It's Christmas Eve in Chicago. Though a bit more gift wrapping must be seen to, the approach to a quiet holiday is otherwise unobstructed.
I know not everyone reading this celebrates Christmas, but it's certainly part of my heritage. In the spirit of the season, I'd like to offer a warm cup of holiday knitting to one and all–regardless of whether or not you usually partake.
There are veritable snowdrifts of patterns for knitting up Santa Claus, snowmen, candy canes, reindeer (plain- and red-nosed), elves, nativity scenes, mice (stirring), bears (teddy), toy soldiers (because nothing says Peace on Earth like a trained killer with a rifle) and most the rest of the cast of sugarplums.
But I was shocked–shocked–when I consulted the Ravelry pattern database and found not a single representation of the character I (and many millions of others) consider essential to a well-balanced festive season: Krampus.
Do you know Krampus? If not, a few words of introduction.
He is, mainly in Alpine countries, the friend and companion of dear Saint Nicholas. His useful function is to deal with the children whose behavior in the year past has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
This is, I believe, a most logical and reasonable division of labor. In America, we not only expect Santa Claus to reward the good children by scattering presents around; we also require–in the course of the same evening–that he stick lumps of coal into the stockings of the naughty. Have you ever held a lump of coal? I have. It's heavy, it's dusty, and it leaves black smudges all over everything.
Is it fair, I ask you, to make a man wearing white fur cuffs distribute tons of coal and tons of gifts from a miniature sleigh with less horsepower than a riding lawn mower? I think not.
Countries which employ Krampus do things far better.
Saint Nicholas visits only the nice children, hands around the goodies, and calls it a night. Krampus, meanwhile, drops in on the bad children–the ones who didn't finish their vegetables, and stuck out their tongues at Grandma, and boosted the ratings for Glee while Community was put on hiatus. He smacks them soundly with a bundle of birch twigs; licks them with his long, slimy tongue; carries them away screaming in the basket on his back. When he's good and ready, he tears them limb from limb and then eats them.
Note that coal doesn't even enter the picture. Krampus is very eco-friendly and discourages the consumption of fossil fuels.
That such a darling fellow should be absent from the knitting round-up appalls me. To redress the imbalance, I present the Little Knitted Krampus.
He is made from several colors of Skacel's excellent Fortissima Socka sock yarn, and the free pattern will appear in a few days.
My gift, gentle reader, to you–provided you've been a good child.
Otherwise, expect the Real Thing to tap on your door and spread you on toast like a chicken liver.
Merry Christmas from me, Dolores, Harry, and whole of the Sock Yarn Colony. We love you very much.
P.S. If you'd like to see more of Krampus, including absolutely adorable Krampuskarten from the 19th and 20th centuries that I used as visual references, visit this site. An animated treatment sure to gladden the hearts of your children (show it to them just before bedtime) is available on Youtube.
P.P.S. Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochiland, I wouldn't have had the chutzpah to tackle my first knitted toy design without your inspiration, encouragement, and the excellent treatment of the technical aspects in your books. Thank you!