For Christmas, I decided to knit a pair of socks for my Mom. I’m not generally big on knitting for other people, partly because I worry I will have spent a lot of time making something another person doesn’t really like or find useful, but feels obligated to wear because they know I spent a lot of time on it and partly because I’m terrible at getting sizing right even when I knit for myself and I’m sitting right here to check it against. But my Mom had admired a few pairs of socks I’d worn when I’d gone to visit, so I thought I would give it a shot. I found a pretty pattern and cast on in early November. They turned out to be ideal: simple pattern but interesting enough that you don’t get bored and just a really fast knit. I was done by mid-November and I am not a fast knitter (that also includes me casting on in a Jacquard-patterned yarn, knitting a few rows, deciding that looked terrible, ripping it out and starting again with new yarn).
I still had so much time until Christmas and I happened to stumble across a DNA pattern that would be great for something for my sister. Why not socks?
Well, at this point the only person I haven’t knit socks for in my immediate family is my Dad and it seems kind of rude to leave him out. “Sure it’s mid-December now,” I thought, “but I’ll be off work the few days before Christmas anyway; it won’t be a big deal to finish one little pair of socks.” As it turns out, socks for a man are less little than the socks I am used to knitting. At 2 am Christmas morning, I finally had to admit that these were just not going to happen in time (in addition to everything else, I could not find my sewing needle, which I was sure I had packed, so even if I could finish the knitting, I would have to either leave the ends hanging out or go digging through my Mom’s sewing closet outside their room and risk scaring them/waking them up). So I wrapped up what existed of the socks on the needle (I was knitting two socks at a time; my first time trying that) with an IOU for half a pair of socks and put that under the tree. My Dad’s pretty laid back, so I figured he wouldn’t mind if his socks showed up December 26th or 27th. Close enough.
And that’s how a slow knitter who doesn’t generally knit for other people ended up trying to finish three pairs of Christmas-gift socks in a month-and-a-half.
But the follow-up is that both my parents wore their socks to a large family get-together (If you are unaware, it is pretty common practice to take off your shoes in other people’s houses in Canada. I once saw a question about this on the internet and it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be different elsewhere. I guess when there is snow and slush and salt on the ground for about half the year you just get used to the idea of leaving your shoes at the door and walking around in sock feet in the house). They told people very proudly that I had knit them: so sweet. But as they stood there together, I realized something I hadn’t before: I had used the leftover yarn from my Mom’s socks when knitting my Dad’s. I had thought I was being resourceful, but in fact what I had done was accidentally knit my parents matching socks, his-and-hers style. My parents aren’t really his-and-hers sort of people. Are any people in long-term relationships still into those cutesy-couple matching outfits? I don’t know, but I nevertheless appreciate my parents dealing with it to make my knitting feel welcome. My paranoia about giving people hand-knit gifts they don’t really like but feel obligated to wear continues.