Steffinie Kassabgi is the voice behind the “Bad Fat Knitter” blog and is a “Foreign Correspondent” on the youtube show, “Knitter Be Damned.”
HOLIDAY. POST TRAUMATIC CHRISTMAS KNITTING.
A strange thing happens on December 1st of every year in the crafting community. Weather you knit, crochet, bead, paint or one of the many other craft options (trust me, there are so many). It happens to all of us. I call it the “Gift Rush”. Every year without fail we make personal goals and promises to start our holiday crafting lists and projects in August or September so we can have that coveted relaxation time leading into the holiday season. We all know it never happens that way. If you sell your items then you have customers that contact you with last minute orders, extreme orders, large items they absolutely NEED by Christmas. Like it or not, those tend to come first. Those pay the bills and restock your stash. Those give you the true sense of purpose you crave.
When the calendar rolls over and December rears it’s head, somewhere in your psyche you go into a low-level panic mode. You begin counting…. 15 gifts must be ready to go in 24 days. The ones to be mailed out come first, the face to face gifts last on the list. Then you order them by size and quantity of supplies needed. As much as you love it, there’s very little time to run to the craft store. I know I prefer to go to the LYS or Michaels when I have time to touch and envision and relax. It’s just not fun to treat it as if I’ve gone to the market for a dozen eggs so I can finish the cake I have waiting on the counter.
With needles, brushes, pins and hooks flying you work like a mad man. Single minded focus. Work through the pain, frustration and irritation. Making promises to children, friends, spouses and significant others “If you let me finish this then I’ll …… just for you”. As each project is dropped in the finished pile (basket, bag, whatever you use) to be blocked, ends woven, washed, or wrapped you feel a tiny bit of that panic ease. Unfortunately, the panic increases with each passing day on the calendar.
Family holiday planning phone calls, emails and text messages ping, ding and ring in your ears. Brain fart reminders, Oh crap, Uncle Shim is coming to dinner this year, I don’t have a gift for him. Another to the list. Then there’s those silly laws that say you are required to keep a somewhat tidy home and feed the creatures you birthed. All of it cuts into your production time. In a cruel twist of fate, your greatest tool for combatting stress has become the main cause of your stress.
By the 24th (23rd, if you’re fast) you bind off the last stitch of the last project. That’s when the real fun begins, because by now you’re doing holiday dinner prep and baking in between. Time management is essential at this point. Smallest easiest projects first, get them wrapped and under the tree. Next comes the most dreaded job in a yarn artist’s life. That’s right, ends. So many ends to clip, trim and weave. Queue Scarlett O’Hara drama “As Gawd is my witness, I’ll never weave in another end!”
Christmas day dawns bright and cheery. With sore hands and the panic having receded with a few glasses of wine the night before you manage to pull off the great holiday feast. If you’re lucky someone else offers to do the dishes for you. Friends, family, laughter among all the praise and admiration of your talents. “Oh, it was nothing, I saw the color and thought of you.” Yeah, like you would ever tell them that you cussed and spat and blamed them alone for your swollen fingers the entire time you worked on the gift. Nope, you simply smile and graciously accept the love.
After all the family and guests depart, you look at your hooks, needles and shiny new gift cards to your favorite stash building stores. “I’m going to make something for ME!!! I deserve it.” I don’t know about you, but I hate shopping the week between Christmas the New Year. All that Holiday cheer begins to fade, people become hurried and much less kind. No one likes to wait in line, but they still choose to go to the store on the 26th of December and stand in a line for 3 hours to return a $20 gift they got from Uncle Bob that they don’t like the color of. More often than not they tend to take out their frustration on everyone around them. So, I wait until after the holidays to do my shopping for me.
Small projects here and there just to keep busy and relieve stress become the norm in the week after Christmas, if you pick up your craft at all. I do. It’s like a simple addiction to me. Something I love and have become dependant on for comfort. Yeah, it’s my “woobie”. It sounds odd, but I know I’m not alone in this.
After picking out the perfect pattern, perfect medium and settling into a comfy seat with a hot cup of tea or coffee you start YOUR project. This year there is a chill in the air over most of North America and here in Canada we’re getting lots and lots of snow. Turning on your favorite show, podcast, music or audio book you get into the relaxing groove of the thing you love. That thing that makes you YOU. Silence creeps into your mind and all the tension and frustration of the last 30 days falls away. 1…2…3…4…5…knit, knit, purl, yarn over, knit, knit.
Then the silence of your peace is broken “MOM, I love that color, is that for ME? I love it.” It begins again, 11 months to go.
I hope you find your peace and manage to make something for yourself in the New Year. Much love.
You can find more of Steffinie’s writing here.