Of Family, Weddings, and Stitching for Others

Today I thought I would write a little bit about family since most of my projects recently have been for family members.  On a daily basis there is me, quanta (my husband) and Baby Man (now a little over 16 months old).  My parents live about an hour away and we see them a few times a month.  It isn’t enough, but it is still wonderful.  quanta’s parents live nearby too, but we see them maybe twice a year.   There is also quanta’s sister who lives in the U.S., and comes back to Toronto a few times a year.  And all of the Chinese aunties, uncles, cousins and grandmother who we see once in a while too.  On my side, we see my mother’s sisters occasionally, but haven’t seen anyone from my dad’s side in a long time.  (He is significantly younger than most of his siblings, so they have never been really close as long as I’ve been aware.)

This year we get to celebrate two weddings in the family.  One of my cousins is getting married, and quanta’s sister is also tying the knot.  But I’m very sad that I’m not going to be at either ceremony.  In my cousin’s case, years of misunderstanding between family members have caused her to decide not to invite any of us.  I suspect she has no idea how deeply she has hurt me and my mom.  I suppose it cuts both ways though.  In quanta’s sister’s case, well, they are essentially eloping… but everyone knows and there will be dinners in five different cities, on different days, to celebrate.  Very modern, eh?

Is what does this have to do with anything?  Well, beyond those two weddings, I know of three other couples getting married this year.  And, sadly, I’m only making something for one couple.  You see, I really don’t like to give stitched gifts.  (And I’m not yet secure enough in my knitting skills to even consider giving a knitted gift beyond dishcloths, which I don’t think anyone would really appreciate.  And yes, I know I am making dishcloths to give as a gift.  I’m not only long winded, I’m also inconsistent.)  I think I’m a pretty neat stitcher, I might even go as far as to say that I’m fairly accomplished considering I’m self-taught.  But, I always second guess whether something will be appreciated.  So, that leads me to stitching a piece for only one wedding this year, with sincere hopes that it won’t end up in a closet.

As for the rest of the family, I think I’ve only given stitched pieces to my parents and my aunts.  A couple of quanta’s aunties have expressed interest in my stitching, but I’m not entirely sure how sincere they are, or if I would be able to find something to suit their style.  I guess it isn’t so bad to stitch mostly for myself, but what am I going to do when I run out of room on my walls?

Here’s another look at one of the gifts I’m making.  I’ve finished up both, I’m happy to report, well ahead of schedule.  One needs to be sent off to be framed and the other will be finished by me.

gift2

As for my knitting, I ripped out those pooling socks made from that lovely hand-painted Tencel yarn.  I’ll try again with a different pattern for anklets later.  Instead, I’m working on the Tesla scarf from the latest Knotions.  I’m using Silk Seacell from Dye-Versions, which, surprisingly, is a silk and seacell blend.  I’ll share some pictures in a couple of days.  My crocheted market bag is also coming along nicely.  I’m nearly done with the one skein I wound into a yarn cake, so I just need to find some time to wind up the second skein.

A Box of Buttons

I’ve been a cross stitcher for many years.  I think I did my first (stamped) piece some time around 1991 or 1992, and very quickly afterwards moved on to counted cross stitch.  I tried regular embroidery a few times, but discovered I wasn’t very good at it.  I’ve also tried my hand at sewing a few times, but I’m pretty much just able to manage simple things like draw-string bags and ornament finishing.  I’ve also done a little bit of scrapbooking, but I’m not overly fond of it.

In the past eight months I’ve added a couple of new hobbies: knitting and crocheting.  I love the precision of knitting and the speed of crochet, but neither bring me as much joy as cross stitch.  (Although, there is something super cool about wearing socks you’ve made yourself.)

Getting more heavily into these hobbies, and increasing both my yarn and fabric stashes, has helped me feel closer to my paternal grandmother who passed away when I was in high school.  She was the one who tried very hard to teach me to sew and crochet and all those other things long ago, but I wasn’t a very good student and didn’t have much skill.  I think that she would be very proud of me now, knowing that her time did not go to waste.

One thing that I lack, though, is a box of buttons to rival my grandmother’s.  Honestly, I can’t remember how she stored them, but I do remember running my fingers through what must have been over a hundred buttons of all different types.  My button collection is made up of those extra buttons you get when you buy sweaters.  They are stored in their plastic bags in my jewelry case.  How uninspiring.

My grandmother’s collection took a lifetime to build, so I suppose mine will too.  It is a shame, though, that the buttons on clothes today are often so cheap and plastic. They don’t seem to have the charm of all those mother-of-pearl and Bakelite and shell buttons that my grandmother had. Nonetheless, they are good start to a button collection that I hope will one day, many years from now, inspire my own grandchildren.

Birthday Gifts!

Last year I complained a few times about not ever getting stash as gifts for birthday, Christmas, etc.  This past Christmas, my parents did buy some stash, much to my delight.  And, for my birthday this past weekend, I was completely spoiled!  In addition to going out for lunch/movie/dinner (while my parents babysitted), and allowing me to buy Heirloom Stitching Sampler last month, my lovely husband bought me all my books on my Chapters Indigo wish list, which included Joan Elliot’s Bewitching Cross Stitch and Socks A La Carte.  The rest of the books included a stunning Tarot deck (Mystic Dreamer Tarot), Tarot for Writers and The Soul of Creative Writing.  Yeah, I was totally spoiled.  And I’ve also updated my wish list in case he is moved to be so generous again. 😉

My parents also bought me stash–three Victoria Sampler charts and the thread pack for two of the charts.  They gave me W is for Witch, S is for Stitcher and Sring Garden Sampler and the thread packs for the two alphabet samplers.  My dad also completely surprised me by making me a yarn swift.  (Here are the directions he essentially followed.)  How sweet is that?

Birthday Gifts 2009

Oh, I also forgot to mention that I won one of the Cross Eyed Kat door prizes from The Needlework Show. My chart, Oak Tree Biscornu arrived on Monday.  What a nice way to cap off a lovely weekend.  All of this made turning 32 just a little bit easier.

Now, on to what I have actually managed to get done this week!

First, the Never Ending Blue Shawl of Doom is nearly done!  I have three more rows of the centre design to do and then about another 15 or so rows of plain filet to do to finish it up.  It will need a good blocking to uncurl the sides.  Since it is cotton, we will have to see how that goes.  I will share a picture in a couple of days.

I finished up the drawstring bag, but forgot to take a picture of it.  It still needs to be lined, but my mom has my sewing machine foot pedal. (Long story, that.)

I’ve also put in some time on my Lotus Blossom Shawl, but lace is slow going and looks like nothing while it is being worked on.  I’m on row 29, which means I am 3.1% done according to to Jessica Rose’s Shawl Progress Calculator (see the side bar).

Lotus Blossom Shawl - May 12, 2009

For cross stitch, I’ve done some of Nora Corbett’s Lily of the Valley fairy.  I’m using more of the Silkweaver Solo that I used to do Letter H.  She is turning out just lovely.

Lily of the Valley - May 12, 2009

And, lastly, for the past couple of days I have been working on Christmas Treasures Collection by Victoria Sampler.  I guess I was just in a VS mood after getting all those charts for my birthday.

Christmas Treasures - May 12, 2009

This week I plan to continue on with the Lotus Blossom Shawl as time permits (lace knitting and toddlers do not combine well).  I’ll work on Delightful Dragon on Wednesday, and Lily of the Valley or Christmas Treasures for the rest of the time.  There is also the blue shawl to finish up, and a super secret project to think about starting.  I may be using wool for that, which means I’ll need to wear a mask and gloves.  But, I think the final project will be worth it.

Alone and Never Apart

Growing up as an only child, I really learned to value quiet time to myself.  To this day, there are few things I enjoy more than sitting by myself and indulging in one of my hobbies, be it reading, knitting, cross stitch or occasionally writing.  But now that I am a mommy, quiet time doesn’t seem to exist any more.  Some days I don’t even get a break when I’m in the shower.  More then once, Baby Man has escape from his papa and poked his head around the shower curtain.

Once in a while, quanta lets me escape for a few hours of shopping and lunch by myself.  And I will be totally honest, I look forward to this time more then I probably should.  I plan for it all week, trying to take care of other errands so that I can do just the few things I want to do, alone, without rushing.  But, somehow, when I’m out I feel a little lonely.  I’m a wee bit sad when I see other people with their little ones, and my thoughts turn to home.  I think that being a parent changes something deep inside.

I have no foreseeable break from the little man until a week Tuesday, when I will be escaping to my favourite spa in Stoney Creek, ON.  In the meantime, I will be dealing with a teething little man, and although I may get frustrated, I can’t imaging being apart from him.  That is, until my crochet lessons start the following Saturday.