Always the helpful advisor, Dr. Yarn provides guidance on planning one’s knitting projects for the season. This month he answers a question from a D.C. area reader.
Q. I’m planning my summer knitting and I heard you knitted some neat things last summer. Would you share what you did to help me in my summer knitting planning?
A. Sure! That is the way we knitters expand our horizons—by sharing ideas.
It was a routine summer for me. We were at our place on Martha’s Vineyard and attended a cookout at the Obama’s place. Michele insisted I take home some of the brownies she had made. I wasn’t prepared with a gift for her so I quickly knitted a wrap for her to use at formal state dinners and gave it to her when they stopped by for a weenie roast on the beach. She was delighted - she hadn’t been able to find anything she liked in the D.C. area.
The conversation naturally turned to gift giving and Michele mentioned that she had trouble finding gifts to exchange with other first ladies and especially the Queen of England. The Queen has about everything she needs for the house and kitchen, as you can imagine. This gift-giving quandary is just the opportunity for a hand-crafted item to shine, so I started on a lap blanket for Michelle to give to Liz (she lets good friends get colloquial with her name) for use in the open carriage she rides in for weddings and state occasions.
Truth be told, I almost bit off more than I could chew because the coat of arms in the center was a real hassle. All those ends to weave in! If the government had a nickel for every one of them, I believe we wouldn’t have to worry about debt ceilings.
As I always say, use as good a yarn as you can afford. For gifts, especially one like this, quality materials are even more important - I wouldn’t want the Queen to wonder if our country were in financial trouble.
Now you are not going to believe this, but last fall the Obamas were on the Big Island in Hawaii the same time we were there. I had just finished the blanket - it is OK if your summer knitting slips into fall. When I saw Michelle at McDonald’s I invited her and the family over for dessert, which is when I gave her the gift for the Queen. She was overjoyed, if I do say so myself.
We talked about ideas for Christmas giving, and she mentioned that her toughest job was gifts for the Secret Service people that guard the kids. I suggested that it would be no problem for me to knit several holsters for their guns. Again she was pleased and wanted to pay me, but of course I was glad to do my bit for our country. I had a pattern already (doesn’t everyone have a good holster pattern?) and used a soft yarn, some Malabrigo worsted weight, so as not to irritate the Secret Service folks’ chests. I was able to finish six before Christmas. I even got thank you notes from the Secret Service employees, who are nothing if not polite.
Of course, I finished off the summer with several pairs of booties for my friends; children and grandchildren. But these quickies don’t really count, do they?
Thanks for the question. This shows that we can always gain from sharing our ideas.