we survived January!

Well…almost. Here in eastern Canada, January has about seven five more hours to mess with our heads, and then it’s gone, gone, GONE!

Whooooot! I, for one, will NOT be sorry to see its hiney. Bye, bye January!

So let’s send it off in style…

…With the Alpacas of Winter

(The Giveaway Llama will return at a later date. Meanwhile, the Alpacas of Winter wanted a chance to join the party.)

The Alpacas inform me that we have a couple of goodies to giveaway today. They consulted the random number generator…

And the winner of the Socks from Spin-Off book is…..LAURA S.!!!

Laura, I’ll be sending you an email in a bit to find out where I’m sending this wonderful book off to.

The Alpacas also delicately pointed out that when I announced this week’s giveaway, I neglected to post a photo of the yarn goodie. Before the little fluffballs resort to humming or … heaven forbid…spitting, let me announce the winner first, then I’ll ‘splain.

I have some lovely yarn that’s been nicely aged in my stash, and it is going to its new home with….drumroll and random number magic…DONNA!

However, it’s not the yarn I originally picked out for Winner Number Two, now known as Donna. I went to take a photo of Said Original Yarn just now, and found that the skein was FADED on one side.

Whoops. Not Acceptable. So Donna and I are gonna have a wee chat via email about colours, and then I’ll go off to the stash to see what little yarn goodie wants to go live with her.

So Donna, you’ll also get an email before the night is done.

Report from the Deep Winter Fairy

This was my very first time doing giveaways on the blog and I found it an immensely enjoyable experience. Actually, that’s not quite right; the giveaways were more than enjoyable for me–they were the heart and soul of my week, every week.

Back when the giveaways started, I went through my bookshelves, pulling out all the duplicates I had. Then I sat down amidst the pile on the floor, and chose the books and videos I thought were actually worth getting, books and videos that were not just fun, but GOOD. (Believe me, I have some truly amazingly bad knitting books. You folks didn’t get any of those.)

Then, for the yarn winners, I spent about an hour each week, going into my stash, choosing yarns to go to complete strangers…and I found that I didn’t just reach into the bins and grab something. I’d sit down and actually dither over choices at times, thinking of the tiny scribbets of information I had about the person I was sending the yarn to–often no more than a comment and a short email–trying somehow to discern whether or not the yarn in my hand would be “the right one.” It might seem silly, spending Actual Time choosing gifts for strangers, but I did, and I loved doing it. For one of the goodies, I actually changed my mind at the very last moment, running upstairs to grab the yarn I knew “should” go to the winner rather than the original yarn I’d selected.

Why, yes, I am Queen of the Loony Bin, why do you ask?

And then the REAL fun began. The first round of packages were a rather sorry affair, as I didn’t even have notepaper and a proper pen around the house.

Once I armed myself with craft supplies, I would go up to my studio and look through my bead collection for the makings of stitch-markers (which I’d cleverly try to match to the yarn, or the book, or SOMETHING), and rummage through a jar I found of teensy plastic toys for things to amuse the recipients. I made little sheep notes, decorated with purple sparkles; I filled tiny baggies with sheep confetti and a tiny toy and a stitch-marker.

Then Nicholas and I would walk to the postal station, and fill out the damn customs forms for each package. Each item had to have the entire name and address written out TWICE, once on the package front, and once on the customs form…which was them firmly affixed…to the package front. Right next to the other exact copy of the same address.

Drove me nutters. There would usually be a long line in back of us at the post, and here we were, re-writing all the information I had so carefully printed on the packages just hours before. Why the post office and the customs folk can’t agree on a SINGLE way to affix the address ONCE to each bundle is beyond my Ken doll.

Halfway through January, I realized that the image that kept coming to mind for me was the tradition of Give-away practiced in some native communities.

When I lived in California, I was a Southern Traditional Powwow Dancer, and for years I attended local powwows on almost a monthly basis. One of the most moving ceremonies was the Give-away. In a Give-away, an individual chooses to mark an important milestone in their life–birthday, graduation, being honoured as Head Dancer–by honouring the people in their lives who have supported them in some way. So, for example, if a young woman has just graduated from college, she might choose to do a Give-away to honour her parents, her tribal leaders, her grandparents, important community members, teachers, etc.

The young woman would bring boxes, baskets, and bags of gifts for the people she wished to thank, simple gifts: soda cases, boxes of fresh fruit, cases of food staples, warm blankets, sometimes the ultra-traditional gifts of alcohol and cigarettes. A member of her family would step up to the powwow microphone and call each honouree by name, inviting them to come forward and receive their gift from the young woman’s own hands, with a handshake, a hug, and a heartfelt “thank you.”

Many of you have been my readers for years, following me here from the early days at Knitting Daily. Some of you are new readers, including Holly, who just found my blog last night! (Hi Holly, and welcome!) But all of you, whether you leave comments or not, take time out of your lives to come and spend a bit of time here, reading about my life and my thoughts.

The giveaways from the Giveaway Llama and the Deep Winter Fairy, then, became a way for me to call some of you out of the audience at random, hand you a little gift, and say “thank you” for supporting me in this journey. It was really incredible to be able to email people I had never met, never spoken to, and say, “Hi there, I have a little gift for you, to say thank you for hanging out on my blog!”

I’m going to find a way to keep doing the giveaways…but monthly, perhaps, instead of weekly.

Because there’s still a heck of a lot of you to say Thank You to…

February’s giveaway will be announced…sometime in February, of course.

Actual Knitting Content?

Um…knitting. Right. That thing you do with the needles and stuff.

How about some green sparkly socks?

Pattern: Bettie’s Lace Stockings.

Yarn: Precious from Shameless Twist. Jodi dyes rich, glorious colours and she has a range of base yarns to choose from. That one there has strands of actual sterling silver spun into it. (And it’s not the least bit scratchy or rough. I don’t know how they make yarn with silver in it that turns out this soft!)

I modified the pattern; the original has the lace pattern going all around the bottom of the foot, and my delicate little princess feetsies wouldn’t like all that nubbly lace under, uh…foot. So I jiggled things around to make the sole plain stockinette; I’ll start the lace somewhere around the heel flap.

Random Good

The good people of Stony Stratford, UK, did not want to lose their town library to the whims of the tax cutters. To show The Powers That Be exactly how they felt about their library, the citizens managed to check out every single last book, leaving the shelves empty and bare. There’s a wonderful photo there, take a look.

Grand total of books checked out: 16,000. SIXTEEN THOUSAND BOOKS. (Yay librarians!)

And yet another book-related good: Sanguine Gryphon, she of the charming costumes and gorgeous colourways, has designed a Beowulf sock. Go peek at it; I’ll wait.

Folks, it’s hard enough to deal with Beowulf on plain white paper. She charted out the actual one-thousand-year-old text. (Pattern available here.)

Way to go, Ms. Gryphon!

And finally, Tim says to keep an eye on this space, because I’ve got more stories for you this week.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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12 Responses to we survived January!

  1. InJuneau says:

    Pretty, pretty sparkly green sock! And the Beowolf sock is cool. BUT, my favorite is that empty library; as the child of a librarian, that just warms my heart!

    Tim is funny.


  2. Barbara says:

    love the sparkly green socks. that yarn doesn’t look faded in the pic. Perhaps you can weave with it and use the fading in the design?


  3. molly says:

    thank you, tim! we will watch this space! and thank you, sandi! the empty library is a wonderful sight to behold – empty because people wanted to keep it, not empty because some bureaucrat thought that no-one needed it…


  4. Jerri says:

    sandi, I love to read your posts they make me laugh and give me much to think about. I love the support the community gave the library (I would since I am a librarian). I am going to have to look for the beautiful green yarn and I can’t wait to see a finished sock. I agree with you about needing the bottoms of the socks to be smooth. But I love the lace pattern. I am so glad you are writing frequently.


  5. Mireille says:


    It wouldn’t be you if you didn’t spend time and thought on each gift, just like you do on each post. That’s what keeps us coming back.

    I can’t wait for the back end of January either. The year is going to get better!


  6. Susan says:

    I learned that I could do all the paperwork for shipping a parcel right at home by going to the Canada Post website. If you have an accurate scale and measuring tape, you can do it all including calculating and paying postage and printing out an address label. Then you can mail it anywhere without waiting in line. So much easier!


  7. Caryn says:

    I did the Bettie’s socks without the lace on the foot, either. I followed the pattern, just omitting the repeat on the foot. Once the heel was turned, I began the lace around the whole leg. I also changed needle sizes on the way up to make the calf bigger than with just the wide lace repeat.


  8. woolizard says:

    As a lucky lucky recipient of the Sandi-goodness, I was extremely impressed with the love and care put into that wee package. All the pieces are staying together for a while, just so I can enjoy the wholeness of everything, and how it all went together.



  9. Pat says:

    The winter alpacas look puzzled! Way cute! Great blog entry. I share so much of your blog with my daughter, sometimes just pieces but today she’ll get the whole thing. She is a generous giver, too.
    The Beowulf sock is crazy!! It makes me laugh just to look at it.
    Tomorrow is a snow day ( I live in Michigan so they called it already) I am either going to make the big cookie that you shared or brownie roll-out cookies (http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/04/brownie-roll-out-cookies/)


  10. Donna says:

    Winner Number Two (aka Donna)is absolutely thrilled! Thanks so very, very much. And this is another wonderful blog post. The Alpacas of Winter are adorable. I loved reading about the Giveaway ceremony. And the library. Also, I clicked right over to buy the Beowulf sock pattern, resistance being futile. Then I watched a 2 minute video of Benjamin Bagley reciting the opening lines, and now I must find the complete DVD. Thanks for adding such richness to my life, Sandi.


  11. Laura says:

    Winner Number One (aka Laura S) is also delighted! Since over half the projects I have right now on the needles are socks, I think I definitely could use a new sock book. You’d think I’d be knitting sweaters this winter, as cold as it’s been. Nope. Socks. Thanks again, Sandi (and the Deep Winter Fairy)!


  12. Kay Wienecke says:


    You could do something like that blanket in knitting if it’s too much crochet.



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