By chance, I had a few knits finished and wrapped up in time for Christmas. Maybe because I wasn't in any particular hurry to complete them by any set date, I enjoyed knitting each of them immensely. More than stitching with pointy objects, I felt that stitch by stitch, I was creating paintings with yarn - my needles seemed like magic brushes.
For my oldest niece, a twenty-year-old college student who rides her bicycle daily through the narrow streets of Florence on her way to class (aren't you a tiny bit envious? well, I am ... a lot!), I made a pair of Fair Isle style mittens. This project required a certain amount of concentration and constant attention to the chart, but seeing curls and snowflakes appear from my needles made me indeed feel like a painter more than a knitter. I was attracted to the ornate pattern design, but soon realized that this kind of knit is marvellously functional also: knitted with two threads, they're double thick and doubly warm. I think they'll keep her hands warm as she cycles around Florence.
For my youngest niece, a four-year-old whom Rebecca adores, I took a very different approach - she's in kindergarten after all, at the opposite side of the educational spectrum of my oldest niece. I knitted a simple white scarf in garter stitch, and then, as if on a blank canvas, I started decorating it with yarn, felt, beads and threads - occasionally stepping back to study the overall effect, then adding this or that detail until it seemed done. I hope that this birdie scarf will keep her warm and full of color in wintry weather.