December 14, 2007



I'm so proud of my handiwork, decorating these socks with these bells, that I just have to blog about it. Allegra's dance school puts on holiday open house performances where the students get to dance for their parents, and for younger children at the school. For the most part, costuming involves embellishing or re-configuring dancewear the students already own, and purchasing a few items; the teachers say, "Buy this hat and put a red or green ribbon on it," and so forth. Allegra's jazz class will be dancing to JIngle Bells and the dancers will have a retro-50's look: Black, knee-length pants ("Clam diggers," Allegra says), a white shirt, a small silk scarf tied around the neck, a red ribbon on her ponytail -- and white anklets with bells.

So Allegra and I went to the fabric store to buy bells. I expected to find a couple of different sizes, and was thinking that they'd be silver or perhaps brass color. When I saw red bells, we both got very excited. I whooped as I pulled these off their hook, there on the aisle in the fabric store, and a little boy in the same aisle who was helping his mommy shop looked at me just a little alarmed.

Once we had the bells, the question became, How to attach them to the socks? (The teacher gave us no direction on this point.) I recall Janine saying, with respect to knitwear patterns that someone likes this or that element of, but cannot understand why a certain part of the garment was done a certain way, "The designer made a choice -- and there's no saying that the designer made the right choice, and there's no saying the designer made the best choice for you."

My initial idea was to crochet an edging around the sock's top, and incorporate the bells into that crocheted edging. With this in mind, I bought some #20 red crochet thread.

But that began to seem like a lot of work . . . for socks she will wear for three performances and a couple of dress rehearsals . . . and I couldn't find either of my two steel crochets hooks.

The simplest choice would have been to sew a single bell on the center of the cuff right above the ankle. I would have "anchored" the bell -- that is, made it look like it belonged there -- by sewing on a red bow with the bell hanging from it. But that seemed too simple, and Allegra was sure that she wanted a lot of bells on each sock.

I could use that same red crochet thread to embroider a simple blanket stitch and sew on the bells that way. I had her count the number of ribs in the sock cuff: 84. We had about 14 bells, so that gave us 6 bells per sock, attached every 14th rib, with a couple of bells left over to add to her hair ribbon. It took me about an hour -- and she was so pleased, she wore the socks around the house the rest of the evening, and, I swear, slept with them on that night.

It took only about an hour, while watching one episode of Project Runway. This was a blessed relief. I still vividly recall the six hours -- essentially, a whole day! -- I spent sewing sequins on her jazz pants last year. Now, I hope the teacher is as pleased with my design choice as we are. And I want to see the design choices the other kids (and their moms) made.

* * *

Scary numbers: Last month, I turned 48 years old. Today, Scott and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary. I have been married to the same man for half my life! And I wouldn't have had it any other way.

My dear husband said to me a few days ago, spontaneously and of his own accord: "I am no longer surprised when I open a drawer and find either candy or yarn." I guess we've gotten used to each other.

Posted by Karen at December 14, 2007 08:09 AM

Congratulations on your long-lasting marriage! Stephen and I just celebrated our 27th year together which means that like you, I have now been married to the same person for half of my life.

Posted by: Susanna in Seattle at December 14, 2007 09:17 AM

As you describe so beautifully, it's those little moments that are so precious. They form the foundations of our lives.

(Now, I'm curious, as an internet supplier to our Yarn Habit, do you have a stash? What is in it? What yarn resides in those drawers, hmmm?)

Best wishes to your family during this season of joy and light.

Posted by: Gail at December 14, 2007 08:10 PM

Candy? Yarn? Aren't they the same thing?

Posted by: Ryan at December 17, 2007 09:11 AM

Congratulations on finding a way to meet your daughter's desires and not tearing out your hair in the process.

Congratulations, too, on the life landmarks. Those points can feel both a moment of pride and an appaulling reminder of the passage of time.

Hmm, we celebrated 25 years together last July by getting married, but since I'm 53 I think I missed noting the half-my-life-with-him point.

Posted by: KarenJoSeattle at December 17, 2007 02:30 PM

It only took Scott 24 years to get over the surprise? Then Jesperi s only half way there! We recently celebrated our 12th.

Posted by: Jen at December 26, 2007 08:36 PM