toys, ties, and goodbyes

This past weekend was so very full, and I did a lot of crafting leading into it. The music director at our UU church, Thommy, who had been with us for a decade, is leaving to join his spouse and pursue new things, and one of the things he requested for his final “Music Sunday” was that all of the musicians performing during it wear bow-ties. Bow-ties are kind of his thing :)

Handknit bow-tie for our music director.

Even before he made that request, I had decided that as a going-away present for him, I wanted to knit him a bow-tie. I didn’t really have any clue what I was doing; I looked up some measurements online, did some math, charted out a colorwork pattern, and knit it up. It turned out a little bigger than my math said it should, but hey, even more bow-tie!

Handknit bow-tie for our music director.

Basically, each half of the bow-tie is knit in the round outward from the center, and then the tube is closed at each end with a 3-needle bindoff. I then pleated the centers and stitched them together, and finally knit a 1×1 rib that I could wrap around the (frankly kinda messy) stitched together part to finish it off. The yarns are leftovers from my Bressay sweater.

Bow-ties for Music Sunday.

Then I had to figure out how to make bow ties for me and my kid, since we were both performing in the service; I played with the ukulele orchestra and she and I performed a violin duet, in her first public performance that wasn’t a student recital! The video of the service isn’t up yet or I’d share it, but you’ll just have to trust me that she did an incredible job – no fear whatsoever, and very clean playing. I’m such a proud mama. My kid wore her bow-tie with a pink polo shirt, and I managed to rig mine up around my necklace (because I don’t have any shirts that would support a bow-tie!). They’re both made from the leftovers of my Cleo Skirts, and I wore my matching green one; color-coordination is a source of joy I share with Thommy!

Me and my kid at Thommy’s goodbye party.
Photo taken by a friend at the goodbye party; my kid is so big now!

The rest of the day was filled with a congregational meeting and then a goodbye party for Thommy, in which I was both a musician and part of a storytelling team…an utterly exhausting, very emotional, but lovely day all around. My daughter and I are both so sad to see Thommy go; he was such an important part of making us feel like we belonged at First Unitarian when we first joined, and we both think he’s just awesome. She wanted to give him a gift, too, so she drew him one of her new style of cats (the eyes she creates are so cool!) and gave it a music-note bow tie:

All of the bow-ties and gifts :)

Our gifts of music-making, bow-ties, and artwork are the least we can do to say thank-you to someone who gave us so much. I’ve learned SO much from Thommy, who is a wonderful teacher – I mean, for one thing, he’s the entire reason I can (sort of) play ukulele! (And also the reason I can sing while playing, because he made us learn that way; that was frustrating, but worth it!) I learned a decent amount of music theory in the process of learning uke, too. And I’ve learned about how pianos work and how to write hymn texts and just…so many things.

Madrigal with Thommy, at Thommy’s goodbye party.
My kid, with a cottonwood branch, and Thommy

And I will forever appreciate the kindness and love he showed my kid, especially during those difficult years of 2017-2018 (aka, “the years my kid got kicked out of everything”); she couldn’t handle going to the children’s services with other kids her age, so started coming to the calmer, quieter adult services with me, always asking to sit in the very front row near the piano, usually with a whole menagerie of toys and art supplies, and she immediately was enchanted by Thommy and the music he shared every service. Thommy was one of those grown-ups who just embraced my kid for exactly who she is, and when you’re the parent of a kid who is often “disruptive” and getting scolded and kicked out of things left and right, finding adults who see your kid as they are and appreciate them that way is just the greatest gift there is. Madrigal loved standing on the chair next me to when we sang hymns as a congregation, and she learned the words to ALL of them, even the ones in Spanish! This year, she’s been able to participate in the children’s services again, which has been bittersweet; I’ve missed having my church-buddy in the adult services, but it’s also so wonderful to see her figuring out how to interact with and manage herself around kids her own age.

While we were taking pictures of the gifts for Thommy, we also snapped some photos of a new toy I’d started knitting:

Kiddo and Piggy, sans limbs.
Armless Oliver Pig is a bit like a bowling ball.

It’s a pig! Specifically, Susan B. Anderson’s “Oliver Pig“. Back when I got the kit for the Sleepy Kitties, I also picked up a skein of the light pink color (called “Strawflower”) used in the Oliver Pig pattern, because I thought it was such a cute pattern and knew I’d never have scraps of an appropriate pink, since I don’t really knit with light pinks. And once I finished Bunny Odile, I didn’t want to stop knitting toys. My kid saw the Oliver Pig pattern when I was scrolling through my pattern PDFs and wanted it, so the decision was made.

Piggy has both arms! (And part of a leg)
Oliver has arms now! And part of a leg.

The other yarns I’m using are just leftovers from other projects; for the sweater, a brick red leftover from the Bohus Yoke sweaters I knit, along with the beige color from those sweaters, and then some dark blue Brooklyn Tweed Shelter for the jeans. I’m going to have quite a lot leftover of the pink pig color, so perhaps I’ll see if any local friends want to knit piggies of their own. (There will probably be enough left for two more pigs, if I’m doing the math right?)

Bunny Odile is getting pajamas.

I felt like taking a little break from the pig today, though, so I cast on for the pajamas for Bunny Odile…aren’t they charming so far? I’m using more leftovers from Bressay for this; the main dark purple color as well as the lighter purple-pink. I picked up some wee little buttons from Joann the other day, so I’ll be ready to add them once I finish the knitting.

I’m now on the search committee for our church’s new music director, and while I’m heartbroken to say goodbye to Thommy, I’m also excited to find the person who will next make the position their own. And I’m trying to remember the message about change from Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower”:

“All that you touch, You Change.
All that you Change, Changes you.
The only lasting truth Is Change.”

Change is hard, and there’s been so very much of it lately, but indeed, it is the only lasting truth.

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