at year’s end: a baby hat, an eternity scarf, a hat project.

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A baby hat for my cousin’s second daughter, born a few weeks before Christmas Day. (I enjoyed some serious baby time on Christmas Day, the wee one out cold in my arms. This hat is too big for her, but she was wearing it anyway. Yay!)

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Our traditional Christmas Eve meal: French onion soup and quiche Lorraine. This might be the first time I’ve ever snapped a picture of it.

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Also traditional: the Christmas Bloody Mary. Yum.

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This is the beginning of a hat project for P., our October houseguest. Everything in the house broke that week, and P. was pretty awesome about helping with (read: doing) re-lighting the pilot light on my furnace, locating the source of the water spraying all over my basement, and keeping me company on the porch while we waited for the power company to check out a potential gas leak. These are not the sorts of things houseguests are supposed to do, and so I volunteered to make him a hat! Stay tuned for more in progress pictures of this handspun seaman’s cap.

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Plyed, but not washed yet.

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A Boh interlude.

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More Boh, and the beginnings of a handspun eternity scarf I knit for myself amidst work-related stress.

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That was fast. This is merino I spun at least a year ago and it is SO soft.

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Here’s the beginning of P.’s hat. Such lovely dude colors.

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And here’s Boh, cuddling with my bright pink Mara shawl. And that should get us to the New Year. I’ll be back soon with more knitting and spinning from the beginning of 2014. (And thanks, you guys, for the comments, and for being here. I’m sorry I’m so behind on comments. I might just archive them and try to start fresh with my responding. Thanks for understanding.)

christmas week.

This is the first year in several years (really, the first since I picked up knitting again as an adult) that I didn’t knit any Christmas or Hanukkah presents. I didn’t necessarily plan it that way; it just turned out that this year I’m doing a lot of knitting for weddings instead. And somehow, despite bringing home the hap blanket and the socks I started a few weeks ago, I didn’t knit a stitch while I was at my parents’ house for Christmas. I did eat, however, and that’s mostly what I’ve got pictures of.

Every year my dad bakes Czechoslovakian hoska bread. And it is delicious.

Boh, laying in front of the beautiful tree at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Both of my parents wrap the prettiest presents I’ve ever seen. (I did not inherit this gift.)

A little bit of work in between Christmas celebrations. Mom and Dad napped; I made a pot of coffee and finished a book. (And it didn’t feel strange. Apparently this is how we roll. Or something.)

And then there was bear meat. This was a gift from my friends J. and E., the sweet folks who got married in the North Carolina mountains this fall. I brought it home so my parents could help me decide what to do with it — and help me eat it. Chili was prepared, and I was sent home with a hearty container’s worth for my freezer. (And it was delicious.)

I can’t believe it is already the end of the December!┬áHere’s hoping your holidays have been filled with family, friends, love, and the warmth of handknits.

(salad) spinning.

I’m not sure I can convey to you how very excited I am that Santa Claus brought me a salad spinner. (And a big, pretty one, at that.) I could not wait to get my greens home from the farm today so that I could play with my new toy.

Other new toys? These jar glasses from my mom’s kitchen (because I already drink out of a ball jar), and rainbow mixing bowls. Also, the kind of rolling pin that feels really good in your hands.

(Disregard that dog bone behind my right foot.) I scored two corduroy dresses — this one, and the same in purple — at the online sale at anthropologie. And new boots (thank you, REI dividend)! I promise to display them more prominently soon. I expect that these wardrobe additions will help in my continued quest to “fake it ’til I make it” at all sorts of things.

Despite the worried face, I think Boh is happy to be home in our apartment after a lovely week spent at my parents’ house. He is snoring and twitching (dreaming?) on the couch next to me right now. More soon.

5000 miles later…casita, sweet casita.

Apologies for the radio –err, blog — silence these last few weeks. I was expecting wireless at my parents’ house, but their router doesn’t like me. The holidays sapped any motivation I may have had to take the extra steps of transferring photos/blog content to a jump drive to use my dad’s computer. Result? Multiple holiday pictures and entries detailing my adventures.

First up? Christmas redux. Boh and I drove 1800 miles home in two days, aided by my new ipod, old episodes of my favorite podcasts, and Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, as read by Brenda Dayne for Librivox (highly recommended).

I arrived in time to bake and frost dozens of “spritz” cookies with my mom using her mother’s cookie press. (We ate the evidence. No photos.) I also learned that it is very difficult to work on secret holiday knitting in the home of the recipient. I did a lot of relaxing knitting at home, but didn’t get much time to work on Mom’s Montego, which made me a bit nervous. In fact, it wasn’t until I helped Santa arrange the presents under the Christmas tree that I had time to work on it — Christmas Eve night.

My mother may exclaim over my knitting and say that she isn’t crafty, but nobody wraps gifts the way she does. Her bows and packages are exquisite, and it is understood that we must ooh and ahh over the package before unwrapping it. No complaints here — my wrapping does not compare, and this is but one of the many things my mother has always done to make Christmas incredibly special. Take a look:

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My dad, ever the photography enthusiast, insisted that we get out the tripod for me to take this shot, and it made a huge difference. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is sitting with my dad in the living room, with only the lights from the tree illuminating the room. This is a more recent tradition of ours, and my younger brother still refuses to enjoy the tree after Santa has arrived. I really treasure this time with my dad.

After that, we were off to bed! Christmas comes early in my house, meaning my dad is up well before 6, and we are expected to follow his example.

No sleep for me just yet, however. I still had some Montego work to do. Earlier in the day, I swiped wrapping materials, and at bedtime, my elf-like fingers hurried to knit another 18 inches and attach the fringe.

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Victory! Here’s a late-night Christmas Eve shot of Montego on me.

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Hard to tell in this picture, but it is wrapped around my neck multiple times. I love this, and I am excited to make one for myself — I have another skein in a forest-y colorway. Most importantly, my mom LOVED it. No pictures of it on her, but she spent quite a bit of time marveling at how intricate it looks.

I don’t have any photographs of my family with their knitted gifts, but to recap, here’s what they received:

Mom: Montego Bay scarf and Luxe Neckwarmer

Dad: Hat (he received another year of Cook’s Illustrated!)

Brother: Scrap-happy Celebration Hat and Dashing

This is the first Christmas in my grown-up life that I’ve been a knitter, and I think that added to how well-received everything was. I finished all of my gifts in time for Christmas morning, but it was close! (I don’t know how Santa does it.)

Here’s one last shot of Christmas at my house: the fireplace. The smaller stockings were sewn by my grandmother from pieces of my grandfather’s clothes: his ties and his hunting jacket. (He died when I was very young.) The larger stockings were quilted by my mother.

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Mr. Claus was quite good to us this year — more on that in a later post. This year, I was able to spend some additional days at home, and it was the extra moments: wrapping and baking with my mom, enjoying fires in the fireplace and the lights of the tree with my dad, walking the dog with my brother, that made this a particularly wonderful holiday.