Monday, December 28, 2015

The Christmas Surprise

 My husband is spoiled.  He gets a new sweater every other year, socks whenever he wants, and any other knits on request.  It just so happens, though, that last year was a sweater year, so he was not in any way, shape, or form expecting a knit gift for Christmas this year.
Silly man.  He should know me better!
I am a woman who LOVES to surprise my loved ones with the PERFECT Christmas gift.  (As a side note...this is a family trait.  We all care much less about what we get than about what we give.  It's almost a game to see who can make someone cry with just the right gift.)  My husband, though, is tricky.  Sweater years are the best because he does love his sweaters...and because then I don't have to plan to much beyond style and yarn.  Non-sweater years...well, my husband is a guy who doesn't want or need much, so they can be tough.
Enter Ravelry, and a pattern search for "Star Wars."
Oh yes, my husband is a Star Wars uber-fan of the first order, and I do this search periodically just to see what's out there.  When the Star Wars double knit scarf came up, I knew I HAD to make it for him.  It was absolutely perfect for soooo many reasons.
But there were a few problems.
1.  What kind of yarn should I use?  This is a trickier problem than you'd think because I can't go to yarn shops anymore because of my alpaca allergy.  Generally what I do is look at the yarns that other people have used, and then go from there with my reliable online yarn sources.  I was absolutely gobsmacked when  I found out that most of the people who've knit this gorgeous piece had used cheap acrylic yarns.  (Seriously...why would you put so much work into something like this and use crap yarn?!)  Yarn weights were all over the place, and the pattern itself is nothing more than the that didn't help.  After fussing about it for a few days I finally solved the problem when I decided to swatch with my leftovers from the shark hats.  I was very happy with the result, so I ordered my KnitPicks Gloss DK....guessing on the yarn amounts.
2.  I've never done double knitting before.  All new technique, with a deadline...ummm.....  I did a small amount of swatching, but mostly it was a learn as you go project, using M'Lou Barber's double knit book and Sockmatician youtube videos (found through the notes on ravelry from others who've done this scarf). I'm super glad that I've now learned this cool technique.  I love the fabric it makes, and the fact that it stretches the stitches so that you can use a chart on regular graph paper is amazing.  However, the next time I want to learn anything, perhaps I won't do it under such high-pressure circumstances.
3.  One shouldn't complain about a free pattern....but this one was published as simple charts on tumblr, which made printing them out in a format that was usable near impossible.  I finally solved the problem by taking screen shots with my ipad and then printing them out as pdf's...but it took multiple attempts to get them done correctly.
4.  My husband had vacation to burn, and so he kept taking days off...significantly reducing the amount of time I had to work on the scarf.  Seriously.  I had a mild freak-out every time he announced another day off.
I'm sure my husband thought I was the laziest woman in the world because from the day I started until the day I finished I did nothing but work on the scarf.  Every single day I had free to myself I'd go to Starbucks as soon as everyone was off in the morning, sit and work for a solid 3-4 hours, come home for a bit, and then work until the girls got home from school.  The rest of the time, I'd haul it around the house, pulling it out to work furiously whenever my husband would go down to his basement or leave to run errands.  (I got real good at telling the difference between the sounds each of my family members makes when coming up the stairs.)  If I heard my husband approach I'd frantically stuff it all back in the bag...or under the bed...or into whatever hidey-hole happened to be close by.  I'm kind of surprised I didn't get caught.  Early on, I counted the rows and did some math to find out how many rows I had to do per day in order to finish by Christmas.  Only once did I fail to hit that daily goal....and in fact on all but two or three days I exceeded it by quite a bit. 
I was cheered on by my girls, my best girlfriends, and my Starbucks friends....all of whom thought it was brilliant, and who were as excited about the outcome as I was.  At one point I had the attention of every single man in Starbucks, who all thought my husband was a super-lucky guy.  (That was of the baristas had asked what the symbols were, and when I held it up it drew the attention.)  It was a lot of fun.  Knitting is so often a solitary activity, but this once it felt like a community effort.
Best of all - although really, was there any question? - my husband absolutely loves it.  I was able to surprise him on Christmas morning with the perfect which he truly appreciates because of both the finished product and the work involved.

And I am the coolest wife ever.
The details:
Star Wars Double Knit Scarf
pattern by notanicedragon (via Ravelry)
Knit Picks Gloss DK
4 skeins black, 4 skeins white
Addi Turbo Circs - US 3, 3.25 mm
November 30 - December 15, 2015
and the pictures...enjoy!


Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

Oh my GOSH, it's incredible! Gorgeous!

Katherine said...

The fact that my husband sought out this blog post & sent it to me to check out gives me a little worry (his idea of what I can make for him is a little beyond my ability right now), but I LOVE this and hope one day I'll have the ability to create something as special!!!!! Great project & terrific post!

Kristen Motz said...

I am mega-impressed that you got this done in such a short time. It's my year-long project to finish it from my grown son, an uber-Star Wars fan, but it's so much fun it's going much faster than I expected. What size needles did you use? I also agree with doing it in something other than acrylic, and I'm working in wool. This is heirloom!

Kristen Motz said...

Sorry, just saw that you used size 3 needles. The scarf just seems so wide and so very long. But seeing the modeling shots helps!