Thursday, November 11, 2010

Peek on Earth

Judging from the pile of comments, the little movie in the last post touched a chord in quite a few tender hearts. Mind you, whether that chord was major or minor depended on how the heart was feeling about this year's roster of holiday knitting.

I'm taking my own on the road (to sweet Loop in Philadelphia for classes on lace and photography, information here) tomorrow, but before I head for the airport I'd like to let you know that this year's edition of the annual Panopticon Shop Holiday Knitting Ornament, "No Peeking," is ready and waiting in the shop. I've put it on cards as well. I do hope you will like it.

2010 Holiday Knitting Ornament

Peeking at your presents is a time-honored holiday tradition. Our family had another, related tradition: a merry reminder from my mother that any child caught or even suspected of hunting around for hidden goodies would get to watch in silent horror as every last box and bag went back to Santa's Workshop. I was 23 years old before I could open a closet door between Thanksgiving and Christmas without having an anxiety attack.

51 comments:

Devon said...

As a child I really enjoyed wrapping Christmas presents. That crafty urge started young I guess. When I heard that people would peek in wrapping before Christmas to see what they were getting I thought that was blasphemy. After that I when I wrapped presents I would tape the entirety of all the seams. It made sure that no one could peak in them, but it also resulted in presents being difficult to open!

Ang. said...

We had the same rule at our house. No one believed my mom would follow through, but there was just enough doubt in our minds not to push our luck. Adorable ornament, and cartoon mice are my weakness. Must have.

an said...

YAYZ!!!!! the ornament is up; must.have.for.myself!

I will not be able to join you in town, so I send you smooches and hugs virtually!

Kayten said...

When my kids were little, the gifts were kept in a large cardboard carton in the bedroom on top of which I left a larger pile of clothing that needed folding. I don't think they ever found them. Clean laundry has cooties, you know!

Love the ornament!

otter in portland said...

I read your story to my DH and he wants to know if that's why you came out of the closet?

Rosalind said...

Peeking? We weren't even allow to touch the presents under the tree. And Mum would place all of them label down, so you didn't even know which one was yours, in a particular manner so she'd know if they'd been touched. Certainly made Christmas morning exciting.

Kathie said...

Some people like to peek; it heightens the excitement, I guess. Anticipation of knowing what you are getting isn't a bad thing.

Boo to all those fuddy duddies that insist things are done their way! Is the gift given with any less love if you know what it is?

Sherilyn said...

My youngest brother (who is seven years older than me) taught me at a young age the fine art of unwrapping a present without showing any telltale signs that it had been unwrapped. I didn't like to do it, though. I wanted to wait. He always knew exactly what was waiting for him under the tree.

To this day, at age 48, he will still go shake a few presents if we are together at my parents for Christmas.

Sherilyn said...

He isn't 48, he is 49. Which means I'm only 41 for a few more days.

You know you are getting old when you can't remember how old you are.

dale-harriet said...

On another (perhaps sadder) note: my mother had that rule - but one year I did peek, and found a doll I'd wanted SO BAD!! Somehow (helas!) I let it slip that I'd peeked. Mother got us both dressed, put on her hat and gloves, unwrapped the doll and took me downtown on the streetcar where the doll was returned! (There's more to it but nevermind; suffice it to say I have a matched set of baggage left over from that one.)

Jessica said...

I love the ornament! My sister actually canceled Christmas for her kids one year. They still talk about it. They were teenagers and she warned them that if they didn't stop fighting she'd cancel the holiday. Christmas Eve the older one threw a shoe at the younger one and the shoe went through the TV screen. End of Christmas.

I wish I could come see you at Loop! Unfortunately my baby nephew gave me the plague and I'm avoiding people that I actually like to prevent them from getting it.

Anonymous said...

"Peeking at your presents is a time-honored holiday tradition."

...so is jumping the gun by about two months with the holiday gift ideas and suggestions :-(((

The Foggy Knitter said...

I don't peek at my presents, but I do inspect the parcels under the tree most carefully and squish them and feel them and try to guess! Still fun but doesn't spoil the surprise.

Molly said...

I still like to creep out in the middle of the night and see the tree all lit up in the darkness. Once as a kid I saw this fabulous stuffed monkey sticking out of my stocking - I was excited at first, but when the morning finally rolled around, I felt so guilty that I burst into tears and confessed. I never was much of a liar!

lincannon said...

I did the same thing, I still have one child that if allowed to shake can guess what is in it. I think he did the wrap unwrap thing but anyway. He is turning 40 soon and still does it. Love him though.

ringer said...

loved the little movie... still sniggering...wish I knew a real way to say 'thank you' for that!

my xmas closet story is that my older sibs took me on a closet raid when I was much too young, really took the stuffing out of the whole thing for years.

Diane said...

When I was maybe 10, my sister was snooping in the crawlspace in my parents' bedroom and found our presents--two lovely identical black fake fur coats (and no, I don't wear fur now, even fake). Somehow, they found out and the coats were exchanged--she got the same coat, only white--if anything, even prettier. I got a horrible blue plaid thing I didn't grow out of for two years.
I didn't learn my lesson--I still snoop every chance I get.

wootsauce said...

I never really felt the need to peek, but my mom staged a preemptive strike by having her older sister keep all our presents at her house until Christmas anyway. The presents under the tree before then were mostly gifts from us kids to her or eachother. I think the surprise is the best part of giving an awesome gift, especially at Christmas when you're already not going to be surprised to get a gift.

Kristen said...

SSSQQQQQQQUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEE!!! MOUSIES!!!

Er, uh, ahem. Yes, well. Thank you, Franklin, for providing a delightful ornament that will compliment my holiday decor.

Lene said...

I always knew where mom hid the gifts, and one year I managed to sneak a peek at all my gifts. That was the most boring and dissapointing Christmas EVER!, so I never did that again. The mice on the ornament goes perfectly here in Norway, one of our favourite Christmas song is about mice celebrating Christmas eve:)

J. Kwiatkowski said...

omg! I love that little movie, I watch it everyday!
Although we had no set policy on peeking, I would never do it. I wanted to be surprised.

Seanna Lea said...

I hate peeking. I would rather be surprised!

Of course, one of my friends is notorious for shaking his presents. One year we got him a jar of chocolate body paint (to put on ice cream of course) and put it in a box. We padded the package a bit and then through in a partial bottle of ibuprophen. It was fun watching him try and puzzle out what it might be.

Anonymous said...

We used to wrap a small delightful gift in the appropriate size box, then pad and wrap it in a larger size box frequently including some candy or other little treats, then that would get wrapped in a bigger box which might include clothing,etc., many times over sometimes including rocks or bricks or things that made noise, just to throw everyone off until the box was really quite large! Fun to wrap and fun to unwrap!!

Lauren said...

In my family it was opening boxes that got us in trouble. To this day, if I'm at my Mother's house and she received a package I won't even touch it especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Jules said...

When I was 13 years old, my mother taught me how to (very carefully) use a razor blade to slice open the tape on wrapped presents, peek at what was inside, and then put a new piece of tape imperceptibly over the old sliced piece. No "no peeking" rules at our house, by cracky. :)

Kathy said...

That reminds me of a story my boss used to tell - his mother had the rule and he and his brother used to peek. If they liked what they saw they kept quiet, if not they told her so they would get something else....he was very sneaky...

Blythie said...

The 'No Peeking' mousie design is absolutely gorgeous. I must admit though, I read this blog entry in a bit of a rush just before leaving for work and misread the second to last sentence. Imagine the look of horror and disbelief on my face when I thought for a moment that your mother threatened to send your gifts back to 'Satan's Workshop'. My, what kind of children's gifts would you get from there?

Michele / akkasha said...

I think I was about 9-10 when I discovered the present stash one year and looked at all my presents. When Christmas morning arrived, I was so disappointed there was no surprise that I never peeked again. And I would prefer surprise presents over telling people what to get me for that reason. I love the feeling of surprise with pressies.

Shari said...

Reading these posts, I'm glad I'm Jewish. I don't think I'd get through even one Christmas season without massive heart failure. We Hebs have enough angst without having to deal with that too.

Bernadette said...

So entirely by coincidence (I'm actually from Ohio, and was in Philadelphia visiting my sister) I ended up walking into Loop yesterday and seeing you there. Unfortunately, this occasioned such an outbreak of surprise-induced shyness (especially since I couldn't afford to buy a book for you to sign)that I didn't introduce myself even thought I've been reading your blog for approximately forever. So, this is a little after the fact, but hi!

Flavaknits said...

"pochling or pockling" was an art form in our house - Mum being the worst. She didn't actually open the gift but prodded and poked about it so much she knew what it was! Mx

Sue said...

My brothers and I found our Christmas gifts one year in a big box on the top shelf in the basement. My mother told us Santa was having her keep them for the kids across the street. I guess we believed her!
I've been known to slit the tape on the wrapping paper, open and peek at the gift, then put new tape on over the old tape. My mother never knew till I told her once I was an adult.

Anonymous said...

Being of Indian ancestry, we never had Christmas Presents either but we always had great food and New Years to us was always a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with the works, lol, how we loved that! Having grown up w/o presents, I guess we went overboard when we had our kids. One year the two older girls looked thru my closet and found out everything they were getting, even the stocking stuffers, the little devils!! Having to work full time I didn't have time to exchange them and thought, bugger it, let them look. Later they told me that was the most boring Christmas ever and have never peeked again! When they were very small, aged 5-7, we did Christmas by handing out 1 present every 1/2 hour and that way Christmas lasted all day! The kids still remember those Christmases, my young son, however, no way, he opens everything NOW! cheers, Deb

Lester's Mama said...

My Mum must have gone to the same Mother School as your Mom.
Peeking at our house resulted in the same effect as at your house.

jayayceeblog said...

That little movie is a total hoot -- I read it in Vogue Knitting! *snort* We use so much tape on our presents, you need dynamite to open them. No peeking would ever happen! =D

Miss Sandra said...

Ours were hidden under the cellar stairs behind the old dresser. The cat led us to them. We wouldn't leave it alone and that's where it went to hide. Stash!

joeyshouse said...

There was a good deal of subterfuge involving Christmas presents when I was a kid. Presents were purposely mislabeled, or wrapped to resemble things that they were not. As we got older my brother and I got more involved in the present espionage. My crowning achievement - wrapping my brother's gift in a custom made 4'x4'x4' box complete with a false floor and bolts dangling from string on the inside so it would rattle. It was filled with newspaper and bricks. Hey, if you're going to go over the top you may as well go WAY over.

Jeanne said...

My mother used to hide our presents in the spare bedroom and tell us not to open the door. No lock, no threats, just "DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR". I never did. I had a child of my own before I even began to wonder how my mother pulled that off. I used to hide my son's presents in the trunk of my car, under the blanket and snow shovel.

k1yok2tog said...

I wasn't a peeker. With my birthday being Nov. 30th and my brother's being Dec. 18th, somewhere around the end of October/first of November came this phrase that is still said with much seriousness: "Don't ask questions this time of the year."
It starts earlier now as my son is 10/19, my SIL is 12/25, my DH is 1/7 and nephew is 1/17.

Anonymous said...

This is a serious artistic question - why is the mouse knitting with the needles upside down? I just severely criticized a children's picture book that had an owl knitting - the needles were upside down in every picture. Seriously - wouldn't the stitches fall off?

Franklin said...

To answer your question, Anonymous, the needles aren't "upside down." That manner of the holding the needles - which isn't often seen these days - was once (in the 19th and early 20th centuries) commonly taught as appearing more delicate and refined than holding the needles with the needles under the palms of the hands. Or in this case, paws. See Richard Rutt's "A History of Hand Knitting" for further discussion and documentation.

I made the choice to use this orientation after trying both and deciding this one made a stronger graphic statement. If it were incorrect, it wouldn't appear in m work. I take pains to keep things accurate - insofar as one can speak of accuracy in a drawing of a knitting mouse.

I've tested this method, to see how it compares to the more common under-the-palms method. I found that although the stitches seemed no more inclined to slip off, other maneuvers (like wrapping) were awkward and the speed was definitely slower. Since I didn't feel I was gaining anything in the way of refinement, I switched back to my usual method.

Then again, I'm not a mouse.

Chances are, the owl you severely criticized may also have been an old-school knitter.

Hope that answers your question.

Connie said...

Question really...any chance you still have 2009 notecards available???

Lokismom said...

My mom (now in her seventies) always told us that if we said Santa wasn't real, he would stop bringing us gifts.

Needless to say, all of us still hold a strong belief in the jolly old elf.

Quilting Mama said...

I was one of those kids who got caught peeking. Boy was I surprised when packages I knew were purchased didn't show up under the tree.
Thanks for another wonderful ornament this year. My collection continues to grow.

YarnPlayCafe said...

Hah hahhahh. I totally peeked and did not get caught, ever. They did not hide the presents very well and they were never wrapped, not even on Christmas Day. My mom always said, "Peek if you want to, but you'll ruin the surprise." So instead of anxiety, it was guilt.

Anonymous said...

My family has always had the same rule...and when I married, it came along with me. The kids have always been fine with it... the hubby darn near vibrates with the internal conflict...lol

cheers, Kate

Anonymous said...

the mouse is adorable, but
this made me think of
franklin...after too
much dolores...
http://icanhascheezburger.com/2010/11/23/funny-pictures-around-the-interwebs-12/

Karen C.K. Ballard said...

Hi, altho' your story about Christmas snooping brought back memories, I am really writing about knitting cartoons. I just bought a copy of your book, but don't expect it to have the cartoon I need ASAP. I am looking for a 1921 Punch cartoon, "Do-it-yourself Age - Father's Home Made Sweater." Can you tell me where I might be able to find a copy? Regards, Karen (aka: threadwinder@aol.com)

Anonymous said...

You need to put up a new post! I've checking every day and there's no new post!

Terry said...

It's 20 days until Christmas, silly. He's busy KNITTING!!!

Randal said...

It won't truly have success, I believe this way.
play games