Life’s Simple Pleasures

I was driving the Brookelets home from school the other day and noticed that a tree on the side of the street had a lot of its leaves twirling towards the ground, which prompted me to exclaim, “Oh!  Falling leaves!  One of life’s simple pleasures.”

Miss Junebug scrunched her nose at me and asked, “What does that mean, ‘life’s simple pleasures’?”  I explained that a simple pleasure was a rather ordinary occurrence that just made your heart happy, and generally didn’t cost any money, which made it all the more special because it reminds you that you don’t need to spend money to be happy.  My girl nodded and went back to reading her book.

What I thought was a quick little explanation of some random phrase has apparently been percolating in her mind because we were driving to the library today, and saw a maple tree whose leaves had all turned a brilliant scarlet, but hadn’t fallen off the tree.  Junebug saw it and said, “It’s too bad those leaves aren’t falling off the tree because then they could be a simple pleasure for Mom.”  I explained that, even though the leaves were still on the tree, it was still a simple pleasure for me because I liked how it looked.

She looked at me through narrowed eyes, “Does that mean that simple pleasures can happen even if you spend money on them?”

“What? How did you make that leap?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “you spend a lot of time just looking at your quilts and the things you knit, and it makes you really happy.  But you spent money on them, so I thought it was a complicated pleasure.”

I laughed, “A complicated pleasure?  No, spending money doesn’t take away the simple pleasure of admiring a job well done.  I’m proud of myself for finishing a big project, and I’m pleased with the good job that I’ve done on that project, so it makes me happy to look at it a lot and just be pleased.  It’s fun to make stuff.”

“Really?” she said, “Because it doesn’t seem like you have a lot of fun when you’re making stuff.  You yell a lot, and you breathe angrily when you run out of thread.  And sometimes you burn yourself on the iron or cut yourself with the circle blade…”

I studied her face for a moment, then turned away to stare at the traffic on the road while I thought about her statement.  Then I nodded, glanced over at her and said, “You’re right…it’s complicated.”

 

Best of 2016, and Planning for 2017

I love reading everyone’s “wrapping up the year” and “plans for the next year” posts so much!  The online creative community is so interesting in that a lot of us are pretty transparent about what we do, which I really appreciate because online creativity *can* become an overly-staged, whirlwind-finishing sort of thing very easily…but then there’s those souls who refuse to get caught up in it all and just stay real, and I love reading their blogs.

Best of 2016

Trying to nail down my “best” projects of 2016 is really hard because almost every single one was a gift I made to be given away, and I don’t want anyone to think that I hated making the gift I gave them because it didn’t show up in this list…NO.  If I didn’t want to make a gift for you, I didn’t make you a gift, end of story.  I actually had four more gifts scheduled to make this year, but I quit one about 2/3 of the way through because I hated it so much, and with another one I just wasn’t feeling it, and will probably finish it up in 2017, and with the other two I just didn’t have time once all the crazy post-op stuff went down.

Oooh!  Categories!  Let’s see, five categories to round out the year:

Prettiest:  The baby quilt that my daughter and I made for her teacher who had a baby girl in May.  I loved working with Vintage Picnic, and the design of the quilt was just perfect.  For some weird reason, this quilt was blogged on our family blog, so if you want to see more pictures of it, you’ll have to head over there.

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Most Fun to Make:  The Dr. Seuss baby quilt.  It was a last-minute decision, so I picked a pattern that was on the wonky side and wouldn’t need perfect seams and the like, and I just had fun slapping it all together.  The fabrics were super fun and bright, and I really enjoyed the process of just making and not getting bogged down in the minutiae of perfection. I’ll have to remember to throw a wonky/improv project into the mix every now and then when I’m starting to feel a little stale.

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Biggest Skill Stretcher:  The Beehive Swarm swap blocks.  There was a lot of foundation paper piecing, which I tend to shy away from because I don’t like it, but there’s nothing like it for perfect piecing.  I still don’t like it, but I’m better at it now, and can grudgingly admit its superiority for certain qualities.  I also tackled curved seams for the first time with August’s block, and they are not as difficult as I psyched myself out to believe!

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Most Popular:  Within the walls of our home, it’s the Layers of Charm Flower Sugar Quilt.  It sits proudly on the back of a couch in our living room and it gets used pretty much every day.  The kids fight over it, and I’m always finding it snuck into one of their beds.

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Outside of our home, the Art Gallery Fabrics Blithe pillows have been the most popular, garnering 25% of the blog’s web traffic this year, and also being the only project about which I’ve received comments from my friends and neighbors when I’m out in the real world.  Pink and mint are hot, people.

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Project of the Year:  Not really a project, but 2016 was “The Year of All the Baby Quilts.”  There were a lot of baby quilts this year.  All good things, but man, I’m going to take a break for a while.  If you’re expecting, do not expect a quilt from me in 2017.  I’m just done for a little while.

Planning for 2017

First and foremost, my health.  If all I accomplish in 2017 is to raise my health to an enjoyable level, that will be enough for me.  It’s been three years of pain, almost two years since my back surgery, and I am simply to the point where nothing else really matters to me other than feeling good again.  Luckily, we found another source of some of the pain I was experiencing, hence the surgery in November, so I think I’ll be able to move along the path to better health a little easier, and hopefully a little faster.

When I woke up from my most recent surgery, I had no back pain, which we were hoping would be one of the side effects of that particular surgery.  Upon being cleared to do normal things again after six weeks of lying around with very little to no back pain, I ambled on down to the ol’ Craft Dungeon, and did a little sewing.  I felt some familiar discomfort in my back, decided that was enough sewing for the day, and stopped.  Unfortunately, the discomfort increased steadily throughout the evening until I was forced to give up, take some serious pain meds, and just go lay in bed.  I think using my sewing machine is needlessly adding to my back pain!  It’s happened a few more times, so I’m pretty sure I’m correct, which makes me incredibly hesitant to sew at all anymore.

It’s my hope that after a few months of consistent strength training (read: if I can manage not to injure myself for that long), that my back will be strong enough to handle sitting at the sewing machine.  Until then, I’m making a goal to just not worry about the crafty side of life, and to give it a go when I think I’ve gained some strength.  If I’m not strong enough at that point, then I’ll wait a few weeks and try again, rinse and repeat.

Of course, there are some projects that I would love to start, finish, adore…but I’m going to be patient, and when the time is right, I’ll resume my place in the Craft Dungeon.  A few months isn’t going to hurt anything.

Evolution of a Crafter: Gifts

We made it through Halloween.

And like a collective sigh, the online creative world shifted from maple leaf quilt blocks and fabric pumpkins to an overwhelming insistence that “YES, YOU HAVE TIME TO MAKE ALL YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFTS.”  Overnight.  I went to bed on October 31st proud of myself for getting my kids’ costumes done right, and woke up the next morning to an online frenzy of DIY gifts.

Many years ago I stumbled across the advice to get your handmade Christmas gifts done before Thanksgiving so you didn’t spend December in a state of anxiety over whether or not you’d finish your gifts.  For the most part, I adhere to this wisdom because it’s the only way that Christmas baking is happening–I dearly love Christmas baking, and I don’t have time for it if I’m struggling to also finish knitting and quilting projects.

So I tried something different this year.  On January 1, 2016 I drew up a list of the people I generally give gifts to at Christmas and concocted an rotation of various categories that I like to make, assigned them to a ten year schedule, and then plugged my gift list people into the categories based upon what age they were turning this year.

Example:  If your age on your birthday in 2016 had you turning something ending with a 5 (ie. 5, 15, 25, 35, etc.), then you were assigned a hat because I assigned hats to 5.

Other categories included: Pillow (1), Socks (2), EPP (3), Apron (4), Scarf (6), Mittens (7), Choice (8), Bag (9), and Quilt (0).

After spending my New Year’s Day happily ensconced in pattern searching and stash diving, I woke up on January 2nd with  optimism and excitement.  I decided to start with the big items first and work my way down to the smaller things, and first on my list was a quilt to make for a special girl who celebrated her tenth birthday in 2016.  (Understandably, I can’t show you a picture of it until after Christmas…)

And it was glorious for a few weeks–oh, the pace was exhilarating, and I patted myself on the back for my excellent plan.

But then, in March, I had to start a project that just wasn’t interesting to me, mostly because of the colors.  I lagged behind my schedule as I grit my teeth each morning and forced myself into my studio to continue plodding along towards the completion of that project.  The next gift on the list was once again in a color palette that failed to excite.  My life started to look like one long, endless road of projects I didn’t really want to make.

And on top of all that, so many people had babies this year.  To date, I’ve completed six baby quilts, with another 1-3 possibly in the works.

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People, I am gifted out.  I have spent this entire year making gifts for people. THE ENTIRE YEAR.

I don’t regret it at all, but I’m also just. done.

I think I’m evolving.

Have you noticed that so many people, when learning a new skill, give away their projects?  It’s like they make that first project to figure out how to work the new skill, and then start cranking out projects and just give them all away?  I’ve touched on this idea before in a previous post, but it seems that we go through a phase of “Look at what I can do!” with any newfound skill, gifting any living being with the works of our hands.  I think it’s part excitement and pride in a job well done, and the other part love.  All good things.

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Some of the swap blocks I’ve made this year. I’ve actually been able to do a lot growing with The Beehive Swap!  New techniques and skills galore!

But there comes a point when you look around and know that you’ve spent most of your time creating beautiful works of art, and realize that your personal life is quite devoid of any of that particular beauty because you’ve given it all away.  There is beauty in service and giving, definitely; but…that moment when you realize that your dwelling is practically ascetic causes a big pause and an even larger moment of reflection.

Giving gifts is good.  Improving one’s skills while working on said gifts is also good.  There has been a lot of good this year.  (Please no one who received a gift from me this year think that I’m upset or regret making something for you.  That is totally NOT the case AT ALL.  I’m quite proud of all the nice things I made for you all this year.)

But…

…it’s falling short.  There are new techniques to try, new skills to learn, and they don’t fit into gifting categories, so I’ve been slow to start working on them, despite my heart being pulled in that direction.

So, I think it’s time for a Gifting Decommission.

Less time spinning my wheels creating more of the same, and a new focus on learning new techniques and stretching my abilities.  I can’t do that with the pressure of gift lists on my shoulders; with the thoughts of “Now who would like this?  Maybe I should change that color to match their decor a little better.  Hmm, I know that so-and-so really loved that appliqued one, so maybe I’ll put this pattern aside and do something with more applique because then I can give it to her for Christmas…” in the back of my mind.  A shift to making art for the sake of art.  “What is best for this project?” instead of “What is best for this person?”

My creativity needs to be mine, and I also need the time to tackle new techniques that will allow me to progress.

I’ve a few gift projects that are near completion that I’ll see through to the end, but after they’re done, that’s it for a while.

It’s time to build a cocoon and do a little bit of growing.

This is what I will tell myself in two weeks when I snap and think that, yes, I SHOULD MAKE ALL THE GIFTS.

I am not an elf in Santa’s workshop.  It is not my job to make gifts, nor does my livelihood depend upon my ability to supply others with gifts.

Now to get going on that cocoon…

The Worth of a Century

Today is a big day.  Not for me, but a big day nonetheless: my great grandmother turns the big one-zero-zero today!  One hundred years old, can you even imagine?

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Christmas 2013. Sadly, we live too far away to be with her today.

Thinking about that–being alive for one hundred years–all the things she’s seen and experienced, gets you thinking about all the things that you’ve not only seen and experienced, but will see and experience over the course of the remainder of my life.

My great grandmother was thirteen when the stock market crashed in 1929, a student in middle school.  The attack on Pearl Harbor happened two days before her twenty-sixth birthday–while she was pregnant with my grandmother.  What was she doing when she heard that the war had ended?  What did she think of Martin Luther King’s speech when she first heard it?  Where was she when she saw footage of the first man on the moon?  What feelings surged through her when the Berlin Wall came down?

Are those even things that she thinks about anymore?

Or do her thoughts sift through other things?

I mean, if I was one hundred years old, living in a bed in a nursing home, what would I be thinking about?

The happy memories? The day my husband proposed to me?  Our first kiss as husband and wife? Christmas mornings when my children were young? Christmas mornings when I was young? The first time I heard my first baby laugh?  How happy my second daughter was when, after months of mauling the poor thing, the cat hopped into her lap as she sat on the couch?  My third daughter’s smile when she rode the Dumbo ride at Disneyland?  The moment when I found out our fourth child was a boy?

The painful memories?  The things I regret?  My moments of triumph?

I assume all, actually.

But I’m pretty sure I won’t be bragging about being alive when 9/11 happened. Or recounting my first experience with Facebook.  Or where I was when…well, whatever the next huge step is in regards to advancing as a civilization.

I’ll be thinking about my family and my choices.  That time I yelled at my child when I shouldn’t have. That time I made a huge sacrifice for someone else and it turned out to be completely worth it. That first decision that started the chain reaction that led to the worst mistake of my life. That moment of divine intervention that led me to the best joys of my life. That smile. Those tears. The words. The feelings.

Which has me thinking about what’s truly important today.  Of everything that’s going on this week, this month, next year…what will I be thinking about, expressing gratitude for, during the winding-up years of my life?

And is there anymore that I can do to make right now even better?

Because that’s what life is, even when you’ve had a hundred years on this planet–the total of your “right nows.”

That smile. Those tears. The words. The feelings.

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Randomly in November

  1. I saw the sign-ups for the Bee Hive Swap in time this year, and got in!  :::happy dance:::  So excited!
  2. My own swap group that I’m running liked it so much that a bunch want to do it again next year!  So, busy with setting that up at the moment.
  3. Yeah, two year-long swaps…talk to me at the end of next year.  🙂
  4. I wrote up an exhaustive inventory of the many works-in-progress taking up space in my craft room, and then hammered out a plan to plough through almost all of them in the next year.
  5. The first WIP that will reach completion as a result of my awesome new plan is probably a pair of socks that I started back in Australia.

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  6. A newly-finished pair of socks right now is kind of perfect, given that the snow has started.  I was actually thinking the socks would be a Christmas present for someone dear to me, but my feet are freakin’ freezing, so I’m going to keep them.  Mwa ha ha.
  7. The second WIP that will probably get finished is a baby boy quilt I started almost eight years ago.

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    The kid in this photo is Penguin, who is now nine years old.  She’s drinking from the mug I received after giving birth to Junebug, who is now seven-and-a-half years old…

  8. It’s funny how you can start a project with so much excitement, but with each passing year of not completing said project how much that excitement turns into resentment and shame.  So much so that I definitely don’t want to keep the quilt when I’m done, but fear the repercussions of giving a new life an item infused with so many negative feelings from myself.  The act of giving wipes off all the bad juju, right?  Right?

  9. I’ve also fleshed out a “Baby Gift Flowchart” to help me decide what to make for tiny humans on my radar.  In this age of social media, I find that I’m inundated with the awareness of many a pregnancy, and the baby-lovin’ crafter part of me really wants to make something for every one of them.  However, given the physical limitations of time, I can’t.  So I came up with a way to shrink the pool a bit and ease my conscience.  A line had to be drawn somewhere, or I’d never be done with making baby gifts.

    Baby Gift Flowchart

  10. I’m currently aware of nine pregnancies, and of three women trying to get pregnant.  That’s twelve impending births in the next year.  My flowchart narrows the gifts down to five recipients, which is still a lot, but gives me back a bunch of time.  I am raising four children of my own…
  11. My son broke the teeth off of the zipper of his winter parka the first day he wore it.  Of course.  Even better, he broke off enough teeth that the actual zipper pull fell off, too.  So, instead of working on WIPs, my time is needed to repair a zipper in a parka.
  12. Once again, making plans is a dumb idea.

Junebug’s First Quilt

11216585_10153421784701670_7238221019505939422_nI shared a picture on Instagram a few weeks ago of Junebug holding up her completed quilt top.  It was supposed to have its binding by that time, but my back had flared up earlier that week, so the binding had taken a back seat.  Ever since that day, Junebug has “reminded” me that her quilt needed binding. Continue reading

What Do You Think of When You Hear “Patriotic, American, Fourth of July?”

I’ve been spending more time with the Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt, and I’m running out of white prints for the stars.  More fabric cutting was obviously in order, and I am getting rather tired of the white prints I have been using this past year, so I called Miss Junebug down to the craft room to pick out some new, interesting fabrics for her quilt.

You think I’d learn to stop asking for her input…

The "Patriotic Snowman" star unit for the Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt

 

…although, truth be told, I am rather pleased that she stuck to the color theme this time.

Her reasoning for picking the snowman fabric, delivered with one hand on her hip and the other hand waving in the air as she explained:  “It’s my quilt, and I like snowmen.  Besides, you’re Canadian, so that means I like snow a lot more because I’m your daughter.”

[Insert image of me making my “I’m trying to look serious while dying inside from laughter” parenting face]

This quilt is ridiculously unique.  Just another reason to keep on with the handmades.

Junebug Brooke hugging her Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt-in-progress

She likes it.

 

Something Beautiful

This is my friend Rachel.  We’ve been friends for a few years.  She’s the friend who “tutored” Bluebird in Latin when we were first starting out two years ago, we embarked on a lofty 72-hour kit creation kick a year ago that she kept up and I did not, and we get to rub elbows a lot in musical pursuits.  I think she is one of the coolest people in the world.  She’s funny, she’s intelligent, she’s…Rachel.

About a year ago we started a short-lived ritual of walking our dogs during my family’s morning recess break.  During this ritual walk each school day (for however long we kept up with it) Rachel and I talked.  We talked about religion, briefly visited politics, talked about the books we were reading, and shared childhood memories regarding various subjects that came up.

We also talked about infertility.  My dear friend wanted to become a mother, and was having a hard time realizing that dream.  I listened as she described what tests and procedures were coming up, I listened as she talked through how she felt about the results, I listened as she thought out loud through something I wished I could fix for her.  I had suggested herbs in the very beginning of her struggle to conceive, but it had become apparent through the years that herbs weren’t going to fix the issue.  I watched her struggle to control her emotions after a round of fertility drugs; she’d wave it off and shrug, saying, “It’s just the hormones.”  So much time and effort to bring into creation a child.  Why wasn’t it working?!?!

I prayed for her and her husband.  My children prayed for one of their favorite people that she could be a mommy like she wanted.  Our family prayed together, out loud, every morning and night, remembering her alongside our cousins and siblings.  “Please, Heavenly Father, if it be thy will, allow Rachel and her husband to become parents.”

I just got home from throwing my friend a baby shower.
She’s due to give birth to a sweet little girl in June.

During those walks and talks I made up my mind, should God bless Rachel with a child, that I would throw the biggest, most beautiful baby shower I could muster in celebration of her impending motherhood.  To work so hard for something deserved a huge to-do!  As luck would have it, other ladies in our neighborhood wanted in on the fun as well, so we went all out.

At Rachel’s request, we had a tea party baby shower; which is funny, because we’re Mormons.  As a collective group, we’re not really known for our tea party-throwing skills.  Therefore, all the “teas” offered were herbal:  Lemon Chamomile, Peppermint, and a rooibos-based Tulsi Dosha Chai.  (I made a little announcement at the beginning of the party that there was no actual tea in any of the teapots, and that no one had to worry that I was enticing them to disregard the Word of Wisdom.)

And it was lovely, oh so lovely.  The looks of delight on the ladies’ faces as they carried their delicate cups of “tea,” the “oohs” and “aahs” over the finger foods…it was pretty, it was refreshing, and it was just wonderful.  I think I’ll be pleased with how well this baby shower went for a long time.  It was one of the nicest things I’ve seen in a while.

Seriously, always throw a party with multiple hostesses.  There were five of us altogether who put the food together, and it went splendidly.  (I didn’t have to touch the Egg Salad Sandwiches or be anywhere near them at all!  Score!)  We all made what we each liked to make, and everything was taken care of.  I was in charge of the tea and scones.  That’s it.  I also made some macarons on a whim, since I’m obsessed with the recipe from Martha Stewart Living and have been waiting for an excuse to try it out just because.

I don’t have a picture with the mom-to-be, but I do have this one with my fellow hostesses.

I told her that I needed a picture of her
with all her swag, and she obliged me so fittingly.
Love her!

There was a good attendance, and we had fun with the various (non-annoying) shower games.  Rachel received some lovely gifts for herself and her daughter, and I saw her make multiple trips to refresh her tea cup.

I took pictures of everything.  I knew I would write a blog post about this awesome party that I helped throw, and I wanted some beauty shots to accompany the play-by-play.  But as I look through the photos, I’m disappointed because they don’t capture the true beauty of the occasion.

Because what is beautiful about all this, after all the tea and finger foods are gone, is that we’re celebrating a miracle.  We’ve watched a heart-wrenching struggle turn into something so joyful that it makes our hearts hurt with happiness, like when you’ve smiled for too long and your cheeks ache.

We gathered together today to bask in the glory of our friend’s answered prayer, to sit together as women and cheer on another one of us who will soon enter the ranks of motherhood.  We thought of our own miracles at home; far, far away from the breakable china we balanced in our hands, while laughing at the realization that we celebrate the arrival of motherhood with delicate servingware and dainty foods when the realities of motherhood dictate that we eat PB&J and drink from plastic cups soon after we are initiated.

We hugged each other, placed hands upon each other’s shoulders in concern, smiled, laughed, and nodded our understanding.  We shared stories of our experiences–stories about our fears of motherhood, our disappointment with some of our parenting choices, amusement over what children say, gratitude for the help we receive and the lessons we’ve learned, and love for our families and friends.  And amidst the clinking of tea cups upon saucers and tearing of wrapping paper, we shared one more thing:  A quiet sense of excitement for Rachel.  She got her wish, her prayer, her love:  She’s going to be a mother.

Which is one of the most beautiful things that this world has to offer.

The Yarn is My Proxy

I’m trying to be a good little auntie.

I have a weird sibling situation that I finally came to a conclusion upon last year about how I’m going to treat all my present, former, and kind-of siblings:  I’m just gonna love them all.  More love always wins, right?

One of my sisters had a baby last week, and there’s nothing like the actual birth of a baby to really light the fire under one’s rear end to finish the crafties intended for said baby.  She had a little boy, and he is beautiful.

I’ve been working on this layette since October.  The plan was to finish it all before Christmas and then ship it so it’d be there before the birth, but…yeah.  Whatever, it’s finished, and it’s heading to the post office in the next couple of days to make its way to the chilly, chilly Canadian town that boasts one more beautiful baby boy as of last week.

The cardigan is the Little Coffee Bean Cardigan pattern, knit up in Plymouth Yarn’s Jeannee Worsted (51% Cotton, 49% Acrylic).  The buttons are from JoAnn Fabric.  I knit up a matching hat following the Basic Hat Pattern in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd.

The blanket is crocheted, as is every blanket I’ve ever made from yarn.  (The idea of knitting a blanket makes me twitch a wee bit.)  The pattern is “Pastel Waves,” from Leisure Arts Our Best Baby Afghans, which I’ve owned for years upon years.  I used good ol’ Red Heart Super Saver for it, despite its baby-melting acrylic content.  I just haven’t reached the point where I can buy that much cotton yarn at once.  That also makes me a bit twitchy.

So I’ll send this off, with much love and many wishes that I could live closer to this new soul.  It’s somewhat heart-breaking to watch all these nieces and nephews grow up, and know that I’m only seeing it in photographs instead of experiencing it in person.  Sigh.  But, perhaps, they’ll be reminded that I care when they snuggle up in a blanket or sweater I’ve made for them.

That’s the hope–that they’ll feel my love and know that I wish I was right there with them.

Happy BIRTHday, Little Baby J.


This post is participating in Small Thing’s “Yarn Along,”
“Anything Goes Monday” at Stitch by Stitch,
and “Sew Cute Tuesday” at Blossom Heart Quilts.

Getting the Knitting Cogs Moving Again

It’s been a weird spring and summer for me, in that I’ve had no desire to knit.  None.  I forced myself to finish some projects because I had all that time lying flat on my back while recovering from those lovely herniated discs, but there wasn’t a time where I was excited about knitting.  I preferred to just lay on the couch and watch Netflix movies.  I didn’t even read a lot.  I’m proud of myself for keeping it relatively together, attitude-wise, during all that yucky back stuff, but I was kind of bummed out during those months.

New socks!

But then, in August, we had a couple of cool weather days.  Very cool weather, the kind of weather that makes your toes start to feel a little frosty.  So I went in search of my alpaca socks, and reveled in the loveliness that is a pair of handknit socks snuggling around very cold toes.  That wonderful feeling, in turn, started moving the knitting cogs in my brain–at first it was a rusty creak (“It would be nice to own more than one pair of handknit socks.”), and then a disjointed series of interruptions to my regularly-scheduled thought processes (“Sweaters appear to be in style this year,” “I’ve never made myself a sweater,” “Monkeyboy has grown out of his old sweater,” “I haven’t been to the yarn store in ages,”), all the while speeding up until I’ve rediscovered my former life as an obsessive knitter who feels greatly conflicted over whether or not to take the knitting with me to the U-Pick Berry Patch.  (Yes, it’s true; and I am a little embarassed that I did have to devote a little bit of logic-making to that decision.)

But even with my brain humming along its (now) well-lubricated knitterly paths of pondering, my hands and heart were having a hard time getting with the program.  I’d sit down to knit and find myself desperately wanting to get away from my yarn after a few minutes.  Knitting wasn’t fun anymore.  Knitting didn’t make me happy.

And, finally, I figured out what it was:  Knitting reminds me, so strongly, of my neighbor who passed away this past winter.

I was forcing myself to put in some work on a vest I’m making for Monkeyboy, and as I was knitting, my eyes glanced across our front yard and into the window that I used to monitor my neighbor through during her last few months here.  My thoughts wandered to the crocheting bag I gave her for Christmas two years ago, and I surprised myself with having to choke back a sob at the thought of how she no longer has a need for a crochet bag, and wondering what had happened to it.  Then I thought of knit group, which featured little wise cracks she’d make; and then I saw one of her crocheted afghans laying along the back of one of my couches, which made me think of the bits of granny square advice she’d imparted to me over the years.  And it hurt; hurt so badly that I had to lay my knitting down in my lap and just breathe until I could think about those things without wanting to cry.

It continues to amaze me at how much I miss my neighbor.  You have all these “regular” people in your life that don’t appear special on the surface.  They’re not your grandmother, your best friend, your roommate from freshman year, or that teacher who woke you up with their words of advice.  There’s no “moment” that can be pinpointed as to their significance in your life–they were just there, silently building up memories and bonding slightly closer to you with each seemingly-insignificant interaction that you shared over the years.  It’s a love that is rarely recognized in the flesh, and mostly only realized once circumstances change to the point of no longer having it around in its normal form.  It makes me both sad and angry that I didn’t realize that I loved my neighbor like I did until she was dead.

And my neighbor is linked to the knitting part of my life, which makes the knitting part of my life hurt right now as well.

I won’t quit knitting.  (That would be so many levels of stupid.)  But I now understand why it’s been difficult, and that it wasn’t just my injury that made me disinterested in what I consider to be my most favorite hobby, over this past year.  It’s some weird expression of grief, and now that I recognize it for what it is, it does make a lot of sense to me.

However, the past couple of days have found me, for the first time this year, looking forward to knitting.  Autumn is on my mind, which raises mental images of cabled sweaters, tweedy wools, and marled mittens against a backdrop of fallen leaves.  Boots beg for warm socks as lining.  There are whisperings of Christmas knitting.  The changing of the seasons is diverting my thoughts to the good times that await throughout the next few months.

Those knitting thoughts are happy knitting thoughts, and they are peeking through the sad knitting clouds of mourning that I’ve been unconsciously carrying behind me.  So I’ve decided to take those thoughts of my neighbor and frame them in a positive light, rather than allowing my brain to close itself around the dismal interpretation of those thoughts.  I remember my neighbor’s smile when she unwrapped her crocheting bag, and I don’t allow myself to think on the question of what happened to the crochet bag.  The crochet bag made her happy, and I gave it to her.  That is a wonderful thing.  I am thankful for the crochet advice she gave me, and I’m glad that I have it to bless the lives of those I crochet for.  That’s another good thing.  And I will always look fondly upon “Bright White” skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn because it was her favorite color to edge her granny squares with, and there are a lot of people in this world who possess the Bright White works of her hands.  She was good.  And I got to have that in my life.  It’s just good, all around.

Autumn is approaching, and Knitting Season is beckoning me to move forward…and my heart and my hands are willing to get on board.

Life goes on.

Grief isn’t permanent.

Knitting waits for you.