When my mom came to visit Charlottesville in the fall, she planned her trip so she could join a Thursday "knit night" at the shop and still have time for a return visit if necessary over the weekend (it was necessary). A retired materials scientist, my mom splits her time between Albuquerque, NM, and Crested Butte, Colorado — both places that lack high quality local yarn shops at a convenient driving distance from her house. Thus, she gets her yarn fix most frequently through the Needle Lady in C'Ville, and somewhat jokingly, she often refers to me as her "personal yarn shopper."
This visit, my mom knew she wanted hat yarn. Specifically, she wanted yarn to make the hat I had knit as a sample for the shop when we first started carrying the unbelievably scrumptious merino-that-feels-like-cashmere Woolfolk. Bough by Leila Raabe is not an easy knit, but is well worth the hassle, especially in this yarn (Woolfok's worsted weight, Får). Because I wanted to knit one for myself too, we picked colors and fur pompoms for matching hats — we both wanted almost-white, and luckily, in the subtle color variations of the Woolfolk line, we were able to find two slightly different colors that went with our styles: grayish, pearly off-white (color 0) with a black pompom for my mom, and soft, cozy ivory (color 1) with a natural pompom for me. As we were setting our carefully selected sets on the counter, Susan (Needle Lady owner) paused from sorting skeins behind the counter and looked at us very seriously.
"You know girls," she said, "If you're going to have matching hats, I have to tell you: your sister needs one too."
She was right, of course. So back we went to the Woolfolk shelves. We picked a deep grey (color 5) with a natural pompom for my sister, thinking it would go nicely with her professional wardrobe (she works as an auditor for the Department of the Treasury in San Francisco — where the weather actually permits her to make use of knitted objects year-round — one of the many reasons SF is my dream city #yarnlifegoals). I agreed to knit the hat for my sister, which caused my mom point out that the 3 hats might not match perfectly if they were knit by different people. So I agreed to knit my mom's hat too.
And then, just as we were taking our third set of yarn+pompom to the counter, another point occurred to my mom: if the 3 of us were going to get new hats, obviously my dad should have one too. For his hat, we picked an earthy bronze (color 8) that would match the greens, grays, and olives in his Colorado fishing/hunting gear.
Ten minutes later, standing at the counter with a large pile of yarn and pompoms (although no pom for my dad), I realized that 1 hat project had become 4 — but also that my Christmas shopping was done.
One of the only perks of living so far apart is that matching holiday knits are cute when we are together for a few days and by the time they would have become tacky, we've left to wear them in the faraway places we all live/travel — me in Virginia, my sister in California, my parents in New Mexico/Colorado. And especially when you are apart, it is nice to know you're wearing the same hat, knit by the same hands, as your loved ones are wearing wherever they are.