plan, make, finish, WEAR

This is a question some of us, as knitters, ask ourselves. Are we wearing our hand knits? We ask that question for the sole purpose of giving ourselves a reality check. If the idea is to be adding a beautiful hand knit to our wardrobe, truly are we? This is essentially the honesty factor as to why we do what we do and whether we are succeeding in pulling off the look that we were after by knitting these garments in the first place. We all know, no matter what the creative process or how capable we are in our craft, some projects ‘work’ while others do not.

One such knitter has taken this particular topic to task and back in January of 2019 offered an opportunity via a thread on Ravelry to post what she calls ‘street-wear’ photos. Street-wear photos are candid shots of us in our hand knits, in our every day lives, doing whatever it is we do, at work or at play. And, then to post those photos on the thread.

I was smitten with this question because I have always thought and have said . . . yes, I do wear my projects and very much consider them a part of my wardrobe. I have even been known to say, I shop very little for clothes because finishing a garment is like adding a new piece to my wardrobe. So, I remembered this sort of self-monitoring opportunity and as I traveled through this last year, thought, I am going to test my own statement. Not sure on how I was I going to get the photo, I figured I could lean on selfies as a last resort. Of course, I was thrilled when I found some candid shot that had been taken of some activity or function I was at and found that I just happened to be in the background . . . with a hand knit on!

The below is a one year effort. The photos are not necessarily becoming (boo) but they do illustrate that my hand knits are my wardrobe. I have paired the ‘every day shot’ with a photo that was taken during the original photo shoot so you can more clearly see the garment. The top photos or photos on the right are from the ‘posed’ while the others are the recent, candid ones. All of these projects can be found on my Ravelry page and are discussed in full length on my website.

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Making Connections

This morning, I am indulging in reminiscing. Perhaps because it is a typical snowy morning in January, the likes that have been unusually rare this winter. Or perhaps it is because I have recently recaptured my mojo for knitting and feel a need to keep my writing in sync or perhaps I was inspired by a recent thread on Ravelry. It could also be a good time for reflection as we head into 2020 perhaps with ideas of projects for the year and goals for completion.

I am thinking about sewing. The years and years of sewing I did long before I became a knitter. I remember waking up one day during my fifth grade summer and asking to make a dress. Mom pointed to a pile of newspapers and said, “There! Use all you need.” I said, “No, I mean with fabric.” And, so it began that I was sent to a neighbors who gathered up supplies and time and helped her daughter and I sew our first dress. Well, the experience stuck and through the years, the basement of childhood home turned into a sewing room, begging for fabric was my second name, and learning about construction through trial and error was my passion.

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In Appreciation

Call me old-fashioned, not with the times, or even schoolmarmish, I cannot say enough how I appreciate a well-intentioned thank you.  Whether a wave from a stranger in a car,  a smile followed by a nod in a waiting line, it matters to me.  When it comes in the form of writing it is especially sweet but when in handwriting, that thank you lingers in my heart for a very long time.

As I transition back into the work force, I want to share these heart-felt notes that came my way from the volunteer experiences I recently had.  The first is from Buffalo City Mission where I taught knitting during their winter semester.  We had a very successful time as evidenced by the ladies’ projects as seen here.  I am heading back for their summer session and look forward to new projects while promoting our big idea of Stitch(ing) Away Stress.  That’s the name of our class.

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I Lost and Found a Knitting Group

Pretty much my entire life, I’ve knitted alone.  Happily, on the couch, in a relaxed state of mind, figuring out the pattern stitch or the possible mistake in the pattern or in my thinking, always knitting alone  . . happily.  The main advantage of that is the ease of stealing an hour here or there between the hustle bustle of family life, after a school day (whether a student or teacher or both), in between the piles of homework and/or housework, there were always those precious hours.

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Vintage Art

I’m always talking about Vogue Knitting. Likely, I will always be talking about Vogue Knitting. Not only have I found this publication the most fashionable, fashion is my motivation to knit, I have come to understand the way their patterns are written and follow designers who have found their work published there. Adding to my attraction and deep dedication to this magazine are the more recent events of attending Vogue Knitting Live, walking the runway at the event, and being recognized for my knitted garments. That does not mean I am not aware or do not appreciate other publications for knitting, crocheting, and sewing that are forever beckoning our attention.

While at last year’s VKL in NYC, I took classes, many of them. The classes I chose were specific to the theme of design. For me, choosing a theme made it easier to choose what classes to take. There are literally hundreds of classes not to mention lectures, fashion shows, and vendors at these events. One of the classes in particular was with Deborah Newton, a VK designer who’s patterns I have knit and who’s books I have read. The topic for her class was sketching, sketching fashion, for me the highlight of the entire weekend. I couldn’t wait for it and I couldn’t wait to meet her. She showed many examples of sketches explaining the purpose of them and the importance of honing that skill. Her enthusiasm for the artists of the sketches as well as the aesthetic nature of each was infectious. That enthusiasm, maybe more than my actual desire to sketch, has stayed with me. The below are exercises from the class.

So, when a friend of mine, who knows I love to knit and who seems to love to find treasures for people (a genuine act of kindness), handed me a box of vintage knitting magazines, I was not only appreciative that he would think of me while rummaging, but I fell in love with the covers. They reminded me of the sketches from Deborah’s class. None of these publications were Vogue Knitting, but all of them represented some collective aspect of what I hold dear when thinking of my knittings’ past. Such titles as Gifts, Brunswick hits, Fashion and Accessories, Headliners, Modern Knitting all called to me as I could relate to each of them. “Yes, I’ve knitted gifts. I remember knitting with Brunswick yarns. Modern knitting? That’s what VK is all about!”, I was saying to myself. These covers were literally speaking to me.

How fortunate am I that my DB is a graphic designer. I showed him the box of these vintage magazines, all of different sizes, fragile, and color-aged. I explained my passion over the covers and asked if they could somehow become art for my wall. He did what he does. Many pdfs, lots of frame discussions, measurements . . . he planned to solve what potential challenges there might be.

I love the way the kindness of one, the enthusiastic teachings of another, and the willing and abled spirit of a third has come together to make this most meaningful wall art display for me.

And, what’s more? The magazines are still intact, so now I can begin perusing ideas for knitting!

A Star(lab) for the teacher

This is one of those rare, it-only-happens-to-other-people kind of stories, a story that whether you are a family member, a friend, or a person of the human race would appreciate. But, in this case, it didn’t happen to a stranger, it happened to my Dad!  So, I must capture the beauty of it so I can spread the word that values of appreciation, kindness, and gratitude are still evident in our world today.  Passionate in every way, here is how a lifelong interest of one inspired another not only through the years of direct instruction but also motivated her esteemed career in the field of science.  And how ultimately, over 50 years later, that student came back to this Buffalo area to thank him.

That teacher is my dad, Richard Zygmunt. Growing up, his enthusiasm for astronomy filled our backyard with his homemade telescopes, filled our Saturdays with lessons taught at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and filled our summers with the lessons he taught about the celestial skies from the little observatory he built on the hill of a local summer camp.

Through the years, he would study the sky either on his own or in groups with fellow astronomers. Telescopes were built by them and used for study. Here, a star-gazing group has convened.

As any astronomy-enthusiast would, he and others attended the very recent re-opening of Buffalo Museum of Science’s Kellogg Observatory.  After checking out the new telescopic equipment,  well, they posed.

It was in early August of 2018 when my Dad received this letter.

“Thank you for attending the grand opening celebration for the Kellogg Observatory.  With the re-opening of the Kellogg Observatory, the Buffalo Museum of Science cotinues its transformation, our reverence for our past informing ambitions for the future.
As an educator, you shaped Museum experiences and crafted memories your students cherish to this day.  You instilled a love of learning and an appreciation for the boundless possibilities space holds.  I am honored to inform you that your legacy of inspiration will continue to touch generations of Museum goers for years to come.
With this letter, the Buffalo Museum of Science formally acknowledges that your former student, Dr. Cora Musial has gifted a digital planetarium in your honor.  You taught Cora when she was a Museum Kid, and took her on her first visits to the Kellogg Observatory.  Cora explained that your astronomy classes “Stars and Constellations” and “The Sun and Its Family” inspired her and instilled in her a lifelong love of all things celestial.  To this day, she still has the notebooks from your classes.  
In the Richard Zygmunt Planetarium, the Buffalo Museum of Science will continue your work of capturing the imagination and fostering a new generation of star-gazers.  We are honored.” Sincerely, Marisa Wigglesworth, President & CEO
December 12, 2018

Family and friends gathered and celebrated. Here we are listening to the plan for the evening which included a demo of the digital planetarium’s possibilities for education and party sleep-overs.

We gathered outside the starlab, first, for a family photo and then, inside the structure to more fully understand the power of this high-tech learning tool.

Below, is a close-up of the plaque printed right on the digital starlab’s fabric.  No question about this dedication, a truly heartfelt thank you from student to teacher.

Cora, as you can see, was a museum kid turned Dr. Cora Musial, Infectious Disease Specialist.  Check out to what extent she shared his passion. Below, she is showing her former teacher the notebook that she still has with the notes she took from his classes.

Check out the date.  If you’re wondering, yes, she took her notes in handwriting during class, then re-typed them at home!  I heard it being discussed that these notebooks will be placed into the archives of the Buffalo Museum of Science.

May the minds of young ones be filled with the knowledge, interest, and wonderment of the skies above with help from the Richard Zygmunt Planetarium for years to come. And, not so bad that my Dad was given this recognition and appreciated for his fine teachings in this field.

Detroit, Anyone? I did not take my knitting . . .

Yes, we chose Detroit for a little R & R.  Why, you might ask?  Here are a few reasons.

“One of the most beautiful homes on Airbnb. This is a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom historic home in one of the most beautiful, one of a kind neighborhood of Detroit. Woodbridge is in Midtown, and a mile from most of Detroit’s finest sights, art, and stadiums. My wife and I are in Greece for at least six months helping refugees and your stay is our only revenue keeping us there. Thank you!”

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Reader-Inspired

I decided to take the time this evening to see why your blogs seemed to stop. I enjoyed them so very much. I sent you a note for information on the Tom Scott piece and you kindly answered so knitting that now. I have been taking care of things here as my 30-ish son had a heart transplant and thus lives here now with me forever. I have not had time for much else. I am heart broken because I now know why you have not done your fine blog now.I am so very sorry for your loss and hope you have managed to find a life without him.

What a kind message I received and what a motivation to get back to writing!

I have been struggling getting thought into words.  This is the longest I have gone without a blog post since beginning my website some 5 – 6 years, ago.  I don’t think it is necessarily that I am busier than I have ever been as I’m a girl who has always had a full plate.  I don’t think it is all the extra tasks I’ve had to take on running a household as one.  And, I have had knitting in my hands which typically inspires my writing.  I think it is just that thing they call writer’s block.  I’ll attempt getting back into blogosphere by sharing some recent goings-on.  In no particular order:

An impromptu presentation at the Buffalo Knitting Guild with my projects made from remnant stash

Habitat for Humanity activities and purchase (to support the cause)

Habitat for Humanity celebrates its 300 house at in the city of Buffalo at 42 Wende St., as well as welcome the Hissu family to their brand new, four-bedroom home, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. New owner, Awal Hissu is on the front steps of his home. He’ll be moving in with his five-year-old daughter Sumyen Ominew, videotapes all those at the ceremony. He put in 450 hours of labor on other habitat houses and then 50 hours on his own. This is part of the agreement for habitat home owners. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

I joined a running club

participated in activities with family

was shown fishing from boat side

took a trip or two to NYC for training with the Rochester cohort (6 week employment gig)

went to see Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin at the Blanton Museum with family

hung out with some pretty terrific neighbors

and got a hair cut.

Then there was this little house project.

Knitting, you might be wondering?  This Missoni, I call it Me-ssoni is beginning to take shape!

Kick in the butt

This post nor this project is either big, nor fancy, but writing it is meant as a personal kick in the butt or more politely said, motivation to get MOVING with this adorable project. The always alluring patterns from Tiny Owl Knits are just that, alluring, worked up or just admired on the printed page, the forest themed animals always call to me. This is my very first shawl (and likely last) but that owl . . . could not resist her and will be a lovely addition to the set of forest creatures growing in my hand knits . . . bear (yes, I made two), fawn, and snake (look for cabling around the hem).

Now, to get GOING!!!  Look at how adorable!

Gift yarn to boot!

21 feathers, I need 44.

and, body is coming along. . .

Let’s see if writing about this project is the kick I need to finish it!

Highlights, Yes, there were some

The ending to this year was no different than the personal devastation I endured throughout this horrific year of 2017.  Bitter cold temperatures and wind prohibited the otherwise planned trip to be with family this holiday season.

aborted plane after waiting 2 days due to cancellation of original flight

It was to be that I was to spend this holiday alone.  As we all know, holidays are designed for family.  Period.  When you find yourself alone, you realize that more than ever (and a lesson to keep in your heart to help others who you realize are alone during a holiday season).  However, with a bit of perseverance (because I’m that way), do-over planning, and creative thinking, I have come to realize there were actually some highlights to this holiday season of which I am most appreciative.  Here are a few and may help you if ever . . .

Childhood ornaments ~ I did put up a Christmas tree.  Full size from floor to ceiling.  Preferring a real tree but knowing the handling aspects, the artificial had to suffice.  Having long passed along our family’s handmade ornaments, in conversation with my Mother, she offered the myriad of boxes of ornaments she had stashed in her attic, literally a plethora of vintage glass adornments from my childhood.  Boxes and boxes found themselves in my hand and eventually on my tree. This season, when I looked at the beautiful lit tree, Christmas memories of my childhood surfaced rather than the loneliness I was feeling.

Christmas cookie baking ~ Simply said, I made sure to participate in the annual Christmas cookie baking I had set up years, ago with family.  Even though I didn’t feel the spirit, something about the act of kneading dough is quite therapeutic.  The cookies turned out great and it was satisfying seeing the very happy faces of the others.

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner ~ Traveling with the crew of ladies I work with at Habitat for Humanity, dressing up so the men could see we do indeed clean up nicely, it was a lovely evening getting to know more personally those who are teaching me ‘construction’.

Birthday Dinner ~ Temperatures frigid, a beautiful winter scene, I was treated to a birthday dinner from Mom.  With lovely seating and a beautiful view, it was nice to return to a restaurant of ‘yesteryear’ (neither one of us had been there in years) and to a dinner that was warm to the heart and tasty to the tummy.

Dog Walking/Activities with Neighbor(s) ~ Every day walking the dog, taking in the fresh air is a pick me up no med could provide.  And, to be escorted by the neighbor who is just that kind of nice person is a special treat of comfort, kindness, and companionship.

shoveling snow into the air. Why? ’cause the dogs loved it.

Back on Treadmill/Orangetheory ~ Back on the treadmill, again of course, I will need time to rebuild the endurance and training I have lost, but how happy it feels to also be back in class at the local fitness studio (and please, no one look at my data).  I felt bonds of friendship I did not even realize were there until the warm welcome I received upon my return.

Race ~ Well, let’s just say, it was on my radar that day.  Wind chill in the negatives did indeed scare me away.

A Few Finished Garments ~ Believe it or not, even knitting requires endurance. I have turned (temporarily) to smaller projects, pictured here, again hoping to build my endurance of concentration and focus to the longer, more tedious projects I am used to.   I don’t have photos yet of the easy, fashion garments recently finished, but they are beautiful and ready for the wear whenever I am ready to wear them.

for charity

crocheted basket for projects

New Furniture ~ Yep, a fresh start needs a pick-me-up in the furniture department.  Mostly, the living room and bedrooms received the new pieces (area rug not in, yet).  Modern looks, clean lines, and neutral colors fill spaces otherwise filled with memories of recent loss of life.

Fix-its ~ Mostly, learning how.  Keeping water level where it needs to be for proper steam to warm the house, sump pump adjustments, endless plumbing understandings, door(s) removal, paint and staining here and there, becoming familiar with garage and its advantages, ~ all in a home owner’s day in a life.  But, it is feeling very different with the responsibility falling solely on me.

Making New Friends ~ Here is my new mantra.  It’s ok to make new friends.  Female and male.  Purposely going out even when it is dark and cold, signing up for activities never done before, getting together with friends of the past  and friends just met, finding and going to new places to dine trying out new foods (Octopus salad for me the other night), allowing myself to feel the companionship, warmth, and life of another is ok.

Was it a great holiday season?  No, not by a long shot.  Do I have living alone all figured out?  Hardly.  Do I feel guilty about simple pleasures, smiling, and enjoying life, again?  You betcha.  In reflection, these activities and purposeful moves helped me to cope with this holiday season.  I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me.  I figure with healthy, intentional steps with awareness of the positives, this is an avenue that can lead me back into the game of life.

 

 

Sharing

This is a reading invite to check out what our local enthusiastic knitting Organization is all about.   The website is here on WordPress entitled The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo.  We are an active group promoting knitting as an art form and pride ourselves in providing a myriad of experiences from presentations to yarn actions for our over 400 members.