Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy 80th Aunt Lib!

The extended family on my paternal grandmother's side of the family gets together every year for food and fellowship. It is a time for us to "ooh" and "aah" over the new babies, marvel at how much the young'uns have grown and visit with the 'older' generation while we still have the chance. This year's celebration was moved up a few months to celebrate a big milestone in the family- my great Aunt Lib's 80th birthday. She is the first in the family to turn 80 and had no idea the party was moved up so we could all celebrate with her. She was married to the oldest in the family (Pete) and everyone just loves her to pieces. Sadly, Uncle Pete died a few years ago and he is sorely missed. Some of my earliest memories of the big Edward's gatherings revolve around Uncle Pete and Aunt Lib. (I did not realize how much I still miss him until now- sitting here replaying all those tender moments with him and I can't hold back the tears.) I can still see his twinkling blue eyes. He was one of those people that when he smiled (and he was always smiling when he was surrounded by family) his eyes smiled too. You could always feel the joy that seemed to radiate from him. He had a way of making each person in the family feel like the most important person in the room. That is saying quite a lot considering our family gatherings swelled to upwards of 80 people. When I was maybe 4 or 5 I remember sitting on his knee and him telling me, "A gal as pretty as you has gotta learn how to wink." He sat there giggling at my first fumbling attempts to close one eye at a time just the way he showed me. I think for the next month I winked at everything that moved. He was always my favorite uncle.

Aunt Lib was just made for him. She is not even five feet tall and for as long as I can remember she has had that silvery white bob. She also is happiest surrounded by family. I have only seen her once without a smile-at Pete's funeral. Her smile could light up a room. She is the most sweet and humble person I have ever met. She seemed to have magic pockets that always contained candy (maybe that was what kept her so sweet!) and the kids in the family knew that if Aunt Lib was offering candy there was no need to ask Mom and Dad if it was ok to have a piece. She gives the warmest hugs that are always followed by, "I am so glad to see you. It is such a blessing you are here and I love you." As you might imagine, she was right there on the top of my list of favorite relatives.

When my Grandmother told me we were having a surprise party for Aunt Lib's 80th birthday I knew I wanted to make her something. She is a devout Bible reading Christian and I knew she would appreciate a pretty bookmark to tuck into her Bible. She was very happy with her gift- and even more impressed that I actually made it. "Well, you are just an artist! It is beautiful," she told me as tears glistened in her eyes. It is odd, her reaction was the most touching reaction I have ever received after giving a knitted or crocheted gift and it was the most simple of gift of all. It was harder to block it that it was to crochet it. My sweet Aunt Lib, I love you so much and I am blessed that you are part of the family!

All pattern details are on Ravelry.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

spreading the love

Since my Mom became a long haul truck driver almost 4 years ago, I have been trying to convince her to learn to knit. There has always been a selfish part of me that wanted her to learn, so that long after she is gone (morbid, I know, but it happens to us all) I would have something to hold and remember how much we shared. I wanted her to speak the secret language that only those that knit or crochet understand. She told me time and again that it was too hard, she did not have the patience and so on. I quickly called bullshit on all her excuses. She and I are so much alike, I knew armed with well written directions she could figure it out and would love it. Also, I realized that until she really wanted to do it there was no use trying to convince her, so I just let it go. Then around Mother's Day my Mom said six little words that made my heart sing, "I want to learn to knit."
Her Mother's Day present was never easier to pick out. I bought both a learn to knit kit and a learn to crochet kit and a couple of balls of yarn and snuggled them inside a black handbag-not realizing this little gesture would mean so much. When she saw the handbag tears filled her eyes, "There are knitting needles in here, aren't there?" Suddenly the parallels occurred to me, I learned to knit after finding knitting needles in a black handbag. I was subconsciously starting her out the same way.

A few weeks later, she calls me from the road and asks if I am sitting down.
"Yes, why?"
"I just finished my first washcloth! All by myself!"

She then told me about the frustration of those first stitches. Her mantra "Amanda keeps saying this is relaxing. This is supposed to be relaxing. Why am I so tense." I reminded her that alcohol helps- alas that is not an option while she is on the road. Not only did she teach herself how to knit, she also taught herself how to crochet! She used both of the skeins of yarn I bought her and bought more as soon as she got home. She is speaking the language quicker than I thought! She prefers crochet to knitting so far, but I won't hold that against her.

While visiting her this week, she gave me that washcloth. There is no way I will ever use it to wash dishes, it has a place of honor on the table beside my knitting spot.

Just last night The Boy Wonder also learned to knit. When I got up this morning he was sitting on the couch knitting. Mama is so proud! He is pretty proud of himself as well!

Did I let him stay up past his bedtime to finish that last row? You bet I did!

Monday, June 09, 2008

All about lace

All I have been interested in knitting lately is lace. It is too hot to think about sweaters and sock knitting has been a disaster of late, so lace it is! I ordered 10.5 oz of Merino from for my birthday. I spun it into fingering weight (or a bit heavier) with the intention of knitting the Lovely Lacy/Heirloom Shawl that kicked my ass the first time I attempted knitting it. I have learned so much since that first lacy attempt. It has only taken me a few days of knitting to accomplish what took weeks before. I am so much more confident in my skills, reading my knitting, and noticing and correcting mistakes. It is nice to come back to a project that was once too difficult only to sail through it this time around. I am knitting this as part of a KAL on Ravelry- it is nice to have help if I have problems, since the original pattern contains errors.

Slowly, I am making my way around and around and around the Feather and Fan Shawl (blanket version). The rounds are so long now I am working it on two circular needles. It is pretty mindless as there are only pattern rows to work ever forth round. I am on row 114 of 189, so I still have a long way to go, but I am oddly enjoying it!

Y'all have a great week and try to stay cool!