Tales from a Secret Santa

Every year at work, we have a Secret Santa pool with a $25 spending cap. The first Secret Santa was interesting since I had only been there a matter of weeks before I was expected to buy one of my co-workers a gift. Naturally, I pulled out a scarf I had knit for fun, stuck a bow on it and called it a gift. Last year, I baked a peppermint cheesecake and enclosed it in a cake carrier. This year I’m back at making something for my chosen gift recipient.

When I picked the name for this year’s Secret Santa, I knew almost immediately what I’d do. Last year, this person had gifted me a bag of different yarns in different weights and colors, so what else am I going to do but give it back after I’ve run some of it through my needles? It’s the Ultimate Re-gift. I mean, c’mon. You gave me yarn, you clearly want me to use it. What better way to use it than to knit something for my Secret Santa gift? It was perfect!

I looked through my bag of options and picked the Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Tweed in Oatmeal, and scoured Ravelry for a cowl pattern that used Super Bulky yarn. I didn’t think any of the options in my library were fashionably appropriate for my gift recipient so I tapped the Free Pattern fountain. There, I found the Sag Snood/Cowl by Laura Brehaut. It is a simple double moss-stitch cowl that is supposed to measure 30″ around. It only took a weekend to do this project I’ve dubbed Secret Santa 2016, and I like it, but it wasn’t what I had expected.


I was expecting the cowl to fit a bit more closely to the face, more like a fortress, but it was way bigger than that. It draped down the front more than I had expected. Clearly, I didn’t get gauge. It looks nice, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned for my gift. Having used roughly 1.25 of my 2 skein stash, I had my doubts about being able to make the cowl I wanted without having to take apart the other one. I took some very scientific measurements using my pinching fingers and a mirror to calculate the new circumference of the new cowl and decided it was good enough to start Secret Santa 2016: The Face Fortress. I decreased the stitches from 80 to 52, which would achieve the look I wanted. However, I was only able to knit 7 of the 8 inches requested in the pattern because I ran out of yarn. It still looks good, though.

After much consideration, I’ve decided I’ll be giving The Face Fortress as my Secret Santa gift. It looks a lot closer to the idea I had in my head so I’m going with it. It’s still another couple of days before my gift gets opened, and I’m feeling positive about my decision. It’s always a little dodgy to inflict my fashion choices on another person but it usually goes over well when they find out I made it myself. Usually. But I can’t get focused on what kind of reaction will meet the neck warmer. Instead I’m going to bask in the simplistic, versatile design and wish it a good life.

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