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   Christmas is coming and things are getting busy.  One thing especially great about this time of year is how families get together.
   And share stories.
   Stories are a very important part of family history.  They help us get to know each other and those who have gone before us.  They bring us closer together as we remember shared experiences.
   You can collect these stories and make them available to those who are not old enough yet to understand them (or care) as well as to those who are too far away to join with you.
   With today's technology--smart phones, tablets, and other recording devices--you can record audio and video as stories are told.  You can get the older family members on record as they share their stories--something you will be very glad you did, especially after they pass on.
   And even if you don't do this at a family get-together, you can meet with your family members and record their personal histories in this way.
   Not sure how to start?  Try a timeline.
   Just make a list of where they lived and what they did there, down through the years of their lives.  Timelines serve as perfect skeletons on which to build the body of a personal history.  Listing timeline elements triggers memories and brings out wonderful stories that you might not have heard otherwise.
   Don't wait.  Time spent on timelines will reward you beyond what you can imagine.  Time's a-wasting.  There's no time like the present.  And what a great present your efforts will be to all those you love.

but she died twelve years ago today.

This is a small article I wrote four years ago about her and what happened.

Unto Us a Child Is Born
     Losing a loved one seems harder to bear when it comes during the holiday season.  When a baby has died, Christmas songs about a mother and her child can make the loss even harder.
      While the last third of the year 2001 was a time of tragedy for thousands of people, our particular tragedy started well before September 11th. Our daughter and her husband were expecting our first grandchild and had volunteered to participate in a study of Down's syndrome babies. They went in for an early ultrasound, expecting to be on the control list with a normal baby. Instead the doctors found that their little girl had no skull and would not live long after birth--if she survived even that long.
      The doctors recommended abortion, but my daughter chose to try to have the baby because she and her husband wanted this little girl in their family, even if they could only know her for a short time.
      They named her Winnifred Grace and they grew to love her as she made herself known to them. Her mother was constantly aware of her as she shifted, squirmed, and stretched inside her. Her father would put his head close and talk to her and sing.
      Little Winnie was due to be born at the end of November, but as her parents prepared to leave home to join us for Thanksgiving dinner, my daughter sneezed, and her water broke. Both sets of grandparents spent Thanksgiving Day at LDS Hospital, waiting for the birth of their special granddaughter.
      Winnifred Grace survived her birth, and we took turns holding her, spending as much time with her as we could because we didn't know how much time we had. When it was my turn, I sang my father's version of "The Eriskay Love Lilt," a song he had sung as a lullaby to me and then to my children. He was not there to sing it himself, having died two years before, but his grave would be Winnie's resting place as well because there was room above his large coffin for her small one. As I held her and sang, I pictured him holding her when the time came for us to say good-bye to her, too.
      She lived for ten hours. When the man from the mortuary came to the hospital, my son-in-law wanted to stay with my daughter, so I volunteered to carry Winnie down to the car. The man escorted me through the back ways, saying it was hard to have to explain to people that the baby I was carrying was dead, so it was better to go where we wouldn't meet people. I laid her on the passenger's seat and returned to the hospital room to help my daughter get ready to go home.
      When Winnie's body was ready, we went to the mortuary and helped her mother dress her in a beautiful white dress trimmed in yellow that her other grandmother had made for her granddaughter. My daughter then wrapped Winnie in a baby afghan crocheted for her by my sister and laid her in the tiny coffin. There was a viewing, and then we took her to my father's gravesite.
      The snow had been cleared away, and though cold, it was a beautiful day. My son-in-law had a brother who had died as a baby, and his mother told us that it had been very hard to leave his body all alone in that cemetery full of strangers. It was a comfort to leave this grandchild's body with the body of her great grandfather.
      Then came the Christmas season with all the songs about the world's most special baby and about how much His mother loved Him.  Those songs took on new and painful meaning as we mourned our own special child.
      Rather than mourn alone, though, we chose to go to out of state to spend Christmas with Winnie's other grandparents so that her mother and father could spend Christmas with both of their parents.
      Christmas that year was on a Tuesday, but we arrived in time to attend Sunday services. Those of us who could sing became impromptu additions to the choir. And there we sang those songs about the most special child of all, welcoming Him once again, and feeling comforted because His coming has made it possible for us to be together someday with all of those we have lost. The tears we shed in sadness then will one day become tears of joy because of the birth, death, and resurrection of one very Special Child.

I didn't win the contest for which I wrote my previous post, but my blog entry was mentioned in the Interweave Knits blog collection of tips from the contest:


(It's tip #9.)

And I am glad I was inspired to write the post, because I told my mother about it, and she didn't remember having rolled that ball of yarn for me.  She was touched that I had remembered, and it was a tender moment between us.

You can never thank all of the people who touch your life, nor can you let them know how some little thing they did made a difference for you.

But you can do that for some of the people, and I can't think of a better way to use social media, especially blogs, than to do that.

So maybe that's something I can do on this blog, at least.

It is so true that by small things great things can be brought to pass.  

   I learned to knit when I was about 10 years old, and my mother was the one who taught me.
   Before we started, I heard a story about a young girl whose mother had rolled a skein of yarn into a ball for her, to encourage her to learn to knit.  In that ball, as part of the encouragement, the mother had placed small treasures for her daughter to find as she kept knitting.
   I thought that was such a nice thing for the mother to do, so I told my mother about it, and expressed hope that she could do something like that for me.
   And she did.
   I don't know how she found the time or money to collect the tiny surprises that she rolled into that ball of yarn, especially since she had three other children and a fourth on the way, and my father was a school teacher with a limited income.
   But she managed.
   And at the center of the ball was a little ring set with my birthstone.  I still have that ring, though I don't have any of the other little gifts.
   And I have the memory of my mother doing such a kind and thoughtful thing for me.
   Looking back now, at how challenging my not-so-simple request was, and how well she fulfilled it, I am touched and honored at her love for me.
   What did I knit with that magical ball of yarn?  I believe it was a pair of garter-stitch slippers (that hurt my feet because they were so bumpy).
   But that was the first of many items I have knit, and I am so glad my mother made that special effort to encourage me to learn.

By the way, this blog entry is for a contest sponsored by Interweave Knits. The prizes I hope to win with this entry are as follows:

Knitting Off the Axis Projects and Techniques for Sideways Knitting

Power Cables The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Inventive Cables

The Art of Seamless Knitting

Textured Stitches Knitted Sweaters and Accessories with Smart Details

Light & Layered Knits: 23 Sophisticated Designs for Every Season


I've made two scarves, so far, with this particular pattern, which was created by designer Martina Behm.  The pattern has 42 "teeth" which is why she named it "Hitchhiker" (of course).

The first one is made of superwash merino/silk hand-dyed by a lovely lady in West Cork, Ireland, named Jo Kerrigan.  My daughter got the yarn for me as a gift.

       I love how light and delicate it is--very nice drape, I think.

The other, is also from hand-dyed yarn that my daughter got for me--except this she had to spin for me before she gave it to me.  The "colorway" is named "Dragon Scale" by its dyer, the owner of Greenwood Fiberworks.  It's a bit thicker yarn, but I love the way the colors changed as I knit the scarf:


Looks like dragon fire, doesn't it?

There is a kit that you can buy that includes four 100-yard skeins of hand-dyed wool-silk blend yarn and a silk scarf dyed with the same colors.  The idea is to knit a scarf out of the yarn in such a way that you can thread the silk scarf through the knitted scarf (and there are several ways it can be threaded).

I made a purple one for my mother for Mother's Day:

And I bought a brown and teal dyed kit to make one for me.  I started that one, but my knitting got tighter as I knit, for some reason, and the scarf began to get too narrow.  I decided to "frog" it (rip-it, rip-it, rip-it) and will try using the yarn for something else.

I did make another scarf in a scarf, however, when I found a scarf in colors that my daughter loves (yellows), and then got some yarn to go with it.

I also made what is called a mohair bias loop (which is joined in such a way that you can't find the beginning or ending) and it was fun to learn how to make.


  • Wed, 18:59: I can tell by the invites to Goodreads that I keep getting that I need to get back in there and update my book list.


One of the crazy things I did last year was adapt a Vogue Knitting pattern and use up some sock yarn I bought.  (I don't like to knit socks, so I had to do something else with it.)  The really crazy thing about it was that I threaded a whole bunch of seed beads onto the yarn for the middle part of the pattern, and I hope to show the results below.  (The original pattern was for a cowl, and I turned it into a sort of collar.)

Three braided concentric circles, with the beaded one between the other two.

And this is how it looks when I wear it.

I entered it in the state fair last year, and won a third place ribbon.  The judge's comment was something along the lines of "clever work, but too heavy to wear."  Wrong!  Oh, well.

People would ask me, which I was knitting it, what I was making, and I'd put it over my head to show them.  Of course, that meant they saw it "on" my head, like a headband, and several said I should just make it like that.  So I made a couple of single circles as headbands out of some leftover sock yarn (my daughter loves to make socks):


Well, uploading the photos went much better this time.  Whew!

How about if I share some photos of the things I knitted this past year?

I "frogged" (unravelled--called that because you "rip it, rip it, rip it") two sweaters part way because I didn't like the way they looked when I had finished them. 

One is dark green and has a bunch of cables     

 and the other is purple solid at the yoke and then varigated.

Trying to get these photos uploaded is way more trouble than it's worth.

(I wrote this ages ago, but I thought it would be a good thing to make available online, so I'm putting it here in my livejournal blog.)

from issue #179 of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop Newsletter

as inspired by Damon Knight

Example of a reality check process. (To be used whenever someone gives you a writing "rule"--be it the author of a how-to-write book, an editor, an author who is your idol, or anyone who tries to tell you "this is the Only Way.")

Editor on a panel at a con says, "Don't start stories with a weather report."

Reality check:
Go make a pile of as many different kinds of published stories as you can find (especially stories that editor has bought, or if it's a published author, look at stories that author has written).

Read the beginnings. Notice how many of these start with a description of a scene and the kind of weather happening in the scene.

Ask yourself why the editor would advise against starting stories that way. Were any of those starts boring? Did any of them have a character in the setting, noticing/experiencing the weather? Did any of the "weather reports" go on for too long?

Were any of them wonderful to read? (In my opinion, Tony Hillerman, who starts almost every one of his chapters with a weather report, can keep doing that for as long as he likes. I love his chapter starts. Which is remarkable because I usually find large chunks of description very boring, especially when they are weather reports at the beginnings of stories. However, in the hands of someone who knows how to do it- -and I've asked Hillerman how he does it (he doesn't know, or so he says)--even a weather report can be a hook.)

Next step, analysis:
What about Hillerman's weather reports makes them work for me? What about other weather reports makes them boring? Is there something I can learn from these examples?

Step after that, immersion:
Type story beginnings that work for you into your computer. Type story beginnings that don't work for you into your computer. Notice as you type what is different about each. If that doesn't help, tear those weather reports apart. Examine their structure, the number of adjectives they have, the number of other parts of speech they have, the order of the various parts of speech. Diagram the sentences if you have to. Make a list of the different kinds of sentences and sentence structures. Disect the life out of them, but understand them.

Final step:
Decide for yourself how you are going to write.

Use this procedure as often as necessary.

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