Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Little Distracted

I've tried to write this post three times, but I am too distracted. There is a piñata in my living room, and all I can think about is Trunk or Treat at our church tonight! So, here'a picture of the piñata, and a promise for a better blog next week, (I hope)!

Thanks for stopping by! If you live in my area, and you've got a family, I hope you'll come and see the Fiesta at Hope Christian Church tonight (between 6-7:30pm, see link above). If not, I'll see you next time. :) Until then, Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

So. Many. Mistakes.

I have finished the Hitofude, and it is beautiful. 

I have not modeled it for a photo yet, but I'll get to that a little later. First, let me tell you about the mistakes. So. Many. Mistakes. Starting with the cast on, which I casted on three times...which is a LOT for any project, but especially for a project where you have to cast on almost 300 stitches!

For my first cast on, I didn't do enough stitches. For my second cast on, I did enough stitches, but I messed up row 1, where I had to place almost 30 stitch markers to help me keep track of the lace. But, as they say, the third time's a charm! And it was. 

After that, I found that some of my stitch markers were catching my yarn, or "jumping over" the stitches at the edges of the repeats. There was some un-knitting, stitch by stitch (tinking) and there was a bit of mental cursing, until I finally just replaced the offending markers (of the jump-ring variety) with better markers and put in a lifeline.* I have never actually heard of anyone ripping back to a lifeline, but the only time I seem to screw up my lace knitting is when I don't have one. Couple this with the fact that skinny, cotton, crochet thread (which is perfect for lifelines and ridiculously cheap) is something I always have on hand, a lifeline is pretty affordable knitting insurance! The lifeline is that white string...see it?

It is in this pic, too. (Every few repeats, I moved it right up the knitting. If I ever had to use it, I reasoned, I wanted to rip back as few rows as possible...)

After a couple months of knitting, a few tears and much admiration of the project, I realized my biggest mistake yet. On the back of the thing, after the waist, I should have knitted Charts A, B, C, D and E. Now, I had read that the Hitofude was running short on some ladies, especially in the larger sizes, so I had followed the lead of some other knitters and incorporated a few extra pattern repeats among those charts...two here, one there, etc. What I didn't realize I had done, until I was working the final ribbing, was that I had completely skipped chart A along the way, and only knitted charts B-E. Egad! Would it be too short? Would the omission of chart A be noticeable? Did I really want to rip back and start that section over? Could I just add more repeats at the bottom?

What to do, what to do, what to do...

It may have been laziness, or it may have just been eagerness to be finished (I'll never tell!) but I just kept knitting that final ribbing, bound off as instructed and hoped for the best. After the requisite soak and block, which I finished on Thursday, I was delighted to find that it was all ok. 

I made mistake after mistake, all along the way, but the sweater was just fine! The fabric laid beautifully after the block, with great drape and a lovely showing of the yarn colors. 

It was long enough in the back, and the arms fit well, and I kinda loved it immediately. I might actually call this one stunning after the final finishing touches of weaving in those last two ends!

I wish I had a photo of the sweater on me to show you, but I do not. You see, the last mistake I made on this sweater had nothing to do with knitting. I made a scheduling mistake and did not make it to knit night this week, which is where that photo op had the best chance. But, there will be other knit nights, and there will be sweater wearings. I promise that sweater will show up on me, and in a picture somewhere on the internet, eventually. Until then, may I tell you what else this sweater has taught me? It actually ends up as quite the life lesson this week. 

You see, as many mistakes as I have made while knitting this sweater, it still turned out quite lovely. My life is like that, too. I make mistake after relationships, with my schedule and budget, in my car...but I am turning out pretty well anyway. I am not perfect, although I try not to make mistakes. I try really hard most of the time. But none of us is perfect, and perfection is not to be obtained in this lifetime. However, with each mistake I have made, I have also learned something. Some of the lessons are small (wear your seat belt...use your signals) and some are big (really, check all your blind spots...twice...before you merge!), but each one is valuable, and has made me a better driver...err, person.

There are some mistakes I can go back and fix, and some that cannot be fixed. There were many mistakes in that sweater that I could have fixed, but I chose not to, and that is true of life as well. But, if I don't fix the mistakes I can, as soon as I can, they just compound to make me more miserable. I do not enjoy being miserable, so fixing those mistakes, when I can, is usually a good idea. But, even if I cannot or choose not to fix a mistake, I always have a lifeline! The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, and His mercies never come to an end. He continues to craft me into His masterpiece, and (for the most part) I think I am coming along nicely. There is work for me to do, and I am on God's payroll as he provides for my every need according to his riches in Christ. (Quoted and/or paraphrased from Lamentations 3:22-23, Ephesians 2:10, and Philippians 4:19.) He's simply not finished with me yet.

You know what else? He's not finished with you yet, either. If you've been in this game of life for more than a few minutes, you may have heard something about that somewhere. It is never too late to ask for His forgiveness, His guidance and His Saving Grace. It is never too late to incorporate even your mistakes (which God can forgive, whether you think you can fix them or not) into the person you were created to be. 

Fix your knitting or not, your choice. Either way, thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health. 

*In case you don't knit, a lifeline is a plain yarn or thread strung through a finished row of stitches while the work is in progress. If you make a really horrendous mistake that cannot be fixed, you can simply take the needles out and rip back your rows of knitting until you get to the lifeline, replace your needles into the stitches of that row, and you get a "do over" of that section. It is a pretty good idea to use lifelines in large projects, unless you enjoy starting over from the beginning!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

This. This is why I knit.

Remember these sweaters?

Check this out:

This. This right here. This is why I knit. 
Thank you for loving my knits (and me) as much as I love you and your little ones!

I knit to occupy my hands, especially when I am fretful, which I am a lot these days. 

I knit to occupy my mind, to distract myself from worry and monotony and apathy on the hard days. 

I knit to celebrate joyous occasions, like weddings, new babies and happy children.

I knit to care for the little ones in my life...sweaters to warm them to the core, toys to stimulate creative play and stuffies to comfort.

I knit because I like to create, and because stitches are often easier than words. 

I knit for you, because I care for you.

I knit so I don't kill people. It sounds crazy, but all of my regular readers know that crazy is part of who I am. People are people, wherever you go, and knitting keeps me out of jail. 

What do you do with your crazy? 
If your answer is knitting, I hope that you will Knit in Good Health this week!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday...wayyy back!

I know, I know. Today is Saturday. But on Thursday, I posted this photo to Facebook...

Throwback Thursday is a thing, and I had recently rifled through some old photos, taking photos of photos for just this purpose. This was the first one I posted, and I got quite a kick out of tagging my cousins and watching them "react" to this photo from 1973.

"Is that Tony in the cool shades?" (It is!)

"and Bill not cooperating with where Aunt Marianna told him to stand" (yep)

"Love the smile sis" (ohhh, a little sibling "love" perhaps?)

Even people who weren't there commented, like my daughter, when I pointed out my eye patch. She had one too, when she was little, but according to her, "I was way cooler" (she was) 

But my Aunt Mickey's comment, "what a wonderful motley crew that was...those were the days !!!" I think her comment was my favorite!

Those WERE the days. I was one of eight cousins on my mom's side of the family. (There are only 7 in the picture, you say? Check out my mom's is sister is in there!) Between them, my mom and her two sisters delighted their parents with 8 grandchildren, and we eight cousins were together every holiday and many a Sunday afternoon when we were small. Through the years, one of the sisters moved far away, and it was difficult to not see those cousins regularly, but Teresa and I wrote letters...I had the address memorized...and there were still family holidays with all of us some years. 

In this picture, it is Easter. We always lined up for Grandpa Joe to take our picture outside on Easter, even if it was cold...even if it was really cold! There are no winter coats in this photo, so I assume it was only moderately cold as we lined up on Easter in 1973. In this picture, there are 3 distracted cousins, 2 children cheesin' for the camera, one toddler looking in the right direction, a defiant young man and a pregnant middle sister (due in August with grandchild #8)...just trying to get these 7 cousins to cooperate!

Not in this picture are two grandparents, one with a camera, probably laughing and maybe scowling a bit and pointing, "Just stand right there." I remember that there was more than one shot each time. You never knew what you were going to get in the age before digital photography, so you'd better take 2, and make sure to re-focus and take your time in between. Kids should know how to stand still, right? Grandma was maybe standing next to Grandpa Joe as he took that photo, smiling... Or maybe she was inside, stirring the spaghetti or reheating the coffee. It was a holiday, after all!

Not in this picture are the other two sisters, Aunt Chris and Aunt Mickey. They are probably in the very small kitchen with Grandma, working to get that holiday meal on the table. I don't remember what the dinner included that year for Easter, but I am sure that the oven and every burner on the stove were involved in its preparation. I am also sure that there was at least a little "loud talking" and much laughter in that kitchen, as the women bumped into each other while putting on the finishing touches and moving everything to that big dining room table. 

Not in this picture are 3 uncles, Uncle Chip (my dad), Uncle Lou and Uncle Bill. If they were not trying to "sample" the dinner items already on the table (and getting a slap and a scowl from Grandma), they were likely watching TV and maybe having a cigarette in the living room. Back in the day, that was ok...even inside the house. Smoking was cool, good for you was before we really understood and knew better. It was before we knew better about fat and sugar and cholesterol, and holiday meals were guilt-free!

You can't go back, but those were the days, indeed. 

These days, Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Chip are gone. Just yesterday, Uncle Lou joined them. Aunt Chris is the sister who moved away when we were young. She, Uncle Lou, Teresa and Tony moved to St. Louis, and that's been their family's home base for decades. It's been years since I have seen Uncle Lou, but (thanks to social media) there have been photos, and his smiling eyes in the pictures from their 50th wedding anniversary last November are the same eyes that smiled at me every time I saw them. 

This is the Uncle who would enter a room full of cousins, dig deep into the pocket of his trousers with a sly grin and say, "Are you ready?" We would gather around the closest table, eyes wide with anticipation, and he would remove his hand from that pocket and toss a large handful of change on the table for just a few seconds before covering up the pile of coins and scooping it off the table. Then it was time for each of us to guess how much money was in his hand.

One of the older cousins usually guessed closest, and the prize was that handful of glorious, jingling money! It was a fun game, even when you didn't win, and it was the first thing I thought of when I heard that he had passed on Friday morning, but it is not my only memory. His smile. A bear hug. The way he listened, looking right into my eyes when I told him anything. The jokes, oh the jokes! When I let Sweetie know that Uncle Lou had passed, his response included, "He was always such a joyful guy," because he was.

I spent yesterday afternoon texting with my cousins, Teresa and Tony, and I also messaged my Aunt. I know that their next few days, weeks, months will be full of missing Lou and figuring out how to go on without him. Losing a loved one is a trial that we all face eventually, and there is one thing I have learned through the years...those loved ones make you who you are. The good, the bad, and even the things you strive to do differently than your parents did...your family shapes you, right down to your core. When you lose a part of that family, you also lose a part of yourself. 

The only thing to do is to miss him and remember all the good. Write it down so that you can pass it on, and tell your children about their grandparents, and great-grandparents, and all the happy times you can remember. Share the funny and the tragic, laugh and cry as you celebrate the life that helped to shape yours. Aunt Chris, Teresa, Tony, Ricky, Zach, Cameron, Saffron, and all the extended St. Louis family - I miss him, too...but not like you do. Hold on to one another, and remember that smile!

Friends, thanks for stopping by. Love your family the best that you know how to love, and do that today. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. And even though we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death eventually, the Lord is your Shepherd and mine. Look to him for comfort. (Psalm 23)

And you knitters out there? Knit in Good Health.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Lord, Help Us Merge!

I was raised Catholic, but I am no longer a good, Catholic girl. I think I am still kindof a good girl (or at least, I try to be), and I have a strong Christian faith, but the Catholic church is a place that I walked away from a long time ago. Don't get me wrong, I do not hate the Catholic church, and I am very thankful to my mother and grandparents for their efforts to make sure that I was raised in the way I should be. But somewhere around the time I should have made my confirmation (I am pretty sure I was 13 or 14), I realized that I needed to find my own way. I was not confirmed, and I stopped going to church, which made my parents and grandparents very nervous. Still, I looked for God in the everyday, and I found him.

Between then and now, I got married, had a couple kids, and life moved right along. Somewhere in my late-twenties, as I realized I was still looking for God, I started to attend a Christian church with some friends. Eventually, I accepted Christ and was baptized into Him, completing the conversion that I had abandoned over a decade earlier. I do not discount my parents' decision to have me baptized as an infant, and to then do their best to bring me up through my First Holy Communion and all the other sacraments...I just needed the decision to be mine, rather than theirs. I suppose I was a little Miss Independent, way before Kelly Clarkson was an American Idol!

These days, my faith is strong. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and He is my Lord and Savior. And even though I am not a practicing Catholic, I fall back to some of the words and traditions I was raised on in weekly mass, often without thinking about it. When communion is passed at my church each week, I silently repeat in my head, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed." When I shake hands with friends and newcomers, often at the request of the man with the microphone up front, I hear, "Peace be with you!," in my brain as I smile and say, "Good morning!" (Side note: Once in a while, Neal will ask us to say something specific as we greet one occasionally I smile and say, "Purple is my favorite color!," or, "I love sweet potatoes!," or something like that.) 

Sometimes, I catch myself using a familiar cadence in a daily prayer, even though the words are different. For instance, when I have to drive on the highway (which is one of my least favorite things to do) I usually say out loud, as I accelerate through the on-ramp, "Lord, help us merge!" This is not quite the same as answering back, "Lord, hear our prayers," after the priest lifts a request followed by, "We pray to the Lord...," but that comforting cadence is there. "Lord, help us merge," I say for every car on the entrance ramp with me, as we approach the place where any driver on the highway may choose to block that outside lane and make the merging difficult for those of us just starting out. Lord, help us merge so we can get to work! 

I was telling a friend about my "Lord, help us merge!" prayer the other day, and she said that this sounds like a pretty good life motto. You know what? She's right. Lord, help us merge our pasts and our present selves each day, so that our futures can be full of new opportunities, rather than regrets. Lord, help us merge our families in such ways that newlyweds feel only love from parents and in-laws alike, so they can pass that love onto future generations. Lord, help us merge our family and work in such a way that each member of the family is taken care of physically, financially and emotionally. Lord, help us merge our ideals and ideologies in such a way that we can be more loving to the people around us, whether we agree with their opinions or not. Lord, help us merge our spiritual selves into this concrete world, employing worldly tools to build up and care for delicate souls and hearts. Lord, help us merge. You're right, Kim. Pretty good life motto!

Oh! I've got one more...Lord, help us merge our knitting and our free time, so that we are not neglecting loved ones in the room for loved ones not even born yet! lol! Exhibit A: Baby Sweater for a baby nowhere near ready to be born yet...but I just could not. stop. knitting! Had to finish, because GAH! The cute!

So, there. Now I've merged opinion and knitting into my blogging, too! It's an all-in-one kind of rainy day here in my neck of Blogland. I hope you that are finding some sunshine and merging well, in all areas of your life!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!