We’ve had these three little beanie baby stuffies for years and years. I think they may have come from a McDonald’s Happy Meal at some point, back when I occasionally bought those for my girls on days when we were pinched for time. Now they won’t even touch McDonald’s food (except for the breakfast sandwiches, in which we still indulge on rare occasions when we are required to be up and out of the house before the sun). I digress, as usual. Over time, these three lovely skunks became known as the Stinky Sisters.
Sophie rediscovered them from the stash of stuffed animals recently – we have so many, most of them are relegated to bins in the basement, a smaller selection lives on a shelf in our upstairs hallway, and each girl is allowed two or three at a time to call her own, with trade-ins allowed whenever they request it without screaming and/or whining about it. We have these rules for a reason, I don’t just make up Draconian laws on a whim despite what my children sometimes seem to think…
But this morning, Sophie left her Stinky Sisters on the kitchen table, looking out the window. On the way out the door to the bus stop she informed me that they were going to wait for her there today, so they could see her when she is coming home. Funny enough, that is where our old cat Daisy (may she rest in peace) used to sit waiting for us to come home. Most pets do that – they find a spot near the door or window where they can anticipate their people’s return. We all would like to believe that they spend their day there waiting, but if we’re honest we know that they wait till we are gone and then go exploring the house, looking for a comfy spot or something interesting that was not there the day before. This is as it should be, and the truly beloved pet, at least in a home filled with routines, knows when to expect their owner and is ready and waiting for their return at the appropriate time.
The Stinky Sisters are no exception. They started off slowly at first, checking out the ever-present bowl of fruit on the table. Lately we’ve been eating clementines like they are going out of style. They are like candy! This is also the table where homework is done, so if you look closely you’ll see a peek of the ever-present pile of papers and pencils that also live in this spot.
Soon, the sisters moved on to the living room. There, they found some wind-up Ugly Doll toys having a little party on a library book, which makes a nice hard surface when not actually being read. These toys were supposed to be stocking stuffers at Christmas, but Santa had purchased them much earlier in the year and forgotten them in their hidey-hole. They were unearthed a couple weeks too late during the post-Christmas purging of junk, at which point they became spontaneous gifts-for-no-reason. We have a strong love for all things Ugly Doll around here.
Next, the Sisters took a trip over to the shelf where they checked in on the ant farm. This may have been the best present given or received in our house this Christmas. The girls had both circled ant farms in various toy catalogs during the lead-up to Black Friday, and when Joe and I sat down to leaf through the catalogs ourselves to pick out the goodies, he exclaimed that *he* wanted one for himself. Well, I’ve always secretly wanted one too, so I ordered one and gave it to him – it had to be opened a couple days before Christmas, because that is when the ants arrived in the mail, and I didn’t have the heart to make them wait in their tiny test tube. These new-fangled ant farms with their mysterious gel substance that acts as both digging-dirt and food are pretty cool. Ours came with a base that lit it up from the bottom, and unfortunately that part broke within the first week, but still – it has been entrancing to watch them build their tunnels over the last few weeks.
The sisters soon got bored in the living room, and just like my girls, they snuck into the office room to see what Mommy has been working on in her private space.
Bear with me while I share another side-story. When Joe and I were first married, we watched a lot of the Food Network. There was a show where chefs would knock on random doors and ask to come inside and cook gourmet meals from whatever the family had in their kitchen. On one show, this fabulous chef was stuck in a kitchen of dieters who ate only pre-packaged and processed foods where the only oil-type substance for sauteing something in was “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter”. She quipped “I can’t believe I’m cooking with this stuff.” Apparently I thought that was funny enough that it’s stuck in my brain for more than ten years. Anyhoo, I think of that all the time when I’m knitting with the yarn shown above and think “I can’t believe I’m knitting this stuff!”
Before Christmas, I knit a beautiful infinity scarf thing out of mawata silk that I’d attenuated into yarn – so light and fluffy and warm! And it went into our family gift-giving game on Christmas night. All of the little girls at the party tried to win it, but I really wanted it to go to a grown-up, who would be better able to take care of it, delicate as it was. In the end, I promised my two that I would knit them their own scarves if they would stop fussing about the one at hand. Later that week, we went to the big-box craft store and I let them pick out something more appropriate to little girls. To my own internal shock (horror?) I actually steered them to this stuff – it’s super-bulky nylon chenille that I knew would be soft against their skin, if not particularly warm, and quick enough to knit that I could have them done before the Spring thaws. Julie’s scarf is already done, but I’m making her wait to have it till Sophie’s is off the needles as well, one or two more sessions should see it done.
Once the Sisters were done bouncing on the layers of squishy chenille, they moved on to the exciting Ferris Wheel structure of my spinning wheel. Notice that there is no fluffy wool sticking out of the orifice on the front – the singles are all spun for this giant batch of wool – it started out as a 4-lb fleece if I my records are correct (and I’m not exactly 100% sure that I’m matching up the fleece to the right records, sadly). I know that I skirted the thing mercilessly, throwing out any and all dubious bits before washing, and then I combed the locks into top, which meant that even more ended up in the compost. It will be interesting to see what the finished yarn weighs.
So now comes the wider view – I am busy plying the yarn as time allows, usually late at night when my brain is good for nothing better. I used my beautiful Earl Oman wheel for the spinning, but all of the bobbins were full by the time I was done, plus my Rose wanted in on the action – she is faster at plying with her higher ratios.
I have three finished bobbins waiting to be wound off, the fourth is almost done. I’m thinking I’ll have almost two more bobbins’ worth by the end – a sweater’s worth, almost certainly. It is very hard to take a halfway decent picture of black-brown yarn on a bobbin on a cloudy winter morning, not that I actually tried very hard.
Observant readers will note the Garmin box to the left of the bobbins – my big Christmas present was an uber-fancy running watch that can track your mileage and pacing with extreme accuracy. I haven’t had much opportunity to use it yet, since I’ve been running on the treadmill at the gym – I would like to claim that I run outdoors in the Winter, but in reality I am a big chicken and afraid of falling on the ice. Someday. I need time to figure out all the fancy features anyway. To the right of the bobbins is a basket full of other handspun waiting for its turn on the needles. Oh, how I wish I had an extra pair of hands!
By now, the Stinkies had moved across the room to the work table. There, they found some freshly-wound sock yarn. I live in fear of running out of mindless on-the-go projects to take along to swim practice and other enforced instances of down time. I’ll find a moment in the next couple of days to cast on another pair of socks – I think I’m going to do these from the top down. This will be another pair for myself. A couple/few years ago, I knit a little sweater for Sophie out of a different colorway of this yarn – it has a ply of sparkly silver spun in, and the whole time I knit that sweater, I wished for some socks for myself out of it. I always re-wind the skeins into two equal balls so that I can knit both socks at once – on two separate sets of needles, alternating between them so that I still have something completely mindless to work on even if one of them is at the heel or toe and needs a bit of attention from my eyes rather than just my hands. I like to knit in the car if someone else is driving, but I get horribly car sick if I have to look.
Finally, the girls found their way back to the kitchen, where they explored my on-the-go sock pouch. The pair in there is almost done – probably in the next week or so. I would have finished them off at home by now if it weren’t for those frivolous scarves. You can’t see it in the picture, but there is a name and phone number tag on every one of my knitting pouches or bags if there is a chance that it will leave the house. I learned my lesson after losing an almost completely knit sock along with a big ball of my handspun yarn a few years ago.
Sophie will be coming home from school soon, and I think the Stinky Sisters were tired. They are back on their table, dozing as they wait for their girl to return.
All of this reminds me of my favorite quote from The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery:
“You should have come back at the same time,” said the fox. “If for example you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, I shall start feeling happy at three o’clock. As the time passes, I shall feel happier and happier. At four o’clock, I shall become agitated and start worrying; I shall discover the price of happiness.
I think I may go watch out the kitchen window – I think my girls have me completely tamed. Fred will come with me, and just before time for the school bus to come, he will start whining at the back door because he is tamed too. We are the lucky ones, because they will always come.