Snapshot

I’m a fan of the television series, “The Office” and one of my favorite episodes was Jim and Pam’s wedding. One of the things I remember best is Jim and Pam taking “snapshots” with imaginary cameras throughout the weekend to capture the moments as memories. It’s a lovely visual reminder to pay attention to what’s happening in the here and now.

This Labor Day was full of “snapshot” moments. We made a spontaneous road trip to Kanopolis State Park for a picnic by the lake. After the previous day was scorching and windy, the weather yesterday was cool and overcast with just a hint of breeze. A storm the previous night had cleared most of the holiday campers and deterred many of the day trip amateurs from heading out so there weren’t huge crowds. For us, it was perfect.

We grilled our lunch, thinking of our friend Melvin who passed away earlier this year. He made the tastiest butterfly pork chops for sandwiches and was kind enough to share his recipe and technique with me the last time he made them for our family reunion.

Labor Day Chops 9 1 2014

(“snap”) Thanks for the recipe and all the great memories, Mel. I hope we did you justice. They tasted like Illinois summer on the farm – delicious! So good in fact, we considered having a second helping as dessert which I think he’d take as a compliment.

After the picnic, Steve and I spent some luxurious time sitting side by side, reading and knitting in our folding camp chairs. With the insanity that was July and August, it was a gift to sit with my husband and just “be”.

Dotted Rays 9 1 2014

(“snap”) I made some progress on my “Dotted Rays” project. It’s a Stephen West pattern (click here for the Ravelry link) and I’m working it in Manos del Uruguay “Fino”. The finished shawl will be a gift for my sister in celebration of her wedding. I worked good thoughts for her and her fiancee in with the stitches as I knit under a canopy of cottonwood trees.

While I indulged in fiber therapy, my dear husband was settled in his chair with a map of the area. Steve loves maps and while perusing one he picked up at the ranger’s office, he found a location near the lake where dwellings had been carved out of sandstone by settler’s in the 1800’s. Now the only thing Steve might love better than a map is a cave. There was nothing to do but pack up and try to find them.

Faris Caves 9 1 2014(“snap”) With nothing to go on but a brief description, a partial map the size of a postage stamp, and the courage to drive a mini van down some questionable dirt roads, we found our way to Faris Caves in Ellsworth County. It’s a gorgeous spot and one that I’m adding to my list of counter arguments for all the people who want to tell me how flat Kansas is. As you can see, the man who always opens doors and waits patiently for me when we go anywhere was bounding down the trail in giddy excitement, leaving me in the dust. Seeing Steve find a new “happy place” was just as much fun for me as it was to explore this area.

I’m grateful for days like this. They serve to remind me that it’s healthy to say “Why not?” in response to a spontaneous request instead of “Why?” once in awhile. I hate to think what I would have (“snap”) missed out on.

Rosie’s Legacy

Is anyone else as surprised as I am that it’s August already? And not just August but over half way through August?

This has been the busiest summer I can remember in a long time. We’ve had several milestones in our family, both planned and unplanned. There were decisions and deadlines that demanded most of our attention. It’s been so busy it’s been hard to find time to knit. Yes, there have been higher priorities than knitting, which should put into perspective what’s fallen by the wayside.

In all the swirl of the past several weeks, we’ve had more than a few moments of serendipity and grace and even humor. We’ve been deep cleaning at my sweet father-in-law’s home of 52 years and finding treasures that bring back many memories. Steve’s mom passed over a decade ago and I never had the honor of meeting her. Yet as we’ve worked on their home, I’ve learned a great deal about both of my in-laws. Every closet and drawer we’ve opened tells their story and I have a better understanding of how they raised such great kids.

Steve told me his mom was a knitter early in our relationship. It was nice to finally meet a man who responded to my passion with, “Cool!” rather than, “Isn’t that for old ladies?” Rosie – Steve’s mom – made afghans, baby blankets, hats, and sweaters for those she loved. We found this raglan turtleneck she made for my husband back in the 1960’s – – – three strands of Red Heart, baby! Hubby was stylin’ in grade school.Dyson and Sweater

Even Dyson can feel the love coming off of this sweater. Each of my sister-in-laws have a sweater made in this pattern, in very girly colors.

When we were dating, Steve talked about his youthful obsession with his mom’s row counter – “I think it was yellow” – and his inability to keep his hands off of it. “Mom was not happy with me when I played with the dials”, he laughed, “She used my whole name!” I told him I would have sided with his mom.

So you can imagine the moment when I found a small tackle box full of sewing notions and a white box while cleaning a closet. I lifted the lid and saw this . . . Notions

Through the growing lump in my throat, I called out to my husband to come see what I’d uncovered. He responded with a quiet, “Oh, wow! Look at that. It was yellow!” The box hadn’t been opened for close to fifteen years.

These items don’t mean much to most people. To me, they’re a few of the tools Rosie used to create items that clothed and warmed her family. They’re tangible reminders of the loving investment she made in her children, an investment that continues to ripple out like a pebble dropped in a pond. Now I have the privilege of doing the same for her son and grandson. Here’s hoping I can honor her legacy in full measure.

Read more about Rosie in this guest post from Steve  – God Bless Knitters.

The Practical Obsession

‘Tis the heat and humidity season in our part of the world. We call it “air you can wear”. The ferns we hang optimistically around the front porch each summer are thriving this year but it comes at the cost of sweaty, clinging clothing, and surrendering my hairstyle to the natural curls no amount of product or flat ironing will tame. I’m listening to the radio as I type these words and the announcer just reported the temperature as “98 degrees with a heat index of 115.” I’m not even kidding. Before the week is out I will once again make Steve pinky swear that we will not retire to a hot climate like I do every summer.

Warm weather influences us knitters. We tuck away big projects in lieu of small things. I know one person working on an afghan but she’s really hard core. Me? I’m finishing things and looking for the “next big thing” to tackle when it gets cooler so I’m digging through books and websites looking for a little inspiration. The website “New Stitch A Day” (newstitchaday.com) always has a treasure trove of stitch patterns to dive into. I happened on the Bee Stitch a few weeks ago and it was love at first sight. Color work, lots of texture, easy set up and execution – – – what’s not to love?

A great way to experiment with a new stitch pattern is to try it on a dish cloth. I sent the last dishcloth in my stash off with visiting friends earlier this month so it was time to replenish. I grabbed my stash of 2nd Time Cotton (from Knit One Crochet Too) and cast on 41 stitches on a US #8 needle. It was clear after six rows this was going to be waaaay big. I ripped it off of the needles, started over with 35 stitches and it started to sail off of the needles . . . Bee Stitch v1

I loved the look but it was a little on the loose side for my taste so I started a second experiment. I went down a needle size and combined another 2nd Time Cotton (Color A) with a hand painted cotton (Color B) from our LYS – yarn (yarnthestore.com). I cast on 37 stitches and found I like this gauge much better.

Bee Stitch v2

It’s a heavier dishcloth, but in my interpretation, still a little on the big side. For the next experiment I cast on 33 stitches on a US #7 and used the same hand painted cotton as Color A and a different color 2nd Time Cotton for Color B.

Bee Stitch v3

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! It’s hits all my dishcloth buttons for texture, gauge, and size. Oh, and I like the way the color plays, too! However, by this time, I couldn’t leave the Bee Stitch alone. I was obsessed. I had to see how it looked as a solid color so I grabbed yet ANOTHER color of 2nd Time Cotton (yep, I’m a little obsessed with this yarn, too) and cast 35 stitches on the US #7 needles. It turned out like this . . . Bee Stitch v4I still like the texture and overall pattern but I think using the second color really makes the stitch pop. Each of these Bee-utiful Dishcloths have their own special look and they’re lovely grouped together. 
Bee Stitch Dish Cloths trayAnd since you’ve been patient enough to read through this entire post, here’s a link to the two color pattern for the Bee-utiful Dishcloth (click on the title to open and print the pdf). Here’s hoping it’s a cool little project to add to your summer knitting basket!