I am still here, still waiting on a baby. I've tried coaxing and I've tried demanding, but so far he seems pretty content in there.
Thank goodness I finished all the baby knits I had on the needles because in the last week I've developed pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome. It's driving me crazy not to be able to knit. What do people do? My hands feel unnaturally still.
I will keep this brief because computer use doesn't help my hands and wrists any, but I just wanted to stop in and show some finished knits that I hope will be wardrobe staples for our new guy this winter.
The Gramps cardigan is one of my favorite patterns. This blue one is the second I've made, and I have a toddler-sized one on the needles right now to finish when I can knit again. The shawl collar and tiny pockets make me smile every time. I found some vintage buttons in my stash that were the perfect color. I can't wait to see my boy cuddled up in his squishy Barley hat and old man pants, too!
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If you have any ideas of how to make this waiting game go faster, I'm all ears! Knitting definitely helped me stay calm and pass the time, so now I'm at a loss for what to do.
Only the fiddly bits are left on my Livingston pullover. I actually have finished all the knitting, including that trouble spot in the yoke I was worried about, which caused quite a bit of cussing and frustration (you can find my notes on Ravelry about my calculations). Now I just need to weave in ends and sew on buttons. I have a number of sweaters in this state right now, and instead of hunkering down and just finishing them already, I keep casting them aside for something new.
This week I've been knitting on my Gweneth cardigan, a black fingering-weight cardigan that I know will become a wardrobe staple, dressy enough for weddings and funerals but simple enough for everyday outings. At first I thought I was crazy for knitting a sweater in such dark color at such a fine gauge, but then I discovered the key: find a really good book to read and knit away! As the past few nights have drawn to a close, I've settled into bed with my knitting needles full of midnight-colored stitches and the novel All the Light We Cannot See. It's beautifully written, one of those books you hope will go on and on. The knitting slows my reading speed a bit, which is fine by me when the writing is this good.
Last week my husband and I both read The Girl on the Train and agreed that it's an entertaining read and a decent page-turner, but nothing we'll still be talking about in a year or even a month. If you want a quick thriller, though, it's worth checking out.
Little yellow birds keep flying off my needles with this project. I tucked it away for a few weeks to finish some gift knitting and because I was intimidated by the sleeve join and a confusing part of the yoke, but I've been working on it monogamously for the past couple days.
I am in the middle of the sleeve join right now, and it's extremely tight knitting. Like so tight I popped one of my needle tips right off the cable and my stitches sprang loose! Luckily my toddler-wrangling skills kicked into action, and I quickly captured those loose stitches before they could unravel very far. I think I've also rigged a temporary fix for the broken needle (read: I shoved it back together in a fit of frustration, and it seems to be working so far, though I don't trust it as far as I can throw it, and if it breaks again I probably will indeed throw it).
I haven't yet reached the part of the yoke that other knitters called a "head-scratcher," but I'm hoping Ravelry notes will help me figure it out.
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Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words by Malka Marom has been keeping me good company these days. I like reading about Joni's early days and her creative process. I'm also craving a plot-driven read, which I hope will be remedied soon by a trip to the library.
First, thank you for all your kindness in response to my reflection about my grandmother. I appreciate the support!
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Lately I've found myself drawn to blues: soft, tranquil blues and deep, bold blues alike. Maybe it's in anticipation of beach days soon to come or just the calmness of the color. Whatever the reason, blue has been on my knitting needles.
My husband is taking classes, so we have a new schedule around our house that begins at daybreak. This week I've been able to squeeze in a few rows of knitting in bed before my boy awakes. It feels luxurious to knit at dawn, just me and a cup of tea. The yarn colorway I've been knitting is aptly named "Early Light" (in Plucky Knitter's Trusty base). The pattern is Gramps from Tin Can Knits, a classic shawl-collared cardigan. It's written for two colors, but I prefer it knit in all one color.
I also can't wait to cast on a scarf for my husband out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I'm planning to adapt the Guernsey Wrap pattern, and I've got my eye on some handmade needles to make it.
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Some heavy reading this week: Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, a doctor's fascinating take on U.S. medical care for the aging and terminally ill. Gawande looks at how the medical system's heavy focus on trying to fix medical problems can actually shorten and worsen our lives. He urges medical practitioners and patients (that's all of us at some point) to instead focus on what makes life worthwhile for each individual and proceed with medical care that takes those values into account. It was a hard read emotionally for me, but absolutely worthwhile. I want to recommend this to everyone I know! Have you read it? What did you think?
Her name was Alice. I wasn’t named for her, but I always
liked that our names sounded alike. Alice and Allison. Our own secret code.
She made me cups of milky black tea, the way she liked it,
and made a tea drinker out of me. Each morning as I pour a splash of milk into
my teacup, I think of her. I think of the balls of snickerdoodle dough she kept
stashed in the freezer, ready to pull out to bake a few fresh whenever she had
company. She taught me how to make pies, to roll out the dough just right. She
told me stories of waking early on Sundays as a child to bake pies before Mass.
She was famous amongst her friends and family for her Christmas candy: peanut
butter cups, divinity, chocolate-covered toffee, and more. She had a sweet
tooth like me, and I feel lucky that one Christmas, just before she gave up
candy-making for good, I got to be in the kitchen with her, melting chocolate
and whipping egg whites.
I remember Sunday dinners at her house when I was a kid. I
played in the woods behind the house with my cousins until it was time to eat,
and then we’d retrieve the table leaves from under my grandparents’ bed so that
the whole family—her eight children, their spouses, and a bevy of
grandchildren—could gather around the table for a big meal that would stick to
our ribs, most often something like a roast with carrots and onions and
homemade bread, fluffy and white, still steaming as we cut it.
She taught me about mysterious things like guardian angels (hers
was named Claire) and the stigmata. She told me if you prayed the rosary enough
it would turn gold. She said she smelled roses the moment she knew my grandpa
had entered heaven. She had an enviable faith, an unflappable belief in
Catholicism, God, the Virgin Mary, and heaven. For most of her life she
attended Mass daily, and sometimes when she babysat me she took me on her nursing
home rounds, where she visited residents and helped with Mass.
She did a killer impression of the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. I can easily recall
her cackling, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too.” She enjoyed
playing cards and drinking wine. She traveled the world—Cuba and New York when
she was young and then in her older years places such as Washington, California,
France, Germany, Italy, and Yugoslavia. She inspired my dream of traveling to
Alaska after she told me stories of her Alaskan cruise, about the beautiful
scenery and the lady she traveled with who’d packed enough underwear so that
she’d just throw away each pair after wearing them. What an adventure!
She sent me a bouquet of flowers after I gave birth to my
son. It was a memorable gift because so many presents were for the baby, but
those flowers were for me. A congratulations. A pat on the back. A welcome to
motherhood. She always said my boy looks like “a doll baby,” such a great-grandmotherly
I just caught myself writing that last sentence in the
present tense. Even after a couple weeks, it seems strange to think that she’s
gone. How can it be that she won’t be at the next family gathering, won’t take
her seat at the poker table, won’t hug me or my son again? Her death was really
the best she or anyone else could hope for. She lived a long, happy life, was
independent for most of her 86 years, suffered for only a short time at the
end, and was able to make the choice not to pursue treatment for kidney failure
and a recurrence of ovarian cancer. Yet, even with this best-case scenario, the
loss feels huge. It passes over me in waves of realization, most often in that
moment between sleep and wake, a split-second of terror and grief.
The good part is that with eight children, fourteen
grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, there are plenty of people to tell
stories about her, and she passed down a feistiness and zest for life that
really comes out when we’re all together.
And in those moments when the loss feels like too much,
well, there’s always tea, with an extra splash of milk for Grandma Alice.