Christmas bookcase

Maybe I’ve grown a bit Christmas-lazy in the past few years since moving to the lake full-time. But my version of all-out was always a tad subdued anyway. No giant inflatables. No light shows on the front lawn. No setting out of any Elves on Shelves to terrorize, I mean incentivize, tots to behave. My version was mostly a tree with a lot of knitted ornaments, strung with popcorn and cranberry garlands that took hours to pull off. Now? Now I  enjoy my yarnie Christmas bookcase.

What are you looking at? That’s a handmade bookcase painted to look like a castle that my partner Steve’s dad built. Steve’s dad worked in the display department in the downtown Detroit Hudson’s for many years. He was a talented artist, woodworker, carver, stained glass window maker, model-maker, and needlepointer. On the top right shelf, in the corner, is the church busking-mouse he carved, You know, as in “poor as a churchmouse?” The mouse carries a 1901 farthing in his front paws.

Also on the top shelf is Cat Pillow, Katie Nagorney and Ann Swanson’s cute design. You may know them by their company name, Two Old Bags. There aren’t a lot of Cat Pillow projects on Ravelry and my version is the feature photo.

At the left on the top shelf are Susan Weir’s Elf & Elf Princess. I made dozens of these sets over the years for bazaars at my son’s younger-year schools. Moving up to the top of the highest tower is another Susan Weir creation, her Tomten Doll. And on the second shelf is Darrian Dragge’s Knitted Gnome. This was a kit, sold through the Waldorf-inspired Hearthsong catalog, circa 1990. These gnomes were gnomes in the before-times, before Sarah Schira almost single-handedly educated the knitting community that gnomes, gnaked or otherwise, are creatures we can knit.

Hopping to the left of my gnome, over the head-in-a-brick sculpture, dangles my grandmother’s crocheted green bookworm. Bookworm has two plastic stick-on eyes and a jingle bell on her butt. I treasure this goofy thing more than anything else that comes out at Christmas. I loved Gram, a lot, and she gave me my bookworm.

My guess is that the stockings caught your eye. I did not knit them. Lois, a good friend of my mom, knit them. She donated them to a charity auction at my workplace. Every year she sewed and knit several items for the auction. You may have experienced that the hand-crafted items folks admire all year (“you could sell those”) don’t typically fetch anything like what they’re worth. Every year I would annoy my co-workers by getting the bidding started and continuing to bid up the best of Lois’s donations. One year my bid snagged these amazing stockings.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all! 2021 has got to be a better year than 2020! Knit on!

Knitted Tomten

A Tomten is a Swedish character that has stuff to do all year round, not just at Christmas. But my tomten trots out every Christmas season anyway. Kind of like a troll or a gnome or maybe an elf.

Of course, just having knitted one doesn’t make me some kind of expert on tomtens. Neither does reading what the self-appointed tomten experts of the world have to say about them on Wikipedia.Those experts report that this guy is really a tomte. Despite a tomte’s small size, he has great strength. His eyes glow in the dark. But maybe they don’t. It seems they only come in the boy variety. Nothing is said about any tomtesses. A tomte protects farmers’ homes. And apparently he’s a little prickly about the out buildings.  A tomte is rather easily offended and will retaliate if someone urinates in the barn. I guess cows and horses urinating in the barn is OK, but not people, which makes every kind of sense. A tomte’s favorite food is porridge with a little pat of butter on the top, especially on Christmas Eve.

This tomten is a Susan Weir pattern. He was a hoot to knit. Great nose. Good feet.

Best wishes for a close-knit holiday season. And no urinating in your barns (or behind your sheds or garages) or else the tomtens will give you a sound thrashing.

Little Elf Guys

img_2917_lowresWhen my son was little, and his school had a fairly constant need for donations to fall festivals and “events” of one sort or another, I probably knitted about 30 sets of these guys to donate and as presents for teachers.  It is a Weir Doll pattern, from Susan Weir of Ann Arbor, Michigan.  An easy knit.  I always stuff my knitted toys with unspun wool, rather than with that stiff polyester fiberfill.  It’s a pricey stuffing–but works so much better.  No lumps!