Sunday, 7 December 2008
Christmas: am I getting old?
We bought our christmas tree today, but it is staying outside with a drink of water in a bucket until DS's birthday has passed. I had read in the paper that trees would be up to 50% more expensive this year, but the tree farm we go to seemed to have the same prices as last year. We didn't get quite as big a tree this year, as we found quite a nice one that is about six or seven feet high (depending on where we cut the tallest orphan branch reaching for the sky). We also got the exterior lights out of the attic and tried to put them up. I say tried because the first string had a few burnt out bulbs, and when we tried to replace them, half the string went out and refused to come back on. After burning out several more bulbs, we gave up and that string went in the bin. The other much longer string of very small modern lights (LEDs maybe?) also has several sections of dead lights. So then we started driving around garden centres trying to find spare bulbs. The first garden centre, noted for its christmas decoration section, was so full that there was actually a traffic jam in the car park, so we gave up on that one. The second garden centre did not have spare bulbs. Neither did the third one. We tried a hardware store: closed on Sundays. By this time on a Sunday afternoon, everything was shutting so we had to give up. DH is going to try on his lunch hour tomorrow. Meanwhile we have one measly string of lights up outside which is only intermittently lit up in sections. Ho ho ho...
I have been aghast to find myself having the occasional passing thought this year about how much work it is to put up all the christmas decorations. We have rather a lot, as I am something of a christmas decoration junkie and have been known to buy them in July if I find one of those 'Christmas all year' shops on holiday. Aghast because I love Christmas, and also because that is what old people say. It's a slippery slope, first middle aged people buy an artificial tree, then after a few years of boasting about how easy it is to get it out of its box and put it up in minutes, they decide they are going to cut down on how many cards they send, then they stop sending cards altogether, then they start saying "oh, it's hardly worth putting up the decorations, it's just us" and pretty soon they are having christmas dinner in a restaurant and it is all downhill from there. I'm too young!! Somehow I seem to bear the brunt, sorry, have all the joy of putting up most of the decorations every year and of course taking them all down and packing them away for next year. Last year I finally caved on the whole Christmas dinner thing, and bought most of it pre-prepared from Marks and Spencers. It was so much nicer to put dinner on the table in about two hours instead of six+veg prep, it made for a much more enjoyable christmas spent mostly in the living room instead of the kitchen. Usually by the time I have cooked it all, I don't want to eat it anyway (and that would have nothing to do with all the chocolate and candycanes I have been nibbling since waking up).
Anyway, DH wants me to blog his scarf. About a month ago, DH suddenly announced that he wanted a scarf like the one I knit from Noro Silk Garden. I naturally suggested he knit one himself, never expecting him to do it. He looked at himself in the mirror for while, wearing my scarf, and said 'ok'. I stayed very low key, and got some needles and some yarn and started teaching him continental knitting, not expecting very much. He wanted to learn to cast on first, so the first two or three lessons were how to do a long-tail cast on, and he did lots of practicing in various yarn weights. He refused to go any further until he had mastered the cast-on. So then I suggested we go to the yarn store and get him some Noro Silk Garden, and he picked out a colourway he liked. Then we progressed to the knit stitch, and much more practicing. I've never taught anyone to knit before, and his fingers are not very nimble, so it was slow going. To be perfectly honest, I expected him to give up, but I kept coming in to the living room at night and finding him doggedly practicing. The hardest thing for him was to tension the yarn, as he seems to be completely unable to press two fingers together with any sideways pressure. Perhaps it's like Spock's vulcan gesture, and some people just can't do it. Finally he felt ready to try the purl stitch, which I found the hardest thing to learn in continental style knitting. He got it, and was doing lots of practicing (3 or 4 inches on c. 35 stitches in various yarn weights) when I discovered that he was twisting all his purl stitches as he had got into a bad habit with the yarn wrapping. So we sorted that out and at long last he felt ready to cast on for his scarf using my simple pattern (written out in the original post). After that, it went along quite quickly and 10 days later I was teaching him to cast off, and here is a pic of the end result. He has worn it proudly to work several times and even come out of the knitting closet to his mother. Throughout the process he told me several times "this doesn't make me a knitter", "I'm not a knitter, I just want this scarf" etc. Now that it is finished though, he is feeling a little bereft and making small noises about doing another, longer scarf. I will tell you though, it is slightly surreal to call your husband and to hear the answer from the living room "just a minute, I've just got to finish this row...".
Here is a pic of the finished Noro Kureyon gloves, with replacement finger on the right hand. It's a bit too cold to wear just light gloves at the moment, so I will look forward to wearing them in the spring. They have a nice long cuff that will tuck right inside my coat sleeve and all the fingers fit really well as they are custom sized to my hand. Now I am zooming along on the socks I am knitting for my friend Swooze. I've almost finished the first one, and have already cast on for the second one and am just finishing the ribbing cuff. I've also finished the second sleeve on Bianca's Jacket in Rowan Summer Tweed and tonight put all the pieces onto one long circular needle so I can start knitting the lace yoke.
I went to two dollshouse fairs this weekend. I had a brief hour at the new London Kensington christmas show, as I couldn't get there until late yesterday. Apparently it was a very successul fair and the traders are happy, so presumably it might be back next year. It looked just like a normal London Kensington fair, although perhaps a few less traders in the main hall? Not sure. I didn't buy much there, just some vegetable displays for my Rik Pierce house kitchen. Today I went to my local show at Kempton Park racecourse. It's a very friendly fair, mostly stuff at the lower end of the market, and I picked up a few more things for the Rik Pierce house plus some very reasonably priced knitted garments for my knitting shop. I was looking at both fairs for an occupant to live in the Rik Pierce house, some kind of gamekeeper or fisherman, but didn't see anything I liked. It is a difficult house, a bit too fantasy for a realistic doll, yet I don't want to go completely fantasy and make it a wizard's cottage or anything. Oh, the really cool things I got were a realistic duck which I am going to glue to the 'river' and two small frogs to put in the reeds.
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