Saturday, 22 December 2012

Stress-free Christmas knitting

December has flown by, and suddenly here it is almost Christmas!

Fortunately I kept my Christmas knitting goals to the absolute minimum this year. This was especially fortuitous because in late November we learned that my husband had been offered a research fellowship in France, which meant he could take a leave of absence from his research fellowship in Oxford, which meant no more college supplied flat!

So we've spent the last month stressing about moving before the end of the year. We were lucky to find a lovely flat in Wolvercote, in North Oxford, but even so, it has meant a lot of running around making arrangements. And now we have to pack up and move. But not until after Christmas.

Usually we go to spend alternate Christmas with family, and this year would usually have been my husband's parents' turn in Suffolk. But even before we found out about the move, we had decided to spend our first Christmas together without family. Fortunately, my in-laws are not sentimental about Christmas, and they seemed perfectly happy to have us come for a few days after Christmas instead.

I, being entirely unsentimental myself, don't believe in Christmas for adults. Or rather, I don't believe in the gift-giving frenzy that Christmas has become. Food, drink and company is fine, but Christmas presents under the tree are for children. Since we don't have any, we've already gotten the gift exchange over and done with. I got a pearl necklace (chosen and purchased by me), and my husband got a Kindle Fire (chosen and purchased by me). I'm in charge of the shopping in this family, which simplifies things immensely.

We'll be spending Christmas day with friends, so I made a concession to my gift policy and put together little bags filled with stocking stuffer gifts - including one knitted item each.

So for the past few weeks I've been happily knitting up Christmas balls from 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. These ornaments are so quick, so cute and so fun, I might never do any other kind of Christmas knitting again. And as an added advantage, I can use the completed ones to decorate my tree before I give them away. The only part I don't like is painstakingly inserting the stuffing through the tiny hole at the bottom - but at least there are no small parts to attach, as with so many other types of knitted toys, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm knitting mine in an American Shetland wool called Harrisville Designs Shetland (nice to know that there is a Shetland yarn for Americans who like to buy local). I did the first couple of balls in the size needles the pattern called for - 3m - but decided the balls were too big, so dropped down the 2.25m. The smaller balls are a better size for my small tree, and the patterns are more distinct. Here are two of my favourites:

I have already chosen recipients for the balls I've knit, so I'll need to make sure to have at least one left over for myself in the end. I was thinking I would try to knit one or two new patterns for myself each year, so I can slowly accumulate a full set. There is enough pressure with gift knitting each year, no need to try to knit a whole set of tree decorations in one go!