A Farewell to a Great Man

I don’t really feel like blogging today. I have nothing cute or witty to say. It has been a tough month already for me, and now this.

My grandfather died last night. He has been slowly slipping away for the last five years, so it does not come as a surprise. What does surprise me is how sad this makes me. My brain keeps telling my heart that it is good. The man that used to take his grandkids water skiing has spent the last years slowly slipping away, losing his abilities one by one in a slow decent into helplessness. I have been a part time caretaker and have watched him deteriorate. I am so glad that this long journey has come to an end and that he has been set free from his old, worn out body and is alive once more in heaven. I am glad for my grandma who has suffered by his side, hurting to see him hurt and hoping for a miracle. I am glad that, for those who believe in Jesus, death really has lost its sting. We will see him again. And then we will see the grandpa that bounced me on his knee, and that told me stories, and who would sing me to sleep around the campfire at one of our epic family campouts. The grandpa that I mourn is the grandpa that we lost when the strokes started chipping away at that great man. Now that his body has finally set him free, I know that I should be so happy for him. And, I guess I am.

But, it is a great man who is lost to us today. A man who touched hundreds, no thousands, of lives with his hospitality, generosity and faith. A man who spent his life serving God as pastor and mentor. A friend to anyone in need, a counselor to the hurting, a hero to so very many people. My grandpa.

I love you, Grandpa. See you later….

WIP Smackdown!

Okay. So, the other day, I set some serious goals for my knitting. I said that I would do these five things before I cast on a new project:

1. Finish one ball of yarn on each large work in progress (that would be the three women’s sweaters 1 2 3 );

2. Frog the things I will never, ever, ever get around to even wanting to finish (that would be the socks and the goofy toy thingy);

3. Finish the gifts that must be done by September 26 (small things, but tedious, and boring because I am over it 1 2 );

4. Decide whether or not to finish Icarus (despite my occasional desire to work on it, it is sinking fast on the to-do list).

5. And, finally, get Celandine to mundane mode (more and more medalions before it becomes stockinette on lace weight on small needles around and around and around and around…..)

I am sure that you are all holding your collective breath for this update, so here we go!

The good news: I have made some progress. Not only that, I have found that by forcing myself to focus on these projects, I have pushed past the boring bits and actually enjoyed the knitting. (I refuse to learn the lesson, here. I am not trying to change my ways, only get the WIP list shorter so that I can start more projects!) I have frogged the little frogables, knit up one ball on a women’s sweater, and am working on the second sweater. Actually, I tricked myself with this one. I had already decided to work both sleeves at the same time, which means two balls are in play, so I am doing two balls on that one. Oh, and I made a decision about Icarus. It was hard, but I think I will be happier. Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit. That is 2.5 out of 5 – hey! I am halfway. Yippee!

The bad news: I want to cheat so bad! I sit and knit on some old project while fresh skeins of wool stare at me from all sides. Knitting books line my knitting table, knitting magazines on my nightstand, and the new Knit Picks catalog came in the mail yesterday! I even caught myself moving toward the Pima Petite thinking, “It is time to cast on Chloe’s shrug. That’ll be a quick knit.” At least I caught myself in time, but that was a close one. I am hanging on by a thread, and knitting as fast as I can before I lose all control and cast on six new projects in some wild, wooly frenzy. Plus – look at all of this recaimed yarn! It is like Christmas in August! There are two laceweights in there, and you know how I am about lace these days…!

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..

No Lack of Personality

Before we got married, Marc and I got some premarital counseling in which we took a test to determine our personality types. Now, it has been awhile, and the details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember that we were likened to certain animals – golden retriever, otter, etc. I don’t really remember what I was or what it meant, but I was reminded of this the other night when we all sat down to read our bedtime story. You see, every night for the last seven years or so, we have read a chapter of a book together before bed. Up ’till recently, the kids just sat quietly while I read, but that is changing. Ever since Beka learned to knit, we have been having a needlework revolution in our house. So, now, as I read the chapter, each kid sits busily knitting or crocheting (or trying to knit or crochet) while they listen. This reminded me of that personality test, because each kid goes about this very differently.

Abby learned to make a chain with yarn and hook a few years ago. She tried to learn single crochet, but it was hard and she couldn’t do it perfectly. So, instead, she worked at her chain until she had it down pat. She turned almost an entire ball of Red Heart into a long chain before she was ready to try another stitch. Once she perfected it, she moved on to a baby blanket, entirely stitched in single crochet. Every single stitch is perfect. Perfect. Better than even I could do. Her tension is constant and her joins (she is doing stripes) almost invisible. Amazing. But, then again, that is how she approaches life. She won’t even start something that she isn’t sure she can ace. And, everything that she starts, she aces.

Noah is our only boy. He lives most of his life in an imaginary world of robots, rockets and random explosions. He sat down to learn how to crochet, choosing a very masculine brown tweed. I taught him to chain, and he does it well enough. But, for him, it is not about the act of crocheting, rather, it is about having a really cool rope. No, it’s a chain. No, it’s a wrap for a sword hilt, or maybe a sling for a broken arm. Whatever. He is so imaginative and creative, a simple chain of yarn opens the door to myriad adventures. That is why this kid doesn’t need toys. He can take anything and turn it into fun. He is endlessly creative and amazingly inventive.

Beka is my girly girl. She learned to knit and crochet expressly for the purpose of spending time with me, doing what I do. She is all about the knitting bag, the pretty needles or hook and the colorful yarn. She churns out necklaces, bracelets, rings, and an occasionally a scarf. Her skills are being used to make herself and those around her pretty. She sits and chats as if she were my peer as she stitches away on some new accessory. Once again, this is her personality to a tee. Do you see what I mean?

Lastly, there is Emma. She is three, and so far the skills required to join the rest of us in our crafting have evaded her. But that doesn’t stop her at all. She sits and listens to the story with hook and yarn. She is busy, and intent, her little hands constantly moving. She wraps the yarn around the hook and pulls, and twists and lets it fall and starts again. She only asks for help occasionally, and rarely gets frustrated. She has yet to produce anything but knots, yet she continues diligently and happily. And that is who she is. Since she could toddle around behind me, she has been a good helper. Cleaning, contributing, working hard with a smile on her face. She may not have the skills or the knowledge, but that girl has the right attitude.

So, to be fair, I guess I should reveal my personality type, right? Okay, here goes – I get bored easily. I never have less than four projects going at the same time, and usually it is more. I want to be challenged, but I occasionally fall back on simple quick knits to boost my self-esteem. I get obsessive about certain projects, but if I neglect a project for too long, it will never get finished. I am a starter, and must force myself to finish. Yep. This is an accurate description of me in general….

Tonight, after every tubby has been taken, every tooth is brushed, and pajamas are donned, the kids will once again reach for their yarn as I get out “The Last Battle” by CS Lewis. I will read the next chapter to them and as they listen yarn will flow through their fingers. Once again I will marvel at the variety in our family, and how blessed I am to have each one of them.

You Know You Knit Too Much When…

…a conversation like this takes place in your home:

On Saturday, I called all the kids to attention. “Okay, Guys,” I said, “I need everyone to get some shoes on and get ready to go.”

“Where are we going, Mama?” they all asked.

“Mrs. H had her baby,” I said excitedly, ” And we are going to take some dinners to her.”

Pandemonium ensued! “WOOOHOOOO! WE ARE GOING TO THE H’S HOUSE! YEAH! YIPEEEEEEEEE!!”

“Hang on!” I tried to reign them back in. “Mrs. H is real tired and she needs lots of rest, so we are not going to stay very long.”

“How long can we stay?” Noah asked.

“Less than an hour.”

“Can we play a little?”

“Yes,” I replied, “But, we are not staying very long at all. I am not even taking my knitting.”

Stunned silence.  Everyone looked at me like I had grown a second nose. Then my son said incredulously,

You’re not taking your knitting?!? Wow! That will be a short visit!”

Teeeheee!

But, look! Baby feet:

Self Control

So, despite my best attempts to rationalize away my insatiable need to cast on new projects, my conscience has been getting louder and more annoying. Each time I reach for that new skien of Malabrigo to start Beka’s next sweater, I think to myself, Self, you really should work on the Vera sweater instead. And, when I spend hours looking at new patterns on Ravelry and am tempted to put some of my stash to good use on some new siren, I hear the voice again. Self, you already have something like that going. Why not work on finishing that first?

Thinking that I could prove a point to my conscience, I counted up my works in progress. Now, I usually have at least four things going, so five, six or even seven projects would have been within the limits of acceptable. I fully expected to come up with a reasonable number of unfinished items, therefore, allowing me to cast on something new.

Imagine my chagrin when I found that I have nine things going right now. Nine. I just don’t think I can rationalize that away. Especially since I didn’t even remember some of them. There are the three that are sitting by the couch (familiar and getting lots of progress), the one by my bedside (a little less well known to my tired brain – I rarely knit in bed. I don’t know why it is there), the two I kinda-sorta remember starting and then throwing them into the craft closet to clean up the house that one time (the memory is fuzzy, but I am sure that is how it went down), and the three that live somewhere deep and dark in that same closet (I only remember them because of their pictures in my Ravelry notebook). I have to admit, I am a little ashamed.

Here is the remedy (or, at least, the compromise that my conscience will have to settle with):

1. Finish one ball of yarn on each large project (that would be the three women’s sweaters 1 2 3 );

2. Frog the things I will never, ever, ever get around to even wanting to finish (that would be the socks and the goofy toy thingy);

3. Finish the gifts that must be done by September 26 (small things, but tedious, and boring because I am over it 1 2 );

4. Decide whether or not to finish Icarus (despite my occasional desire to work on it, it is sinking fast on the to-do list).

5. And, finally, get Celandine to mundane mode (more and more medalions before it becomes stockinette on lace weight on small needles around and around and around and around…..)

Then, and only then, will I allow myself to cast on something new. Something exciting. A shrug for Abby, a sweater for Chloe or (OH, OH, OH) a baby thing for my brother’s baby that is on the way. Ooooooo,  I am so excited I might explode!

But, for now, it is all about self control. Think I can do it?

Yeah, me neither….

Could you?

Top photo: Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace, Teal

Bottom photo: Malabrigo Worsted Merino, Sotobosque