It was the Christmas that almost wasn't. I was stuck in the house with pneumonia. Then it snowed. Then we had an ice storm that covered everything in a thick layer of ice and shattered numerous trees in the neighborhood, including the more-or-less dead crabapple in our front yard (that really needed taking down anyway). Then on Sunday evening (Winter solstice, the longest night of the year of course) the power went out.
And stayed out.
And stayed out.
For three nights the DH and I huddled around the fireplace and found out first-hand that yes, most of the heat from a fire in a brick fireplace really does go up the chimney. A little battery-powered fan would have been very useful. A big ol' generator would have been even more useful to get the gas furnace to kick on and keep the deep freeze running. (On this summer's to-do list: have a fireplace insert installed and research generators.) The real saving grace was that we have a gas water heater that doesn't rely on the electrical system to work, so we had hot showers and used a tub full of hot water to heat the bathroom so we had a warm place to put the birds.
On top of that, my son James was stuck in Portland, 45 miles to the north, snowed in. Worse still, he was at a friend's house instead of his own apartment where he'd gotten by bus. The bus routes were shut down because of ice and snow, so James couldn't get home to change his clothes, pick up presents, and come home.
I had no Christmas baking done, no Christmas tree up (though we had a tree -- guy at the tree lot a few blocks away saw that we'd walked to the lot and delivered a tree for us with his tractor), and little to go in the stockings. But dagnabit, I had yarn and was determined to get something nice into my son's stocking. Some Lion Brand Cotton Ease became the mini-cabled hat in the picture above. So yes, James did make it home because...
...on the 24th, just as we were wondering if we should check into a motel, the power came on. The next morning, James' girlfriend borrowed her mother's car with studded tires and drove him home for Christmas. The two best Christmas presents EVER. My mom had us over for Christmas dinner, and my brother stopped by on his way up to Seattle the day before and dropped off cookies. So while it was slapped together at the last hour, Christmas happened.
A Hat for James
Since I had no power, I had no internet access to look up nifty patterns, and so I made up the pattern on the fly. I tried several times to get a decrease pattern at the top that I liked. I hope people can follow what I worked out. Here it is:
Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, 1 skein
Size 8 16" circular needles
Size 8 DPNs
TR (twist right): Over two knit stitches, knit into the second stitch on the left needle, then knit the first stitch, then slide both stitches onto the right needle.
ssk: slip, slip, knit (right-slanting decrease)
K2tog: knit two together (left-slanting decrease)
Cast on 80 stitches onto circular needles (or onto 3 DPNs). Join, being careful not to twist the stitches. Place a marker at the beginning of the round. Work K2P2 ribbing for six inches.
Begin pattern (adjust marker so that the TR aligns to the first K2 rib):
Round 1: *P1, TR, P1, K4* 10 times
Rounds 2, 3, 4: *P1, K2, P1, K4* 10 times
Repeat rounds for about four inches (or more if desired), ending with a Round 4.
Begin decreases (switch to DPNs when necessary):
Dec round 1: *P1, K2tog, P1, K4* 10 times
Dec round 2: *ssk, P1, K4* 10 times
Dec round 3: *K2 tog, K4* 10 times
Dec round 4: *ssk, K1, k2tog* 10 times
Dec round 5: *K1, K2tog* 10 times
Dec round 6: *ssk, K1* repeat to last 2 stitches, ssk
Dec round 7: K2tog around to last st, K
Cut yarn, leaving an 8 inch tail. Use a tapestry needle to draw the tail through the remaining stitches, pull tight. Weave in and secure ends.
The doubled-over ribbing provides thick insulation over the ears. If you prefer, knit just three inches of ribbing and work the pattern for 7 inches instead of four. Either way works.