Dear Bob, Maybe we won't use alpaca.
Still, the end is in sight and I can entertain myself here in the homestretch with dreams of what to knit next. I rarely knit to deadlines or for an occasion. I cast around for what I feel like knitting, then decide what to do with it after I have a good start. I knit for the pure pleasure of it. If the end of a project happens to coincide with a gift-giving holiday, so much the better.
This is how it usually goes, except sometimes I get a little nudge in my project selection process from the outside world. My darling brother asked if I would knit him a hat, not just any hat but Meg Swansen's Swedish Dubbelmossa that I knit once for our dad and once for our younger brother. We had long discussions about details like the softness of alpaca compared to the more boingy unspun Icelandic wool.
For me to knit the same pattern more than once means I REALLY like it, so that is one point in dear brother's favor. Then he said magic words: "as for color, something unique would be nice" and "if there are other fibers you'd like to experiment with, feel absolutely free." Carte blanche! He really knows how to charm a knitter. How could I not be excited to knit a pattern I love in whatever colors and fibers move me at the time?
OK, so Burgundy and Porcini (more taupe than the photo shows) are not exactly going out on a limb, colorwise, but they are positively wild compared to the undyed gray and cream or brown and cream of the first two hats. The yarn is KnitPicks Gloss sock yarn -- a merino wool/silk blend. Not alpaca after all, but the merino has enough boing to make a nice fitting hat; the silk makes it interesting. Even a little bit of silk makes me feel like I am basking in the ancient fiber tradition of a great civilization, aside from the sheen and color it adds. It is soft as pudding, but still has enough grabbiness to make stranded knitting a pleasure (if you like stranded knitting to start with. If you don't, the yarn probably won't change your mind, even if it is nice yarn.)
It won't be cold again for a long time, so there is no pressure for a quick finish. This is just something to keep me occupied while I decide which circular shawl to knit after Azucena.
And the Miss Marple socks? We won't mention them right now.