Last year I found this book in the library called 55 Christmas Balls To Knit by two guys named Arne and Carlos. I thought, “Is this a joke?” Whenever I hear the term “Christmas balls” I can’t help but think of that old Saturday Night Live skit with Alec Baldwin. But this is no joke. Arne & Carlos are knitwear designers who live in the mountains of Norway (see their home and story here) and they are serious about their Christmas balls (see them surrounded by same here).
I finally got around to knitting their “X’s and O’s Version 2” this year for my friend Susan who recently became a yarn shop owner. She is now the proprietor of Yarndogs in Los Gatos, a shop I wrote about in a previous post called Sock Smitten. Knitting these balls is similar to knitting socks; it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Once you get them going on your double-pointed needles, that is. You knit this ball in the round in four repeating vertical sections. Arne and Carlos were brilliant to think of embellishing them with Swarovski crystals (you can find the Swarovski Elements line at craft stores). They add just that little bit of magic, but you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to. I glued mine on with Fabri-Tac.
Just a couple of other notes on the ball. Arne and Carlos use Dale of Norway Heilo yarn for their balls and U.S. 2.5 needles. I couldn’t fine the Heilo yarn, but I did find Dale of Norway Baby Ull and I used size 2 needles. This resulted in a ball about the size of a large apple or a Valencia orange. For the label, I used a Martha Stewart letter set to stamp the name of the shop and the year (on the back) onto some narrow white tape I had. I used my sewing machine to form a loop with the tape, then I slipped it over the crochet hanging loop that I made for the ball and hand zig-zag stitched it in place.
Now about those socks. I’m ashamed to say they are only 98% completed. I finished one sock completely, but then I realized that the toe box was too tight. So I knit the next sock just up to the point where I went wrong before and stopped. I know I can fix the finished sock, but I think I’ll need help. Susan has knit about a million pairs of socks by now. She also has the ability to look at your stitching and see what is wrong with it and she’ll likely know how to fix it. Not all knitters can do that. So I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution to go see her in the shop and have her help me with my sock problem. I don’t think I feel right about starting a new pair of socks without finishing that first pair that I was originally so excited about. My sister gave me some beautiful sock yarn a couple of years ago that is just waiting to be stitched into a lovely pair of socks.
So go see Susan and the same excellent staff that was at the shop with Deborah. Deborah could not have left it in better hands. Remember too that the beautiful yarns and colors and the soothing act of knitting are a perfect antidote to any winter ennui or downright blues that can set in about now. And those video links above are a lot of fun to watch (short too). I will surely buy the Arne and Carlos book because I think I’ll have to work my way through the remaining 54 balls.