I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that though Christmas 2008 is now but a fading memory and a stack of credit card bills, you might still like to see my Christmas knitting.
Child's mittens, two, of the "warm woolen" variety. Cheaper than bright copper kettles or cream-colored ponies, and easier to wrap than schnitzel with noodles. Also, you can start a pair of these on the 16th of December and not sweat the finish line. I was done by the 20th.
The free pattern they're based on is here. I found it through Ravelry's search feature in about four seconds. I decided to work them using Jo Sharp DK left over from Susan's ruana, in a simple color pattern I charted myself. The extra-long cuffs are a handsome feature–no snow is going to get past them, and it snows a great deal in northern New England.
I didn't have Abigail's hand measurements. I couldn't ask for them without spoiling the surprise. I realized I'd have to trust the pattern, and sneak in a fitting after I got to Maine.
Flash forward to a few days before Christmas. With both parents safely at work, my mother and I sat Abigail down to try on her gift. They fit. Delight all around. Abigail waved her warm, woolen hands cheerfully in the air and said a new word: mittens.
I was still working the two-color I-cord on the sly, and whenever Abigail caught me in flagrante me she'd say "Unka Fwank. Knit. Yarn. Mittens!" Or she'd walk into the upstairs bathroom, where we'd done the washing and blocking and trying-on, and say, "Mittens!" Or she'd see somebody on television wearing mittens and say, "Mittens. Knit. Unka Fwank!"
On Christmas Eve, I wrapped up the box in snowman paper. "Unka Fwank, Mittens!" said Abigail. "Present!"
"Listen, honeybunch," I whispered. "Let's try to keep that just between us for another twenty-fours, shall we?"
"Present!" screamed Abigail.
Abigail was fascinated by the presents. They were probably what she remembered most about last year, her first Christmas, when she'd just learned to get around the living room by rolling over. The first place she rolled to was the Christmas tree, and the first thing she did was grab a package and start ripping.
This year, being 19 months old and ambulatory, she had been warned sternly to keep clear of the tree. The presents underneath, furthermore, were not to be touched. She'd often wander over to them and stare longingly, but if she extended so much as a finger a voice would bark, "Abigail! Don't touch the presents under the tree!"
And she'd dutifully back away, leaving the glittering pile undisturbed.
Her mittens were the last gift I wrapped, and I was about to add them to the heap when somebody called me to help with something urgent in the kitchen. In my haste, I left the box on the table next to the sofa.
About half an hour later, arranging cookies on a platter, I heard a jubilant squeak followed by the sound of Phil asking, "Hey! Where did you get those?"
We had said over and over not to touch the presents under the tree. We had said nothing about presents sitting around on tables. Abigail (whose father, I might add, is a lawyer) must have decided she was safe on a technicality.
What the heck. It was Christmas Eve. And I got an early present myself, which was watching her parade around in them, refusing to take them off, fully engulfed in a flood of Mitten Joy.
You know what this is a picture of? This is a picture of a kid whose uncle will be happy to knit her a cream-colored pony and a stable to put it in if she wants one.