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Handwork for 2010


Your Humble Blogger was on about handwork recently, and I thought I would share with y’all the results of all that work.

These are bookmarks, if it isn’t obvious, and it probably isn’t. They aren’t terribly difficult, but they look quite nice (if I say so myself); lacework of that kind is remarkable for the ratio of ease to perceived difficulty. Actually, I have found that in knitting the difficult things are not particularly attractive, while the decorative things that appear difficult (cables, color changes, patterns of holes) are not particularly difficult at all. Of course, the most difficult is just doing the stuff. The discipline to complete a large project is usually beyond me, but that doesn’t show in the end. But shaping things properly, getting seams right, maintaining gauge over a large item, those things don’t really show, unless the person wears the thing for a while. Which, you know, bookmarks. Not so much.

The whole idea of knitting bookmarks as gifts, if you’ll indulge me for a bit here, came from the need to give something to my co-workers at this time of year, and my reluctance to give food. I had thought, as a part-timer, that I might escape the whole gift-giving craziness, but the first year I was the recipient of a dozen or so little kindnesses, mostly candy or cookies. Actually, there are about twenty of us in the University libraries, counting all the full-timers and such of the part-timers as have hours that overlap with mine. Once we start in on exchanging baked goods and chocolates, that’s a lot of sweets. Now, I like sweets, but still. Too many for me to eat, and too many to share with my family, particularly because they, too, are getting sweet gifts from various people.

So. I didn’t want to add to the sugar frenzy, and I do like the idea of small handmade gifts, even if they are useless. So comes November 2009, I am attempting to come up with a giftie of some kind, and my Best Reader suggests bookmarks, what with it being a library and all. An excellent idea, but then, she does tend to have good ideas. Her specific idea (which was specifically good) was to make bookmarks out of ribbon or similar cloth, with a charm or some quirky decoration. We browsed the craft store, and I was irritated by how little I liked my options, and how much I would have to spend to get anything that I wouldn’t be irritated by. Finally I threw my hands up and declared that I would knit the damned bookmarks myself.

Well. It was clear I wasn’t going to be able to do that within a month. I am not a good knitter, but I am slow. So my Best Reader, who was making sweets anyway for other gifties, made extra for me to exchange last year, and mighty tasty they were, too. If any of y’all have the chance for her chocolate truffles, do not miss the opportunity.

But—having taken up the challenge of knitting bookmarks, I reasoned to myself that if I started right away, I could easily get them done by the next seasonal gift exchange, and in fact do so mostly by knitting whilst watching movies, overseeing my children at play, or whilst passenger in a long car ride. And so it was, although by easily get them done read running in the ends on the last one on the Sixteenth of December. Which doesn’t sound bad at all, but remember that I work in an institution of higher education; once the exam period is over, we scatter to the four corners of the earth. By distributing my bookmarks today, I missed only three of my co-workers; waiting until Tuesday next would have tripled the absences. And also remember that after I finished running in the ends, I had to bathe the damned things, block them, let them dry, starch them, iron them, and then starch them and iron them again in hope they will hold something of their shape. Being bookmarks, a certain stiffness would have been nice; I settled for a limp suggestion of rectangularity. I am told that the answer is to soak them in white glue and let it dry to stiff transparency. I couldn’t bear the thought of it.

Anyway, that’s the saga. They actually came out rather well, I thought. If I hadn’t run late, I might have made another to keep, although I can’t imagine wanting to use one as a bookmark. I don’t really expect anybody to use any of them as bookmarks, honestly. We work in a library; we mark our places with scraps of paper.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,