Let them eat cake
Saturday December 30th 2006, 10:55 am
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Seventeen and a half years ago–and you’ll see in a moment why I can tell you that’s when it was–I was newly diagnosed with lupus and none too happy about it. Turns out my mother’s cousin had died of it–that’s bad enough–a week before her wedding date. Add that to your pathos and stir a bit.

So I was feeling none too happy; I had four small children, my youngest being two, and I wanted to see them grow up.

My husband decided I needed some cheering up, so he recruited a friend of ours to the task: they were going to throw me a surprise party. Only trouble is, it was early June and my birthday was in December. Not a problem–they would throw me a half-birthday party.

Which is how I came to be standing in her living room, surrounded by friends, totally stunned, as I was presented with a glorious cake that had inscribed on it in frosting,


So. I found out when it was her birthday, and later that year made her a chocolate torte, my specialty then and now, made with bittersweet chocolate and manufacturing cream (what they dilute with milk to make heavy whipping cream. Rich stuff.) I surprised her back with it with a card that said, ” ‘Hap Birt Ali!’ Happy birthday to you, too, she re-torted.”

Fast forward. I didn’t get a birthday cake this year. Mom is here, and she didn’t get one either. And Richard and I just had our 26-and-a-half-year anniversary. So, finally, I made an almond cake (Dad’s allergic to chocolate) in the shape of a castle. I was hoping to snap a picture of it half eaten to go along with the theme, but my sons woke up this morning before I did. And can you think of a better breakfast than leftover cake? Six eggs in there, just like scrambled only with a little extra stuff thrown in, right?

Happy New Year, everybody!

Wind shrill factor
Wednesday December 27th 2006, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Quite the windstorm today. The power, thus the server and blog, were out for hours, I think the second power failure (not counting from the quake) that we’ve had in almost 20 years of living in California. The funny thing is how much having real weather made the place feel like home.

Postscript 12/28: Turns out some of those gusts made it to hurricane level. A bit of an irony to have that storm right after writing about the effects of Florida’s hurricanes: Californians have it so easy. But I am extremely grateful right now to my neighbor who had already cut down her towering and dying (and very expensive to remove) huge pine that had loomed over my house.

Feed my sheep
Tuesday December 26th 2006, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Yesterday I opened what I think is the best Christmas present I have ever been given: this brochure, stating inside that a sheep had been donated in my name to a Third World family, in either Kenya or Haiti. Wow!

My older son, three years ago, was called by the Mormon Church to go on a mission to Haiti. He was fluent in French, but the population there speaks Haitian Creole, not quite the same, and he went to the language training center to learn to speak it. While he was at that center, revolution broke out, Aristide fled the country, the Americans were evacuated, and the Church sent him to southern Florida instead.

Which means he was there during the hurricane season that so devastated the area. The Church decided that these young men had volunteered two years of their lives to service to God by serving their fellow men, and right then, the greatest need was clearly for physical and emotional help recovering from the storms; they were told to go do whatever the Red Cross needed them to do for the time being.

Which is how he came to help cook 1,600 Salisbury steaks one windy, rainy day.

But in one particular moment, he and his missionary companion walked into the Red Cross shelter to help, mentioning they spoke Creole. He was asked to go check on a woman sitting by herself in a corner.

When she found out he spoke Creole!!! She had lost contact with her husband since evacuating. She had missed her doctor appointment for her scheduled anti-coagulant shot. She didn’t have her heart meds with her. She had a mechanical heart valve. Her son, brain-damaged by sickle cell anemia, was acting out in this strange environment, and she was at wit’s end. The Red Cross workers had queried each person coming in as to what they needed, but nobody had been able to communicate with her: she didn’t speak English, but she looked fine, so they had given up and left her alone–and her heart was going bonkers. She felt truly alone. She was at the point of giving up altogether.

As soon as she started talking, Richard grabbed a pen and was writing down what she needed and what she was saying. She got the medical attention she’d so desperately needed.

Richard was later taken aside and told he’d probably saved her life. He emailed home, and said, Mom. If I never do anything else here, I now know why I had to come here and why I had to learn this language.

While he was on his mission, I read, “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” the biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, telling what a difference one dedicated man could make to the people in, in Farmer’s case, Haiti. I read at one point how the simple gift of one egg-laying chicken gradually made one man able to sustain his family for the long term.

A sheep! My sister donated a sheep in my name! Thank you, Carolyn! To say I feel honored doesn’t begin to convey how thrilled I am. A sheep to a family in a place like that!! Christmas presents don’t get better than that.

Honeybee Lane
Sunday December 24th 2006, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Knit

I was looking for just the right pattern to knit up for my mom for her birthday. I came across this Honeybee pattern by Barbara Walker, started what was supposed to be a swatch, realized how loose the strands were at this thick of a yarn she’d picked out, and just kept going with the single repeat so that by being narrow it would be less likely to snag on things.

But talk about perfect. My parents’ house they’d raised their children in is on the market in Maryland, over on Honeybee Lane (anybody want a 7-Br, 3Ba?) You should have seen Mom laughing when I told her the name of the pattern! Dad said it was too small to be a scarf, thinking of scarves as being, well, you know, for shovelling the driveway and the like with; something big and warm. Mom explained, “It’s a yarn necklace!”

Yeah. Yeah! That’s a good way to describe that bit of silk and merino I’d dyed, shown here on our rocking chair: I think of all the times Mom rocked my babies when they were little… Um, yeah, my older son, shown in that Dec 20 post playing “clarinet” by blowing on a stick using his Muppets book as a musical score, is now 6’9″. My little boy. Amazing thing, watching your kids being grownups now; he’s 22 and home right now, along with his younger sister, for winter break.

Gratitude check here: I apparently forgot to take my asthma med last night, my substitute for the Advair that had caused so much problems earlier. Woke up coughing with a severe can’t-breathe attack–it was a near enough thing that I won’t forget to take it again.

And my oldest daughter, driving with her husband to her in-laws’ yesterday, blew a tire on the freeway. They’re perfectly fine. Turns out they were close to my brother’s house, and spent the night there: extra time with her side of the family that they hadn’t expected. So, hey, it all works out.

But I guess what I’m wanting to say, is, take nothing for granted. Love one another. Freely and without holding back, just, love one another. Make it the very merriest Christmas for all. My best to all.

They’re HERE!!!
Friday December 22nd 2006, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Christmas with the grandparents here: yay!!!

He’s WAAAAAiting…
Friday December 22nd 2006, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

I was twelve when I found some random yarn and proudly stitched up my Tiger all by myself, without asking for help (and thus not getting the gentle input that a color that matched where you’re stitching the white belly, not the stripes in the coat, might be the right idea?)

I’d long forgotten that I’d used the yarn from my big sister’s sweater to stitch him. Harvest Gold and that trip stitched right into my Tiger. And if I hadn’t written that post about Mom, I probably still would never have thought of it.

76 Trombones
Wednesday December 20th 2006, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Knit

Her fourth baby in six years’ time came a week early, and so missed being born on her birthday. That one was always one to jump up and down and run around like a hyperactive house afire, so it’s no surprise she’d started off that way: eager to come see the world. Ten minutes apart and the time is NOW!

She herself grew up the daughter of a man who ran for the US Senate when she was 18. Her dad made an agreement with her: if she would stay home the first two years of college and help keep an eye out for her younger brother, she could then go anywhere she wanted. She took him up on the offer, and later transferred to Wellesley. (Ed. note: her mother went to Radcliffe, not Wellesley, too, as I wrote earlier. Oops.)

And where she was courted by a friend of her brother’s from the days the two men had gotten to know each other in France. The friend was a grad student now, finishing up his master’s after having spent three years as a missionary for the Mormon church once the war was over. There was no language training center in those days; you simply went where you were assigned, studied very hard, and learned to become fluent on your own during your first year. Which the two men had done. And now he was nearby, finishing up his schooling on the GI bill at Boston University.

They married, raised six kids, and when the children began hitting their teens she began working in the English department where they went to high school–a good excuse for a goody-two-shoes-anyway kid to behave: Mom’ll catch me if I try to pull anything! She was someone who told her kids that any time they needed to blame her as being an unreasonable parent who wouldn’t allow something, go ahead and blame her. You need a curfew? Go ahead and claim it in all honesty, because she hereby declared whatever curfew her kids might need, any time. Any rule you need? Make it her fault. Done.

As the kids were growing up, she drove her first and third daughters to piano lessons way over by the DC line in Somerset, twice a week each, though the two actually only overlapped by a few months before the older daughter became too ill for a year to go, and then never picked it up again. Still–that was 25 minutes each way every Tuesday and Friday, if the traffic wasn’t bad, but it was always rush hour down River Road coming home. At the same time, she was driving her second daughter across the Potomac into northern Virginia for flute lessons. Soccer moms had nothing on this one. We’re talking major taxi-mom hours–music lessons with the best teachers were that important to her. Piano didn’t take quite so well with the fourth daughter; that one got art lessons at the Corcoran Gallery in downtown DC. The boys? The older one played violin for awhile, the other made up for lost time later by learning guitar in college, playing up and down the East Coast in a band, and eventually marrying the best of the best, settling down, and building custom guitars. Electric ones, with gorgeous mother-of-pearl inlay, carrying on the tradition of associating art with the family’s name: jeppsonguitars.com.

She and her husband one fine summer bought a pop-up camping trailer, packed up the kids, tried to figure out how to squeeze eight people’s worth of luggage into the scarce space–when, standing right there in the driveway about to hop in and go, the fourth child declared her tiger was going with her! Or she was staying home! Her husband said, There’s no room, and you are ten years old and a big girl and you are too old to have to take that tiger still everywhere you go. She gently talked her husband into relenting, and the child, who knew she really was quite too old to need her tiger, who was embarrassed at needing that tiger, but was afraid to face all those strange places to come without him, was thrilled and relieved that he got to come too. He would stay right there in her lap, she promised, where he wouldn’t take up any extra room. (Now that she’d won her battle, she was secretly so happy about it that she suddenly realized she no longer actually needed him, but he’d wangled his invite by then and she shut up about it and he came.) Most of that summer was spent driving in a wide circle around the entire US, coast to coast, top to bottom, with a day trip into Mexico and two weeks or so in Canada thrown in. It wasn’t really meant to be that long at Moose Mountain; the camping trailer broke a part that had to be shipped over from the factory. The nomadic life went on temporary hold, and boredom threatened. The tiger was a comfort. But the volleyball landed in the campfire. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found the woman’s wallet when she lost it, and returned it to her–weeks later, with all the cash still in it. Go Canada. The little girl thought it was so cool that someone who got to ride a horse to be a policeman also got to be the hero for her mom.

Who knitted and knitted and knitted the long hours away while her husband drove, state after state, art museum after art museum. Business for him, minding the kids for her, show the children the country for all of them. And the child with the tiger watched, and wanted a sweater like that one her big sister was about to get, wanted to be able to knit like that…

And later grew up and knitted one for her own husband, as best as she could reconstruct it all those years later. Only, not in a ’60’s shade of Harvest Gold, thanks, though.

The woman’s baby brother, long grown up, eventually became a senator too. The little girl with the tiger, whose own kids were beginning to outgrow their stuffed animals, managed not to argue politics with him. Although: she did thank him for sponsoring a bill giving patients the right to see their medical records, which in some states they could not at the time. He was surprised, and exclaimed, “Nobody *thanks* me for anything!” that he did in the Senate. Argues, yes. Thanks? Blink.

Later, when the woman was visiting her 95-year-old mother, her mom asked her, “Frances. How many grandchildren do you have now?” And Frances answered, “Twenty-one.”

“Beatcha!” her mom grinned impishly. Who had twenty-nine. Frances later got up to twenty-five, and loved each and every one and bragged on their accomplishments like a good grammy should.

Cue the guitar, piano, organ, tenor sax, clarinet, flute, oboe, cello, violin, trumpet, harp, let’s see, sibs, what else we got here, okay, everybody, open up and sing:

Happy Birthday, Dear Mom/Grammy, Happy Birthday TO YOU!!!

And Many More…

Do Re Meme Fah, So, Latte?–(D’oh, I don’t drink coffee)
Saturday December 16th 2006, 3:58 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Spinning

I have been tagged by Fiberfanatic. Six weird things about me? Other than that goofy subject line? Okay…

1. I grew up a short walk away from the house built by Frank Lloyd Wright for his youngest son: the Llewellyn house in Bethesda, Maryland. He was in the Merchant Marines, and the house was built to resemble a boat, with the roof being the deck. I used to walk past it just about every day, but like most Wright buildings, when the trees were in leaf it about completely disappeared into its setting by Cabin John Creek. Gorgeous.

2. My dad lived in France for three years just post-WWII and then settled in the DC area and made a career of helping talented French artists gain an international audience. I grew up in a house that doubled as an art gallery. (“Don’t Touch The Paintings!”)

3. I once had a pet hamster escape for months, living off the birdseed we kept by the back door downstairs for the birdfeeder and the pipe that we didn’t know was leaking inside the bathroom wall, chewing up empty (thank goodness for that) painting boxes, and finally getting caught when it ran across my brother’s face in the middle of the night when he was sound asleep (not for long).

4. I learned how to spin after knitting my husband’s hair… The rest of that story is in my book.

5. I actually got a book accepted by an actual publisher with actual stories in it I’d actually not only written but actually lived. Lifelong dreams CAN come true! “Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls,” Martingale Press, July 07.

6. As the fourth of six kids born in a ten-year span, I had at least one older sibling to look up to and mimic (or not) who was going through the throes of puberty starting when I was six years old. One of the side effects of that is that it’s real hard to tell me what to do unless it’s what I want to do. For instance, this meme said I was to name the six people I’m tagging, but I say what if one of them might not want to participate, and I would hate to put someone on the spot, or, worse yet, act like the bossy big sister telling them what to do. So–as for tagging, how about instead you give a shout-out in the comments, any one and any number, and we’ll all go click on your blog if you have a blog, or you can just say it right here. Go ahead, write the post, it’ll bring back fun memories.

See? I do it my way. And being the younger sibling, I get to add, nyaa nyaa nya nyaaah nyaah on the meme rules, and run away grinning. Oh, yeah, that’s item #7, I’ll count as high as I want to, so there–I was the fastest runner except for two boys, Brooks Hansen and I forget who the other one was, in my whole grade all the way through Seven Locks Elementary school. Gee, (looking back at my siblings closing in on me), I wonder why? And yeah, I remember Brooks was one of the two because I had a crush on him in 6th grade. No wonder he ran faster than I did.

Thank you, Mary!

A drive-by knitting has occurred
Friday December 15th 2006, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

Judy Sumner, I am so telling on you!!! Thank you!!!

What a turkey
Thursday December 14th 2006, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Knit

My idea of heaven is getting a chance to see the unknowable long-distance good outcomes and celebrating them with the people who caused and who experienced them. For instance: I can just picture a small woman, with hair thicker than mine in a long black braid down her back, complexion darker than mine, laughing with me and with another woman over what a few of her stitches had done.

I’ve mentioned before the fingerpuppets I order by the dozens from Peru. I didn’t have many left from the latest batch, but somehow I still had just the most right one.

A week before Thanksgiving, I was in seeing one of my specialists, a peach of a man; it was a routine appointment, and I asked after his family. He mentioned his wife had recently had back surgery.

Every woman who has ever put on a Thanksgiving meal (or man, for that matter, but I tend to relate to the women most, personally) knows what a big to-do that whole scene is. I blinked at the thought of trying to pull it off while recovering from something like that, and I was thinking of that as I walked into my closet, and…

…There were my fingerpuppets. There was one, and I don’t have a picture of it to show you amongst the menagerie, sorry, but it was brown. A large bird. It had bright colors cheerfully decorating the edges of the feathers on its big tail. Which is why my doctor’s wife opened up a card in the mail to read me half-apologizing for having lifted their address from a thank you card they’d sent me a few years earlier, and saying I was sending her my best wishes and a “turkey with all the trimmings.”

I had a question for that doctor yesterday, and sent his nurse a message; he called back this morning and answered it: and, thank you for the turkey!

I asked him, “Did she laugh?” Because what could help heal a person better than a good belly laugh?

The sound of his voice in response was such a gift: I got to hear his love for his wife in capital letters as he exclaimed, “OH yes!!” He told me it would be part of their holiday decorations from now on.

She liked it! Hey Mikey! Cool. Very cool. Now, can you just see the two of us telling the woman who’d knitted that turkey and sent it off with a bunch of other little puppets to the USA, wondering what would ever come of it or any of them, that it had been about so much more than putting bread on her table? And thanking her?

(P.S. And you see that one I got to stand there, watching over the animals? The woman with gray-streaked hair, wearing a shawl, a cane, even glasses. That one’s mine; the only way it could be a more perfect portrait is if she had knitting needles and yarn in the other hand. She watches over my knitting perch.)

Four dozen
Wednesday December 13th 2006, 10:21 am
Filed under: Life

I woke up this morning, yawned, stretched… Hey! Did it again. Not the slightest hint of tremor. For the first time since early September. None.

My old band with four turquoise stones lives a happy life in my imagination, wherever it may have turned up in real life. It’s a symbol of someone’s undying love, it’s a circle of happiness, it’s a gift between hearts…

…It’s good and lost. But I have lived long enough to know that the end of its story with me is not the end of its story, and there’s this odd happy anticipation mixed with the loss in what that could mean. I can half-picture myself (almost) writing to the San Rafael and San Jose police departments that, should it show up at their station, to please let the honest person who made that effort have it as a thank you from me, and send them my best wishes.

I googled turquoise when it disappeared, and found that turquoise tends to form in dry places in the world, that it is formed when water runs over copper and aluminum; that it rarely ever forms crystals, and that that means it’s often as fragile as window glass.

Gee, if only I’d known, years ago when we lived in New Hampshire. Where the bathtub turned bright turquoise blue within a week from the effects of acid rain on the copper pipes. I could have put an aluminum pot under the faucet and been harvesting my own gems in no time!

The doctors at Stanford never did figure out what was going on with this whole shaking/seizure thing. I came home from the hospital craving apricots; opened a three-pound bag from Costco, ate quite a few over several weeks, a random fact that for some reason I remembered. My shaking episodes improved greatly, and I put it down to the increasing passing of time since a late-summer bout of pneumonia that had triggered a lupus flare.

Two doctors I saw after I got out wondered out loud if it could have been a potassium or magnesium deficiency–but why, there’s no reason I would have that.

Last week I called my doctor after reading an article in Newsweek. Suddenly I’d found my eyes flipping to the same spot on the opposite page, which turned out to be one of those all-the-fine-print pages on the backside of a drug ad. Right to where it warned, in capital letters, DO NOT take this with drug x. Put together, they can crash your potassium levels. OH. I was taking drug x and a large dose of the advertised one at night and a smaller dose by day. That would explain why it was worse at night, too…

Potassium. They said… I looked it up. For muscle contraction and to relay nerve impulses. Hey! Dried apricots have over three times the potassium levels of bananas; they were the number one food on that chart. HEY!

My doctor immediately took me off the problematic drug. I ate a lot more apricots. That drug interaction had taken three years to build up to the point that nobody could ignore it, and it may be that it will take awhile to go all the way back down again: but so far today so good, for the first time.

My generous sweetie got me Sea Silk yarn to celebrate the day today, just because he knew how much I liked playing with the stuff.

And a new turquoise and silver ring, made by hand by Native Americans, as the old one had been, because he knew that that would make me happy. Honoring the craftsman, honoring each other. Silver, needing polish and attention to keep shining bright. I like that.

My dysautonomia had not progressed to fatal Multiple System Atrophy after all. It was all just an easily-correctable medication problem. And the attending physician I got to meet at Stanford loves his wife’s lace scarf out of hand-dyed Lisa Souza yarn.

I will live as forever as everybody else. I have beaten the odds yet again.

I have my sweetie who loves me, four children who are the best any parent could ever ask for, and a new ring and new yarn just for the fun of it. Let me hold still while he puts it on my hand.

Turn on the stereo.

Happy birthday to me.

!!!ROCK ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Pictures later, gotta run…)

Miss Violet’s Pink Ribbon
Tuesday December 12th 2006, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Knit

My friend Lisa Souza at lisaknit.com has been hand dyeing yarn for years; when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee said she may have fallen at Artfibers in San Francisco and swiped her credit card on the way down, well, Lisa used to be the color mastermind behind their one-of-a-kind yarns. She has an art degree and does gorgeous work.

So. Lisa likes to listen to podcasts by Lime N Violet as she works (uh, if they ever do closed captions, count me in?) Come to find out Miss Violet recently found a lump, and was unable to afford the $1000 deductible to get it properly looked at. Lisa to the rescue. Lisa came up with Miss Violet’s Pink Ribbon colorway sock yarn, and within a few days sold enough to donate half that deductible’s worth so far.

Mine arrived yesterday. I sat down with it and figured out how many stitches across it would take to have the pink part come out in exact stripes if you’re not doing a sock. Because, much though I love handknit socks, I do not love knitting them. This was a very soft pure merino–and I say that as a picky and overly-spoiled knitter–good for lots of other things besides socks.

I cast on, ripped, cast on, ripped, six times. Finally seemed to get it just at the right point in the color sequence for the number of stitches I wanted… And then it went off by a stitch or two’s worth by the second row. Oh forget it. I frogged it, and then deliberately cast on at a completely random point and just went with it to see what it would become.

It surprised me by coming to look like a pink ribbon winding like a fire escape down the scarf. Now, as a kid growing up in the suburbs, fire escapes on the old brick buildings downtown fascinated me as a kid: why have staircases outside that end a floor above the ground? My mom explained them to me. I noticed some had folded-up parts at the ends, so that if there really was a fire, that part could be lowered close to the ground. But a lot of them, well, hope there’s a rope attached or a trampoline (or whatever the firemen call them) underneath. Yikes.

The one on my scarf reaches comfortably all the way down to the bottom, thank you, safe and sound. It’s a pink ribbon scarf without screaming BREAST CANCER PINK RIBBON SCARF LOOK AT ME!!! It just quietly is what it is.

So. As I knitted, I wondered whom it would turn out to be for. I hoped it would go to the right person; I hoped it would be meaningful; at the same time, I hoped nobody I knew would be diagnosed with breast cancer any time soon, and that Miss Violet herself would find that all was benign. (I did the false-positive mammogram once myself.) I actually got that thing half done by the time I called it a night.

The phone rang this morning. Nancy, a friend, very hesitant, saying first what she would do and offer to try to make it up to me, and then–she doesn’t do lace, really, she said. She doesn’t knit fast. But she had a neighbor’s 11-year-old daughter over at her house most afternoons after school these days while the kid’s single mom was fighting breast cancer. Nancy was the support and safely-non-family sounding board for the daughter, who was also the granddaughter of an old friend of both of ours.

…Would I, she asked hesitantly, be willing at all–she knew it was the Christmas knitting season, but–to make something for the girl’s mother? She would…

Nancy. I told her, You don’t have to do anything at all. (I was thinking, you already are, for Gracie’s granddaughter, and that’s enough.) You don’t have to apologize. I’ve even got it already half made, and I hope to finish by the end of the day today. There you go. No skin off my nose, and it’ll only take half the skein so I’ll still be able to make another one on top of that. Consider it done.

Timing. The timing of things. Mixed with the generosity of others: Lisa’s giving of her profits to help heal somebody, pass it on. Sometimes, all you can do is look upwards and say, Thank You for making it all come together.

(Edited to add: to Lisa and Rod Souza, celebrating 37 years of marriage today. A very happy anniversary and much gratitude to you both.)

“Wrapped in Comfort”
Saturday December 09th 2006, 11:39 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

Thinking about Allison’s comment. I firmly believe that every time a person shares of their creativity with those around them, they are making the world a better place. Creativity comes in forms as infinitely variable as people; it’s the giving and the opening of one’s heart and time to others that makes the difference.

The struggle is finding the balance of time and for whom. I have never participated in one of the knitswaps before; at this time of year, my knitting always became too focused on getting things done in time for my family for that, and to commit to doing more felt like it would be adding stress (I had enough of that already, totally self-inflicted) to something that should be done for joy. There was always this normal human sense of, I can never do enough.

I’m in a different place this year. My last kid is newly out of high school, my book was made official in Martingale Press’s catalog two days ago–“Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls,” July 07, thank you, much appreciated–and I have a ton of finished projects, both beta versions here and the official ones at the publisher’s. I’ve learned how fast I can make things. I have a lot here on hand. I’m in, what is for me, good health. I think I’m finally beginning to let go of the fear that I’d end up leaving my future grandkids with no tangible bits of myself: my Grandmother Jeppson at one point knitted like I do, and yet I own not a thing she ever made. (Her ring, though, which Grandpa watched being made for her, as mentioned earlier. I treasure it.) One of the difficult things about writing my book was that I could not give away what I was making–well, actually, I did, the stories are about the friends I created my designs for, and then I went and knitted a duplicate of each for the book. Still. That’s months of work that couldn’t leave the house. And yet… I felt like I was knitting for all knitters everywhere. In hopes that someone, somewhere, might be inspired by a story or two to pick up their needles and go knit for someone in their lives. Cool.

So, at last, now was the perfect time in my life to participate, and I mean really participate, heart and soul, in that knitswap. To every thing there is a season. And so I dove into that Rabbit Tracks project, and got it done so fast that it left me thinking, why on earth didn’t I do this before? I could have! If I’d only let go of the stress. Planned a little more. Procrastinated a little less.

Like we don’t already all know that?

May everyone reading this be wrapped in comfort and wrap others in comfort this season, by whatever means works best for them.

Letter to Kit
Thursday December 07th 2006, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Knit

I wrote this today over at KnitTalk (with a few editorial tweaks here for clarifying) in response to the comment left on the last post, which was also emailed to KnitTalk after Kit didn’t think it went through here. That comment was written by the person who received my Rabbit Tracks shawl in the mail, the white one that I posted about a few entries ago:

Kit, it did go through on my blog, Blogger just doesn’t know how to count, so it looks like the number of comments didn’t change–and wow. Thank you! Wow. I’ve been kind of overwhelmed all day. I’m so sorry for your loss. I wish I could come give you a hug, and I’m so glad you have stitches from me to keep you and your loved ones warm.

Let me tell you about that shawl. It’s the one I’m wearing in an earlier post on the blog, with my grandmother’s big turquoise ring pulled through. When I signed up for the knitswap, I told Margo Lynn that sure, I’d knit a quick scarf for someone, but it had to be in the US, because I currently am not driving and I couldn’t count on being able to get to the post office. I had to be able to just stick it outside for pickup without worrying about it (another reason to keep it small and lightweight).

Sure, no problem.

And then when the emails came in, Margo Lynn just felt strongly that I should be assigned to you. She told me she tried to make the feeling go away, but it wouldn’t, she tried for a few days, but it just was insistent, so finally she gave up and snailmailed me the customs forms, the info on how much postage for how fast a delivery, yadda yadda, so I could still just stick it outside. Then she emailed me and apologized profusely for not setting me up the way I’d asked.

I confess I sat on it for a few days. I was just going to make a quick lace scarf. No more. No biggy. Not something to get in my way much. But the scarf refused to go on my needles, absolutely refused. You’d said in your note she’d forwarded that you were getting married shortly, and my white baby alpaca is so very very soft–not to mention warm, which, being in California, I could only imagine you’d want in Canada for a wedding in the winter. Not that you have to wear it that day (something borrowed: you borrowed my time, perhaps? Very gladly offered, in any case.) But anyway. I wanted to make sure the pattern was something from me personally but not something that would violate the terms of my book contract by putting one of the shawls from it on any kind of public display before publication. So I used the simple Rabbit Tracks pattern that I have had up on my website for a few years. All well and good.

I didn’t know why it was so important that I make what I did. All I knew was, it felt strongly that I was to make you a shawl to celebrate your marriage, and to wish you well in all of your life together to come. I knitted that thing in record time–three or four days. It felt SO wonderful, and that it was SO important. And I had not a clue why till today when you wrote.

My sweet husband, that tall cute guy who manages my blog when the computer drives me nuts, drove me to the post office after all to see the thing off. Turns out he found he was going to lose vacation days if he didn’t take them, so he took them and was available to help out.

And then I sat down with my needles and some red cashmere/merino yarn for three days, had my hubby snap a picture when I got done, and wrote that post thanking Margo Lynn for the knitswap. I’m hoping many people thanked Margo Lynn privately; I haven’t heard a whole lot, but then, I’m not the one to be thanked, she is, so that’s perfectly fine. Kit, your shawl happened because Margo Lynn listened to the persistent feeling that I should be given you as my knitswap partner. Her saying that she’d felt that, even after trying to ignore it–and I think it was important that she mentioned that part to me–is part of what prompted me to go ahead and knit what I knit. And then I tried to convey why I felt so good about the knitswap without saying too much, before you got your package.

I wish for all the world I could bring your fiance’s mother back. But at least I got the chance to send love from me, and by extension, from all knitters everywhere, to you and all those who love you and your mother-in-law-to-be. And your fiance. May your life together be long and forever loving.

All my best,


Hey, Margo Lynn!
Tuesday December 05th 2006, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Knit

Margo Lynn is someone who suggested a knitswap, where those who were interested could knit something for someone else, and, in doing so, took it upon herself to arrange who gave to whom, with nobody doing a direct back-and-forth to each other. Thus avoiding comparisons and guilt factors from getting in the way: just a simple, knit unto others and enjoy the good feelings. Best of the season to you.

But did anybody actually knit for Margo Lynn? Hey! You! So I’m wearing the two not-quite-matching shades of red as a way of saying, if you don’t like the one, I can change it. My sweater was a more vivid orangey-red than the scarf yesterday, before it hit my dyepot. Or I can make your Marnie’s Scarf brown or black. Right now, in real life, it’s about the color of poinsettia leaves and Santa’s uniform.

Which fits the season. Go Margo Lynn for making so many people happy with each other.

(Technical notes: I added two stitches to the cast-on number of the original pattern on my website, and put one plain stockinette stitch at the beginning and one at the end of each row. I started off with a row of k2tog, yo, across, end k2, on the first right-side row, and repeated that for the last right-side row, to make a slight border at the ends which the original pattern doesn’t have.)