Honouring Janet

This is a guest post from my daughter Janelle and granddaughter Miriam, cross-posted from Janelle’s blog.

This is both a happy and sad story but I’m hoping that readers can help this story have an exceptional ending.

Miriam wearing The Secret Way of Patterns
Miriam wearing The Secret Way of Patterns

My niece Miriam (7 years old) wants to be a fashion designer (and the Prime Minister of Canada but that’s another story). She spends a great deal of time drawing outfits and has had very distinct opinions on fashion style for several years. I thought it would be a great activity for us to start designing knitting patterns together and Miriam agreed.

Early in 2016 we went out to a local coffee house to discuss what Miriam wanted for her cowl. She made some initial sketches and we went through one of my Japanese stitch pattern books together, with Miriam marking down the number of the patterns she liked for about 20 pages before she got overwhelmed. She then narrowed the selection to 5 or 6 patterns after which we discussed how she’d like the cowl knit.

Photo showing the stitch patterns in The Secret Way of Patterns
The Secret Way of Patterns

Of course, she had clear ideas about the direction the knitting should be done (along the length), the length of the cowl, how the patterns should go together (in bands) and the way the patterns should be repeated. She quickly narrowed down the smaller patterns to go between the larger motif but it took a bit of work before she finally managed to get it down to a final selection.

I swatched the patterns and that resulted in more fine-tuning and a change in how the smaller motifs were ordered between the larger one. After another swatch, Miriam was satisfied and I was ready to begin knitting on her cowl.

Miriam's sketch for her cowl
Miriam’s sketch for her cowl

Miriam wanted her cowl knit in a cream colour, with large blue buttons so she could wear it multiple ways. The result is the shorter sample which she is modeling in the photos. I knit this over the summer and part of it was done while in Haliburton (Ontario). My friends and I had rented a cottage there while they attended Indigodragonfly’s Stained Fingers Dye Camp. Kim McBrien Evans saw the piece and asked what I was working on and I told her the story behind the pattern. Kim got very excited and wanted to support Miriam in her design work and offered yarn support for the adult version of the cowl, which she is wearing in the photo of her and Miriam.

It was decided that the design would be “launched” at the Knitter’s Fair (held each September by the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild) in the Indigodragonfly booth. I was really excited because that meant I could take Miriam to the show and she could see her design on display, meet Kim and get inspired for our next design collaboration by looking at all the yarn.

Knitting was done, the pattern was written up and all was on track. Miriam named it “The Secret Way of Patterns.” We were going to have to do the photo shoot after the event but excitement was building for Miriam and I, as well as for my mother, Miriam’s grandmother. Other family members had seen the cowl since it was finished but Miriam hadn’t seen it. The plan was for it to be a surprise for her a day or two before the show. But this is where the story gets very sad.

Mom wearing Vieux Carré Stole
My Mom wearing Vieux Carré Stole

Three days before the Knitter’s Fair my mother passed away very suddenly due to health complications from a long term illness. None of us were expecting that and it was devastating to all of us, but especially to Miriam and her brother. It’s difficult to lose a grandmother at any age but it’s especially traumatic when you are under the age of 10. Friends scrambled together to get the sample to Kim for the show but we weren’t sure if Miriam and I would attend. Friday night I showed the cowl to Miriam and she suddenly started crying. I asked why and she said “Grandma won’t ever get to see it, how will she know I’m a designer now?” Luckily I was able to reassure her that Grandma did see it and thought it was beautiful. And in the end we attended the Knitter’s Fair together and Miriam got to meet Kim, show off her first design and feel like a designer for the first time, although it was very bittersweet. And even though we both felt very sad, we still had the photo shoot this past Saturday and Miriam did a great job.

Kim and Miriam at KW Knitter's Fair
Kim and Miriam at KW Knitter’s Fair

Now here’s where I’m hoping some of you can help make this story have an exceptional ending. My mother had asked that Learning For Humanity be listed as the charity for those wishing to make a donation in her name – she believed so much in education. My mom taught me to dream and passed on her love of crafting to both Miriam and I. She was always very supportive of my designing and was so excited that Miriam and I were designing together. In fact, the photo of my mother used for her funeral is her wearing my Vieux Carré Stole, a design I knit as a gift for her.

Miriam and I want to honour and remember my mother by supporting Learning For Humanity and inviting many others to support it as well. We’ve decided that 100% of the money from pattern sales of The Secret Way of Patterns will go to support the installation of Learning For Humanity educational systems in schools in Zambia until the end of 2016. Miriam is hoping that we could sell several thousand patterns (she’s hoping to raise enough to cover the costs of one school – I told her that we would need to sell 8,000 patterns to do that).

So our request is this – can you help us give this story an exceptional ending? You can buy the pattern here or make a direct donation (and receive a charitable receipt) here.

Miriam wearing The Secret Way of Patterns on a swing

In Loving Memory of my Beloved Wife Janet

Janet with lilacsIt is with great sadness that I announce that Janet, my beloved wife and partner for 50 wonderful years, passed away suddenly last night. We will all miss her so much.

Martin, Janet Esther (nee Ranck)

Passed away peacefully on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at Grand River Hospital, Kitchener at the age of 71.

Janet in JamaicaShe will be deeply missed by her husband Wilmer, daughter Janelle, son Alan, daughter-in-law Christiane, and grandchildren Matthew and Miriam. Also missed by her siblings John (Barbara) Ranck, James (Judy) Ranck, Jean (Howard) Cann, Joe (Ann) Ranck, and Joanne (Doug) Dirks, as well as step-mother Alta Ranck and in-laws Eugene (Lorene) Martin, Lyle (Jenny) Martin, Elaine (Nelson) Ruhl and Anna Blanche Martin (step-mother-in-law).

Predeceased by her parents Robert H. Ranck and Mildred Denlinger, step-mother Pauline Peifer, father-in-law and mother-in-law Omar R. Martin and Anna Mae Kuhns, brothers-in-law Lee Stoltzfus and Linford Martin and her Canadian parents Mahlon and Marie Leis.

Born July 29, 1945 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Janet attended Lancaster Mennonite High School where she met her husband Wilmer Martin, whom she married on October 2, 1965. She and Wilmer attended Ontario Mennonite Bible Institute in Kitchener, before permanently moving to Ontario in 1968. Janet loved being a pastor’s wife and had a strong love for the global church, attending Mennonite World Conferences around the world and loved travelling with her husband and family. She loved being Grandmother to Matthew and Miriam.

Friends are invited to share their memories of Janet with her family during visitation at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S., Waterloo on Friday, September 9, 2016 from 7- 9 p.m., and Saturday, September 10th from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will be held at Erb Street Mennonite Church, 131 Erb St. W., Waterloo on Sunday, September 11th, at 3 p.m. with Pastor Doug Snyder and Pastor Doug Hatlem as Officiants. Reception to follow immediately in the church hall, with Interment at Erb Street Mennonite Cemetery following the reception.

Condolences for the family and donations to Learning for Humanity or Lupus Ontario may be arranged through the funeral home at www.erbgood.com or 519-745-8445.