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Found Objects

September 11th, 2014

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We moved into this house in late June 2013, and had spent the previous 4 months prepping our old house for sale. As part of the staging process, we did a bunch of DIY; painting, rehabing the kitchen, and replacing light fixtures. But we also wanted to make the home feel spacious. That meant packing away most of the ‘stuff’ that we’re so fond of collecting; books, dog toys, and of course, yarn.

Luckily, our new house had a basement with an outside entrance, and the owners were happy to rent it to us for a few months for a reasonable price. I spent weeks and weeks moving over boxes and bags of the non-essentials. It was an ideal solution that let us get the best value out of our previous house without needing to move everything twice!

Of course, as usually goes with things out of sight, the boxes have sat there largely untouched. Until recently.

People. Do you know how fun it is to rediscover your yarn stash after over a year?

One very exciting discovery was this sweater I’d been designing back in 2012. When I pulled it out of the project bag, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t seamed, and strands were dangling everywhere. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the design was nearly done – only missing a collar! And even better, I still loved it.

The big question, of course, was whether I’d be able to find the pattern notes. After so many years, (and a pregnancy!) there’d be no way I could accurately recreate the rather unusual construction.

Two notebooks later, I’d decoded enough of my chicken scratches and found the pattern, split into three sections across a single notebook.

Bingo.

A few hours of knitting later, and I’ve got a freshly finished new cabled cardigan, perfect for fall.

So stay tuned. Two new designs coming soon.

Momhood

September 8th, 2014

Carly at 22 weeks

Well.

Carly Catherine arrived at 11:25pm on March 29, and my world bloomed.

“Bloom” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s as if all the colours are brighter. All the moments are more precious. All the love is so much stronger. Carly arrived, and it was like Spring after a lifelong winter.

If you’ve been following my updates on Twitter and Instagram, you have a good idea how much in love I am with being a Mom. In Canada, most of us are lucky enough to have a full year off with a new baby. I can’t explain how grateful I feel to have this time with Carly, even though it’s flying by.

She’s already 5 months old, can sit up and roll over, and amazes us with something new every day.

When I was pregnant, I wasn’t sure how I’d manage to fill up all the time. What does one DO with a tiny baby? As it turns out, our days are full and go by so quickly. We’ve been taking long walks, doing mom and baby yoga, having lunch with friends, playing, doing housework, reading books, napping, and somehow, it’s 6pm and Sandra’s almost home, and it’s time for dinner, a bath, and bed.

Carly’s just started napping reasonably well. I take the first nap of the day with her, until 10:30 or 11, and the rest, she’s on her own. She typically gives me anywhere from an hour to 2.5 hours, so I’ve just regained some chunks of time for things like cooking and… gasp… knitting.

That’s right. I’m knitting.

I didn’t talk about it at the time, but a few years ago, my hands started cramping up every time I’d hold the needles. This was around when my mom was going through her stem cell transplant for lymphoma, and it felt like such a betrayal that I couldn’t find peace in stitches. Slowly, I stopped knitting. To the point that when we moved into this house last year, I didn’t even unpack my yarn, needles, or notions.

When I was pregnant, I tried to knit. I forced my way through a simple hat for Carly. (One she only wore a few times because of the time of year!) But it hurt, oh man, did it hurt.

But then, I felt guilty my daughter didn’t have any handknits. So I went deep into my basement, and deep into my stash, and found some sock yarn that I’d purchased a long time ago, thinking it’d be nice for a baby.

And I knit.

And it didn’t hurt.

Maybe it’s the hormones, or maybe it’s the weight loss (or both), but I can knit again. And I’m loving it again.

Glendale

So here’s Glendale. It’s a quick-knit baby top with a fun construction. And you know you have sock yarn just waiting to turn into something beautiful.

Right now, I’m almost done with a grown-up size version, and am plotting my next designs.

It feels good to be back. I’ve missed you.

Long time gone

February 27th, 2014

belly

Geez it’s been a long time since I wrote here.

So long, in fact, that I’m about 4 weeks away from giving birth to our first daughter.

But let me back up.

Since I last posted, I’ve:

  • Bought a new house
  • Renovated and sold our old house
  • Gone to Florida to meet my sister, brother and birthfather
  • That one bears repeating; I’ve MET my birthfamily!
  • Moved
  • Gone through IVF
  • Got pregnant!!
  • Renovated a kitchen and done so many other other home improvements
  • Dug really really deep into my work
  • Quilted a lot
  • Acquired Gestational Diabetes
  • Spent a lot of time chatting with my long-lost sister
  • Meant to blog just about every day

So it’s been kind of an amazing 11 months.

And I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet. I find that when I was blogging a lot, I was doing it in the morning before work. That all ended last year. I took on a permanent team lead role at work, and switched my schedule to work earlier hours. On top of getting up and getting the dogs settled in the morning, I was always running behind. And blogging over my lunch was no longer an option since I generally worked through lunch. And, and, and… well, it’s a lot of excuses. Life just got… full.

And full of stuff I couldn’t really talk about when I was going through it. Like IVF. And early pregnancy. And work challenges. And the pains of renovating. Heck, I still can’t talk about a lot of that.

But I can try.

I’ve been on medical leave for a few weeks now. Babygirl is doing great in there, but the gestational diabetes and my needing to control it through insulin means that I’ll be induced at no later than 39 weeks. I have weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests, weekly appointments at the diabetes clinic, and weekly meetings with my OB to see how things are progressing. It’s a lot. And I’m supposed to rest as much as possible.

So with that time, I’ve been thinking about writing down what it was like to do IVF, what my pregnancy has been like. I have some notes in a dayplanner I bought last summer, but I haven’t taken any time to write down what I was thinking, feeling, craving (Oreos) and I think it’s something I’d like to have.

And I’m thinking about doing it here, now that it doesn’t feel like a jinx.

So that’s what’s been going on here, in just less than 500 words. I can’t promise I’ll write more, but maybe I will.

The great de-stash of2013 (part 1)

March 25th, 2013

Just in case these few weeks weren’t crazy enough, Sandra and I decided to buy a more family-friendly house with a bigger yard for the dogs and any future kidlets! Part of moving means de-stashing, so here we go!

Preference to local pickups but I’m happy to ship anywhere for actual postage cost. I’m sorry, but I won’t split up lots of stuff – we have to have our house on the market in a couple of weeks so everything that’s going has to go asap. :-)

Lot of 8 Craft Books: – $20

Many of these are duplicates in our stash, all are in great to new condition: Knitting for Peace, Amazing Crochet Lace, Fitted Knits, Not Your Mama’s Knitting, Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation, The Yarn Lover’s Guide to Hand-dying, Not Your Mama’s Beading, Vogue Knitting Felting On the Go.

Lot of 13 Rowan Knitting Magazines – $150

Many (all?) of these are out of print. Gorgeous for ideas and eye candy!!

Lot of 8 Rowan knitting booklets – $60

Also largely out of print, includes Bigger Picture, the Calmer Collection, Plaid Collection, Classic Style, Classic Holiday, Classic Bambino, Arabesque and the Cocoon Collection.

Lot of 12 skeins of sock yarn – SOLD

Knit yourself 12 pairs of socks for less than $7 a pair! Includes Silk Garden Sock, Cherry Tree Hill, Dream in Color Everlasting, Chameleon Colorworks and more!

Lot of 4 skeins of hand-painted lace yarn – SOLD

Dear Ellen (A ReunionStory)

March 14th, 2013

Dear Ellen,

My sister Kimmy and I learned how to dance from watching your show. I’m sure you get a lot of letters like this, but what makes ours a little different is that Kimmy and I haven’t yet met. In 1977, when I was born, I was adopted. Only 3 days old, I went home to live with the Swensons, knowing only that I was adopted and that I was very, very, very loved. I had questions over the years, but the adoption was closed; no contact and little information.

I’m married to a wonderful woman, have a good career, a nice house, and the two best chocolate labs. We’re working on starting our own little family here in Toronto. But a few years ago, I lost my dad. And in 2011, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. I spent the first part of 2012 as her caretaker as she went through a successful stem cell transplant and recovery. In December, I turned 35. Maybe because of all of this, maybe in spite of it, I decided to find what I could about my birth family.

I found out that Illinois would now issue an original, unaltered birth certificate to adoptees. Where possible, it would include the birth mother and father’s name, address, ages, and other information that could help answer some of those questions. I filled out the form, using my mom’s address in St. Charles since it would be quicker. I paid my $15. I waited 3 weeks. On the Saturday morning that Mom called, we were actually in the middle of our adoption homestudy. I pressed ‘ignore’ and called her that afternoon. She read the birth certificate out loud and my heart stopped.

My birth mom’s name was Denise Lynn Johnson. She was 19. She lived in St. Charles at the time. I had history.

The internet is kind of amazing. I work on the web, developing applications and strategies for the province of Ontario. But I never thought how much I could find with just a name and approximate age. I found Denise’s yearbook photo first, and then her married name. I then found her obituary – she passed away in 2008.

This floored me. I’d waited more than four years too long. I would never know her. And since my father’s name was blank, I would never find my birth father.

I realize that I’ve already given away the best part of the story. You can probably guess what happened next. The obituary listed surviving children; a girl and two boys. Somewhere out there, I had a half-sister and half-brothers and what felt like a dozen aunts. I googled my sister’s name and found and old myspace page. And a picture. And then, I almost fainted.

My wife was sitting next to me and she looked over. “That could be you!” she said.

Never in my life had I met anyone who looked anything like me. I looked at Kimmy and knew; I had found a sister.

It only took two weeks to get in touch. I’d ‘friended’ the aunts on Facebook and one saw my messages. Within hours, I was chatting with Kimmy, who couldn’t have been more delighted to have a sister. But I still wanted to know… who was my father?

She didn’t even hesitate. “My dad is your dad”, she said. Our parents had been in love from a very young age and there was no doubt. After I was born, they moved to Florida, got married, had three children together. When Denise died in 2008, our dad didn’t know how to go on. He’s rebuilding, but it’s taking time. And it’s been so hard.

Now it’s been a few more weeks and I’ve bought a ticket to go meet her in Florida on April 13. We’ve lived such very different kinds of lives, but we’re continually amazed at how much we’re the same. We both have crazy long toes; we call them ‘fingertoes’. We both love cilantro, and sushi, and cheese. (Not all at the same time!) As I mentioned before, we both learned some killer dance moves from your show.

And most importantly, we are both having the time of our lives getting to know each other, crafting private jokes, making up for 30 years of not knowing.

What does this have to do with you? Nothing. Well, except for the killer moves we’ve learned over the years of watching. I

I just wanted to share that one of the things me and my sister (I’m still not used to saying that!) have in common is you. Thank you.

love,
Amy Swenson
Toronto ON

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