Saturday, May 30, 2009

For it was you who knit me together

"For it was you who knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Excerpt from Psalm 139

Over 36 years ago, my oldest son was born and we named him Matthew, meaning "God's gift." When I was carrying Matthew in my womb, it never occurred to me that he would be anything less than a perfect child. It was only a matter of boy or girl, would I see my husband's red hair reproduced, or how brilliant and talented would this child be. Our son was born with mental retardation, a scenario I had never anticipated. When we finally were given a diagnosis after two years of wondering, I pretty much believed life as I knew it (happy, carefree and full of blue-sky days) was over. Part of that was true, as is true for any new parent, but little did I know the richness and wisdom Matthew would bring to my life and to lives of all who know and love him.

Every May, Matthew goes off to Handicamp, a special summer camp sponsored by HandiEvanglism, a wonderful ministry to those who have disabilities. It is a haul to get him ready, drive him to the other side of the state and then repeat that journey five days later. It is especially tiring for me during these last weeks of my school year, and I must admit to grumbling about this effort. But every year without fail, I sit in the audience and watch him sing, sign, act, use puppets, and the tears start rolling down my cheek. Every year, I think about those early predictions a doctor made for his life coupled with my own gloomy visions, and I marvel at the life he now lives and enjoys. I am proud of my son, who he has become, and how he chooses to live his life. What more could any mother want?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer Skirt Sewing

My daughter wants summer skirts, à la SouleMama (a Mommy blog my daughter and I both read). It has been a very long time since I purchased a sewing pattern, and now, I have bought two.

Today, Jim and I took a favorite day trip to Big Valley. We bought flowers from Peachey's Greenhouse, operating on an honest-to-goodness Amish farm. From there we went to Buchanan's, a yard goods and quilting store, where I bought a lovely blue batik for the Simplicity pattern suggested by Amanda Soule and where I discovered and purchased a pattern booklet "Sassy Skirts" by Cindy Taylor Oakes, containing 12 fun permutations of a basic skirt pattern. We continued on to Peights, my favorite country store, where we picked up a family favorite--Zimmerman's peanut butter. I perused their yard goods sale table, finding several remnants to turn into more skirts; the next thing to find is time to begin....

School cannot end too soon. My summer projects (and summer reading) await.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I made a purse

I finished a purse this week, not really my first purse but one that combined my re-discovered joy of sewing with my love of knitting. I used two skeins of Noro Silk Garden, the Chinese Charm Purse pattern from the Stitch N' Bitch book, and some Crystal Palace bamboo handles. I sewed the lining from a half yard of lovely pink batik fabric from Stitch Your Art Out (my favorite local yarn and quilting shop). I like the purse, have already carried it to school one day but am toying with the idea of making it my permanent car knitting bag.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The end is in sight

For a teacher, May signals the beginning of the end. The countdown for students has already begun as one student happily pronounced to me this week, "28 days!" I haven't exactly counted but I suspect he is right (with one day more added for me). Today my teaching partner and I wrote out our day-by-day calendar and seeing the planning sketched out to the end of the year is another sign that the end truly IS in sight. Chrissy and I have booked a local park within walking distance of our school, and we have planned a picnic/awards ceremony. Chrissy had the idea of giving out cookies on a stick as "awards," and so tonight I test drove the making of those edible prizes. After seeing these, I can conjure up a multitude of ways to use this sweetly packaged treat. The rest of the batch will be served at a reading retreat on Wednesday, more planing and mapping of work, although this will be for next year. Any excuse to bake cookies is a good excuse, especially on a Friday afternoon!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

One square at a time

Sometimes the scope of need in our world overwhelms me. Children die of starvation, drought and famine, pestilence, and plague in numbers more than I can fathom; violence, especially violence against women and children, oppress far too many in our world, and I sit here in quiet, idyllic Central Pennsylvania, feeling so safely blessed. What can I do that really matters to those who suffer so deeply and horrifically?

The notion of using up my leftover yarn to make a difference in even a small way is an active choice that makes me feel, even in a most minuscule way, pretty humbled. So this week, my wonderful husband (who takes care of all those important errands I never can accomplish while I am school-bound each day) will mail off six squares to the Knit a Square project in South African. My yarn (leftover from shawls, leg-warmers, mitts, mittens, sweaters, and hats) has been knitted or crocheted into 8 inch squares that will now be pieced together by the Soweto Comfort Club into quilts to warm AIDS orphans in South Africa. Pretty powerful...

There are specifics to mail these squares...encase them in plastic wrap to protect them from moisture, indicate on the outside of the mailer wool or acrylic (wool, a natural fiber, will not ignite as quickly in the flame warmed homes/huts these children inhabit--natural fibers ARE always better!), and mark that it is a done for charity, not for profit.

So to all my loved ones who have received and worn gifts of yarn from my needles, now you know that fiber once connected to what you wear, shall be used in a blanket for a child in Africa...I hope you see yourself doubly blessed. I do.