Posted by: Kate | December 5, 2009

Learning Curve

Sometime shortly after the holidays last year, an online friend – one of those people with whom I’ve spoken for hours and shared all manner of angst and joy, as we recovered from miscarriages and later had healthy babies around the same times, but have never actually shared a room with – asked if I would be willing to knit Christmas stockings for her family. She had lost the one her grandmother had made for her, and now she wanted something to use for her own children.

Sure, I said. No problem. You buy the yarn, I’ll do the knitting, you’ll have new stockings by Christmas 2009.

Months went by, things got hectic, life happened… and suddenly it was October. I dug up the old emails describing what she wanted, she got my new address to be able to ship the yarn I suggested, and by late October, I had cast on for the first stocking.

I wasn’t able to find a pattern that precisely worked, so I decided I’d wing it. No problem, I’ve designed knitwear before. I’ve used charts for colorwork and have knit any number of socks without following a pattern, I can turn a heel and decrease for a toe all on my own. Piece of cake. Right?

Well… mostly. It wasn’t hard at any point, but it was certainly a lot slower-moving than I had expected. That first stocking took a month, with several false starts and do-overs and the occasional muttered curse. I started eyeing the calendar and worrying a little. Four stockings, three months… the math wasn’t quite working out.

Happily, though, the learning curve was steep. The second stocking took just over two weeks to knit, and the third took about a week. The fourth, I cast on around 1:00 on a Sunday afternoon and was done with the knitting by noon the next day – and I did do things like eat, interact with the kids, sleep, in the same time period.

Being done with the knitting doesn’t mean done altogether, of course; I needed to take a trip to the fabric store for something to line them, because colorwork creates loops on the inside, just waiting to snag onto gifts or little fingers, and knitted fabric, all by itself, will stretch and sag under the weight of Christmas goodies. And so there was sewing, and detail work, and such… but still, by December 5, I had four completed stockings, all set to head to Louisiana.


I really hope they approximate her vision for them, and that she never, ever loses her precious Christmas decorations to a hurricane-initiated flood. Because on the one hand, the learning curve would suggest that, with practice, I’ll be able to churn these puppies out in 20 minutes flat… and on the other hand, completing the same project four times in a row is quite enough on its own, without doubling it all again.

For those interested, I could type up a pattern… let me know. I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted among the pre-existing patterns, so these are entirely out of my head, motifs and lettering and stockings, oh my. I haven’t decided if it’s worth writing up or if the market is already effectively flooded…



  1. I am beyond impressed with your knitting speed. Even if I was good at color work and stranding, I could never knit four stockings that quickly!

  2. Oh yeah – they look great!

  3. Good job! I can totally empathize! I was foolish enough to decide to knit six stockings on year (me, DBF, brother, his fiancee, my mum and stepdad). Needless to say I only got 4 done in time for Christmas and finished the last two for the next Christmas.

  4. I don’t knit at all, but I say write up those patterns. The stockings are just adorable!

  5. Kate, these are amazing! I know absolutely nothing about knitting, but I can’t even begin to comprehend how much planning it takes to get the images on the stockings … let alone the NAMES! Wow. Great job!

  6. Wow! I particularly like the one with the snowflakes. Thanks for sharing your handiwork with us once again.

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