Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year in Review

Today is New Year's Eve, and it is most likely that I will not do anything particularly celebratory today, or as the new year turns over tonight. Still, this day does make me reflect. 2016 was some year. At the end of 2015, also a hard year, I was so hopeful that the new year would bring new hope, joy and peace. In review, 2016 brought new challenges, experiences and heartache. Still, there was hope, joy and (eventually) peace, and I am thankful that I have made it through. My obligatory reflection this year is focused on my faith, and it was prompted by a question posed to me this week...a question that really made me think. 

The magic question, which came unexpectedly from a relatively new friend, was this: "Are you afraid of death?" 

My answer was quick and sure. No. Unlike poor Mr. Scrooge, I am not afraid of death. I am a bit fearful of the process of dying, and when that comes for me and those I love, I am hopeful that it will be quick and not uncomfortable. However, even if it is painful when my time comes to cross over, I will not be afraid, because I cling to God's promise that I will spend an eternity with him. Because I have accepted his Son, Jesus, as my Lord and Savior, God will look past my unworthiness, and he will welcome me to his heavenly kingdom as a beloved daughter. There will be no more tears or pain or heartache...only praise and love and joy and peace!

In 2016, I suffered a deep depression. I experienced the tragic death of loved ones and the destruction of relationships. There has been job loss and rejection, and the threat of divorce after 29 years of marriage. I stopped knitting. I lost myself this year, and I considered suicide in a very real way. But through it all, I clung to God, and he offered me hope. Hope in his promises. Hope in new relationships and jobs. Hope in healing for my marriage. (He also brought me hope through medical and psychological treatment, which are a very important part of my recovery...but this is not a medical or psychology blog. It's a Pretty blog...)

With my hope restored and my faith renewed, I was able to love again. Faith, hope and love are restored to me, and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13). With my faith and hope in tact, I can love God and his creation. I can love the lovely and the unlovely, and I can love myself again, because God loved me first. Thanks be to God!

If I had to pick one word to sum up 2016, I'd probably say that this year has been...interesting. I have grown as a person and as a Christian, but the road has been full of nasty potholes, and there has been some damage to my suspension. Even so, I will enter 2017 as a better and stronger person than I was when 2016 rolled around a year ago, and I am thankful for that. There is much to learn from tragedy, but I am ever hopeful that there will be less tragedy in the new year.

What's your word for 2016? And what are you hoping for 2017?
My hope is the same this year as last, that the new year will bring renewed hope, joy and peace to my life and the lives of my loved ones. Oh, and more knitting. I hope there will be even more knitting!

Thanks for stopping by today, dear readers. I wish you hope, joy and peace in 2017 and beyond.

Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

I'm Not Sleeping Through Christmas!

Today. I. Am. Tired. I could sleep for a week! But I will not sleep through Christmas! You see, for the past week, we have had visitors. Wonderful visitors. Lovely visitors. Energetic visitors!

They have not spent the whole week at our house, but we have been blessed to spend LOTS of time with them, and I am so thankful. Getting to see these girlies so close to Christmas is one of the best presents I will receive this year!

There have been many terrific Christmas gifts already, like this set of mugs and dishes...

...and this blanket. Wow, Dollface! These are home runs!

The girls enjoyed their gifts, too. Look! They are all super heroes!

And there was gingerbread,

and snuggles...

...and so. much. FUN!!!

I hope that your Christmas is good! If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope that you are celebrating something, and that all of your celebrations are good! It's the most wonderful time of the year in my home, and I wish all of you much love and joy to round out 2016.

Thanks for stopping by on Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas, and may you all Knit in Good Health!

PS - I've knit a pair of red mittens! There are few knits which bring such quick satisfaction as red mittens! Yay!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dropped Call?

Sooo, I forgot to blog today, because this happened:

Yep, right out the gate, I dropped the phone, and whatever it fell on shattered my camera lens.  Other than that, the Galaxy S5 has been a great phone, and I would have kept it.  But with all my photos looking like this...

...and since I was due for an upgrade, I bit the bullet and moved on up to the S7, which I already love!  I'd take a picture to put here, but, you know, the other phone HAS NO CAMERA!

Other than the phone, the day has been good. Dollface and Friend took us to see "A Christmas Carol" downtown, and the girls have come to visit, so that makes the day very good!!!

But for now, I'm gonna wrap up this post and say, "Good night Gracie."

Good night Gracie!

Thanks for stopping by, and knit in good health!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Party On, Garth!

Last week, I mentioned briefly the party of the year. A party worthy of any party award...a party of parties, and the best annual party I have ever been a party to! This year was no different. There was hot chocolate, spiked just slightly, and food for days!

If this party were a girl, she would make Wayne and Garth yell, "Shwing!," every. single. year. Probably several times. Every year, we exchange gifts, and each one seems to be more amazing that the last! Look at some of these:

Did she make that? She did? Shwing!

Are these for real? Way! No Way! Wayyy! No Wayyy!

Did she really just draw and paint that while we were sitting here? Party on!, Excellent!, and Shwing!

But even the gifts aren't the best part of this party. The best part is being with people who "get" you. It's sitting on the sofa, or behind the sofa, 

knitting and laughing and eating with some of the dearest people I have the pleasure of knowing!

It's wearing hand-knit socks into a group that "gets" hand-knit socks,

and it's finding that some of you even have the same socks!

(Or you soon will!)

This year, it was learning how to use a selfie stick, 

and getting all of us in a group shot, laughing a bit too hysterically because someone shouted, "Acrylic!"

(For those of you who don't knit yet, there is a joke in that. Let me teach you about the yarns, and in a few years you will be laughing with us! I promise.)

Thanks for another memory-maker of a party, ladies! I love all of you more than I can express, and I missed those of you who couldn't make it this year. But, there's always next year!!! (And, of course, we meet every Thursday, so I hope to see you long before next Christmas!)

Today there is more Christmas at my house, and I will party on with gingerbread and tree decorating. My favorite littles are coming for a visit, and Gramma's house will need to be just so for Christmas, in a 2-year-old-safety kinda way! (Wish me luck on that!) I'm sure that it will be another fun day, though not quite as much fun as last Saturday, lol! Whatever you're up to today, I hope that you will find contentment and joy in it.

Thanks for stopping by, and knit in good health!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Today is the Day!

One of my favorite worship songs is Today is the Day, by Lincoln Brewster. Whenever I hear the opening chords in church, I know that the day will be good. (In truth, any Sunday that I can get to church and sing to the Lord with my brothers and sisters is a pretty good day, but I do like that song!) Anyhoo...even without church, I know that today is a good day! Today is the day of the annual Knitters' Christmas Party!!! By the time this post goes live, I'll likely be working on seconds from the amazing pot-luck style food, and we should be in the third hour of eating, laughing and knitting! It's an event that I look forward to just as much as the annual excursion to Woolapalooza (which I missed this year, making this party even more anticipated for me)!

Before 9am this morning, I had made the treats I will contribute, prepared the bags we will all take home our haul of gifties in and wrapped up the goodies that I will give as "stocking stuffers" to my besties! Here's a sneak peek at one of the items I've made:

Little snowman ornaments, with a mirror where the face should be! Each comes with a poem that goes a little something like this:

A snowman for you –
Well, it’s for your tree.
Look at its face,
What do you see?
I see someone special
In just the right ways–
I see love and kindness
In a beautiful face!

I hope the girls like them! I know that I can't wait to see what creative gifts await me at the party! The stocking stuffers are typically some of my favorite gifts of the Christmas season! Actually, by looking at my house today, you wouldn't even know it was the Christmas see, we had new windows and doors put in this week, and I have not had the chance to do much decorating, aside from the wreath on our new front door (but where will I hang the house numbers now???).

Universal Windows Direct did a great job with everything from the sales pitch to the clean-up! We had a very efficient install crew (they did all the windows and doors in one day!)...I couldn't be more impressed! I'm not being paid to say this, but if you need windows/doors, check them out. They are terrific, and I love my new windows and doors!

Maybe I'll get the tree up tomorrow...and maybe not. The grandkids will be visiting at Christmas time, but not before next weekend, so I still have time. It does make me twitch to not have it all going on in December, but it's been a year, so I'm letting myself off the hook just a bit on this one. :^)

Well, I think that's it. Today is the Day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it with my besties at the Christmas party! I hope you have some fun things planned for your today as well! Whatever you've got going on, thanks you for stopping by, and I hope you will Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Well, Jesus, Mary and Joseph...!

Halloween has passed, and now Thanksgiving is over. Well, technically there are still leftovers left over, but Thursday has ended (Black Friday, too). So now, officially (according to Pretty, at the very least) it is time for the holiday decorations and music to come out of hiding and cover us all with tidings of comfort and joy! 

As for me and my house, the decorations will include a Christmas tree, festooned with multi-colored lights and ornaments; red and green towels, dishcloths and oven mitts; a wreath on one door and bells on another; and buckets of Christmas cookies! I do not have a nativity, but I've always wanted one. I found a pattern to knit my very own nativity this year, and I had planned to knit one figure or animal per month in 2016 in order to have a complete set. Somewhere around November 1st, I realized that I had not yet started on the venture...but it's never too late...right?!?

Well, sometimes it is too late, but as it turns out, I was able to knit Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus before our visit to see Peanut and Sweet Pea last weekend. 

The girls loved them, and Peanut listened eagerly as I told her the Christmas story right from my head. I know that my telling probably was not perfect, as I did not read the verses directly from the Bible, but I think she enjoyed the telling, and so did I. I wish I knew which she liked more...the story, or learning about what I had stuffed into the figures to weigh them down (better to throw at your sister? No!) and keep them standing upright. (Small, decorative rocks, from the craft store, but not so small that they will come through the stitches.)

While I never did get a photo of the girls playing with their Christmas story family, I did manage to snap a pretty good picture of my son and his family. 

They are a good looking bunch, for sure! Right now, he is home for a short leave from the foreign country he serves in, but he will be going back before Christmas. In the meantime, they do have their tree up and fully festooned, and I would venture to guess that Snowflake (their elf) has already taken up residence on a shelf somewhere in their home!

Soon, and very soon, I will decorate my own home, and I will send photos to the girls (maybe you will also see one or two pictures of Christmas joy here!). In the meantime, Peanut told me that her Christmas socks are too small this year, so I have to get knitting! She's gotta get some new socks before she grows any more, and she's got to get them before Christmas! After all, there are only 28 days until all that Christmas garb is out of season! Have you started shopping yet? 

I have, but mostly online so far...I really don't go in for the crowds on days like yesterday! But I will be shopping today, on Small Business Saturday! Get out there, if you can, and support your fave small businesses today! If you're local, spread the word...I'm always looking for great small businesses to support with my spending!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope that you are enjoying your own holiday celebrations and traditions, whatever they may be, and that you will Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thankful for lots of things. The thing I am most thankful for this year, though, is that my depression is finally lifting. 2016 has brought the strangest combination of events, many of them tragic, but I am ok. I am finally ok. After roughly 6 months of not being ok, suddenly I am...and I am so thankful for that. 

I am also thankful for a new job, with a new agent, that starts the first of December.

I am thankful that I have finished taking my pre-licensing courses and exams, passing each one and obtaining my licenses to sell insurance.

I am thankful that I have had some time off to heal.

I am thankful to have had a place and a job, provided by a very good friend, and for the opportunity to turn that temporary job into a new career. 

I am thankful for many friends who have hugged me and listened to my stories, reaching out with encouragement and affirmation when I needed it most. 

I am thankful that I have enough...enough to provide for my every need, enough to see me through a difficult time, and enough to know that I am loved beyond measure.

I am thankful for medical professionals and modern medicine that has given me the proverbial "new lease" on life. 

I am thankful for my God, my Savior, and the faith that has seen me through some dark, dark days. All of the good in my life comes directly from His hand, and he has provided for me an abundant life. 

Finally, I am thankful that I have my yarny mojo back. There was a time, it lasted much longer than I expected it would, that I did not feel like knitting. It's ok, you can gasp at is shocking. :) But, I am especially glad that it is back, since there was a baby shower last week. I was able to bring this stash of goodies for the mother- and father-to-be, and they were so appreciative:

The masterpiece was an afghan that was not knitted, but crocheted. It turned out better that I could have hoped, and it was quite well received by the expectant couple!

Both of them love Jesus and they love music, so it was important to me that this song play a part in their nursery preparations. It was a good choice, and now I can rest my fingers for a moment before it's time for the real Christmas knitting rush! 

I hope that you have much to be thankful for this week and always. Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Projects  pictured include the following:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

'Tis the Season...?

'Tis not quite the season for putting up Christmas trees and wrapping the gifts, however...
'Tis certainly the season for knitting holiday gifts and keeping them secret until Christmas day!

'Tis not quite the season for singing Christmas carols and watching A Christmas Story over and over and over again, however...
'Tis certainly the season for Hallmark Christmas movies, almost 24/7! Movies where the beautiful girl is in love with the wrong guy, but meets "Mr. Right" (also a beautiful person, of course) in the nick of time, and also in time for Christmas.

'Tis not quite the season for baking trays of Christmas cookies and gingerbread, however...
'Tis certainly the season for mixing multiple batters and freezing cookie-sized balls of dough, so that Christmas baking is stress- and mess-free when it's time to bring plates of cookies to friends and family!

'Tis not quite the season for exchanging brown, paper packages tied up with strings, or those that are brightly wrapped and ribboned, however...
'Tis certainly the season to think of others and limit personal shopping, because Aunt Sally knows you well and always gives the most lovely gifts, just like the things you would buy yourself!

'Tis not quite the season for family dinners, complete with the stress of sibling rivalry and relatives who refuse to believe that you are an adult, quite despite the fact that you are 45 years old, however...
'Tis certainly the season to pay attention to the needs and desires of those around you, so that you may plan good gifts in secret and anticipate the joy those gifts will bring at Christmas!

Christmas is coming, to be sure. First, lets get through Thanksgiving, because we have much to be thankful for. My challenge to you today, as you knit and plan for the upcoming gift-giving season, is to make a habit of giving the gift of kindness to those around you every day. Most everyone appreciates a kind gesture, whether small or extravagant, and it only takes a moment to share a smile. 'Tis always the season for Kindness.

Of course there has been much knitting in the Pretty house lately, much of it related to gift-giving and therefore secret, but I will share with you a quick pic of my granddog (who knows all my secrets after visiting for a week with me and Pop Pop, but he's not talking!). Isn't he the cutest??? 

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Be kind to one another, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Almost Christmas? Not quite...

I'd like to say that I haven't always been this crazy, but then I would be lying. In that vein, let me tell you about some of my earlier crazy-times, marked by the OCD Pretty personality that you have (no doubt) come to know and love:

When I was a younger Pretty, I would set deadlines for myself. You know, like getting to an appointment at least 5 minutes early, or having pictures for Christmas cards done by the first of October, or starting to buy non perishables for Thanksgiving no later than November 1st...that kind of thing. These deadlines gave me plenty of room for getting behind without actually getting behind (the OCD, she is strong in this Pretty) and they also gave my friends plenty of fun-making opportunities.

"You know, I saw Pretty at Wal-Mart the other day, and she is buying her kids' clothes for NEXT summer, right now! It's a little crazy!"

"I's August! She says she does it every season. Something about clearance prices and wanting to be prepared...but how can she know what size they will be in a year?"

"I don't know. And where does she keep everything in the meantime? I've seen her house, and it's not that big."
"Yes, but the kids are small. Their clothes don't take much room..."

"I suppose... You know what else she was buying? Christmas presents!"

"What?!? Now THAT is crazy!"

Well, maybe it was crazy, but it's what I did when they were small. I bought their clothes at the end of the seasons, and my Christmas goals included having all the "big" Christmas items purchased before Halloween each year! From roughly 1990 until both kids were in school, neither of these things was that big a deal. The kids grew at a fairly predictable rate as preschoolers, and before the influences of friends and television caused them to change their preferences willy-nilly every week, it was easy to buy the gifts early. 

We had a rule in our family: No one may buy anything for themselves after the first of October. You could buy presents for other people, but not for yourself, and it worked pretty well. By the end of October, I'd have the toys and gifts safely stashed in the attic, and we would build the hype by watching MORE Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Elmo, or whatever matched the toys in hiding! Sometimes, I would even take them to the toy department, and show them the exact same toys I had already bought, letting them dream of a time that they might be so lucky to have such a great thing! 

"Do you think Santa might bring me that???"

"Well, let's write him a letter right now, and see what happens."

By the time Christmas morning rolled around, both kids were usually delighted to receive the toys they had been anxiously awaiting for months! (And their mother felt like a genius! lo1!)

As Halloween looms, just two days away, I am reminded of my sentimental deadline. I am also reminded that I do NOT have any of my Christmas shopping, knitting or planning even started, and I am starting to feel a bit less like a genius with every step closer to the holidays. I have set some deadlines, and I'd like to say that they are more realistic. In reality, I am just not quite as OCD as I once was. This means that I sometimes miss those deadlines, but usually I do ok.

Right now, two days before Halloween, I'm not sure what I will get for my Dollface this year, or for Mork and Mindy and the girls, or even for Sweetie! I'm sure that I will figure it out by the time December 25th rolls around. I usually do! In the meantime, I'm going to go see if I can find the Halloween candy. Even if I have a couple pieces, there should be plenty left for the kiddies, right? 

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The More Things Change...

As I think back to when our own kids were small like this,

I remember that my Sweetie has always been a kid magnet. Even as Dad, our kids (and many of their friends) climbed all over him, just like this.

In fact, as they grew, the neighbor kids would often come to the door in the evenings to ask me, "Can your dad come out to play?" If he was home, his answer was usually yes, and each time I see him with these girls,

I am transported back to another place and time...but the here and now isn't too bad either. I mean, it is pretty cool to be Gramma to his Pop Pop, and I really cannot imagine doing this phase of my life any differently. I mean, look at these happy faces.

They are smiling at not just Pop Pop (although he does edge me out as their clear favorite for the outdoor activities)...they are smiling at US! Gramma and Pop Pop are a team, even though Gramma is the one taking the pictures (which means she's not usually in the pictures)!

I guess it just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. He is the rough and tumble one, I am the sit and read. He is the champion hide-and-seeker, I am the let's-make-something type. Thankfully, in this stage of our lives. we are both pretty snuggle-y!

This is a belated post, with photos from a couple weekends past, but the message doesn't change. Since we've been home again, he has been taking care of things around the house to be ready for winter, and I've been starting on the preparation for Christmas knitting and yummy-treat-making. It really is true, over and over again...the more things change, the more they do stay the same.

Whatever your plans are today, I hope that you are celebrating old traditions and creating new memories. Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

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.