Nothing like finishing

March 31, 2017

Each Friday, I spend 90 minutes with 7 or 8 fourth grade girls at a nearby after-school program. I’m there to teach knitting, but mostly I just try to keep up with their questions, energy, anxieties, and aspirations.

“Help! I messed up! Oh wait, never mind.”

“I want to knit slippers. How many stitches should I cast on?” Said while holding nothing but a ball of Sugar ‘N Cream cotton yarn and size 7 (mm) needles

“I was going to go on the field trip today but my stomach hurt from worrying, so I decided to come to knitting instead.”

Last week, Lily finished the last couple of inches of a garter stitch scarf, a gift for her aunt who was coming over for dinner. Another knitter volunteered to model. I love her t-shirt — Try And Stop Me — which conveys the fierceness that so many 10-year-old girls possess.

Garter-stitch-scarf

As she carefully folded the scarf and put it into her backpack, Lily wondered aloud, “I hope she likes it. I know she likes these colors but will she like the scarf?”

“How could she not like it?” a fellow Fearless Knitter asked and then confidently answered her own question, “You made it and she loves you.”

So very true.

 

 


That Mistake? It’s Part of the Design.

March 29, 2017

I’ve written often about important it is for knitters to learn to spot their mistakes and figure out how to remedy them.  I firmly believe that one won’t become a Fearless Knitter without learning how to fix mistakes. If you allow an error to ruin a project — in your mind — then you’ll abandon it, be discouraged, and be less likely to try something else.

I’m also a firm believer in each knitter finding the best remedy for his or her particular project at the time. This will differ based on complexity, how far into the project you are, how long you’ve got to go, the scope and scale of the mistake (among other things).

How far back do you need to go to fix the mistake? How obvious is the error? It’s nearly impossible not to see an error — since we knitters can spot our own mistakes from across the room.

The real question is: How comfortable are you with letting go of a mistake and just letting it be? Every knitter has a different tolerance for mistakes, one that may vary depending on project, mood, and deadline for finishing.

Just as each knitter develops her or his own way of holding needles and yarn, there is no right or wrong way to handle a mistake. As The Yarn Harlot says, “there are no Knitting Police.”

Like me, Fearless Knitter Marcia is comfortable with finding her own way to deal with the inevitable mistakes. You may recall how she treated a few errant stitches  on the complex Aran Afghan square that she worked on during her girls’ fishing and drinking weekend.

At class recently, Marcia shared how she remedied a mistake in the button band of a baby sweater. See that row — opposite the button hole — that she forgot to purl (or maybe knit, depending on the direction)?

mistake in garter stitch button band

Well, Marcia didn’t see it until she’d knit a couple more inches of the top-down sweater. So, rather than rip back all that work, she incorporated the new “design element” into the rest of the button band, lining up the next line opposite the next button. Damn clever!

garter stitch button band with mistake incorporated

What mistakes and/or fixes have you been particularly proud of?


Good Day for a Baby Sweater

March 24, 2017

I haven’t knit anything baby-ish in a while, but the Gidday Baby sweater (Tosh DK in Leopard and Maple Leaf) and reminds me how enjoyable such projects can be. Starting with the first few rows of garter stitch in alternating colors, I was hooked.

gidday-baby-sweater-neck

My recent spate of travels gave me lots of opportunities to work on the sweater — with the exception of my ill-fated Kentucky trip during which I found myself without the necessary next ball of yarn. In case anyone’s still wondering, my suitcase did arrive at the hotel — about an hour before I checked out and headed for flight back to Boston. Better late than never and all that.

Once I’d cast off and woven in the few ends that remained, I tossed the sweater into the sink for a pre-block soak. I’m a full-water blocker, preferring it to steaming, assuming that I’ve got the time, which I generally do. After I patted it into shape, I left it in the sunshine for a while.

Gidday-blocking

Something was missing, namely a couple of tiny buttons to hold the yoke together. So the sweater and I spent about 15 minutes at a nearby yarn store trying on different buttons before deciding on these stylish, square-ish pair.

Gidday-baby-sweater-buttons

It’s all come together quite nicely, and I’m looking forward to walking it down the street to my newest neighbor.

Gidday-baby-sweater

 

 


Gearing Up for Yarn Bombing

March 20, 2017

You can imagine my delight when I learned that my city is organizing a yarn bombing as part of its annual, yearlong Festival of the Arts. Only they’re not calling it yarn bombing because, well, bombing is frowned upon.

With a much more PC tamer moniker, “Hooked On Newton” is a public art project, a collaboration of the Newton Arts Council and the Crystal Lake Conservancy. The lake — specifically, the picnic area and public beach — will be the palette for knit and crochet creations.

The best part is that anyone, even you, dear reader, can join in the fun. Send me something for the yarn bombing public yarn art, and I’ll be sure it gets “installed.” Heck, I’ll even take a photo and be sure you get due credit!

We’ve got a water theme — maritime and/or lake — but I don’t think anyone’s very picky about what’s included. Maybe some leaves? Or fish that could be stitched onto a fence or tree? How about this amazing duck? Speaking of trees, we’ll definitely be wrapping trees. Find me on Ravelry @saltwaterhill to see other patterns I’ve favorited or popped into my library.

bike-rack-yarn-bomb

Yarn Bomb Wrap a Bike Rack*

I’ve volunteered to lead the bike rack wrapping since it’s a great project for the 4th and 5th graders in my knitting classes. What do we need for a bike rack but a lot of scarf segments?

The lake has a wiggly bike rack like the one above although currently not wrapped and definitely covered by a fair bit of snow. We’ll collect all sections and install (by sewing) them sometime in May.

Here’s my bike rack wrap recipe:

“Scarves” that are 7 inches wide and any length. We need a total of 300 inches to cover one bike rack.

Knit with any colorful yarn (wool, acrylic, cotton). Change colors and/or yarns. Stripes are fun but not required.

Cast on enough stitches for 7 inch width. If you’re using:

  • Bulky/chunky yarn (approx 3-4 stitches/inch): cast on 21 or 22, use needle sz 10-11
  • Worsted/Aran yarn (approx 4-5 st/inch): cast on 28-35, use needle sz 7-9
  • DK/light worsted yarn (approx 5-6 st/inch): cast on 35-42, use needle sz 5-7

Use whatever stitch pattern you’d like. Bind off when you’ve knit as much as you want. Let me know when you’re done (via Ravelry, Twitter, or a comment here) and I’ll send the mailing address.

*try saying that 10 times fast!


How do other people do this?

March 3, 2017

Regular readers and those who know me “beyond the blog” know that knitting helps keep me balanced. I love the creativity and challenge, but the repetition and focus help to quiet my mind — and I’m convinced, make me a better person.

I love having something to concentrate on — to do — during life’s “down times.” Waiting for a medical appointment, watching TV, sitting around talking after supper, or riding a bus, train, or plane.

My daily morning run serves the same purpose — getting out by myself, moving, breathing. A psychologist friend once explained that I’m not “in relation” to anyone during that time — I’m not a mother, wife, daughter, consultant, sister — so I can just be me. Makes sense. As my favorite poet-artist, Brian Andreas of Storypeople, conveys in this “story” that hangs by our back door.

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-8-43-43-pm

Go to his site and look at the prints. They’re wonderful.

The power of these two habits has become abundantly and viscerally clear in the past day. I used the last of my yarn on the Gidday Baby sweater on yesterday’s flight.


I hadn’t brought the next skein from home. Ah well. I still had my book and running stuff in my bag, which I’d checked through to my “final destination” because the flight was totally full.

But my flight was canceled, and I ended up flying into another city and renting a car to drive to my “final destination.” However, my bag — which I’d taken a photo of just in case — never arrived.

 And, despite this lovely photo, it didn’t and still hasn’t. It’s not even been located, according to the automated customer service system.

So I find myself without my knitting, without my running stuff, without my clean clothes (except for new underwear from Walgreen’s – yes, 2 pack of cotton bikini), without my library book. Except for the undies, I haven’t had time to remedy any of these situations. I’m feeling the most out-of-sorts — downright cranky and occasionally weepy — that I have in quite a while.

So I wonder — after a very long and busy day, how do people do this life thing without knitting or running?


Knits for a New Life

February 28, 2017

There’s a new person our street, a baby girl born last month, and that is a cause for celebration! And how does (this) one celebrate a new life? By knitting something small that isn’t a pair of socks.

I showed what I consider remarkable fortitude by searching through my stash for yarn with which to make something for this new little one. It would have been much, much easier and more efficient to spend an hour at my local yarn store, perusing patterns and buying yarn. As much as I love to boost the local economy and support a local business, I’m trying to exercise some financial discipline when it comes to yarn. Plus there’s the space issue: how many plastic boxes of yarn can one person have?

I’d already decided against a traditional pink, preferring to go with a blend of bright and neutral colors. Gidday Baby by Tikki Knits seemed like the perfect match for the two skeins of Madeline Tosh DK that I bought last summer at the lovely fLoCk on Nantucket.

On my flight to Philadelphia this past weekend, I cast on and worked a few rounds.

gidday-baby-sweater-neck

Switching colors every two rows and bringing up the yarns along the side made for quick knitting. Of course, after two rounds of 20+ stitch increases, my pace slowed a bit. On the train down to Washington on Sunday afternoon, I managed a couple more rounds after doing some prep for client meetings.

gidday-baby-sweater-train

I think I’m going to like this project.

 


Midwest Travels with Son and Sock

February 26, 2017

Michael and I spent a busy few days in the Midwest last week, visiting a college for Admitted Students Day, driving about 600 miles, and exploring the Windy City during a freakishly warm spell. The sock joined us for the journey and, like our waist lines, got bigger.

We arrived in Chicago by way of New York (more on that weekend visit in a future post) and drove southeast through wind turbine-covered farmland in Indiana to the college town of Miami, OH. Dinner at a local sports bar made for a great evening of pro hockey, the NBA All-Star Blow-out Game, and people-watching. Michael wondered if the lively table near us were faculty. He was puzzled when I somewhat cynically told him that they were too young and too funny to be college professors. “Old?!” Ah to be 18 again…

oxfordoh-sportsbar

My plan to explore the campus during my morning run was stymied by the thick fog that had developed overnight. Beautiful and somewhat mysterious…

miami-ohio-fog2

The sock made its first appearance during one of the presentations, hanging out in the back row.

sock-heel-2017

I’m not coordinated enough to knit while walking on a campus tour, and deciding to be as non-embarrassing a parent as I could, chose to keep the sock in my bag for the rest of the day.

The next day, we retraced our steps to Chicago – the turbines not such a novelty the second time around. After checking in to our hotel, we walked to nearby Millennium Park, a civic treasure. Thanks to the warm weather, hundreds of people were out and about, enjoying the sunshine, skating at a public outdoor rink, and marveling the “Cloud Gate”sculpture, aka “The Bean.”

chicago-bean

I confess the view from underneath the structure made me feel a bit queasy when I looked up and turned to see the various angles and perspectives.

inside-chicago-bean

Watching people interact with the sculpture was an unending source of amusement. Little kids were the most fun to watch, but I didn’t want to alarm parents by photographing them.

chicago-bean2

Fog rolled in overnight, this time from Lake Michigan, hanging low over the city before burning off by our mid-morning hop-on/hop-off bus tour.

chicago-fog

We stumbled upon the Chicago Cultural Center, a totally unexpected surprise. Housed in the former public library, the building is exquisite — as late 19th century public libraries often are — with inspiring quotations, soaring ceilings and domes, stained glass, and broad marble staircases. Dozens of people were seated as a pianist warmed up for a free lunchtime concert.

In a large gallery space, we wandered through a stunning exhibition of muralist Eugene “Eda” Wade’s doors for Malcolm X College, a collection of 16 sets of your standard issue school hallway double doors that are considered a monument to the Black Arts movement in Chicago.

murals-chicago

wade-murals

Another hop-off location of our day was Navy Pier where we rode the giant ferris wheel, formally called Centennial Wheel. The views of the city and lake were breathtaking — not so surprising since we were 200 feet above ground. I was too busy looking to take photos on our three-times-around journey, but Michael graciously shared some screen shots of his Snapchat video. I like the reflections in this one.

chicago-wheel

We spent the evening at the famed Second City comedy club, laughing (occasionally snorting, I admit) until tears ran down our cheeks at the six professionals who did sketch and improv comedy for 2.5 hours. Deferring again to my parental role, I did not knit during the show.

My run along the lake the next morning was crisp and fog-free.

chicago-sunrise

By the time we landed in Boston, the sock was ready for the toe to be seamed. I decided to wait until home for that final step — the Kitchener stitch requires my full concentration!

knit-socks-plane

What’s up in your world these days?


Quick Knit for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2017

Whew, I made it just under the wire! Ok, ok, there’s no wire. Valentine’s Day is not a big holiday in my family. We’re firm believers in expressing love every day in ways large and small, and yes, with chocolate at any time of the year. But with all the cute heart-shaped knitting projects around, I wanted to make something. I’ve done it before, and I was determined to do it again.

About an hour before I headed off to teach knitting to two zippy fifth-grade girls, I cast on for a soft heart ornament, Amanda Berry’s “Hearts.”  I’ve got a fair bit of pink yarn left over from my Pussy Hat projects, so I gathered two strands of pink fingering and dove in.

This heart is knit in one piece and looked a bit odd once I’d cast it off.

knit-heart-before-seam

I’m a visual learner and pretty good with spatial manipulations, so it took just a couple of moments to realize that the sides folded in on itself — kind of like a hug.

knit-heart-sew

A few stitches here and there, and I was done.

knit-heart-ornament

Maybe next year I’ll prepare sooner and knit a few of these to slip to loved ones. Ah, why wait until next year?! I’ve got plenty of pink yarn….

Any Valentine’s Day knits in your life this year?

 

 


One Down, One to Go

January 30, 2017

Now that I’ve got a sock project on my needles, I realize how much I enjoy knitting them. It took me ages to make my first pair — not to actually make them but to tackle the project. Looking back, I realize that all the features of socks that I loved in that first pair still hold true nearly six years later.

You finish the top ribbing and it’s on to the leg.

felici-sock-yarn-jan-2017

Before you have time to get bored with the rounds of stockinette (or whatever pattern you’ve chosen), it’s on to the heel flap. I’m partial to the Eye of Partridge stitch.

 

striped-sock-knit-heel

Since learning new techniques or patterns is part of what makes knitting so enjoyable, I think I may try a new heel on my next pair. Maybe an After Thought Heel? I like the idea of making a solid colored sock with a contrasting heel and toe. Plus anything created by knitting great Elizabeth Zimmerman must be worth a try.

That’s for another day and another pair. This one — and it is only one at this point — will be my go-to Good, Plain Sock Recipe from the Yarn Harlot.

krd-striped-knit-sock

Kevin, the intended recipient of this pair, has voiced texted his approval: “It looks great!! I like the colors.” It goes without saying that he’d like a pair rather than one, so I’d best cast on the next one lest I be hit with Second Sock Syndrome. Don’t laugh — it’s a thing.


A Plethora of Pink Pussy Hats

January 27, 2017

Perhaps it was the waves of roaring cheers rolling over the crowds for hours. Perhaps it was the thousands of clever, direct, snarky, beautiful signs denouncing bigotry, racism, bullying, and misogyny and declaring support for justice, equality, human rights, respect, and dignity.

Haudenosaunee women hold signs "Original First Ladies" at Women's March

womens-march-signs

“Tell me what democracy looks like.
THIS is what democracy looks like.”

signs-womens-march

friends-women-march

womens-march

Perhaps it was the hundreds of thousands* of people all around us — most of whom were remarkably good natured, even when they were unable to move forward or backward for 20, 30, or even 40 minutes at a time. Perhaps it was the feeling of solidarity that this massive worldwide collective action engendered, a spark of hope.

Or maybe it was the sea of pink knit hats, crafted with determination and sisterhood in each and every stitch — shouting, “We are here. We are strong. We will not be bullied or silenced or ignored.”

womens-march-washington-pussy-hats

*Estimates vary.


Wrapped Up in Knitted Love

January 19, 2017

Since she joined my knitting class in the fall, Tracy has proved herself an intrepid and very generous knitter. Her very first project was a lovely GAPtastic shawl for her teen daughter.

Tracy wearing gaptastic seed stitch cowl

Her most recent finished project is a super cozy, very soft garter stitch baby blanket. It’s made with a super bulky acrylic yarn, something that can stand up to months (even years) of spits, spills, and washings.

garter-stitch-baby-blanket

I always love to get photos of finished projects from students, friends, and family. There’s nothing quite like seeing a new item, something that has love knit into every stitch, in action. Like this lucky baby boy, wrapped in love.

baby wrapped in knit garter stitch blanket

#BabyBurrito


Feminism + hockey + knitting

January 14, 2017

As I sat down at last night’s college hockey game, my phone pinged with a text from Karen, Sister-in-Law Extraordinaire. She and daughter C were sporting their Pussy Hats, ready for next week’s Women’s March in Washington, DC.

kc-pink-pussy-hat

Isn’t that the BEST?! As the organized and thoughtful woman she is, Karen generously had secured two additional hats for me and Hannah. She, Chris, and family are hosting us, too. As luck would have it, I’d just cast on my second Pussy Hat.

pussyhat-cast-on-hockey

I’m making this one with two strands of Cascade Heritage in Cotton Candy. This one will be knit in the round so no seaming will be required. Earlier in the day, I’d bound off the first hat, but I’d left that one at home. What kind of a knitter seams a hat at a hockey game?!

As I pulled the yarn and needle out my bag, the woman next to me said, “You’re knitting a hat for the March, right? Where did you get the yarn? I haven’t been able to find any.” Apparently there’s been a bit of a run on pink yarn recently with many LYS and craft stores reporting shortages of the color. Knitting activists are a powerful, collective force, indeed!

Judging by the progress so far, I’m pretty confident I’ll be finished with both hats by January 21. Hannah hasn’t let me know which one is her preference. Stay tuned.

pussy-hats


Knitting Class in Newton, MA

January 12, 2017

The start of the New Year means the start of a new knitting class. Actually, my classes run on a rolling basis, so students start whenever it fits their schedules. The new year is a time for new adventures, isn’t it?

Fearless_knitting

Regular readers will know how much I love to teach knitting since I’ve mentioned it now and again (and again…).

Interested in learning to knit or enhancing your skills and confidence? Read on….

Would you like to learn to knit? Do you know the basics but are ready to move beyond a scarf?

Or have you finished a couple of projects and are ready to learn some new techniques and become more confident — what I call a Fearless Knitter!

Join one of two knitting classes and attend whichever fits your schedule.

Tuesday evenings, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Wednesday mornings, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Beginners will develop a strong foundation of skills so that they can continue knitting many different types of projects. You’ll learn how to: cast on, knit, purl, create a border, read a pattern, identify and fix common mistakes, and bind off. When you’re done your “starter project,” you’ll select one of your choice — a chunky, soft circular scarf, a colorful hat, whatever!

If you know how to knit and are working on a project of your own and/or are ready to challenge yourself with cables, lace knitting, chart reading, socks, or other knitting skills, this is the class for you.

Cost is $75 for a five-class pass. Class size limited to 8.

Interested? Leave a comment or Email me for details. 


Going Pink for #PussyHatProject

January 9, 2017

It’s decided. I’m heading south in a couple of weeks for the Women’s March on Washington. On their first full day in office, I want our new president and vice president to have a powerful reminder that they work for all the people of the United States and that we are paying attention to their every action.

pussyhatprojectcover

I’m joining with thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of knitters to make a visual statement at the March by knitting pink hats, one for me and one for Hannah. It gave me a good excuse to visit a new LYS, Uncommon Yarn, to see what they had in pink.

The Pussy Hat Project was launched after the election as a way for the fiber community to make a powerful collective statement and as a way for people to participate in the March remotely by making hats and sending them to DC for distribution to March participants.

You can read about the project — and get a free pattern (also on Ravelry) —  on its website. Go ahead now…

“wearing pink together is a powerful statement that we are unapologetically feminine and we unapologetically stand for women’s rights”

As event organizers have built a coalition of supporters, this woman-centric statement has been broadened to explicitly encompass a much wider range of humanity, including the LGBTQ community, women of color, people with disabilities, and more. Pretty much everyone since, well, we’re all in this world together.

I’ve started the first hat using The Yankee Dyer‘s Yankee Dreams in “I Love Ewe,” a delightful blend of red, pink, and white.

pussyhat-cast-on-knit

There’s still time to knit a hat and send it to the March. Read how here. Or make one for yourself and wear it at one of the dozens of Sister Marches scheduled in cities around the country and across the globe. Just imagine all those handknit pink hats…. Almost makes a knitter giddy.


Ciao bella, Arabella!

January 5, 2017

It’s always a treat to see the beautiful creations of fellow knitters. At a recent dinner party, dear friend Alison arrived with a gorgeous shawl draped around her shoulders.

arabella-shawl-3

She obliged my desire for a few photos and explained that she’d won the yarn (Full Moon Farm Silk and Merino Corriedale Cross) at a knitting retreat last winter. I love the three pink-plum colors and the contrasting gold.

arabella-shawl-1

I’ve only glanced at the pattern (available for free here) and am intrigued by the open work between the color “wedges” and the multi-colored connections along the edge. I may add it to my Ravelry favorites. What’s on your needles these days?

arabella-shawl-2


New Socks for the New Year

January 4, 2017

I’ve cast on my first project of 2017 — good old reliable socks. These are in a blue and silver gray colorway, Beyond the Wall, of Felici Sock Yarn.

To be completely candid (and why not be completely candid?), I cast on the first sock in late December but discovered after a few inches that I’d selected a too-large needle. So I ripped it all out, switched to size 1 (2.25mm), and began again. This time I’m using double-pointed needles, which I’ve learned that I prefer to the Magic Loop method. I find the DPNs faster to work with — no fiddly shifting of stitches and moving of the cable.

Do you have a preference for circular knitting? DPNs? two circulars? Magic Loop?


Bon voyage, GAPtastic!

January 3, 2017

The greatest Christmas gift this year was the surprise return of my nephew and godson, Benjamin, who returned from a two-year stint in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in the mountains of Peru.

ben-teaching-jvc-peru

He’d led us all to believe that he wouldn’t be home until mid-January, thereby missing his sister, who is heading off to France for a college semester abroad. But there he was on the porch on Christmas morning. Suffice to say there were plenty of dropped jaws, oh-my-Gods, bear hugs, and tears of joy among the whole family.

Nora left yesterday for her nearly six month adventure in France. I was more than a bit delighted to see that she was taking wearing her GAPtastic cowl for the journey. I’d like to think that she’ll get some compliments on it while exploring the streets, cafes, gardens, and museums of Paris.

She’ll be blogging during her adventures. I’m following her and recommend that you do, too — that is, if you’re a fan of pithy writing, eye-catching photographs, and insights into new worlds by an adventuresome, inquisitive, kick-ass young woman.


Circular Needle Wrangling (take 2)

December 27, 2016

I’m committed to circular needles, using them for nearly every knitting project — flat or circular. The exception is socks, for which I use DPNs because it’s easier for me to keep track of the heel and gusset shaping with three needles. But more explanation of that quirk can wait until a future post.

I’m still loving my new circular needle organizer, but I realized recently that many circulars need to “relax” a bit before they can be used — or organized — easily.

circular-knitting-needles

My tip for straightening the curly cable of circular needles is to immerse it into hot water —  not boiling, just barely simmered. Hold the needles and immerse the cable into the water for 30 seconds or so. Be sure the burner is off; you don’t want to melt the plastic cable.

circular-needles-soften-hot-water

Lift one needle and allow gravity to pull the cable straight. You can hold a dishcloth and pull it along the length of the cable. The plastic cable will cool pretty rapidly, and you’ll be left with a much straighter and much more manageable circular needle.

circular-needles-straighten


Christmas Presence Redux

December 23, 2016

Can it really be six years since I wrote my Christmas Presence post?! So much has changed since then, but the essence remains.

Michael, now 18, commented last week that he hasn’t really felt in the Christmas spirit this year. Perhaps it’s because he’s been focusing on college applications, senior year schoolwork, getting to know his “Little Brother” in his new role as Big Brother. Perhaps it’s the lingering anxiety over the election results and near daily nominations of fervently anti-government people to lead major parts of our government. I feel it, too.

But I’ve been carving out moments to observe Advent, lighting the purple and pink candles and singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” before dinner, lighting the window candles each evening afternoon (let’s be honest, sunset is at 4:15), baking St. Nicholas cookies and Hungarian Christmas bread with its nutty, sweet, spicy filling.

Kevin, Michael, and I partially decorated the tree on Tuesday. Hannah arrives home this afternoon for nearly a week. The next days will be filled with cooking, music, wrapping, the inevitable last-minute shopping, and a fair bit of laughter, story-telling, and sharing. I expect there may be time for some knitting, too.

Rereading that post from 2010, I realize that my current creative juices can’t compete. So here it is again. Thank you for reading and for joining me on this journey. Sending wishes of light and hope to you and yours.

Christmas Presence

When Michael recently told me his favorite part of Christmas, I thought he said “presents,” but he continued, explaining that he really likes the “presence” — the smell, sounds, sights, anticipation, tastes, and as he put it, “the feeling you get from all of that and all the love.” Out of the mouths of babes (OK, he’s 12 but you know what I mean!).

Preparing mantel for Christmas nativity sceneSometimes traditions can feel stifling, but most of the time, I find them comforting and reassuring.  They’re like blazes on a trail, marking the way, letting you know where you are.  Even if you’re not sure where “here” is, even if you’re tired or grumpy, you pause and say “here I am. This is the place. Take note.”

Lights in the windows on the first Sunday of Advent, shining in the afternoon darkness. The next weekend, the “building” of the creche on the mantel.  It’s become a bit of a hodge-podge with figures added over the years — a toy giraffe, a cartwheeling angel, a Caribbean drummer. Note the knitted stocking, made by my mom nearly 50 years ago — with my name knit into the edge even.  She’s good!

Mantel with nativity crecheMy family has what my late cousin Sarah called “the food gene.” We like to cook, eat, think about cooking, gather for meals, read recipes, cookbooks, and cooking magazines. The Advent and Christmas seasons have lots of food traditions, of course.

spices for St. Nicholas cookies: clove, cinnamon, cardamon, cinnamon, aniseEvery December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, my mom (also a wonderful baker and cook) would make St. Nicholas cookies.  Delightfully spicy and cut into little “bookmarks,” they are perfect for dunking — or just munching. We’re not Dutch and don’t celebrate St. Nicholas Day in any other way (no candy & toys in boots at the foot of the bed).

StNickCookiesRolledI’m sure my mom found the recipe in a cookbook or magazine sometime in the 1950s or 60s and, knowing a good recipe when she sees one, she made a batch…every year!  This year when I emailed my youngest brother to say that I’d made these yummy treats, he replied that his first batch wasn’t so great and that he planned to make a second batch that evening.  It’s not just me.  Try them yourself.

recipe for St. Nicholas cookiesWith my high schoolers having mid-term exams this week, I’m staying up late, being present, and knitting.  The wrap is off the needles, blocked, and awaiting buttons.  More on that later. I leave you with Hannah and her sister-friend Charlotte preparing the tree, another tradition.

H&CTreePeace.


Score 1 for the Cozy Knit Cowl

December 12, 2016

I’m happy to report that my dear niece seems to like her GAPtastic cowl. Given that she’s heading into finals week (read: late nights, walking across a wintery campus, lots of coffee, and too-little sleep), staying warm and cozy is a priority.

nora-gaptastic-cowl

In other news, I’ve made a side trip to Northampton for a consulting project on Monday. I left home early on Sunday afternoon so I could spend a few hours some time at the fiber wonder that is Webs.

Do I need more yarn? or needles? or clever tools and accessories? Of course not! What kind of question is that?! Updates on what I found later this week.

 


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