Archive | June 2018

Old House History

This kind of thing just never happens. Yesterday afternoon I heard a knock on the front door. I saw a woman and a boy, and Jack was going bonkers, so I just slipped out to the porch to see what they wanted. The woman introduced herself, said she was in the neighborhood, and wanted to stop by because her grandparents built our house! She said she has a lot of photos going back through the years, as well as blueprints and other things, and she wondered if we’d be interested in seeing any of it. Um, heck yeah!

Obviously we love old houses, or else we wouldn’t put up with the fixer-upper life, and I especially love knowing more about the history of a house. I knew our house was built in 1921 by the town doctor, but that was about it. Yesterday I found out that it was originally painted yellow, as it is now, so I have to keep it that color. I was planning to go with gray, but if we’re not staying here long-term, I’d rather stay true to the history of the house.

I also learned that the room we use as a music room, with the piano and music stands for the kids to practice, was originally a music room. This woman’s grandmother had a piano in there that she played. We recently had some work done on the front stairs, with new concrete from the sidewalk up, and new wood stairs up to the porch, and she complimented that, which pleased me. I felt like it meant we did a good job keeping the work true to the character of the house.

We chatted for quite a while, and she shared a lot of neat tidbits about the house over the years. It’s been out of the family for over fifty years, and she said they’d wanted to buy it a few years ago but the asking price was too high. So the coolest thing to come out of it might be that we could help get it back in the family, once we’re ready to sell. That would feel pretty good.

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I made a sleeve!

This sweater is going so fast, I can’t believe it! I finished the first sleeve last night, and it went so much faster than with my last two sweaters. I think it’s because before I was managing two skeins all the way through, either doing stripes or alternating skeins. Just having one skein and doing stockinette all the way makes it zoom. And now that I have that extra color on the sleeve, I love the color combo so much!

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The girl is still coveting the sweater. I’m waiting to see how it fits me before I decide who gets it. But the nice thing is, even if it fits her better, I could make myself another one!

Since I’m so close to finishing the sweater, part of my wants to power through that second sleeve this weekend. But I’m also drawn to a new skein of yarn…

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This was a gift from a friend as a thank-you for helping her with knitting and for taking her with me to a concert recently. She was at a yarn store where Potion Yarns was doing a trunk show and picked out this little beauty for me. It’s Seductress Sock in the color Her Wicked Ways, and they recommended the pattern Changing Staircases for it. Since that pattern was already in my favorites, I figure that’s what this yarn needs to be, and I’m eager to cast that on this weekend too. So hard to choose! Which would you do, sleeve or shawl??

 

Knitting in Public

The boy had an orthodontist appointment this morning, and it was my turn to take him. I almost forgot my knitting, which would have been torturous, but I remembered at the last minute. So there I was knitting along on my sock using my size 1 DPNs, and when the doctor came to check on the boy, he immediately noticed what I was doing. He and the two techs standing by marveled that I was using four needles, and they were so tiny, which of course made me feel very clever even though I truly believe that just about anyone can learn to knit.

Anyway, then the nice doctor said something about how he’s heard about doctors doing that kind of thing (motioning toward me), like “crochet or needlework” to work on their fine motor skills. I laughed and said, “And knitting?” He nodded and kept talking but then one of the techs asked which I was doing, so I got to give a little lesson about the difference between crochet and knitting, and how one uses one hook and the other uses multiple needles. It was a good reminder that not everyone speaks this language called Yarn, and that I should take every opportunity to normalize it and make it accessible. Definitely a good argument for knitting in public!

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Like my father

There’s a song on the most recent Brandi Carlile album that starts out, “I haven’t seen my father in some time / But his face is always staring back at me”. Every time I hear it, it’s bittersweet. I miss my dad. After six years without him, the memories aren’t as fresh. They’re faded, like the photos we took thirty years ago. When I make the effort, I can see his face. I can see his smile, hear his voice, feel his hug. But those aren’t automatic, fresh like they were the first couple of years. I know I take after him in some ways. The small jaw that required years of orthodontia? Thanks, Dad. The crazy crooked toes that look weird and caused me to have foot surgery years ago? Yep, that’s him too. There are things I can appreciate, of course: the wave in my hair, or my smile. But what I appreciate the most is seeing my dad in my son.

I don’t talk about the boy much. He’s younger, quieter, not as outgoing as the girl. Not as active in as many extracurricular activities. But he’s just as delightful as she is, in such different ways. He is growing into such an amazing person and I love seeing the changes happen. If there’s a silver lining to the girl going to college (besides her getting to live her exciting life), it’s that it might give him a chance to shine more. I’m looking forward to some time with him, some time to focus on him. (My girl, I know you’re reading this. You, and the rest of my readers, should know that this doesn’t take away from how much I love having us all together. How much I will miss you. It’s like they are two separate things, existing on the same plane.)

Physically, the boy is very much like my dad, like my brother. They are tall, slim in a way I envy and he feels is gangly, I think. He has my hair, those crooked toes (but even worse than mine. Sorry, kid.) and that small jaw (yeah, sorry about that too). And even though some of the features aren’t all the same, there’s something about his gorgeous smile that reminds me of my dad. Most importantly, I feel my dad’s spirit in him. I don’t mean a ghostly spirit. Just…character, or soul.

Like my dad was, the boy is shy, introverted, quiet in larger groups. But get him in a small group where he’s comfortable and his quick wit and delightful sense of humor come out in full force. I don’t know if anyone outside our little family group knew just how funny my dad could be. In general, like Dad, the boy is a gentle person. He is calm and patient, and does his best to avoid confrontation, though being a teenager makes it hard sometimes. It takes a lot to get him fired up. That part skipped a generation: I didn’t inherit that temperament, to my husband’s dismay. I tend to have a hot temper more often than not. It has gotten better over the years, at least.

The boy is smart, and really could do anything he decides to put his mind to, like my dad learning computers early on to support his family. I don’t think he loved what he did, so I hope my son finds something that brings him more joy, but I admire my dad for what he did for us. And I think the boy has that loyalty too, that desire to make sure that the ones he loves are happy. He’s not overly demonstrative with his emotions, not the type to give random hugs just because. But he’s open to affection, willing to accept it, and every once in a while he’ll say or write something so sweet and thoughtful that my heart melts.

He’s my boy, my son, my baby. He got many wonderful qualities from my husband, and I love those things. I see myself in him, and love that too. I love all the things that make him unique. And I love him even more for all the ways he’s like my dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Miss you.

It has Pockets!

My Tea with Jam and Bread sweater is zooming along! Last night I knit the pocket linings and finished the row where I knit the pocket lining stitches together with the body stitches to attach the linings. Today I finished the bottom ribbed edge, and then I won yarn chicken as I bound off, using just one skein for the last big block of color.

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I know the pockets won’t hold anything heavy, but they sure are cute, and I can slip my hands in them to keep my hands warm! The instructions for making the pockets could have been clearer, but I fumbled my way through it and am quite happy with how they turned out. The only thing I would have done differently is left longer tails to sew down the sides of the pockets.

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The color combination still seems a little strange, with that one variegated stripe, but it’s growing on me, and I think once I get the sleeves done with more of that color, it’ll look awesome.

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The gauge is a bit off, since I forgot that I needed to swatch in the round if I was going to knit in the round, but I’m optimistic that it will fit. I’m just not brave enough to try it on yet!

Farewell, Yarn Bowl

Guys, something sad happened over the weekend: I broke my favorite yarn bowl. I was happily knitting on my sweater while watching tennis, and I had the yarn in the bowl on the coffee table. Every so often, I would pull out a length of yarn, as one does, and the bowl didn’t move. Until one time it did, thanks to a little bit of yarn that got tangled up in itself and then got caught on the bowl, and I didn’t move quickly enough. I could see it happening but couldn’t stop it.

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This was my sheep yarn bowl which was a gift from the mother and it might have been one of the most thoughtful gifts she’s ever given me. Alas. So don’t tell her I broke it, because then she’d be sad too!

Sweater is Growing

I’ve been knitting along on my Tea with Jam and Bread sweater, and for the most part I’m very happy with it. I was glad to use almost all the navy on the first stripe, and got pretty bored during that middle stripe of the main color. But the French Open finals were this weekend, so I just knit around and around while I watched my tennis, and I made it all the way through the second contrast color. Once I had a good chunk of it, though, I started second-guessing myself. This new color is a tonal yarn, with a short stripey effect. The colors were great, but since the other stripes were solid, I was concerned that this looked weird.

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However, I got validation on Instagram and from the girl, so I kept on with it, and it’s growing on me. It is kind of unusual but now I think I like it. This will be the fun pop of visual interest on the sweater. I’m now on the last stripe and I’ll be figuring out this whole pocket situation soon. I’m not really sure how it’ll work at this point, but if I go step by step, it’ll be fine.

I also have a finished sock, though I have no idea how I managed to get that done this weekend too. But I grafted the toe yesterday after the men’s final (I couldn’t do that while watching Rafa! I’m good at Kitchener stitch but not that good!).

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It’s a plain cuff-down vanilla sock with a slip-stitch heel. The yarn is Show Me Yarn Bootheel in the special KITH color Flowers in the Mist. The sock feels wonderful, kind of squishy. I can’t wait to wear these! (Okay, I can, because I don’t want fall to be here yet. But I am looking forward to it.)

Alas, I did not knit in public for Worldwide Knit in Public Day on Saturday. I wasn’t in public at all that day, you see. But I did knit at the brother’s house for a family birthday party, so that’s pretty close.