An addition to the sweater saga of last week’s entry….the story behind the story
My granny knit all of my sweaters when I was a child. I often did get the ones with stripes on the sleeves and the bottom, which were reworked from last years, or my sister’s outgrown ones.
This did entail a certain ceremony every summer. Granny would invite us down to her little cottage on Cape Cod. We would arrive and she would have a tape measure, pencil in hand and a piece of paper ready. I came to understand about the paper as I was older. It was always torn on the sides. Granny saved everything. The papers were the back sides of envelopes she had received in the mail.
Once there, the ritual began. She would trace around a hand, fingers together, fingers spread out. And always there was an extra line at the end of the thumb and the tallest finger.I might add I do recall this procedure tickled my fingers and I would be told to hold still.
Then the sweater measurements… the arm, the back, the waist. I find I have done this with all of my grandkids when I had a chance and somewhere in my piles of stuff I have the hand prints of the four older grandkids, now all grown up, and notations in my knitting book of what size sweater I have knit for Lucy and Phoebe.
The purple sweater was the first I have added on to. With the others I assume the sweaters were passed on to someone else. In fact, when my kids were small and I worked as an aide in the local school, I saw my children’s sweaters on neighbor’s kids as they moved along the street to the younger children.
Then there is the sweater I won. I was in high school when I won a gift certificate for a sweater at a local store. I have no recollection how or why. My mother took me into Worcester to the store and waited while I made my selection.
It took a long time and finally the clerk asked my mom why it was taking so long.
“She has never owned a store bought sweater. She is comparing them to hand knit.”
Hand knit fit, perfectly.
It was then I realized what a treasure a hand knit sweater is.
I find I am writing often about “the little girls” – and they are hardly little any more at ages 9 and 11 – tall and slim and full of energy. But my other “grands” are between 26 and 30…. all grown up. We do see some of them now and then, but not as often as the little girls. In fact we have learned that my first great-grands will be arriving in the fall… twin girls. Can’t wait to see them.
Lucy, the 11 year old is growing so fast that a sweater I knit her a year ago has “shrunk”, according to Lucy. Mom washed it in the machine, and suddenly it was small. Fortunately I had more of the same yarn and spent a little time extending the length of the sleeves and the bottom. Lucy is getting taller and her arms are getting longer but she is as slim as ever.
She arrived from her new island home last week and I mentioned the purple sweater awaiting her. She ran to get it and put it on. “Perfect”, she says, “and it’s just like the other one!”
“It is the other one,” I said and I showed her where it was lengthened, and of course had to tell her about my Granny who would take a too small sweater and do the same thing. If she ran out of the proper yarn, we got stripes, until it was hopeless. And being the younger of two, I usually got the stripes.
The two little girls come for visit when they can fit it into their busy days. They aren’t so little any more either, one having just turned nine and the other days away from turning eleven. They are moving farther away as well, so I treasure the visits I get.
They are still in the doll playing stage. I love this age. They go down to my basement where it is doll and beanie baby heaven . They used to pull out all the dolls and strip them. The beanie babies would be tossed everywhere but as they have gotten older the routine is a bit different.
We had some work done in the basement and while that was going on, the girls were moved away from the main room and I let them set up their “houses” by the bookcase behind the couch, and with each needing their own space, I let them into my fabric storage closet. They have traded spaces once. I am not sure which is the favored spot but when I went down last week I noticed Phoebe’s house was in the closet. The big Mama doll was sitting in a windsor type chair and a book was perched on her lap. The dog (there is always a dog in Phoebe’s house) was on its own rug, and the little girl was tipped over, probably by me. I set her in the chair to hear the story being read and went to examine the other house. At Lucy’s house it was bed time, and pretty neat as we had given the girls time to straighten their houses before that had to leave.
They will come again soon and things will change… I even kept their houses in tact during their two month long visit to New Zealand. I will miss their houses as they get older and have other interests. I wonder what the next phase will be.
I wasn’t going to buy more fabric (for a while). I turned down an invitation to visit a new fabric source. Instead, I visited my stash in the basement and in the drawers in my sewing room. I put together a lap size quilt, and then another, and then another. They were nice, but not ones I wanted to finish and hang in my living room. So I donated them to the quilt guild that finishes quilts for the kidney center. I hauled out a kit I bought many years ago and began sewing that. The pieces are piled on the sewing table unfinished.
All because a friend came to the Otterbees with a pile of fabric she had bought. We all drooled over her choices. I had seen that fabric in a sample quilt at the store. Nice… but… not for me, until I got out mirrors and tested how it would stack and whack. (This is a plan where the fabric is carefully stacked so the design is laid one on top of another six layers deep, or 8, then carefully cut so you have 6 or 8 identical pieces. (see Bethany Reynolds for ideas)….
One of the fabrics looked like I would love to try it. I raced to the store. I bought six repeats… of course this was a 24 inch repeat so I had to buy four yards! I bought three other fabric to go with it. So much for my plan not to buy more fabric… for a while. I began cutting and stacking and testing my plan…………
Amelia took one look. Not the right green, says she. So we took a day to cruise other fabric shops, finding two greens that would work.
End result…. I now have more fabric in my stash. I will finish this one and may even hang it in my living room, or let Amelia have it…. and return to making kidney quilts until my stash is a little smaller…. maybe…. and please don’t show my any new fabrics for a while.
Was that really 25 years ago?
I was teaching third grade at a small private school in Florida. The head master of the school had an idea that the last few weeks of school were a drag. To solve that problem he had a plan. All text books were put away. Testing was accomplished. For the last 3 weeks each class was to concentrate on one project. The high school students planned their annual big trip, or arranged internships or were provided time for a choice of independant study. Middle school kids were sent on field trips around the area studying the ecology of the area. That left the lower school to decide what to do.
Kindergarten took on a study of artists, painting in the style of many of the famous artists of the world. The First grade walled off their class room. They were in outer space, learning about the planets and enjoying the job of checking on our IDs if we entered their space station.
The Second grade studied dinosaurs and rattled off the names of dinosaurs I never knew existed. The Fourth grade saved their last three weeks to take on learning about the state, taking field trips to various important places in the state’s history.
That left me in grade three. With all that travel, I decided it was time for a trip around the world. We pulled down the map of the world and chose places to visit. A dance group came and told us about their dances, inviting some of us to take part. (after 25 years I don’t remember where they were from.) A gentleman came and played the bag pipes for us (and the whole neighborhood) and we learned about Scotland in his wonderful accent.
We scanned the news daily to see where current events would take us and it was then we saw news of the Tiananmen Square protests. One of our dads had been there and came to speak with us, answering questions and predicting the outcome. It is because of his prediction that I remember it so well. He was wrong about the outcome…. He was optimistic things would change for the better. From my point of view, it didn’t.
Our world travel was limited, but I think we all learned to listen to news of the world and locate where it was happening, and perhaps someday to really travel the world.
I will also add…. it is the best way I have ever ended a school year. We were all apprehensive. It was a lot of work. But we all agreed, it made the last weeks of school go by so fast.
Baby X2 bump
Twins…both my grandmothers were twins, one with a sister, the other a brother. All four times I was pregnant I hoped it would not be this time. My four were born within a five year period and twins would have been even harder. It didn’t happen.
But now my grandson and wife will have twins this fall. Not sure if I will know if it is boys, or girls or one of each. My hope is that it all goes well.
Lucy and Phoebe and a friend came for a visit last week and I announced to them at snack time that I had names for the twins. I said I had named them Permilla and Percy. Those are both family names. I got a puzzled look from my granddaughters and a very polite look from their friend, Rose. I wasn’t sure if her look was a question about why I was naming the twins, or my choice of names. Lucy wanted to know about the names so I said, “I give new babies names like that so that no matter what name the parents choose, it will be an improvement.”
A relieved look crossed Rose’s face. Lucy wanted to know what her name was before she was born. I am not sure. She might have been Mehitable…. but that isn’t a family name.
In any event, boy or girls, I have made quilts for the babies. Their dad, Alex, had a baby quilt as did my other grandchildren. I was so happy to see how much he loved it… to shreds. Every summer when he came to visit it was smaller, as his mom trimmed and refinished the edges. These two quilts are already small. I already have plans for bigger ones as they grow, and I know if it is boys or girls or boy and girl.
A visit to my new doctor last week brought to mind two stories. Dr. V. was accompanied by a young college student who was pre-med with the dream of being an OB-GYN Doctor some day. I had a short chat with her when Dr. V. left the room.
It reminded me of a cousin who baby sat my grandchildren in the summer. Muffy was a high school student when she took care of Corbin, my spina bifida grand son. It gave her the inspiration, some day, to become a doctor. She graduated from Med School and is now a pediatrician and gives Corbin credit for her desire to become a doctor.
My other story is about when my son made a go-cart and proceeded to ride it down our hilly street. Of course it didn’t have brakes so he slammed into something and needed a trip to the emergency room.
Katie, a little younger, begged to go along with us. After a long wait for service, she announced to the world; “They do it a lot faster on TV.” Bill’s injury was minor and he recovered to enjoy a few more scrapes and bruises before he grew up.
Katie has become a physical therapist…. and I hope she works speedily to help her patients, like they do on TV.