Thursday, August 16, 2007

Knitting...for the Next Generation

This stunning rainbow belongs to the latest finished Baby Genius Burp Cloth; it was created with Ty-Dy cotton. New to me, it is heavenly soft, and has more subtle shadings than Peaches & Creme. I couldn't resist buying a bunch! My dear retired husband and I took a drive to Brevard, NC last week to see Charlotte's Fibers. Charlotte is a tall, beautiful woman who is intelligent and multi-talented. Her shop is clean and neat as a pin; it is well lighted, easy to move through and the yarns are displayed wonderfully. Parking is a breeze and, conveniently, a bookstore and a little deli/cafe are on either side of the yarn shop. I didn't want to leave.

I restrained myself, and purchased only a fraction of what I would have liked to, with the knowledge that I would return in the fall. (My little knitting group makes trips together now and then; we want to know where to find the most wonderful yarns, and want to gab over lunch, too. So I have checked it out and the group will make a day of it in a couple of months.)

It is a nice big squeezable ball of yarn; my new choice for bibs, burp cloths, ballband warshrags, etc. I think it will wash well, and will let you know; I will wash and dry the completed burp cloth before I bind off on the second one. They generally shrink from top to bottom, and since this goes over the shoulder, I want it long enough after washing and drying.

Aren't these the prettiest colorways? I have fallen in love with them all! I promise to share the finished projects; I anticipate there will be many. (I am trying to figure out how to log cabin with these yarns - I would like to do something wonderful that shows them all off in one big way.)

Mom taught me to knit when I was nearly 60 and I grew to love it as she did; she would love these yarns we buy today. She is now 88 and can no longer knit. She has dementia and has been losing bits and pieces of her life since...well, we're not sure, but probably around 1990, or a few years before that.

She's a cute little thing right now. She still loves a joke, and can even make a few of her own; we love seeing her laugh (below). But she can't comprehend time's passage or the fact that she gave birth to three children who still call her Mom; she doesn't know where other states and other countries are; she has lost her common sense; she recalls her childhood in tiny fragments only when we remind her of the good times she had as a girl. "Oh, my! You remember all those things?" she says to me. "Mom, only because you told me stories of your life when I was young." I tell her the stories now, of her parents and brothers, their vacations, who she married, and name her children, and then her grandchildren. She's lost most of the names, but understands the importance of family and is grateful for hers.

When Mom and I visited this week, I wanted to share some family news with her. It took some explaining and careful listening on her part, but she finally understood that she would become a great grandmother in the winter, and that it was very good news!

I hope she will be able to enjoy a tiny bundle in her arms once again. She still loves and feels love. That's the best part of life, after all, isn't it?


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

If You Can't Stand the Heat....

The canyons of Waimea on a hazy day.

In the scorching heat of home today, our vacation and the Trade Winds seem a world away. We may need to ration water if the temperatures don't cool down soon.

One summer, maybe 15 years ago, it was in the 90s here for nearly a month, almost unprecedented. I wasn't a knitter then, but enjoyed needlepoint very much. Our family spent each evening (no AC back then) sitting quietly watching TV, cooled by the ceiling fan, and I worked on a needlepoint. Julie Thompson had painted the canvas and when I saw it in her shop, I fell in love with it immediately. Mountain flowers such as Lady's Slipper, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, iris, trillium, and lilies were gracefully depicted. Even a Ruby-throated hummingbird hung in the air.

Because I had so much time, it was easy to do it well. The outcome pleases me to this day, and whenever I see it, I am reminded of that summer when it was just too hot for any greater activity than needlepoint.

Since I have taken up knitting, the needlepoint projects (yes, I have UFOs) are forgotten in a drawer. But I miss Julie; she's a delightful person who knows needlepoint backward and forward, sells all the fabulous yarns you could wish for (she has hand-dyed silks that would make you drool), and is an accomplished artist in her own right. Stop by her place if you're in that neck of the woods; she and her shop are worth your time.

(Oh, oh! I can see the kitty hairs here! They do curl up on the living room chairs when I am not looking.)

All this about needlepoint, heat, and quiet is because our weather right now is very much like it was then, and it is not safe to be abroad. So I am inside and working on tiny little things. At the baby shower for Martha's daughter last week, Carolyn showed me the booties she was knitting; at my request, she kindly shared her pattern and I began my first pair.

These were easy and quick with a chunky yarn from Debbie Bliss; I still have to locate some pink ribbon to thread through the holes; you know booties get kicked off if not secured!

This happy confetti yarn (below) is a product of Portofino Paper and includes 35% cotton, 35% acrylic and 30% polyamide. I think it would work for a boy or girl, don't you? The best thing about this pattern from So Much Yarn is that there are no DPNs. All is worked on two straight needles and sewed up with a seam from toe to heel and up the back. Easy peasy! I simply used a lighter weight yarn and smaller needles to knit a smaller bootie.

So if you are being smart and staying inside in this heat, consider trying something new! You have the time to learn a new technique or to try a new pattern. I am so glad I have this one and I predict these booties are going to multiply like rabbits!