Purple Kangaroo, With Joey & Green Scarves.

When I say the word project now I can hardly escape memories of a house project once all consuming. If we hadn’t left the island with a bridge and moved to the land of ferries, we’d be cold, knee deep in debt and, well, drafty cold. To-do now lists happily name items to cook, knit and plant. Just the other day I found an old list that read:
call house mover, get permit guy to call back

How times have changed.
Our first fall in that 1892 Victorian on Ebey’s Prairie was in 2003, just after we were married. Instead of learning how to knit, I learned how fast olive oil will freeze on the counter and how luck comes in roof’s leak located over a sink.
Thirty days before bed rest began with my first pregnancy, I was a teacher and an unknown-to-me harborer of rats. Thirty days before bed rest, we lifted our house and chose to continue living in it. Crazy, I know. The hot water heater nearly fell through the floor as I pulled in the driveway to see the horror first off the ground. On that day the large rat population was relocated, scattered throughout the town without the comfort of our foundation-less home. And by scattered I mean town folk talking about the rats running down Main Street, ever since that old Coates place was lifted up to the heavens. How embarrassing it was to hear behind the elderly patron at the local Red Apple. But, really, that was the least of my problems. Really. I wonder if stress had anything to do with bed rest…



I learned to knit with six week old Betty in a cold, drafty Victorian and haven’t put the needles down yet. A Whidbey Island mama pal, Franny, taught the basics and an overpriced sock class taught me how to fix my mistakes and read a pattern. Somewhere along the skein I made a promise to myself to pay forward the skills Franny offered up to me with patience, creative wisdom and good laughs, always. Somewhere along the skein I made a promise to myself to knit for my babe’s birthday, always.

Each friend I’ve stuffed has been the favorite, though, at times taking a while. Exactly eight months to knit an eighteen inch elephant for Betty’s second birthday. I had the project with me at all times; when she unwrapped the gray friend she exclaimed, Mama’s elephant! and asked to eat with it at her table.
Betty, two years old, with Elephant

It took her almost a year to accept it was, in fact, her new buddy, not mine, in yarn fragments, from my purse. It remains at her bed’s edge, still, loved. Always.
With all my pregnancies, Carpal Tunnel was no friend of mine. My wrists always felt knobby and stiff but something about this prior pregnancy had me unable to flip an omelet in a fry pan, knit a sweater for Christmas. I even wore wrist guards to bed at night. Now, happily, my wrists are back.
Often, my girls flip through knitting patterns and beg for a hat or slipper set or trio of tiny mice. Last year I made Lucy a doll she asked for, complete with a tiny wardrobe. To push my buttons, she felt the island alpaca wool doll and grimaced I no like wool. Never mind it later came to win a blue ribbon at The County Fair.
Lucy with Dolly at The County Fair

She said those horrible words because she was two, because she could and because they got to me.
At three, Lucy now loves all that I create for her, even past year’s Dolly and, especially, the friend she asked so much for. A friend that began in so, so many confusing purple parts.
I was two months pregnant when she first picked the skeins out. Really, you should see these gals in a yarn shop. I started writing the play and, fa la la, it’s a year later. So, a few weeks ago I got down to business. I’ve knit almost every pattern from a book that shall remain nameless. So many patterns are online and around different shops that a book is seldom needed for purchase. But, I bought this nameless book for the pictures and every time I make something from it, I draft a letter in my head to the publishing company. Each pattern is beyond incorrect, beyond typo-s. The kangaroo and joey pattern might have created a pant suit if I didn’t rewrite it. So, the pattern is now mine, in pencil. I’ll send you a copy if you so wish; please ask. I promise it won’t say things like, knit, attach pieces together, stuff.
My girl loved it, loved it, thanked me over and over for her new friend.

Purple Kangaroo, With Joey and Green Scarves.
Such joy in the thought: new projects are so, so different than the old projects.


  • Rick & Vicky says:

    Jenn, you have learned so very much outside of school, haven't you? 🙂

  • hey girl, just read your post – this year has been the first year ever with authentic projects for this momma. It's amazing how much better I flow with them than the ones that come from what I was doing. Thanks for sharing. made me want to find my to-do lists from the house build and have a ceremonial burn 🙂

  • Jenn~that kangaroo might be one of the cutest things I've ever seen. What a tradition you've started!

    I remember the first time you sent pics of your new, very old, house. She was a beauty.

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