Friday, December 16, 2005


I found out about two years ago something I'd never known: I was a breech birth. Instead of arriving in the world head first, which is the usual procedure, the first glimpse anybody got of me was the other end. And I've been doing things ass-backwards ever since.

For example, sending Christmas cards. Did you get my card yet? No? Here's why.

Unlike many people, I unabashedly love Christmas. Except for those few dark years with Mr. Ex, it has never been a source of stress. I don't fuss about finding the Perfect Gift or run madly from party to party forcing myself to be cheerful. I am cheerful. I don't find myself wishing for the holidays to be over so we can get back to normal. The normal part of winter in Chicago is like the grimmest part of a Bergman film run in an endless loop. Feh.

This doesn't mean I'm one of those people who merrily get the shopping wrapped up before the frost is on the pumpkin. Heavens, no. The extra demands of the Christmas season deal a knock-down blow to my already faltering grip on organization. I gave up sending cards years ago because I knew perfectly well there was no way I'd get them all addressed and stamped and to the mailbox on time.

Organizationally, I'm an unqualified mess in December. I just don't get stressed out about it.

When I grow up, though, I would like to be like James. Have you read James's excellent blog? Probably you have. He's a popular fellow, and deservedly so.

If you haven't, I'll give you the synopsis. Handsome James writes about his knitting, which displays a sense of color and pattern unlike anyone else's; and his domestic projects, which are often enough to make Martha Stewart sink down into an armchair and call for a double vodka.

James is not a man who requires the administration of sal volatile after writing a note to the paper boy. Oh, no. James is a man who managed to get an adorable bundle of New Zealand-related goodies from his part of Oceania to my part of the Great Lakes before I made my first trip to by Frango mints from Marshall Field's. And he wrapped the goodies in knitted fair isle gift wrap with a knitted bow.

James, you're a wonderful guy. And I wish you a Merry, Merry Christmas. And I wish you would knock it off for a little while because you're making the rest of us tired just watching you.

Also in the overachiever category we have Ted, a new blogger and masterful knitter and spinner. Ted, who apparently feels I don't have enough to do with my free time, has sent me Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks, which had the intended effect of reviving my interest in sock knitting. I didn't know about this book, had never seen it, and it turned out to be the sock book I'd been hoping to find. Clear, concise, attractive, and not shaped like a sock. Now I have to go buy sock yarn. Great.

Ted also sent along a CD called Joyous Light featuring a soprano, Isabel Bayrakdarian, who had somehow managed to fly under my radar. I rather like this album, which is a to say that since it arrived I have been unable to stop listening to it. Now I have to go out and buy absolutely everything else ever recorded by Ms. Bayrakdarian.

Ted, honey, thank you so much. And thanks, also, from the yarn and music retailers who will now be claiming a larger portion of my monthly paycheck.

Ted, I should mention, is Canadian. James is a Kiwi. And splendidly rounding out a British Commonwealth trifecta of holiday giving is Judith.

Judith doesn't have a blog, but she reads this one. I would venture to say that she and I are possibly among the greatest living fans of Mary Thomas, the fascinating and elusive journalist who wrote Mary Thomas's Knitting Book and Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns, et al.

Judith, who lives in England, dropped me a note after I mentioned an interest in Mrs. Thomas and has become a regular correspondent via e-mail. Her letters are so lovely that I don't read them online - I print them out to savor later on.

And into my mailbox fell a package from Judith, from an address so charmingly British that when I opened the envelope I swear I smelled crumpets.

In a bookshop in her town, Judith had found a vintage, hardbound edition of one of Mary Thomas's books on embroidery (my first love, pre-dating knitting) and sent it across the pond to me. I'd tried to find a good copy of this in the U.S. at a decent price, and even the online dealers who generally hook me up with the good stuff couldn't help. But Judith did.

Judith, dear - I hope you find something really nice in the plum pudding this year. Like tickets to Italy. Or a tiara.

Santa is probably still sitting in an FAA briefing about revised no-fly zones, but I feel like he's already landed at my apartment. I'm touched, I'm grateful. I'm put to shame. And all I can say is, thank you.


Cynthia said...

I so love your illustrations--yesterday's Nativity was amazing. I hope you don't mind, but I have printed it out and gave it to all my knitting group friends who are not on-line. We are all koigu junkies. On my wish list is a Kali clothing item. Hope he found you and it in time for St. Nick.

Glad to hear of someone who actually likes the holidays. It is easy to forget that all the extra stuff we do at this time of year is supposed to be for fun--the parties, buying gifts for people we care about, etc. I admit, I get down because of it at times. Your post today made me see there is no need to be down. This is a fun time of year.

Happy Holidays--enjoy Christmas AND New Year's eve. That's my reason for using the plural and currently under attack HH....

Mom said...

I love the the picture. You do such a wonderful job. This is wonderful time of the year and I can't wait until next week when we will be all together. The gifts you got sound wonderful. See you soon.

Jenn said...

Please sketch that FAA briefing you mentioned - how cute would that be!

greg said...

Franklin, I feel uplifted just having read your blog today. Thanks.

Ted said...

I'm an over-achiever!?

Coming from someone who works a job, maintains a household, maintains a relationship, sketches daily, posts a blog entry...what?...4 times weekly, goes to the gym, and gets as much knitting done as you do, along with reading books, taking pictures, listening to music and who knows what else...

Enjoy the book and the CD. I'm glad they are good choices for you. I hope to see many pairs of socks here.

Susan said...

Ahhh, I know how you feel about Mary Thomas' books... I have a first of her Knitting Book and a second of her Knitting Patterns book and I treasure both of them compleatly. The Knitted Patterns book was lovingly owned by another knitter, who knitted many of the patterns in the book, as evidinced by the amazing amount of notes and lightly crossed out lines in the patterns. Makes it even more special for me.

Ellen in Conn said...

Franklin, I think I spooked some guy in Borders Books this evening. I smiled so broadly at him, and watched him go along the shelves for awaaay too long for politeness, because he had glasses, a tightly-curled cap-brim, shaved head, olive skin, a little beard, rather un-tall, black leather jacket. I was so thrilled to see him, although he wasn't what he looked like (I think).

Meanwhile, I also love Christmas, especially whem I am not broke. I made the third double-batch of springerles today. Tomorrow it is ginger crinkles.


Helen said...

Please, please draw Santa at the FAA briefing!

Marie said...

You know, I don't think I've ever seen a fair isle gift wrap with a knitted bow. Any chance of a picture?

Anne said...

Have a great Christmas, Franklin. Enjoy the Isabel Bayrakdarian CD. She's a rising young star who will be debuting at Covent Garden (Susanna in Figaro, I think). I'm sure she'll have a great career. Happy knitting!

Sean said...

How're such a loved man and knitter and blogger. If I "get" you, I know you're really enjoying the love others have poured on you. Enjoy deserve it.

Jay said...

OMG! Must write Christmas cards! (rushes away from the computer in a mad panic)

Carol said...

Okay, I'm so very, very shallow, but why don't any of my readers sent me crumpet-scented letters or thoughtful packages with handmade gift wrap? (sniffle)


bess said...

A Very Merry X-Mas and holiday to you Franklin...I love seeing your sketches, reading your thoughts and seeing your knit work--a big thanks for mentioning james on you last entry.I went to see his work, based on you support and he is truly a remarkable knitter. i love his use of colour and texture--my new years resoloutions should be a) learn to spell correctly b) to become a more risky and freespirited knitter--i really do love this whole community of knitters i have met ---and it all started with Marge's Gallery of Ghastlies 10/04--i laughed and prayed i wasn't one of the candidates--she is a total hoot-love her total honesty, integrety, talents, Can't wait for the book to come out---well that is all for now--enjoy these days ahead--g-d knows we all need some gentle, sweet,ernast spirit this season

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You made those gifts become one to each reader as well.

Kate said...

Thank you once again Frankiln, for your witty and entertaining writings - I am a big fan of Mary Thomas also as she has such a genteel way of putting things eg; "The true motion of Knitting is circular, and not to and fro. This is an adaptation, to which all reverse actions are an expediency."

Festive greetings

weaselrina said...

Thank you for an uplifting post!
I always leave your site smiling but today was special.. :)

Ween said...

How nice it is to read that some one enjoys this time as year as I do. I finally gave up wasting my money on Christmas cards that wouldn't get mailed before Christmas this year. The last 2 years, I've purchased cards and have even put stamps and written many of the cards, but never actually got them to the mailbox. Ugh, well, it's the thought that counts, right? :) I don't stress about Christmas either. I love every moment of decorating and even enjoy hitting the mall for that one last gift on Christmas eve! I'd say that the only down fall to Southern California is that many times it's a little to warm this time of year and it does take away from "feeling" of the holiday season. When you have to wear a tank and shorts just to sit by the fire and drink hot cider just isn't the same :)

Your gifts sound lovely, I'm quite envious, you deserve every one of them. I would love to see and get a print of Santa and an FAA briefing ... my husband is a commerical pilot, he'd get a kick out of it too.

Happy Holidays to you Franklin and all your readers as well.


Jon said...

Ha. I actually sent cards out. Don't expect a life story but it's a card.

I think that's the first time in my life I have ever sent out Christmas cards....hmmmmm

Jan aka Warrior Knitter said...

I love your drawings. They're a gift. I so enjoy reading your blog & then to find such wonderful illustrations sprinkled here & there. And so many with witty knitting content. It's difficult to find such marvelous kntting-theme drawings & then your clever comments make them even more special.

Merry, merry Christmas, Franklin.

Sahara said...

There is another Living fan of the Great Mary Thomas–me. In fact, I'm one of those people crazy enough to put to visit her grave and put flowers on it. God bless Judith. I would love to know about Mary's life.

Have a wonderful holiday, and kiss your sister for me.

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