Posts Tagged ‘family’

Knitting in the Whirlwind of Life

August 18, 2018

The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind in this little corner of the world. And as I’ve wondered many a time — including on the blog — how do non-knitters weather the storms of life?

For example, when your brother drives your Mom to the doctor’s office after she’s woken with a fever, uncontrollable shivering, and even more confused than usual — what do you do if you can’t concentrate on your knitting in the back seat?

On two consecutive nights last week, Mom spent seven hours in the hospital emergency room.  On the second evening, while she dozed and we waited for a room to become available, the Barley Light baby hat kept my hands and mind occupied and mostly calm.

Barley-hat-MGH

Diagnosis: pneumonia (albeit with no cough or shortness of breath). After a day or so of IV antibiotics and with continual supplemental oxygen, Mom was able to walk slowly.

AGH-MGH-walk

The network of nearby siblings, spouses, and (grand)children made it possible for us to tag-team each other, so she was rarely alone. The baby hat finished, I brought in a friend’s entrelac blanket for finishing touches — weaving in ends and closing up loose connections.

MGH-ends

I’m confident that our being present to translate the questions and actions of the medical staff and to provide encouragement and comfort (including watching our Red Sox continue their remarkable season), especially at times when the fear and incomprehensibility of Mom’s world overwhelmed her, helped her healing progress.

By Wednesday, when her oxygen monitor was removed from her finger, even she was able to knit.

AGH-MGHa

Although she won’t believe it until she’s in the car, she’s going home later today. The recuperation will continue in the comfort and familiarity of her apartment. I’ll be casting on a new project soon, doing my best to knit gratitude and love into each stitch.

 

 

 

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Another Epic Rally

August 4, 2018

Turns out that Chris and Karen’s overnight visit to Nantucket, followed by a 12-hour journey home to Northern Virginia, was just the first travel rally of our vacation. [Note: neither Patrick nor I participated in either rally. We’re supporters only.]

Months ago, Hannah and her squad of four NYC Sister-Friends had synced their work schedules and planned a vacation — no small feat in and of itself. Hannah arrived mid-day Friday after a brief detour at home. The foursome would arrive by air later that night.

However, true to its name, the “Little Grey Lady of the Sea” put a damper on those plans. Low, thick fog blanketed the island, and all flights were cancelled. After they turned down the airline’s offered rescheduled flight on Monday evening and discovered that there were no rental cars in all of New York City available for a one-way trip to Cape Cod, and after dozens of texts, a plan emerged.

New York’s Port Authority bus terminal isn’t a particularly lovely place at any time of day, but I imagine that it’s less so than usual at 3:00AM on a Saturday morning, which is when their bus to Boston departed.

About four hours later, the sun was shining — even if they weren’t — when they arrived in Boston and made their way to our house about 10 miles away.

Squad-bus

Kevin had left the key under the mat and a welcome note including details on where to nap and how to turn on the coffee maker. They collapsed and napped a bit until Hannah — who’d taken a 7:30 fast ferry from the island and driven 1.5 hours home — arrived. They piled in, and she reversed the journey.

And so it was, that 24 hours after they’d left work, they arrived. While the previous night’s fog had lifted, the afternoon was cloudy and cool. So they had the beach to themselves.

Squad-beach  Mhd-grace

Back home, they shared stories of their adventures around the table and around the fire. As Patrick and I had noted the night before when their rally plan was hatched, this will make for a great memory.

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Hazy Summer Days & an Epic Rally

July 22, 2018

I’m not naive enough to believe that vacations are long, lazy days that stretch on forever, but I must admit that I thought I’d be able to write a blog post or two during our vacation week. I chalk up my failure to achieve that “goal” to my brain being in decompression mode combined with a desire to cut down my time on the laptop.

Anyway, here we are — in the hazy, humid days of late July on our favorite island. Nantucket is known, in part, as the “Little Grey Lady of the Sea” for the cool fog that rolls over this “Faraway Isle” as the afternoon temperature drops. Afternoon is often when the waves pick up along the south shore beaches, bringing out wetsuit-clad surfers who wait for something to ride.

cisco-haze

Brother Chris, Sister Karen, and two of their three children arrived Tuesday for a quick visit, a bit of a detour on their way back to the Washington DC area after a week on Cape Cod. In our 24 hours together, we packed in plenty of fun — tumbling and diving in the waves (not a camera-friendly spot), rousing games of corn hole in the back yard — where Aidan made the game more complicated by acting as a human pendulum crossing each tosser’s path.

Hills-cornhole

As Patrick and Karen grilled supper, the competitors recuperated on the big couch. An evening walk into town for ice cream cones and bookstore browsing (and buying) topped off the day.

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The ferry departs near a shop called Hill’s of Nantucket, so of course, a photo was in order — even if one of the subjects had his eyes closed.

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Given the 11-hour drive home that awaited their arrival on the mainland, they looked remarkably cheery as they departed, didn’t they?

Ferry

Given the length and complexity of their travels, it was truly an epic rally. Next year, we’ll need to plan a little better. Until then, back in the quiet of the barn, there’s Sock #2 to finish.

Sock-barn

 

 

 

 

Treasures

July 9, 2018

Last week, while Mom and I hung out together and did our best to find refuge from the heat wave, Patrick took a quick trip to Cape Cod for a reunion with some of his cousins. He was pleasantly surprised to encounter nearly no traffic slow-downs on the nearly two-hour trip. Everyone who was heading to the beach to escape the heat had already arrived and was staying put as long as possible!

dober-cousins2

Over the course of less than 24 hours, he savored walks on the beach, a feast of fresh seafood — including oysters harvested just outside the front door — catching up with cousins, and a tea party and iPad games with the youngsters.

He returned home with two tangible treasures: the last yarn from the stash of beloved Aunt Mary Ann, a wonderful woman and prodigious knitter who died a couple of years ago.

What shall I make with these approximately 1,000 yards of cotton? I welcome any and all suggestions.

Yellow-cotton-yarn

A walk on the beach yielded another treasure, which now sits at my bedside: a reminder that love is all around us; we just have to keep our eyes (and hearts) open for it.

heart-rock

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the Old Stomping Grounds

May 8, 2018

I’m regularly surprised by how long it’s been since we moved from the Washington, DC, area. I know, I know, “surprising” probably isn’t the right word if I keep doing it, but really — 21 years?!

We’ve been fortunate to maintain friendships by visiting once a year or so and seeing friends whose travels take them to the Boston area. And then there’s our wonderful family — my brother Chris, sister-in-law Karen, their two teen daughters and pre-teen son. The best fringe benefit of my eight-month interim management gig at a DC-area organization last year was my weekly visits to their home. Plus the rates and amenities were unbeatable!

Patrick and I flew down early Friday morning after snagging same-day tickets (released online at 6:30am) to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Like all great museums, there’s no way to experience it in a day (even an entire day) and you could return again and again and come away with new knowledge and inspiration. And probably sore feet, which you could rest alongside the water at the entrance.

NMAAHC

While on a morning walk through our old neighborhood, I was lucky enough to bump into an old long-time friend and former co-worker. Since he was heading out to walk his dog, we walked together back to Chris and Karen’s, sharing news of spouses, children, his brand new grandchild, professional endeavors, with only a bit of shared dismay at the state of what passes for political “leadership” today.

KMB

Patrick and I won the aunt-uncle lottery (albeit with no competition) and took the kiddos on a field trip to National Harbor for a few hours on Sunday. Nothing educational; just walking about. Since we’re not their parents, we said “yes” to nearly everything they expressed interest in. There’s a candy store? Let’s get a bag or maybe a chocolate covered Oreo. Ice cream? Absolutely. Nail polish that changes color in the sunshine? Who would be without it?!

There’s a fair bit of public art — statues, like this one of Henry Ford, which A. enjoyed mimicking.

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The little kids’ play area included less historic, if slightly more creepy, sculptures.

Natharbor

A giant sculpture of a giant, The Awakening, had been moved from its original site along the Potomac in D.C. to a human-made beach at National Harbor, where its various parts are explored by young and old alike.

Natharbor2

Four times around on the giant Ferris wheel gave plenty of opportunity to watch planes heading toward the nearby airport, gaze down at the marina and shops, speculate that it’d be a great place for an action movie scene, and wonder if you could survive a jump into the harbor from this height.

Natharbor-wheel

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Some day I hope to be able to take a selfie with Patrick in which we don’t look dopey, but for now, what you see is what we get.

The Sunshine Coast sweater got a bit bigger on the two flights, but you can’t really tell from this picture. Interspersed among the inches of stockinette stitch there are some lovely, subtle details. You’ll have to trust me on that for now.

Sunshine-coast-plane

Another highlight of the weekend was my visit to Fibre Space, a wonderful LYS that’s only a few blocks from Chris and Karen’s house. Stay tuned for that post later this week.

Traditions and travels

April 2, 2018

The house is quiet again as Kevin and Michael left this morning via plane and car after being home for the past few days.

As is my tradition, I baked the lamb cake, using the metal mold bought by my Mom more than 60 years ago in Boston’s North End.

I tweaked the recipe a bit – adding the zest of one lemon to the batter, which is similar to pound cake so the cake can “stand up.”

After morning Mass, we brunched at home, and I finished the cake while the boyos cleaned up.

Since it was a beautiful spring day and we had a couple of hours before we were due at my brother’s house for dinner, we headed to our favorite quick, local hike.

Recent snow melt made the trail mucky in parts, but we didn’t care a bit. As always, tossing a football along the trail was mandatory.

The tower at the summit was open again after being closed for repairs when we were there for the family Thanksgiving Day hike. Beautiful views of Downtown Boston and the harbor.

Easter dinner at Luke and Mary’s was delicious and the conversation lively. As usual, the lamb cake platter was graced with eggs decorated with colored paper, including photocopies of photos and tissue paper. Most were made by my late in-laws and some are nearly 20 years old.

After second helpings and another sliver of cake, we headed home to close out the evening — and the boys’ visit — with a friendly yet competitive game of pinochle.

The sock and I observed.

Some Things are Never Finished

March 24, 2018

When my children were very young, I didn’t knit much. I thought I didn’t have enough time, which is bizarre because there’s the same amount of time in Every. Single. Day. If I’d been honest with myself, I would have realized that it wasn’t a matter of time; it was my perception of time and my very real reality of seemingly all-consuming busyness.

My mind was shifted by a single comment from a wise neighbor to whom I’d shared the desire to knit but didn’t have time: “When you’re raising a family, running a home, and working at your job, you might find that it’d be nice to actually finish something.”

How very true. So much of daily life is repetitive or ongoing — cook a meal, wash the dishes, wait a few hours, and do it again. Wake up, rally the troops, get everyone out the door (fed, dressed, and as put together as possible), then do it in reverse in each evening. And again. And again. For years, decades even.

One of the joys of knitting is finishing. In fact, I consider finishing the primary goal of a new knitter’s first project. That’s why I recommend a dishcloth as a first project and definitely not a scarf, which can take an eternity.

With that thought, I’m pleased to report that Sock #1 is finished.

Sock1-done-roving

Since I’d not been happy with the bumpiness of my previous sock toe grafting, I paid extra attention to my Kitchener stitching. This is an improvement over my earlier toes.

Sock-toe-kitchener

Part of my desire to finish the sock was my seemingly slow progress on the Sunshine Coast sweater. The slower pace isn’t surprising since it’s now up to about 250 stitches per round.

Sunshine

On the home front, dear Michael is home for a week’s break. Since he arrived at midnight and will likely sleep a solid 12 hours, I won’t see him until this afternoon, after Knit 101 class and the Boston March for Our Lives.

Being a parent or a child is a role (not really an “activity”) that doesn’t feel like it’s ever finished — at least, if you’re as lucky as I am, not for many, many decades.

Socks on the Beach

March 9, 2018

“That’s so unlike you!” was the response from each of our children when we told them of our four-day trip to Florida. But January’s deep freeze had us planning for a warm weather get-away, and as luck would have it, we were away for a ferocious Nor’easter.

As usual, Patrick was first into the ocean. I’m more inclined to walk, look for shells, watch the wildlife (human and other), sit and knit — all the while mesmerized by the sound, sight, and smell of the sea.

PLD-Florida-beach

On the flight, I’d seamed the toe of Sock #2, wove in the ends, and then cast on a new sock. As usual, it’s a basic, top-down sock pattern; this one in Done Roving’s “Frolicking Feet” (Peacock colorway).

Sock-beach

The hotel loaned bikes (and kayaks) to guests — on the honor system, no less — so we explored some of the surrounding area. Shell seekers comb the beaches for hours, searching for treasures, some for souvenirs but many for their small businesses.

We had the pleasure of meeting an Ambassador from the nearby National Shell Museum (who knew?!). He identified some of our shells and advised us to clean the shells in a 1:4 bleach/water bath so they wouldn’t stink. His “I Know Shells. Ask Me” t-shirt was well earned!

Shell-seekers

After a morning yoga class, I discovered an historic cemetery, nestled under the trees only 50 yards from the sea. Grave markers, including this one of a 10 year-old girl who died in the 1880s, were often “decorated” with shells and sea glass.

Captiva-cemetery2

One afternoon, we opted for a guided kayak tour of the bay and a mangrove forest. In the quiet of the forest, we saw and heard birds — white ibises, osprey, turkey vultures, and pelicans —  dozens of ancient shell mounds from the Calusa natives, spider-like black shrimp that climbed the mangroves (fortunately staying far away from us humans).

PLD-kayak

The sock joined us for its — and our — first Spring Training baseball game.

Sock-redsox (1)

The get-away may have been unlike us, but given how wonderful and relaxing it was, that just might change.

MAH-PLD-Captiva

The “Unquestionable Benefit” of Handknit Socks

March 3, 2018

Kevin’s been a fan of my knit socks since his first pair nearly five years ago. He’s even agreed to be a model for blog photos. Every once in while, he’ll text me a photo — usually from a table in the university library — of his feet, wrapped in lucky socks, as he studies for exams.

As he slogged his way through mid-term exams this week, he sent the following to our family group text:

Pro tip: Mom’s knitted socks are real juju for taking midterms. Even if they might not have all the answers, their benefit is unquestionable

KRD-lucky-socks

Warms the cockles of this mother’s heart.

Old Photos and New Knits

January 31, 2018

I have the great good fortune of living only five miles from my Mom and visit often, more so lately as my work commitments and travels have diminished. Part of every visit — whether we’re doing errands, specific household tasks, or just hanging out — includes some sorting through of old photographs.

At least once a week, I come home with a few photos from my childhood. Third grade school photo? Check. Image of brothers and me in Easter finery? Check. Blurry shot of relatives or neighborhood friends? Check.

As with many (most?) families, my mother was the repository of the family record — not just taking photos but also putting them into albums or envelopes (some labeled, some not). As life with four children, a husband who worked long hours, and her own civic and volunteer commitments, the photo labeling diminished.

Fortunately, I developed the habit of writing dates and names on the back of photos when I was about 12. That’s how we know that this motley crew at Rummel’s Ice Cream included friends Beth and Margie, California cousins Brian, Bruce, and Doug, plus my three brothers and me. Ah, 70s style!

Runnels-bothwell's-1973

This week’s photo sorting yielded some possible treasures — negatives from my Mom’s childhood and some of her elder relatives.

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I find the reverse negatives (is that a thing?) difficult to “read,” but in some images, I can identify the subjects by their size or features. For example, this is my Mom and her three sisters, probably in the mid 1930s..

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I’m planning a trip to our local library to see if there’s a viewer or projector of some kind that I can use to see the images more clearly. There’s a terrific camera and photography shop nearby — the kind that sells film and developing chemicals — where I’ll have some prints made. This one may be my Mom’s father with her and her two older sisters (again, the hair bows!). He died when my mother was 9, so images of him are especially precious.

AGH-old-photo

On the knitting front, the Wee Penny has been joined in the round and is growing. What’s up in your world?

Wee-penny-joined

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…

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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.

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.

Knitting by the Sea

June 2, 2016

I had the great good fortune to spend Memorial Day Weekend on my favorite island, surrounded by the sea, fresh ocean breezes, thick evening fog, and lots of testosterone. Yes, it was me, Patrick, and eight young men, ages 17 – 20.

boys-beach

A wonderful time was had by all. On Saturday morning, Patrick and I pinged back and forth from the library computers, printers, and scanners, and the notary at the bank in order to finalize paperwork for the lease on our sweet girl’s new apartment in NYC.

The library had a display of local items made from scrimshaw, including a swift for winding yarn. In addition to mending ropes, lines, and sails, whalers sometimes knit or did macrame. They also carved gifts for the women back home.

scrimshaw-swift

These scrimshaw bodkins were likely “used to separate threads or punch holes in embroidery designs.”

scrimshaw-bodkins

Naturally, I made time for my own handcrafting. The dropped stitch shawl is coming along nicely.

dropped-stitch-shawl-deck

A Very Dapper Monkey

May 8, 2014

One of Rachel’s daughters has a much loved stuffed monkey whose fur (hair? coat?) has been worn away by years of snuggling.

MonkeyBefore

Lest dear Monkey wear through completely, fearless knitter Rachel decided to create a new, soft covering for the beloved primate. She chose a deliciously soft light brown wool (merino, I think) which she made sure passed the snuggle test with her daughter. She’s no fool, especially when it comes to a pre-teen’s preferences.

She selected a pattern for a doll’s vest, measured Monkey carefully, modified the pattern, and she was off! She even learned how to make a  buttonhole — in this case, a tail hole.

Doesn’t Monkey look pleased?!

MonkeySweater

The Mysterious Power of the K-word

May 6, 2014

I had the great pleasure of attending a party Saturday night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a friend’s “kicking cancer’s ass” as the invitation from her husband and daughters said. I’m a firm believer in taking joy in the moment no matter how fleeting — whether it’s a drowsy morning hug with my sweet husband, a brief happy dance for a successful audition by the child at the end of the phone,  a high-five for a completed homework assignment, or a prayer of thanks for… just about anything.

Something as major as 10 years cancer-free is definitely party-worthy. The house was filled with friends, laughter, stories, hugs, good food, and plentiful beverages. Since the friend is someone I’ve gotten to know through knitting (she’s taken a couple of my classes and is a quick study indeed), it was my first time meeting some of her family and friends. Being introduced as “my knitting teacher” is a somewhat weird experience — not because it’s not an accurate identifier but because of the reaction it prompts.

Putting the adjective “knitting” in front of a noun definitely changes the way people, of the non-knitting type, respond. It induces a bit of nervous laughter  and some apparent discomfort and is apparently a near-conversation killer. If I were introduced as “a teacher,” I’m quite sure the questions would flow — what age or grade or subject? where? how long? You get the picture. But a knitting teacher? The adjective has tongue-typing abilities. The Yarn Harlot was the first person to point this out to me. She’s a New York Times best-selling author (several times over), but when she explains that she writes about knitting, it’s a near conversation killer. Remarkable really.

In other news, Rachel turned this lovely work-in-progress of a few weeks ago

infinity

into a luscious infinity scarf fit for a stylish and discerning pre-teen.

RosieInfinity

A Knitter’s Christmas…Every Month

April 27, 2014

Like every knitter I know, buying yarn is one of my favorite activities. Actually shopping for yarn — looking, fondling, planning, dreaming of wondrous projects — is enjoyable in and of itself. With a new skein of beautiful merino or handpainted sock yarn, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Imagine my delight when my sweet husband gave me the gift of new yarn every month for a year. OK, OK, I hinted told him that was tops on my Christmas wish list.

On a cold, rainy April day, this little cardboard box of yummy (Vivacious DK in Deep Aqua by Fyberspates) sure warms the heart.

Fyberspace

Thanks, Patrick. xo

Sock Season

March 23, 2014

Michael played his last basketball game of the season today, so my days of knitting from the bleachers in a warm gym are over for now.

allstarsock

Given the elusiveness of springtime warmth, I think it’ll be a while before I’m knitting from the sidelines of a lacrosse field.

Special thanks to Kevin who held up the sock so I could get a shot of Michael (#3 in blue) in the background.

 

Oh The Places You’ll Knit

February 21, 2014

One of the aspects of knitting that I love is its portability. Most projects can be stuffed into a bag, ready to be pulled out whenever you have a bit of time and, for me at least, when your body will be stationary. Movement and knitting don’t work so well for me!

Think you don’t have much time? That’s another magical aspect of knitting; it can transform time. Waiting for the novacaine to kick in at the dentist’s office? That’s time enough to work a few sock rounds.

SockAtDentist

Keeping a teenager company as he finishes a paper for school in the wee hours of the morning?

HomeworkSock

How about waiting for x-rays to be developed and a cast put onto same teenager’s wrist? Trust me, I was knitting for a while but couldn’t resist a photo of cast-in-progress.

KRDcast

Or “watching” a blow-out Superbowl game with two nieces, both of whom are new knitters? Nothing finer!

NieceKnits

Add non-driving/non-bike travel (bus, subway, passenger seat, airplane, boat…) and TV or movie watching, and the opportunities are enormous!

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