Christmas in May

This Christmas stocking pattern has been in my family for four generations.  My mother started making them probably 60 years ago.  She made one each for our immediate family (that’s 5), then one each for our spouses (add 3), then five for the grandchildren who were born before she died.  That’s 13 stockings she made.  Who knows?  Maybe more for friends…3 stockings

After she died, I became the Designated Knitter for the family.  I think I made one for the grandchild born after Mom died; I made one for my son-in-law, one for my niece’s husband, and one for my first grandson.  That particular one was made when I was under a lot of stress; Santa is facing in the wrong direction, and he has only one eye, which is red rather than black.  I refer to him as the Hung Over Cyclops Santa, but apparently my grandson loves him. My daughter Katy made one for my second husband so that it would be a surprise.

Recently I’ve been asked to make two more — one for my second grandson, and one for my niece’s son.  I want to be sure they’re done in plenty of time for Christmas, and before the Christmas Knitting Panic ensues.  So I’m starting them now.

The trouble is, that pattern is so old that it’s worn and ripped.  Unfortunately, the most illegible part is Santa’s face (which comes right where there’s a fold).  That might explain Hung Over Cyclops Santa right there.  Furthermore, the graph is microscopic, so that the pattern is nearly impossible to read anyway, even if it were in good shape.  Which it certainly is not.od pattern

So I decided, since it’s only May, and since that old pattern isn’t ever going to improve, that I would color code the pattern onto bigger graph paper.  Oh my goodness, I had no idea what I was getting into!stat of graphHere’s a shot of several attempts, using an enlargement of the original pattern (guess what — it was still illegible, just bigger).   I’d be going merrily along and then realize that I had made a mistake several rows earlier, so I’d cut up the paper and tape on a new one.  This made me slightly crazy, trying to keep track of which rows were done (they aren’t numbered on the original pattern.)

Then I got the idea to use my husband’s loupe magnifying glass, which he got to help him identify plants.loupe

Slowly I started to get the hang of it, and the colored image gradually began to appear on my paper, which by now consisted of many layers of tiny cut-out pieces.  (“Drat!  That stitch was supposed to be red!  Well, I’ll just color one square red and tape it on top of that one.”)graph paper with beerI don’t know if the beer actually helped, but it made me feel better!

Finally Santa emerged in all his squared-off glory.  I hope that this graph paper image of the pattern will last another 60 years, so that the next Designated Knitter in the family won’t go blind trying to make these.

Here’s the start of the next stocking to join the family.  The name will be added after it’s done.  Can you spot the mistake I’ve already made?  (Nothing that a little duplicate stitch can’t fix!)graph paper with knitting


8 thoughts on “Christmas in May

    1. nclymer

      As Sarah said, this is such a WONDERFUL family treasure and you are so wonderful to have been the DK all of these years!! I would have suggested scanning the original pattern and then color coding it on the computer where you could make it as big as you wanted ….

  1. audrey

    This was an awesome post. I really liked reading about the back story of the xmas stocking. In our family, the stockings are a wonderful treasure. When my son in law Jonny received his one christmas, his eyes opened wide with surprise and joy. I can’t wait to watch Benjamin discover the joy in his stocking as he grows up. Thank you so much Judy for posting this and for knitting these treasures.

  2. Margaret Weddell

    Your knitting is always an inspiration to me. Inspiration and motivation. Thanks, Judy.

      1. Judy Welles Post author

        zannieblossom, that was an incomplete reply. I can make a copy of the old tattered pattern if you want it; you’d have to do something similar to what I did here to make it really legible. Please let me know via e-mail if you want it (jcwellesATgmailDOTcom). I’ll see what I can do.

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