Wednesday, May 25, 2011

must read article about knitters and women's history

Seneca Falls holds a special place in my heart.  During a visit there, my then boyfriend, now husband, suggested that we name our daughter, if we ever had one, Seneca.  Seneca Falls, NY, was home to the first Women's Rights Convention in the U.S in 1848.

I came upon this article today by Gerit Quealy, entitled "Forgotten Women:  Knitters and the National Women's Hall of Fame."  The Seneca Knitting Mill, where women worked and operated the knitting machines, will soon be the new home of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

As I was looking for an image to include with this post, I came across this page from the Syracuse Herald, from January 3, 1928. While it's not the most engaging image, I chose it because of the caption they wrote about Lucretia Mott.  Somehow I hope she, a Quaker, would forgive their grammatical error.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

looking for the sun

Last week my friend posted a picture and wrote that she was trying to see the beauty in life.  I loved her photo and the color.

© EO Design Studio, used with permission.
It got me thinking about doing the same.  We've had 11 days of clouds, rain and fog with only a few hours of sunshine in between.  Thank goodness for plants in bloom.

While I'm knitting with wool in late May sitting next to our pellet stove and enjoying the heat, here's to hoping that the sun comes back soon bringing with it warmer, brighter days.

Monday, May 23, 2011

If she had only known what I heard her say...

© Coastal Photo Design, used with permission.
I swear that I don't mean to make Mondays a day to complain.  But I had to write about a comment my daughter made last night.

She off handedly told me at dinner that she and her best friend both wanted to be teachers.  They talked about it, though, and decided that it involved too much training.  So they decided that they were going to "just be moms."

They're seven.

I was speechless.  My husband made eye contact with me and said, "This one's all yours."

My initial reaction was to the tone of "just be moms."  What she said as a little girl, I heard as an adult woman.  What I heard is that being "just a mom" is the easy way out.  I could hear in those three words all the cultural biases against stay at home moms.  That we've got it easy.  That we don't have to work hard.  That maybe, if we pursued an education and career prior to having children, that we've taken a step back and given up.

In some sense, I can also hear the conversations I have had with friends lately.  That we've sort of lost ourselves over the years of staying home with our kids.  That we've forgotten what it is that we like to do.  That, in putting everyone else's needs first, we always come last.  And sometimes we don't get around to focusing on ourselves at all.

I will be the first to admit that I find it very challenging to be home with my young children.  I have had to learn more about patience and selflessness than I ever thought I'd have to.  I have learned that my actions will have long lasting effects on someone else.  There hasn't been one day that parenting has come easy.

So it crushed my heart a little to hear that I'm "just a mom."  Maybe it was a compliment.  Maybe I make it look easy.  But I don't think that's what she meant.  And I certainly don't think she meant any harm by what she said.  But I don't want her to think that moms are settling, choosing to be moms because their other options are more difficult and challenging.  I don't need a medal for being a parent, but it's nice to know that the work I do has value, even if no one is paying me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

::this moment::

From soulemama

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

My little reader.  We visited the beach last Friday to celebrate her sister's birthday.  Her own birthday was a few days earlier.  She got the sunglasses, dress, and book as gifts.  I love this image of her.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yarn Along (#17)

After writing a feeling sorry for myself blog post on Monday, I decided to stop complaining and just start knitting something.  I had bought some bulky yarn months ago with the intention of making a sweater for my daughter.  I tried to force the yarn to be something else--a sideways cabled sweater--and it just wasn't working.  So I ditched all of my swatching for that sweater, and instead I am returning to my original idea.  (It's easy for me to overthink knitting sometimes, and right now I just want the satisfaction of making something.)

So I'm just going to work it out as I go, using Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Pattern as a guide.   I'm using Cascade's bulky superwash and it's just so nice to be flying along quickly.  What you can see above is just the bottom ribbing, but that worked up quickly in about 30 minutes.

I'm still reading The Forgotten Garden and really enjoying it.  I love stories that span different time periods and generations and it's something of a mystery too. And I love the idea of forgotten spaces--whether they be homes or gardens.

I'd love to see what you're knitting and reading this week.  Thanks for stopping by!  And thanks to Ginny at small things for hosting another Yarn Along.

Monday, May 16, 2011

inspired Monday: when inspiration leaves

I've managed to write at least a few of these inspired Monday posts.  But this week, I'm stuck.

I've spent the last 2 weeks on 2 different knitting projects, both of which have hit dead ends for now.

The first is the lacy scarf I was working on.  I discovered it yesterday morning just before hopping into the car for a long car ride.  I figured I'd get at least a couple hours of knitting done yesterday on our way to a first communion for family friends.  But when I felt the bend of the needle--where there shouldn't be one--I knew something was wrong.

It broke sometime on Saturday, somehow in my  girls' swimming bag.  I threw the scarf into my kids' swimming bag so that I could knit during their almost hour long swim lesson on Saturday morning.  I was already cranky about having to take them.  I don't like activities scheduled on Saturday mornings.  I don't like sitting in a 90 degree and humid room.  I don't like dripping wet people standing around me.  (My list of hang ups is long and ridiculous.)  I was missing out on a spinning class which is the only spinning class that fit in my schedule all week.

I had already nixed the idea of bringing a cup of coffee with me.  The pool room was already too hot, and last week my daughter had knocked into the cup of coffee I'd brought and spilled it all over her towel while changing in the locker room.

I kind of knew I wouldn't actually get to knit.  I did want to watch the kids swim but I figured I could sneak in a little knitting here and there.  I also heard a little voice say, "Every time you try to sneak in time for yourself while taking care of the children, it ends badly."  As my girlfriend said on the phone this morning, if she ever wants to make time for herself away from her kids, she knows she has to pay the piper when it's all done.

It's only a broken needle.  I only need to buy new knitting needles for it.  Minor stuff.  But still annoying.

The second project I've been working on is a design proposal.  I've spent the last three weeks off and on swatching, trying to find a stitch pattern and gauge on a bulky yarn I've never worked with before.  I finally found a stitch pattern I liked and thought I'd determined gauge.  I even washed and dried my swatch.  But when I tried to think through the sweater design, it was too complicated.  And I'm not up for complicated right now.  And we celebrated two birthdays in our house last week.  And I knew if I pulled away to try to figure it out, I wasn't going to be able to celebrate those birthdays like I wanted.

So I missed the deadline.

Again, minor stuff.  My kids won't always be little and birthdays only come once a year.  I'm not upset about that at all.  But I do need something to jump start my creativity again because I'm getting bogged down by little annoyances.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yarn Along (#16)

Nothing new to report on the reading and knitting front.  Same stuff as last week.  But I'm enjoying it all.

My sweetest moment from this week was falling asleep on my daughter's bed as she read me a chapter from Charlotte's Web.  She didn't want to wake me because she wanted me to sleep on her bed all night.

It almost looks like I've been ignoring this scarf.  But I swear I've spent hours working on it.  I even brought it to a town meeting last night that lasted almost three hours.  I've never participated in a town meeting, but I'll sum it up by saying that there was a lot of "You're out of order" and "No! You're out of order" and motioning and seconding and, finally, voting.  I felt like I was watching a movie parodying small town life.

I'll just say that if, at a meeting to decide on the school budget, one needs to pull out a calculator to figure 1% of a number, then that's argument enough that we need to adequately fund our schools.  And someone did indeed need to consult a calculator for 1%.

I'd love to see what you're reading and knitting.  My "to read" and "to knit" list in getting longer as I read all of your entries every week.  Thank you!  And thanks to Ginny for hosting another Yarn Along.


And last week, Ginny announced that she was organizing Knit for Japan, an effort to collect 400 hats by July to distribute to those affected by the earthquakes and tsunami.  I'm offering two of my patterns at a discount, and donating my profits from their sales, for anyone who is interested.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yarn Along (#15)

I cast on last night for a new project!  I had purchased a skein of sock weight yarn from Sweet Basil Fibre Works--many of you know her store--and I had originally planned to knit a pair of socks with it.  But I just couldn't stand the idea that I'd have to swatch, so I opted for a lacy scarf instead.  This "Bittersweet" colorway is just beautiful--the colors are rich and deep.  And the pattern I picked out seems like it will have enough lace to challenge me, but not enough to overwhelm.  It's even got beads along the edging, so I had a lot of fun knitting the first several rows last night.

I just started reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  And the kids and I have been reading Charlotte's Web before bed.  In the last week we read Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast and a couple of Grimm's Fairy Tales.  (But in all honesty, some of the tales are pretty scary and dark, which doesn't make for good right-before-bed stories.)

But we loved the Fairy Houses book and made our own this weekend.  I wrote about it here.

Thanks to Ginny for hosting another Yarn Along.  I really look forward to these each week.  And I'd love to see what you're knitting and reading, so please leave a comment if you stop by!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

our beach fairy house

Each year our town hosts a May Day celebration.  We've never been able to attend, but we've seen the fairy houses children build each year and display at our library.  Inspired by the book Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast by Maureen Heffernan, my kids decided they wanted to participate this year.

We spent last Wednesday at the beach collecting materials:  rocks, shells, sea glass, seaweed, and driftwood.  There's even part of a crab on the roof.  My middle daughter loves finding crab parts.

We spent 4 hours Saturday building it.  My oldest believes in fairies.  It was wonderful to see her excitement as she built this house, imaging how the fairies might enjoy their mussel shell beds and moss pillows,

or the hammock and swing,

or the chicken and rice dinner she made them (out of rocks and pine needles).

In the back left corner of the above picture is the dishwasher my middle daughter made for the fairies.

She wondered over and over whether they would come visit her house Saturday night.  When she woke up Sunday morning, the first thing she did was to visit the house, and the birch blankets had been moved back from the beds, and the fairies had moved some of the chicken and rice from the serving bowl on the table onto the table itself.

The sweetest details she added were the bedside lamp she made out of a seashell and seaglass

and the ceiling fan she made out of a feather.

We also added a fireplace with little logs...

and a swimming pool with a diving board.

Midway through building our house the ice cream truck made a stop in our neighborhood.  It doesn't come through often, so it was a huge treat.

I was able to put aside my obsessive desire to keep all things neat and tidy--it took me a few years to get over the anxiety I felt anytime my children mashed up different playdough colors together--and enjoy spending this time with my children.  It was a perfect early spring day.


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