The holidays are generally characterized by selflessness. It’s a time when we’re able to think about others, appreciate the role they have in our lives, and meaningfully express our gratitude to them. Whether that involves the holiday hustle for gifts, cookies and decor or time spent giving back to our communities, we’re usually quite busy through the month of December.
I read a very interesting op-ed in the NYTimes on the season of Advent early in December, and it really helped me step back and think differently about the holiday season. While my holiday was more reserved than usual, I appreciated it more than ever. In thinking about my family, friends and community so much over the past month, I have a different appreciation for New Years Resolutions, as well. I’ve spent the last handful of weeks reflecting on people in my circles. It feels natural to turn inward and think about how to take care of myself – and I hope everyone feels ready to take care of themselves as we enter the new year.
This is where selfish knitting resumes. Whether you’re ready to make yourself something big or small, it’s time to revel in every single stitch that it takes to make yourself something by hand. I asked all the Wool & Grace staff about their own selfish knitting plans and I got back some great responses.
Carrie, for one, is looking forward to finishing some selfish WIPs. She started a Carbeth sweater using Brooklyn Tweed Quarry and is also knitting the Loopy Mango Rhinebeck Cardigan using their Merino Worsted in Moody Blues. Can I just say, these are both excellent selfish knitting projects. First of all, they are sweaters – and there is something incredibly satisfying about wearing a sweater that you made for yourself. Also, these are both relatively quick-knitting projects. Carbeth is made with a bulky-weight yarn on an approximately US11 (or if you’re a loose knitter like me, a US10) needle. The point is – at this gauge there are fewer stitches per sweater. The Rhinebeck Cardigan is a similar gauge, and you knit up the sweater on a US17 needle for a light and lofty gauge. Two selfish sweaters that will knit up kind-of-fast? Sounds like a very satisfying way to start the year.
Linda started a smaller project for a selfish project to ring in the new year. I think she sums it quite nicely:
“I started a pair of fingerless mitts using Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts pattern and Sherpherd’s Wool yarn. I am a big fan of fingerless mitts in cool weather and this pattern knits up fast but has a longer and lacy cuff. I also am loving the Shepherd’s Wool that makes a nice, warm gauge, but not bulky.”
She’s right that Shepherd’s Wool is a good choice. This straightforward yarn is easy to work with and gets softer the more you love and wear it. Starting with a small project is also a good thing: it being small means it’ll be finished more quickly. To be able to begin and complete a project in itself is an accomplishment, and it feels extra nice when we do it for ourselves.
Alex is working on two different projects (as most of us do) and both of them are selfish. As she put it, she made EIGHT knitted gifts for the holidays, and it is time for her to do something for herself. I couldn’t agree more, and I’m loving her skill building projects that she’s making for herself.
One project is Mailin, a pullover designed by Isabell Kraemer, and she’s knitting it in HiKoo’s Kenzie. Isabell Kraemer patterns always require a bit of mental focus at the start. They’re all top-down and when you put together that construction with stitch patterns, it can be a challenge for some of us. I think there’s something really nice about doing these mind-bendy projects for ourselves. I always come away from them feeling like I solved a puzzle (and smarter because of it). Kenzie is a lovely yarn, and we don’t experience the extent of its loveliness until after blocking because it blooms beautifully with a wet-blocking.
Alex’s second project is Loopy Mango’s My First Cable Blanket knit up with Merino No. 5. Alex loves knitting blankets, and so she’s diving into another one of these beloved projects. Here she’s showing off her skill: when you knit a cabled blanket you get REALLY good at cables because you do a ton of them. This project is going to be a stunner, and I’m delighted that Alex is keeping this one for herself.
Patty also enjoyed some selfish-cable-fun in a just-completed project – the October Hat. This gorgeous hat is riddled with cables, which makes it highly elastic, thick and warm. It’s the perfect project to go with her new coat. There’s lots of skill building in this project, as well. A tubular cast-on is a fun technique to learn, and this hat starts with a 2×1 ribbing (a little less conventional for this cast-on method)! All those cables keep you busy and engaged. Once again, it feels really nice when you’re putting mental focus and time into something for yourself. You can use any worsted-weight yarn to knit this hat, so consider Kenzie, Shelter, Shepherd’s Wool or Sueño Worsted as a few options.
I have a big and little project queued up for myself. Starting small, I’m looking forward to making myself an Edelweiss Hat out of Loopy Mango Merino No. 5. I made a big and little duo of these as a gift over the holidays, and I had so much fun making it that I’m looking forward to having one for myself.
My big, selfish project involves making a Svenson out of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor. Arbor is my all-time-favorite-yarn to knit with, because it’s round and bouncy and rolls off my fingers. It’s a dream to work with for cables, and Svenson has a ton of them. I like to do one really intricate project every year, and 2019 didn’t have one, so I’m committed to finally making this for myself.
Knitting is in itself an act of kindness we can give to ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to slow down and to be in the moment. I think 2020 calls for us to double down, so we can make some things for ourselves.