Thursday, May 14, 2009

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this

What? You didn't serve Dharma food at your Lost Season Finale Watching Get-together?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In which I keep a promise that I'd forgotten I made to somone who didn't know about the promise to begin with.

A few years ago I was at Rhinebeck with Kristen and one of the vendors had a display of Russian Wedding Shawls. They were gorgeous, weightless, cloud-like things made from very fine yarns knit into intricate lace designs. Both of us were in awe, but determined that we would someday attempt to make one.

On the drive home Kristen and I discussed who in our lives we would make one of these shawls for, should they ever decide to get married. The few names that made it onto those lists were women important to each of us. Making the shawls would be a labor of love with wishes and hopes and care knitted into each stitch.

Last June, my brother and his long-term girlfriend Julie got engaged. When I mentioned it in drop-in at Webs that Thursday night, Kristen reminded me of that conversation we had on the way home from Rhinebeck and that Julie was one of the names on my list.

So I spent some time researching the traditional shawls and finally came across a more modern pattern inspired by the traditional shawls from the Shetland Islands. It is the Forest Path Stole out of The Best of Interweave Knits. It combines lace with another challenge - entrelac. I decided that, while the entrelac would make it more complicated, it would also make it easier to work on in short bursts of time. Throughout the main body of the shawl I would only be working on 20ish stitches at a time as I worked each diamond.

I then decided that a cobweb weight shawl might not be practical for someone who lives way up in the mountains of Colorado, as my brother and Julie do. So I looked for slightly warmer yarns. After much squishing and stroking of yarns and discussing the various merits of each with the drop-in ladies, the winner was a baby alpaca and silk blend that I'd found tucked away on a bottom shelf of Webs. Absolutely scrumptious stuff that I hadn't known existed before that - Buckingham from Bristol Yarn Gallery.

Over the past year, I worked on this shawl on airplanes, in coffee shops, in bars, in cars, in movie theaters, while teaching classes, in rooms full of friends and curled up on the sofa with two cats, during snowstorms, watching British costume dramas. Friends and coworkers kept track of the progress and encouraged me every step of the way. So the love of my whole tribe is knitted into it too. Last week, as I was working on the borders (in a bar) a fellow Drinking Liberal asked what I was making. I explained and he said 'Wow, you must love your brother very much!' I replied, 'Well yes I do, but this is for my new sister.'

On Friday, I drove down to Connecticut where Julie was visiting her parents for the weekend. I gave her the shawl and neither of us could keep back the tears. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and walking on the beach by the Long Island Sound. I don't know how my little brother managed to convince such a lovely, warm, intelligent girl to marry him, but I'm glad he did.

Many thanks to my coworker Tara who, once again, agreed to be my model. Thanks also to my employer for housing our office in a building with a lovely porch that makes a spectacular backdrop for knitting photoshoots. I regret that I didn't think to get a photo of Julie with the shawl, but I plan to get some next month at the wedding.

Note: Because I feel I must, I will point out the glaring mistake I made. If you look at the photos of the back of the shawl, you can see where I flip-floped two of the diamonds. The lily-of-the valley looking one and the one that looks a bit like heads of wheat. And I know you will all say that no one will notice but me. But I also know that some of you (I'm not naming any names, but you know who you are...) enjoy the fact that I am not a perfect knitter, so I point it out for your benefit and mirth. Don't say I never did anything for you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I don't know how you did it Mom.

An old friend of mine bought a house recently and I teased her about being 'such a grown-up'. We discussed how, at 37, we still feel like kids and are waiting for the day to come when we actually feel like adults. We talked about what our parent's lives were like at our age. I mentioned how odd it is to have very distinct memories of mine when they were 37. I said, 'I actually knew my mother when she was our age. And not just like I knew her because she was my mother, but I was old enough to know her as a real person. It's a very strange feeling.' My friend agreed and said, 'Hell, I knew your mother when she was our age!"

When my mother was my age, she'd been a teacher (in three different states), she and my father owned their second home and she'd given birth to 3 kids (the second one one came three months early and from what I remember and the stories I've been told about that scary time, it's amazing they decided to have a third). She had her hands full at 37 with my 5th grade pig-tailed self, my wild 6 year old brother and Lindsey, the loud, stubborn toddler. I can't imagine. She must have been exhausted all the time. But she was always there whenever we needed her. She still is.

I love this photo of my mother as a child. She clearly has on a new outfit and is about to leave for an event. Posing in the backyard of my grandparent's house. I've looked at this photo a zillion times, but only just now, as I was uploading it, did I notice the shadow of the person taking the photo. I think my grandfather was the photographer in the family, but the shadow looks more like my grandmother. I hope it was. It makes it all the more perfect for Mother's Day.