Christmas Sweater

When my first husband, Mark, went to Bible College, and worked, and worked some more, I worked at the college as a secretary, and had such fun with the other four secretaries that worked in the office with me.  They were the ones that refused to  bake me a birthday cake, but gave me the best birthday party ever.  During the long, cold Colorado nights while Mark worked, my neighbor, Lois, labored to teach me how to knit.  And finally I became pretty good.  One of my first successes was this sweater, which now is all stretched out of shape and pilled with age.  I keep it as a reminder of those days.

sweater 1

I think I wore this sweater on my birthday.  The other four ladies in the office said, “Make us a sweater for Christmas, Marsha.”  Since my birthday is November 7th, I knew THAT was an impossibility for newbie knitter me.  BUT they kept after me, “Have you started our sweaters yet, Marsha.”  “I want a pink one.”  “I want a yellow one.”   And on and on it went until Christmas.

So I came with a solution.  I DID knit a sweater – ONE sweater for all of them.  I got it done, too.  Well, all but sewing it together.  I gave one of them a beautifully packed arm, another one got the second arm, one got the front, and the last one got the back!  Were they every surprised when they opened their Christmas presents!   And I laughed out loud!!!

The anti-climax of that story was that I had to knit three more sweaters before my husband graduated in May.  I’ll tell you, I was so busy!!!  But all four women got their sweaters.  Then Harriette in the business office said, “I’d just like a vest, Marsha”  So I made her a vest.  Then Dorothy in the library said, “I’d like a sweater like your pink one.”  So I made her a pink sweater which was a much more complicated pattern.   I finished those after we had moved to California to take our pastorate, along with a cardigan sweater made from the beautiful Australian yarn that my friend Janet brought me back from her trip.  Finally my patient husband, Mark, said, “You’ve never made me a sweater.”  He wanted an Irish knit sweater which would have been beautiful.  I got the front, back, and one sleeve done, and put the button holes on the wrong side.  After that I never knitted again until two years ago.  And I’ve never made another sweater.

Would you have?

Featured Blog

Today’s featured blog,  Cycling Grandma, writes about her talented 3-year-old grandson’s first hair cut, and the hair is donated to charity.  Lisa Winkler is an amazing, active woman with a heart of gold.  In just a few clicks of a mouse you can see that this blog isn’t just about her, and selling her books, although she is an author. Besides writing books and a blog, raising kids, grandkids and cycling, Lisa worked as a reporter, taught middle school, and was a literacy consultant.  Yes, another teacher!  She also has a professional website advertising you books  Black Cowboys Ride Across America looks like a must read for me.  There has to be some history in that book!!!!

Lisa Winkler's grandson
Lisa Winkler’s grandson

So check our Lisa’s  out, and tell me if I didn’t make a good choice for today’s featured blog.  So is Simon Isaiah really playing the violin at age 3????

Christmas Crafting

Before I begin I must express my extreme sorrow over what has happened in the school in Connecticut and publicly share my sympathies to all the families.  Words cannot express how much distress is in my heart about this horrific event.

Those of you who are creative, crafty types, as opposed to villainous, crafty types might enjoy seeing one of my Christmas bloopers.  And since Ana just gave me an Inspiring Blogger Award, (thanks Ana) just seeing the word “inspiring” might inspire someone to do a video tutorial on how to fix what you are about to see.  I did fix it, but I’ve decided that maybe hats aren’t my thing.  The number of times you will see me in a hat…oh yeah, I forget that most of you never see me in real life.  So you’ll never know if I’m truthful or falseful.  But, not only do I not wear them often, I’m not too great at making them.  This was one I made last Christmas season to try it out before I made my friend a hat for real.  Her hat is still sitting in a ball on the top shelf of my new bookcase. At least it’s out as a constant reminder to me.  If I’ve already told you this woeful knitting story, just press “LIKE”and move on.  🙂

Notice anything out of the ordinary here?
Notice anything out of the ordinary here?

First of all, I should have known this hat would be trouble.  I even had trouble getting the yarn out of its skein form and into a ball.  There was a HUGE knot in the middle of it!  AND I can’t tell you how often the crazy ball, with a mind of its own, rolled off my lap onto the carpet in the airport.  So after I struggled through making the ball, then knitting the hat using circular needles for the first time, I ended up with a twisted hot mess – oh yeah, I was the hot mess!  Anyway, the whole thing gave me fits.  It was a week-end quick, one-skeined wonder.  Hahahaha  Who writes those “this is going to be easy” books anyway?

Knitted pink hat2

This is how I solved my problem.  It worked and I redid it, and hated it.  So I took it to work.  I don’t have it anymore, so it’s in someone else’s closet.  Whew!!!

Did I ever tell you my sweater story?  Do you want to hear it?  So if no one pops over to visit me in Bloggerland, I can always knit.  Anyone want me to make them a hat?

My Quilts

I say my rather loosely here because most of these quilts are mine either as gifts or purchases.  However they are all meaningful to me, and have a story.  I’ll start with the most recent one first then skip around as my story dictates.This quilt was given to me as a  retirement gift by my friend, and colleague, and master quilter – in my opinion, though she is more modest that I allow her to be, Carmen Friesen.   She rekindled my passion for quilts and quilting 11 years ago when I started working as a consultant with her.  It seems that all the consultants at that time were into quilting, and if I was going to be in the “in” group, I needed to polish up my quilting skills.

For a while I really tried to polish, but one thing I’m not that Carmen is is polished. I started out small for several reasons.  First and foremost is that I tend NOT to finish.  In my defense it was almost finished!!!  I got discouraged because I made a mistake, and I didn’t discover it until I was sewing the trim.  Secondly, it had been 20 years ok about 20 since I had done any quilting.

You can see that a little Oregon critter got in and tried to gobble up my patterns.

Things had changed drastically since the days of tracing your cardboard patterns, adding 1/4 inch seam allowance using a see-through ruler, and cutting each piece painstakingly by hand.This is my 20 or so years ago sampler quilt, that I started when Kathy Pardun took a quilting class by Sue Lawson, and then taught several of us those of us, who couldn’t afford to take the class at the time, what she was learning.  I never finished the quilt.  I don’t know if Kathy did.  I was so careful with the patterns.  I guess I thought I would make another quilt!!!

I even did one square the same as my great-grandmother’s quilt.

I had several GOOD reasons NOT  to finish, of course.  First of all the colors were all wrong after the 70s.  Secondly, in 1979 I had a king-sized bed when I started the Sampler, and then I didn’t have one that large.  Because the bed was so large, I had about 5 more 12 in squares to finish before I had enough to cover the top of it, and at the time I had to go back to work.  This much had taken me 9 months to piece by hand, and I was tired of it.  Very importantly, I wanted to quilt my prize by hand.

My favorite piece that didn’t make it to the quilt-top. All-licks, pronounced Alex, couldn’t manage to stay OFF the bed. He weighed 45 pounds and was the reason we needed a king-sized bed.

My mother-in-law wanted to support me in this project, had commissioned one of her neighbors to build me a quilting frame.  It was huge.  I couldn’t set it up in any of our homes over the years which were mostly single-wide mobile homes.  And I really didn’t like sewing outside in either Oregon or Colorado.  Plus I had no idea how to use it!!!  I carted it around from place to place as then my pastor-husband moved us from Oregon to Colorado to California.  Somewhere in our moves in California, it got lost.  So then I COULDN’T quilt my masterpiece!  I didn’t want to ruin my hand-piecing with machine quilting, so I just mourned the quilt.  UNTIL Carmen and Connie, another quilter-consultant, came into my life.  They motivated me to improvise on the top by adding the large strips (my idea not theirs, but I wanted to get it done.)  Then Carmen referred me to a quilter.  Voilá, a quilt I could now use.  I now have a king-sized bed again, and the colors aren’t quite so off-putting as they were in the 80s when my house was all blue.

The next quilt is a VERY old quilt.  My great-grandmother, my maternal grandfather’s mother,  made it for my grandmother when SHE was young. Grandma complained that she didn’t like the colors.  Mom reminder her, “MOTHER, you ASKED for orange!  Everybody told you NOT to choose orange, but you insisted.”  There must be some family resemblance there!!So my great-grandmother chose all the wild colors she could find, but she used plenty of orange and green.  I think it was made in the late 20s or early 30s.  Mom had another quilt that was made for her,  a blue one.  I LOVE this one because I LIKE orange.  I like the blue one, too, but fortunately I didn’t have to fight anyone for them.  My brother is not into quilts.

I love the scalloped edges.  The pattern is Grandmother’s Garden.

The last quilt I will share with you today, although I have more that aren’t finished, and some that are purchased, I’ll save those for some other time when I can’t think of what to write.  

My great-grandmother made this quilt especially for my mother, who loved blue.  My grandmother must have wanted to trade, and Mom wouldn’t budge – she hated orange!  I don’t know how old this quilt is, but my guess is 40s.  My great-grandmother died in 1956.  I didn’t get a “specially-made-for-me” quilt, so my guess is that she had stopped quilting by the time I was born in 1951.

You can see Great-grandma’s hand stitching.

I’ve thought about writing about these quilts since Such-the-Like posted her finished purse.  When Russell Ray also posted about quilts, it was a SIGN!!  Then I knew I HAD to write this article.  I apologize for the blue cast to some of the photos.  After I put the quilts away and moved the furniture back, I noticed that I had shot them with a portrait setting instead of my normal point and shoot.  You can see the difference in the last three pictures.

My husband commented that I should specialize in my blogging since my expertise is in education.  Maybe I will eventually, but right now, I’m going to continue streaming thoughts.  I hope you don’t mind, since my natural family includes no children, I am using you as my family, and recording my history for all of you.   -Just because I exist.-