i used some of that 'waiting for death' time to fulfill an unreasonable request on the part of my favorite animator. he has a birthday coming up in a few days, so i made the mistake a couple weeks ago of asking what he wanted for said occasion. i should point out that i prefaced the question with an audible long-exhale of the kind that usually indicates that something unpleasant is about to happen, because i already knew what the answer would be, and i already knew it would be long-exhale-worthy.
me: uhm... sweetie, you know how you have a birthday coming up soon...?
him : [after a pronounced pause] oh... yes, i do.
me: i'm gonna pretend that it didn't just take you that long to remember your own birthday, but... uhm... do you... uhm... know what you'll.... uhm.... want for your birthday?
at which point, he lit up like a Maglite® with fresh batteries.
him: YOU are gonna make ME a pair of hand-knit socks for my birthday!
and then i long-exhaled again.
it is not that i do not like knitting for him. he is incredibly knit-worthy, as he actually wears the stuff i make. he wears the mossy green sweater over a t-shirt quite regularly, and the sweater with the wrath-of-khan collar is his favorite extra layer on the coldest of Winter days. he has not worn the grey cardi i made for Christmas, mainly because i still cannot locate the suede patches that need to be sewn on the elbows, but that will eventually join the rotation of warm, wintry things. but, most of all, he loves that heck out of those socks i made for him a year-and-a-half ago... and THAT is the problem.
he keeps talking about how much he loves those socks. every... single... time... he puts them on, he has to comment about how comfy they are. he refers to them as his "lucky socks", and he wears them every time he has to go meet with some Director/Producer-type-person of whatever show he is working on.
me: do you realize you always wear those socks whenever you have to go to a big meeting?
him: i know. they're my lucky socks.
me: what is possibly lucky about a pair of socks?
him: they just help me feel confident when i say "no" to whatever stupid change they want me to make.
he punctuated the last sentence with an implication-filled grin, and i responded with an extra-long-exhale, because i know that means that he wants me to make more of the silly things. why is that a problem, you ask? it is not like i have an aversion to knitting, or that i do not own enough sock yarn to getting him started on that all-hand-knit drawer of socks he keeps demanding. heck, i hand-dye yarn that rivals all that indie-dyed stuff people gush about in the knit-o-sphere. and, between Ravelry and my hard-copy library, i have enough sock patterns to keep me knitting for a few years without making the same sock twice. problem is... i just cannot get excited about knitting socks.
show me a sweater or cardi covered in intricate colorwork or cables, and my fingers instantly start twitching, while my brain goes to work selecting the perfect yarn from my stash to make it happen. i once knitted a large lace shawl in yarn the thickness of a newborn's hair... just because i was curious about making the thing. i have NEVER worn or used it for anything, and it has sat folded in a box for the past few years, waiting for me to re-purpose the yarn into something a bit more useful. point is... i do honestly, genuinely, absolutely enjoy knitting... just not socks for some odd reason.
so, there i was in my Winter-illness-riddled state, contemplating a list of things i could suggest to him as alternative gifts. more art/animation books for the studio? another limited-edition maquete of some comic/horror character to add to his multiple display cases? me sitting (relatively) still for a marathon of bad movies of his choosing... and not complaining (too much) through the whole thing? i even considered making that skull-fabric shirt he keeps hinting at every time i pull out the sewing machine, as he always manages to squeeze some unreasonable request into all of my crafty endeavors.
however, it was what he wanted for his birthday, and it really was a minor request in the grand scheme of things—plus, he never complains (too much) about the bags, buckets, and boxes of yarn all over our home—so i long-exhaled again and started planning. i began by presenting him with about a dozen different socks yarns (some purchased from the yarn shop around the corner, some my own hand-dyed offerings) to choose from, then i sat him down in front of a pre-selected (by me) assortment of sock patterns on Ravelry. he settled on the Mistletoe Socks by Verena Cohrs.
after casting on in the yarn he had selected, i made the executive decision to start over in a different yarn of my own choosing. with his (shall we say) rugged feet in mind, i skipped past the merino yarns and opted for a sturdier Blue-Faced Leicester (my all-around favorite sheep breed) blended with a bit of nylon. i dyed this yarn a few years back, after an afternoon of reading and daydreaming under a large tree in our local park. i was captivated by the little pops of color as the sunlight filtered through the leaves, so i went home and dyed a couple hanks of yarn and some fiber for spinning. i call the colorway Old Orchard, after the name of a street that borders our little park.
this yarn seemed to be an appropriate match for his choice of a botanic-themed sock pattern.
i like the way the pre-spun yarn (left) dyed up, but i was head-over-heels with how the colors played together once i spun up the dyed fiber (right). this may be my favorite of all the yarns i have spun to date. it was always my intent to turn it into a hat for him, as it would be delightful next to his green eyes. however —and i realize that this sounds a bit self-absorbed before i say it—this is possibly my best spinning effort to date, and i am inclined to hang on to it as a testament of sorts to my progress as a spinner.
so, there i was, tormenting myself for days on end with the knitting of socks on insanely tiny needles that keep stabbing into my fingers, when i arrived at a series of conclusions:
- birthdays mean that you get an automatic pass on an unreasonable request (i need to start contemplating one of my own for my birthday in June).
- love means that you are required to honor said request (even if it causes you physical pain... and many long-exhales).
- (but, most importantly) the act of knitting something that you really dislike means that you get to buy more yarn... totally guilt-free!!!
yep... that sounds like my kind of selfless sacrifice.
[i will talk about the finished socks (and the many restarts) in my next post.]
there was also that night, when i was on the sofa, tucked up under a fuzzy blanket, complaining about... well... everything. i was restless and cranky and thoroughly sick of feeling like the universe's punching bag. in the midst of all that crotchetiness, i was overcome by a sudden urge to bake something... at like one in the morning. so, i enlisted his help in making a small batch of kiflice, the lovely walnut shortbread crescents rolled in powdered sugar that his parents usually make by the hundreds during the holiday season. [random aside: the word kiflice refers to multiple baked treats in hrvatski, which leads me to question the creativity (or lack thereof) of the Croatian people.]
we have a bag of walnuts in the fridge that were ground using his dad's old-school grinder, so i have been experimenting with small batches to find the perfect cookie.
look at that yummy, nutty, crumbly texture.
i will document the process and share a recipe in the near future. for now, i am intensely close to walnut-crescent-cookie nirvana. the Little One seems to agree, as i had to hold the plate over my head while i ate to keep her away from my cookies. i did leave her some crumbly bits, which she licked up happily. there is something so extra-adorable about the tiny pink tongue on a kitten. and, speaking of nirvana... if you squint a bit, it almost looks like a creator-view of the cosmos. i always suspected it was a small cat.