A tale of two T-shirts

There were conspiring forces working against the two innocent T-shirts.  The first was the fashion industry that produced continually finer and more fragile fabrics in a thinly veiled attempt to deliver only a hint of clothing. The second was me, a hardly gentle wearer of clothes.  

I purchased each of these two shirts separately, months apart.  They are made by different designers. One is made of modal, the other cotton. One is loose fitted and the other is closer to form. And yet, despite this, the resulting damage is very similar…holes of varied proportion near the midriff. I probably have half a dozen shirts with the same issue. I must lean here, tug here or otherwise wear here, but the fact remains.  Two shirts, same result:  These shirts are usually demoted to sleep shirts, and when they move from “favourite shirt” to “sleep shirt”, it’s very disappointing.  Every time I put one on, I pout anew. But not today. Today, I was struck with inspiration. I could not save two shirts but could I not save one? My favourite one?  Off to the craft room!

The striped shirt is my favourite for comfort, the yellow for colour, so yellow was the natural sacrifice. What I needed was a patch. A large patch. A large, appropriate patch. Enter tracing paper, double sided iron-on transfer paper and an idea.       Of course, iron-on patches are not known for their long shelf life so I thought a “decorative stitch” might be lovely.   And voila! One rescued t-shirt and plenty of yellow fabric to use for other projects. 

The Great Canadian Hope

It isn’t often that I get up early to write a blog about politics.  Okay, it’s true, I don’t ever do that.  I have never done that.  But today…today, I did.

On October 19th, we elected a new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. The interesting thing about that event is what came before it.  When this election began, it began like every other.  A bunch of folks deemed leaders began to tell a narrative about what was good, or bad, or ugly about our perceived world and why their party might be the solution.  It was like every other election, and my PVR earned its keep as the noise got louder.  Then, a new energy emerged in the midst of the usual rhetoric.  There was suddenly a newfound hope.  I started to see it in the news, in the political banter, and in the various feeds and conversations around me.  People wanted change and they could suddenly imagine some.

As a nation, we might not always agree with how things are being managed in our country.  I’m sure there are many who will read this and disagree with me now.  I believe that’s what freedom means – to agree to disagree, and to be vocal with our leaders about what we like or don’t like through our vote, our protests, our petitions, and our dollar.

You see, I have had the privilege of being Canadian all my life, and coming from a long line of Canadians.  My ancestors came to Canada long enough ago that I’m sure there are apologies that could and should be made for the choices they made along the way.  I have had the privilege of marrying into a family of new immigrants and learning what it means to make this place that can be a little cold and unforgiving outside at times into the warm hearth of a new home.  I have also the misfortune of seeing and hearing so many people suffer in our nation while people like me, and admittedly me too, forget what a privilege it is to live here.

When I set out to cast my ballot, I, like so many Canadians, only knew which box I wasn’t checking.  I knew that the Canada we had become was not the Canada in which I believe.  So, when I cast my ballot, I chose to leave that Canada behind.  I know that solutions to the world’s problems aren’t that simple, but I also know that we cannot solve the problem by telling the world we won’t participate, we won’t help, and heck, we’ll just think about ourselves.  Many Canadians must have felt the same because a new leader was elected.  And with that election came the Great Canadian Hope – and here I don’t mean Mr. Trudeau, I mean Our Hope.  Our True North Strong and Free.  The tone of the dialogue shifted, ever so slightly.

I am not a political writer.  I am not here to write about Mr. Trudeau’s election tactics, his promises, his faults, any of that.  I’m here to talk about Canada since October 19th and there can be no denying that our Prime Minister elected is getting a lot of press.  He made gender parity a reality in his cabinet.  He committed to an inquiry on murdered and missing aboriginal women.  He invited all of the Premiers to the climate change conference.  He invited Syrians to call Canada home.  And whether you like him or not, whether you believe these are the right things for Canada or not, is irrelevant.  He didn’t just make a few election promises and then keep them.  He made big promises about values that maybe we, as Canadians, forgot mattered to us.  Promises about rights, and freedoms, and frankly, about being Canadian as I was taught my whole life.  The value of caring.

You see, what woke me up early this morning was a pretty simple thought.  It was that, despite the fact that Canadian stereotypes make me grit my teeth a little bit, there is one stereotype about Canada that I have seen hold true everywhere I’ve visited.  We say “sorry” a lot.  We apologize to the people who bump us, we apologize to chairs we trip over, and we apologize for apologizing so much (sorry, Canadians).  And I woke up this morning wanting to say thank you to Mr. Trudeau for doing just one thing.  For metaphorically saying “sorry” for the last 9 years through his actions so far.  Because those years never represented the Canadian I wanted to be, and my protests weren’t loud enough on their own for the world to hear me.

Canada has started to feel a little bit more like home again.  It has given me hope to see us open our hearts and our doors to people who were without hope just a few days ago.  We won’t be perfect, but that’s okay.  We can still say sorry tomorrow.  We only have to try to be a little bit better than we were yesterday.  To quote Mahatma Ghandi, we have to be the change we wish to see in the world.

So, sorry everyone.  We are a young country, and we’re still learning.

All you knit is love

A single woman’s sock is an average of 10,000 stitches each. Just one, never mind that most of us have two feet. So, when knitters set about making gifts for others, we are setting out a commitment to love them for each one of those 5, or 10, or 15, or more thousands of stitches, all in hopes they see it as we see it.

It was around this time last year when I was thinking of whipping up a little something for one of my siblings to use up a stash of yarn.  I innocently thought “hey, why don’t I knit up something for each of them for Christmas?” The answer to that question would be “because there are seven of them…” but apparently, my brain left the question as rhetoric and I set about on a mission that took about half a year to complete (with a few distractions).

Of course, I couldn’t just knit everyone up a few dishtowels. Individual gifts had to be selected based on personality, most likely usage, and/or some other insane criteria that my brain made up when I decided that knitting for an additional seven people is a grand idea.

Sibling 1 – My eldest sister is a scrapbooking, sewing, crafting gal, so I thought a lap blanket and some slippers (from a pattern I can’t seem to find) would keep her warm while she worked.

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Sibling 2 – My second eldest sister was a bit trickier. She is allergic to lanolin so all the woollies were out. She loves handicrafts and appreciates the time they take so it had to be pretty. Enter some nice tweed silk and a pretty shawl pattern.

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Sibling 3 – Third in line is my eldest brother. My most distinct memory of him is his love of my grandmother’s quilts, which were made of that heavy 70’s polyester that are the fear of firemen everywhere. Appreciating the warmth of that blanket, some nice heavy socks were in order (with modified stripes to make them more classic).

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Sibling 4 – This is about where I begin to wonder what I’m getting myself into. When I was a kid, my brother wore pure wool sweaters. I remember commenting on how “scratchy” they were, and he always made sure to correct me. For him, a nice thin everyday wear pair of socks, with just enough scratchiness to remind him that they are real wool. I used my simple toe-up sock recipe with zigzag pattern picked out of a stitch library – I didn’t want to be too plain.

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Sibling 5 – The middle sister has daughters in their twenties and a spirit that’s not much older, so for her, I made this beaded mini-shawl meant to keep chill away on fun summer evenings after the sun goes down.

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Sibling 6 – My youngest big brother works hard and spends plenty of time outdoors. For him, I cast on this chunky hat that knit up so beautifully, I wanted to knit a dozen of them…but the clock was ticking so…

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Sibling 7 – Last but not least, my nearest sibling and youngest sister.  I could imagine her wearing this creamy, dreamy merino/silk shawl the whole time I was knitting it.

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Seven projects, seven people, one blog post, some tennis elbow, and a lot of love.

Details

Life is full of little moments that go unnoticed until, suddenly, they don’t. 

Recently, I met up with a friend from years past after reconnecting – strangely enough over my last blog post.  It seemed high time to continue my journey so we set a date and meet for lunch on a blustery Saturday morning.

I notice as I get older that my friendships are more discerning, that they age like wine and wear like good shoes. I can count on them to be as comfortable as when they were last worn, and survive the changes that life brings each of us. Sometimes, those changes are hard. This time was like that. This time, her life is changing and she is having to find herself in it.

When your friend is suffering, your instincts to protect and to strengthen rise up to the challenge. Suddenly, you are only about giving them courage, support and maybe a few helpful reminders they’ll be okay.  And when they’re not, you’ll be there to pick up the pieces and help mend them.

It was in this moment, sitting in a support circle, that it happened. My spouse, Dee, showed up to join us and, as she went to grab a coffee, I asked for a cookie.

“Ginger?” she asked, and smiled without a doubt. A brief nod and she was off. After a moment, my friend said “See!  All I want is someone who knows what kind of cookie I want without asking.”

And, in that moment, I remembered just how precious this gift is, the gift of giving and receiving love in the smallest gestures. The perfect timing of a friendship, and the love found in the small detail of a ginger cookie.

A spot of tea

This blog began in 2012 as a journal and a journey.  That journey, and its journal, abruptly paused last year when I found myself in a bit of a funk, and unable to shake it.

I begin again by peeling back the layers of the past year in reverse, where this post began – with a spot of tea and some inspiration.

I found myself not too many days ago sitting on a tea farm, thousands of kilometres from home, with a good friend.

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My friendship with Adriene started through a series of circumstances that clicked – a dinner with friends, a Facebook invite, a knit date, and a blog (hers, to be precise).  It has become tradition that, when she comes to town, we meet for coffee and a knit, sometimes followed by wandering into random stores and buying a few findings along the way.

It worked for years, these chance meetings and random days and then we’d pass back to our other lives and await the next opportunity to connect.  This time, we made one. It began as an idea, really, to go visit her this year, but the idea grew (well-watered) until suddenly I had airfare booked and we had plans.

During my visit, we navigated to surrounding neighbourhoods, shopped antiques, purchased yarn (who are we kidding?) and learned about each other a bit more.  She showed me her favourite places, and tried a few new ones.  She took me into her home, introduced me to a friend, and made me welcome every day.  Our visit was new, different, at times a little awkward, but we learned to find a rhythm, and eventually, it was quiet and still.  This moment, this lovely pot of tea, in this beautiful place, unwound a giant knot in me.

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I learned a few things about myself on this journey:

  • I should never underestimate how much money I can spend on yarn when unsupervised.
  • I like tea.  Ok, I always liked tea a little but I have enjoyed a pot of tea every day since coming home.  (I may have spent more on tea than yarn.  If not, it was close.  Seriously, click the link.  This is some delicious tea.)
  • There are so many things in this world that I have no idea what they are, what they’re for, or why someone would have them, but it is fun to discover these things and wonder about them.
  • Owning a fibre mill can sound like a good idea when three artistically-inclined women sit down for coffee and a little rant.
  • I am creative and, as such, I need to create.  I have not done enough of that.

Which leads us back here, to this journal, and this blog, and this journey through life that we are all on.

This trip was the first of many journeys I plan to take this year.  Not all of them will take me so far from home, and some of them might just be in the richness of my garden.  Wherever they are, I will be there.

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