Monday, May 24, 2010

My Knitty Kitty

Winding skeins? A fairly simple job, most of the time:

Except when you have help.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letting Go

It started out as most projects do: Drawn by the yarn or perhaps by the way it draped when knit into a duster. Then, cheered on by the yarn shop committee, an eager cast-on -- 200-plus stitches? bring it on -- and enough enthusiasm to get through the first 6-8 inches. Of stockinette. Relentless. Stockinette. O look. More stockinette.

The love flatlined, but good intentions tapped at the conscience, so the drone, er, project waited. UFOs intruded: Mittens, a couple of scarves, a few hats and a vest. A few months later, a check of the pulse. Nope. Still nothing there. The thrill was good and done gone. We weren't even friends anymore. Time to take out the needle and pull. Frog.

Keep ripping.

One more good yank.

Help has arrived. Fresh from digging in the dirt.

Ok. That's quite enough help. Ja, we're good. Thanks.

Not all is lost. It's a linen blend, after all. There could be washcloths in its future. It might even get its picture uploaded to Ravelry! But until then, it's back into the yarn library. ... What's this? Right here? Oh, nothing. Just a little something that fell off the shelf. And then followed me around the store. It was really embarrassing.

We're just friends.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quiet Morning in May

At last, with May having finally(?) turned its back on cold weather, this is finished. It was my, um, winter olympics project: a braided cable scarf using Kid Classic, both yarn and pattern picked out at All About Yarn, which is all of five minutes away (a blessing and a curse). It was soft before I blocked it, but it got even softer and bloomed just a tiny bit, not enough to fuzz over the cabling. This will be wonderful tucked inside my winter coat, but I can wait.

Taking pictures of out-of-season knitting? That's about as exciting as it gets around here some mornings. Just ask these guys:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Short Birthday Tale

I didn't sleep well that night at the hospital, but when the doctor arrived the next morning and said something about "non-productive labor," I had to disagree: I'd painted my toes — quite the feat, considering I'd been pregnant for about 10 years — tried to read (not much luck with that), confirmed my suspicions about late-night television and had chit-chatted the life out of every single topic with Mr. Denney, who has never been that shade of pale again. Ever.

Four hours later, the doctor put you in my arms and my heart was full.

When you started your first day of kindergarten, I watched you march through the doors and my heart was full.

You're 18 today and my heart is full.
Happy Birthday, Sweetpea. Love you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shepherd's Harvest Festival — A Confession

Dear Callum, Derry, Niamh, Capri, Schnecke, Retro, Phoenix, Charlie Brown and Ernie,

I went to the showgrounds this weekend without you. It was odd, seeing your barn with the doors closed and your favorite arena empty (It looked to be in pretty good shape, by the way). No evil trailers with you-know-whats inside, nor anyone in the office to pop into that big window all scary-like. This was the weekend for Shepherds Harvest. Goats, yarn, sheep, yarn, llamas, yarn, dogs — and did i mention yarn?

It isn't as large or as well-known as the big boys out in Maryland and New Hampshire, but it's ours and it's great fun.

Since my last visit, two years ago, the organizers have spread everyone out across four buildings — more elbow room for all! — this is great for browsers with large shoulder bags (ask me how I know), but it makes it more difficult to show how many people were there. Apparently, the only thing more confounding than herding cats is herding people for a group shot:

There are judges here, too:

as well as down time for the riders, er, handlers.

Yooz guys aren't the only ones who have to learn to handle new situations. This little girl is learning to deal with it. Sound familiar? *cough* Callum *cough*

While I think you all have horns sometimes — or at least the attitude — I bet you can't match these. If I call you "Jacob," you'll know why:

Your cuteness and handsomeness and snarfle-y noses can not be beat. But these sweet things are giving you a run for the money:

The next time you're feeling inconvenienced, please think of this mama (um, perhaps it's time to graduate to a sippy cup):

And there's no reason to ever feel foolish in those pansy braids. This fella has a poodle cut!

And then, there's this:

Kinda puts a getting a bridle path in a new light, doesn't it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This is for All The Moms

Thanks, Pam, for sending this to me and the others:

On Being Mom
by Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing.

Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, "Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame." The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs.

There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their trueselves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Today was a difficult day.

Don't let the scowl fool you. He was a big mush bucket.
Sweet Clover
Sept. 1995 — May 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How To Fill A Calendar

Take two teen-aged girls. Add one prom, one horse exhibition, four softball games. Sandwich between a full-time job, a part-time job, three dogs, two cats, a bit of riding and various household duties. Allow sediment to settle and viola! This is what remains:

It was a glorious weekend. Except for the sunny/cloudy, hurricane/calm, cold/colder part. Yes, this was me:

Watching the games and keeping an eye on this:

It was slightly drier, but still cold, at the State Fairgrounds for the Horse Expo. The horses and their riders, I think, were oblivious:

Arty or just blurry? Decide among yourselves. Callum and Meredith in the Colliseum:

This team was one of the featured attractions — the Priefert Percherons. I kept thinking 'horses of the apocalpyse,' but really. These were slack-jaw gorgeous horses. 18.2 hands:

Look at this little cutie-patootie, behind Angie and Sally the prettiest mule ever. That little darlin' and her pal are there every year:

This one is my favorite. No horses, no bats, no gloves. Just my beautiful babies, all dressed up:

Love you.

A Wee F.O.

I might not believe it either, had I not witnessed the whole thing: A knitting project, made for the season* in time for the season:

It looks good with jeans, over a white blouse as well, so it might stay in the closet all year — after it's done at the shop, where it will be spending the summer.

Tech talk, if you're curious:
The pattern is from the Easy Breezy summer booklet from Nashua Yarns.
Size large
3 skeins of Creative Focus Linen
size 6 needles

Now. What to do about the ongoing crush on this:

which is from this booklet. It seems odd that I haven't seen the yarn in many shops. Is there something I should know?

Get this. I think that this pet bed would be fun to make. Size 50 (!!) needles would be a challenge for these ache-y hands, but the staggering factor is the yarn: Bagsmith Big Stitch, sold by the "bump." Check the price! I feel a different yarn coming on.

*Not today, though -- I half expect Dorothy to blow by the window. And her little dog, too.
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