Dilemma 2: time.
Thankfully, a solution came to me rather quickly: a scarf. Even if they wouldn't wear it, it was still the thought that counted. I still had some rather thick wool in stock (for needle size 8mm) so I got right on it.
It turned out rather nice so I thought I'd share the pattern.
Finished scarf. Yes, I am incapable of making sharp pictures.... I mean no,
the blur was purely intentional to focus attention on the... uhm... things.
Cast on 20 stitches.
5 rows of knit stitches
8 rows alternating between knit and purl stitches (producing a flat bit that curls up when left alone).
After that do four knit stitches and 16 purl stitches (a row on the back of the scarf, it should mostly align with the rows before) and the reverse on the next row.
Then shift your 4 purl stitches by two every second row. After a few rows you'll arrive at this:
8 knit, 4 perl, 8 knit.
On the next row, start with 4 knit stitches again, making 4 knit, 6 purl, 4 knit, 6 purl and carry on, now shifting both blocks by 2 every second row.
Repeat this pattern until reaching a suitable length at which point you want to run the pattern off the scarf so to speak (so don't start a new one when the previous is halfway) and finish with 1 row knit, one row purl for 8 rows, followed by 5 rows of knit stitches.
This is the first time I've tried to describe a pattern (having never read one in my life), so I apologise if my google skills failed me on finding the correct terms. If the pattern is illegible, I hope that the picture is still some sort of guide.
If anyone ever decides to follow it, I'd be delighted to see the results! :)
Next project: http://wittylittleknitter.com/