Friday, March 23, 2007

Visit to Yarn-Snob Island for the Brown Sisters

The budget doesn’t always allow me to visit that vacation Island known as Yarn-Snob very often. When the rare frequent yarn miles allow me that coveted trip (generally when my parents have sent money for my birthday or Christmas with the strict direction of buying something for myself), it’s got to be for a very special occasion or person. A couple of years ago, it was for four special some ones.

There is an LYS not too far from the address of my yarn stash who holds bi-yearly ‘bag sales’. For knitters, I deem this akin to a yarn mosh-pit. They have wire bins and racks over flowing with discontinued brands and colors marked down to 50% or so. It’s as if you’ve died and gone to heaven if you can find the perfect flavors for your patterns and cravings. I decided to venture out after reading rave reviews over and over to see what the fuss was all about.

I have to say, they weren’t kidding. The amount available was something else to this long time knitter/newbie LYS attendee. Trying to get close to the bins made me happy I was not there at the crack of dawn. Two hours into the yarn frenzy was more than enough to convince me that this was an event worth investigating at least once in a lifetime. There were more than enough colors and textures to put a mild mannered knitter into sensory overload. I got to thinking that there must be something in the mountains of fiber there that would be calling my name. I just hoped it wasn’t going to be calling me something silly.

Digging around I was picking up this microfiber, picking up this wool, that merino, putting down that microfiber, looking at this, looking at that…thinking to myself...what in tarnation were they sniffing when they concocted that one? Determined that I would not leave without something to show for my little adventure, I continued digging. I was aware that the moment I sat something down it was to be snatched up in a nanosecond, but yet, nothing was singing in my ear yet. Having always lived on a budget, I guarantee I had never seen nor felt anything so soft or luxurious in my life. This was something I knew better than to chance putting down even long enough to tie a shoe, or pay attention to anything else. The next question was, what would I do with gray? I kept looking while keeping my treasure in a vice grip under my arm. And that’s when it hit me. I found the mint silk merino. And it dawned on me that I’d never knit a thing for my mom in all my 35+ years worth of knitting. All the charity things sent to persons unknown, (Ok the boyfriend sweater that I gave to her doesn’t count. He broke up with me, and I spent far too much time on it to throw it out. But I’ve also learned, the curse-is real.) I am a bad, bad daughter, I admit it.

Continuing with my new found talent of digging through the mountain to find the needle/or the silk merino, I found some lavender and navy. Now we were getting somewhere. I’d never knitted a thing for my Auntie “M” either who’d taught me to knit when I was 7 after I’d watched over her shoulder I’m sure pestering her the whole time. But hey, with more than two colors in my little treasure trove, why not make enough for each of my mom’s sisters as well?
With four colors to choose from, I now had a plan. Four colors + four Brown Sisters (Mom and her sisters) = four scarves. We were in business…until I tried to find the perfect patterns for the perfect scarves with the perfect colors for the perfect sisters. The decision process nearly killed me.
Mom’s was easy. Well, relatively easy. I was flipping through a Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting (I believe) and found this scarf but left off the beads. To me putting a bead in the center of each pattern meant if she needed to pull it tight in the winter weather, she’d get the beads digging into her neck. While it looked pretty in the pictures, to me it wasn’t so practical to wear.

My girls needed to fly home for a family funeral just as I was finishing the scarf. It also coincided with Mom’s birthday. After all the funeral events, the girls were able to hand deliver the scarf to mom while I was on the cell phone 3, 000 miles away as she opened it. It was the first time the kids had ever been with Mom on her birthday. Cell phones in this family have allowed us to bring Grandma and Grandpa ‘along’ on many of the kids’ events-UCLA band concerts, singing in church, ‘take me out to the ball game’ singing at Dodger stadium, etc...This was the first time they took me ‘along’ for the event.

After picking out the colors with advice from the cousins, picking the patterns for each aunt was another matter. Each of the four Brown Sisters have their own special talents. My mother’s is organizing with a small amount of crocheting on the side. My aunts have their own gifts, but also knit. They would know if something I made them was up to snuff, or just cheesy peasey.

Auntie “M” was the one who not only taught me to knit, but had introduced a lot of needlework extras into my life. Like the hand smocked dress for my first day of school, or the bunny shaped rice krispy treats at Easter, the ribbon jello at my bridal shower to match my bridesmaids’ dresses, and the dream catchers for each of the kids in addition to all her grandchildren at the family reunion. I made her the Misty Garden scarf from Pam Allen's Scarf Style with of the lavender for her.

Auntie “A along with Uncle “D” play Santa and Mrs. over the holidays for private parties and for a couple of special groups. I’ll have to talk about their efforts in another posting down the road. They also make beautiful Tiffany styled lamps, and someday when I grow up, I want one of my very own! (In blues, of course.) I just am too afraid after all of their work, that it might not survive the trip out to California. So, I am currently Auntie “A” lampless.

I picked a pattern from a small magazine that had cables in it. I love cables. I heart cables. I have been known to pick a sweater pattern and knit it full of cables. If I could knit cables all the time, that would be very ok with me. Then along came this Irish Hiking Scarf that so may other were talking about. Curiosity bit me and I went in search of this hot topic. I knew I’d seen this before! It was the same scarf I was working on for Auntie “A” with the exception of the ends on her scarf. The pattern I’d picked up had a ribbing in a smaller sized needle to keep the ends from flaring out. I have to say, I think I like that a lot. I hate it when the ends poof out, and that happens all the time, and not just to scarves.

Auntie “N” is the baby of their family. She’s the one who PROPERLY taught me to be a Wolverine fan, and all that it entails. She was the sister who moved to AA as a single gal, and has never left that town. The summer after my freshman year of high school I was lucky enough to spend a week at her house. It was my first trip to a French restaurant, my first strawberry crepes, first bagels, and it started a really great relationship with her. Today when the Wolverines are playing their famous rivalry game of the season you will most likely find the two of us calling or emailing each other….with YA! Or ..what was that? Or….did you see that? She’s also the one who has helped to fill my house with a lot of navy and maize items! From singing bottle openers and magnets, to ‘proper clothing’ for the kids and me, she’s had my family covered well. When my daughter was marching for UCLA in September, 2000, she even offered to send me some PROPERLY decorated underwear to hide my true allegiance while at the Rose Bowl game the day they played U of M. Daughter caught wind of the plot and threatened the next 3 years worth of free tickets to all things UCLA that she would march for, and we had to abandon the ship. After all…free tickets for the mom is nothing to be messed with. (darn it).

Knowing that I was down to the gray color left, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea for her scarf. Then one of the Yahoo groups that I’d joined gave me the ‘bestest’ of ideas! Using Regia sock yarn in their nations colors, you can make a 3 x 3 rib scarf! And guess what…they had a Navy-Yellow flavor in their selection! Bingo, we have a winner here. The moment I found that color it was a done deal. I’ve since asked her if she felt slighted about not getting the silk merino, and she told me I’d picked a very good color for her.

It’s too bad that Auntie “N” was ill the day of the family reunion when Mom passed them out. And ‘hats off’ to Auntie “M” and Auntie “A” for standing in 102*+ heat while they had their picture taken for my benefit! Now that’s a couple of Aunties worth loving! In my haste to get to the post office, I’d neglected to snap a few pictures. I know..shock of all shocks…me, not taking pictures. Who’d have believed such a thing? I sit here hanging my head in shame. Thank goodness for my parents coming to the rescue.

Ya know what? I love my Mom and my Aunties….I just wish my budget would allow me to love more folks (including me) more often. *sigh*….everyone’s gotta have a wish list, now don’t they?