Organic Gifting. And day-making.

I suppose that five weeks into the year is as good a time as any to finally start blogging 2008’s projects. I can’t believe what a backlog I have created for myself. I guess that’s what I get for knitting instead of blogging. Though I have to admit that lately, I’ve barely had time for knitting lately either.

When I married My Old Man – seven years ago this Sunday! – I got more than just a husband, I got a great new family, too. In addition to wonderful in-laws and the best niece and nephew in the world (seriously, y’all would not believe how fabulous these two human beings are – sometimes when I’m with them all I can do is just stare at them because they are such really amazing [and beautiful] people), I have what some people would call a stepdaughter (and stepson-in-law and step-grandson!) and stepson. We’ve never really used that language – his kids were both essentially grown when their dad and I married and neither one of them ever lived with us. Also, I’m a little bit close in age to them (6 years older than his daughter, 12 years older than his son), so it just seemed strange. I refer to them as my husband’s kids, they refer to me as their dad’s wife, except when Chris really wants to freak people out and he calls me his stepmom. At any rate, I adore them all.

The funny thing is, I feel as related to Chris as I do to anyone in my blood family, which is saying a lot because I am very close to my blood kin and have a deep sense of kinship with most of them. There are things Chris and I have in common with each other that neither of us have in common with any of our blood relatives, particularly when it comes to interests and opinions. Also, he appreciates a handmade gift more than anyone know. For that alone, he will have my undying love. When it comes to craft, the guy really gets it. He himself would rather make something than buy it, do something rather than pay someone else to do it. He understands the intrinsic value of handmade things (and the revolutionary potential of making things oneself). [One of my all-time favorite gifts is one he gave me when he was 19 – a small hippo he sculpted out of clay, along with a little trail of hippo turds. Yeah, I love his sense of humor, too.]

Chris was the first person to ever give me unsolicited yarn as a gift. My Old Man had certainly given me yarn gifts – of yarn I had particularly picked out and pointed him to. But Chris was the first one who ever got me any just because he saw some he thought I might like. He bought it at a farmer’s market in Devon, England, near where he lives; it came from local sheep and was undyed. It was gorgeous DK weight Shetland wool.

I held onto it for a year, waiting for an idea of what it should become. It was two skeins – 50g of a light tan and 50 g of a medium brown. Right after Christmas, while I was visiting Chris and his sister and her family, it finally sprang into being:

a Zeebee Helmet

The reason I call this an organic gift is because I collaborated with Chris to produce something to his specifications, and it kept sort of evolving as we both went along. Holding the yarn double, I first made a Zeebee. He tried it on, said he liked it but could I make it to cover his ears? So I added earflaps. He tried it on, said he liked it, but could I make the earflaps bigger? So I ripped and made them bigger, adding long i-cords to tie under his chin. He tried it on, said he liked it, but could I make it to cover his neck? So I picked up stitches and made what can only be described as a “neckflap.” The result? A medieval-looking helmet. A little funky-looking, but it’s warm. And I think it suits him.

pattern: Zeebee
yarn: 100g DK weight Shetland wool, undyed, two different colors, held double
needles: KP Options, size 7
started: January 1
finished: January 3
notes: I tinkered around with this thing so much that by the time I finally got the earflaps the size I wanted, I didn’t really have them centered right on the sides of the Zeebee, but I didn’t notice till I was putting on the neckflap. You can see that in the final picture above. There was no time to rip and re-do, and by that point I was ready to be done with it anyway.

If I were to do a Zeebee Helmet again, I would probably figure out a way to add the earflaps and neckflap all at once, rather than the sort of piecemeal approach I did here.

In the end, I guess this was the perfect use for this yarn, because it took exactly the amount that I had.

So there ya go. My first FO of 2008.

In other news, my day was made a few times lately by people who told me I made their day. Maria at Passing Down Crazy, Lia at The Fruity Sheep, and Rachel at Lickety Knit all gave me the Make My Day award.

Thanks, y’all. It really did make my day to receive such acknowledgement from you. (And in the process, I got introduced to two new – to me – blogs! Thanks, Maria and Lia! The rest of you should go check them out). Rachel kicked the kudos up a notch by calling my blog the most under-read blog in the knitblogosphere. That made my week.

I’m supposed to now name 10 blogs that make my day, which I find rather difficult. For one, I hate to leave anyone out – every blog I subscribe to I love for one reason or another. Secondly, I have to admit that my blog-reading (and especially my blog-commenting) has taken a huge hit lately. So apologies for what is really not remotely a complete list of blogs that I enjoy. At any rate, without further ado, here are 10 blogs that really do make my day.

First, a few you’re probably already reading:
Lickety Knit – now in a monthly format, which is just perfect for my current blog-reading tendencies. Rachel is hilarious and brilliant, and a great knitter, too!

Pepperknit – what do I love more: minty’s blog or her daily flickr updates? It’s hard to say. Minty’s just all-around-lovable, except when I’m totally envious of the fact that she and Rachel spend every weekend together. Minty will protest that it’s really not that often, but I think the fact that she now tosses off casual references to their outings is proof enough.

Dogged – come for the knitting, stay for the sewing, fall in love with the photography and the writing. Like many of us, Ashley is blogging a bit less these days, but I still get my daily dose of her on flickr. Love her daily 365 shots. Ashley lives just close enough that I could actually stalk her, but so far I have restrained myself.

Novamade – knitting, sewing, pie, photography, and Little Sir. ‘Nuff said.

Zigzagstitch – could Mandy and her family be any cuter? The great Super Bowl Hat Challenge was only the latest of Mandy’s amazing accomplishments. I first found my way to her blog when she posted her beautiful Tomten to Zimmermania ages ago, and I’ve been addicted ever since.

Schrodinger Knits – Schrodinger knits, sews, spins, and designs, and what currently impresses me most is how she is rocking the Etsy shop. Just opened in the fall and she has already made and sold a few hundred sock bags! I am truly in awe. I feel like I can also say “I knew her when” because I have been reading her blog almost since its inception.

And a few you may not know about:
Mer Knits – this may be the blog I’ve been reading the longest. I first knew Mer over at Knitting Help (the same place I first knew schrodinger) and her blog was linked in her sig line. I think it was the first I ever knew of knitting blogs, and what I saw on hers was a constant source of inspiration. She knits a lot of tops and sweaters, and they always look fabulous on her. Her galleries alone are worth a visit to her blog.

Naptime Musings – pregnant with her third (and surprise!) baby, and with plenty on her plate, Sarah recently declared that she was going to give blogging a break for awhile, and I was so disappointed. So I was thrilled to see her light up my Google Reader again this week – looks like the break is over! I’ve been reading Sarah’s blog for as long as I’ve been blogging; I love keeping up with her crafting and her family life (her adorable Emma may just be the perfect match for one of my guys some day….). It was a picture of some pj bottoms that Sarah made that finally inspired me to get out the old sewing machine and give it a whirl.

Don’t Call Me Becky – I first found my way over to Rebekah’s blog from Anna Maria Horner’s blog, when Anna Maria linked to Rebekah’s gorgeous quilt, made from Anna Maria’s Bohemian fabric line. It was so amazing, as is everything Rebekah makes, and I immediately subscribed. It was only a year later, when I read this post, that I discovered something shocking about that Bohemian quilt: it was Rebekah’s very first. I still can hardly get my mind around that. And she has made many more beauties since that one. Huge inspiration for this novice quilter.

Doulicia – this is the best Ravelry story I know. In December, I got a message in my Ravelry inbox with the subject line “I think we actually know each other in real life.” Turns out it was my neighbor from three doors down; we’ve lived down the street from each other for five years. I first met her and her two sons when my boys were six weeks old and I was out taking them for a stroller ride. It turned out she was a doula, and she was the first person to really get the horror of my birth story, and the complicated feelings I had around it. A few days later she brought over the most delicious spinach pie, the meal she brings to her doula clients. We’ve had friendly conversations ever since, but it wasn’t until Ravelry when we each learned that the other both knitted and blogged – and that we have the same birthday. Doulicia’s blog started out primarily on the topics of birthing, family, and doula-related issues, but these days she includes more and more knitting content. Since we connected on Ravelry, Doulicia has even invited me to her knitting group – the first time I’ve ever been to one!

And to bring this post full circle, here’s a non-knitting blog that makes my day:
Exeterra – this is Chris’s blog, and always a delight to read. Chris is working on his PhD in social pyschology at Exeter University in England. His particular interest is in motivating social groups towards more environmentally ethical action. His blog covers all sorts of interesting topics, like education, science, the environment, creativity, and bunnies.

Wow. This post took way longer than I expected it to. If you’ve read this far, then thanks for sticking around. All of my readers make my day, and regularly. So thanks!

11 thoughts on “Organic Gifting. And day-making.

  1. I think the relationship you have with your adult step-children is wonderful to see. I married into a family in which the situation is nowhere near what you describe, and when reading your post all I could think was, “Wouldn’t that be nice?”

    (Oh, the energy that is wasted…)

  2. Oh, please stalk me! Seriously. Although really, there’s no reason to come to Grand Rapids. I’ll have to come over to AA so I can go to Trader Joe’s and be stalked 🙂

    Seriously, thank you, Stacey! And I love your zeebee helmet.

  3. Chris does a magnificent job of making an earflap + neckflap hat — normally more functional than fashionable — look dashing.

    If you want to make Minty and me jealous, stalk Ashley.

    Thanks for the blog award! I am proud to be among such august company.

    Happy almost anniversary! I hope you get a chance to celebrate not only your marriage, but also the wonderful family that came with it.

  4. Awww, thanks Stace-Face. 🙂

    I do wear the hat quite a bit, and I know the design I asked for is a bit unconventional, but it is very functional, and I’m all about functionality. When I went camping a few days later I wore both hats you knitted me, the zeebee underneath, and the red one on top. It was in the 20s and there was ice on the ground, but my head was ne’er cold (the rest of me, on the other hand…)


  5. Love that hat, great way to adapt the zeebee.

    Thanks so much for the award and saying such lovely things, you make me blush. You know, you make my day too. I love to see your posts and see what you’re up to.

  6. Seriously–if I lived any closer to Ashley, I would totally stalk her. I’m just lucky that Rachel has to come to NYC on business regularly, and she alternates between seeing me, seeing her SIL, and then seeing us both together!

    Love the Zeebee helmet–totally seems to suit Chris. I don’t know if you mean that the two earflaps aren’t in the same place on either side, but I will say that in my vast research while creating my own earflap hat, they shouldn’t be at 3:00 and 9:00, they should be at 4:00 and 8:00 (or 5:30 and 7:30, whatever), for the tilt as you wear it. So if that’s what you meant by centered, then I think you’ve created a superior hat by NOT centering. If you mean that one is at 8:00 and the other’s at 5:00, well, that’s just sloppy 🙂

  7. Great hat, and isn’t it nice to make things for people who appreciate them? And thank you for mentioning my blog–there are so many people that I “met” at Knitting Help and it’s fun to see how we’ve all progressed!

  8. The hat reminds me of an Elizabeth Zimmerman hat “Maltese” or something. It looks like a hat that’s going to be well used and loved. How wonderful to have these people in your family!

  9. Oh, thank you for this. I am still catching up on things here. And seeing this now makes me think I need to finish a knit for Little Sir, because it has been a while since he made an appearance in blogland…

Leave a Reply to Christopher Chandler Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s