Where Did The Time Go?

Well, Christmas happened and Casa Bookish went off to Aberdeenshire without as much as a hey nonny, nonny. So, belated happy holidays everyone. I hope yours was a good one. I was given an amazing Danish knitting book: Mere Feminin Strik by Lene Holme-Samsøe. The Ravelry photos do not do it justice - it is well-conceived, clever, and luscious. It is split into four sections: 'plain' knitting, textures, cabling, and lace. Each section has garments as well as accessories showcasing the theme. The attention to detail is evident on every page and I really like how wearable the designs are. I have a couple of must-knit garmentss such as the stunning Cecilia which is knitted top-down and Lily, a bottom-up garterstitch cardigan, but I'm pretty sure I'll be knitting some of the smaller pieces too. So far Mere Feminin Strik is only available in Scandinavia, but seeing Holme-Samsøe's first book was snapped up and translated by Interweave Press, I'd be surprised if this follow-up book wasn't given the same treatment.

ETA: Interweave Press will be publishing a translated version in 2012 - thank you to Carol for the info - she's the translator!

Overall, though, we did try to give presents that would not only please the recipient but also support people we know and love. This included presents from Gabrielle Reith's Small Stories range and t-shirts from SevenHundred. I was also very humbled to see many people choosing to gift one of my patterns to friends over this festive period. Thank you!

Things are already in motion for a very lovely 2012 - I hope to catch with myself, you and everyone else before the clock ticks over, though.

Christmas Crafting

This holiday season I was not going to make anything for anybody - bar that quilt for my mother which didn't happen. Then someone suggested a small crafty Christmas exchange within a tiny circle of friends - and how could I resist making things for people who appreciate handmade things and who knows how much love and work go into every single stitch? And I ended up making some things that I well and truly love.

A Christmas pudding pin cushion for L.

The pattern is by Freddie Patmore, but I do not think it is available outside Rowan Christmas workshops? I used oddments of Rowan Pure Wool DK for this one. I used toy stuffing for the top and added a tiny bag filled with rice for a bit of added weight at the bottom.

The construction of the holly leaves is really clever, by the way.

I never thought I'd be one to knit novelty Christmas puddings, but we learn new things about ourselves all the time, don't we? This was actually so much fun to make that I also made one for myself using Rowan Fine Tweed! I'll try to get a photo of that later..

I made three Christmas baubles for P.

I used Balls Up! by General Hogbuffer (this may be a pseudonym!) as a template, but I did deviate quite a bit as the styrofoam balls I used were significantly smaller than the ones used in the pattern.

The yarn? Oddments of sheepy Shetland type 4ply. Needles? 2.5mm.

The first bauble took an evening to make as I had to figure out my own modifications rather than work straight from the pattern. The next two baubles took significantly less time, although I was still using colourful language towards the end when the styrofoam ball was inside the work-in-progress and I had to work decreases on tiny needles. Again, hands did suffer in the making of these objects!

I absolutely love these - I think they look amazing - and if I had had any more styrofoam baubles, everyone would have received these. I think this is something I'll make again - possibly for my mother next year and definitely for myself.

(Of course taking these photographs was another eye-opener for any neighbours who had forgotten my quirky ways: "Look, dear, the lady from next door is off the rails again. She's kneeling in the snow with her camera fixed at something knitted." They will learn someday.)

I also made something for E. but she refused to open her gift before Christmas Day..

The Countdown Has Begun

Christmas time is always fraught with cultural mishaps. I've learned a lot about British (and Scottish) Christmas traditions over the last few years. I have even adopted some as my own traditions: Christmas pudding with brandy butter, eggnog, Doctor Who Christmas special, Christmas stockings.. but some traditions do not translate well. I'm still unsure about fake Christmas trees in garish colours that you buy pre-decorated or the obsession with turkey. Then again, some Danish Christmas traditions do not translate at all:

Quite apart from that, I'm hoping to get the last of the Christmas baking under way this week: vanilla rings, shortbread, brown biscuits and pepper nuts. I have a hankering for klejner as well, but I've never been able to make any that taste half as nice as my Auntie Annie's..

Any cross-cultural Christmas traditions in your home - or any unusual Christmas traditions for that matter?

PS. No Christmas knitting for me this year. I have too much on my plate as is!

Counting the Days

nov09 296 This entry's by request..

Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Danes will open so-called "advent presents" and light a candle in their advent krans (I have not made an advent krans since the year one caught fire in my Copenhagen flat and nearly burned down the house). The presents are usually small - I have been known to find novelty socks in my parcels.

However, my gran has obviously decided that a "small present" equals giving me 11 (ELEVEN) balls of yummy DK-weight superwash wool in a rather fetching shade of red. She's included a pattern for a yoked cardigan too. I have three more parcels to go. I dread to think what she might have come up with. Incidentally David found a handknitted beanie in his advent present. I seem to spot a theme..

(Sorry about the '80s feel about this photo - it was the best I could do in order to capture the colour)

The advent calendar is a variation upon a theme. When I was very young, I would get a julekalender instead, much like the one Linn is blogging about. Twenty-four tiny parcels, one for each day leading up to Christmas. The presents were tiny - maybe a pencil or a piece of chocolate - but they served their purpose. I got out of bed on time and I kept track of how many days I had to wait until Christmas.

Linn mentions something which I really miss here in Scotland: the calendar candle (not to be confused with the advent krans). One candle with numbers 1 to 24 clearly marked and each day you burn away one number. Just before December 1st, you make a "juledekoration" to really display the candle (I have fond memories of going to the woods with my family and finding materials for these things) and then each night as you are having dinner or tea, you light the candle. The trick is to get the right size candle so you do not burn away the numbers too quickly or slowly.

And the final way of counting the days? The televised yule calendar. Yup, twenty-four episodes of a special Christmas children's show with one episode shown per day. It's usually about how Christmas is in danger for one reason or another.. You'd get a royal version with princesses and Christmas gnomes,one taking place in Greenland, a puppet version, a 19th century version and, well, one for the grown-ups (all YouTube links and, yes, Danes are very fond of singing..)

Any particular Christmas traditions in your family or in your culture?