make (This is Canada. We have dress mittens, and shovelling mittens, and they’re not at all the same) and a wee sweater (that hardly counts. I started it last night and I’ve already got a good start, assuming the fact that I’m not really using a pattern doesn’t come back to bite me in the arse – but why would it) and a hat (that’s not due until just after Christmas) and a shawl/scarf thing, and maybe a pair of socks.  Not too bad, considering the size of the hole I usually dig myself this year.  Of course, there’s lots of other things to do (we have no tree, no cookies – and I haven’t wrapped a single item) but I still feel like it’s all going to go just fine. This is largely delusion on my part, but I’m keeping it that way for as long as I can.

A few of you noticed yesterday that I didn’t start my Gifts for Knitters list on time, and you’re right.  I didn’t.  Traditionally, I provide a little running list of presents that non-knitters can use to buy us the things we really want each year, and I’m totally not breaking with tradition this year – I was just so chuffed with the calendar that I wanted it to have it’s whole own post. With that out of the way, I’ll tack on the gift suggestion for the day to each post going forward – and today I’ll give you two, to be caught up.


Dear Non-knittter who loves a Knitter,

It’s that time of year again, when you need to buy your knitter a gift, and want to make it something that fits with their interests, but near as you can tell, they only have one interest, and that interest is as cryptic and mysterious to you as golf is to them. We know about that time you went to the yarn store and tried to get them something “knitty” but there were too many kinds of yarn, and you didn’t know what sort they liked, or how much to get, and if they even like alpaca.  We know that you stood in front of the knitting needle rack, and you tried to buy some, but you know your knitter already had some needles, and you wondered if they even need more. We know that some of them are straight and some were short, and some were called circular, and for the life of you, you couldn’t figure out what was circular about them. We know that right after the shop owner asked if you needed any help, you realized you were beyond help,  freaked out and left, and bought them those slippers and a book on the way home.  We know, and this list is here to help.

Not everything on this list is going to be right for your knitter. You know them, and you’ll do fine.  Just follow the tips and hints, and everything will be okay. You’ll be a rock star this Christmas, and your knitter won’t have to pretend to like your gift. It will be better. I promise.  The first tip? If your knitter forwards you a link to this blog? Scroll down to the Gifts for Knitters section, and see what they’re on about. It’s a hint.

Gifts for Knitters Days one and two.

Does your knitter drink coffee or tea? If they do, then consider a knitting themed mug. For lots of knitters, sheep are an emblem – so mugs with sheep on them are knitty. (Just about anything with a sheep on it can be good, if your knitter is the type. You’ll have noticed other sheepy stuff around if they are.)  If they make you drive so they can take knitting and a coffee in the car – consider this one. (Trust me, it’s funny. Also true.) You might not know, but for many knitters, Elizabeth Zimmerman is sort of the closest thing we have to a patron saint.  You’d be hard pressed to go wrong with this mug.

If your knitter isn’t the mug type, or if you’ve noticed that the already have a mug that they always use, then look around for knitting needles.  Are they everywhere? Do they spill out of drawers, bags and boxes? Do several roam the bottom of your knitters bag, or poke out of random spots in the house? Then consider getting them something to keep them in. There’s a few kinds of needles, so look around, and get a case that matches.  If they have lots of short needles with points on both ends, then think about getting them this gadget – it’s pretty new, so I bet they don’t have one. It’s the Handwork Hardware needle sorter and gauge and it’s very, very cool.  The needles fit through holes on the top that are different sizes, and sorts them into slots that store them by size. They’ll love it. It solves a bunch of problems.  If you don’t see that kind of needle around, then you probably see short needles, connected by a plastic cable.  Those are circular (they aren’t circular themselves, but let you knit in a circle) and they’re hard to store.  Think about getting them a Circular Solution or this beautiful one from Della Q. (Warning, if your knitter isn’t American, they might be annoyed that a few of the metric sizes have no spots on those.) There’s lots to choose from, and a lot of them are handmade. (Your knitter likes hand made things. It’s part of their gig.) If there are LOTS of needles around, then the hanging one might be better, it holds more – but if your knitter really digs taking needles with them everywhere they go, those cases are awesome. Namaste makes a neat one that’s like a box, and one that’s like a wallet. If you see lots of long, straight needles around, look for a beautiful needle roll, like this one, or this one, or this one.  There’s lots. If you’ve heard the word “interchangeable” bandied about, or if you notice your knitter putting needles onto those cables and taking them off again (or heard them swear when one comes apart by itself) then a case like this one from Madsen Originals is the ticket, and if you’re looking for one that does it all? Look no farther than Graces Cases. Love that one.


Finally, what’s Luis hanging today? Apparently all hell’s cut loose over there, because despite it really not being in the day 2 pocket, today the camión was hung.

camion 2014-12-02 (2)

Festive, right? Well, maybe only if you’re Luis, but he is.  Despite several upsetting attempts to knit a truck, this ornament was cut and sewn from felt.  I took inspiration from this tutorial, although skipped some of the details, because Lou’s truck was much smaller than the one that blogger made.  I sewed all the pieces onto the top piece, then blanket stitched the front and back together.

I think we’ve all figured out that Luis is going to hang these in order of preference. I wonder what he’ll choose tomorrow?

64 thoughts on “Optimism is my middle name

  1. Camion! I like that he can – and will – choose whatever strikes his fancy each day. The calendar is utterly charming.

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  3. My biggest gift wish for my recent 40th birthday has come true! My husband is sending me to the Galiano Island Knit Social retreat this Spring to hang out with, and learn from, you for 3 days! I’m wondering if I’m allowed to hint for one of those mugs after that…

  4. Why did I look???

    Now I am hitting links like crazy and contemplating sending the whole gifts post to loved ones, mostly my hubby. AHGGGG… I should be writing for school.

    Presents are easy in my house. Six adult children decided years ago to run a Secret Santa. And somehow, we just don’t have a big gift giving thing going beyond that except for now also adult kids. Lots of Amazon certs for nieces and nephews but otherwise, pretty easy.

    And this is not my blog! So I’ll just end and say how very happy your advent calendar made me feel yesterday. I grew up with them and yours was so lovely and just so right!

  5. Huge dress mittens for big hands? Use traditional estonian patterns written down by Aino Praakli in “Eesti labakindat ilma laande laiali – Estonian mittens all around the world” they used to wear to pairs at the same time on realy cold days. So the upper ones can be realy big. The patterns in this book are lovely. Every pattern comes with a story and original fotos of somegimes more then a hundred year old mittens. I bought the book the summer last year in Haapsalu and started knitting mittens the second I opend it….

  6. My son, who is just a little younger than Luis, would also choose the “camion” right away. It would be his favorite for sure. He loves dump trucks (and all machines)! You can’t force a 2 year old to do anything. He’s going to love that Advent calendar in whatever order he hangs the ornaments. No need to cause tears over switching things up. What memories it will make! You are such a wonderful auntie to make him such a special gift!

  7. He might be a bit young to read the numbers or even to count to 24, but when he’s put all the ornaments on the tree, in whatever order, it WILL be Christmas Eve.

  8. The second picture in the Luis post makes me so happy – the look on his face is just full of wonder and joy. Good for him for picking the one that he likes best next!

  9. My “get it knit in time” list is long this year.
    half a sweater vest still to do (for a tall adult, not a kid)
    mittens not even started
    slippers, also not started
    finish a hat (it needs ribbing and bunny ears)
    surface crochet on a dress (at least the dress part’s done!)
    a baby gift (hat and sweater) for a kid who’s due right around the 25th, so same deadline even if it’s not Christmas knitting.

    Can I borrow some of that optimism? I might need it.

  10. I would be fascinated to watch what Luis chooses each day. That might be crazy-making for you, but it would be much appreciated if you could get even a few of them up.

  11. Glad that optimism reigns, and like many others have said, your advent calendar is beautiful and an item that will be treasured. Truly, a lucky wee lad.
    Yesterday I snapped. Bad times have had me down, and I just couldn’t let that stand…let a year end without woolly expressions of love finding their way under the tree. I have a spreadsheet, much tea, and the cape of (crazy) optimism upon upon my shoulders. There shall be baking, donations, and wee wool gifts!
    As always, thanks for the inspiration!

  12. The whole advent calendar is just darling and you did a great job (as usual). By the look on Luis’ face you scored a home run! The truck turned out so colorful, and I like the hand stitching look. It’s nice to have some of the ornaments made of felt. This is now definitely on my list of things to make someday when I have grandkids… Good luck with the rest of your knitting! I’m going to start a shawl tomorrow (only the second I’ve ever made), so fingers crossed it will get done in time!

  13. I am insanely (sorry — I needed a really strong adjective) grateful to you for mentioning my mugs. Thank you so, so much!

    I’m in Michigan and completely understand about “dress” mittens.


  14. I love that you made a truck just for him (my son was that way about trains) and I love that his parents are ok with it being LOU’S Advent Calendar and he can hang whatever he chooses, whenever he chooses- it all evens out in the end!

  15. Thank you for the link to the tutorial! I will be hand sewing in no time. Or maybe just in my dreams, but at least I am thinking I will learn new skills.

  16. my Utah sister-in-law requested fingerless gloves in a cream color, and when I questioned the wisdom of cream gloves, said they were “just for church”….so dress gloves indeed! (I also made her a dress beret..shhhh)

  17. You know, I get the feeling that as the odd ornament gets lost as time goes on (which is probably inevitable), you may end up replacing them with backhoes, plows, and combine harvesters. 🙂

  18. A few years ago I believe you Christmas posted a necklace that was magnetic so you don’t loose your needles and assorted metal thingies. Do you remember where it was from?

  19. Famous last words: “This is largely delusion on my part,. . .”. Yep. Go have a stiff drink, then a good nap, and reconsider. Also, stock up on the chocolate and wine. I think you’re gonna need it. (Joe may want to stock up on his pain reliever of choice, too.)

    Love the pictures of Luis and how the truck turned out. Who ever said you can’t sew?

    Some of those needle cases seem really cool. I especially like the ones that can store circular needles on a clothes hanger!

  20. Great list as usual, Steph! Do you remember once posting about this object (wooden, tube-like) that you use to hold sock needles while knitting is in progress? It kept your stitches from sliding off the needles when you set it aside…. I’m looking for one but just cannot remember what it is called!

      • Or check out the Rollie Stitchkeepers.
        I bought one from Webs. Then 2 more. Then 3 more. Now have around 10. They are wonderful.
        (And no, I don’t make them, sell them, or profit from them in any way.)

        • Knitpicks has “sock knitting needle holders” that you might like. They are a sturdy cardboard though and not wood. I’ve had mine for several years and they do hold up well.

  21. Don’t you add your tree ornaments in your own order of preference? It’s practically a requirement and Lou has caught on early. Love the calendar.

  22. I work for my dad’s cousins, R. and his wife C., and for last Christmas, since I bring my knitting to work (I take care of R’s mother), they bought me a Yarn Drum. I’ve used it every single day since. It was a wonderful gift, one that I wouldn’t have bought myself since I had a bag I used already and I didn’t want to spend the money, but one that I pretty much couldn’t do without now. And R. and C. don’t even knit, or anything like that!

      • Luis’ family is indeed bilingual, and camion is indeed French for truck, but also Spanish for truck – which is the second language in their home. The big similarities between French and Spanish are a big help for this Canadian family. (And are probably going to make French a breeze for Luis, when he gets to school.)

  23. I posted on our family chat back in October that I was planning my holiday knitting and everyone should let me know what they would like and exactly two people out of six got back to me. I also said if they did not let me know they could expect just the ornament gift. So now I am knitting sleeves for Mason jars, since I bought Cuppows for everyone last year after discovering them in a photo here and I think sending everyone just a Dorset button ornament is kind of lame.

  24. When you were looking for trucks, did you see any tractors?
    The way Luis feels about his camion is the way my great-nephew feels about tractors.

  25. I love your advent calendar ! I am thinking I may have to make one for my grand daughter for next year! Thank you for being so inspiring! And the knitterly gifts, I will wait a few days and then send to my appropriate people. What fun!

  26. Oh, Stephanie. I found your project inspiration for next year.


    Hurry and capture the pictures because it is sold out and they may not leave the page up much longer.

    Also, Handwork Hardware has another item, their chatelaine


    which also looks fabulous, and would apply even for knitters that aren’t so fond of double-points. And look at their blog – there are some amazing knitted projects there.

  27. Melt. Melt. Melt. I love that Lou picks what he likes best! The itty bitty truck is so cute! Thanks for including links to the patterns. With doing an ornament every two weeks I should have a calendar by next year….unless I get distracted.

  28. I didn’t even know I wanted the needle sorter until I saw your post – cool! I forwarded it to my hubby and my sister. Thank you!

  29. I’m betting that little Lou will sort through the ornaments every day to pick the best one, and that the pleasure of sorting through them all every day till Christmas will be a big part of the memory he’s building. Sweet truck! (I trust that it’s genuine wool felt.)

  30. Thank you Stephanie, you made me chuckle (again)! I love your posts and have a year old grandson who will love an advent calendar like this. Inspiration for next year!

  31. Actually – that’s a good point. He will probably choose one that he likes the best all the time…And it’ll be interesting to see if he chooses different ones for different years! You should try to get a picture each year he’s growing up. hehe

    Have a fun! (Also, gorgeous gifts…I love the mugs!!)

    Katie =^..^=

  32. We had a wooden Christmas Tree very similar to Luis’ growing up. My Mom would wrap all the ornaments each year, (actually she said the trick was to do it before it got put away the year before) and my siblings and I would take turns picking out a “gift” to unwrap and place on the tree. No fighting about which ornament went up that day!

  33. *SQUEE* I love that you featured the Handwork Hardware DPN sorter! I bought one at Stitches Midwest while my engineer boyfriend geeked out with the creators, and I love it! I highly recommend them!

  34. Stephanie: Cornelia and I can’t thank you enough for your recommendation for the Handwork Hardware Double Pointed Knitting Needle Sorter and Gauge as a Christmas gift! We have been delighted with the response. We are truly grateful for your ongoing support and excellent sense of humor.

    I do love the Advent calendar and know that it will become a Christmas tradition for Luis. Happy holidays!

  35. ” (or heard them swear when one comes apart by itself) ”
    OMG I thought I was the only one.

    The interchangeable needles I’m using this time actually separated from the metal end — separated — not just unscrewed! Or as I put it when half my stitches slid to the floor:
    “F—! F—! F—! OH F—ING S—!!”

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