It all began last summer. As we prepared to start our southwest bus trip, I decided to get yarn. It planned to knit a baby blanket while we drove long hours heading west and I did, too. I knit like crazy while Bob looked out the window checking out farm fields.
Though I wanted to have a blanket for baby Wyatt when he arrived, I knit too much, and ended up with a lap afghan. When we got home, I crocheted the right size blanket for the baby and I made him a hat, too. I was so proud because I really didn't have a pattern for the hat, but figured one out myself.
By this time the yarn bug had bit me. I started crocheting cotton coasters by the dozen. Everyone got a set for Christmas — yarn for these projects came from a stash I had. Years ago I made the family scarves and washcloths. Eventually, everyone had enough and I quit.
This winter's bad weather turned out to be perfect for working with yarn. I can't sit in front of the television without working on some kind of project.
After being so successful with Wyatt's hat, I decided to make another. That one I sent to a friend out west. Ginny does a lot of walking in the back country, so I figured she'd need a nice warm hat for her treks.
The next hat I donated to Green Bay Oncology. I dropped it off when Bob had his last checkup. By the way, Bob had a great checkup.
Time passed. I went back to making coasters, and then I got the bad news that a very, very close friend had a brain tumor and would be having an operation. Right away I began making her the softest hat I could. It would be just like Wyatt's, but larger.
I started out as I had on Wyatt's, with baby yarn (there's no reason not to use baby yarn for a big person's hat). It was my plan to make it just as I had the first three hats, but something went wrong. No matter what I did I couldn't get it right.
The hook in my hand seemed to be working the same as it had on previous hats, but no matter what I did, my stitches went wild. The first hat came out distorted. I ripped it out and started again ... and again. I even went on the Internet and found a pattern. It had me knitting a flat piece and sewing the edges together. This hat turned out to be the most distorted of all.
Totally frustrated, I set my yarn down. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I had made perfectly good hats but I couldn't make one for my friend. Finally, on one of our rare trips to Appleton, I stopped at a craft store and bought a circle loom.
The directions that came with it were minimal, but I managed, and in a couple hours I had a perfectly shaped, extra soft hat for Colleen. After that success, I dug through my stash of yarn and made her a hat of a different color.
I was on a streak. Using a chunky dark yarn, I made a hat for Bob. Then, using leftovers from his hat and from the second for Colleen, I made one for myself. The colors blended perfectly together.
My skills seemed to be restored. I brought out my knitting needles and started another baby blanket. That's when I remembered how my grandmother taught me how to knit mittens, except she never showed me how to finish them.
Still, I had the double ended needles and all that extra yarn, so I began another project. This one was more difficult. Though I tried and tried, I couldn't get started.
Determined, I took a trip into Seymour to see my friend Mary at her shop, The Crabbe Reader Book Store and Yarn Shop. I bought colorful yarn and Mary helped me to start my mittens — I have to return for more help as I'm at the thumb now, I'm sure Mary can get me through that, too — she gave me a pattern, but her extra help gives me knowledge and confidence to finish.
So that's how I'm surviving this wicked winter and besides saving my sanity, I've ended up with gifts to share.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www. facebook.com/susan. manzke.