Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Overcommitted Much?

To be clear, the spoiler alert is specifically for my sisters and children of my sisters. And again, if you don't mind knowing ahead of time and can carry that knowledge guilt-free then I'm not going to get my panties in a knot over whether you know.

Christmas is almost here, after all!

To start at the beginning, I have to say that my grandmother (whom we all called "Oma"--that's Dutch) knit a lot and one of the patterns she was known for was a particular slipper pattern. It wasn't the only one she did, but she did it often and not many other people did.

The slipper was different in that it was knit flat as a series of different coloured squares and then "magically" seamed together to make a sort of harlequin or elvish slipper. You could make it from just two colours or use a different colour for each square. (A good way for my thrifty grandmother to use up all those scraps!)

The problem with the pattern is that no one in my immediate family thought to learn how to do it from Oma before she passed on. I heard that a cousin had the directions, but they said they had put it in a time capsule and it wouldn't be opened for at least a decade!

So I searched Ravelry with no results. I let it go for a while. Then searched again. This time I found the exact thing I was looking for...but the pattern was in Finnish! I applied an online translator which helped a little, but it really didn't know how to deal with the knitting terms. But the key was that the pattern had a chart which mapped out the seaming. Perfect, that's all I really needed!

I wrote up my own version of the pattern with some modifications on how it was knit up (especially to get rid of some of the ends which need to be worked in--yuck!) and used it for the class I taught at Red Purl over the fall.

But I also had another project going on which was mentioned in the blog as my "Christmas Surprise." I had the idea to knit a pair of slippers for every member of my family. I started back in May...surely I would have time!

Surely not, actually. I worked on the slippers pretty diligently in between other projects. They were ideal travel projects because they were small and I had the pattern memorized. But knitting up 21 slippers (yes, 21!) still takes a lot of time.

And a lot of wool, I realized. (I kind of dove into the project without considering all the little details like how much wool it would take and what the cost would be.) I had decided to use Lorna's Laces Shepherd because it's washable and feels great. I got the first few skeins cheap at the Lorna's Laces tour I took and some on sale at Red Purl. But when I considered the fact that an adult pair of slippers pretty much used up two full skeins, I realized I was beat. (We pick names in our family with a supposed limit of $20; if you get gifts for anyone else, they're expected to be less than that.)

But by that time, I had quite a number of them done:
So instead of going crazy trying to finish what I started, I changed the plan. I would knit just for the younger children in my family. That would only be six pairs of slippers, and a lot of them were already done.

Or so I thought. When I had a chance to measure my one niece's foot and then finally broke down and asked their moms what size shoe they all wore, I realized all my sizes were running small. I would have to knit a couple more pair, and they would have to be the larger ones. A pair of baby slippers I could do in an evening if I really kept at it, but it would take a lot more time for the older ones. And I've got other things to make!

Then a new lifeline appeared: my one sister's family was not going home to Mom's--her kids wouldn't be there for gift giving. And those were the bigger ones. Guess what...we're back on track. So although I started with grand plans, the end result was much more modest:
I have packaged up and am almost ready to mail four pair of kid's slippers and one adult pair for my mom.

I have found homes for almost all of the slippers I had made, mostly gifting them to the other side of the family and friends. The smallest pair were perfect to send to my great-nephew who was conveniently born just as I was realizing my sizing wasn't going to work out.

I also rewrote the pattern and printed up an "official" version which I will give to all my sisters. Then they can knit their own "Oma slippers" whenever they want.

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