Fear, gratitude, and hope (with purring)

I’ll be honest: Yesterday (Monday) was a very scary day. We thought our sweetheart kitty Zoë might leave us; I was on a plane headed for home (back to Ontario after 5 days in Vancouver) and so was out of touch for hours. Meanwhile, M was busy talking to doctors and overseeing Zoë’s care from home, being a complete hero.

Zoë is home now as of 6 pm Monday; and what’s more, she’s very much still with us, hungry as a horse, pushing her head into our hands to demand the proper amount of cat worship. She’s also weak, frail, her kidneys have gone south very quickly, she’s wobbly on her feet due to a potassium deficiency, and so on. The good news is that she’s stable at this point; even so, M and I are taking turns keeping a close eye on our still very sick girl.

We have to give her sub-Q fluids every day for the rest of her life; the countertop is covered with medicines, instructions, medication spreadsheets (carefully updated by Hero to Cats, Melody), and we are keeping careful notes in the daily kitty journal we have kept for three years running on all 5 cats (so we know who barfed up what when and other such gripping data).

Why, yes, we both did grow up with physicians and nurses in the family, how did you know?

Despite everything: We’re so, so very grateful The Queen of Purrs Reigneth from her purple poof once more, even if her reign might possibly end sooner than we had hoped. 🐈👑🙏🏼

The good news is that since M brought her home, she‘s eaten several small meals with gusto (!!! in total: an entire can of wet food in twelve hours!), had several lusty drinks from her fave flowered bowl, and when I got home at 1 AM, promptly pushed her way over to my leg, made a Grade A+ Snuggle Attempt, and PURRED.

She’s alert, bright-eyed, following me around and bossing me around as usual by meowing the songs of her people, begging for pets and scritches…

Yep. And this is the cat one vet advised us to consider euthanizing 24 hours ago.

(Uhhh…Yeah. Nope. Thanks for playing. Not.)

She’s definitely quite sick; the next week or so could be very difficult; we know she’s not out of the woods yet. One vet thinks she might last a few days to a couple of weeks; another a few weeks to a year. … Zoë says she’s happy right where she is, thank you very much; it ain’t over until she says it’s over. 🐾🐾❤️

She’s on her fave purple fuzzy blanket. We have the heating pad on low; she’s resting, she is walking better, and clearly wants to be part of the party here, observing her Queendom from her heated throne, meowing out orders now and then as she purrs and makes batches of kitty biscuits when we stop and gently rub her belly.

We’re still scared for what the immediate future might hold; that’s part of being a parent or guardian of any frail being. However, at this moment in time, she seems to be responding well enough to allow us a measure of cautious optimism. She is so attached to her moms that just being home appears to be the best medicine we can offer right now.

It helps that this little 9-lb bundle of tortie love has a major case of Diva and Catitude. 👑🕶🐾🐾💐✨💖

A day, a week, a month, a year? Who knows? One day at a time, as is true for so much of this wonderful, beautiful, fragile thing called Life.

Zoë sends you purrs and soft snuggles. M and I send love and gratitude for all the kindnesses and prayers and thoughts and support sent by all you amazing friends and family.

Xoxo

P.S. I have wonderful stories to tell you about my trip to Vancouver. Zoë says she will supervise my work personally to ensure I post about all that other good stuff (including yarn from a gorgeous yarn shop in Vancouver!) in a timely manner.

“All on good time, my pretties, all in good time…”

P.S. #2: Zoë politely but firmly reminds her U.S. subjects to vote as if your lives depend upon it. Because they pretty much do depend on it, more now than ever. Vote your conscience. Vote for Now, and, more importantly, vote for the seven generations yet to come.

All our love, and best brightest hopes in the darkness.

—Sandi, Melody, Zoë, Dusty, Tim, Ben, and Tessa

Posted in Knitting | 5 Comments

A door to the Undiscovered Country

I’ve had folks ask about my last FaceBook post, as in: Why are you going to Vancouver, and why are you so excited about an Open House at Vancouver Scool of Theology?

For those who don’t know: I went to seminary in Berkeley, lo, these many years ago. I got about 2/3 the way through before I had to drop out for all sorts of GrownUp Reasons. Most painful decision of my life. I have always wanted to go back and finish what I started. And, yes, this means I have always felt called to the ministry, ever since I was in high school.

Life has happened in the intervening years, and I was beginning to think I would have to give up on my heart’s desire because (a) too old, (b) not worthy, (c) fill in the blank. You name it, I worried about it.

Something clicked this past summer, and in September, I just finally said out loud, “I am going back to seminary, aiming for September 2019 .”

Be careful what you say outloud, for the Universe and the being I like to call The Ancient Love of Days are both listening and just might hear you.

In early October, something just clicked, and since then, I feel as though doors are slowly opening to Parts Unknown in that most Undiscovered Country of all, the Future.

I got an invite to attend this Open House on Nov. 1. And so, that’s where I am headed this next week.

I have made no big decisions. I haven’t got anything worked out yet. I have no clue where this is leading me. And I will, of course, look at the excellent seminaries here in Toronto as well as my original school in Berkeley.

All I know is: I’ve been listening to the Creator gently tapping on my wall for decades. Now, a door has opened, and I will regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t step through to see where it might lead.

Now, before anyone panics and thinks I am off to become the sort of christian who goes to Trump rallies…Hey. Have faith. I am myself, and I cannot be otherwise. I am still and always the crazy, wacky, tree-hugging, talker-to-animals, speaker of hard truths and woman struggling towards a life of kindness and compassion that I have always been. Ministry ideally calls us to seek the best of ourselves in service if the Good and Gentle; frankly, based on my past experiences, I suspect I will have rough edges smoothed and sour notes trained to proper pitch, becoming ever more the woman I have always been, stronger and more grounded, more able to participate with humility (I hope) and compassion in the day-to-day healing this world (and I myself) so desperately needs.

So, yes: Still excited. And still terrified, as is normal and natural each time one steps off the familiar comfortable path onto a new, uncertain path, especially if one does not have map nor flashlight.

Thank you for your support and love.

Somehow, I have a feeling that even those of you who had no clue what this was all about are probably not terribly surprised now that you know.

Fibre news, knitting/spinning progress reports, and possibly a finished object next time! And of course, I will be looking around beautiful Vancouver to see what exciting fibre-y goodness I might find to share with y’all!

Take care. Have courage these next two weeks or so, even though strong men shout to shake the world to its foundations, even as people struggle to remember what true freedom means; even as it seems the song of justice is getting harder and harder to sing. Trust yourself; speak what you know to be true, vote your conscience; and encourage others to do likewise.

Never forget:

We, the People of the United States of America.

WE. THE. PEOPLE.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

C’mon people now..let us love one another right now.

Xoxo 

Posted in Knitting | 15 Comments

Dear Canada: You’re Stuck with us now

(N.B.  Dear Fellow Grammar Nerds: Apologies in advance for the wanton switches in pronoun focus below; I’m a wee bit exhausted.)

Unless otherwise noted, the wonderful photos below of our Big Day were taken by Anne Blayney.  She basically rocks, and made a great day even more special with her lovely kind silly support. Also: Butter Tarts!

Our Big, Happy, Life-Changing Day

There are very few days in one’s life when one can actually feel one’s life changing with every breath as the day unfolds. The birth of one’s first child. The birth of each child thereafter. Your wedding day. The day a parent dies. The day you receive the keys to your very first, very own home (and your very first, very own mortgage!) The first day of the dream job you never thought you would get. Each and every time you move through such a day, you are aware that your life will never be the same.

flag

All photos courtesy of Anne Blayney unless otherwise indicated.

Yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 19th, was such a day for Melody and I. We drove north to Kitchener, Ontario, as citizens of the United States, and permanent residents of Canada; we drove home several hours later as newly minted Canadian citizens and still loyal, grateful citizens of the United States.

We are now full citizens of two of the most inspiring, beautiful countries in the world, countries who each celebrate freedom and human dignity, who believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to liberty for all.

flagwavers

Canada’s newest troublemakers citizens! 

We feel like the luckiest people in the world right now.

The Ceremony

It was an AMAZING day; 48 new Canadian citizens walked out of court yesterday at about 3 PM. Judge Wong and his clerk Ryan (apologies to Ryan for forgetting your last name!) clearly love their jobs, and both made us feel that Canada welcomed each and every one of us individually. In addition, both had obviously spent quite a bit of time studying our files and learning how to say our names properly. A lovely touch, and quite a feat considering there were 26 different countries/languages represented!

The judge met briefly with each of us after handing us our certificate (I am bringing it tonight, it is beautiful, plus I am proud as a peacock about the whole thing!), asked a few personal questions (such as what our journey to Canada had been like, what we did for a living) and welcomed us personally.

we talk with judge wong ryan looks on

Our personal meeting with Judge Wong, who is a wonderful, kind man. Clerk Ryan is to the right; Ryan is completely hilarious and made the entire ceremony run smoothly whilst setting us all at ease with his kindly and silly sense of humour.

It was a beautiful, deeply moving ceremony. And, on top of all of that wonderfulness, God graciously granted Melody and I a very special gift. After weeks of searching for a guest who could share this special day with us (after all: it was on a weekday, smack-dab in the middle of the day, in a town about 2 hours away in commuter traffic), literally two hours prior to the ceremony as we were in the car driving to the ceremony, a friend (a knitting friend, of course!) messaged us that her boss had given her the rest of the day off just so she could attend our citizenship ceremony! We were completely overjoyed that Anne kindly gave up her afternoon to be there. (I am also quite sad that we didn’t manage to get a good photo of ourselves with Anne! A passing gentleman held her camera and pointed and clicked, but he must have been from another dimension or something because all the photos he took came out very strangely overexposed.) We’d been a tiny bit depressed that we didn’t have anyone there to celebrate our big day with in person, despite the fact that dozens and dozens of our friends and family posted their congrats on Facebook, email, Twitter, and elsewhere. We knew we were not going to be truly alone during the ceremony; we knew dozens of you people would be there with us in spirit. But…there is just nothing like having someone sitting right there, cheering you on, snapping photos like a crazy person, clapping for you, and offering their love and support right there in real time. To have that sort of support right there in the room was wonderful.

Plus, as part of the celebration, Anne thoughtfully provided us with wonderfully sticky butter tarts to eat after the ceremony. We sat on tiny, rickety, colourful iron chairs outside, in a wee corner park at the end of the block, and laughed and talked and shared our favourite parts of the ceremony, and had a truly wonderful time.

silly photo

This amusing cardboard frame was sitting off to one side in the courtroom. Anne and I simply couldn’t resist! #unofficialphoto

It made all the difference. Thank you so very much, Anne. You’re now part of our family history in a very special and unique way. Couldn’t have asked for better.

official photo 1

Official portrait: Judge Wong with Sandi and Melody Wiseheart, showing off our shiny new certificates of Canadian citizenship. Hooray!

Posted in Knitting | 12 Comments

Still Here, Still Obsessed with Yarn (and Cats!)

Hello, fine bloggie friends! It’s (past) time for another missive from Sandi’s YarnLand and Cat Worship Facility.

This month has been Cat Appreciation Month at my vet’s, and August 8 was International Cat Day. So, in the spirit of the all this, here is a pic of the whole Fab Five all in the same place at the same time.

all 5 edited blog

Do you have any idea how many pictures I had to take to get one, just ONE decent photo of all Five of my Fab Furbits together? That’s actually the reason that this post is going out a bit late: I was combing through my gigabytes of cat photos (don’t judge, let those amongst you without disk space filled with cat or dog pictures toss the first catnip mouse), and I didn’t find that one until a few days ago. (There was also the fact that I hadn’t organized my photos in a while. That was painful.) I do know that it took me at least a year of trying to get that one, taken in February of 2017. Clockwise from upper right corner: Dusty (male), then age 13; Tessa, then age 1; Zoë, then age 13 (Dusty’s littermate); Tim, then age 7; and Ben, then age 1.

And yes, Tessa does have ginormo paws. That one paw right there on Zoë’s shoulder has eight toes. Well, to be accurate: Five toes and three thumbs; each toe/thumb has its own pad and is completely functional. Her other front paw has the same number of toes/thumbs, although one of the thumbs has an atrophied muscle and thus is not functional, and thus is for display purposes only. Back feet have six digits each.

Yes, we are keeping an eye on her. If she shows any hint of being able to actually use those thumbs, any of them, well then, I guess we’ll be in a whack of trouble, won’t we? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Tour d’ Flail

The Fibre

The project I chose for this year’s Tour d’ Fleece was to turn 4 0z of gorgeous hand-dyed Finn fibre plus a similar amount of shiny silk into Yarn. Preferably nice yarn, but we all know how fibre is…has a woolly mind of its own.

I started with this.

Silk and Finn fibres

Top to bottom, above: (1) Green and blue hand-dyed Tussah silk, source lost in space and time; (2) lovely (if somewhat compressed) 100% Finn wool, hand-dyed by Dan Brewer of Gnomespun (note that the compression happened on my watch, not on Dan’s; I may have been a little overenthusiastic about packing my bins of fibre for the move into this house); and (3) some bits and bobs of the same batch of Finn, recaptured from its hidey hole under the sofa where I suspect it was re-appropriated to the lovely Ms. Zoe’s own stash.

my pretty girl Zoe

Who…me?

Ahhh….Ms. Zoë. She is gorgeous, but she is also a fellow Fibre-Hoar if ever there was one. I have to be very careful to make sure she is closed out of the room when I am drumcarding, otherwise, I will turn around to find her laying on her back right in the middle of a newly made batt, rolling around on it, purring as if it were a pile of México’s Finest. (Catnip, you sillies, what did you think I was going to say?).

The Tour Begins

Let me start off by saying that I have been a bit out of the loop this year, what with my father’s death, re-connecting with relatives after several years (which meant becoming a semi-active Facebook user, oh-my-dog, the wormhole that is social media!), eye surgery, new glasses, new braces, working on our Canadian citizenship papers, and the inevitable new homeowner’s first real round of Home Improvement, Canadian Style. (I’ll get to these breathtakingly exciting topics sooner or later, but Not Today.) (Tease, tease, tease.)

This meant that I actually had No Idea when the Tour itself started. I randomly picked a Saturday to begin, got in a lovely couple of hours doing fibre prep, and only afterward went on Rav to discover that it was actually the first day of the Tour d’ Fleece in truth! The rhythms of the fibre seasons, they are in my blood.

I originally started off just playing with the Finn (above), a new-to-me sheep breed. Then I found the green and blue silk fibre in my stash, so of course, that meant dragging out my scale, my bobbin winder, and my trusty drumcarder. (Let the fun begin!)

Over the next few days, I spent happy hours blending the silk and Finn, making happy batts, and spinning some samples.

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I think I may have something here.

Pretty Batts Pretty Paws

Tessa and her Mighty Twinkle Toes seem to think so.

Posted in Knitting | 8 Comments

A Finished Object Doth Bloom in Spring

Happy Spring!

Actually, by the time I hit Publish, it will be nearly time to wish everyone a Happy Summer Solstice. However, most of the original draft of this was written in April. At least I keep life interesting for y’all.

I am wearing a sleeveless short cotton dress. My windows are open. My toes are 93% thawed out. The patches of sunshine on my wood floors are sprouting cats all over the place.

Not to mention that there seems to be a BEN in my Green Knitting Chair, located in the perfect Sunny Spot in my living room.

Ben in his green chair.png


“MINE.” says 2-year-old Ben. Like every toddler the world over, Ben has quickly mastered the two most important words in a youngster’s small-but-mighty vocabulary: “Mine!” and “No!”

::sigh:: At least he is adorable.  Plus:

Winter, I am not a bit sad to bid thee farewell.

Catching up with Sandi’s Needles

It has been a long, long, LONG time since I did a basic knitterly sort of post. (About a year, actually. A Life-Ate-My-Brain kind of year.) How about some stitches?

Pansy Garden Tam

I finished it! I finished it!

Pansy Tam - BEST PIC - blocking top motifs.png

My own, uh, rather… whimsical… interpretation of the Pansy Garden Tam. (Photo credit: Me, April 2018.)

Pattern details: 
Pansy Garden Tam, designed by Donna Ritchie.

If you click on the link there, it will take you to Ms. Ritchie’s pattern page on Ravelry, where you can see beautiful photos of the Tam the way it was intended to appear, like this one:

Donna Ritchie orig pansy Garden Tam updated.png

Ms. Ritchie’s original, beautifully symmetric, version of the Pansy Garden Tam. Also, much more accurate colour portrayal than that in my own photo. (Photo credit: Donna Ritchie, Mrs. Knitter Designs, 2018.)

A few short moments of contemplation and comparison of the images above might cause you to notice some rather unusual features in my version. (Who says round tams have to have perfect radial symmetry at the top? Who says all the flowers in a given band must match one another? Pish-posh.) 

I feel compelled to point out that you will not find instructions for the mismatched, non-symmetrical motifs found in my hat anywhere, not on my site and especially not on Mrs. Knitter’s site. Ms. Ritchie’s original design is flawless in symmetry, balance, and consistency of motif.

In other words: It isn’t her fault I cannot count stitches in 8 groups of 12. It’s not her fault I chose to go stitch-marker commando on this project. As little fuzzbutt Ben would say: “MINE. ALLLLLL MINE.”

HOWEVER-AND-BUT-WAIT-A-MINUTE-HERE-HOLD-ON-NOW-FER-A-SECOND-THERE

I FINISHED A PROJECT. It’s done and it’s wearable and it actually has, in fact, been worn at least once outside of the house. So I feel justified in saying: I may be just a wee bit proud of myself for actually finishing something, after so many many months of barely being able to START something, let alone persevere to the finish line. And the Pansy Garden Tam is not just any old garter stitch toque: Seven colours! Two-handed stranded! Tiny needles!

As we used to say when Ravelry was younger, “I haz a proud.”

It’s stranded colour work, not true Fair Isle, in that it has no peeries (tiny repeated designs used in traditional Fair Isle colourwork), floats are frequently carried over more than four/five stitches, and its motifs are more representational than is usual with traditional Fair Isle. However, the smallish motifs and two-colours-per-round give the stitching the rocking, soothing effect that is one of the true pleasures of stranded knitting.

The pattern calls for using corrugated ribbing in the “brim”, and it was my first time trying out this pretty method. Despite the rather tricksy-sounding name, I found that it is a stitch pattern without tricks of any kind. Corrugated ribbing is nothing more than combining a [k2, p2] rib pattern with 2×2 columns of colour work [2 purple, 2 yellow] all the way around.

Pansy Tam - blocking underside - brim

For some reason, no mutant flowers were found on the underside of the hat upon completion.

Now, if you are a bit wobbly in your colourwork skills, you might be a little hesitant to incorporate purling into your colourwork toolset. Don’t be, really. Once you’ve hit the third or fourth stitch repeat, you forget you are doing anything with a special name and a fiddly reputation. It’s just knitting, and every knitter can handle anything that is “just knitting”, right? (The correct response is, “RIGHT!”)

My only advice in terms of purling and colourwork is this: Make sure your floats stay on the INSIDE of the project. (Voice of experience, obviously. I think I lost ten rows to that single mistake the first time through.)

Two more tips:
1.  Use markers,  at least one per repeat. Now is not the time to “go commando” and leave your pretty markers in their tins.
2.  If you are in the middle somewhere and discover that you have too few or too many stitches, look VERY carefully at your repeats and the solid colouring between the flowers, as these are the most likely spots for stitches to appear and disappear without permission.
3.  In fact, as you proceed through the pattern, please do make your increases/decreases there, between the motifs of the previous rounds, as best as you can. TRY VERY HARD to not make changes in the midst of the motifs themselves. Doing so may result in an unwelcome increase in Mutant Motifs.

Of course, I would never actually do such a thing myself. Of course not.

A final note on Finishing: My cast-on was much too loosey-goosey; the bright fuchsia edging was thus extremely ripple-y and ruffle-y. (Technical terms, of course.) I just could not bring myself to rip back after I finished the lovely ribbing, so I let it be as I knit the hat, letting the Girls in the Basement work on the problem.

My solution: After I had woven in six thousand ends (yes, yes; I am aware the instructions say to just tie knots and leave short ends which will full themselves into submission during blocking; I am also aware that this leaving-the-ends-alone is a traditional method used by knitters far more experienced than I. However, I am the Wilde & Fearless Childe of knitting, am I not? So I put on a very absorbing audiobook (Aliens! Hideous Monsters! Dark corners of an ancient pyramid under the Antarctic! Mysterious tones producing instantaneous mutations horrible to behold! Scientists too stupid to compete with one-celled organisms, and too clueless to believe the alien in front of their faces!  Scientists who are killed off one at a time in manners too gruesome to imagine! You know, the best that modern literature has to offer.) and wove in ends for an hour or so.

Once that was done and two-thirds of the scientists had been eaten, I threaded my yarn needle with the fuchsia yarn, and carefully folded the edge of the edging underneath and stitched it into place. This made a firmer, as well as neater, edge. Yay!

As mentioned in previous posts, I bought this in kit form, mainly because there were 7 colours and I am not (yet) totally confident in choosing my own colours for this sort of pattern. The colours in the kit were gorgeous, however, so I was quite content to trust the designer and (attempt to) just do as I was told (for a change!). The main colours are a sunny summer’s yellow and a spring’s dark deep pansy purple; contrasting colours include a mint green, an emerald green, a deep fuchsia, a navy blue, and a yellow-so-pale it seems almost white. (FWIW, The colours in the second photo above are more true-to-life.)

You can buy a downloadable PDF of the pattern here on Ravelry. If you would like to order a kit, or perhaps even a yarn pack of the colours, hop on over to Ms. Ritchies’ website, Mrs. Knitter Designs. Kits and yarn packs for the Pansy Garden Tam are available here.

 

 

Pansy hat Feb rib closeup v3.5.png

Tessa admires the beautiful yarn and tasty wooden needles used in this project. Also, see the ribbing? Corrugated, it is.

I’ve just now finished taking updated project photos of my current knitting projects, so there will be more Project Shenanigans next post. No doubt there will be OTHER sorts of Shenanigans as well, because when have I ever deprived y’all of Shenanigans?


† Girls in the Basement: Creative folks of all types often talk about setting aside a troublesome project for a while in order to give one’s subconscious time to figure out possible solutions. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, and also in his novel Bag of Bones, describes this process as “letting the boys in the basement move the furniture around for a bit”. Me being me, I have girls in my own basement, pushing tables, chairs, sofas, and spinning wheels from one corner to the other, working out how everything fits together, getting back to me with an answer while the Rest of Me edits and tweaks and twonks the text of whatever it is I am writing.

Posted in BenKitty, Books, Knitting, Making Things, stranded colourwork, Tessa | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Time Changes

Time stopped functioning properly, for me anyway, the day in late February when I got the phone call from my mom.

“The Phone Call”, as it were, since it seems that this particular sort of call is nearly always referred to in verbal capital letters. The minute one speaks that phrase with a particular intonation, it is instantly understood, at least in North American culture, what one is referring to.

Monday afternoon, February waning; my phone ringing. Then: Dad was in hospital; what was to come in the immediate future was uncertain, but perhaps I ought to get a plane ticket and fly “home” in the next day or two.

For the next few weeks, I would find myself pondering at odd moments, the quirk in our psyches that sometimes has adult children equating “home” with the house where Mom and Dad are living, regardless of extraneous facts such as where we grew up, how long we did (or did not, in my case) live in that particular house, etc. Mom lives there, Dad has his favourite chair there; family celebrations are held there. It’s Home, a Platonic Form of all things safe and loved, all things family and belonging.

I listened to my mom’s voice, did the usual daughterly calculations, and decided the heck with waiting for a plane flight, I was going to leave now, as in as soon as I could pack up my little green Bug and get out on the road.

Less than two hours later, I was in the Bug and on the highway headed for central Illinois. The next evening, I was with my mom and sister at the dinner table, grateful to have skipped the horror of the security lines at Pearson International (Toronto) Airport, the indignities of seating arrangements that force one into unwanted intimacy with strangers for hours on end. The following three days were days of Grace, precious hours spent with Dad before he peacefully slipped away into that green, sunlit valley on the other side, on the morning of March 3.

Dad May 23 2004 edited

Bill Sproule, my Dad (at our wedding, May 23, 2004)

This may sound ridiculous, but I found the following a steadying thought in the days that followed: I had never lost a parent before, and thus I literally had no idea what to expect, how to feel, what to think, what to do and when to do it. The flip side of this thought was this: No one expects you to know what to do, or behave a certain way, or follow some set of unwritten precepts. Again and again, I heard people around my mom and my sisters and I say things like: “It’s OK, don’t worry, everyone grieves in their own way, and there’s no right way to do it.”

I also was truly grateful for the space given to those who are mourning: Of course there will be times of tension. Of course there are bound to be emotional outbursts out of proportion to the mundane tasks at hand. Those who mourn are granted a certain freedom, a certain social permission to not be Socially Correct for a while. That graceful acknowledgment by those around us of the enormity of what we were going through was deeply comforting during these days, weeks, and beyond, of adjusting to the new reality of Dad Is Gone.

I’m still in shock. I know that, and those around me know it. I notice that I am avoiding writing (or speaking) about Dad himself, about anything too close to home, as it were. None of this is quite real to me yet. However, there is still the memorial service to get through, so perhaps I am to be allowed a bit of self-muffling, a certain degree of numbness, in order that I can do what is, perhaps, one of the most important jobs of Daughters, of Sons, at such a time: Supporting Mom through these days of public grief, just being there to add whatever comforts I can add to my mother’s already formidable reserves of strength.

As I say: Time isn’t working properly at present. Not for me, not yet.

I am infinitely grateful that this is a rather normal and to-be-expected symptom of grief. I know there are no rules, but it is reassuring to know that others have gone before me on this journey, this odd, timeless, chaotic journey after a loved parent has died, and what’s more, that those others have not only gone before me, but come out the other side, to the place where the clock starts running normally again, to the place where grief becomes a living memorial to Dad, instead of an island, remote and frozen, where time stops because the unthinkable has happened, and all the bits in one’s heart and soul have to stop what they are doing and rearrange themselves for the next season of life, the time where the clock ticks on, but clicks on with one parent instead of two.

My sisters and I have already informed Mom in not-completely-joking terms, that she, of course, is Not Allowed to Die. Yet. Not for a long while, we hope.

I, myself, need more time with her before that particular time change occurs.

Those of you with fathers still here on earth: Please call your dad tonight, or hug him if he is nearby. (Same goes for mothers, of course. Kiss ’em if you got ’em.) This bit of time and connection will cost you so little; it will be priceless someday.

I do have some lovely knitting to show off, but now is not the time. I hope know you will understand.

Stitch peacefully.
Sandi

Posted in Family, Just Life, Ponderings, Travel, Wheel of the Year | 21 Comments

January 6, 2018: Epiphanies

Well, hello there, Internet Friends. Long time no blog.

It has indeed been a while since you’ve heard much from me. A tweet here, a Facebook comment there, a Ravelry post every now and then.

It was never my intention to quit blogging, not forever, anyway. But as we all know, sometimes Life gets very selfish and wants all of our attention. Not just some of our attention, nor even most of our attention. Sometimes Life is like a hungry teenager, devouring everything in the house and then standing in front of the open refrigerator one last time to announce Imminent Starvation because There Is Nothing Left to Eat In The Entire House.

img_0158-1

BenKitten: “Mom! We’re out of kitty treats…AGAIN!”

When Life is that demanding, it’s rather challenging to ignore those demands, and take time to tap out a few hundred words, let alone a few hundred coherent words.

My life has never been about giving up. Just as in my knitting, I frequently hit obstacles in my life: I discover unmendable mistakes, I realize I have taken a road I once thought was creative, only to finally realize it was a simply a seductive brick wall. As in knitting, there comes a point where I must admit that trying to push ahead in a particular endeavor, despite obstacles, dropped stitches, and wrong-way decreases, is foolish and will never result in anything resembling the sweater I had in mind when I cast on. The sound of ripping stitches is then heard, the cats come running to help me rewind the yarn (so helpful, a knitter’s cats), and the project is set aside, to be considered and meditated upon until Further Notice.

Well: It’s time. This post is Further Notice. I am casting on again, taking up pen and keyboard and needles once more in service of continuing to knit a life for myself, a life that fits the person I am, the person I want to be, instead of the person I no longer am, or the person whom others might wish me to be. And I have a new goal this time ‘round, a goal for which I haven’t yet seen the map, nor do I know where the first step might be…except that the first step is also here, now, this time and this place.

The goal? To write, to knit, to do whatever it is I do (I really have Clue Zero what that is most days), not just for myself, but for others, somehow, someway; to help some of you knit a life for yourselves, too.

One thing I loved so much about KnittingDaily was that it allowed me to be a force for good in the community; I have missed that. I absolutely loved the comments that shouted “I FINALLY GET IT NOW!”; or the emails showing me pictures of a particularly well-executed bust dart. It was rewarding having y’all come up to me somewhere across North America, wearing a gorgeous handknit sweater and a grin to light up the entire city. Then, shy or struttin’, full of pride, so full of joy, you’d announce: “This is my KnittingDaily sweater, I made it with the tips you gave, and LOOK!” or “I used waist shaping for the first time, and I thought it would make me look fat, but I think I look kinda cute, don’t you?”

Yes, readers, indeed I did think all your sweaters you showed me over the years, whether in person or via photos, I thought all of them were amazing. (One of you even showed me a PONCHO you’d done, complete with shaping, that was truly a knockout, who knew a poncho could look so nice?) You were amazing with your courage (“Look, Sandi, I steeked! I had two glasses of wine first, but I steeked and it worked!”), and your creativity. I will NEVER ever forget the very tall, bear-shaped man who showed me the back of his handknit sweater, pointing out the darts up around his plush and padded shoulders, darts that made the back of a potentially baggy pullover look smooth and tailored, showing off his manly assets to their best. (At the time, I remember thinking that this guy was Paul Bunyon Going Incognito In YarnLand. He was awe-inspiring, if for nothing else than the fact that he had persevered through acres of stockinette stitch in pursuit of that quite handsome-on-him sweater. Well done, Sir. Well Done.) Your pride in learning was my pride in teaching; it was my pleasure to give back so much pleasure to my community.

I am the first to admit that I lost my way after stepping down from KD. That was one of the most painful decisions I have had to make, but in the end, I realized that KD was needed for other purposes in the life of Interweave, and I knew in my heart that I was not the right person to take her on that new adventure.

It was a huge loss for me, personally. I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to continue doing what I wanted to do without the support and resources of a company or group behind me. But as a favorite movie dad once said, “Small steps, Ellie. Small steps.” (Contact, starring Jodie Foster as Dr. Ellie Arroway and David Morse as The Dad.) First thing was to let myself heal from the loss of KD, to fully mourn, and in the end, to fully let go and acknowledge it was no longer “mine”.

As for the next step? Well…take a look at the header of my blog, if you would…I have a new tagline. A slight shift in perspective, a wider purpose, perhaps…or is it? I haven’t ever been one to sidestep some of the more thinky topics in my knitter’s life; perhaps the shift in the tagline is simply an acknowledgement of something that already is. Not one of you has ever asked me to “write less”; in fact, almost every one of you has, at one time or another, asked me to write MORE, more posts, more tutorials…and even Please Write A Book For Us, Ms. Sandi. It’s way past time to listen to what you’ve been telling me for a decade or so: That you WANT me to tell my stories, that you like it when I show you what I have learned from whatever I am currently working on, to share the questions, and the discoveries, that come to all of us who Make Things. It’s time to listen to what some of you have been telling me for a decade or more: Don’t listen to the inner voice that tells me I am an imposter (oh, yes; because Meg Swansen would TOTALLY come up to me and thank me for writing an imposter blog, yeah, that would happen); but instead, to please kindly listen to the folks who actually read the stuff I write–especially those of you who are still here, seven years on from my last post on KnittingDaily–and trust that when you ask me to write more, you mean it. You’ve hung in there with me over the good years and the bad; how about we see what 2018 can come up with for us?

There’s lots more to catch up on: new creative projects, new cat stories, new adventures, new stitches cast-on and knitted up. But rather than try to recap any of it, I’ll give you a brief glimpse into Now, catching you up along the way Later, saving the rest for Next Time.

Just for fun, let me show you my newest knitting project, because it is brightly coloured, and a lot of fun, and will result in something warm for this bitterly cold Canadian winter.

First two inches of a stranded colourwork hat. It's resting against a new project bag by Erin Lane, decorated with knitting sheep dressed as the various incarnations of Dr. Who.

It’s stranded colourwork! It’s a pre-hat, resting on a favourite project baaag (hee) by Erin Lane: Look at all the knitting Whovian sheeples! (That particular bag is a Large Project Bag, just in case that’s helpful to know.)

That is the seedling of a hat, a slouchy beret sort of hat. It’s called the Pansy Garden Tam, designed by Donna Frost Ritchie, and its colours are joy to the dark chills of midwinter here at the 43rd parallel.

More about this lovely project will have to wait a short while; as will news about my other adventures, and even new Silly Kitten Tricks.

Dusty, in his favourite sink, drinking from his favourite fountain.

Dusty, in his favourite sink, drinking from his favourite fountain. (“Now, with even more Adorable Pink Tongue action!”)

Peace, Sandi

Epiphany
Middle English: from Greek epiphainein ‘reveal’.

Epiphany, Capital E: The Feast of Epiphany occurs on January 6th; it celebrates the manifestation (“revelation”) of Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the story of the 3 Wise Kings who “came from afar to worship the Baby Jesus.”

epiphany, lowercase e: A moment of sudden revelation or insight about the essential nature of things; a sudden illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

Posted in BenKitty, DustyCat, Knitting, New Year's Epiphanies, stranded colourwork, Wheel of the Year, Writing | 18 Comments