February 23, 2008

This Is Still a Knitting Blog

The Hemlock Ring baby blanket came off the needles yesterday and I finished weaving in the ends today. It just needs a really good, severe blocking.

This blanket could have been finished a lot faster but with all the craziness of the move, I didn't get to work on it as often as I normally would have. Also, I had a bit of a situation deciding when to bind off.

I had worked through row 65 of Jared's chart and still had most of my last ball unworked. I didn't know if it was enough yarn to complete the next repeat and the bind off. To be safe, I put in a lifeline before starting the next repeat. Man, that was tedious. The scrap yarn I used was not ideal lifeline material. It was too thick and not smooth enough, but it was the best of the choices that I had easy access to at the time. It was painfully slow both putting in the lifeline and working the row where it was.

Lifeline in place, I got all the way through the next repeat (the last one on the chart) and started the bind off. I was maybe 1/16th of the way through the bind off when I had to admit there simply wasn't enough yarn to finish.

blanket stretched over exercise ball.

So now I needed to make a decision. I could rip back to the lifeline and start the bind off from there. OR, given that I'd gotten all the way through the last repeat and only needed more yarn for the edge, I could work the bind off in a contrasting color.

I contemplated this second option for about a day and a half. On the pro side, a contrasting edge could be really pretty and the blanket would be bigger than if I ripped back. On the con side, I'd have to go buy the new yarn.

Since when is buying yarn a con, you ask? Well, since about November I've been really good about knitting from my stash. I've felt very virtuous and clever every time I've found suitable yarn without having to go buy some. I realized there's lots of wonderful knitting potential sitting right in my stash. I already have the perfect yarn for many of the projects in my queue. To be clear, I have not put myself on a yarn diet. However, limiting myself to stash knitting as much as possible has given me the strength not to buy yarn. I've even passed on some killer yarn sales! It's been a stash-knitting roll and I wasn't sure about breaking it just yet.

From the pictures you can probably see that the edge is not a contrasting color, meaning I did rip back to the lifeline. I'll tell you what sealed my decision. It wasn't my reluctance to buy new yarn. It was that this yarn (Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK in Snowman) was a gift from my mom. She gave it to me the first time she saw me after I'd told her about my pregnancy. How cute is that? I tell her I'm pregnant and the first thing she does is run out and buy me some white yarn with the word "baby" on the ballband.


This blanket is a gift to Minnie Purl from both her mom and her Grammy. Introducing new yarn to the project, even just on the edge, somehow would've spoiled the purity of that.

And also? All the tedium of inserting that darn lifeline wasn't in vain.

February 21, 2008

Home

One of the greatest blessings in my life is that I had a very happy, secure childhood. My parents were happily married and worked hard to provide a loving, nurturing environment for my brother and me. In my heart and memory that warm, stable environment is inextricably linked to the house we lived in when I was young. I lived in the same house from birth until I left for college. It was my home so completely that I wasn’t even aware of how emotionally significant a home can be until the day, during my senior year of high school, when my father sat us down and explained that we needed to sell the house.

It was the early 90’s. The recession had been dragging on for quite a while. While it was an extraordinarily beautiful house, it was quite large and very old. My father had owned the house outright since before I was born, but the maintenance and taxes on the house were very expensive. Not only that, but I’m the youngest and I was to be leaving for college soon. The house was way more than my about-to-be empty-nester parents would need. In the coming years, my dad’s health would begin to decline rapidly. He didn’t say it (and I didn’t suspect it), but I think he knew that soon he simply wouldn’t be able to manage living in a house of that size and that more money would be needed for medical expenses. On that day he simply laid it out as a sensible, financial decision. He recognized how hard it would be for all of us to leave (he’d been living there for more than 30 years, himself) but explained that it was the wisest thing to do, given the state of the economy.

It was one of those life events when your perspective changes in an instant. The house represented all the stability and security I had had in my life so far. I realize how lucky I am to have been 18 and seeing for the first time that up until then I had had the luxury of taking that stability and security for granted. But at the time all I could feel was the loss. The idea of selling the house made me feel adrift, confused and very sad. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I felt emotionally homeless.

Over the next 10 years, I lived in a series of dorm rooms and rentals. I had roommates, my own apartment and then the apartments I shared with Chris before we were married. I visited my parents in their new house, sometimes staying for months at a time. All those places were perfectly nice, but none of them encompassed that feeling of Home the way the old house had. I was the right age to be leaving home, which helped me make peace with the sale of the old house. But I never lost my fondness for that house and what it represented. And I never forgot how I’d felt like everything I had ever relied upon might slip away if that house was no longer my family homestead.

Two months after we were married, Chris and I moved into the house we have just sold. (We actually made the winning offer on the house on an evening we were having a meeting with our wedding planner and DJ, but that’s another story.) We have lived there for the past four years. Somewhere along the way, I regained that feeling of Home and it was wonderful.

The process of selling that house and moving into a new one has made a lot of old feelings resurface. This time, though, I’m not a na├»ve teenager. Instead, I’m a reasonably well adjusted adult who knows that while a house can be a big part of one’s identity and is the place one might call “home,” it’s the bigger principles of love, security, peacefulness and family that really define Home.

Two days before the close of escrow, Chris and I had our final walk-through at our old house. It was completely empty, save for the alarmingly huge dust bunnies and the mysterious bottle of Miller Light that was there when we moved in. (Leaving it there just seemed like the right thing to do.) I allowed myself to cry and mourn leaving the place where I had once again felt so loved and secure that I could truly feel at Home.

We left there for the last time and came to our new house. We still have many unpacked boxes, there are still areas of the house under construction, the furniture for our bedroom and the nursery has not yet arrived, but this house is shaping up very nicely. I’ve been having a blast picking paint colors, light fixtures, window treatments, etc. We’re putting our own personal stamp on this house and it feels fantastic. I love that everywhere I look, I see my life with my husband. And when I think about bringing our baby daughter home from the hospital to this house, I feel overjoyed. This house is the beginning of our next series of adventures as our family expands. We are filling this house with love and making it a Home.

When we were standing in our old house on that final day, Chris and I talked about the things I’ve said here. We let ourselves feel the sadness of leaving that house and then we hugged and reminded each other of a certain part of our wedding vows. It was the thing that made it easy for me to wipe away my tears. It’s the thing that has made this transition one of joy. On our wedding day, we said to each other, “May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home.”