Favorite Holiday Traditions: Yarn Dyers

By Ann Shayne
December 20, 2017
Hand-dyed yarns are a joy forever.

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  • Years ago, I started writing little code letters describing each gift on the kids’ Chanukah packages so I could decide which present to give them each night. They are now 25 and 21, but they still insist on trying to read and figure out the codes on their wrappings…it has become a family Chanukah tradition as much as the homemade latkes and applesauce!

  • English muffins on Christmas morning…weird, huh!
    But more important, I want some of the patterns that your dyers are wearing…especially Amy Lee’s and Megan’s! Will they share?

    • I am pretty sure Amy Lee is wearing Nimilchik Swoncho by Caitlin Hunter of Boylandknits but I too would love to know what Megan is wearing!

    • Oh my, my third comment— Megan is wearing Taku by Norah Gaughan. I will hope for a KAL for that as well!

  • I recognize the Ninilchik Swoncho on Amy Lee. By Caitlin Hunter. It’s a great design isn’t it? I have the pattern already. I don’t know the other one, but I like it too. Perhaps MDK can organize a Bang Out a Swoncho event for the new year.

  • I have one red ornament from my childhood ( I put the plastic disco ball on every year) and A string of plastic holly , also from my childhood! Tangerines on Christmas morning!

  • I have a Swoncho OTN so I would love a KAL! Our tradition is a Christmas Eve meal with very specific foods with some dear friends and family, that has been occurring with limited variations for the past 17 years. We also view the movie we made 19 years ago of our three boys “reciting”/re-enacting The Night Before Christmas- at ages 5, 5, and 3! (Getting misty-eyed just thinking about it and the thought that all three —plus one wife!— will be home this year for the first time in three years!)

  • I make Lucy Bread every year for Lucy Day (Dec 13th), and watch that great Christmas classic: DIe Hard.
    Here’s a link to the recipe and tradition of lussekatter at King Arthur’s Flour (hope links are okay)

    • Die Hard is a must during the Christmas season.
      “Happy trails, Hans.”

  • Like Brooke, our family always have Christmas Crackers. We have to wear the paper hats for at least as long as it takes for us to all read out (terrible) jokes they contain.
    And speaking of the patterns, thrilled to see Tina wearing ‘Milli’ by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan 20, which I knitted 21 years ago and still wear.

  • My family had a few traditions around unwrapping the presents. First, we save and reuse wrapping paper. There is some that is over 20 years old and still going strong. The challenge is to not rip anything (the sound of paper ripping would cause my father to gasp and wince), so we’d be tossing pocket knives and scissors around. For labels, we use the fronts of old Christmas cards, and some would go back and forth for years as well. My parents would always try to be the one to get a particular card first, and the “To” and “From” had been crossed out and rewritten at least a dozen times. We use puns and such as well, the more groan-inducing the better, so lots of laughter before the gifts are even opened.

    To open them, the youngest person there chooses a gift for someone else. That person opens their present, and chooses another for another person. Opening gifts takes hours, and we sometimes have to take a break for breakfast and church, but it’s great fun.

    • Yep, we were of the “re-use” the paper and the “labels” (also made from the fronts of old Xmas cards). Mom’s sewing room would turn into the Xmas shop with tables set up for wrapping, card writing, everything. Oh, how I miss that… You all are making me cry. And we had an Elf on the Shelf WAY before it was hip.

    • Are we related? 😉

      • “It’s perfectly good!” And my mom wraps everything without tape, the better to save the paper.

    • Hi Kate! I love your Christmas present wrapping traditions. 🙂 It sounds like you all have a lot of fun. I am a new mom and this post is helping me get great ideas of ways I can create amazing traditions one day with my daughter. 🙂 Right now on Christmas Day we always read The Polar Express and hide a bell on the tree so the other person has to find them. This is just a silly tradition I hope my daughter will one day enjoy with me and my husband. 🙂

  • Great idea for a column; enjoyed reading everyone’s favorite tradition. And enjoyed the spotlight on individual dyers. Our family tradition is Cookie Day–a day of assembly-line cookie baking (and tasting) with friends on Christmas Eve Day.

  • Well, my new tradition is going to be following these women on Instagram. Swoon.

  • Oh my gosh, my son Andrew ( now 26 ) loved ‘The sweet smell of Christmas’ as a child too! He carried it around and slept with it. I should buy a new copy for future grandbabies.

  • I gave “The Sweet Smell of Christmas” to my grandchildren; their mothers were little girls when I first found it. Now that we’re empty-nesters, I find myself examining our (many!) Christmas traditions for viability, and they all have passed so far. Mincemeat cookies/tarts are the first cookies I bake; my Norwegian-extract husband insists on Krumkakke, which he makes in a special little iron. We have rice mush and Julebord for Christmas Eve dinner. The tree is decorated with a mixture of his and my childhood ornaments (except for the ones I’ve given to my daughters for their trees), favorites being a rooster he cut out of a tin can and painted, and the little robber girl (made of hardened dough and painted; the black paint for her eyes ran, so it looks like she’s wearing a robber mask).

  • Omygosh! The Sweet Smell of Christmas! Such a strong sense memory. I’m sure our copy must’ve belonged to my younger brother but I remember each smell and the icky sensation of scratching the coated paper. The hot chocolate is weird!

    • I absolutely loved the s
      Sweet Smell of Christmas even the pictures made me happy. My copy was destroyed a few years ago. I will buy it again just to have that memory. Thank you.

  • Wonderful to read their traditions and I wish them all a happy holidays after working so hard this year!

  • Every year I help my mom bake 12 dozen cookies for her cookie exchange party. These same 11 ladies have been meeting for 44 years, exchanging cookies and eating a Christmas lunch. My Mom is 80 now, so I am doing most of the baking. It’s a serious business, because when the 11 dozen different cookies come home, comparisons are made! They even self published a cookbook on their 40th anniversary. Yum yum.

    • Is the cook book still available? Always on the look-out for new cookie recipes.

    • We ALL want this cookbook.

  • Belgian Cookies – a family tradition going way back. They are made with a special cast iron cookie press resulting in very thin, crispy, rum & vanilla flavored wafers. When I was a kid, the iron was a stovetop version. If you made your dough balls pretty small you could make two cookies at a time, but it was mostly a one-at-a-time endeavor. The recipe my family uses makes about 30 dozen. We’d say Hail Marys to time the cooking. When I lived close to my dad in the 90s, I borrowed his press a couple of years. Moves and downsizing meant the press disappeared somewhere along the way. After many years of no cookies, I couldn’t take it anymore, and bought a new electric press this year – 4 cookies at a time! Super excited to surprise my brother & sister with these on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y’all!

  • We read “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas and snort — it’s funny. Last year we did a round robin, which was even funnier.

    • What a great idea! We have a CD of the author reading, and a little book for each of us, to read along. Mostly quietly, but we chime in on our favorite phrases. Then we eat sweet rolls, ideally still warm from the oven, with hot tea and some good cheddar cheese. Alas, no tree this year, but we will be warm and cozy sitting by the fireplace.

  • Growing up we had quite a few traditions – but the one I always think of is that all through Advent we would put little slips of paper in a box each time we did something kind (or also maybe did something you hated without complaining) – these little slips became the straw upon which we set the Baby Jesus in our Nativity scene. We would sing Silent Night and somebody got to put Baby Jesus in the manger, and then my Dad would read the Christmas story from Luke – but FIRST – he would always joke that he thought he’d read the Christmas Story from Mark this year (there isn’t one – haha!). My Dad died six years ago, just two weeks before Christmas, so I love remembering the central role he played in our Christmas celebration every year.

  • So I will be the one to ask about the pattern for Karinda’s sweater. I have this incredible stash that is slowly turning into sweaters and I think I need one of these! Thank you in advance!

    • Yes please, me too! I love her sweater pattern! And I love her yarn… I made Brooklyn Tweed’s Juneberry from a silk/wool blend, Georgetown color I think, and it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever knit! I was excited to see you all appreciate her genius too!

  • Frosted cut out cookies with red and green sprinkles. Dozens of them in my mothers Granite Ware roaster. My younger brother and I plowing through them as expeditiously as possible.

  • Going to the Harvest Christmas concert (:


  • Tina Whitmore….I love your sweater!!! Is there a pattern available for that??