You should have been there in about 1982. Port Huron, Michigan. An all-day excursion to Mary Maxim‘s. Home (then) of just about nothing but 100% acrylic yarns and intarsia kits of all sort. Zippered jacketed sweaters with deer heads knitted on the back. Actually, all kinds of heads (and bodies) knitted into sweaters: elk, duck, fish, bear, all breeds of dogs and cats. Those patterns were Mary Maxim’s bread and butter. You would buy the sweaters patterns all kitted up with yarn. I made one. A deer sweater. And I do not know what happened to it.
I could knit classier Christmas stockings now. I am a better knitter. But these are ensconced as traditions. My son’s is the snowman. His dad’s and mine are a puppy and a kitten (not shown here).
Intarsia is not a technique I ever warmed up to. But for cutesy inserts, it’s the technique of choice. I guess. Anyway, every year “the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.”
Edit: 11/14/12: Mary Maxim has re-released some of these patterns. Check it out!