Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pork Chop's decision

If you're paying attention one might think I've been scarce this week because I am furiously sewing another Halloween costume. And that is a pretty safe assumption. After all, I've got four children, and I've only shown off three Halloween costumes. Costumes for Meaty, Bird, and Sweet Pea are all safely finished and waiting for the big event tomorrow.

That leaves my beautiful Pork Chop (did I mention that at her Parent Teacher conference the Teacher referred to her as the, and I quote, the "Perfect Child". Of course The Greatest and I think so, but it is always nice to have the opinion shared by someone who is not related to her, but I digress). She needs something to wear tomorrow night. If you recall she let me off the hook for the Halloween party as long as I P.R.O.M.I.S.E.D. to have her costume sewn in time for her class party. But I have not spent the week bent over yards and yards of blue gingham and white cotton (she wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz). It turn out the new principal does not want the children to wear costumes at school tomorrow, not even book inspired costumes.

What's the word for a Halloween Scrooge?

I think this news tempered her enthusiasm about Halloween. And she decided that she did not want to have a new costume made to be worn only trick-or-treating. She wants to save the costume for next year when it can be brand new and worn to the annual party AND trick-or-treating.

As much as I love creating her Halloween costumes I am at peace with this decision. I remember my Mom making my costumes when I was a child. Each year we choose my costume together. She made me the most beautiful cape. It was blue with silver threads running through it, lined with white fabric. I wore it for years, as part of a princess costume, as part of an acrobat costume, as part of a different princess costume (I liked being a princess). I loved that cape. I wonder what became of that cape. I remember the year she taught a costume class at church. She brought me along as her model. I felt so important, not only because I got to be her model and wear so many different costumes, but important to be there as a child observing the mysterious world of adult women. I got to sit in a corner and see my Mom, so beautiful when she laughed, so foreign to me in a role other than Mom. I longed to be her friend and laugh with her too. I wanted to come out of the corner and mingle with grown-ups, but I sat in the corner and watched. Of course then I became a teenager and wanted nothing to do with my Mom. Then I became an adult and apologised to my Mom for being a teenager. And I did get to enter her world as an adult, an equal. And she was still beautiful when she laughed, only I got to laugh with her, and be her friend. She really was the best sort of friend to have. Damn. I miss her.

This tangent is actually going somewhere. Pork Chop decided not to have me make her Dorothy costume after all. I was disappointed. I wonder how she will remember this Halloween. I felt like I was missing a potential memory, my memory of making her dress and seeing her smile with delight when she tried it on, and her memory of Mommy sewing a dress just for her. I was sad for the lost moment.

Then I learned what costume she wanted to wear. She choose a costume from the dress-up box, one from my childhood. One my Mom had sewn for me. A pioneer dress with a pinafore and bonnet. So pretty with it's blue fabric and white apron. Tangible evidence of my Mother's love for me. Only now can I hold it in my hands and understand the sacrifice of time that went into that dress. I can admire the perfect button holes, the perfect pin tucks on the bodice, and begin to comprehend the skill that went into that dress. I can understand in a way I didn't as a child, precisely how much my Mom must have loved me.

I like seeing Pork Chop in that dress.

I know my Mom isn't in that dress, in those perfect stitches, in that beautiful fabric. Her humor, her love, her temper, her wit can not be captured by the physical, it remains only in memory, in the hearts of those who loved her. But it is still nice to hold onto something she created. A dress that would not exist if she had not existed. Tangible proof she was here.

I know this is not her legacy, a small child's costume. Her real legacy lies in her Husband. In his devotion to her. In the love they shared. It wasn't perfect. At one time it twisted until it broke, but like a storm damaged tree it grew, creating something more interesting and breathtaking in it's flaws than a perfectly sheltered tree could ever have become.

Her legacy lies in me, and my brothers and sister. It lies in my children. And my nieces and nephews. It is in my brother's dry sarcasm. It is in my eyes, and Meaty's perfect lips. It is in Bird's stubbornness. It isn't tangible. But all the same, I like having this tangible piece she created. And I like seeing it on my daughter.

Pork Chop wears the bonnet and smiles. She is charmed by the idea that this was my costume. Not in the fact that Grammy made it, but by the idea that I once wore it. That I was once a small girl. I'm sure in her mind I must always have been who I am now. I wonder how she'll take the news that I am not yet done becoming who I am going to be. She thinks I am a fully finished grown up.

She wants to know if I liked wearing the bonnet. She likes wearing the bonnet.

I liked wearing it too. I've always liked to wear hats.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This is just so wrong

I have a confession. I'm hesitant to tell you. Ordinarily my life is an open book. I don't hold much back. But this secret is, well, a secret. I house it in a corner of my soul that I would rather not hold up to the light. But to explain my story I'll have to expose my soul. Please don't think less of me. *deep breath* Here I go!

I can't whistle.

Shocking isn't it!

As a child I liked to think that I had musical abilities. I liked to sing. I could pick a tune or two out on the piano. And thanks to years and years and years of singing scales, always starting with middle C, I can sing a perfect middle C (at least I used to be able to. I haven't tested this talent in years). But try as I might I could not figure out how to whistle. This lack of musical ability wounded my soul as a child. I had to face the cold reality that I could not be a musical prodigy if I could not master something as simple as whistling. A dream or two may have died with that realization.

At different points in my life different people have attempted to teach me how to whistle, to no avail. I simply can not figure it out. I'm either holding my mouth wrong, or breathing wrong, or both. I can not do it. It frustrates me so.

Knitting looks all complicated to those who don't know how to knit. Cooking seems like it's own special sort of magic to those who don't understand how an omelet gets from egg shell to omelet form. Talents always seem mysterious to those who don't possess them, and whistling is a mystery to me. A frustrating infuriating mystery. Why the hell can't I whistle?

I am delighted that three of my children can whistle (so far, at almost 10 months, Sweet Pea is to small, but who knows, she may prove to be the musical prodigy I was not). And I'm not talking blowing one note from their mouths, they can WHISTLE. These stinking kids can whistle a recognisable tune. Every time The Greatest plays that song "Young Folk" the kids walk around for three days whistling the intro. DRIVES.ME.CRAZY. (the song, not the kids) Meaty teases me that the reason I can't whistle is because he stole my whistle. It's a theory, sounds as good as any. I'm so pleased in this mystical talent that has always eluded me I try very hard not to discourage their whistling.

But Bird has been walking around for day now whistling the Enzyte jingle. You know, the "natural male enhancer." Something about that is just so wrong.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wanna see more knitting?

I must confess I have an illness, and a new addiction. It consumes me, and I can't help myself. Wanna see it? Promise not to mock me? Or go ahead and mock me. Whichever. I feel no shame. Still wanna see my new crack? C'mon, I know you do.



Tiny baby pants.

They're my downfall. I simply can not resist them. Who can? They're just so cute, and tiny. And quick to knit. Sweet Pea's coming home pants were simply my favorite item in her wardrobe. They got softer every time I washed them. They looked good despite weekly (and occasionally bi-weekly) washings. They were endlessly wearable, growing with her from pants in the winter to capris for spring, summer and fall. A baby item that saw an entire year of wearing. You can't beat that! Every time I put them on her I was reminded of the sweet newborn she was and how big she had grown. And something about those soft hand knit pants transformed her into the cuddliest baby on the planet.

I know, I know. You're thinking the stress of it all has finally gotten to me. I've cracked. In my sleep-deprived, stressed-out, zombie state of being I have finally gone over the edge. Haven't I already shown you these adorable teeny-orange pants? Don't you recall seeing them here.

Why no, let me assure you that I am not confused. Nor am I suffering from four child dementia. No. I have in fact shown you tiny orange baby pants, but I have not shown you THESE tiny orange baby pants. I loved those silly pants so much I could not resist creating tiny pants 2.0. See.


What a difference a year makes. I'm always a little startled when I see the two pants side by side. My baby's gotten so big! *sob* I knit these over the summer, and I can not express to you how excited I was when the weather finally dipped below ninety and justified the wearing of pants once more. Into the pants went the baby, and out into public went the pants, just to show off the sweetness.


Don't you just want to scoop her up and cuddle her? I can't resist. Witness the crazyness these pants instill in me. Just looking at the photo makes me want to race upstairs and wake her from her crib simply so I can cuddle her and rock her back to sleep. I will resist the urge. But only because I know she is not actually wearing the pants right now. I would wake her only to be disappointed in her non-cuddly attire, thusly disappointed I would lose my urge to rock the baby, and then I would have a VERY crabby baby on my hands. So while tempted, I shall resist.

Baring any crazy mutant growing spurts (which I wouldn't put past Sweet Pea, she does live to complicate my life), she should be able to wear these pants most of the winter, reviving them in the spring as capris, just like last year. Another year of cuddling hand knit pants. Does it get any better than that?


(and for those who care, the pattern was Pimp My Longies. I modified them to add the picot detail like the original pants. I think I used 4 skeins of Knitpicks Shine, but I wouldn't swear to it in a court of law, it's been too long since I've knit them to be sure. I loved the pattern, and will probably knit it again...soon...)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shamed into Knit Blogging

If you're new to my blog I've got a surprise for you. This is not a mommy blog, a family blog, a journaling blog, or simply an exercise in writing because no one around here listens to me anyways blog. Despite the archives you may have read this blog is none of those things. This blog serves a different, very specific, purpose.

This is a knitting blog.

No really. Stop laughing. I knit. I really do. Stop laughing! I swear, this is a knitting blog to show off my mad knitting skillz! (cause I roll with the z! Don't be hating.)

Unfortunately the last time I did any significant knitting was almost a year ago. I was near the end of my pregnancy with Sweet Pea. I was enormous. I was exhausted. And I was driven. My urge to create was in maximum overdrive. I was not content to merely sit around and create an entirely new human being with my spare calories (and with the amount of left over Halloween candy and Thanksgiving pies everywhere, I had calories to spare). Nope, in classic over-achiever style growing a person was just not enough. I needed to be DOING something every second of every day. Washing baby blankets, scrubbing the tubs, wiping finger prints from the windows. I needed to be productive. But this was not soothing, nor relaxing. Somehow cleaning just made more work. There was always more to be done and never enough done, never anything to show for it. My internal agitation reached near its breaking point. I NEEDED to make things, tangible things I could hold until I could hold my baby, tactile things I could touch until I could touch my baby. I needed a finished object to show what I had been doing with my time. (in retrospect this could be a possible explanation for all the Thanksgiving pies) As I spiral towards my breaking point that would have resulted in my boiling the children to kill their germs and possibly decoupaging the dog, a solution presented itself.

Christmas Knitting.

Thank goodness for Christmas knitting.

As December 25th loomed I took up my needles in anticipation of Christmas and the requisite gift giving. I knit a scarf for every member of my family. And I took such enjoyment in the feel of yarn flowing between my fingers. It soothed my soul and calmed my nerves in a way that sewing, baking, and cleaning were just not capable of. I took such care in choosing each color, yarn weight and pattern for my beloved family members. I loved every second of that knitting. I miss my family so much, and instead of not thinking about them because it makes me miss them, I reveled in thinking of each one as I knit their scarf. I took out my memories of why I loved them, and how they drove me crazy, and how I looked forward to seeing them again. I took everything I could from these projects, everything but pictures.

As December 25th creeped closer and the deadline to mail the scarves approached with frightening rapidity, I wrapped the tangible proof of my work and mailed them on their way without even thinking of taking a few moments to document my mad skillz. I know! I've become such a bad blogger.

It wouldn't be so heartbreaking, but they were A.W.E.S.O.M.E. The black kidsilk haze Wisp for my fashion forward sister (oh the evil crack that is kid silk haze). The monstrous Harry Potter scarf (Azkaban, not Sorcerer's Stone) in OSU colors for my poor misguided brother. And the Noro scarf, oh the noro scarf. Three colorways of silk garden striped into the most awesome scarf on the planet. I know I'm over using this word, but that scarf was just made.of.AWESOME! I loved it so much it took every ounce of Christmas spirit and generosity I had to wrap it and mail it instead of keeping it all for myself.

The good part, or bad part, about living so far from my family is I didn't get to see them open their gifts. I don't know if the red I choose was just perfect with her skin tone like I thought it would be. I don't know if that monster scarf was indeed long and monstrous enough or if it was too thick. I think they liked them. But my Mamma raised us right, my siblings were all gracious enough to SAY they liked them, and hide their disappointment if they hated them. And being so very far away they were free to quietly give them to charity without my ever knowing or even suspecting, as is their right.

But my Dad. Oh my Daddy. He LOVED his scarf. He raved about it, and I smiled because I had at least got this one right. A perfect marriage of yarn, pattern, and giftee. He called me a few weeks after Christmas filled with woe. Someone, the lowest of the low kind of someones, had stolen his hand knit scarf from his desk at work. It is a sad sorry state of affairs when people go around stealing hand knitted Christmas gifts.

I was suspicious.

"Dad, if you didn't like your scarf you don't have to invent phantom thieves to steal it. You can give it away and I would never know. I promise to never ask what became of your scarf."

He assured me he had not imagined the incident in an effort to hide the fact that he secretly hated his scarf and had given it to Goodwill. In fact he was hoping I would knit him another one.

So I ordered replacement yarn, and not a moment too soon, because the color was being discontinued. It arrived a week later, and then the yarn sat in my yarn cabinet, for eight months.

I had an excuse. I had a newborn who never slept. Then I had a baby with thrush who never slept. Then we were busy house hunt, then we were busy buying a house, and busy painting a house, and busy packing a house, and busy unpacking a house. And oh yeah, through it all, Sweet Pea continued to not sleep. I was one tired Mamma.

But as my Dad made plans to come visit in September my guilt got the best of me. I still haven't finished his sweater, can't I at least finish his lousy scarf for him? I dusted off my needles and cast on a new replacement scarf. And wouldn't you know it I enjoyed knitting him this scarf a second time as much as I enjoyed knitting it the first time, maybe even more, because I KNEW he was going to love it.

I proudly presented him with his scarf and he asked

"Did you take pictures of it for your blog?"

No. No I hadn't. Again with the bad blogging. Evidently I don't learn from my mistakes (did you notice I have FOUR children). My Dad was here several days and he asked me several times if I had photographed it yet. I had not. He finally took matters into his own hands (and camera) and photographed the scarf himself.

So allow me to present to you, on my knitting blog, courtesy of some photographs and guilt that only a parent can provide, some fine-ass knitting: My Father's Christmas Scarf, version 2.0


Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf

Yarn: Knitpicks Telemark in Snow Leopard, 4 skeins

Needles: Size 7 Addi Turbos

Modifications: None


Review: I love this scarf. When knit on the larger needles the telemark becomes wonderfully drapey, yet still supports the cables. In theory I don't want to knit patterns I've already knit more than once, but this pattern is infinitly knit-able. The resulting design is simple, but so beautiful in its simplicity. I don't know why cables just scream my Dad to me, but they do. And I'm sorry Dad, but the grey is you as well. It is probably because you have told me my entire life that every grey hair on your head can be directly attributed to me. I associate grey with you. It's your own fault.

So there you go. Finally some knitting on this knitting blog. Look for more soon, I've got lace on my blocking wires as I type (did you catch that? I OWN BLOCKING WIRES, but that is an entirely different blog post). I've got several things in my knitting queue that need knit right now, but I see more knitting for my Father in my future. With a fan like this


how can I not?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three Down....

and I declared defeat.

I was trying to get all the costumes done in time for a Halloween party on the 11th. Epic Fail! I might have done it, but I had a bad burger on Tuesday that sidelined me until Saturday (and even Saturday I wasn't feeling 100%). I just didn't have it in me to stay up into the wee hours of the night and sew. I preferred to spend my time lying in bed moaning and praying for death. The Greatest knew I was over the hump when I stopped praying for death and merely wished for unconsciousness. It took everything I had to finish sewing Bird's costume, including sixteen hand sewn snaps to hold the collar in place. After that I was done. Just defeated.

I was so sad I didn't even get started on Pork Chop's costume. I hadn't even taken the time to cut it out. I had failed her as a Mommy. But a quick consultation with Pork Chop revealed that she was perfectly fine wearing last year's Halloween costume as long as I P.R.O.M.I.S.E.D. to have her Dorothy costume done in time for her school party. You know, the real party, the one that actually counts. I promised.

But it wasn't a complete failure, because THIS is Bird's costume.


I KNOW!!! Isn't it fabulous! Sometimes I amaze myself! I thought that collar was going to kill me. It was just going to take over where the bad burger left off and finish me. And three layers of tulle in the over skirt! I'm not sure how Bird talked me into this costume in the first place. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with her batting her enormous green eyes at me.


But convince me she did. And it was so worth every tiny snap that made my eyes cross and my head feel like it was going to explode. She was so happy. She insisted on being called Snow White. She said my Bird would return after the party, but while she was wearing her dress she was Snow White.

So in the end everyone had a costume for the party, and with the exception of Sweet Pea, they were all happy with their costumes.


At the party they had a costume parade with judging. Whenever anyone complimented Bird I told her to reply "Thanks, my Mommy made my dress." I KNOW! Shameless! But the best part is she won an award in the costume contest.


Again, just look how happy she is. She was so proud to have a "reward." She even slept with it. And I was pretty pleased too. The Greatest was teasing me that the award was really for me. And it kinda was.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Two Down...

Two to go!

And I cheated on this one too. The only thing I made was the tutu.

At first she wasn't so sure about the entire affair.


The light in the room was bad, so I thought maybe she was protesting the sub-standard photographing conditions. She can be it bit of a diva, but she is the consumate professional, aware of what light and angles work to her advantage. We tried outside.


Nope. Not any better. We did just use the bench last weekend for a cute photoshoot. Maybe she was annoyed with my lack of imagination.

Maybe the swing?


Alright, on the swing it wasn't so bad. The new location must have been deemed pleasing. She even decided the tutu needed investigation.


But we didn't get any real smiles until we placed the girl in front of a mirror.


She thinks she's a pretty cute devil too!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

One Costume Down....


I will admit freely and without shame: I cheated on this one. $12.98 at Wal-Mart. But in my defense, just look how happy he is! Now sure, there was a bit of grumbling from The Greatest when the cop's son shunned the super-heroes and police officer costumes, only to select with glee the firefighter costume. But c'mon. Can you blame him? He gets an axe!


And I know we can all sleep soundly at night, knowing that there is someone in the house just waiting to protect us from a fire,


or parched plants.


I consider it money well spent.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

September wasn't a total waste...

I did get back into my favorite pre-pregnancy jeans!


And there was much rejoicing in my bathroom.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sweet Freedom!

September was a horrible month!

I'm so glad it's over.

Between the baby's teething and separation anxiety I'm not sure I put the baby down the entire month. The sling was my best friend. I walked endlessly with the baby. Good thing she's so cute, or I might have left her by the side of the road.


I'm sure someone would have picked her up right?

There was my birthday. Anyone remember my birthday last year? Apparently my car has decided to make this a tradition. This year we replaced the battery cable, the ignition switch, the starter and the alternator. Surprisingly the battery itself is just fine. We were so broke when the alternator decided to die a slow death we decided to see how long we could live without a new one. The car seemed to be working as long as we didn't run the air conditioner. Now bear in mind that we live in the desert where the temps are still in the 100s. Yet we decided to live old school. We cooled down with the wind. But breaking down at Wal-Mart with the four children and no cell phone while The Greatest was at home asleep on the couch made me desparate for a working car, and just a bit creative with the finances. We purchased the new alternator with our ziplock bag of change. All I can say is thank goodness for coin star. I'm so glad I didn't have to count all those pennies by hand. The Greatest has forbidden me from having a birthday next year, the car just can't take it.

We finally cleaned out the rental house and returned the keys. I am a good tenant. One side effect of being a former military spouse is my rentals can pass a white glove inspection when we move out. Since I could not put the baby down while she was awake, every moment the baby was napping was spent cleaning. I scrubbed everything that stood still. The unfortunate side effect of all that friction was the loss of the skin on some of my fingers. That right. I scrubbed until the skin came off my hands! And I cut my thumb pretty deep cleaning the glass shower door. But our deposit was promptly returned, and my reputation as the best tenant E.V.E.R. remains intact. So glad I don't have to go through that in a year.

Pork Chop was baptised and the other girls were blessed. This meant company coming from out of town, which meant much cleaning of my other house, you know, the one I actually live in. It also meant sewing three new dresses for the occasion. Every night after the children went to bed I could be found at the sewing machine. I'm actually getting pretty good with a pattern. I've finally mastered understitching. Just don't look too closely at my zippers. My zipper technique is still a work in progress. But Sweet Pea's sleeves are white cotton perfection. They just might get their very own blog post, they're so perfect.


Between the dresses, and the cleaning, and the baby, I don't think I've slept more than five hours a night all month. I'm tired! I was quite happy to wave good-bye to September.

So today was a great day. I woke up with nothing scheduled to do. There was no agenda. The rental is returned. Company has come and gone (I hope they come back soon!). The dresses have been worn and are already in the laundry pile. My daily agenda was clear. Clear to relax. Clear to breath. Clear to knit.

The freedom was staggering. What do I do? Where do I start?

I was giddy with anticipation. Oh the things I've been waiting to knit. I've got sweaters, scarves, hats, shawls all just waiting to be created. I've got squishy yarn just waiting to flow through my fingers. I just can't decide where to begin.

Then I remembered. Our annual church Halloween party is on the 11th. Now who on earth holds a Halloween party that early in the month? Honestly. I think it should be against the law to hold a party that requires costumes before the 15th. But nobody asked me. And I shouldn't complain to loudly because goodness knows I don't actually want to be in charge. I realized I'd better get started on the Halloween costumes if I want them done in time. I'm elbow deep in black tulle, yellow satin and blue gingham. Knitting will have to wait a few more days.

*grumble, grumble* And I call this blog a knitting blog. *grumble, grumble, grumble*