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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Independent Great-Aunt Syndrome

So who were these women? And how did they construct their ilves?

Signatures and the back to a concentric square quited blanket.

Maybe it's because they were young girls during World War I. Maybe it's because they were working women in the 20's and 30's. I know they had offers. I know they were happy. I know one even had a long-term affair. [Oh -- so THAT's who that man in the picture in her room was!]

Workbasket and tools

But my family history is filled with single great-aunts, independent, quirky, "accomplished" in a modern sense and in ways more common to generations of women before them.

I have their paintings -- one a beautiful watercolor of a boat on the water at sunset in a fine sublime style reminiscent of Claude Lorraine. I have their jewelry -- a collection much enhanced by the competition between two sister-school-teachers. I have quilts and quilt-tops, woven baskets with fine metal crochet hooks and squares of half-worked Irish linen.

Tools and Workings

I have knitted and crocheted toys, and cards with copper-plate handwriting that came with money for me to spend on my own.
When I turned sixteen, I inherited the '69 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with the 350 Rocket engine that was the last car one of these women bought -- at the age of 78.

I'm not a great-aunt. I've just become an aunt for the second time -- and been granted my first niece. But as dating gets stranger, and more difficult, and as I become more independent and happier with myself and my life, I begin to wonder . . . what did these women choose? Might I like it?

Most were kind, engaging, a couple were down-right crazy. One was a mean old bitty when I knew her, convinced that every nursing home was engaged in a conspiracy to kill her.

But I have other memories of her -- when she was younger and in reasonable health, directing the family Thanksgiving dinner at the house she shared with her two single sisters. She taught me to play the card game "Crazy 8" and gave me packets from Scholastic with coloring books and Highlights magazines. She was self-possess and well dressed. Almost scary in her power and in the strangeness of her -- at least to a 5 or 6-year old.

But these women seemed to have something that I might like to have myself -- that I have seen my mother gain as she's built a life she didn't plan for after my father's unexpected death.

Is it/ Was it self-determination? Only that? Was it just the awareness that they'd made their own choices and would continue to do so, without the entanglements of a nuclear family?

Signature quilt top

Having gone from keeping her father's house to keeping MY father's house while working and raising her children, my mother now eats spaghetti sauce that comes from a jar, loves her George Foreman grill, and pleases herself by planting mums in cauldrons this month outside her single story apartment porch.

While she has admitted that it would be nice now and again to have someone to go to dinner with, she has no interest in maintaining a relationship with anyone new at this point. She's not interested in coordinating her life to maintain a steady date or in having to let someone know if she's going to work late or suddenly decides to go shopping instead of heading home.

It's not the life she planned or envisioned. Nor is mine what I'd envisioned. But it's a good life.

I really like not having to justify my yarn purchases to anyone but myself or the dogs (the cats are always encouraging me to get more!).

I married the wrong man for the wrong reasons while severely depressed. I left him and got a divorce. I'm not against the idea of marriage -- I think I just applied it wrong. But this other life is what I have -- and I have many role models for it that I've rarely considered.

Much of my single life as a young woman was filled with the need to "fit in" by having a boyfriend or lover. Filled with the need to be needed, and the need to be wanted. These are lousy forces for directing life. They led me to compromises I would not make again. They tinge life with a desperation and a dependence on others for happiness. Shared joy is stifled by such desperation.

So now I'm contemplating this life that I have -- and wondering if perhaps I've been overlooking a life that could grant me what I want. Peace, happiness, fulfillment, joy and connection with my family. These things are here. Choosing to enjoy this existence instead of always hunting for another doesn't mean I can't change my mind if someone special comes along. And I'm far too fond of men to ignore them altogether!

quilt tops

But if I plan for what I want from what I have in and of myself -- perhaps the sweater will fit. Perhaps it is more like knitting from the top, down. Easier to tailor, easier to be happy with. And no seeming!

Perhaps I'm stretching the knitting metaphor, but these accomplished great-aunts intrigue me. Their knitting and crocheting baskets intrigue me. The joy and self-possession evident in several have me longing to know what they learned about living by living independently, while enjoying their extended family. And I wonder . . . .

Workbasket and tools

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Shawls and hats


This is in response to a thread on KR. I've gotten the pictures up to show a rectangular shawl, what can be done, and one way to wear them -- at least, a way I find comfortable.

Elfin Lace shawl with "openwork" edging

Elfin Lace

I love this pattern, but this shawl is for a friend. It's done in a very soft cotton that sheds more than I could wish, but is soft and comfortable. When I make another, it will be in a firmer fiber, a polished cotton or a wool-blend perhaps.

This is longer than I'd usually wear -- I've finished it recently for a friend who is several inches taller than I am.

brown everyday shawl

Back left shoulder of Elfin Lace Shawl

Friday, October 22, 2004

Kendall Delane Porter -- my niece.

Gotta love my sister-in-law. She got not just one or two, but NINE pictures to me, and they have to be some of the best. The shots with Dev are great. He is a sweet little man. And the shot with Peggy is just marvleous! Scotty's (ooops, SCOTT) is looking great too. I love seeing him with his kids!

These are the people for whom I knit, live, and love. And this is the newest member of our pack. Welcome Kendall. I'll get knitten, kitten!

Devlin Drake Porter, 4 and Kendall Delane Porter -- a few days old.

Dimple? Where's the dimple?

She's hiding it, but there's supposed to be a dimple in that chin -- just like her Aunt Christy's!

Kendall Delane Porter - Born October 11, 2004

Welcome to the World

Proud Big Brother

Scott, Dev and Kendall "Meeting Baby Sister"

Thursday, October 21, 2004

It's Fun to Frog!

Coffee, pets, computer. Okay. The day is beginning correctly. Only real problem -- I STILL haven't gotten a picture of my niece -- but who can blame them! I would much rather play with her than argue with e-mail over sending pictures!

Good news -- I get to be a tester for a baby-hat design I admire and want to try for her. Yeah! The pattern arrived in my box late yesterday, so I'll read through it today and get back to the author. MUCH more fun than doing one from a book. I'm excited!

Other news -- I frogged it. YES, I'm talking about he Ostrich Plumes shawl. Lovely as it was becoming, I was using needles too small. A friend pointed out the depth of the eggcrating and echoed my concerns about proper blocking. So. After some thought -- I frogged it.

The nice thing about the frogging was that I did it in company, and once started, a friend joined in and giggled a real giggle for the first time in awhile. (Come on -- admit it -- it CAN be like popping those packing bubbles in it's own way. NOTHING beats packing bubbles -- except more and bigger packing bubbles-- but frogging can be entertaining when you're not too distressed about it!)

So, I've started again on size 8's. Not addi's, I'm still building my collection. But it's progressing. About three inches as of last night. I'll knit a bit this morning before grading papers. The fabric is softer now that I've loosened the stitches and --well -- more spongy. But I still love the color and the depth created by using two different, but similar strands of yarn. I wonder what's the effect of using 3? Does it get too bulky? Can you still see pattern stitches? Might be an interesting experiment.

I've also started a list of possible "quick" projects for Christmas. I saw the puppy and kitten scarves in -- I think it's Women's Day's first "Quick and Easy Crocheting and Knitting" mag. Toooo cute by half. One for each? Stockings? I'd love to get a top-down sweater done for Dev by Christmas, but doubt my ability to take please in the math between now and then. Brain's too full of other work.

I've also been contemplating contemplation. Funny, huh? More on that later. Gotta get going.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ostrich Plumes in Progress

As you can see, the Ostrich Plumes are progressing! Actually, un-blocked, they remind me of the eye in a peacock feather more than anything else.

Ostrich Plumes in Progress

I'm trying to decide what to work on tonight, in-betwixt grading and posting student papers. This certainly, but I might cast that Highland Triangle shawl back on again -- my counter kept rolling and messing me up. I got frustrated; it got frogged!

That would be a good one. Hmmm. I'm not ready to dive into the Lillies of the Valley mohair shawl; too tuckered and frazzled for that much thought.

Good news? Ah yes, a new pair of Addi's and a copy of Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top arrived today. I read the first chapter, but my head's too tired for the math at the moment. I'll start out with a sweater for Dev and go from there. Smaller and less math -- less investment if I have to from. Need to figure out the yarn though. I've got to quit buying until I can save up the cash.

Well, the stash has some interesting items. Hmmmmm.

Connected Again!

Ahhh, the relief. To be able to post from my own home while slurping coffee and fending off pets.

I must say that being disconnected was good for the knitting! The purple Ostrich Plumes shawl is now at least a 15 - 18 inches and growing fast. I'm worried about the size again, but must allow for blocking. And if not, well, there's always frogging and doing it again on larger needles. Hmmmmm. 'Twould make me most grumpy though!

I still haven't figured out what to use of the moss green Katmandu shawl. No mohair with this one. I really like eyelet patterns -- lacy but not so airy as to be useless as a winter garment. Maybe the snowflake eyelet? I don't like the fawn's eyes; it gives me the creeps for some reason!

Well. More later. Gotta run. Oh -- got a new jump drive. Maybe this means I'll find the old one! More pictures later today or tonight since my home unit is up and running.

Monday, October 18, 2004

My lord what a mornin'

Good Grief!

Woke after a major storm last night with a major headache/earache. The storm killed my modem so I couldn't get what I needed to grade. I didn't have my gadget, so I didn't know what time my appointments started -- I missed the first one!

On the other side of things, I got a good four inches of the Ostrich plumes shawl done yesterday. I really like the way this is turning out. I was afraid it was too narrow, but have decided that with blocking, it will be perfect! Happy Christy!

I also won my very first eBay bid! a two pound cone of alpaca -- purple-blue, in lace weight -- so maybe I can use it for that jacket? It's well over 2000 yards. Hmmmm. So now I get to see how great this e-bay stuff is. The seller had a rating of 99.6% happy customers. SO I thought is was worth the rest -- and I'll be using paypal. Security there. Hmmmm. I'm still leery, but it's only 40 bucks for the yarn, so maybe this will be okay. I HOPE so!

I'd LOVE to do that jacket in this purple. Only way to find out is to try! Gotta quit buying yarn though! Must get Rx forms sent in to get insurance money back! THEN I can pay off misc. and sundry and buy more knitting stuff. I'm still looking for a bag that I'd like. We'll see how it goes. Well. Time to turn this laptop in to the school. Gotta get home. Can't believe I'll be without internet access! I've become a real junky! We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

This, of course, is Lance saying it's time to quit playing with my electronic toys and play with HIM! It was supposed to be a shot of the collapsible arms on this chair.

Here's a shot of my WIP in daylight -- the grumpy cat is 12-yr-old lady who objects to having her sunny spot co-opted for pictures!

This is my knitting chair. It's actually a tatting chair that is several generations old. I love it for the gaudy detailing and the fact that my feel touch the floor! The adjustable arms are also nice!

This is my newly created knitting space. I just re-potted the plants and brought them inside a few days ago.

Purple Ostrich plumes and a mint green Karabella Lace Mohair swatch. The blue counter came through well, but the yarn doesn't look at all right.

Blurry, but mine~

As you can see, I haven't quite got the hang of photographing my knitting yet. Any suggestions? The pics above of my purple Ostrich Plume scarf/shawl in progress seem like a bad black and white to me -- of course, it is 2:30 in the morning -- natural light might change everything! Time for bed.

Green shell in Imagine -- from the summer Knitters.

Lusting after lace

I REALLY want to be able to make this lace jacket. This color is good, though another would also be pretty -- an interesting shade of rust or blue?

Time and skill. I've got to acquire both first. I'm learning to shape arm holes and I've gotten the hang of knitting lace. But from what I can tell, this is literally made from fingering weight wool rather than worsted or DK. 'Twill take a LONG time. $9.50 for the pattern. Maybe I'll see a yarn I have to have it in on sale -- I can dream anyway!

I'll need to own the pattern so I;ll know how much -- must be scads. WhiteLies Designs is a great site. Wonderful patterns!

My Ostrich Plume wrap is comming along nicely. I have to keep reminding myself that it will block out and show off the design more clearly when I'm done. The Aran weight wool/cashmere/silk blend stranded with the mohair is just the right variations in purple that I wanted -- got very lucky! The fabric is dense too at this point. We'll see how it washes up!

It's late -- again. It's been an odd but restful day. More about teaching and students tomorrow. Teaching this composition course using gothic novels is fun though!

Heirloom Lace Jacket
Heirloom lace jacket by Whitelies Designs

Thursday, October 14, 2004

She doesn't like the flash!

Darling Dogs

As you can see below, both my dogs tend to be happy critters. Sally has a Border Collie's herding instincts -- she circled and bunched trick-or-treaters when she was only 11 weeks old. At two, she's eager for more challenges, and tends to herd me, the Dalmatian, the cats, my roommate, and anyone who comes her way. She also has a collection of tennis and rubber balls which she groups, scatters around the house, and then hunts down.

At mealtime, she piles as many as four or five into her bowl and then has to pick them up and stack them or chuck them out of the bowl to eat around them. If no balls are handy, she will pile other toys into the dish. Looks like a shephard -- crazy like a border collie!

Her best self-taught trick? She can flip open a video tape and pull all of the tape out!

Sally Mae German Shephard/Border Collie cross

Lancelot (Lance or Lancer) Nine years old and loves agility training.


Greetings All,

This is, of course, my first entry. Pictures will follow soon. This will be a composite blog, as the description suggest. I've many aspects of my life that are carefully compartmentalized. This one will be unified. I hope. Where to start?My niece, Kendall Delane, was born Monday, and life is very bubbly and chaotic right now. I wish I wasn't three states away! Her older brother, Devlin Drake is 4 and has decided to enjoy brotherhood. He's even started making up songs for her.

Dogs and cats are healthy. Dalmatian is snoozing on his cushion nearby.

I believe my teaching is going well. But once again, I wish I was faster at getting papers graded. Using an internet exchange system certainly helps in this process!

Knitting. WIP include an almost completed shell in a variegated green, a Highland Triangle shawl in earthy browns with a hint of green, a large scarf/shawl in lavender done in an Ostrich Plume pattern, and a lilies of the valley shawl in mint green mohair in the swatching stage. Oh -- and the queen-sized blanket of "Homespun" in Tudor that I've been playing with off and on for two years!

FO of late include a yellow cotton baby blanket for Kendall done in a "seaweed" stitch with a "waves" lace edging. I've also completed a grey wool lace prairie shawl which grew to cloak size for my SIL. DB is feeling left out, though he got a large scarf two years ago. I'll need to come up with something for his birthday.

Hmm. Not an exciting beginning, but I'll work on that soon.