Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Favorite Thing

I hit the jackpot in the Mom Lottery.  I'm sure other people have perfectly lovely moms, but I've got one of those moms who is not only a treasure to my sister and I, but we've also spent our entire lives with everyone around us commenting on how great our mom is.  

When I was in elementary school, she wowed my friends by being the room mom who came to our third grade classroom to demonstrate how to decorate a cake.  This made such an impression on my classmates that I've had a couple of them mention it to me in recent years, a good 30 years after the fact.                                
I remember that after that visit, our teaching assistant said to me, "Has anyone told you that your mom is BEAUTIFUL?"  I'm sure that eight-year-old me rolled her eyes and answered with some sort of "Uh....I guess so."  Eight year olds don't want to hear about how beautiful their mom is.  But now that I'm old enough to own some gray hairs of my own, I'm happy to be carrying some of her genes!
Little known fact: my mom actually WAS paid to model once upon a time.  She was in her late teens, I believe.  It was for a catalog (Sears?)  She was sitting on a riding lawn mower.  We're midwesterners, ok?  So anyway, she has the distinction of being the only professional model featured so far on this knitting blog!

But don't be fooled, her real beauty goes way deeper than her appearance.  She was the mom who didn't leave me at the store when I was a bratty kid who wouldn't try on clothes when she took me shopping.  She kept supporting me in my music lessons, even when I was the kid who didn't practice as much as I should have.  If I was in a play that ran for 3 or 4 performances, she'd be in the audience.  Every single night.  Somehow she managed the perfect balance of "I'm the mom and I'm in charge" and "I'm your mom, and anything you need, I'm totally there for you."

She and I have different personalities in a lot of ways.  Like my dad, another firstborn, I enjoy being in charge (I think later-borns call that "bossy"), and I also seem to have inherited his stubborn streak.  But somehow my mom, the middle-born "peace-maker" manages those differences quite gracefully with nothing more than an occasional eye roll, and I have never doubted for a minute that I'm her favorite person on the planet.  (And, I suspect, my Dad and sister both believe she thinks the same way of them!)

So it won't surprise anyone that whenever my mom and I get together, she wants to see the projects I've been working on.  And more than once, she has declared whatever I show her to be her "favorite thing I've made yet".  Maybe my designing just keeps getting better.  Or maybe my mom isn't completely objective...  Nah, it's got to be that I keep getting better. ;)

A looooong time ago - ok, it was maybe 18 months or so - I was at my LYS and the owner showed me a shipment of a new yarn they were starting to carry.  It was Hempathy, which I was very interested in because, as a sensitive-skinned person, I'm always investigating alternatives to wool.  I saw this "Spring Green" colorway and it screamed "YOU MUST MAKE YOUR MOM A SWEATER OUT OF MEEEEEEE!"  This shade of green IS my mom's color.  And so I decided that I'd not only make her a sweater, but i'd design something just for her.  

Here she is on her can tell it's a special day by her crown!
 And the next time she was looking at my projects, she seized the green sweater and declared it her "favorite thing that I've made"!  And I told her that, since we are similarly sized, it would help me check the fit of the back if I could see it on her.  And that's how I made sure that the sweater I was now making for her birthday would fit her properly!  I don't know if she suspected anything, but she mentioned the wonderfulness of this sweater and how very well it fit her a few more times over the coming months.  Maybe she was hoping that I wasn't committed to keeping it and was looking to find it a new home.

She works in an air-conditioned office, so I knew a cardigan that she could throw on over warmer-weather outfits would be right up her alley.  The Hempathy, since it is a cotton/hemp/rayon blend, is not an overly warm fiber.  It has a nice weight to it, and a gorgeous drape when knit to this gauge, but it wouldn't be too hot for most people to wear in 60-70ยบ weather.  I made a second sample out of wool (that one with the larger collar option), and that one would be more of a winter layering piece.

This sweater is designed to fit very closely.  My preference would be to wear it over a sleeveless top, or maybe a very fitted long-sleeved t-shirt.  The wool sample was a little less "structured" than the green Hempathy sweater.  Whereas I see the green sweater as having more of a "blazer" fit, the wool sweater had a slightly looser "cardigan" fit.  If you want to make it in Hempathy, but think you'll be wearing it over a lot of shirts with sleeves on them, you might want to consider making a size larger than what you'd normally choose.  A detailed schematic, as well as advice on how to pick the correct size are all included in the pattern.

So let's talk about My Favorite Thing (the sweater this time, not my mom)....

It features nice, extra-long sleeves that will keep you cozy even when the air conditioning in your office is turned all the way to "Arctic Blast"! (Why do they do that??)

The construction begins with a horizontal panel that helps draw in the waist and give the cardigan a gently figure-flattering shape.
I couldn't choose between my love of the smaller "blazer"-type shawl collar that I did for my mom's green sweater, and the larger "wrap-up-on-the-couch" collar I made for my gray wool sample.  So I just included instructions for both.  Pick your favorite, you really can't choose wrong!

There's me....sporting the wool sample sweater I made from Ella Rae Lace DK.  (Hempathy and the Ella Rae are both categorized as DK, but if you look at the Ravelry projects they are used for, they are most often subbed in for patterns that are written for sport-weight yarn because they are both very thin for DK.)   So if you're thinking about substituting yarns, you're going to want to look into sport-weight, or even heavy fingering-weight options.

Here's the full modeled for me while showing off some of the flowers from her enormous garden.

I'm not sure what set her off into a cascade of laughter here, but I this was one of my favorite pictures, because that's what my mom looks like in my head.  Always in a good mood, always playing with her flowers, and always wearing this shade of green!

Thanks for modeling for me Mumsy, thanks for your general awesomeness, and thanks for being the perfect inspiration for this cardigan!

My Favorite Things is available now on Ravelry.