Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cuff craze + bonus scrap pattern

I've been in a cuff craze lately, mostly because I'm trying to organize my yarn and doing a little stashbusting. These cuffs are perfect for that!

To head things off, I'll post the only project here that ISN'T a cuff, exactly - some Madeline Tosh merino light gloves I finished earlier this year but haven't posted yet.

I'm very happy with how they turned out! If anything, I kind of wish I had made them a little longer. Oh well.

On a trip recently, I picked up some Angora bunny yarn that was local to the area in Wisconsin. It was expensive for only 50 yards, so I only bought one ball and decided to do a cuff pattern that I had seen in one of my "knit a day" calendars.

I didn't have quite enough yarn, so I supplemented with a bit of Patons Wool that complemented the soft gray. (And these are so soft!!) I love the detail on the cables.

In the corner of that photo, you can see me starting my next cuffs, which use up some Bunny Badger handspun yarn I got at Yarn Con 2017:

I made a beautiful chunky cowl, but I had a little left over. And you know I cannot let it go to waste. I don't think I cast on as many stitches as the pattern suggests.

And with that, I found a last little bit of some Madeline Tosh ASAP - a chunky yarn that I made a lovely cowl with a few years ago. I decided to do one last cuff, and share the pattern with you all!

Stashbuster Cuff

Yarn: Chunky / bulky, 25-50 yards (I used Madeline Tosh ASAP)

Needles: 10 dpns

CO 21 sts

Rnd 1: K2 P1 around
Rnd 2: repeat rnd 1
Rnds 3-??: K around

Keep going until you are almost out of yarn, then:

Last two rnds: repeat rnd 1

Bind off loosely in pattern and weave in ends.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Bedford, PA: Day 4

On our last day in Bedford County, we took Grandma to the church where she grew up attending Sunday School and services, the Centerville United Methodist Church in Centerville, Pennsylvania.

The church was built the same year Grandma was born - 1931 - and her grandfather, Alvin Deremer, was one of the donors and founding members of the congregation. Alvin, my second great-grandfather, was a farmer and mailman in Bedford County in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The service was nice and attended by some older locals, although it's obvious that they're having some of the same problems that my grandma's parish in Tinley Park is having: no young kids to fill the pews and replace lost members. 

You wonder what will happen to tiny parishes like this. I can't sit here and say that I hope people will attend without sounding like a hypocrite; I myself am no longer religious and typically work out on Sunday mornings instead of attending church. Still, it seems like part of the community would be lost, especially in small towns like this. I hope they are able to find their way.

Grandma really enjoyed attending; she said it was her second favorite thing we did on the trip, aside from Clyde's party.

We had lunch in Centerville; there is only one restaurant, and it's in the gas station, but it was tasty all the same. Mom and I thanked Grandma and her ancestors for moving to "the big city" of Bedford, and then Chicago, because that's a little too country for me.

OK, now it's my favorite part of the trip - the cemetery tour!! I enjoyed this way more than I probably should have, but basically I located a few of my ancestors' graves and we did a scavenger hunt all afternoon.

First up was right in Centerville: in Union Cemetery was my second great-grandfather Alvin Deremer, the same mailman / farmer I mentioned above, with his wife, Minnie (O'Neal) Deremer.

My grandma gave me an article about them; he died when he ate a toothpick and it got lodged in his small intestines, resulting in a blood clot and fatal heart attack. His wife, Minnie, kept the toothpick and some of the intestines in a jar for years, apparently. Weird bunch.

Down the road apiece was my third great-grandfather, Lorenzo Dowe Cessna, and his wife Hannah (Hendrickson) Cessna, at the Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery. (Fun fact, Hannah Hendrickson links me to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton; through Hanna, "Eliza" is my fifth cousin eight times removed.)

This was probably my favorite grave of the day! It's so elaborate and neat. I kind of want to order flowers for it.

On our way to the next cemetery, we came upon my grandma's childhood home! Sitting in the foothills of a small mountain, it's a cute little country house where my grandma lived until she was about 11 or 12. She said it pretty much looks the same, except there is no outhouse anymore!

The next cemetery was a little harder to find, mainly because I didn't have GPS at that point (we were in the country!) and I hadn't mapped things out in advance. But we were able to get some directions by a couple of locals, and we found the Friends Cove United Church of Christ Cemetery and the grave of Captain Anthony Smith, a veteran of the Revolutionary War!

I particularly loved the location of this cemetery, with the rolling hills and cows in the background. Captain Smith is my sixth great-grandfather and one of seven Revolutionary War veterans I have confirmed in my researches! If the graves look nicer than you'd expect, it's because some locals bought new tombstones for the Revolutionary patriots in this cemetery. I also sort of love him because his parents had been named Schmidt and anglicized it to Smith. I can't get away from my German immigrant heritage, even in Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

Captain Smith's great-grandson, Anthony S. Smith (my second great-grandfather and, I'm assuming, named for Captain Smith) and his wife, Maria (Karns) Smith, were just down the road in Clearville Union Church Cemetery

This was an interesting one for me for a few reasons. Number one, the Anthony Smith family name. Number two, because Maria Karns links me to her father, Jonathan Heft Karns, a veteran of the Civil War, which is really cool. Number three, I guess this church and cemetery must not be frequented very often, because someone called community watch on us, and an octogenarian came by to ask me and my grandma some questions. (Seriously??)

On our way out of Clearville, we saw a llama / alpaca farm, although sadly, I don't think any of them were the alpacas I bought yarn from.

Our penultimate and ultimate grave stops of the day were both back in Bedford proper. I needed to call Dave for a bit of assistance with directions, but I was eventually able to find one of the coolest graves of the day: Major John Cessna III, veteran of the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War.

This particular family member was a major badass and big man on campus during the 18th century. He is buried alone in a field with a fancy fence and his own American flag.

This was really cool to see; it's definitely a piece of history. It was my mom's favorite site of the day. This is my sixth great-grandfather; I'm descended from him through Grandma's mother, Charlotte (Cessna) Deremer.

Once we had finally located Maj. Cessna's grave, I wanted to go back to town and find my great-grandparents, i.e. both sets of parents for my grandma and grandpa. They're both in the same cemetery, as were some of my grandma's brothers.

This did not turn out to be as easy as it sounds. After traipsing around random rural Pennsylvania cemeteries for hours, it took us longer than normal to find these last graves for two reasons. One, they were flat ground markers instead of upright tombstones, which are easier to see from a distance. Two, Grandma forgot which cemetery they were in!

I had done all my research on, which is a website that is pretty much exactly as morbid as it sounds. Findagrave said that they were in Bedford County Memorial Park, whereas Grandma was convinced they were in Bedford Cemetery.

We wandered around Bedford Cemetery to placate grandma, but we couldn't find anything related to our family. I did find this, though, which I think will be a great screen saver:

Anyway, in the end, we made it over to Bedford County Memorial Park, which, by the way, I had been wandering for days, since it was right next to the hotel and I needed somewhere to walk. It's a really nice cemetery!

I found Grandpa's parents pretty much right off the bat, Chester and Bessie (Mock) Smith:

Then we found Roy and Charlotte (Cessna) Deremer after a bit of searching:

These were the first people we visited all day that I had actually met. Although Bessie and Charlotte were gone by the time I visited Bedford as a child, I do remember visiting Chester Smith in the nursing home, and Roy Deremer at his home in Bedford. All I remember about Grandpap Deremer is that he liked bananas with his corn flakes.

Me and Grandpap in Bedford in the 1980s
All day, I'd been spotting the graves first, but Grandma finally found one: she found her brother Milton, right as we were almost giving up and heading to dinner.

Right near him was Ernie, who my mom found:

I loved visiting all the graves, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to visit more. I'm going to make a Google Map for myself of all the spots, and the next time I'm there I'm going to add more names to my grave scavenger hunt.

After all that cemetery walkin' throughout the day, we were more than ready for some dinner. The farm-to-table restaurant I had wanted to visit was closed, so we just ate some snacks in the hotel and got ice cream at The Penguin.

This ice cream was so good! They had a roasted peanut butter flavor that made my mind go completely blank.

The visit to Bedford was over, and we were ready to go back to our lives in the BIG city, Chicago. But it was great spending these days with my mom and my grandma: a ladies trip to our ancestral homeland. I cemented my newfound interest in genealogy, I connected with long-lost relatives, and I learned some history. I'm excited to come back to Bedford anytime (as long as they still have yarn and ice cream).

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Bedford, PA: Day 3

Day 3 of our trip included the anniversary party of my grandma's brother, which is really the whole reason we visited Bedford. But we thought we'd fill the rest of the day with something fun, so we found a covered bridge driving tour and hit the road.

Bedford County has fourteen covered bridges in total, and the suggested driving tour in the visitor's guide hits nine of them. Some are drivable, some are not.

Bowser Covered Bridge (1890)
While we were driving, a big covered bridge tour group came through, so we plowed past them so they wouldn't crowd our photos all day.

Kniseley Covered Bridge (~1880s)
The Bridges of Bedford County!

Cuppett Covered Bridge (1882)
After that craziness (which, by the way, involved another yard sale), we drove back to the hotel to get ready for Clyde and Emily's party.

The party was held at Old Bedford Village, a sort of colonial theme park where people do old arts and crafts and talk about historical things. It's super cute and reminded me of Mount Vernon.

When I was planning this trip, I noticed that on June 3 there would be a "Meet the Confederate Generals" event. This struck me as somewhat odd, but sure enough, there was General Lee greeting us when we arrived at the village. He was very cordial but a little too apologetic about slavery, if you ask this (northern) history major.

If we had been around next weekend, we could have seen a Civil War battle reenactment! Crazy.

I was a little nervous going into the party, because I really didn't know anyone. But after a few minutes, my mom saw people she knew, and of course, Grandma was a VIP. She keeps in contact with tons of people in Bedford still, and they loved seeing her.

Grandma and her brother Clyde
My grandma grew up with six brothers and one sister. The four brothers who fought in World War II are now gone, as is her sister, Annabelle. Clyde and Frank are the only ones left, and you can just tell how much she loves her brothers when she talks about them or gets to see them.

Clyde and Emily have volunteered for years at Old Bedford Village, and apparently they are now on the board of directors. Clyde had a farm in Bedford County for many years, which made me think of how romantic and wonderful it would have been to come have Thanksgiving or Christmas at Uncle Clyde's with the rest of the family. Clyde also had a painting business in Bedford, which he sold to one of his business partners when he retired. Clyde and Emily are obviously much beloved in the Bedford community.

For my part, it was nice reconnecting with a branch of the family that we don't get to see very often. The last time I was really in Bedford for any length of time - and visited family - was when I was four years old. Since then, we've only been in town for a day or less when we've dropped Grandma off for visits. I was able to find a few relatives on social media, and hopefully we'll be in better touch now.

I also got to hear some stories about Grandma from back in the day, including one where she drove her nieces to see "It's a Wonderful Life" in a snowstorm. That sure wouldn't happen now!

Oh, and even though I tried to hide it from my newly discovered relatives, I ate like three servings of cake and ice cream. It was so good.

At any rate, it wouldn't take much to get me to go back to Bedford again, maybe some year for the reunion that takes place in August. (Or bed races!)

Friday, June 02, 2017

Bedford, PA: Day 2

Today was a bit of a shopping day, although I did get some genealogy research done, as well.

I had scoped out some yarn and quilting shops in downtown Bedford, and we located all of them quite easily. I bought something at all three yarn shops to support local small vendors!

First up was the Backstage Alpaca Shop, which sold mostly finished clothing items, although they did have a few skeins of yarn from Bedford-area alpacas. This is what I came for, people. 

I petted this cute little toy alpaca and bought a skein from Bedford's Lincoln Pike Alpaca Farm, which herds alpacas in Bedford County and makes yarn. Most of the skeins spun from a single animal; I bought one from a feisty alpaca named Levi.

Next up was Yarn Knitch, where they had more of the Lincoln Pike Alpaca yarns! I bought some Starburst and laughed at the yarn-themed posters.

Right next door to Yarn Knitch was Mary's Quilt Shop, which had many beautiful fabrics for my mom to drool over. I found this amazing wall hanging, which you can probably only pull off in the northeast...

We also learned about Bedford Bed Races, which we unfortunately missed by one weekend!! Basically people turn beds into race cars (or make car-like apparatuses that are vaguely bed-shaped). It looks like a real shit show and my mom and I really want to go next year.

We did a bit of thrifting and bought some cute tops, then went to the last yarn shop on the list, FireSong Studio. This was a really beautiful shop with woven items, yarn, knitted items, and more. Basically the owner has some sheep, dyes and spins the yarn, then sells it or weaves it into something. 

The cool thing about FireSong was that the building is the old jail / sheriff's office. She's trying to sell the building and move the studio to a more rural area, and she thinks it would be a perfect spot for a bed and breakfast. If only I wasn't so far from retirement!

Next up, I wanted to visit the Bedford County Historical Society and its library to do some genealogy research. I had done some digging on a free genealogy website and wanted some stories and history to go along with the names, and also to confirm that my research looked correct.

I was able to find a lot on the Cessna and Deremer families, two important early pioneer families in Bedford County from which I am descended. I was also able to confirm the military service of some family members who fought in the Civil War (all for Pennsylvania, of course) and the Revolutionary War. Pretty cool!

They're so anti-Confederacy up here that they even display a Confederate Flag that was stolen during Sherman's March to the Sea. 

Given my last name, the librarians asked me if I'm related to the great general, but alas, I am not. (In fact, in contrast to my grandma's very old Pennsylvania roots, my father's family immigrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, changing the name from the Czech-Germanic "Schimandl" to Sherman.)

Some crazy stories I was able to unearth at the historical society:

  • The Cessna family is descended from Jean de Cessna, a Huguenot who came to America in 1718. Jean is my eighth great-grandfather!
  • My seventh great-grandfather, John Cessna, was murdered by raiding Native Americans in 1854. I was able to find out where his wife's grave is, but obviously no one knows where his body ended up.
  • My sixth great-grandfather, Anthony S. Smith, was a Revolutionary War veteran who was captured and held as a prisoner of war.
  • The obituary of my third great-grandfather, Hillery Smith, reads that the "icy hand of death relieved him from his suffering." They were a little bit more colorful back then.

While I researched, my mom and grandma went to a community yard sale, believe it or not. Hilarious.

For dinner, I really wanted to visit the Jean Bonnet Tavern, a historical inn and tavern just up the street from the Historical Society. Not often that you get to visit an inn that has been running since the 1770s...

The food was good, and I got to try some Pennsylvania beer, too!

It was really neat to visit the historical society and check into family names. You keep running across the same names in a small town like this - weird names that you never see in Chicago, like Deremer, Mock, Rose, Nave. You see the other people and think, hey, I'm related to you somehow!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Bedford, PA: Day 1

My grandma is from Bedford, Pennsylvania, which is a somewhat rural, cute town along the lines of Door County, Wisconsin. Historic, crafty, agricultural.

She was one of the first in her family to leave Bedford, coming to Chicago, IL in the 1950s with my grandpa, who got a job as a union trucker. Some of her family is still there, including her brother, Clyde, who is celebrating his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife, Emily, this year.

Grandma was invited to the party, but she doesn't drive much, so she relies on her children and grandchildren to drive her. I have been getting into family history a bit lately, so I volunteered! My mom jumped on board, too, and we had a fittingly awesome girls trip.

I picked Grandma up from Tinley Park early in the morning, then switched cars with my mom in Hobart, Indiana, and we were on our way. We made great time, stopping only for lunch and gas. Lots of great conversation on the way, plus maybe a little napping.

When we got into town, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and visited downtown Bedford, including the war memorials. All of my grandma's brothers served in either World War II...

Alvin ("Pete"), Clayton, Ernest ("Ernie"), and Milton Deremer (presumptive cousins John and Glenn, too)

Or Korea!

Clyde and Frank Deremer
Believe it or not, they all came home.

We noticed that my grandpa doesn't have a brick in the Korean monument even though he's from Bedford, too, so we contacted the town and we're going to get one installed for William D. Smith.

It was fun seeing the downtown; not many shops were open, but I did pick up some tasty chocolates at Bedford Candies.

We drove over to the Landmark for dinner; it's one of Grandma's favorite local diners, and it had a good salad bar! We talked about our plans for the next few days and relaxed a bit.

Grandma had said that we should pack some wine because Pennsylvania has weird liquor laws, so we did - and we each brought a cork screw. Come prepared, people.

I was excited to see Bedford again, because I haven't been for a while and I have never really spent more than a day there. Good to be in my family's homeland.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Running progress

I completed my first half marathon! It wasn't in my "dream" time of 10-minute miles (and honestly, that may never happen), but I finished it, and jogged the whole time except for water breaks.

I jogged the first eight miles with my coworker, which actually made the time pass really well. She and I almost never jog with other people, but we're about on the same pace and we encouraged each other to keep going.

I had been having some knee pain since a bike ride and walk the previous weekend, otherwise my body felt very conditioned and ready for the race at the pace I was going. The knee really hurts today, so I'm trying to take it easy.

The distance was a good challenge, but man, I don't think I could do a marathon. (Maybe I will look back at this post in a few years and laugh.) I will never say never, but I can't imagine training for, and completing, much more than I did yesterday.

Pondering the decisions that
brought me to this place
I've got the Soldier Field 10-miler next weekend, and I'm a little nervous about the knee. Then I've got a sprint triathlon in June and an international distance one in July.

What I liked about the half marathon training was the progressive challenge of the training weekends, and the ability to eat a lot. However, I need to eat less than I think, because that kind of thinking led me to gain a couple of pounds back. And running will be easier and faster without those couple of pounds!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Sandwiches & shamrocks

I made a project in March that I've wanted to make for years - crocheted sandwich!!

Look at these layers. The bread pieces were kind of pains in the butt, because you had to make two layers and sew them together. But the other pieces were quick, and the tomato slices came out so cute!!

These are for a friend's kids. She's got a new baby, so I guess it's ostensibly for him, but her four-year-old is more likely to be able to enjoy it for the moment.

I shipped them in little Ziploc bags to emulate a real sandwich! Not pictured: I also made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

April came in with a bang - my birthday is April 1, so it always sneaks up on me. This year I had a fantastic weekend of voting for myself as library trustee in the local election, getting beer with friends at Lagunitas, running the Shamrock Shuffle for the second time, and attending Yarn Con! Phew.

The weather on the morning of the Shuffle threatened to rain, but it turned out just fine. Much warmer than last year, and my time was improved by a minute and ten seconds! Hopefully I can get under 10-minute miles next year.

Still sporting my participant medal, I attended Yarn Con in the west loop with Dave and some coworkers. It was their first yarn convention, so I think they were a little overwhelmed, but we all came away with amazing goodies. For instance, this wonderful handspun beauty from my favorite booth this year, BunnyBadger Fibers: 

It's a good starter convention because it is rather small - the size of a gymnasium, compared to Stitches Midwest in a true convention center. The fiber artists are mostly local, too, and you get to meet some really inspiring fiber artists.

Other favorite booths included Knit Circus and Leading Men Fiber Arts. Always wonderful!

I've got some other really fun projects coming up, including more crocheted food for a friend's two-year-old. I have been itching to post them to my Instagram page, but the kid's dad follows me and I want them to be surprised. I'll post next week after they've received the items.