"I love the way knitting brings people together" – Author and Knitter, Debbie Macomber
Chapter One/Part One: " What is Odango Doing?"
"Oh, not again! My Mom, it looks like, did pack me leftovers of that grilled salmon with pesto sauce from last night's dinner to go with my little salad and sliced heart-shaped fruits. I was hoping she'd just pack me some flavored stuffed rice balls and sweet bean paste dessert buns," Minako sighed grimacing at her bento box, not too thrilled at what her Mother, Mrs. Aino decided to pack her for lunch.
"Guess your Mom is on a health kick again Minako?" Naru asked, patting her shoulder in kind comfort as the blond nodded sighing.
"Literally, she's been destashing all of the hiding places in the kitchen pantry and freezer of spots my Dad's hidden all of his favorite snacks of junk food. She even took away my bags of flavored green tea cookies, nori rice crackers, and all my favorite curry flavor instant ramen packets. The woman's lost her mind, you guys! Usagi, is it too late for me to just run away? I could move in with your family. Your Mother's a saint, doesn't take away your sweets...think she'd want another daughter to make it three kids in the household?" Minako asked her fellow blond partner in snack crime to her left, at their usual spot under the tree for lunch period at Juban Middle School.
"Eh, as much as Mama would love to adopt all of my friends like you Minako...we wouldn't have enough room to take in everyone. At least you can still part-time live over my house during visits and sleepovers to get your fill of non-healthy snacks and sweets with how my Mama loves spoiling everyone with her cooking," Usagi replied through her mouth stuffed full of a piece of a stuffed pork gyoza and steamed spinach.
"This is why I'm so glad my parents let me transfer here halfway through the middle of the first semester to join you guys here. My old middle school was so boring, volleyball wasn't enough to keep me from being bored and lonely there. Hey! Is that a chocolate cream puff pastry in your extra container?! You're so lucky your Mother likes to spoil you and Shingo with little desserts for lunches! Can I have one? Please?", Minako pleaded with a whimper as Usagi sighed, slowly offering her the small dessert plastic container that held a few kept cream puffs.
"Help yourself Minako, you too, Naru. There are various flavors inside the stuffed cream. There's Green Tea Matcha flavor, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Cocoa, and Strawberry. Mama found them in the cold section at that one mega market downtown when she was looking to stock up on groceries to do some canning in jars of soup stocks from meat bones for future dishes she wants to try...what's it called...crock pot meals ahead of time? I don't know what she's planning on doing, but Daddy said that means we're going to get beef stew, beef or chicken flavored broth ramen and soup, and lamb stuffed flavored steamed dumplings for the next month. She's always doing this when it comes to Autumn season getting colder. Mama found some new recipes in a cooking housewife magazine he said, and started getting ideas," Usagi shrugged, smiling slightly as her friends helped themselves to some cream puffs.
"Thanks, Usagi. Oh, this is good. Remind me to join you, girls, when you have another sleepover and your Mom bakes goodies again. Where's Makoto and Ami?" Naru asked, between bites of her cream puff.
"Makoto's still in the home economics class kitchens. Hiro-san's letting her get extra credit by helping tutor the lower graded students in her advanced level cooking class. She said something this morning on our dash to school about teaching a baka boy on how to properly make sugar cookies with iced glazing the proper way. Hopefully, Makoto doesn't attempt to murder him by sticking his head first into the oven if he drives her insane." Minako answered, grinning evilly while they all laughed.
"Nah, Makoto won't hurt him...she'll just yell and scare him until he listens better to her directions. Also Ami's in the library, she said she wanted to get a jump start on her Calculus homework a week ahead so she has more time to dedicate to helping us with our rescheduled 'study sessions' later next weekend. Oh, are we on for this afternoon?" Usagi giggled, before questioning Minako as she looked to her.
"Hai! Did you remember to bring your bag this time? Your basic long set of needles, then your bamboo small sized needles for knitting the smaller projects? Plus scissors, plastic, and metal sewing needles, and the patterns you promised to get me for the socks?" Minako asked Usagi, as the bun-haired girl nodded, lifting up a fabric kawaii bunny and pink themed tote bag that had knitting needles and various skein colors of yarns sticking out of it.
"It took Mama and I a while looking in her knitting and crochet patterns she keeps in her box of knitting patterns in the craft storage closet she has. But we found a basic pattern on making socks easier for you than that complicated one you tried doing Jun had shared with everyone at the once a week get together at the yarn and tea house shop we usually meet once a month on Sundays." Usagi grinned as she fished out some knitting pattern directions on printed pieces of paper from her tote bag, handing them over to Minako.
"Perfect! Hmm...these pattern directions look so much easier and simpler to follow. Remind me to thank your Mother and worship her nonstop for her wonderful ways of guru knitting. I got all of my stuff. I went to that one bargain arts and crafts store that had a lot of sock yarn on clearance; so I stocked up on a lot of really bright colors, orange naturally, some mixed tie-dye striped looking yarn, then some pinks and blues and rainbows. That way I've got some cooler for some senior citizens who like blasts of color and for kids." Minako explained, showing off her knitting rag sack bag that had various pandas and fruit oranges on it, stuffed to the gills with sock yarn skeins, knitting needles sticking out of the ends.
"Sounds wonderful. You guys must have enjoyed home ECC class last month when we went through learning how to knit or crochet things. Are you going to donate all the socks and other things your knitting to the senior centers and orphanages?" Naru asked curiously.
"Hai, but we're also going to donate knitted items like lap blankets, chemo-caps, socks, and arm warmers to the Juban Hospital's wards for the elderly, cancer patients, and kids. Minako's the one who loves making socks. I'll be trying my hand at making fingerless gloves, full mitten gloves and maybe a full sweater later on for Daddy as a birthday gift before his birthday in a few months. Besides, I'm socked out of knitting socks. I'll let Minako do that." Usagi giggled while Minako smirked and flashed her usual 'V' peace sign pose.
"Sounds awesome, perfect with this cold weather of windy chills of it being Autumn October. Hey Usagi, could you make me a pair of fingerless gloves for winter?"
"Sure Naru! What colors would you like? I'm planning to use up all my leftover ball scraps of sock, thin, thick, and various textures of yarns I had leftover from other projects, my yarn stash at home, and extra leftover balls other girls at the 'Juban Teen Youth Knitting Club' gave me that they didn't need any more." Usagi asked, pulling out her little bunny notebook and Hello Kitty pen ready for notes.
"Could you make me a collage one out of it f it's possible? Pinks and white-cream colors?" Naru asked.
"Hai, Hai! It'll take me a few weeks to get around to knitting and making it. I'm going to try making my first scrap collage fingerless gloves out of leftover chunky and thin yarn scraps like rainbow and gray tone colors first." Usagi nodded, quickly writing Naru's request all down in her little notebook, before placing it into her school briefcase by her knitting bag and small bunny backpack mini-purse.
"Sometimes I'm still astonished by seeing this. These two are still sitting here but not talking loudly like hyenas or pigging out on their usual milkshakes and fries like they used to. Maybe taking up knitting, joining that once a month teen youth knitting club when their Mothers forced them to take up an after-school hobby was a miracle after all." Rei Hino smirked amusingly watching across the booth table as her two blond best friends were in their silent little world, focused on knitting projects.
"Hai, Knitting they say it’s good for memory and hand coordination as well as a wonderful stress reliever from the daily grinds of stress. My mother from time to time during her medical school studies at the university took up the hobby of crocheting cowl scarves and squares for making a blanket to pass the time on breaks and study breaks. She stopped crocheting after having me and work keeping her focus occupied." Ami Mizuno commented politely, sitting next to the fiery priestess and their brunette friend Makoto Kino who nodded, occupied with sipping her glass of cherry cola.
"At least they’re doing something they enjoy like we all have hobbies we enjoy doing. I'm still amazed Usagi knows how to knit." Makoto chimed in with a little-amused laugh, as her friends nodded.
"Hey, Usagi, earth to Odango Dumpling! How exactly did you get into knitting?" Rei asked loudly, causing Usagi to come out of her knitting coma.
"Huh? Oh, sorry! I got lost knitting into it. Gomen, oh! Well, my Mama taught me how to knit when she felt I had enough attention span for it with hand coordination. I think I was maybe seven when she taught me at home. My first project making squares wasn't the greatest out of cheap acrylic yarns, but I got better when she kept teaching me things, having me practice alongside her with her own knitting. I made my first hat later and it wasn't bad. I kept doing it but took a break once Middle School started. So glad Mama made me take up my knitting needles again when Daddy kept telling me he felt I needed to do an after-school hobby or something like how Shingo had football or soccer for his own activity." Usagi mused, going down memory lane of her memories, fingers still knitting carefully the first few rows of her started project in a thick chunky yarn of gray heather.
"Really? Well, my hat is off to you, Odango, glad your Mom forced you to or else I wouldn't have received my knitted hat from you for Christmas this last year. Who are gloves or mittens for?" Rei inquired, as Ami and Makoto looked on just as curious.
"I don't know, I just felt like trying something new to use up leftover yarns. Maybe I'll give them away to a stranger on the streets or a homeless person. Or maybe gift them to Haruna-san to see if she'll go easy on me with detentions...maybe." Usagi mused, still knitting.
"Sounds like a plan. Oh, thank you again both of you for my knitted gifts. I love my blue themed ocean colored socks, Minako, even if they were a little large. Usagi, the blue frosted light blue knitted beret hat is still comfortable when I wear it with my sweater blouse", Ami thanked them both.
"Yeah, I'm still making lots of use of the cup cozy warmer you made me Minako, and the pot holders you knitted me Usagi. My Mother used to say there's always a use for knitted things, always." Makoto added her thanks as well.
"You’re both welcome, Makoto, Ami. Okay, break time from knitting. OH MOTOKI-KUN!!!" Minako hollered, waving her hand trying to signal the sandy blond waiter across the Crown Cafe.
"Hey girls, I see you two are at it again knitting. Any chance there's something being knitted for me?" Motoki chuckled, greeting his favorite customers at their usual corner booth table.
"Nope, not this time. I think Minako and I had made you enough socks and hats to last you and your sister a lifetime." Usagi grinned.
"True. Alright, would you girls like refills on food or drinks?" Motoki asked, assuming they wanted a repeat of their usual orders, readying his pen and paper pad ready.
"Hai, Can I have a refill basket order of french fries but with some melted shredded cheese and sweet mayo dipping sauce? And then can I get a double cheeseburger with the apple smoked bacon in it? And I'll take a cherry cola float instead of a milkshake again," Usagi ordered while Minako put down her knitting, looking ready to order.
"Motoki-kun, can I have a triple bacon lettuce tomato sandwich with another order of fries but without too much salt this time, and I'll take another chocolate milkshake."
"Alright, got both yours and Usagi's orders down, Minako. What would the rest of you girls like? Rei?" Motoki asked, looking to the other side of the booth.
"I'll take a lime-lemon green flavored Sprite. Then a regular cheeseburger and chili fries with a cup of hot cocoa with extra whipped cream to drink as well. It sounds good for a winter day." Rei ordered quietly, menu in hand.
"Got it. Adding hot cocoa to the regular meal you usually order. Ami? Makoto?"
"I'll take an ice tea again with extra lemon, then a cup of hot mint tea, and a grilled cheese sandwich with a side of french fries."
"I'll take a cup of hot cocoa, my usual of a root beer soda, the grilled turkey and tomato sandwich with extra mayo and ketchup for dipping my french fries."
"Alright, I've got all your orders, it'll be the usual time until it comes out. I'll just give you all rounds minus Ami of some hot cocoa. It's pretty cold out there today, so hot cocoa is on the house girls." Motoki smiled, as he took off to the kitchen.
"Arigato Motoki!!!!!!" Minako hollered happily.
"He's such a sweet thing...if only he wasn't taken..." Makoto sighed.
"There, there. There's always that one guy from the grocery store nearby your apartment Makoto." Rei tried to cheer her up, which seemed to work.
"True...he looks just like the old senpai I swear..." Makoto sighed happily.
"Motoki's right, it has gotten cold lately, hasn't it?"
"Hai Ami, it has. Glad I wore my long knee-high tights and socks for winter wear with my uniform today with my snow coat and cowl scarf. Oh look, it's Mamoru-baka." Usagi voiced, noticing the familiar ebony haired college student coming into the arcade-cafe, with his usual ugly green jacket from underneath the thick brown looking autumn coat he had on.
"Be nice Usagi, remember, you both called a truce to be nicer and friendlier as newly civil friends as a new year's resolution last time." Rei reminded Usagi, as she rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, but I still can call him a baka if he still calls me that stupid nickname. It's fair. Greetings baka." Usagi said politely as said 'baka' Mamoru Chiba appeared at their table.
"Odango, good to see you avoided detention for once on a Friday afternoon. Your New Year's Resolution last year to not be late for school seems to be working. Hello girls," Mamoru greeted the girls, even Usagi trying to be friendly.
"Hey, Mamoru. Want to join us? We’ve got plenty of room." Ami invited him to sit with them. "No thanks, Ami. I have book work to look over for a class, thanks though, maybe next time. Ladies, Odango." Mamoru politely waved before leaving for his usual spot at the counter bar where Motoki was preparing mugs of hot cocoa.
"Well, it seems like he's making an effort on his end to be polite...what do you think of that Usagi?" Minako grinned, Usagi rolling her eyes at the mischievous look Minako had.
"He's being polite...good. So, is Artemis still planning your death for making those cat size booties socks for him?" Usagi asked Minako as she started back on knitting.
"He is still upset...I don't know why, he looks adorable in those orange booties I made him. Maybe he'll like the chevron sweater I'll make for him later." Minako mused while the rest of the girls all sighed at hearing that.
"How he hasn't claw killed you yet is beyond me...at least Usagi isn't that cruel to her cat, Luna, to knit clothes or socks for her," Makoto mumbled.
"Nope, Luna prefers the cat rug blanket I knitted for her little cat house in my bedroom for Christmas. She sleeps on that thing happily." Usagi grinned happily.
"What are Odango and Minako doing?" Mamoru casually asked Motoki, motioning to where the blondes were both working on projects.
"They're working on knitting projects. Minako and Usagi got the knitting bug from their home economics class when their teacher introduced them to knitting and crocheting, I think. Remember the socks Minako gifted me for Christmas and my Birthday? Usagi made me a hat," Motoki reminded Mamoru, giving him his usual cup of coffee.
"I still can't believe you actually still humor Minako and wear those things. She made you the worst socks in the most hideous colors of puke yellow and bright orange. It looks like a nightmare of the dye from the hippie sixties." Mamoru shuddered.
"They aren't that bad to wear. Regardless of their coloring, they are quite comfortable to wear and keep my feet warm. I think Minako's making more socks for them to donate to some shelters for Japanese Veterans and the Homeless. Usagi's...I'm honestly not sure what she's knitting this time. She didn't tell me what she's making." Motoki shrugged.
"Minako knitting socks, predictable with her insanity craft record. Odango doing something but not immediately sharing with 'you' of all people what she's doing...now, that's not normal in Odango behavior." Mamoru frowned, eyes looking over back to the booth in the corner.
Usagi from what he could see was in her own knitting little world. Completely focused on the task at hand. Her fingers knit-weaving with her knitting needles and one finger leading a ball of yarn from her knitting back. He couldn't make out what color it was, but it looked like a dark color possibly. What was it that she was making to keep her mind and mouth not focusing or taking apart in her friends' discussion?
Even Minako was talking a mile away chattering with her lips, while her hands were knitting away making a sock.
"Maybe Usagi's just in her personal zen of calmness? Becoming one with her knitting? Like how you get when you're fully invested in reading something?" Motoki offered.
"Well, I for one don't like it. It's un-Odango like her to be that quiet. And it's bothering me." Mamoru shook his head.
"Maybe she's making socks or another hat, or a cowl scarf."
"But for who?" Mamoru questioned murmuring.
"Maybe to donate something for a good cause, or one of her family members? Or, perhaps...maybe a boy she might like, like say a guy from her school?" Motoki suddenly suggested with an evil grin as Mamoru's eyes started twitching unhappily at the idea.
"Nani?! No way! She never knits or makes anything for boys! And that nerdy friend of hers Umino doesn't count! Odango just sees him as her little brother, a brotherly-bother. What is she knitting and who's it for?" He questioned, dark blue eyes staring intently to the blond with double bun hair, knitting away.
"Who knows? Maybe she's just making something new for a project for herself, and it's nothing serious. I wouldn't worry about it too much Mamoru. Minako and Rei said there have been no 'interests in boys' for her whatsoever. Usagi's pretty much phased out of her boy-crazy phase since getting into the eighth grade according to them. So you don't have to worry about anyone trying to woe or kidnap your precious Odango’s heart, Casanova," Motoki assured him with an amused look while he was met with a glare.
"I still can't believe I shared with you about 'that' private information concerning my 'feelings' for Odango...that's the last time I ever get drunk with you and Reika when we go out during New Year's Eve before midnight and you convince wasted me on Saki to sing karaoke with you," the new high school senior sighed.
"Not my fault you’re brutally honest and extremely emotional like a girl when you get drunk. I still can't believe you haven't even told her how you really feel about her. Tsk, tsk. What are Reika and I going to do with you, Mamoru? Hm?" Motoki tsked, patting his best friend's head mockingly, as he felt the teen glare at him.
"Without me, you would have never passed chemistry, buddy."
"Without me, you'd still be a loner hermit with no best friend like me. Oh, better to deliver the girls food, it's finished." Motoki smiled, excusing himself.
"Idiot. Thinks he's the expert on matchmaking and relationships. Just what are you knitting, Odango?" Mamoru sighed, questioning that as he watched Motoki deliver the girls orders.
Watching silently as Usagi quietly put her knitting project with its needles back into her knitting bag. She had placed it very carefully and so gently from what he could observe. His bunny's hands immediately grabbing her burger once the plate was placed in front of her. Mamoru couldn't help but find it amusing as he watched her eat. He had never in his life seen a girl much less a junior high school girl like Usagi eat as she did. The girl's pink lip glossed little mouth widening around the sesame seed bun stuffed with hamburger meat, condiments, bacon, and cheese as she bit into it hungrily. Unladylike, attacking that poor defenseless burger and then the french fries like a rabid wolf.
It wasn't long before Usagi had completely finished off her meal, going in for her drink to sip happily. Her infamous way of rushing contently through her food didn't seem to bother the other girls at the table. (They were completely used to how Usagi ate, as Mamoru obviously knew.)
'She may eat with the worst table manners when it comes to food and drinking but I wouldn't have her any other way.` He sighed silently to himself.
"Enjoying your usual observation of quietly watching your favorite Juban school girl eating her second lunch of the day after school, Mamoru?" Motoki asked, grinning as he returned to the back of the counter at the table bar.
"...Is it wrong that I don't find how she scarfs down food and drinks as disgusting as I used to think of her before? Maybe I am head over heels for her Odango crazy ways and bad eating manners..." Mamoru murmured sighing happily before looking away carefully before Usagi took any notice of him watching her.
"Most would say yes, but nah. I think it's perfectly normal. Sometimes how Reika eats and cuts her steak and pasta into dainty little pieces and eats them is cute sometimes to me. Want another round of coffee?" Motoki offered, going for the coffee pot of regular caffeine black coffee.
"Hai, sure why not. I'll have one more cup before I head home. Did she say what she was knitting when you dropped off their meals?"
"Nope. She wouldn't say when I asked her about it. All Usagi would say is that she'd know what it was she was knitting when her knitting needles and the balls of yarn would speak to her." Motoki answered, refilling his coffee mug.
"Nani? When would the yarn balls speak to her? Seriously? She said that?"
"Hai. That's what she said. Minako told me to 'never question the ways of knitting yarn when it comes to knitters and crocheters of the fiber arts hobbies and crafts'. I think maybe it's best that we don't question it, and wait to see what it is Usagi's knitting when she's completely finished making it." Motoki replied, shrugging.
"...Right. I'll forget about it then. Minako's quite a strange girl sometimes with her words...how did Usagi ever become friends with a girl like her?"
"On the bus, I think?"
"See you later girls, bye!!!" Usagi called out to her friends as she left Crown Arcade for the walk home. The weather in Juban was feeling complete October Autumn to her.
The color changing leaves on the trees becoming mustard yellow, walnut brown, berry red, and apricot orange. It was starting to smell like Fall to her when she could smell the pumpkin and nutmeg scented pastries being backed up in the various bakeries, coffee and tea houses on the block of her traditional route walking home. People were dressed in their October month sweaters, hoodies, and coats. A few shops and businesses were reading to decorate their doors and windows for the Halloween season still.
"I can't wait for Halloween, Halloween sleepover party at Makoto's with all the girls and even Naru-chan joining us for once. We can goof off wearing our costumes for our own celebration girls-only party. Maybe give out some candy to any trick or treaters that come by the apartment. I'll bring over some of Mama's baked caramel pumpkin mini-pie bites and her cinnamon bun bread for the celebration. I can't wait to dress up as my own take on the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland!!! Just two more weeks away!!!" Usagi told herself excitedly, carrying her school briefcase and knitting tote bag.
Reaching her destination to the bus stop, once the next bus pulled up, she hopped on. The number bus of 456 taking her home to the area of Juban's residential neighborhood near the area's park.
"It's not too chilly right now out, this crocheted pullover shrug sweater jumper Grandma Tsukino made me last year for my birthday's perfect for this sort of weather." she hummed to herself, the crocheted sweater in shades of pink and peach with an eggshell white image of a yarn faced kawaii looking bunny rabbit on the front standing out over her school uniform.
Once she got past the usual crowds of people on board, politely excusing herself, Usagi landed a seat in the middle of the bus. Sitting down, she immediately took out her knitting from its bag. She decided that since it would take a couple of stops until she reached home from downtown Tokyo, to work some more on her project. Tuning out the sounds of people around her with their yelling or chattering in conversations; Usagi let her fingers knit with her knitting needles contently. She was in her own little world.
Eventually, Usagi had made it home after a while from her route of leaving the arcade-cafe and getting off of the city bus. Walking down the same sidewalk path, she passed by some of her neighbors. Greeting a few of them politely, she reached her house. Luna, her faithful black cat with the strange marking of the crescent moon on her forehead, was there on the front steps by the front door waiting for her.
"Hiya, Luna! Were you waiting long?" Usagi greeted her, bending down to the cat's level to pet her ears affectionately.
"Meow." The cat replied, purring happily at her owner petting her behind her ears.
"Looks like you missed me. Come on, let's go in to say hi to Mama and Daddy. Then I'll fix you up some dinner." Usagi scooped up the cat while fishing in her skirt uniform's pocket for her house key to open the door.
"Mama! I'm home!!! I went to the Crown arcade and cafe to hang out with the girls for a bite to eat earlier after we did some homework. I finished it all. Minako, Ami, Rei, and Makoto all said to say hello." she greeted her Mother loudly, as she paddled through the door.
"Hello, sweetie. I figured that's where you went when you weren't home at your usual time earlier this afternoon. Glad you and the girls had fun. Did you bring Luna in?" her mother's voice called from further inside of the house.
"I did. Go on, Luna. Scoot-scoot. Mama, are you in the kitchen? Could you please feed Luna since you’re closest and she's making a beeline for you and her food bowl?" Usagi asked as she slipped off her mary-jane school shoes at the wide entrance of the Genkan, before grabbing her fluffy rose pink bunny slippers to put them on her socked feet.
"Not a problem. Come here, Luna. Ah, that's a good kitty-cat. So, how was school, Usagi?" Ikuko-Mama's voice asked as the blonde ventured through the house, hearing her.
"School was all right, my teacher was actually in a good mood today. She didn't give me detention since I got there on time with Ami-chan. I turned in my homework, and didn't have any tests or surprise quizzes, thankfully. Minako-chan and I knitted when we hung out with Naru-chan at lunchtime. Minako's still on the sock obsession with knitting. Oh, she said arigato for the patterns you told me to give her," Usagi answered cheerfully as she came into the kitchen to see her mother feeding Luna the regular tin cans of cat food.
"I'm glad your freshman year is finally more improved than middle school was. Hopefully your grades are better, Usagi, We're proud of you for trying to improve much better with getting up on time for school and with your studies." Ikuko nodded, with a warm smile sent to Usagi, as she was turning to the kitchen stove to stir something in a pot with a wooden spoon.
"Thanks, Mama, mmmm...what smells good? Is it dinner?" Usagi asked, sniffing.
"Hai, it's dinner. I decided to make some rice in the rice cooker with some of the chicken broth and curry powder to give it a nice kick. I'm stewing up some chicken that pulled apart from the whole chicken I got from the store the other day. It's going to be a kind of stewed chicken with onions, diced green peppers, and garlic in an infused curry chicken broth flavored rice tonight. Then, some pickled cucumbers and steamed spinach with sweet potatoes stuffed cabbage rolls. I found the recipe for it on that one website app on my phone called Pinterest. It has amazing recipes." Ikuko explained, continuing to stir the stewed chicken and vegetable mixture in the boiling pot simmering.
"That sounds fantastic and so delicious, how long until dinner Mama?" Usagi asked, licking her lips. "It'll be thirty-five minutes for this broth to simmer down, and the rice to cook up fully in the rice cooker. The hand-sized rolled stuffed cabbages are still cooking in the steamer bamboo baskets on this other burner on top of this pot here. Besides, your father's not home yet. Shingo's upstairs playing video games, as usual. What did you decide to knit with all of your scrap balls of yarn you collected?" Ikuko asked, changing the subject as she motioned to Usagi's knitting bag.
"Huh? Oh, not sure yet. I started to knit it, but I'm not sure what I want to knit it's beginning into, or what it will be. I know I don't want to make a hat. I just started knitting the beginning stitches to it carefully. Got any ideas?" Usagi asked, as her Mother closed the lid to the pot, putting the flame on it's burned to medium.
"Why don't we go see one of my knitting books to find something you can possibly turn your yarn project into. The food will be fine cooking slowly on low." Ikuko-Mama nodded, taking her daughter into the living room's corner where she had a bookshelf and basket by her armchair.
It was where Ikuko's personal 'knitting corner' was. On some of the shelves by her craft books of sewing and knitting were a few skeins of yarn, a large wicker basket filled with various odds and ends of colorful balls and skeins of yarn, and a small fabric satchel holding knitting needles on one of the shelves. Usagi watched as her mother went to the bookshelf and immediately pulled out a book that looked to be a knitting instruction book on autumn and winter knitwear.
"Come here, join me here on the sofa, Usagi. Let's see what we can find in this one. This is one of the books that your Grandmother gave me when we first bonded over knitting together when I started to date your father when we went steadily together back in our high school years. Hmm, how about this pattern project? It's simple to follow beginning semi-intermediate level." Ikuko stopped to a page in the book as she showed it to Usagi.
"I can read the pattern instructions fine. The pattern looks basic, nothing too crazy. Could I change that design of hearts into maybe a flower like a basic flower one I know how to knit on to hats?" Usagi inquired curiously.
"Hai, you can change it easily. If you'd like, I could help make a pattern for you to knit the pattern with these instructions. It's simple, your grandmother taught me everything I needed to know. She knows everything about knitting and crocheting. It's a pity your other grandmother, my mother, was only interested in quilt sewing. Is this what you want to knit your scraps of yarn stash into, Usagi?" Ikuko asked, smiling as Usagi nodded eagerly looking excited.
"Completely, it'll be perfect. Plus, I think I know who I want to give them to once this project is finished, Mama. It's for a friend who could use something useful like this." Usagi shared, blushing a little bit.
"Oh really? Who might this friend be? You can tell your Mama, I promise not to tell your father." Ikuko promised while grinning.
"Alright, it's for..." Usagi began explaining, as she leaned into her mother's ear, whispering quietly who knitted project gift was for.
"I see, well...I'm sure he or she will love receiving this knitted gift from you. Especially when you, my bunny daughter, are so caring and thoughtful. Now, let's take this pattern and I can scan a copy of it to print on our printer-scanner. Then I'll help you make an overlapping pattern to work with this for the design flower to knit into this all. Then, I'll get back to making dinner."
"Thanks so much for the help, Mama. Oh, how's Grandma doing when you talked to her this morning when she called you as I was leaving the house?" Usagi smiled, following her Mother with the knitting book and pattern paper instructors out of the living room.
"She's doing well, as always. You know your grandmother, she beat some of her fellow residents at the bingo game and won some money. Worked on some of her craft projects to keep her busy. Then she flirted with that one old-time resident, what's his name...I think his name's Oscar or Hiro? She made him blush like crazy, she had said. She's such a flirt, don't tell your father or he'll freak out and want to immediately pull your grandmother out of that retirement home and then move her back here at home," Ikuko giggled, with the latest gossip about their beloved Grandma Tsukino.
"Noooo! Did Grandma hit on that poor man? Oh, she's still being her silly self. Me? Tell Daddy? Oh please, Mama, I'd never rat out Grandma to him. She and I have a sacred bond never rat on each other to Daddy. He's still up in arms about her having dyed her hair that one shade of color when he last went with us and Shingo to go visit her last month." Usagi laughed, shaking her head.
"That's why he's still refusing to visit your grandmother anytime soon. Still whining about how some of the other women in the center are 'bad influences' on your 'poor sweet old Granny'. Ugh, she's a grown adult woman regardless of her old age and can make her own choices and decisions. Stubborn man your father is, Usagi. Well, she sure showed him when she put her foot and walking cane down to give him one heck of a tongue lashing that made him feel like such a little boy again. I was so glad we were all there to see that last time." Ikuko snickered, as Usagi grinned, giggling with her.
"Hai, that's our Grand-Mama. Even Daddy is no match for her, she's the toughest Tsukino in our family no one wants to tangle with." Usagi agreed to nod.
"Oh, I agree with you dear. Come on, let's set the table while we wait for things to continue cooking." Ikuko led Usagi to the dining room to help her start setting the table up.
To Be Continued