Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Love comes via Canada Post

This is what I found when I went out into the living room this morning. Bean is thrilled that my nap quilt returned with me - apparently she missed it.

Note to Quilters - the rest of this is a non quilting post. If you're only here for the quilty stuff, you might as well hit next blog on the Artful Quilters webring icon, as this particular post today is all about knitting. Oh, and it's really long. Sorry. Will return to our regular programming soon - but not today!

I know I've mentioned my Mom's love of fibre arts before, but in this case, it needs repeating. She was taught to knit at the age of four, and one of her chores as a child was to ensure that all members of her household (seven sets of feet) were kept in hand knitted socks. Even after spending a large portion of her childhood making socks for four brothers, plus herself and her parents, she still loves to knit. For many years, my childhood memories included quiet evenings by the wood burning stove in the living room, my brothers drawing or playing with Lego while I read, all the while listening to my mother knit. She has also done a lot of spinning, dyed her own wool, done some weaving and rug hooking, some free style fibre art work, and for the past three years has been an active participant in my quilting addiction.

Okay, now you're up on the background and the who's who. Mom - an extremely talented and creative woman. Me - an extremely lucky daughter. We've talked for years about what will happen with Mom's stash (previously just a knitter's stash, now also a cross stitcher's stash and a quilter's stash - that's three complete stashes, all from one woman - no wonder she is planning to build a larger home). I've said many times that while I am truly touched that I (only daughter, and only child with any interest in creation of fibre art) will be inheriting her stashes and book collections, it will be a heartbreaking experience. Receiving those gifts will mean that the most important one, the bond I share with my mother, will have been broken by her passing. As much as I covet much of her collection, I'd rather have her instead.

Mom's solution? She has started slowly going through her things as she prepares to move house (in the next two to four years), and today I received the first installment of my premature inheritance by mail. She told me to expect a box with some sock wool (DH is dangerously low in the hand knitted sock department, I've been slacking). What I got was a box with sock wool and love.

As you can see, the contents of the box included an amazing assortment of goodies for knitters. There are two hanks of Briggs & Little Tuffy (80% wool, 20% nylon) in each red, teal, denim blue, and periwinkle, plus one in offwhite. Mom calls it Briggs & Stratton, which I believe is a reference to motors. She's amused. I'm confused. Obviously the reference goes over my head. There are reinforcing yarns for toes and heels in each teal, blue, and periwinkle. There is a 1400m hank of luscious Filatura Di Crosa 90% merino, 10% cashmere lace weight, in ivory. There are two hanks of superwash 100% merino, each 260m, hand painted in Canada. One hank is "Purple Jade", the other is "Blackberries".

The sock wool was great. The lace weight made me woozy. The hand painted merino? I needed a cup of tea and half an hour to recover from the bliss. Then, I delved into the books. To start with, she sent me a Knitting Journal and The Knitting Stitch Bible (over 250 stitches photographed and charted). These are coil bound and easy to carry with me when I knit on the go. Next, a selection of her books on dyeing/spinning/weaving, including:
Plant Dyeing by Amy Hadfield Hutchinson, published 1941 (3rd edition, 1975 - a New Zealand specific book)
Natural Wool Dyes and Recipes by Ann Milner, published 1971 (3rd edition, 1975 - another NZ book)
Spin your own Wool and Dye it and Weave it by Molly Duncan, published 1968 (reprinted 1978)
Creative Crafts with Wool and Flax by Molly Duncan, published in 1971
Weaving, Spinning, & Dyeing: A Beginner's Manual by Virginia G. Hower, published 1976
A Dyer's Garden: From Plant to Pot - Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers by Rita Buchanan, published 1995 (An Interweave Press book)

Then, an incredible reference library for knitting lace (and it is the Summer of Lace, according to Wendy):
A Creative Guide to Knitted Lace by Jan Eaton, New Holland, 1994
The Best of Knitter's Magazine: Shawls and Scarves edited by Nancy J. Thomas, XRX Books, 1999
Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman, Interweave Press, 1998
The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann by Nancy Nehring, Interweave Press, 1998
Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts by Hazel Carter, a self-published booklet, 1987
And, for those of you that have knitting in your blood, this ought to make you swoon - Faroese Shawls. Nope, not the translation. I now have in my possession a hard cover copy of Foroysk Bindingarmynstur, published in 1983. I don't understand a word of it, but Mom included some typed translations. This book is raved about in the Shawls and Scarves book, which includes enough instructions for their version that I can apply the shaping and simply follow the charts in the Faroese book to recreate these stunning beauties.

For those times when lace is too fine for my fingers, Mom also included a few other yummy books:
Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition by Wendy Keele, Interweave Press, 1995
A Shetland Knitter's Notebook by Mary Smith and Chris Bunyan, The Shetland Times, 1991
Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, Dover Publications, 1981 (an unabridged and corrected version of Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman, 1974)

Any other knitters out there drooling onto their keyboards? I'm certainly feeling like the luckiest, and most loved, daughter in the world right now. Thank you Mom. You not only made my day, you made me cry (yup, a good cry). I only hope that you are around to share these things with me for years and years and years, and that we both end up with so many hand knitted lace shawls we are bored with them in the end. Nope, not going to happen.


Deb R said...

I'm not a knitter (much) but I still thought that was a way cool thing to find in the mail. The hand dyed yarns are especially gorgeous. And how smart of your mom to start sharing NOW!

PS...Bean is gorgeous!!

carla said...

lucky girl, I am sitting here hardly able to see the keys for tears,I miss my Mum your Oma.We shared many happy hours pouring through xstitch magizines and books which now have a place on my book shelves,i love it when i look through them and find a shakily written note made for so& so or change this for thatAs for the sock wool and all those double ended needles , thel have gone to Aunty Judy who keeps us all in hand knitted socks--thats 3 families with cousins and the next generation of little cousins.Enjoy your treasures and use them so your Mum can see what you do with them

Pangaea said...

Hey--I am sorry--I had no intention of making two of you cry!A pick-me-up was needed in light of the recurring medical misery, and I was thinking about Logan's ever expanding fibre-art interests, so sent her some of my books along with fibre chocolates and fabric candy. Those books had been very precious to me and were not left behind in Kiwiland, but now they needed a new reader, and so they will be loved again. All I know is that I taught both of you to knit when you were little, and have joyfully watched both of you build on and surpass my skills and dislike of following any pattern. Look at that fantastic crazy patchwork purse you made, Carla, and Logan, look at that beautiful original Hardanger bellpull you made for me. I am so proud yet humbled to be related to you both. (Logan, Carla is my SISTER--I have only 3 brothers, not 4!) The quilting has brought us together for yet another exciting new phase--all adults, all rebels, all thinking outside the block. What a party we will have when we get together this fall--stash wallowing, everything! Your DH will have to take Carla's DH fishing in Sheep Creek. Sometimes when I read what all the other quilt artists in your webring are up to, I know that it would be so neat to all get together. There would be so much to share with and learn from each other. We are as yet short on quilting years, but have been fibre artists all our lives. Long enough comment.