ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is from the January 6, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "choosing a gift" square in my 12-30-14 card for the Rites of Passage fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Damask & Farce storyline of the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Hand and Heart, Hook and Yarn"


The blustery spring weather has
brought a lot of dust indoors,
and as soon as the wind settles,
Mallory snags the "dusting" task
off the household chore board.

I hadn't expected her to be so diligent
about doing her share of the housework --
or more than her fair share, even --
but that's usually one of the first things
she does whenever she has the energy to get up.

Earning her keep, she's said, more than once,
and I'm starting to worry about what kind
of background she's had to think like that.
I don't believe she sees it quite the same
way as the rest of us do.

The light work goes fine until
the dust kicks up enough to make
Mallory start wheezing.

I pry the microfiber duster away from her
and make her sit down on the couch.

"Let me help?" I ask, and she nods.
Nobody else is in the room, so all
I have to do is slip my hands under
her shirt to soothe the irritation.

It doesn't take long, because
we caught it soon this time.

"You should sit and rest," I suggest,
feeling the exhaustion in the wake of
her brief burst of energy. This baby
is taking a lot out of Mallory already.

She gives me a weary nod and
slumps further into the cushions.


When Paige comes downstairs,
Mallory perks up a little bit.
Paige is so sweet, everyone likes her.

"Hey," Mallory says softly.
"Got your homework done?
Danielle is making that
lamb and rice thingie again,
since Josephine's out tonight."

The dish is a household favorite
for carnivore nights, and I can
smell its sweet, mild fragrance
already wafting out of the kitchen.

"Greek pilaf? Yay!" says Paige.
"Yes, I'm done with the paper.
I came down to do some
fibercrafting before supper."
She pulls out the big wicker basket
where she keeps her craft supplies.

"I'm amazed by all the things
you can do with yarn," Mallory says.

Paige smiles. "It just takes a little practice,"
she says. "Listen, I know this is your
first sharehouse and all, so you don't
really know how to cope with everything,
but you've been working so hard ...
I wanted to make you something."

She holds out a tiny pair of booties,
crocheted from a rainbow of colors
in bright, precise lines.

Mallory takes them with trembling hands,
tracing a fingertip over the purple bows.
"I haven't even decided whether
to raise ..." her voice trails off.

"... the little stranger?" Paige says
She shrugs. "That's okay.
It's a big decision; you should
take your time. If you decide not to,
well, you know all those other girls
in the baby class -- I'm sure that any
of them would be thrilled with booties."

The baby class has been a mixed blessing,
sometimes getting Mallory all wound up
but mostly making her less panicky
as she realizes that she can learn
the parenting skills that she's missing.

"Yeah, some of them," Mallory says.
"A lot of the girls are choosing adoption
but others already plan to keep theirs."
She twirls the booties around, then sighs.
"I wish I could do things like this."

"You could learn. I'd be happy to teach you,"
Paige says. "It's just daisy stitch, it's real easy."

"I don't know," Mallory says,
"I'm trying but ... it's kind of hard to connect."

Everyone figured out pretty quick that
she's pregnant, but so far she hasn't
told anyone else how she got that way.

I watch Mallory's expression as
Paige brings out a crochet hook
along with a hank of soft yarn
variegated in pastel shades of
white, pink, yellow, and blue.

"My grandmother says that love
isn't something that just happens,"
Paige explains. "It's something
that you make, hand and heart,
hook and yarn. It doesn't even
look like much at first, but then
one day it all comes together."

She pokes the crochet hook through
the yarn, then lays both of them
on Mallory's still-flat tummy.
"So if you want to love that baby,
you're going to have to work at it."

"Okay," Mallory says. "I'll try."

I'm good at crafts, but I have
scarcely had time for any of them
since Maisie died. "Paige, do you
have another crochet hook and
some yarn to spare?" I ask.

"Here," says Paige as she
passes them over to me.
"The particolor was on sale
so I bought a bunch of it.
Do you need a pattern?"

Memory flitters to the front
of my mind, Uncle Bennie
guiding my hands through
the steps to make the little hat.

"No thanks, I have one memorized,"
I tell Paige as I loop the yarn
over the hook and begin.

Paige is gentle and patient
as she shows Mallory how
to crochet. "This pattern has
some variations, so you can
make the cuffs short for slippers
or tall for booties," Paige says.

"Okay," says Mallory.
"What are you working on?"

Paige picks up a length
of soft gray with a few stripes
of brighter hues "This is
going to be a baby sweater."

"To match the booties you gave me,"
Mallory guesses, her sharp eyes
picking out the colors that match.

"Sweater and booties, hat and slippers,"
Paige says, pointing at the bit of
variegated lace I've managed to make.

Mallory takes a few more stitches,
then says, "I don't know how I can
thank you ... I haven't got much ..."

"You pay it forward," Paige says,
suddenly as serious as I've ever seen her.
"If somebody needs a favor you can do,
or needs to learn something you can teach,
then you do it for them and it balances out."

"Hands and heart," Mallory whispers.

"Hook and yarn," Paige replies,
her fingers busy with the sweater.
"My grandmother says the world
is what we make of it, so you better
pay attention to the pattern you choose."

I haven't spent as much time with Mallory
as Clement has, or even Ham, but
now I'm starting to understand
the twists and turns of her.

Sometimes what matters isn't
healing a wound or winning a fight.
Sometimes it comes down to
making a decision, choosing a gift,
creating something beautiful.

"Your grandmother's a wise woman,"
I say as I work the soft, warm yarn
through the loops of my memory.

* * *


“A crocheted piece is the lovely manifestation of a thought, expressed through hand, heart, hook, and yarn.”
Francine Toukou

A washable microfiber duster helps reduce allergies, though when the house is all over dust, there's a limit to how much it can do.

Lamb, rice, and mint are among the easily digestible foods and herbs. Lamb pilaf combines all of them.

Paige's craft basket looks something like this laundry hamper full of yarn.

Making baby things is one of many traditions for welcoming a new baby.

This footwear pattern includes the rainbow booties that Paige has already made and the variegated slippers that Mallory has just started. You can learn how to crochet and how to make the daisy stitch.

Some people believe that love is a feeling. Others believe it is a decision, a choice, or an action. (All of these things may be true for different people.) Some adults have found ways to fall in love on purpose. There are also exercises for prenatal, infant, and family bonding. Adopted and/or traumatized children may need extra help bonding too. These are all ways of investing in relationships to create loving ties. Finally, love can be something you make. That's why Paige is studying fibercrafts.

Paige is using this baby sweater pattern, but with lighter silvery-gray yarn and the same red, yellow-orange, green, and blue from the rainbow booties.

Mira is making this kind of baby hat from memory.

Pay it forward is a concept related to the gift economy.

The world is what you make of it, so if you don't like it, change it.

Don't have a baby coming, but love to make things?  Check out Project Linus!  (Link courtesy of [personal profile] mdlbear.) One Heart One Mind collects and distributes baby hats and booties to Lakota mothers in need.

I agree with Paige's grandmother!

Date: 2015-01-19 02:19 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
It's interesting to see Mallory working so hard on skills the others basically take for granted.

I'm probably one of the few people in my generation who still makes presents for babies, but there's a MUCH larger pool of crafters in Paige's generation. Which is wonderful to see.

Re: I agree with Paige's grandmother!

Date: 2015-01-20 02:58 pm (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
I think the making things for babies is very regional/social group located - quite common in our area/group for babies to get a few handmade items, mostly blankets.

Re: I agree with Paige's grandmother!

Date: 2015-01-21 01:01 pm (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
indeed. and it can come from a single person - if someone typically takes handwork places, other people feel comfortable bringing some, or asking about it, and so forth. We now have a few people who take handwork to the ice-rink, and it is nice to sit and chat with someone while the kids skate (not so good on the days when I'm allowed on the ice, and I get conflicted about Which One To Do).

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-19 03:26 am (UTC)
yamx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yamx
Coincidentally, I was actually crocheting when I discovered this. :) Very sweet, and rings very true.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-19 04:38 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Colleen's always been big on crocheted baby blankets. Must have given away dozens of them by now. When she doesn't have a particular baby in mind she donates to Project Linus

My own fiber skills are pretty negligible.

Very sweet.

Felt maybe

Date: 2015-01-20 01:34 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Felting isn't too hard if you'd like to try it. Sure, the material is often crocheted, but it's just as often woven. The big thing is once you've got the mat made, you rough it, wash it, compress it, and fluff it in order to get them all felted together in a mass to finish. Then you can cut and sew your felts together to make the form, like hats and gloves.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-19 06:37 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
This is good. And at the local SCA Twelfth Night festival Saturday there was a lot of yarn work being done. A woman sitting next to me was crocheting, and we talked about it. Not that I can. But I might want to get back to embroidery...

• Pay it forward is a related to the gift economy.
> a term? An expression?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-19 03:25 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
This is lovely. Going to remember "hand and heart, hook and yarn."

Also, I'm pretty well convinced that people who can knit or crochet are magic. *s* I can lucet, but nothing involving stitching rows together.
Edited Date: 2015-01-19 03:26 pm (UTC)

Help for dust

Date: 2015-01-20 01:31 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
When there's dust in the air, it's usually due to dry weather after muddy rains. So a steam-based or vaporizing humidifier can help wash that dust back out of the air, but that can cause a muggy indoors -- and dust is fine dirt, which means combined with water it makes mud. So while a humidifier can help with air quality, it can also mean having to wash the walls and floors a bit more often.

If it gets to be a big problem, Mallory may have to wear a dust-filter mask now and then, which is a good idea during cold and flu seasons anyway (spring flu, anyone?) but will also help deal with pollen and other allergens. Something pregnant women and people with breathing problems should consider (and have a box of 'em handy just in case). Also good for doing things like cleaning cat litter, which is often clay-based and can get dusty.

Re: Help for dust

Date: 2015-02-02 06:54 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Great minds think alike-- he's already seen SOMETHING is triggering her asthma, and when he realizes SHE is the one doing the dusting, he'll show up with the paper face masks. I've got issues with the local /dirt/, which is fine, black peat, as well as house dust (which is mostly not dirt, but other particulates).

Re: Help for dust

Date: 2015-02-02 07:27 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
One thing that helps our so-called hypoallergenic pillows (the cheap kind, which are frankly mostly polyfil (though I did replace their crappy fabric cover with either pillow ticking or dense twill), is to (a) double case the pillow in two all-cotton pillowcases, and (b) wash everything FAR more often than most people. Frex, we got in the habit of having four pillows for each kid, so that two would be in the wash or drying while the other two were in use, then swap. To keep on top of four people rotating pillows every day, I was doing a load of pillows and pillowcases for SOMEBODY every day of the week.

Laundry soap is VITALLY important if someone has asthma or allergies-- certain chemicals can cause reactions in non-asthmatics, and even traces of the wrong soap in the pillowcase is mayhem on an asthmatic's lungs.

SILK pillowcases are a very, very expensive option, but they act more like a dust filter, keeping the bits of fiber from the cotton pillowcase and the pillow itself contained better than anything else I've found.

Re: Help for dust

Date: 2015-02-02 02:21 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
"Soap nuts" are a real solution to laundry soap problems, though I haven't tried them personally. Some of the folks I know have tried them and love them. Apparently they last a long time, too, so lots less buying replacements.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-19 04:57 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Oh, oh, I was *hoping* there would be a pilaf recipe! I *have* to try this; the whole gang loves lamb...

Project Linus... well, of *course* it's about security blankets!

I remember once helping SJ Tucker do transfers for pillowcases for the local children's hospital... having a memorable pillow seems to make almost as much difference as the blanket. I know our little Duchess uses a largish stuffed bear (that was once bigger than she was) as a pillow...

<3 <3 <3 I really like how Mallory is coming along. A lot of times something like this can make a big mess... but she would not be the first I knew for whom this *saved* a life... in this case, with a fair bit of help from new friends....

And, yes, pay it forward.

Thank you!

Date: 2015-01-19 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Oh, oh, I was *hoping* there would be a pilaf recipe! I *have* to try this; the whole gang loves lamb... <<

Yay! :D I love pilaf too. Biryani is also excellent, a similar concept from India. A restaurant we love makes a mixed-meat biryani that is delicious. Not something I can eat more than a few bites of, but so worth it.

>> Project Linus... well, of *course* it's about security blankets! <<

Yeah, I love that.

>> <3 <3 <3 I really like how Mallory is coming along. <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> A lot of times something like this can make a big mess... <<

Well it certainly did that, especially for the first couple of months. But it's getting better now.

>> but she would not be the first I knew for whom this *saved* a life... in this case, with a fair bit of help from new friends.... <<

Support makes all the difference. I wish more people understood that. So I write lots of examples.

If people want to cover the other side some time, well, I've written that too.

>> And, yes, pay it forward. <<

Some debts can't really be paid back, so this keeps the gift moving.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-19 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cat-sanctuary.livejournal.com
Delightful! Plussed!

Thank you!

Date: 2015-01-19 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed this.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-20 12:28 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
"My grandmother says that love
isn't something that just happens,"
Paige explains. "It's something
that you make, hand and heart,
hook and yarn. It doesn't even
look like much at first, but then
one day it all comes together."

Codifying that to go into my Rules for Life... which would make it rule #14 and the first new one in ten years.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-07-15 09:47 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Paige really is a sweetie. <3 This was adorable. I'm glad it got posted! <3


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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