Sunday, January 28, 2007

(nearly) Fetching ...

Since Ann Hood was doing a reading and book signing of her novel The Knitting Circle yesterday (see earlier post for my thoughts on this book), it was a wonderful two-fer: books and yarn. Despite my yarn resolve for the new year, I succumbed to the sale price of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I recalled it was the yarn used in Knitty’s Fetching fingerless glove pattern, and bought several colors. At one pair of gloves/skein and $6/skein, I was happily planning the gift gloves I’d be making between now and next Christmas. I smiled to myself as I imagined how very cool my nieces would think me when I presented them with these gloves. All was well until I went home and checked the pattern: it calls for Aran weight and my sale yarn is dk weight. I’m knitting up a pair, to see if one skein will be enough to complete a set, while I tell myself that my version will be Lightweight Fetching, primarily for indoor use. Then again, I recall that they had the aran weight on sale as well. I suspect I’ll be back at the store onTuesday, digging through the aran weight basket for neat colors…….as I think about it, I don’t need to wait until Christmas, for those gloves would make a perfect small gift for lots of people right now. Hmmm…..the friend who is feeling a bit blue, my daughter who spends so many hours in her cold room doing homework, and on and on and on….

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dodie's Gift

Dodie and my mother were best friends from the time they were 3 or 4 years old. As two only children, each girl could see the other’s back yard from an upstairs window. Two skinny little girls, they grew up together. They played jacks, shared books and Dodie’s dog, and later grew old enough to walk to the local park where they swam and played tennis. At the end of World War II, they each married, and the couples became friends. Each gave birth to her first child, a son, in 1948. More children came along for both; my mother ended up with 7 and Dodie with 6.

I remember our families vacationing together, 4 adults, 6 little kids, all in a big white house with a lawn that sloped down to Lake Chautauqua. As the families continued to grow, we had separate vacations. Their husbands worked in different fields, they lived in different towns, and traveled in different social circles. But I recall adult dinners out, shared family celebrations, and weekly phone calls in which they exchanged details of their lives.

Dodie was my godmother and I always felt a special excitement when she was coming to visit. She lived in The City, played golf and tennis, and had help at home so she was able to go out during the day. My mother didn’t drive for much of my childhood, did not have time for sports, and rarely went out shopping. Dodie did not have a daughter until later on, and she seemed to enjoy having me and my sister to fuss over. She would bring dresses she had found during her shopping, dresses for us to try on to see if our mother would like to buy them for us. It was Dodie who brought in my first pair of “heels,” as well as some of my fancier dresses.

Dodie was a knitter. She busied herself during her sons’ swim meets knitting aran sweaters in all sizes. She could knit as fast as she could talk, and I can picture her knitting during visits with my mother. It was during one of those visits, when I was perhaps 12, that she offered to teach me to knit. My mother sewed and later did crochet but, for some reason, she never knit. I enthusiastically accepted Dodie’s offer. She got me started, continental no less, and left me with an instruction book. It was several weeks before I saw her again and I’d spent many hours with the yarn and that book, puzzling over how continental knitting was similar to and different from the “regular” knitting shown in the book. It turns out that I was doing something backwards, but Dodie got me turned around at that first check-in visit. I kept going, on my own for many years, and I still check in with that book occasionally.

The story of my knitting in the 45 years since then is really a series of stories of knitting together with wonderful networks of women. But none of that would have been possible without that gift from Dodie. I’m glad I had the chance during my adult years to thank her for what she gave me.

My mother died in 1992 and Dodie died just about a year ago. She remained connected with our family, attending celebrations and funerals, having dinner occasionally with my father after her husband died, and being present with us at my father’s funeral. She was always a reminder to me of my mother as a girl, a teenager, a young wife, a young mother, and as a person who could laugh and talk about things other than kids. When I knit I think about Dodie and about my mother as well, remembering those 2 skinny little girls who passed on so much—-stories, connections, love, and knitting. Thank you, Dodie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Upcoming Knitting Novel

I’ve received notices from both my LYS and a local bookstore that hosts a knitting group that Ann Hood has written a new novel, The Knitting Circle, and it will be published January 22. It sounds wonderful, and quite relevant for those of us who find comfort in our knitting. I’ve ordered a copy from my local library (says it is being acquired), and put it on my Amazon list. The author will be appearing at both the LYS and bookstore; hope I will be able to hold off buying a copy until one of those dates–if the library comes through quickly!

Friday, January 12, 2007

and the Beads Go On ...

Turns out that the STR Winter’s Eve socks are not as hard as I thought. While there was lots of beading at the top of the sock, there are fewer and fewer beads called for as I move down the leg. I sure do wish, though, that I had not loaded on
all the beads for both socks before I started! It means that I have to move every bead over every inch of yarn until its turn comes to be knit. Next time, I will know better.

As the photo above shows, I’m more than half finished the leg portion of the first Winter’s Eve sock. Fingerless MittensI would have finished more if I hadn’t detoured into making a second of my STR Leftover Fingerless Mittens. Winter weather finally hit New England and I needed a second fingerless mitten to keep all my fingers warm and nimble!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Knitting Alone on Winter's Eve

Lonely or not, it was a pleasure yesterday afternoon to watch the GMan drive off to pick up the Dots in town, leaving me with a few hours to myself. Was finally able to start the latest STR Rockin’ Sock Club socks. I love starting new things! I’d especially been looking forward to starting the Winter’s Eve since they’d be my first experience with beaded knitting. Yes, beaded socks—tres cool. Cast on, count stitches, but then comes row 2–hard to track, hard to get the needle in, hard to figure out how to handle the 500 beads I’d strung onto the yarn. Managed to do about 8 rows and like how the beads look with the yarn. As the pattern emerges, it begins to be a bit easier. But, this is going to be a loooong project. What does the song say? “Inch by inch, row by row…..”

Now this was not totally alone knitting as I had the company of both Dog 1 and Dog 2. They were disappointed that I opted for the tread mill over a beach walk (cold and windy!), but I’m fine with that as long as I don’t look into their eyes.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Just Cast On...

Driving in the car today, listening to David of Sticks and String talk about the need to make the KnitterNet more interactive, I decided that, yes, I can do this! I can have a knitting blog! As he explained in an earlier podcast, instead of worrying about getting one’s knitting “just right,” just cast on! Start! See where you go! See what you can do! Figure it out. So that’s what I’ve done.

As a psychologist and a feminist, I think of my knitting, so dear to my heart, as something that connects me with many people. Most of those people are women, and I often feel connected with them across time and space when I knit. There’s Dodie, who taught me to knit perhaps 45 years ago; there’s Ruth who knit with me for awhile and left me with a project to finish, the woman who ran the yarn shop where I worked in the summer of 1971, my grandmother and her friends who quilted together in the 1930’s and 40’s, my knitting group of friends in the 1980’s, the Cape Cod Knitting Guild folks of the 1990’s, the many women and girls knitting in a village in China on the day I met my daughter, my mother and her Happy Hookers from church, and these days my favorite knitting podcasters and bloggers. I’m never lonely when I knit.