A Very Merry Candlenights to You…and You…and You

I am in love with the McElroy Brothers.

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Yes, all three of them. At the same time.

Not romantic love, no. But a deeper, truer love. The love that you feel for the kind of people that make you explode with laughter while you are trying to keep your shit together and look cool on the elliptical machine, simply struggling to breathe in general and now having to deal with hilarious antics at the same time.

Please tell me that you guys have listened to at least one of their amazing podcasts. If you haven’t, please do so. Right now. I’ll wait. Just pick one at random, you won’t be disappointed.

Done? Good.

I have been listening to My Brother, My Brother, and Me for the longest (Since 2012, I think? The days just run together now in my sad weird night-shift life.), and I highly recommend it as a way to introduce the McElroys into your world. You will soon be unable to resist adding more podcasts to your rotation — I myself have now listened to every single episode of Sawbones (which makes my little nursing brain so happy), The Adventure Zone (which makes me pine for the long ago days when I played D&D like a goddamn boss, even sometimes across the country), and ‘Til Death Do Us Blart (of which there are only two so far, but if you listened as well…you would know that this is an accomplishment to be celebrated).

Justin, Travis, and Griffin are, quite possibly, the most charming set of three brothers alive. They are insanely quick and clever. They are ridiculously vulgar. They play D&D with their adorably curmudgeonly father. They love horses. And haunted dolls. And Jimmy Buffett. They talk about ASMR in a non-insulting manner, which is quite a thing and warms my heart.

So, as most of you know, if there are people in the world that I admire and feel the need to let them know about how much they make my life better, and, let’s be for real here, remotely tolerable in this towering garbage fire of a year, I have to knit something for them. In this case, both Travis and Griffin, the middlest and babiest brothers respectively, have recently become fathers to some ridiculously beautiful babies, who will be celebrating their first Candlenights this year, along with Justin’s wonderful two-year-old. (And can I take a moment to mention the fabulous wives of these guys? Sydnee, Teresa, and Rachel are also hilarious, wonderful people, and…I don’t mean to single anyone out specifically, but I kind of want to be Sydnee when I grow up. I guess my going back to school to get my DNP starting in January is a first step towards that. [Yeah, I’m going to put myself through the torture of school again. More on that later.])

What’s Candlenights, you say? Well, in the McElroys’ own words, it’s “a pan-religious, pan-sexual, personal pan winter holiday…Candlenights starts and ends for each person at different times, is about different things for each person, and is celebrated differently by each person. People from all countries of all religions and those without religion alike can celebrate their own Candlenights in their own way.”

It sounds lovely, right? So, as my Candlenights gift to them, I decided to knit the first ever (probably?) Candlenights stockings to shower upon the three babies McElroy, to hang wherever and fill with whatever to celebrate their first winter together.

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These stockings are super heavily-modified versions of the Keepsake Baby Stocking from Interweave’s Christmas Stockings, which is the greatest Christmas stocking book of all time, and sadly, out of print. Just try to pry it out of my cold dead hands.

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They’ve got super-sexy Latvian braid, always a favorite.

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They’ve got my very silly duplicate stitching and tiny stars embroidery, just to add to the Candlenights spirit.

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They unintentionally look a lot like the Amnesty International logo, now that I’m looking at them. Whoops.

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They are also completely coincidentally the colors of the Chipmunks’ shirts, as I am now realizing. That’s what happens when you decide that the perfect yarn is from the leftovers from LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow scarf, I guess.

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Oh, and Justin, Travis, and Griffin, if you’re reading this…yes, that was totally a shameless name-drop. I made a scarf for LeVar Burton and handed it to him! Seriously! And I made an owl for David Sedaris! This is just how awesome I think you guys are! I think I can quit it with the exclamation points now!

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Anyway, these lovelies are headed over to your respective P.O. boxes soon, so please keep an eye out for them so that all of your wonderful babies can share something silly and fun and handmade this year, made with love and hugs from down here in New Orleans.

You guys are great. And you help keep me sane in trying times. And also make me look like a deranged person at the gym. Keep up the good work.

Showered with Love – the Moderne Baby Blanket

“The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. You know, you don’t know them, it wasn’t your choice, and yet you spend more time with them then you do your friends or your family. But probably all you’ve got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for 8 hours a day. And so, obviously, when someone comes in who you… you have a connection with… yeah.” – Tim Canterbury, The Office

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Now, I know that quote up there is about a man finding the love of his life, but really, I think it applies for all of those wonderful work relationships that everyone experiences, but are hard to describe.

There are people who you would have otherwise never would have met, and once you’re put together with them, particularly in the stressful field in which I work, find it very difficult to imagine your work, hell, your life without them.

My lovely friend Christina is one of these people.

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I knew from the day that we met, in a class where we had to qualify for our PALS certification (that’s right, I’m all kinds of responsible for the lives of children now, it’s crazy), that she was going to be one of the people that made my new job a good place to be. We work night shift together on the 6th floor, where we take care of lots of different high-acuity patients, children with brain injuries, kidney diseases, and heart defects, and even though it’s night shift, it can be extremely hectic and demanding, due to how much care our kids need and how busy our hospital is.

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Christina is always there for me to bond with over our shared pediatrics experience. She’s kind to a fault, knowing exactly the right way to talk to children and parents to put them at ease, and I know several kids that we see frequently who ask for her to be their nurse every time they come. Even when she’s got a ridiculous amount to accomplish in a shift, she’s always got a smile for anyone who comes up to her. She is always down to help with any small task or enormous disaster (usually involving inordinate amounts of bodily fluids) that occurs, no matter what.

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When Christina found herself suddenly, and really unexpectedly, about to have a baby, I knew that I had to make her something to show her how much I appreciate having her in my life, no matter how randomly we were brought together (and also because I feel like love is best shown through gestures like these, not just how we sit off to the side of the nurses’ station and talk about our pets).

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She and her boyfriend didn’t want to find out whether the baby is a boy or a girl ahead of time, so I figured that the silly amount of yarn I had left over from Squares and Squares and Squares would be best served in making a green-and-brown woodsy, squishy blanket for a teeny, tiny baby-to-be that will be very much loved by his or her entire adopted nursing family.

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Time to talk shop. The pattern here is the Moderne Baby Blanket by the glorious ladies behind Mason-Dixon Knitting, baby cousin to the Modern Log Cabin Blanket, which I made in 2009 with Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool and remains a prized possession in my home, only allowed to be used in my office where there are no cats allowed. I can’t blame them, that squishy garter stitch is really, really tempting to stick your claws in and get in some good kneading.

Wanna see that one?

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Hell yeah, that’s a big blanket.

This Modern Baby Blanket is quite a bit smaller, and full of little tweaks to accommodate the fact that I was using yarn from another project. First things first, I was dealing with seven colors here, as opposed to four, so I had to be strategic about not letting colors that were too similar stack up on each other, as well as constantly checking to make sure that I was using up each color as much as possible, judging each new rectangle by its placement and what size it would be before choosing which color to go with next.

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That sounds so much more complicated than it actually was.

Go ahead and click on the link for Squares and Squares and Squares above in order to see which colors of Knit Picks Brava Worsted I used (it’s all of them except for Mulberry), in case you want to make your own. The only other thing that I changed was the size of the blocks around the outside edges. Because I was using the leftovers from another large blanket, all I had to work with was slightly less than a skein of each color. Because of this, I worked with each color as long as I possibly could, and then recalculated how many stitches to pick up on the subsequent crossing blocks.

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Again, that sounds way more complicated that it was. Part of what’s wonderful about this pattern is how easy it is to customize. I’ve seen fantastic adaptations where people make long gradients of one color family, where they knit in extra borders between blocks, where they go crazy with multicolored yarn…it’s all awesome.

The Brava makes for a wonderfully squishy, hefty knit, perfect for softening up a floor to let a baby hang out and get some tummy time, while also being really easy to wash and care for.

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After finishing up, this precious bundle made its way to a super-stylish baby shower (Seriously, look at all that gray and green! I want to redecorate my house to look like this future baby’s possessions now.), in our conference room on our hospital floor, because sometimes work can wait while people eat fruit tarts and open presents.

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There’s Christina there, reading out her cards and looking radiant and teary-eyed, not realizing just how much we all love her and are willing to shower her with that love.

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This baby is going to be so spoiled and adored. There’s just no way around it. And no other person who deserves it more.