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15 April 2015

Introducing Me

Have you ever been to a potluck (or, as they're known where I grew up, a covered-dish dinner)?  Most of us have, and there's usually one person of our acquaintance who can be relied upon for a certain dish.  "Grace must bring her sausage balls!" someone says.  "Mrs. Faust, you will be making red velvet cake, won't you?" another asks plaintively.  There are even a few recipes I inherited from my mother (most written on the backs of old deposit slips or grocery receipts) that I consider "mine".

In the grand scheme of things -- or, if you will, the big potluck of life -- I can be counted on to always, or nearly always, have some form of string and some needlecraft tool in my bag.  At a recent party, one of my granddaughters came running up and breathlessly asked her mother for some string.  "I have some!" I exclaimed, drawing a length of bulky red yarn out of my purse (with a yarn needle attached).  One of my son-in-law's friends burst into laughter and exclaimed, "It's like Mary Poppins' bag!"

I've done just about every form of needlecraft that exists -- cross stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, tatting, huck weaving, knitting, crocheting, quilting (hand and machine), smocking, French hand sewing.  (I was tempted to try candlewicking in the 1980s, but thankfully drew a line in the sand with that one.)  This time last year, I was chin-deep in cotton print fabrics, turning out quilts for the grandchildren and potholders for my daughter.  I had a tremendous stash of fabric.  It was truly amazing.

And then came September.

It was in September that my husband, love of my life, best friend and confidante, was diagnosed with cancer.  Suddenly, life revolved around chemotherapy, hospitalizations, biopsies, PET scans, CT scans, and enough bloodwork to make a vampire woozy.  He spent much of the month of September in the hospital, and I spent it right there with him.

I know that for many women, quilting is a perfectly portable hobby.  Not so for me.  Increasing arthritis in my wrists and thumbs led me to give up hand quilting, and I couldn't imagine myself packing my Singer into the cancer center.  So I returned to knitting, and began with hats.

Between September of last year and February of this year, I made in the neighborhood of 30-40 hats.  Along the way, I picked up a crochet hook and began making flowers to add to them.  I gave them away to all and sundry.  One for each grandchild, one for both daughters, one for both sons-in-law, one for both great-nieces, one for my sixth grade teacher .... the list went on.  And, of course, one for my husband, to replace the hair that came out with the chemo.

Last month, we got the welcome news:  he is cancer-free.  The chemo worked.  Odds are in his favor that it will not recur.  Life has returned, pretty much, to its pre-cancer normalcy, with the addition of a new tenderness, a new awareness of how truly precious each day is.  But I haven't returned to quilting.  I'm deeply, deeply in love with knitting again, and -- for the first time in decades -- with crocheting.  I guess I'm something of a magpie; I love making things out of string.  I'm not a pattern designer.  Occasionally I find a way to modify an existing pattern to suit my needs, but I generally don't do original design.

During the recent, anxious fall and winter, I found some truly amazing people who share their lives and their love of yarncraft in blogs.  You can find them in the blog list on the right side of this page.  They literally pulled me through the tough days, giving me a glimpse of what one could do with a couple of sticks (or a hook) and a length of string.  Their work challenged me to up my own game, and to rediscover long-disused skills.  I really encourage you to visit those blogs, because you'll come away with new ideas for your own work.

In this blog, I'm simply going to share what I'm working on (with links to patterns and resources), and perhaps a little bit of life here on the farm.  Consider this a place to pop in and see what's new with me, and to share your own successes (and failures! I'll share mine!) and thoughts.  

Can't wait to see what you're working on!

~ Lo

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