Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Truthfully, today is marked by the accomplishment of two missions. The first, as of 1:37 am this morning, I have successfully raised Brooke to adulthood. I'm not exactly sire what the means; her room is still a mess and we still pay all her bills. That is not the adulthood that I am living. I wonder where I went wrong. I thought long and hard about how best to celebrate her 18th birthday. Tomorrow I will share the details.

Today's other accomplishment concerns the mystery project that I should have said no to last week, but didn't. Here's the story.

On the 8th of December, BK and I, as well as everyone else in Denton county who has been involved in theater in any way, judged a high school drama tournament. Between sessions, BK was sitting in the judge's lounge knitting. Though I often knit at these events, I had left my knitting at home on this day. I was so far behind at that point, I could not decide which project to take so I opted for nothing. The following MOnday, while I was giving the first of my two exams, a person who had been judging with us called BK and asked her if she would be willing to make a Christmas stocking for her. As you might expect, BK's first question was, "For this year?" Truth to tell, I am not exactly sure what the inquirer's answer to this question was. As they discussed the project in more detail, the fact that the stocking included intarsia came up. This is not BK's favorite kind of knitting and because BK had several other projects in the queue, she told this person she could not do it.

On our way home from school that day, BK told me about the conversation about the stocking. The condensed version was that the original stocking had been made by this person's mother. It had been misplaced for a while and when they found it, it had a few problems. So, could we make another one like it. At some point, this person's mother-in-law had made a stocking to match the original for our friend's son. It became clear that these stockings were meaningful family heirlooms.

Last year BK and I knit stockings for almost everyone in our families so I know how important these things can be. And this year, I made Mike's stocking and BK made one for her new grandson, Carson. We hope that the stockings we've made will last our kids, well, forever. But, we know that things happen and this may indeed not be the case. If one needs to be remade somewhere down the line and neither of us can do it, I hope that there is some kind soul out there who will do it. For this reason, I decided that I would at least look at what we were up against, if I thought I could make the stockings. This was late in the afternoon on Monday, December 9th.

Monday night I was writing the pattern for the stocking. Tuesday morning we headed to the yarn shop to buy the yarn. The fact that the store even still had yarn in Christmas red and Christmas green was a miracle. Maybe this was the restocking of colors for those people who want an early start on the stockings they will make for next year. Writing the pattern such that I could re-create the original design was somewhat of a challenge. Here is what I was given to work from.

The is the original "damaged" stocking.
It is difficult to see in this picture, because all of the colorwork is on the fold or front of the sock rather than on the flat side making it more visible, but the intarsia says, "Merry Xmas", has a Santa Claus, and then the name of the person on the leg. The foot is simply stripes.

I was also given the sock that mother-in-law made for her grandson, son of our friend. Here it is.

Notice the interesting shape of the foot. Perhaps this was made to go over high heeled shoes? Actually, the problem is that the person who made this had no idea how to make a heel flap and pick up a gusset. Based on the knitting techniques that were employed in this stocking, the fact that it looks as much like a sock as it does is a bloody miracle.
The most difficult part of the pattern writing was the charting of the Santa Claus. I couldn't really tell exactly what he was doing, primarily because of bad colorwork. First of all, the floats across the back are pulled too tight so Santa looks like he is seizing up. Secondly, the design is a little strange.
I'm not sure what the green at Santa's waist is. To me it looks like he was impaled with an evergreen, probably not the image that I should replicate. I made some editorial decisions and redrew Santa. One major change I made was to add black boots. In the original design he looks like he is wearing knickers and has not seen any sunlight in . . .decades.

I worked on this project from last Tuesday until this morning. Oh, one more detail: she wanted TWO stockings. I know you are all thinking that she wanted me to remake the high heeled stocking. No. She wanted one for her husband. Here they are.
When I agreed to do this project, our friend said that she wanted to pay me for making the stockings. All of you knitters know that most people are either ignorant of the time that such a task requires or can't afford to pay for the actual time that it takes to make something by hand. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be grateful just to be reimbursed for the yarn. When I delivered the stockings this afternoon, the recipient shed a few tears. Yes, good tears. Truthfully, that was payment enough. She then asked how much she owed me. I replied with, "The yarn was $40." Because she is a crafty person, my friend knew the value of my time. She wrote me a generous check and gave us two beautiful poinsettias. The stockings were immediately hung on her fireplace and I came home and placed the poinsettias on my hearth. All are happy. I am finally beginning to feel a little Christmas joy.