December 6, 2010

On presents and scarves and 70s rock legends

I'm not a crazy Christmas nut, and I deplore much of the excess of the season, but I do really enjoy selecting gifts for people. Mind you, I don't give gifts to a ton of people, as that's not fun and makes each gift less special, but I enjoy the process of thinking about a person and what would make a nice present for them.  I like it so much that I considered working as a personal shopper at one time.  But that's another story. 

The key to picking a good gift is obvious, but often overlooked: what's important is the recipient, not the giver.  It's inevitable that the gift that I give will say something about me, but first and foremost it should be something of use to, needed by or desired by the recipient.  Or maybe something which the recipient has never seen, but which is so totally them that when they unwrap it, they can hardly stop marvelling at it. You know, cashmere mittens are luxurious and wonderful, but I would never give a pair to my Uncle Roger, a dairy farmer.  He'd smile and appreciate them and then they would sit on a shelf in his closet, never used.  Buy him a Thinsulate lined wool cap that would be useful in the barn during a Minnesota winter and he'd brag on that gift for weeks. 

Since this will be my last Christmas in New York, I've been giving a lot of thought to my friends and their presents.  This year's gifts will be equal measure Merry Christmas, I love you and I'll miss you. I've been busy making stuff, but I've purchased a few items as well, because while knitting brings me endless joy, there are only so many hats with which I can surprise someone. One of the most exciting gifts I've purchased so far is a flower pin from Emerson Made.  So festive, so femme and so her.  I'd love to have one myself  to jazz up my many all black, I've-lived-in-New York-since-1995 outfits. Someday.

I also received a package this weekend from Brooklyn based natural skin product maker, Soapwalla Kitchen.  I've been eyeballing her products for about a year now, and this holiday proved the perfect excuse to place an order for a couple of friends who, like me, worry about the preservatives and petrochemicals contained in so many bath and beauty products.  The woman behind Soapwalla Kitchen has Lupus (an autoimmune disease) and started making things out of her own need for healthier skincare products.  Right on, I say.  If you can't find what you want, make it yourself!

In addition to prezzies, I've been busy shopping for holiday cards.  Some years I make my own, but last year and this, I decided to hand the reins over to talented letterpress artisans so that I can focus on under-the-tree items.  I won't give away this year's designs, but last year I ordered sweet New Year's cards from Ink and Iron, and some Christmas cards from Ruby Press.  I'm rather particular when it comes to stationery and I like to write, and receive, letters, and I like my holiday cards to express this (this is one part of my holiday season that's almost entirely about me).

One might get the impression that with all of this shopping, I've been left with little time for knitting, but that's not the case;  I've managed to work up a gift or two, including this:

Pattern: Quick, Easy-Peasy Scarf, by Nicole Okun
Yarn: Berroco Peruvia Quick
Needles: US 17/12.75mm
Started: November 20
Finished: November 21

Quick and easy is right.  I knit this giant in 2 days, and I'm not a particularly fast knitter.  The pattern as written called for a lopi style yarn and US 11/8.0mm needles, but I decided to follow Terezka's mods and use heavier yarn (held double), bigger needles and add fringe.  I wanted a warm and dramatic scarf for a tall and lovely friend who lives in Paris, and I could not be happier with the results. 

Thanks Amy for modelling!

I call it Barracuda, a wee homage to the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, aka Heart. I don't "heart" heart, I love them.   Powerful, sexy, dramatic, talented rock and rollers. I mean, look at them!

I know they've rocked their fair share of loooonnnng scarves in their day, so the name seemed appropriate.

When Barracuda was finished, I decided I had to have something similar for myself, and while it was a fast knit, I couldn't stomach the idea of working that 2 row stitch pattern again so soon, so I went in search of scarves with similar vibage, and came up with this:

Pattern: Chunky Alpaca Scarf by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky
Needles: US 9/5.5mm
Started: November 28
Finished: December 2

Your basic feather and fan stitch pattern got me what I wanted:  a cozy scarf that would fold and scrunch nicely around my neck while looking a bit more feminine than garter stitch.  This took exactly four skein of Malabrigo Chunky (colorway Glazed Carrot, although one friend labeled it Persimmon).

I wanted the scarf to be as long as possible, but I also knew that I wanted fringe, so when I finished knitting the third skein, I made fringe with the fourth skein, attached them to the cast on edge, made the same number of fringe (fringes?) for the other end then knit with the remaining yarn until I ran out.  Easy and stress free.  I call her Bebe Le Strange.


littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

mmmm, i want to curl up and go to sleep inside those scarves. Might not work so well with the biking, but i would wear one out for walks, and just around the house (because our house is frigid).
Also, I totally love HEART! I can't resist.

Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

Love the chunky scarves! I really dig the fringe. That Malabrigo Chunky is awesome!

Meganne Fabrega said... Best Blogger Tips

Any homage to Heart has gotta be good..I am coveting that Barracuda!