First, let me say right off the bat that I hope you will not think that I am pushing the Christmas season in this post. That is not my intention, because believe me, I am someone who STRONGLY disapproves of pushing any holiday before its time. I even considered waiting until the beginning of December to write this post, but decided to do it now, because as the post title implies, I wanted to share things that may help you prepare. Which - as far as knitting and gifts are concerned - is something I try to do in advance when at all possible.
OK, disclaimer over.
About a month ago, The Tim came home from work looking quite pleased with himself. He said, "I was gonna wait to get this, but knew that there was no doubt you'd want it, and wanted you to be able to use it with plenty of time if you wanted to do anything for this year."
He then proceeded to pull this out of his messenger bag:
As the kids say, OMG! Knitivity : Create Your Own Christmas Scene, by Fiona Goble - the cover alone is awesome, as far as I'm concerned. I knew that even if I never ever even thought of knitting anything in it, I'd enjoy just looking at it, and seeing how things were constructed.
Published this year by Andrews McMeel, this is actually a very attractive book, printed on heavy, glossy paper with nicely photographed illustrations. The beginning discusses the idea behind the book, and Goble mentions that this is a book for beginners as well as veteran knitters. She points out that the projects are small and quick, and making them can help a beginner learn techniques (casting off purlwise, for example) that they will use again and again as knitters.
"There are no fancy patterns or 'scary' cables. If you can cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, and bind off, then you won't have any problems knitting the entire Knitivity cast." (p. 6)
The next sections talk about tools you'll need, how to choose yarns, some basic techniques illustration, and a list of abbreviations used in the book. Goble also suggests that it is a good project for knitting groups, since they can work on a single project but each person can knit something different.
Now if you have read this far, and a) just don't care, and/or b) are offended, feel free to just stop and come back another time. I do not find the idea of knitting a Nativity scene upsetting or insulting at all, but I can understand that people have differing views on things like this.
I for one, love Nativity scenes. Growing up, we had a set that went under the tree each year, and I remember spending a lot of time rearranging the pieces (usually the people got moved out so the animals could be inside the stable; sometimes the Baby Jesus received special dispensation from me and was allowed to stay inside with the animals, but no one else could); one year, we lost the little piece that was the Virgin Mary, and I had no problem with Joseph and a donkey being primary caretakers. (I'm pretty sure the rest of the family was just glad that such activity kept me out of their hair.)
Anyway, this book contains patterns for the entire group pictured on the cover. So if you dive in and want to do it all at once, you can. You can also (as Goble points out) do bits and pieces when you are so inclined. And if you are like me, you may only ever knit the little animals. (The Tim: "All I ask is that someday you'll knit a donkey and a sheep for me.")
So what do we have here?
Well, there's the basic family grouping, inside the stable with a couple of the animals (please note: I couldn't get the dark shadow covering most of Joseph out of the image - the book has it nice and clear though).
There's a shepherd, as you would expect; you can of course make several by knitting them wearing different color robes, etc.
And let's not forget the Three Wise Men:
(Who, for the record, do not arrive until January 6, and therefore, do not immediately appear in the scenario. In our house for instance, they make their way across the bookshelves next to the Christmas tree as their journey.)
You can even knit yourself an Angel of the Lord!
Now, I can hear a lot of you saying that this is just a cheesy, useless book and a waste of money. Don't buy it then. But if you think you would enjoy it, or know someone who might, it is a lovely as well as a certain smile-inducing gift. It is nicely done, well-written, and really quite enjoyable to read and look through. Retail cost is $16.99 ($19.99 in Canada), but it is available online for as little as $9.79.
If your holiday preparations could include knitting some or all of these characters, or if you know someone for whom Knitivity would be a perfect gift, I say go for it. For a person like me who loves Christmastime and relies on patterns for most of the things I knit, it's really a fun book to have.