The Right Tool for the Job

What’s that old adage about using the right tool for the job? Whatever it is, they had a point. I’ve taken on yet another unfinished project of Mom’s. It’s a half-done afghan that Mom was knitting for my sister. I’m planning to finish it, maybe in time for her birthday??? (Sis, if you’re reading this, don’t hold me to that!) Anyway, she was knitting in on size 9 needles. I’ve worked my way through a few sizes down to size 6… The variation in our gauge was so bad, that I’ve ripped back all that I had knit on it, and started with the 6 needles. We will see how it goes from here. I kept holding it up, stretching and shaking it, hoping that somehow, magically, our gauge would match perfectly. However, it turns out my knitted strips were a couple of inches wider than Mom’s. Since I picked up knitting a strip where she had left off, it was looking a little, well, wonky…

Trying to finish someone else’s knitting can be quite the challenge. Every knitter is unique, and their work is filled with the idiosyncrasies of their individual technique. So, it will never be a perfect match, but maybe it will be close enough to work. I’ll never be able to fill Mom’s shoes, but maybe I can be a little like her. Maybe I can do a few things that she would have. Maybe now and then I can do something good because it’s the sort of thing that Mom would have done. She may have left some big shoes to fill, but more than that, she left a legacy. I hope that some of who she was is part of me. She taught me so much, both with words and by example.

Right now, I’m going to go back to knitting. Hopefully, I’ll find the right needle size soon, before I have to rip out my work too many more times…

Unfinished

I’ve found a barely started placemat and nearly finished sweater in Mom’s knitting bag. I was looking through it to try and find a ball of burgundy cotton yarn for a gift I’m knitting. I came across these two unfinished projects. Something in me just couldn’t leave them that way. I’ve made a bit of progress on them both today.

Mom kept knitted placemats on hand for the kids. They loved using them whenever they ate at Grammy’s house. She probably cast on another one for them to use. She was knitting it on a pair of beautiful wooden needles that I’d given her for Christmas. She loved my circular ones, but preferred straight needles herself. When the company who makes them came out with the straight knitting needles, I knew exactly what to order for her! She had only an inch done, so the difference in our knitting will probably not be too visible.

I have no idea who the sweater was meant for. I don’t even remember ever seeing her knitting it. It’s pretty, and has just some finishing on the hood and button band for me to do. There isn’t enough yarn to make the sleeves, so I think I’ll just leave it as a vest. It will still be pretty. I hope that it doesn’t look too strange. Mom knit much tighter than I do, so she usually used larger needles than me.

I can’t explain why, but I just feel the need to finish these projects for her. It seems so strange to be knitting Mom’s projects with her needles. Today has been a “ton of bricks” day. I miss her so much. It’s funny how things will go on, and suddenly, something small will bring it all rushing back. I’m learning to take things day by day. ‘I just need strength for today, Lord. Just help me get through today, and we can deal with tomorrow when it comes. I just need grace for today.’ While I pray for strength and grace, I’ll pick up Mom’s needles and keep knitting.

You’re Doing WHAT With Those T-shirts?!

If you weren’t sure by now, then you will be after reading this post. I am CRAZY!

I saw a video tutorial online that was demonstrating how to cut t-shirts into long strips to be used as yarn. Someone suggested using the t-shirt yarn for a rug. I thought that it was a FANTASTIC idea! I ran up to Aaron’s dresser and pulled out the three white t-shirts in his top drawer. I asked him, “How many t-shirts do you need?” He told me that one would probably suffice since he doesn’t wear button-down shirts often. I gleefully snipped two white t-shirts, and went looking for more… I discovered that I had a number of t-shirts that were worn or the wrong size. They quickly fell victim to my scissors. At that point, I had a basketball sized ball of t-shirt yarn. I remembered a pattern in the Mason-Dixon Knitting book for a spiral rug knit out of fabric strips, perfect! I cast on and began knitting away. I’m still not sure how big I will make this rug. I’ll probably knit on it until I get sick of knitting t-shirts! It will be an easy enough thing to continue adding more strips of t-shirts as I keep knitting. Who knows, maybe I’ll wind up with a nice room-sized rug. Maybe I’ll wind up with a welcome mat.

You’re Doing What With The Sweater?

I’ve started a project that Mom would call me crazy for attempting…

I have a sweater that I bought before Camo was born. I LOVE this sweater. Sadly, after only about six months of use, it started to come apart at the neckline. Now, I’m a pretty competent seamstress and knitter, but this was beyond my ability to repair. Still, I love the color and fiber in this sweater, and I can’t bear to throw it out. It has sit, ignored, for almost a year now. Then, I had an idea…

It started when I read a blog post about how to unravel and re-use yarn from a sweater. Apparently, buying sweaters at yard sales and thrift shops, then unraveling them to use the yarn in a new project, is quite the hobby for some folks. This intrigued me. I began to think, what if I unraveled that sweater and made a new sweater or maybe a shawl out of the yarn? Brilliant! Now, the yarn in this sweater is REALLY thin. Sock yarn weight or smaller, maybe lace weight. Tiny, really tiny. That alone might confirm my insanity. But let’s take this one step further. I have to painstakingly pick out the stitches in the seams before I can even begin to unravel. At this rate, I may have the darn thing unraveled and ready to knit into something else in time for Munchkin’s wedding…

If Mom was here, she would laugh when I told her my plan, tell me I was crazy, suggest that simply buying yarn might be the easier route to go, and then pick up a seam ripper and help me pick out the millions of stitches that must be on that sweater. Then, when it’s finally in pieces, she would grab a sleeve and start unraveling, pausing to laugh and tell me how crazy I am, and how crazy she must be for volunteering to help.

I find reminders of Mom everywhere. I’ve gotten through the first week of shock, and now the ache seems to be setting in. The realization that there is a huge hole in my life where Mom used to be. Life goes on, and truly we don’t grieve like those with no hope, but the grief is still there. It’s not more than we can bear, God promised us that, but it’s still there. I’ll always miss her. I’ll always feel like something is missing. I’ll always laugh and cry when I think of her, when I think of what she would be doing or saying if she was here now. Really, I can’t bring myself to wish her back. But now, more than ever, I hope Jesus comes back soon. I’m ready to go home, are you?

Hand-Knit Socks

Now for a lighter topic!

Munchkin’s feet are growing quite big. Many of her socks no longer fit. The only socks that do fit are her boring white socks. She kind of misses her cute socks, so I thought that I’d knit her some cute socks!

I’ve wanted to learn a method of knitting two socks at once using the magic loop method for a while now. I have a great book that teaches this method. I pulled out the book, needles and yarn and set to work.

The author recommends knitting toddler-sized socks to learn the method, and also suggests making each sock a different color so that you don’t get the yarn for each confused. (You have to use two separate balls of yarn; otherwise your two socks would be knit together. This is a bad idea if you plan to walk while wearing your socks…) She mentions that toddlers won’t care that their socks don’t match, so once you are done with them, gift them to an adorable little kid who will love them. Unfortunately, Munchkin was not impressed with the idea of an unmatched pair of socks…

She eagerly tried on her new socks, and then asked if she could wear just the pink socks. I told her that there was only one pink sock. She pondered that, and told me that she would wear the purple socks, then. I told her that there was only one purple sock. She asked me to knit her more socks. I had an idea that I’d wind up knitting a second pair of mismatched socks for her… So, I cast on the second set, and tried to take the first pair off her feet. Even thought they didn’t match, she insisted that she wanted to wear them while she waited for me to finish the matches.

When we moved into our house, my mom found a wooden box full of socks that my great-grandmother had knit for her sons. Socks are a practical gift, but they are also a gift of love. I’ve heard it explained this way— socks take time to knit, depending on the size of someone’s feet, they can take a lot of time to knit. You give them to someone you love, knowing that they will wear them out. Then you knit them another pair to wear out. Anyone who knits you a pair of socks has put a lot of love into them. I know, socks are cheap, why not just buy them? If you have ever worn hand-knit socks, you will understand! I have one pair that I knit for myself, and I wear them whenever they are clean! Also, what better way to show my kids how much I love them, than to knit them socks. Maybe someday, someone will find a box full of socks that I’ve knit, and smile thinking about how much I must have loved my kids to knit them so many socks.