Passage of Time

With the impending arrival of Father’s Day tomorrow and Mother’s Day in the past, I have done a lot of reflecting on my own experiences with my parents. How they raised me, their only daughter, in the late 50’s and early 60’s while keeping a deep and very dark (to them) secret.

Shortly after my mother passed away in October of 2008, we found out that she had given up a baby boy for adoption in May/June 1956. Had she given birth to that baby boy, she’d have been ostracized. She’d have been labeled a strumpet, a hussy, a tramp. She would not have been allowed to marry my father if anyone had known. My father, however, would have been left to continue his life as before.

Being the next child born, and a girl, I can only imagine that I was a disappointment and it explains a lot about how she raised me. She was disconnected, aloof, often angry, not encouraging or loving. She was always heavy … keeping a layer of protection around her. Please don’t get me wrong, she fed me, did my laundry, drove me everywhere. I didn’t want for anything. Except her love. None of this was my fault, of course, and I didn’t know that I was getting treatment that was different from my younger brothers or my peers. But it was different and I was scarred by it. (Thank God for therapy!)

I say this today because I realized recently that many of my friends on Facebook seem to miss their parents and were deeply loved by them. Sadly, I don’t have that same feeling. I’d love to have them back to ask them questions about why they did what they did. Why they kept the secret after we were adults. Why they never told me they loved me or were proud of me. (They really didn’t unless it was after a fight and then it would be, “of course we love you” said in anger and frustration.) My brothers had a different experience. Psychologically, I’m certain that it was because I was the first born “after the adoption” and I wasn’t a boy.

I was encouraged to find a husband and marry … that’s why a girl goes to college. I was born to have babies, that was where I would find happiness and fulfillment.  I was taught to iron and sew, to play the piano and guitar. I was given ballroom dancing lessons at Mary Jane Spencer’s. My peers were encouraged to pursue a career, told they could do anything that they set their mind to. I didn’t know that until I had children of my own … and had been in therapy for depression and a failing/failed marriage that lead to an ugly divorce.

img_0121.jpgToday I am happier. At nearly 60 I am feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am grateful for the life I was given and I know that my parents never meant to cause me harm. They did their best. Sadly, it wasn’t good enough to give me wings to fly. I had to find those for myself.

Today, one of the things that makes me happy is yarn. Everything around yarn. I love people who use yarn in their creative endeavors. I love the animals who provide the fibers and the process that leads to the yarn being available to buy. I love feeling it and working it into a garment. I love the shop keepers and the customers. I  am grateful for the shared wisdom of women and men who share my craft and the love of yarn. I love that I have found a wonderful man with whom to share my life. He loves me as I am even when I don’t.

Life hands you some bizarre twists and turns and I’ve learned that it’s all about what you do with them that makes you who you are. I am grateful for them all because I like where I am today. I wouldn’t be here without all those experiences. I’m strong and resilient and happy. I’ve started over many times and I’m sure I’ll start over again.

Speaking of starting over … I started something new yesterday.

IMG_3065Born out of frustration with the fit of my nearly-done Malabrigo sweater, and in an effort to use some of my stashed yarn, I cast on the Brambling Shawl.

The Brambling Shawl by Bristol Ivy was one of the projects in A Year of Techniques. It’s a study in Intarsia – the use of two colors in the same row. The yarn used in the pattern (and that I bought) is Fyberspates’ Cumulus. It’s a lovely blend of baby Suri alpaca and Mulberry silk. The project calls for five colors (camel, slate, plum, sea green and silver) and is worked from tip to tip with increases and decreases to make a triangular shawl. I’ve just gotten started and have yet to add the second color, but I love being able to learn a technique with practice.

So, tomorrow I will celebrate my husband who is a great father. Patient, loving and kind. I will also celebrate the fathers in my life, my brothers, uncle, cousins, and my own dad who did his best. He did teach me to love pistachios!

Gone knitting!

 

Ho! Ho! Ho! No More UFO!

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For Clark and Stephanie

I’ve just finished a long project (like any good knitter, I kept finding other projects to do) that was a true work of love. My college roommate, Mary Frances, aka Muffin, asked me to copy her lifetime Christmas stocking for her new grandson and daughter-in-love.

I had no pattern but assumed that I could copy just about anything. The stocking arrived at my house several months ago and I set about copying the stitches to make a chart. This part was pretty simple and straight forward. If you can count stitches, you can chart.

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My Chart

I knew I wanted to knit the top part of the giant sock flat so I could embellish with beard and sequins more easily. I also wanted to use the intarsia-style of knitting because stranding would be crazy wasteful. Once done with the chart, I took the original stocking to the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine … where I happen to work … to find yarn colors that were as close as possible. Lucky me! I found Christmas Green, Red and Blue that matched in good old Cascade 220 100% wool. I knew I had a similar ivory/off white in my stash and some black, too.

When you’re knitting stockings, you’re knitting them upside down and it’s fun to watch the images develop stitch by stitch. The intarsia creates lots and lots of ends to weave in. I am so thankful for the invention of bobbins. I couldn’t have done this without them. The fact that I stitched them flat made the weaving of ends simpler, too!

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Once past the charted section, it was a super quick process to the bell at the tip of the toe. I joined the stocking at the ankle and knitted the rest of the “giant sock” in the round. At the toe, with the tail of the yarn, I attached a silver bell just like on the original stocking.

I knew that I would add the lettering, and the eyes and nose on Santa at the end in duplicate stitch. I believe that the original stocking had lettering that was stranded but with a couple of washings, the stocking has withered a bit and the lettering doesn’t stand out as well as I would like. I’m very happy with the results of the duplicate stitch lettering. Then it was time to give Santa a beard and a pom-pom on his hat. I used short pieces of wool that I looped around itself and then clipped short and steam blocked to that it “frizzed” up. I love the beards, especially!

I am so pleased with the way the Santas and the trees turned out. I sewed individual sequins on all of the Christmas trees. I am not the most graceful sewer, but the sequins add such a wonderful sparkle on the trees! A braided loop for hanging was the last addition after steam blocking and seaming the back of the stocking. The seam is a blessing in disguise – it gives some substance and stability to the back of the stocking and makes it sturdier since it will be stuffed and hung on the mantel!

I love that they’re finished … and just in the (Saint) Nick of time! Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to you, my dear friend, Muffin! I know this will be a happy one at your house!

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All three stockings together, in public, for the first time! (LOL!)

Gone knitting!

I’m the Queen Bee and it’s Been Over a Month Since I’ve Posted.

Welcome to Maine

Welcome to Maine

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything in over a month! I’m sure I’ve thought about it many times … apologies to my loyal followers (all three of you!)

I was a sick puppy!

I was a sick puppy! Out of work for five weeks!

I’ve recovered from a nasty bout with pneumonia and bronchitis and finished the school year and moved up to our home in Maine. I’ve also started a new “diet” to try to lose some weight before the big wedding (not mine, my daughter’s). I have been way to “happy” (read this as eating for all celebratory reasons) for the past several years and have gained a good forty pounds since my divorce diet and weight loss. I’m hoping to get back to that post-divorce weight without severing a long relationship. I’ve enlisted a team of coaches and doctors and am starting day 6, having lost about six pounds. Woo! Hoo! The program that I’m using is Your Road To Health. It’s a Medifast program. I was hungry and cranky the first few days but I’m feeling better as the days go on. Today I am feeling hopeful and that’s a really great way to feel.

I’ve been knitting a lot, too. Have several projects on the needles. I’ll go into more detail over the next few days. Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of projects – and the ones that have deadlines are the ones that I don’t really feel like working on.

I’m almost done with the lap blanket for my daughter’s wedding (there will be rocking chairs on the Yacht Club’s porch and she really wanted to have a cozy blanket on them … it could be chilly in September in Massachusetts.) Bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly … even if it’s a boring project.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Closing in on Row 70 … a bazillion rows left!

Closing in on Row 70 … a bazillion rows left!

I’ve kind of given up on the idea of finishing the lace shawl by her wedding. But maybe not.

I started a “selfish knitting” shawl … one of those projects that I can work on at knitting classes because I don’t have to count.

One mitt down, one to go.

One mitt down, one to go.

I have one of my two fingerless mitts done. An Intarsia pattern. I have decided I need to practice intarsia more … not my favorite technique. One left … and I haven’t even started it yet.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Wonderful Wallaby sleeves … two at a time.

Last, I have a Wonderful Wallaby sweater that I am knitting for myself. Another easy pattern that  I can knit and visit with. I have the majority of the body done and am working on the sleeves. Would love to finish this before the end of the summer so it can live here in Maine. It’ll be way too warm for Florida.

My super-duper LL Bean bag is full of yarn and “hopeful” knitting projects. If I can finish even some of my projects already on the needles, I can start those. A sweater for my soon-to-be niece, a sweater for the soon-to-be big sister, an Australian possum pelt kit … OH BOY!

And then there's this project! A king-size Log Cabin quilt!

And then there’s this project! A king-size Log Cabin quilt!

I’d best stop writing and get knitting!

Gone knitting!

CYC Certified Knitting Teacher

I passed my second level of knitting certification and will soon have my certificate and pin to prove that I am a certified knitting teacher! A step up from Certified Knitting Instructor! Yay, me!

It’s amazing to think about spending an hour on the phone talking about knitting and designing knitwear with a stranger, but that’s what the process was. My master teacher, Edie Eckman, received my packet of materials (close to the end of the time frame that I had to complete the work) and reviewed it and we had a lovely chat about my work.

I had not tried several of the techniques that I had to knit swatches for – but I feel as though I am at a place in my knitting career where I am rather fearless and can try anything. Most everything I try, I can do. And I can do it well enough to teach it to someone else. Whether or not I will choose to do a lot of knitting (intarsia and mosaic and fair isle) in some of these styles (?) remains to be seen. But I feel comfortable enough with them.

I would, come to think of it, like to make a pair of fair isle mittens or a hat … some garment to use this technique as I think it’s remarkably pretty. I have a sweater pattern to make for my niece that will give me a chance to try it, too.

So, the Certified Knitting Instructor has grown into the Certified Knitting Teacher … now I have to decide whether to attempt the next level or if I’ll do the Knitting Guild’s Master Knitting. I need to keep learning and stretching in order to grow in my craft. It’s wonderful to that I have choices to invest in for myself.

Gone knitting!

Soon to be Certified Teacher!

Soon to be Certified Teacher!