Exciting News

January 28, 2010

Tonight I learned I’m to become a grandmother!

This is the first time I’ve received such news and, as you can imagine, I’m ecstatic. I’ve been patiently waiting for this day and now that it’s here, I’m at a loss for words. I am just so excited!

Perhaps I should I be making booties instead of bells?

When Ruth first learned she was going to be grandmother, I imagine she got right to knitting and crocheting. She was ahead of me in so many ways. She had her first grandchild, my older sister, when she was 46. I’ll be 51. She was very accomplished in her needlework skills. I’m just learning.

Times sure have changed. These days, Generation Y waits longer to have their children and people learn to knit from the internet. But one thing certainly is the same: Grandmothers love those grandbabies!

And, oh boy, I’m going to love mine!

P.S. The stadium booties pattern is from my friend Ann Foley. Since becoming a grandmother five years ago, Ann has used her family’s vintage pattern for knitting lots of booties.


Why the Blog?

January 21, 2010

Anyone who knows me or checked my website, knows I’m a bit ADD about starting projects and never finishing them. I have three other blogs that I fail to consistently update. I certainly shouldn’t be starting another one.

But I love blogs. They’ve become a wonderful representation of today’s society and will someday serve as a historical record of who we are. I’d like this blog to be a record of my grandmother Ruth. It’s for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who knew her. It’s for the great-great grandchildren that will only hear of her.

Life just keeps going and going. It’s awesome, isn’t it?

Here are a few blogs I’ve bookmarked for various reasons. Some of them Ruth would have liked. Others, probably not.

The Pioneer Woman
This site’s really fun. Her stories are interesting, her livestock photos are beautiful, and her dog Charlie is ridiculously cute (I want a basset hound!). Recently, she’s even put out a cookbook. Okay, don’t check this site if you can’t separate idealistic from realistic. One peek and you’ll be saying “I want to live on a cattle ranch” and wondering how one woman can do it all. For sure, she’s paying some big money for that web site management (as I console myself).

The Purl Bee
This one reminds me of my grandmother. It’s one I’m sure she would have liked. To quote its site: “The Purl Bee is online journal of Purl, a shop devoted to beautiful materials and tools for knitting, sewing, quilting, and other crafts.” It’s a very pretty page.

Time of Grace
Here’s another one I think my grandmother would have liked. The tagline is “Straight Talk, Real Hope,” and Rev. Mark Jeske writes in exactly that manner. The Ruth I knew in my adult years was kind of like this blog. She saw things the way they really were. And God gave her the hope that everything would work out.

Vivir Green and Comida Y Copas
Of course, I have to list my children’s blogs. They’re super. Good design, good writing and beautiful photos.

Penelope Trunk
Talk about one bizarre lady, this woman is it (Penelope, not me. Or Ruth). I’m fascinated with her blog because: 1) She’s a marketing genius, 2) She’s a good writer—an example of the concise writing style necessary for today’s attention-challenged, online readers, 3) She’s a crafty instigator of conversation and argument. She elicits comments by the hundreds and they are as diverse in their opinions as the people who submit them. I like that.

The Julie/Julia Project
No, I’m not trying to copy Julie Powell and gain a book and movie deal (particularly since Julie uses the f-word a lot, and I never heard my grandmother use anything quite that severe). Nope, this blog is for family. But like Julie used a blog to keep herself on track towards achieving a goal, I want to do the same. I want to finish those bells (I’m up to three now, by the way) and in doing so, I want to memorialize Ruth.

Getting to Know Ruth

January 17, 2010

crochet afghan

When I think of my grandmother, the first thought that comes to mind is needlework. Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch—you name it, she did it.

As a kid, I took this all for granted. Don’t all grandmothers knit endless supplies of mittens, scarves, sweaters and afghans for their grandchildren? And when those grandchildren grow up, don’t all grandmothers crochet lovely lace doilies and table runners to adorn their homes?

Well, my grandmother did. And no, I didn’t know the value of these treasures until I actually tried making them myself. I wish I paid more attention to her instruction when I was young.

As I’ve mentioned, Ruth was born in 1909.

She was born March 5, 1909, to Carl and Emma (Hornburg) Hooge. Her brother, Carl, was two years older, and, according to a Chicago Tribune article, they lived on 5340 South Wood Street in Chicago, Ill.

Ruth grew up, married George, and together they had two daughters, Carol and Judith. In the 1940’s, the family packed up their household and left the big city of Chicago for Henderson, Mich.

Henderson, Michigan?

Is that even on the map? Well, maybe on a county map.

Henderson was a pretty small village back then (it’s even less today). It was a blink of an eye, with only a country school, church, grocery store, hardware store, post office and feed mill (grain elevator, as we call them in Michigan).

It was here that George, Ruth and the girls started their new adventure. They bought the village grocery store, lived in the large apartment above the store (seemingly large to me, as a child) and supplied the rural townsfolk with food and a friendly smile.

Can you imagine the extreme change of lifestyle this must have been?!

George and Ruth kept this store for 25 years, and all the while she knitted, she crocheted, and she cross-stitched.

That was my grandmother. To start, anyway.

Also, just thought I’d mention: I’ve got two bells done.

1 Down, 59 to Go

January 7, 2010

Good news, I finished the first bell!

And it only took me three evenings. This is good to know because this means I can set myself up on a weekly schedule. Yes! I can do this!

While the bell is finished and doesn’t look too bad, it still leaves plenty room for improvement. All these tiny beads are a little hard to handle. I’ve spent years washing dishes, digging in gardens and handling sheep, and, needless to say, my hands aren’t exactly nimble or gracefully smooth.

So how did my grandmother make these things?

In the 1980s, she would have been in her 70s. Surely her hands were less agile than mine. And what about her eyes? How did she see to string the fishline through such microscopic holes? I mean, look at them. These are tiny, tiny beads!

Well, this is my first bell. I know I’ll get better with each one I make. There must be a system to handling the beads and I’ll figure it out. After all, I am Ruth’s granddaughter.

That was her name, you know—Ruth E. Larson.

And as I get better with each bell, we’re going to better get to know her.