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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A truly handknit holiday

Every Christmas Eve, my father's side gathers at the home where his parents raised their five children, in the shadow of old coal mines. We grandkids always get relegated to what we call the "reject table," and we eat a peculiar mix of foods, mostly Slovak staples like babalki, kalacha, pirogi and this sauerkraut soup that I've always despised. We also have fish and, oddly, spaghetti, for no reason other than because I love it so much.

I loved these feasts when I was little, mainly because there were cookies and grab bags. And also because my uncle would dress as Santa and give coal to my ill-behaved cousins. And also because Christmas morning wasn't far behind. But then we all grew into sullen teens, and my grandmother died, and suddenly it was just a lot of adults making small talk and drinking my uncle's potent homemade wine.

A few year ago, though, my cousins started having kids, and they've brought back the magic. (My uncle even resurrected the old lump of coal this year.) So all the crazed knitting I did over the past few weeks felt well worth it.

Here's Olivia with the white cat:

And Julia with the orange one:

And Nolan with his robot:

My time off passed by so, so fast. The train trip home seemed longer than the time I was there. (Perhaps that's because a fundamentalist Christian women's shoe salesman sat next to me outside of Lancaster and proceeded to tell jokes that insulted Italians and women and men simultaneously. When he learned I lived in New York and wasn't married, he asked if I lived with cats. He also asked my thoughts on George W. Bush and when I equivocated because I prefer not to discuss politics with complete strangers, he assured me, "We can't get enough of him out here!" I didn't dare knit in front of this guy because he'd surely have an innappropriate comment.)

I had such a wonderful time with my family, who totally spoiled me. Mom bought me three balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan, which I immediately had to begin knitting with. (Finished a little something on the much-more-comfortable trip back today.) She also bought me a gorgeous and truly too generous circular needle holder by Offhand Designs. I'm ashamed by how wonderful it is. My needles looked so much better immediately, like "Extreme Makeover: Crazy Knitter Edition."

And, as requested, mom bought me this adorable sheep tape measure.

Now, it's back to selfish knitting. Just got gauge for Angelica!


Anonymous Kim Guzman said...

The kids are so adorable with their new knitted toys! I'm so glad you had such a nice visit. Your gifties from your mother are wonderful. And, glad you are starting Angelica! Can't wait to see the photo. :-)

1:28 AM  
Blogger Jennifa said...

Ha. That salesman makes me think of Archie Bunker, and I didn't even meet him. Minus the famous temper, of course (at least hopefully!)

That looks like a good Christmas. If your mom knows enough to buy Debbie Bliss, it must have been!

4:10 AM  
Blogger emy said...

I am sure the kids love these toys!

5:00 AM  
Anonymous kaitlyn said...

my family is also looking forward to having some kids back in the christmas mix! Looks like they enjoyed your handiwork :)

Your train ride sounds awful though!

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Iraida said...

Sounds like you had a great time. that dude on the train sounds disgustingly annoying! Yay fir selfish knitting!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

I'm so glad to see the pictures of the kiddo's with their toys!! Very cute!

It sounds like a really nice christmas.

I still can't believe you got your yarn from hipknits so quickly! Lucky!!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Mmmmm My great-grandmother came to the U.S. from Yugoslavia many years ago and made THE BEST kalacha. Now that she, (and Yugoslavia) is gone, everytime I even think about one of those yummy pieces of heaven, I think fondly of her.

Looks like you had a wonderful Christmas, and the hand-knits were well received. Hopefully that guy on the train will get a life.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn Handspun said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time exept for the Nasty Train man. Those little knit toys are so cute! Isn't it wonderful with those little kids around...I love that I can spoil them and give them back!

1:44 PM  
Anonymous frecklegirl said...

Ugh that guy sounds horrible. I hate when you are stuck with weird talking people on public transportation. No headphones?

Love the pictures of the kids with the toys! Happy kids!

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Amanda Woodward said...

Oh those children are darling with their little knitted gifts, if you don't mind me asking, how was Kate to knit? I keep seeing yours & thinking, oh & I'd like to knit her...

I'm glad your Christmas was nice & I'm really sorry to hear about your creepy seatmate, where I live its like that ALL the time. I go to a public college & frequently have to get into tiffs because I don't believe that Christian music should be played in the studios...argh.

Enough with that, Happy Holidays Miss Carrie!!

11:02 PM  
Blogger Sluggo said...

I firmly believe that people who try to discuss politics and religion with perfect strangers should be severely beaten and repeatedly tasered.

Glad you had a good mini-vacation.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

The knit toys are adorable! I may have to give the kitty a try for my youngest cousin.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a nice Christmas memory! My family (I have eight brothers and sisters) used to have a big get-together at my parent's house on Christmas Eve where we would stay up late, eating keilbasa from the Hungarian deli in the old neighborhood. It was so fun and cool. Then my dad died and the tradition died with him. It is one of the things I miss and cherish more than the gift-opening frenzy of Christmas day.

11:33 AM  

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