[Note to self - start crocheting in January 2014 for next Christmas]
Anyhoo, I faffed about a bit, as is my wont, and found a scalloped cowl pattern using wool I've already got - not because I'm a cheapskate but because my opportunities to buy wool specially for her were extremely limited, there not being a wool shop anywhere that I can get to unassisted, which would mean roping Mum in, which feels a bit weird: "can you drive me 20miles to the wool shop so I can buy some wool for your ex-husband's wife's Xmas present?" She's cool and all but I think that's a bit much, no? I think also in the back of my mind was "use wool you've already got and then, if it turns out a total sh*tstorm that you wouldn't give to your neighbour's annoying barky dog to chew, you won't feel like you've wasted too much."
The cowl has worked out brilliantly, even though I eventually realised I'd read the first round of the pattern wrong. Twice (you do half the cowl then go back to the foundation row and work in the opposite direction so the beginning's in the middle - not rocket science but pretty nifty). So, it looks a bit handmade, but then it is and I predict (hope, I hope!) she'll be impressed with the handmade-with-love-i-ness more than anything else.
(extended nautical metaphor alert)
So buoyed was I by this success, finished days ago (i.e. before even the slightest bit of can-I-get-this-done-in-time-will-she-accept-an-i.o.u. panic had set in) that I decided to push the boat out and make a matching set of long, pretty wristwarmers/fingerless gloves. (Despite the fact Stepmother really feels the cold in the ends of her skinny fingers, I am not even going to think about fingery gloves, forget it.).
I looked on ravelry.com, I found lots of patterns, I narrowed my choice down, I paid for and downloaded the pattern.
I tried, and tried, and tried to follow the pattern, which says this:
pull up loop,"
What loop? From where?
Apparently "By doing the ch1, pull up loop, you create a more seamless looking join. This makes it so you could wear the gloves on either hand (no left or right designated glove)"
THIS DOESN'T HELP AT ALL!
Neither, depressingly, do the pictures on the .pdf, which I think are supposed to show how to do the above but I can't make it out at all :(
Nor can I find any reference to this on the Interweb.
Reader, I gave up.
I had another look on the Interweb and found a free (yay!) pattern for similar gloves. it's for worsted, not aran weight but I figured it'd be alright.
Last night I tried, and tried, and tried to make it work. The pattern decreases are difficult to follow, I'm not sure exactly where I'm supposed to slip st into and the pattern repeats were difficult to keep track of. I made it past the first few rounds on the third (fourth? I'd lost count - we were watching Die Hard and Bruce Willis was still wearing a shirt, that's all I know) attempt and although I wasn't at all confident that I was following the pattern right, I kept counting my stitches and it was the right number so I battled on.
One of the reasons I was worried about following the pattern was because the glove was getting smaller, and smaller, and, you get the idea! I got so worried about this that I tried pulling it over my own wrist a few times to check (Stepmother is generally skinnier than I am but I've kept my girlish skinny wrists). At 16 stitches/round, I could only just tug it over my hand, with a lot of effort.
I have now paid for and downloaded a third pattern. I really really really hope this one's the charm.
It feels churlish, but I'm miffed that I've paid for these patterns & I haven't been able to follow one of them / may not be able to follow the other. They're only a couple of £'s and I'm sure it's my own incompetence rather than a fault with the pattern. But there's no way to say "hey, I'm not going to make these after all - can I have my £2.56 back?", except my actually complaining to the author that I couldn't follow the pattern and I don't want to be That Woman, no thank you.
All this for a pair of gloves I wasn't even thinking of making 48hrs ago. Definitely need to chalk this up to experience, when I've stopped weeping/swearing. And the third pattern has worked. And I've made 2 of 'em. Tomorrow.