A Handmade Christmas

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This year’s trip to blustery Michigan proved to be one of the most relaxing and productive family trips on record. Not only did I get hours on end in the car to knit and listen to knitting podcasts, I also got to enjoy long days of knitting at my in-law’s house. As I type this, my fingers ache from over-exertion! My forearms feel a bit tingly and sore. I actually had to take a day off from knitting today so they could recover! Seriously, I do need to get to the gym, if only to strengthen my hands and arms for increased endurance.

Before we arrived at our final destination, Sweetie and I stopped over in Indiana for a reunion with some old friends. We were greeted warmly, treated to lots of homecooked food, games, and some demonstrations of our friend N’s newly acquired police training skills. Turns out, it does hurt to get hit in the chest with a police baton, even if you’re wearing a Kevlar vest. And I got the opportunity to see if I could wriggle out of a set of handcuffs. It looks so easy in the movies when people sit down and scooch their hips in between their arms and suddenly their hands are in front instead of behind them. (see No Country for Old Men if you want a truly impressive example of what can go awry if a detainee can accomplish this!) I was not successful.

And while this may sound like the best part of our time in Indiana, it got even more interesting when I asked K to teach me how to crochet. How to crochet a granny square, specifically. K is a prolific afghan crocheter, and I knew she was just the gal to get me started on an alternate yarn activity.

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My 1st Granny Square!

Turns out it’s not too bad! I think knowing how to knit really helped me pick up the pattern pretty quickly, and in just 1 hour I had this baby put to bed.

Fast forward to Michigan on Christmas eve where we all gathered to exchange gifts. I gifted a pair of wristwarmers to my mother- and sister-in-law, who both reacted enthusiastically.

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I had put each pair in an old Mason jar onto which I attached a label that said “Handmade for You” and gave fiber and care information. Little did I know those weren’t the only handmade gifts lurking under the tree…

May I present The Swing Coat:

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What’s a girl to do when she reaches into a gift bag and feels something soft and furry? Hope for a kitten? Maybe a nice throw for the couch? In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined what I was about to receive. The room was tense with anticipation at my response since everyone there already knew what was in the bag. There was a slight pause between the moment I recognized that this was a furry garment and when I reacted with an inhuman amount of enthusiasm.

I did what every good person whose mother-in-law has just spent hours sewing her a furry blue coat: I stood up, put it on, and did some twirls for everyone. And a couple of nights later, when company came over, I did it again, making sure to smile and effuse compliments to the seamstress. Because that is what you do when someone makes you something with their own mind and hands and heart. You graciously accept, and you compliment, and you appreciate all their hard work. I will probably never wear this coat again, but I know the time and the love that went into it, and for that I will always treasure it.

I also got some crochet-embellished towels

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That’s our 3rd and final pet, Maxwell P. Nubbins.  He has no tail or patience for other animals.

Best of all my gifts were these, about which no explanation is required:

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The gorgeous yarn pictured above is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Peacock. I happened across a yarn store or two in Michigan, and was delighted by this one: Yarns to Go. It was very well organized, with all the yarn in single layers on shelves and in baskets. And get this: the prices were marked either on the ball band or on a nice tag hanging above that type of yarn. It was nearly Nirvana!
So that concludes my journey down memory lane. It was a great trip, a generous Christmas, and as always, it’s good to be home.
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