Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Almost Ready

How did we arrive at Thanksgiving? Earlier this week, we had some beautiful sunny crisp autumn days. This morning the clouds are rolling in from the west carrying the possibility of rain/sleet late today and into Thanksgiving morning. I wish safe trips for all travelers. We are ready for a modest dinner at home. Weather permitting, I'd love to drive out to one of the city trails and go for a long walk. If not, my husband will watch football while I read or knit. Generally, I don't knit on a deadline but right now I am working on a project I'd like to finish. Our fourth grandchild, gender unknown, will arrive sometime the end of December into the first of January.

While waiting for each of the other grandsons, I knit two baby sweaters, one for a boy and one for a girl. I gave away two pink sweaters to the grandchildren of friends. I do have one special little newborn sized sweater knit in a blush color that I knit six years ago and a bright little green sweater that is gender neutral. I knit that sweater because I had the yarn and it is nice to have a baby gift on hand. Early in my daughter's pregnancy, I knit both a pink and a blue hat so I thought I was ready.

Then I brought home a new knitting book from the library, One Skein Wonders for Babies. I often check out knitting books from the public library so their data reflects an interest in knitting. I also enjoy looking at new books. Imagine that? The little Sail Away With Me sweater knit from a multicolored skein of Opal sock yarn caught my eye. A garter stitch row creates texture in the body of the sweater while reverse stockinette makes a sailboat on the front of the sweater. One shoulder has a button closure which is nice for those sweet baby heads. Somehow, I thought this little babe should have his/her own sweater, knit with love just for him/her. The colorway used in the pattern was discontinued but I found something similar and cast on. The colors will be cute on either a girl or a boy.

When the oldest brother of this new babe looked at the ultrasound photo, he predicted he will have a new brother. The baby didn't have a ponytail so it is a boy! Three little boys would be a very fun team. Regardless, we are waiting to welcome this little person of either gender with love and warmth. In the meantime, I have a sweater front and sleeves to knit. Snow is on the way, if not tomorrow then soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 2, 2015

In Praise of Friendship

I recently completed this Friendship Quilt of blocks made by the Crafters, a group of friends. I sewed the top together by machine and then quilted the piece by hand. Some Crafters will make their own quilt, others will seek help or hire someone to do machine quilting. Eventually we will all have a similar quilt.

Originally, the Crafters met through our work in public schools and special education. In 1979, four or five members got together, ostensibly to carve out a little time to work on handwork and to chat. I knew several of the women from my first three years of teaching and joined them in 1983, when we moved back to Lincoln from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Once a month, we gather in each other's homes with no agenda other than to enjoy being together. The only rule I can ever remember is, if one gets new carpet they are excused from cleaning house. Now days we don't worry too much about cleaning house or new carpet. Dessert is still important. For a good number of years, we were twelve. Now we have two empty chairs. One woman moved out of state and the oldest passed away. We miss them but their blocks are in this quilt.

Everyone brings or doesn't bring their own projects to craft. In the earliest years, counted cross stitch was the rage. Several of us discovered quilting and others knit. Over the years, my friends have stitched, mended, hemmed, quilted, knitted, clipped coupons, sorted through photos, and cleaned out their purses. Now days three or four of us may be working on something. More important is the friendship stitched together through the years. When we began, we talked of our babies and sleepless nights. We commiserated over divorce and teenagers. Then the children grew up and we danced at their weddings. One by one we have lost parents and other loved ones. These days we celebrate grandchildren and new parts via joint replacement surgery. Lately we toasted a bride at her happy second marriage. When I hosted the Crafters in October, we picked up exactly where we left off in September.  

I love being part of the on-line knitting community so this isn't a question of which is better. My knitting friends support each other and charities in other ways. Friendships reach across the country and knitting gathers us together. Locally, I am also part of an intelligent thoughtful group of women who meet monthly to discuss books but that group is worthy of another blog post. I treasure all of these connections to other women.  

Some ten or thirteen years ago, the Crafters set out to make Friendship Quilts, exchanging blocks and helping each other along the way. I honestly can't remember the year we began this quilt. I do remember the times friends from both the Book Group and the Crafters have showed up at my door with a hug and dinner in a picnic basket. They never blinked an eye at the dust in the living room, laundry on the couch, or the sticky kitchen floor. They understood I'd spent a long few days at the hospital with my husband or that I'd just seen my father or mother to the end of his or her life. Books come and go and quilts may be folded away but the friendships remain. They are as rich as deep reds and golds on an autumn day.