Oh dear. Oh deary deary dear. In a wildly unforeseen development, living with kittens has wrecked my ability to get anything done ever. Both of our youthful murder-muffins would fain spend their whole lives curled up on someone’s lap – usually mine. Pinned to the sofa by twin puddles of snoring fluff, my productivity has punched a hole in the floor. The Stoic Spouse and I are both as a rule the kind of people quite welded to our respective to-do lists (and not averse to competing as to Who Is More Busy And Important) so I’m really struggling with this lack of productivity, yet am too weak-willed to push the mewling fluffballs off my lap and get on with work/parenting/running/house-renovation/knit-designing/food-growing/admin, and STUFF.
And there’s an urgent task that has particularly suffered as a result of this feline-induced inertia. A dear friend has just turned 50, and I’m knitting her a gift. We’ve been friends since the age of four, and whilst we usually just send a card on each other’s birthdays, she sent me a wonderfully thoughtful gift when I turned 50 in December and I wanted to reciprocate on her own big day. She’s not a knitter and – as far as I know – doesn’t read here, so I think I can speak freely. (In case I’m wrong, hi Rebecca!)
Truth be told? I rarely knit for others. The can-I-get-it-done-in-time is bad enough (to which the answer is usually a resounding NO), but that’s a mere trifle when compared with the “Will they hate it?” angst. Honestly, I can’t think of much worse than a poor put-upon friend gritting their teeth to proclaim that yes, they of course adore the red and yellow squirrel-themed shawl worked in metallic novelty yarn.
So it’s not often that I knit for others, but not because I don’t care about my friends. When I’m confident that a gift is wanted, I’m on it. I knitted a cardigan for a friend who admired the one I was wearing, I knitted a life-size chicken for a friend who adores her poultry, and so on.
Given the thoughtful nature of my friend’s gift, I didn’t want to let her down. After bouncing around a million gift ideas, I settled on knitting her a super-colourful cowl, as befits her marvellous personality. So I cast on.
It’s my own pattern, although I’m vaguely aware of having seen similar-ish things online, so please don’t sue me if this is too much like your latest pattern. I’ll knit in the round for about a metre, then graft the provisionally-cast-on beginning to the final round, with perhaps a mobius twist or two to spice things up. (If you’d like the pattern, I can write it up.) The yarn is Stylecraft Highland Heathers DK and I am using ALL THE COLOURS.
It’s a worry, though. What if, every time we meet – which isn’t often because my friend lives 200 miles from here in York – she feels compelled to wear this thing even though she hates it?
I think your friend will be touched that you spend the love and energie in making her something for her special birthday. Would love to see the result after the gift giving.
O, My! I am currently sitting with my dear little rescue Toxirn dog (google the breed- she’s a darling!). When I got her about a year and a half ago, I was struggling with pandemic loneliness as DH had been going fishing seemingly daily for months. We are retired. My creative brain is in constant project planning mode by nature. My super friendly older pooch remains velcroed to me, and as with you, productivity is significantly reduced! I SO get it LOL
But, I wouldn’t trade her for the world ❤️
Phil – dear Phil ..
You wrote this post in a terrific hurry, didn’t you ? I wonder why ..
I am greatly taken by the fact that those twin black balls of wicked adorableness have taken so strongly to you; and I hope it doesn’t mean you have to chuck them off your lap if a Twin comes into the room ! Does the Stoic Spouse love them too ? – I can only imagine that the whole family has fallen under their spell.
Everything good up there in Pommyland ? – your health as well ?
Hmm .. Hokay, not much to report from Downunder – other than that my own very beloved little mog has had seventeen teeth extracted, the poor little bugger. Still, he’s happy and chirpy: we are working our way rapidly through every type of canned ‘wet’ cat food on supermarket shelves, and chucking out an awful lot.
We love and live for our cats, and they give us huge pleasure, eh ?
Be happy, lovely Phil ..
Oh, how this sounds familiar. I’m a multiple kitty mummy and they all need their cuddles at, sometimes inconvenient moments, when I’m knitting or crocheting, but I can’t say no to this over abundant love they show me. I also have a little fella, Sheldon, who has been diagnosed with feline autism and he requires 100 times more attention so yes, the productivity goes out of the window, very often indeed.
But we love them to bits ❤️
Zoe Brennan says
I do believe that I may have missed your special day a very belated Happy 50th to you too.
Have been to that Wonderland of Cats. Having had as many as 4 at a time, we all had laps full. It was a common excuse “I can’t get up because I have a cat”. Now have an adorable standard poodle puppy who is growing so fast! He has to have sofa time in the evening with me sitting next to him. I’m usually able to sneak in a few rows of knitting each night. Several rooms of my house are off limits to him so I negotiate gates and barriers. It will pass and am enjoying his babyhood antics, what a charmer.
I really look forward to your BLOG posts.I’m a terrible knitter but I really appreciate this special art. I was in the same position (and I think all of us who like to create things with our hands are). I gave up on making gifts (in my case, creative clothing pieces) for good friends and family members, when I was 28 (oh dear, I’m 66 now) as I had gotten married at 25 and opened a full service fabric store at age 26. Just no time. Everyone who is truly your friend will understand! It’s O.K. And of course, we LOVE our kittens.
Lynn Butler says
I’m so glad to know kitty induced loss of productivity is a Real thing! I’ve had it for a while! Oh my! Sometimes you just need to make a lap for your babies.
First of all, happy belated 50th! I do look forward to your posts and now will be looking forward to the reveal of the colorful (twisted or untwisted) cowl. Hope your fluffy bundles don’t decide to show you how they can knit. My two did and it took an entire evening to tink their work, much to their dismay.
I have exactly the same issue with knitting for others. I spent hours knitting a Norwegian themed sweater for my husband after he complained that I never knit anything for him. When it appeared to me that HE DIDN’T LIKE IT BECAUSE HE NEVER WORE IT AND I THRIFTED IT he of course (!) asks me what happened to it! Anyway, I’m pretty fussy about how my clothes fit & spend as much time tinking or frogging as I do knitting FOR MYSELF! I don’t want to knit anything other than dish clothes etc for most people!
Teresa in Michigan says
Send your friend amazing flowers or a male stripper or something unique and get the cowl done in time for Christmas. I only knit for others and what little TV-knitting time I have means the 65 pound hound lays across my lap and does not tolerate knitting needles or yarn. In fact, he does not allow hand holding or kissing my husband while we, his people, try to cuddle on the couch together. That really cuts down on the knitting time and the snuggling, kissing time too. How come the Twinnage don’t cart the fuzzy little ones off to their laps? Didn’t you say way back in BC (before cat) that they were for the twins? That’s just like parents to get something they wanted but say it was for the kids. At least if the little fuzzballs are sleeping they are not up to mischief.
I don’t enjoy knitting for others, I stare at sock in my husband’s drawer and get annoyed he doesn’t wear them much. I often wonder if my dad wears the socks I made him. I’m quite jealous you have those 🐈 🐈
It all depends on whether you want to Get On And Do, or Need To Rest. Either way it’s your choice, and the kittens will have to learn to cope. They’re young, they’re flexible. Do not indulge their ideas that They Are The Ones and you are but Staff/Food Source/Warm Cushion and to be Kept In Your Place, which may at the time be under their bodies, but certainly under their thumbs.
The gift – push the cats off and get with it. If your Friend lives 200 miles away and you don’t meet that often, then even if she hates the cowl, she won’t feel Obliged to wear it that often, will she? Specially if you meet in the warmer months! But yes, knitted gifts for non-knitters are tricky. Unless they have specifically asked for something, they just don’t appreciate the hours of work, thought, etc that have gone into them. Specially when they can ‘pick something like that up at *Supermarket*/ *Craft Stall* at a price that reflects none of the time or creative input. Here’s hoping she loves it!
Jane Sturgeon says
Hellp Phil, I feel your special friend will love your handmade gift, as she will feel the love that went into it. 💓 Love to you too and your brood. xX
Ahh the dreaded (but secretly loved) catparalysis
Alice Gardiner says
I find it hard to believe that anyone who’s been your friend for that long wouldn’t be knit-worthy, but it’s always a worry, isn’t it?
So all I can do is tell you my own experience of hand-knitted gifts – how much I love wearing the very special and snuggable cardigan that someone made for me after I admired her own, and how much comfort it brought me when I was feeling miserable with covid – and hope that your beautiful cowl (and I do know that it *will* be beautiful) brings as much joy and warmth and happiness to your 50-year-old friend as The Cardigan brings to this one. x
Alice Gardiner says
P.S. I can’t believe I still haven’t met the kittens! They’re clearly utter tyrants, I think we’ll get on well.
At this moment there is a lot of floof half on my keyboard and lap. So I completely understand. I stopped making things for friends long ago after finding out my massive labor of love and costly yarn was just thrown away. My kids the same, not appreciated. So I craft for me, and rarely others.
Rainbow Junkie says
I can understand how you feel about your wonderful creations not being appreciated but I also feel that whatever you make will be so beautiful that it will be hard for your friend not to fall in love with it immediately.
I understand the feeling about gifts. I have a hard time finishing items I have knit for others. Right now I am staring at a pair of socks I promised my lovely daughter. I get to the last stitch and find myself ripping it out (not all the way). urgg!!
Born To Organize says
I can appreciate the angst of spending so much time on a gift that you fear will be unloved. Tastes are personal, so even if someone doesn’t like one of your treasures, it is surely not a reflection of your skills. That said, how could you put so much time and energy into something and *not* have some angst around it. I think the cowl is stunning, but that chicken…now that is really something.
Born To Organize says
PS Those adorable kittens will settle down in about a year, and you’ll find yourself wondering what all the fuss was about. In the meantime, enjoy the cuddles and snuggles. Warm cats in laps are impossible to resist. They are probably lowering your blood pressure at this very moment.
It can always be an ‘unbirthday’ gift….we get 364 of them. 😉 Deadlines create undue pressure and the recipient will be happy whatever day it comes.
This looks great! I have a short neck so I don’t wear scarves/cowls as they just itch my chin. So I would choose to have a long scarf with pockets on the ends to slip my hands into. Thank you for sharing, the colours are fabulous.
Hello Phil! Just a quick greeting across the pond. I saw your lovely kitties on Instagram – mine, Marilla, looks exactly the same, except she is a little older: 19 today! She has grown up with the children (we got her when our youngest was two). She has slowed down considerably and spends most of the cold Canadian winter in my study on a heated pillow, but is still a very big (and loud – she is deaf!) and loving presence in our lives. Enjoy the littles one, both kids and kitties!