Monday, December 28, 2015

Clocking Isaiah's Stocking

My grandson Isaiah's knit stocking was completed in time to be hung with the rest of the family's on Christmas Day. I must reveal, I completed it just in the "Nick" of time.

I'd started Isaiah's traditional family stocking on December 1st - plenty of time, right? Isaiah was born in mid-July, but who wants to knit a Christmas stocking in the middle of summer? I'd posted last year about knitting his cousin Vivian's stocking (12/17/14) and his sister Autumn's stocking (12/10/14). My experience with knitting these stockings (Isaiah's was my fifth one) had convinced me I needed to allow one day per color band for stress-free completion and so I had some breathing room for a December 25th, self-imposed, deadline. So much for tips and planning. It was Tuesday, December 22nd and this was as far as I'd gotten before our out of town holiday company arrived.

Our out of town company was Isaiah's cousin, 20-month old Vivian, with her dad – my son Dan, and her mom – my daughter-in-law Carrie. Of course I wanted to visit with family, cuddle and play with my granddaughter, and not isolate myself knitting. Besides who can knit an intarsia pattern in the presence of an active toddler? I knitted the topmost band, the red one with children, and a bit on the next band, the green one with Santas, while they were off visiting San Francisco on Wednesday, December 23rd. But, as I mentioned in the Vivian's post that had tips, the Santa band is a real stinker and took a while with lots of concentration. Then after all were in bed, perhaps with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, I stayed up until 2:45 a.m. to complete the Santa band and do the tree band. Although solid colors came next it was also heel turning, which requires an alert mind. An alert mind does not exist in the a wee hours of the morning.

The next day, Thursday December 24th, during Vivian's nap, I opted out of the game of Sequence between my son and my husband, and turned the heel on the stocking. I wanted to be sociable and sat at the kitchen table with them while they played. Listening to such phrases as 7♥ or 5♠, did throw off my count a bit. I had to restart the heel twice but I persevered and there was grinning and groaning at the table each time as I ripped out those few rows of the heel to begin anew due to miscount. At one point my son looked at me dead pan and queried, "Mom? I thought Isaiah had an S in it?"

End of nap time also meant completion of the foot would be postponed until night-fall after church, after setting out luminaries with the neighbors, after a dinner of cheese blintzes, and after bedtime – bedtime for others, that is. My husband did stay up with me for moral support. This intarsia knit stocking tradition originated on his side of the family. His aunt had made one for him, his brother, and his cousins as children. She resurrected the effort for me and our kids when Frank became an adult, even knitting Frank a replacement for his original the moths had feasted on over the decades.

Christmas Eve found me knitting away on the red and green bands of the foot and the white of the heel and toe. It was race against the clock on those final tapering toe decreases. Here is the official time when I tied off the yarn after sewing up the back seam. Yup. The stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. Just in the "Nick" of time. Isaiah lives in Oklahoma so that digital clock on our kitchen wall is included in the photo, too. I texted my daughter the following two photos as proof of the time critical completion.

I fastened Isaiah's stocking onto the railing next to his sister Autumn's. The red grosgrain ribbon bow had been sitting on the stair railing in anticipation of the addition of Isaiah's stocking. Yes, the photo is dark. It was midnight when I took it!

Whew! Made it! Ten stockings all in a row! The yarn and knitting gauges have changed over the years but otherwise the tradition lives on. On reverse side of each stocking, the dates read from top to bottom: Frank 1948, Diane 1953, Alex 1986, Jeremy 1978, Robin 1980, Autumn 2012, Isaiah 2015, Daniel 1983, Carrie 1980, Vivian 2014.

And lest I forget, here is the little guy who merited my knitting marathon! Merry Christmas! 


  1. For those like me who just didn't know:

    noun: intarsia

    1. A method of knitting with a number of colors, in which a separate length or ball of yarn is used for each area of color (as opposed to different yarns being carried at the back of the work). e.g. "an intarsia design"

    2. An elaborate form of marquetry using inlays in wood, especially as practiced in 15th-century Italy, similar inlaid work in stone, metal, or glass.

    from Italian intarsio ; sense 2 superseding earlier tarsia (from Italian, ‘marquetry’); the knitting term dates from the mid 19th century.

    1. My husband Frank looked up what intarsia meant and I need to correct my terminology. I used the word intarsia incorrectly. Intarsia has separate regions of color and the yarn is not stranded from region to region per the Wikipedia article
      I will still maintain, however, that when I knit these stockings, having separate bobbins is too cumbersome and weaving in all the loose ends is tedious. I will continue the same method in future stockings but I suppose I should call it stranded color work instead. It is very satisfying though that my husband takes an interest in and reads my blog!

  2. That is a great story and I love that clock photo. Way to complete it with only seconds to spare! It's nice to see all our stockings up there in a row.

    1. Seeing all the stockings in a row does bring back many fond memories. Carrie made me pause and think what they used to be stuffed with and how you guys would save looking in the stockings until last thing when opening presents on Christmas morning. Those were great days! You are just now entering those days with your family. Enjoy them! They fly by quickly.

  3. Good job! After reading this post, it made me wonder if you ever use the stockings. Does Santa ever stuff them? Or are they for decoration only?

    You'll have another stocking to knit before next Christmas! Maybe we'll give you 2017 off, though;-)

    1. Santa used to stuff the stockings when there were only five of them, in the years that when the reindeer paused up on the housetop, we were all living under the same roof. Inside Santa would fill the stockings with small toys – "dirts" as Frank's mom liked to call stocking stuffers – and the owner's favorite type of chocolate in Christmas wrapping. Robin loved Reese's peanut butter cups, Dan loved snickers, Alex liked Hershey kisses in the candy cane shaped tube. Also Santa would add novelty treats such as foil covered race cars, wrapped caramel filled Santas, or chocolate molded reindeer. As the kids got older a gift card might be added or a rolled up magazine. Now the stockings represent a togetherness in spirit at Christmas no matter where the the three kids have scattered, paired up, or sprouted families of their own.

      And as for that 2016 stocking, I will start it as soon as I know the name. I will not wait until the eleventh hour!