a girl and her boy

. daily life : wool obsession : bibliomania : living on purpose .

Category Archives: friends and family

The Bottom Line

Last night after dinner, Gabe and I sat in our his and hers Queen Anne recliners in the living room planning for the rest of the week. Our planning eventually got on the future track and I began plotting out financial goals on the long, medium, and short range, including the mundane details of adult life like car maintenance, car insurance, eye glasses, etc for the short term and on the long term things like retirement and a house.

But the bottom line is a puppy.

You see, we can’t have a puppy where we are right now. It would cost too much. Our building would have us pay a big down payment and then a monthly fee for a four-legged baby. And I want a four-legged baby like hydrogen wants oxygen:  it’s on a molecular level.

Every item we added to the list, after writing it down, I said, “and this gets us closer to puppy!” After a bit, you can imagine this got old.

We eventually finished our list, set the alarm and crawled into bed.

Thirty-five minutes after lights out, I sit straight up in bed, and declared, as if I had never owned this need before, “I want a puppy!”

Bleary-eyed from being awaken, Gabe just looked at me and shook his head.

“At least I’m not saying ‘baby’, ” I responded to the look. With that, I finally drifted off to sleep dreaming of my future furry four-legged baby-kins.

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February is for Finishing

Yes, I know. I know. The rules for February is for Finishing included having a list up by February 1. Well, I did have a list. A mental one. That list has just one thing on it.

I am *going* to finish this cross-stitch piece this month even if it kills me, which it won’t. It just might keep me sleep deprived, that’s all.

Since this photo was taken in January 2010, I’ve picked it up and worked on the wing and ribbons at the bottom of the piece and they’re now up and around the sleeve just under the earth. It’s pretty much a matter of finishing the ribbons, fixing the hair and wing gap, filling in the earth, and attending to the flowers. I can do that.

I couldn’t find the original photo that came with my pattern and this is the best image I could find for the finished piece online:

When I’m done with it, I have a plan for what to do with it. After I finish and attend to some details, I’ll fill you in. It involves preparing it as a gift for someone who has done a lot for me.

I began this cross-stitch piece in high school, freshman year I think. My best friend’s mom pulled the thread out of her own collection, gave me a hoop and needle, and put the first stitch in for me. I’ve thought of her every time I work on it and thank her for the wonderful person she is and example she was to me as I wandered blind in high school. Emmy, your mom is awesome, but you knew that already.

Emmy’s mom, Susie, is mother to everyone that walked through the doors of her home. Nearly every time I was over, there were a few extra kids in the house visiting Phil, Em’s brother, or just hanging out. People loved being there. I loved being there. I felt loved and welcome. I felt accepted. Em’s mom had a way of making every person feel special and capable of doing extraordinary things with their lives. She showed this love by word and deed:  she made every one of her “kids” a graduation quilt with a special message handwritten and sewn on. I have mine tucked away in a special storage bag in the closet waiting on a home where I can get a quilt rack to display it honorably. And she knew how to enjoy life and laugh. God. I don’t think I laughed as much or as hard anywhere else. Susie Estabrook, you are one of my greatest inspirations. Thank you for everything!

After I’m done with the cross-stitch piece, I have two sweaters, two cropped cardigans, and pair of socks to finish knitting. Hopefully I can keep the voices in the stash silent while I get this stuff done so I don’t add to the UFO list. Speaking of the stash, I have the goal of, other than specific items requested by people and funded, I am knitting and cross-stitching out of the stash strictly this year. As soon as I gather my courage to sort through the basket and two buckets of yarn, I’ll post photos of the stashed goods and post pictures and intended projects. Keep me honest and knitting!

Barrel Magazine

My friend Amy had one of her posts featured at Barrel Magazine (Issue 4). Check out page 44. Congrats, Amy! 🙂

 

Mittens: A Knitter’s Journey.

Image from the pattern of my favorite mitten "recipe."

 

I grew up with two grandmothers whom loved knitting. I was lucky to have them as mentors. Nonnie, my mother’s mother, sent boxes of mittens to us every winter in every color and size imaginable. Some of them were knit in acrylic, some in wool. I didn’t know the difference in material then, but I did know the difference in quality. The mittens Nonnie made lasted longer, so long as they didn’t get lost, than gloves or mittens purchased from a store.

Nana, my father’s mother and the knitter I thank for teaching me, as far as I remember anyway, knit sweaters mostly. She was working on a brown and pink cardigan for me in her final days of a losing battle with lung cancer; she never finished it. My aunt, Kelly, finished it. She, too, knits and would send us boxes of mittens each winter as well.

When the mittens arrived, I would study them carefully and wonder that anyone could make such things! I had no idea how one would go from cuff to thumb to fingertips. All I could manage at the time was miles and miles of flat garter stitch on my powder blue size 6 Susan Bates needles Nana gave me.

I began knitting at Nana Sirois’s knee in Byron on those size 6 needles when I was about the same age as the needle size. Wrapping the yarn around my finger, then transferring it to the needle opened a doorway to a world of creation and meditation that I hope never closes. Those beginning days of learning the knit stitch are still with me:  up through the window, around the back, down through the window, and off jumps Jack. With brows furrowed in concentration, I murmured those words as I taught my fingers to coordinate the needles and yarn.

My second year of college I grew weary of garter stitch pot-holders, dish clothes, and scarves and yearned for something more challenging; I had been knitting nothing but garter stitch for about fourteen years at that point. The resident assistant on my floor in my dorm knit and proudly showed off her hats to admirers. I asked her to teach me.

Then I knit boxes full of hats and shipped them off to shelters and other need-based organizations accepting donations.

I soon grew restless again. It was time to learn to make mittens.

Scouring the web, I found patterns but none that gave me the support I thought I needed to learn how to make this particular garment. Then I came across Katharina Buss and her book on knitting. This book is where I learned how to knit by gauge, how to adapt patterns for various sizes, and how to knit colorwork. And yes, she taught me how to knit mittens.

That first pair though. Oy! It pains me to think back on that pair now.

By this time, I was in graduate school. I cracked open Buss’s book and set out to make my first pair of mittens. I had a lovely lavender wool to work with and I was off to the races.

The cuff knit up just fine in a basic knit two, purl two rib. But when I got to the thumb gusset, that’s when I made my first error. I misread the pattern. It told me to increase by one stitch on both sides of the first thumb gusset stitch. No problem. But then, I continued to increase by two on both sides of the gusset, not the one stitch on each side as the pattern meant. By the time I had knit up the rows in the pattern, I had something like 50 stitches for the thumb, instead of the 15-17 that is typical! And I didn’t know the difference somehow. I continued knitting along and thought everything was fine. I made the second mitten for the set to match. Ay-yai-yai! The thumbs on that pair of mittens would have been appropriate for someone who’d just smashed their thumb with a hammer.

Luckily, the next pair was better and I learned. I’ve been cranking out the mittens since.

My most recent breakthrough with this garment, and the inspiration behind sharing this history of mitten-making, is learning a more effective and aesthetically pleasing way of making the thumb gusset increases.

I just finished the first mitten of a set for Gabe and when I came to the thumb gusset increases, instead of wrapping the yarn around the needle to make a new stitch like I would have in the past, I decided to try another form of increasing:  I picked up the back side of the stitch on the row previous that was between the stitches where I wanted the increase. I used this method through three rounds of increases. On the fourth, instead of correcting the twist from picking up that stitch, I left it twisted. This created a hole-less and smooth increase. It looks great!

For those embarking on the journey of mitten knitting, I’d like to share the mitten recipe that will help you make mittens for everyone you know! Classic Mittens from Free Vintage Knitting. If you have questions about mitten knitting, or knitting in general, please feel free to contact me via the new contact form on the “About The Girl” tab.

It’s Saturday! Enjoy your day! I’ll be knitting. 🙂

Settling In

Oy! So, I have a story for you, but before I begin, let me go back and share the very beginning.

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Who doesn't love a giveaway?

Michelle over at Circles, Dots, and Other Distractions is hosting a giveaway. She handcrafted some beautiful envelops out of German calendars.

I’m entering. You should, too! =)

Blog Linkage for Amy: Hilarious as Usual and Hopefully Fruitful.

My friend Amy has asked for a blog link for this post to find a generous man thwarted. This is the best reason I’ve seen yet. Got any ideas for her?

A Rose by Any Other Name: A Post on Books, Knitting, 2010 Adventures, Rumination on Names, and Hopes for 2011.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve intentionally held off from posting because of how worked up I was about some specific parts of the holidays. And now that those are over, and I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m ready to write again.

You might want to take a potty break now. Fill your water glass, or grab a mug of tea or coffee. It’s a long one.

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Holiday Attitude Adjustment

Like many people, the holidays stress me out. They remind me of the terrible things in my past that I just don’t want to remember. I woke up this morning just wanting it to be sometime in mid-January. Each year I look to holiday decorations and making cold-weather gifts to perk me up, but it’s just not working as well as I need it to this year. So, I’m stepping it up. It’s time for a holiday attitude adjustment.

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Greetings, December.

Is it really December?

That means my birthday is in a week. The (maternal side) family party is in a little over two weeks. Winter solstice is in twenty days. And then we usher in a new year in thirty.

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