Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

Mama's Little Girl That was what Estelle was made of! Major change #2: I lost my little girl this past November, two days before Thanksgiving. She was an absolute doll. Everyone who met and knew Stella knows what I'm saying. She was just a lovely little girl. She loved loved loved the petting, especially on her cheeks and head. She wasn't demanding like the boys, though. She minded her own business but if you happened to sit down next to her and began to stroke, she was in heaven! If you were premature in finishing your strokes, she would head butt your arm to remind you that she was not demanding, "but, hey, since you're right here and you've already started..." I adopted Estelle from friends in Page, AZ who were headed off to Saipan to teach. They had three kitties they needed to find homes for and Estelle (whom they called India) had already had two new homes and again returned to them. This was no fault of hers. In one of the homes, the child appeared to have an allergy; in the next home the current cat developed a marking behavior as a result of having Estelle introduced into the home. I told my friend I would take her under two conditions: 1) that they would never ask for her back, and 2) that I could re-name her. She just did NOT look like an India. She was a chubby, frumpy little girl with a bright orange belly and I instantly named her Estelle. She started out life in unfortunate circumstances. She was abused and kicked for three years before being rescued. My friends adopted her from a shelter and following the adoption learned her story and that she had been a mama. She was a timid man-fearing kitty that they brought into their home to begin her new life surrounded by love. They loved her for three years before she entered my home and heart. So, despite her tough beginning she gave love and received love, was warm and happy and healthy for many years. We believe she was 15 or 16 when she passed. Estelle loved my man from the moment she met him. We joked that he was her boyfriend and not mine. Quite a statement for my man and quite a statement for her that she totally forgot her fear of men and wanted to be near him and have him love on her. She gazed at him in adoration (much the way I do). She had a little call that sounded like "mama" and she barked more than meowed. She had pretty little feet and her pads were mottled orange, pink and black. She left her mark for me forever with her footprint. We found out on a Friday that she had cancer and was at the vet because of a quick deterioration of her health. The vet told us that she was definitely uncomfortable and quite possibly in pain. We made the decision to have him come to the house to help her go in the love and comfort of her mama's arms the following Tuesday. We showered that little girl with love, affection and all the attention she wanted over the weekend and Monday. We kept her as comfortable as possible. My man insisted we buy her a heated pad, which she immediately took to and spent the rest of her sleeping time on. It remains where it was, with her lovely fur still on it, but now it includes a mascara tear smudge as well. I love you little girl! I miss you! I'll see you when I get there and we'll share head butts and Stella lovin' all over again! Thank you for the paw print. It has been a great source of comfort to me. Sleep warmly with Jacob. We miss you here. Your pawprint is on our lives forever.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Tale of Two Socks

Every year for Christmas when I was growing up, I received knitted mittens (with weird thumbs - too tiny), a hat, and a knitted or crocheted toy. On occasion, we would receive hand knit socks. These precious items were lovingly knit for us by Mummu (my Finnish grandmother). The hand knit socks were not the kind of wear-in-regular-shoes kind of socks. These were big woolen socks that we would wear as slippers. The men wore them in their hunting boots. There are precious few of these socks left. Each of us has a pair (rumor has it that mom has two pair). We are very secretive about our socks. We're not sure what colors the others have. We don't know where the others keep theirs. We don't bring them out and ooh and ahh over them. We don't openly admit we have some. We don't even wear them anymore. (Well, I believe the men still wear them in their hunting boots). Yes, my friends, I have posted an actual picture of The Socks that are mine here on this blog. They are gray with red ribbing. I am outing The Socks. Let me tell you a story about The Socks. Years ago, a family member got divorced and lost pretty much all possessions in the divorce. He shook it off as matter of course in getting out of the marriage. However, one thing that upsets him to this day that the ex- offed with: a pair of Mummu's Socks. Now, people, I implore you, take everything in the divorce: the house, the vehicles, the boats, the furniture, the tools, take it all, but don't (I mean, come on people), don't take someone's hand-knit socks. They were not knit for her. They were knit many years before she even joined our family. She never even met my Mummu. If you look closely at my pair, the heel of one of The Socks has worn out. I did not wear this heel out. I have shown love and respect for The Socks throughout my life. A former boyfriend of mine found The Socks and wore them around. I was not aware of this until he brought them back for me to mend. His comment at my absolute disdain that he had taken The Socks was that "you don't even wear them". NONE OF US WEAR THEM! So, Mummu turned 101 this past November. There will be no more socks. There haven't been more socks for many years. My brother and father have asked for socks each year for Christmas because I am a knitter. I am the knitter. I finally realized this winter that it is now my duty to bring socks back to this family. I must admit that I do not enjoy knitting socks. But, I don't enjoy knitting sock yarn socks on size 3 DPNs. The Socks look to be knit in worsted weight yarn. I will take it upon myself to produce socks for my family. I will study The Socks. I will determine the gauge of The Socks. I will count rows and stitches and increases and decreases of The Socks. I will bring forth Socks... As I type this blog tonight, this is my view: This is my shadow. I call him Heimo.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Resolutions Revisited

2010 New Year's knitting resolutions:
1) Finish a project a month. This was a resolution last year. Took me a llllooooonnnnngggggg time to get Amused off the needles, but it finally happened. I'll post pics of it later. I adore it and wear it often.
2) Convert a piece-knit sweater into a sweater in the round. Read Jared Flood's articles and instructions in Vogue knitting series (as well as having Knitting Without Tears as a reference).
3) Make socks for mom! Learn to knit socks with two circulars.
I started Simply Marilyn, from Best of Interweave Knits, immediately after Christmas and got the sweater finished in record time: two weeks! Need to seam it up, but it is knitted up. January 2010's first sweater!
This week I made a Cherry Garcia, with major modifications, for a friend who works out in the cold Illinois winters. She was most appreciative. I knit it up in Catalina Chunky baby alpaca. So soft! So warm! Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of this project.
Wicked's Cross-over collar in very fuzzy photo.
Started Wicked by Sarah and Rachel from Zephyr Style. Finished the collar and am an inch or so into the body. I'm using a very pretty tweed called Blue Passion from Universal Yarn's Deluxe Worsted Tweed. The yarn feels a bit scratchy as I knit, but it is making a beautiful fabric.
As to whether or not I made last year's resolutions...Nope. I did get quite a few finished projects in all: Juliet, Amused, the adorable Stripey baby stocking cap from Itty Bitty Hats, a Cherry Garcia for my sister-in-law, slippers for both my brother and sister-in-law, a winter hat for sister-in-law, winter hats for me, my man, and a friend, and a scarf for mom. Here are a few FOs: Pictures of Amused and Simply Marilyn forthcoming.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Return from Blog Hiatus, part one

I have been on a long hiatus from my blog. There have been many changes in my life since my last post. Where to begin? Where to begin? Since I don't want to sit here typing all night, I'll start slowly and significantly:
Big change in life #1: My lovely man and I bought a house together. Our two households have become one. I now live with boys. (said man and his son) (and three male cats). Which is different. Very different. For example, tidiness is no longer a given in my life. There are evenings when I follow a trail of items from the door to the bedroom. Now my female brain begs the question: "If you were headed to the bedroom to begin with, why not wait until you got there to disrobe and/or drop items from your grip?" But the biggest difference is just how lovely it is for us to be a family here under one roof. All the little weirdness of males is nothing compared to all the wonder of being together.
Lots of work has gone into this house to make it ours. We moved essentially two blocks from where we originally lived. Three years ago I moved across country from Arizona to Illinois. I have to tell you, I think it was easier to move across country than to move two blocks! Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth you drive, carrying loads. Apparently the mindset is that since the move is that close than it should be easy to knock out yourself. After a week of this, we hired a crew!
The entire house (except for one room) needed to be repainted to my taste. Lovely lovely man allowed me to choose all colors and his basic line was "if you like it, I love it". Gotta say, I love my choices of room colors. Then the unpacking. Then the decorating. More unpacking. Unfortunately we have a full basement, so too many boxes were disposed of (outta sight) down there, so believe it or not, we're still not fully unpacked. Lots to discard and donate and re-box left. The plan has been to use the cold days of winter to accomplish this. We've had a couple cold months of winter here so far and few efforts have gone into this, but there's still plenty of winter left, right?
Here are some before and after shots:
Above is living room before we started painting and decorating. Below is living painted Santa Fe Boulder and decorated. Dark chocolate half wall before:
Dining room to kitchen view before: After:Above view to dining and kitchen before; below is after. There are a some additional changes that have been made that are not photographed yet, but I will continue to update as we go. It's a lot of fun putting a new home together! It's a joy to come home to a new home together!