We celebrated Jeff’s birthday recently by driving up the coast and going to a favorite restaurant. He started looking at the menu the day before, trying to decide what he was going to order, and it was a dilemma for him to choose. He was so excited about his birthday meal, he was like a big kid. He got a sliced steak, avocado, and bacon sandwich on a gluten-free bun, along with some fries. And some shrimp! (That salmon dish wasn’t his. He had a feast, but not that big of a feast.) With the delicious food we enjoyed, it felt like it was all of our birthdays. It was quite the birthday feast and when we got home later, I was happily full, and joked to my family to just roll me on into the house like a big baked potato because I didn’t want to move from my seat.
We stopped by the beach briefly on the way home, and Jeff opened his gifts there. It was really chilly at the beach that day and we didn’t feel like staying long, but I did snap a few pictures of the fingerless gloves I knit for Jeff for his birthday. (Beautiful yarn from Mosaic Moon & the pattern is Peekaboo Mitts by Abi Gregario. Ravelry notes here.) I had three knitting projects I had been wanting to make for him and decided to work on two of those projects for his birthday. I finished the mitts in time, but the second project (that I was working on during the drive) was a belated gift. Both projects were in blue yarn, because he loves blue, and since his birthday dessert was blue as well, he had quite the blue birthday theme this year. (When I had asked him what he wanted for his birthday dessert, he said blueberry jello, so I made some. It didn’t turn out that great, though, so I have some more experimenting to do.)
And that little stitched up fuzzy thing pictured? That’s a funny story (in hindsight at least.) Over the winter I picked out some alpaca yarn for a knitting project for my stepmom for her birthday. (They have an alpaca farm and she loves alpaca fiber.) I knit her a cowl, but when I finished it I thought the yarn smelled a bit funny and I wanted to give it a wash. That’s the point where I should have taken out a large bowl and soaked it in there with some soap. Instead, I wasn’t thinking, and I washed it with a load of woolen items. First I soaked them in the washing machine (without agitation) and that would have been fine, but then I used the spin cycle to get the extra water out and that’s where I made my mistake. Her cowl stretched and turned out huge. So I shrunk it a bit. Still too huge. Shrunk it more, and then it was too small to fit the head in!
That’s when I had to get creative in how I could salvage that precious yarn! I decided to shrink it further until it was tightly felt. At the time I asked my mom and grandma for ideas of what I could do. My mom had the idea to make felted soap and I ended up going with that idea. I cut the felted alpaca fiber into the size rectangles I wanted and then stitched them up with some bulky yarn around a bar of soap inside. I made one for my stepmom for her birthday (and told her the whole story to go along with it.) I thought with the felted soap at least she could still feel that soft alpaca fiber against her skin (even if it wasn’t in cowl form), and it was something practical that could be used all the time.
I had just enough of that felted alpaca fiber left to make one more felted soap, so I made one for Jeff for his birthday with his favorite sandalwood soap inside. The felted fiber around the soap keeps the bar of soap from dissolving away in the water, so it makes your soap last longer. It also gives you a soft washcloth at the same time, and one that is antibacterial and antimicrobial so it won’t get all funky in the wet environment. (How awesome is that?) I thought I would mention that story here in case you ever have a knitting project go awry and wonder what in the world you can do with it- you can always make felted soap!
Now from the presents, back to the birthday guy. Jeff started his birthday by talking with his daughter on the phone, which made his day, and then each and every birthday call and message made him so happy. He had a good birthday. I’m so grateful for everything he does around here to take care of his family. He’s the kind of guy that wakes up early, splits and hauls firewood, gets a fire going in the woodstove, grows food in the garden, makes meals, and works for hours on end in his workshop whether he is tired or not.
When we came back from our trip to California over the winter, our house was freezing. It was late, and we were all exhausted. We turned a heater on, but Jeff knew it wouldn’t be enough. I woke up in the night, to the sound of him splitting firewood out in the driveway, and looked at the clock to see that it was midnight. Not only did he go out at midnight to split firewood, he got up throughout the night to keep the fire going and get the house warmed up. That’s just one story of many like that. He loves his family and he is a good guy, we’re lucky to have him.
P.S. I finished that second knitting project for Jeff. Slippers! I’ve made him many pairs of slippers at this point. He always wears them through on the bottom, so they only last for a limited time. (I’ve put partial soles on his slippers in the past, but this time around I think I need to cover the entire bottom of the slipper.) The pattern is called Nelse Slippers by Pam Allen & the yarn is Puffin by Quince and Co. (in the River colorway) that I purchased at Stash. (They look a little different than the pattern because I made a blooper when I was seaming them at the end. Ravelry notes here.) They fit, but they are big on him. I don’t want to risk felting them because the opening to put his foot inside might get too small (and you all know about my recent felting adventures.) He mentioned felting them while they were on his feet, which is a great idea. I told him to wear them in the bathtub!