The Yin Yang of Spring

May 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Posted in art, baby, blogging, cats, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, free knitting patterns, gardening, gifts, hat patterns, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, summer, yarn | 21 Comments

Sweet little Yin the kitten on Fireflys farmYin Yang. That’s what we named Cat Cat’s two kittens because there are just the two of them and they cuddle together in a perfect yin yang. Yin is the darker kitten, Yang the one with more white on his/her body.

They are still very young but have just this week begun to take tiny wobbling little steps. They recognize me and Yin in particular seems to quite enjoy being up on my shoulder, nuzzled in my long hair.

Mostly they spend their time sleeping or nursing and almost always cuddling with each other and their sweet mother, Cat Cat. They get all of Cat Cat’s milk to themselves, so they are the fattest little kittens you can imagine. Yang’s tiny little tubby tummy nearly touches the floor when he shakily “walks” along.

Oh, they are just too cute, too scrumptious almost for words.

Dear little Yang kitten on Fireflys farmWhen we first realized Cat Cat was going to have a litter of kittens, we started telling friends and neighbors (anyone who would listen) that we would have kittens come spring and would be looking for good homes for them. Now that we see there are only the two of them, and with Cat Cat being such an outstandingly good natured kitty, we have decided both Yin and Yang should stay here on our farm with their mother. They will all three be our “magic” cats. How fun is that?

I love watching them as they have first begun to be aware of an environment just a wee bit larger than that created by their own bodies and that of their mother. When they first began to lift up their little itty heads looking around in fits and starts, heads tilted ever so slightly to denote a sense of curiosity, I felt a wonderful thrill of “life” rushing through me.

I find it interesting how just the tiniest little tilt of the head creates the definitive body language that communicates to an observer … curiosity. Interest. Awareness.

Pink tulips from fireflys cottageTheir growing sense of awareness born of kitten curiosity reminds me of the evolution of spring itself. Just this morning as I looked out the living room windows toward the river I felt almost as if I were in a lush jungle, the growth out there is so full and varied by now, but still the tender, pale green of early growth.

Wow. Much as I love winter, and I do love winter, this thing of springtime with everything waking up and living and breathing and growing in a progression that is both thunderous and subtle simultaneously, well it is a thing I would never want to miss. I do cherish each season in and of itself, just as I cherish the stages of life — each one separately wondrous in its own right.

Of course, flowers play a big part in that which I particularly cherish about spring. A couple of weeks ago I spotted some pale purple tulips growing on the property by our cottage, five miles down the road from the farm. Although it is only those few five miles away, we don’t get over that way very often so I cut the tulips (there were about a dozen) and brought them home to enjoy inside, in a vase by a sunny window.

Emily sweater a hand knit sweater designed by fireflyI was going to photograph them, but became busy and missed doing it in time. The morning I believed to be my last chance to photograph them, I found all of their petals laying on the table. So sad. I gathered the petals and put them in a box to dry in a cupboard. Then I went back over the cottage where I found pink tulips beginning to bloom, so I cut those and brought them home.

The pink tulips I did photograph in time, and I plan to use them as models for at least two paintings. Both the purple and the pink tulips were planted years ago by my mother-in-law at the cottage, which she refers to as “the place in the country”. It amuses me, because she lived in a small town, but always referred to the cottage as “the place in the country”. I can see why it would have been that to her, after all, she grew up in Buffalo and moved to a small town when she got married. To her, the cottage by the river, a good hour away from the small town where she and her husband raised my husband and his sister, was definitely out in the country.

By Los Angeles standards, the small town she lived in would be a place in the country, but her persepective was quite different.

Emily sweater stitch pattern detailNow she is nearly 93 years old, confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home and has no short term memory. She does speak from time to time about “the place in the country” and how close she felt to God whenever she was there. Occasionally she reminisces about planting flowers there, and I know she is recalling the tulips or daffodils or peonies she planted that grow there to this day. And here I am, a newcomer to a world she was long ago deeply familiar with and I get to see and enjoy some of the beauty she left behind, flowers which symbolize the love she had for the place and the time she spent there.

I will memorialize her flowers with my paintings and photography, and we are going to move them from the cottage over here to the farm. We have to do that, because they grow beside of an old dilapidated farm house by the cottage, and the farm house is going to be demolished. We want to move her flowers here to the farm to preserve them and ensure they continue to be enjoyed for years to come.

In other news … just this morning I completed the sweater I was knitting for our pastor’s little baby girl. I loved this project for a number of reasons. First of all, the baby girl who will wear it is very, very sweet natured. I have held her during church services a couple of times and she just smiles and winks and sleeps and squeezes my finger in her tiny little hand. So, of course I thought of her as I knitted this sweater for her.

Buttons and stitches detail on the Emily hand knit sweater by fireflyAnother reason I love the project is because of the stitch pattern I chose, “Ears of Corn”. That seemed appropriate for a baby born in a farming community where corn is such a prevalent crop. I love how the white cotton yarn showed off the stitch pattern so well.

I look forward to publishing the pattern in the next few days because it will be a very economical project for those who need to be economical in their knitting choices these days. I bought a two pound cone of high quality, beautiful white cotton yarn for just under $7. It was plenty of yarn for the sweater and will also be enough to make a matching hat and booties. I’m sure there will be more left after that as well.

[27 May 08 Update: The Emily Sweater and Matching Hat pattern are now available in my Etsy Store. A simplified version of the hat pattern is also available for free at]

For practical as well as decorative purposes, I used half a dozen bright pink buttons from the “stash” given to me by my friend Dorothy and the lady I lovingly call “Winny of the Buttons”, a stash I have immortalized by referring to it so many times in my blog. (Five-hundred years from now, will this blog still exist on the Internet?)

There were a total of eight of those buttons, so I saved two to use as a decoration on the matching hat whenever I get that made.

Dear little Yin the kitten on fireflys farmI recommend the “Ears of Corn” stitch pattern, because it is a very enjoyable and lovely little pattern to knit. Hope you enjoy my photos of the finished sweater and details.

Last week I mentioned my having opened an Etsy store; I have knitting patterns there as well as note cards and original oil paintings. I would like to share a few nice comments I received from recent customers (notecards and patterns):

“More than I expected the photos are simply gorgeous and delivery was quick!! Thank you!!” ~ dogquilter

“I am SO happy with the note cards. The pictures on your site don’t do them justice. You are an excellent photographer, along with your many other talents.” ~ Beverly K.

“I’ve been looking for a pattern like this for a long time. It is a hat I know my husband will wear! The hat and scarf are very classic. The extra pages are a nice touch!” ~ bonvino

“I loved these little prints on your blog. The cards are fantastic. I’ll be keeping one of each for me and sharing your art with my friends with the others … a gorgeous product!” ~ radarkaty

“I just received the Biscuit Blanket pattern and wanted to let you know how tickled I am! The presentation is beautiful and the extra pattern, recipe and project note pages are incredibly thoughtful! I can’t wait to get several of these made and on hold for Christmas gifts!!” ~ Filyaw

On that note, I will end off here and head for my studio where I intend to draw those pink tulips as well as some other flowers I will be painting over the next few weeks.

Wherever you are headed, I wish you well on the journey and the season.



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  1. What an absolutely DARLING sweater!! You are SO talented!!

    Loved the other photos too…baby animals are so sweet, aren’t they? Don’t blame you for deciding to keep the 2 kitties!!

  2. Firefly~
    My mom & dad just had 3 kittens at there place, they will be gone by the time I get home. My dad found homes for them. I love the way kittens nuzzle up next to you…reminds me of when I was a little girl. I sometimes wonder how the kittens survived we handled them sooo much. The Emily sweater is adorable. I just need to find a baby girl or boy to make it for. I have to agree with the comments from others I love how you have packaged your patterns. Thanks for sharing the tulip photo with us. I love tulips in the spring. I found this verse recently and included it in the newsletter I do at church: “Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.” Song of Solomon 2:12 Have a wonderful day! Ann

  3. The sweater is adorable, and the tribute to your mother in-law and her flowers is beautiful!

  4. I love the sweater, it is beautiful. My girls would love your kittens. We have 2 cats, we adopted them last year when they were kittens, they are a brother and sister. They play together all the time.

  5. I love the baby sweater, how beautiful! As soon as the pattern is available, I’ll be one of the first to purchase! The kitties are adorable, too.

  6. How precious are Yin and Yang and how special that Cat Cat does not have to say goodbye to them and you will be able to enjoy watching them grow. Please continue to share photos of them!!

  7. What darling kitten faces. I would love to kiss their noses!

  8. You can almost feel their warmth and hear the tiny purr coming from those furry tummies. They are truly a joy to look at Firefly. Thank you for another look into your wonderful world of flowers,furries,and new baby things.

  9. A wondeful blog! The kittens are so lovable! Cuddling them reminds me of cuddling baby chicks when I was a child on a farm. The chicks peep and chirp and get as close as they can.
    That sweater is so beautiful! Great choice of pattern and yarn. Lucky baby.
    Blessings to your mother-in-law for the flowers and things she left for others to love and cherish. And thanks for posting the blogs.

  10. Oh, what sweet kittens! We always had kittens here when I was growing up, and I miss those little soft bundles of fur. 🙂

    The sweater is just beautiful. Love those buttons!

    Hope you are enjoying spring on the farm!

  11. Beautiful kittens! My sister’s cat, Knotty, had two kittens and her daughter named them Touch and Go for obvious reasons. One you could touch, but the other wouldn’t let you and would run away. Yin and Yang have the cutest little faces.

  12. Yin and Yang are just soooo adorable! The sweater is very pretty.

  13. Everything about this post had meaning to me…the kittens, reminding me how much I miss having a cat now that mine is gone, and now that we don’t feel we’ll have another….the baby sweater, because my little granddaughter will turn 1-year-old on May 24th, and about your mother-in-law…my mom is 93, and after a fall the last of March, we had to put her into a nursing home….she has a good mind, and loves to read and do crosswords–I guess her memory problems are more of the “remembering names,etc..they’re hard for her, but otherwise, she’s so very bright. And it was so very hard for me to see her going into Health care; I just cherish that she is so nearby that I can see mosst anytime I wish1

    Enjoy the kittens, they’ll soon be grown…and when you can…enjoy your mother-in-law, I wonder how WE’LL be if we live to be that age!! Remembered by our own loved ones, I hope!

  14. What sweet, sweet kitties. Love their names; and love Yang’s goatee! Too cute for words! I’m glad you’ve decided they are staying with you!

  15. You have a talent for flowers as well! The tulips are radiant. I especially love the pastor’s child’s sweater…your pattern choice makes the gift particularly meaningful. Nice work!

  16. Such cute kittens! I love the sweater too, very nice.

  17. Love the kitties! I know you will have fun with the precious balls of fur. The photos are great and I love the sweater. Beautiful work you do!!

  18. Yin and Yang are just too cute! I am so glad you are keeping them on the farm! Your comments about breathing new life into something old by your Father stirs warm memories of my own. My Dad was my best advocate and critic. I could always depend on him for honesty. Keep posting. I love to read your blog. I will be checking out your Etsy Shop.

  19. Ohhhhh, makes me want to just pick them up and nuzzle my nose into their furry little necks! And two is much more fun than one. 🙂 Happy Spring!

  20. I have come late to this entry…but have enjoyed your blog and visited before. I was nosy about your meeting with your husband – as I work out my own relationship…so have spent some time today on past posts. I just wanted to say thank you for all the sharing you have done on this blog – on many topics.

  21. just might have to buy that sweater pattern. my daughter had her baby jan. 7, 2008 (just two days after my birthday). but i don’t mind sharing. she is the best baby, smiles all the time. i babysit when i’m not working. like raising her mama all over again. well, she does look just like her! anyway, guess what she named her? EMILY!!! so, i must make the hat and will probably buy the sweater pattern. i have made a couple of your other patterns and they turned out lovely, as i am sure these will. but i must find time to sit and knit. i am sure, if it is for Emily, i will find the time. keep up the good work. who knows, maybe you will make something for a boy and name it after a future grandchild of mine! i am hoping my son and daughter-in-law will have a son one day.

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