Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Homecoming

Margaret's Christmas Tree

Alyson, our oldest, spent a semester abroad in London.   Yesterday, her flight brought her back in the country via Logan airport.  Since Logan airport is a three hour drive for us and my sister-in-law, Margaret, lives in Boston and since our two youngest still had a full day of school we were going to have  Margaret pick Alyson up at Logan airport and meet them in the evening.

I really didn't want to wait all day to see my darling daughter, so I cancelled a doctor's appointment, pulled the younger kids out of school and drove directly to Logan airport to meet Alyson.  The expression on her face when she saw her youngest sister and father was priceless (she couldn't see me).  Not expecting to see us, she was looking for her aunt and had to give her dad a double take.  

Now, my family is all whole again.  We're spending the Christmas weekend with Margaret's family and my in-laws.  All the seven cousins from the ten-year-old to the 21-year-old are having a great time being with each other.  Hubby, Margaret and their parents have been playing majong all day and I'm perfectly content sitting in the corner, knitting.  I even walked to a the local yarn store, A Good Yarn, after Hubby fell into a post-lunch stupor on the family room couch.  Life couldn't be anymore perfect.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays...  I hope you're all enjoying this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Little Mismatched

I can't remember when I started them, but I finished a pair of legwarmers last month.  They were probably started before I joined Ravelry.  Looking at a bag of leftover sock yarn balls, I decided to knit them together.  I don't know what I was going to do with it.  It was just a leg-sized tube that I would pick up whenever I was between projects.  Maybe it was going to be a scarf, maybe funky socks.  The difficulty was that all the balls were of different sizes, and weight.

Rummaging through my daughter's drawers (at her request), I came across a pair of legwarmers I knit for her out of self-striping sock yarn.  I remember knitting them during the summer of 2007.  Ravelry hadn't come into my life yet and I was still knitting on dpns.  It took a loooong time to finish those legwarmers because I wanted them to go all the way up E's thighs.  Thankfully, she had skinny legs.  Anyway, when I saw the first legwarmers I knit for E, I decided to make my tube into legwarmers too.  Here are the results:

She's already worn them to dance class and I think her friends would like some too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Grandmother Used to Crochet

I learned to crochet in fifth grade.  A school project involved learning a new skill and demonstrating it to the class.  Since my grandmother taught me to knit when I was seven, it wasn't a new skill, I couldn't use knitting.  Crocheting seemed much more manageable anyway.  There's only one live stitch to be concerned with and granny-squares were cool in my ten-year-old mind.  I remember bugging my mother for a couple of weeks before she finally, very reluctantly, sat down with me with yarn and hooks.  Even though Mom sewed, knit and crocheted, it wasn't a skill she wanted her daughters to learn.  She wanted us to have careers and those old-fashioned crafts didn't have a place in our future lives.  (Of course that didn't stop her from scolding us when we didn't know how to hem our pants properly or fix a button neatly.)  I think I got the hang of crocheting fairly quickly. I was able to master the basic stitches in a couple of days and was making red and white granny squares...many many red and white granny squares.

Twenty-four years later, I taught my oldest daughter's Girl Scout troop to crochet.  I remember it being a long meeting, since, none of the other moms knew how and I was teaching them too.  Last month, I taught another set of Girls Scouts to do the same.  I've been these girls' leader since kindergarten and I felt that since they were the same age as I was, they were ready to wield hooks.

I taught M to crochet the night before the meeting.  That was definitely a smart move.  Like me, she picked it up fairly quickly and was ready to help her troop-mates the next day.  My friend, Angela, could crochet and she stayed on to help.  Thank God!  By the end of the 1 1/2 hour meeting, only 2 girls other than M and Angela's daughter had advanced beyond the chain stitch.  (My co-leader did enjoy herself.  She was able to progress to her second round of the granny-square.)

M's first granny square
I always assumed that since I learned needle crafts quickly as a child, other children would be the same too.  Aren't kids supposed to learn new tricks easily?  Maybe I waited too long, maybe I would've been more successful if I taught the girls while they were still Brownies. The most frustrating thing to come out of the experience is that the Girl Scout Council has discontinued the "Yarn and Fabric Arts" badge for Junior Scouts

Yarn and Fabric Arts badge for Junior Girl Scouts
There's still badges for cooking, jewelry-making, gardening, writing, photography, geocaching, drawing...  The list is pretty long.  There's activities for a girl's self-esteem, the environment, camping, staying fit.  I don't understand why they had to get rid of the Fiber Arts badge.  It's not easy for most girls these days to learn about sewing and knitting.  Their moms don't know how and there isn't anybody close to teach them.  It  frustrates me that a lot of people view knitting and sewing as old fashioned, dying arts.  Isn't it easier  and cheaper to buy our knitted goods and garments from the store?  Of course it's easier.  But think of the joy and comfort we spread when we give our hand-knit or hand-quilted gifts to our friends and family, the sense of satisfaction when one completes a project. 

I'm one of those people who need to always have a project going.  It doesn't have to be yarn or fiber related.  I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish something, be it a sweater or tiled shower.  These projects are a source of creative outlet and also an expression of love for my family.

I know I'm rambling.  I'll try not to bite the head off of the next person who says, "My grandmother used to crochet!"  When I'm observed knitting in public.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Birthday Blues

J's 3rd birthday during his Blue's Clues phase
This week, my family had two celebrations.  My only son, J, reached his 15th birthday and E came home from her first term of college.  I don't know where time has gone.  My sweet little boy has somehow turned into an adult-sized creature.  Well, almost adult-sized.  We're all small people in our family and I'm grateful J is at least taller than me, an achievement his older sisters have yet to reached.  I get startled sometimes when I here his voice booming up the stairs.  Why is there a man in the house and why is he playing video games on the family room couch?!!

I miss those days when Mom can do no wrong in his eyes, and a kiss could cure all manner of boo-boos.  He was the youngest for almost 5 years before M came along.  Sometimes, I think he's never forgiven me for dethroning him as the baby of the family.

On another note, I got a surprising message on my computer when I woke up yesterday.  E asked me, "will I be okay bringing knitting needles on the plane?"  Boy, was I proud.  My daughter knitting on an airplane!  It almost brought tears to my eyes!  Then I saw what she was knitting and I really wanted to cry.  Poor kid.  She's knitting on size 15 needles, yet her stitches are so tight, you can barely get the right needle into the stitches.  And her scarf is not only growing length-wise, the width is growing too.  I switched out her monster 13-inch metal needles for a pair of circulars.  At least she won't be poking anyone in the eye on her return trip to school.

I've actually done quite a bit of knitting since Halloween.  My February Lady Sweater acquired some pretty buttons purchased from Webs.  I didn't bother blocking the sweater and have worn it already.

The double heelix socks are off the needles and been worn at least three times.  I even managed to stretch them over my big feet to match a purple and blue Christmas sweater.

I knit a hat from leftover Peruvia and Mochi Plus I bought during a trip to San Francisco.  My mother-in-law loved the hat so much, I knit another one for her.  My niece got the first one.

A watermelon hat was started and completed for the littlest niece.   

Another one was made for M's Bitty Baby doll.

  Just to mix things up, I crocheted a fan scarf for a birthday present.

And, I knit the druidess beret  during the Thanksgiving long weekend for another niece that looooves hats.

Wow.  Despite the holiday madness of shopping, cleaning, cooking, decorating, I've managed to spread some handmade love to my family.