Meet Sally

Coronavirus lockdown certainly has the ability to squeeze the optimism out of the best of us. It has also brought on our collective creativity. What we seek to do is what we did before. Who we seek to be with is who we wanted to be with before. I am noticing we, as a people, are finding alternative ways within the parameters of social distancing to adjust and make change. Car parades or gatherings on front lawns to celebrate birthdays, zoom meetings to visit loved ones, or making large signs on poster paper to communicate feelings to those we cannot visit are a few visible signs of finding creative solutions. An abundant amount of creativity is seen online such as four second videos on TikTok that make us laugh or ponder, stories on Instagram for promotions or otherwise, song writers being inspired to write new songs such as Kelly Clarkson’s Dare to Love. There are a myriad of examples of people finding creative solutions so life can move forward; just look at what is happening in the field of education, itself.

Such was my motivation to find a way to do what I do. Knitting, of course has been no challenge, in fact the added time at home has in itself been helpful. I have knitted more, organized my yarn more, and been able to plan future projects with a clearer head.

However, how was I ever going to pull off the photo shoot? That involved another. Could we keep our safe distance and figure a way not to share in the equipment? Was asking another adding potential exposure to the virus and ultimately that person’s health risks?

Issue/what ~ I began researching the possibility of a home photo studio. I studied the needed equipment, thought about available space in my home, wondered if I had the know how of sophisticated tools. I watched many videos for ideas for backdrops, lighting and the like. I even viewed a video on making a DIY backdrop by painting splatters of color. The more I researched, the more involved I felt a home studio would be to create, and ultimately more time away from what I want to be doing and that is knitting. Also, I was not motivated with the end product of an indoor photo against some artificial backdrop. And, most certainly this was going against everything we, late hubby and I, had ‘invented’ when planning fashionscape.

Issue/who ~ This brought me back to desiring photos to be taken outside and the ‘who’ of the problem. What could replace a person? I went on Amazon just to peruse equipment. It was there that I discovered tripods. I had always known about tripods for serious photographers, however, I did not know about tripods for iphones. And, then I learned about a tripod with a remote! bingo! Would I really need any other equipment? I realized then that this one simple tool could be a game changer. I could go anywhere, anytime, set up the iphone in its holder, and when ready, I could snap the photo.

Well, here ‘she’ is. I’ve affectionately nicknamed her Sally. She is a tripod from Ubeesize, lightweight, pulls out to 60 inches, holds a wide variety of phones, and doubles as a selfie stick. I am now able to go out during coronavirus times, be safe and respectful to others, and keep the photos to the aesthetic I desire when sharing my knitting online.

Happy Easter

Anticipation,  frustration,  ignorance is bliss

Impactful, devastating, hopeful we wait

We alter our behaviors

as we are told

missing the touching, the smiles, the cheer,

creating new avenues as best as

we can.

Many lives lost

make no mistake. Join

in the grief, an ever-growing group.

Family ties temporarily lost

with focused effort  towards re-connection.

I am appreciative

of those who are reaching out –

A chocolate bunny found in my mailbox today

now half eaten with joy in my heart,

a virtual meet up later today

to wish a far-away family 

Happy Easter and good cheer.

How Could a Seamstress Not?

The Spring of 2020 might look something like this in your home.

For me it was without hesitation and with a feeling of how-could-I-not, I wanted to help where I could in our world’s crisis. What? People are sewing masks? I can do that! I chose the one man assembly line approach for production thinking I would be more efficient. At this point, many face masks have been completed . . . and delivered. Finding the pattern (there are many out there) that pleased me, locating sewing supplies around the house, obtaining twist ties from the neighbors, this has been an all-consuming project for the past few weeks. My goal was to help out the helpers. Today, I delivered a quantity of 25 to a local nursing home and a batch of 50 were packaged for the local EMTs. Neighbors, friends, and family members have been gifted.

Here you can see the stockpile as it grows into completion. Once the prototype was made substituting elastic for ties, full production began.

Products need content information. That’s when I called upon my dear BF. Together we wrote the message whereupon he designed and printed the perfect thank yous to stuff into each one.

I heard that tightly woven 100% cotton was most breathable. That cemented the fabric choice. Of course, the masks needed to be washable. Filter pockets were added to the back lining to make them as versatile as possible.

Twist ties were sewn to the top and sandwiched in between the layers of fabric. The wire helps with fit. The reason why these ties ‘work’ is they take away the strain from long lengths of time behind the ear, they are adjustable, and the fabric is cut on the bias providing a bit of give or stretch, much more comfortable than otherwise.

The entire topic of hand made masks is debatable, I realize. Not medically approved, not yet officially mandated in public, wear with a filter . . . or not . . . these are just some of the conversations being had. And I might add, down deep I am hoping these FOs (finished objects) never get worn because that would mean we, as a Nation, have enough medical supplies to do away with make shift masks OR the the data and our methodologies reveals a virus in control. The effort of thinking I could help goes way beyond that of whether these masks will be used or not, however.

Here is a recipient wearing a sunny yellow. Sure does match her personality!

And, while I was writing this post, I received this text. “My sister and brother-in-law in Rochester – I’m going to send 2 to Rochester, 2 to the judge and two to Mary Ann if you can make six and if you feel like making more I have plenty of people . . . ”

Borrowed from the Boys

Much like Facebook’s posts and ability for friends to comment and/or like a post, Ravelry, a knitter’s online paradise, has a function called forums.  Forums are generally written and like-interested people comment, share, like, or otherwise support the theme of the post.  Reading these threads is as interesting as posting on them.  Groups on Ravelry generally have many such forums going on at once and of course, there are people in all ranges of activity on them.  Some are so active, they have become moderators and those moderators are now posting what we affectionately call challenges.  This is true within the Vogue Knitting Group, at least. This is where the inspiration came, or maybe an excuse, to go all the way back to my complete VK magazine collection dating Fall/Winter 1982 (easy access here on shelving).

One challenge said something like a ‘very easy Vogue’ from a vintage year and the other a #19 (representing the current year).  The latter suggested we could double up if we so chose meaning one project could fulfill both challenges.  Oh, the games we play . . . and, I so enjoy.

Here is the #19 and the vintage magazine, and if you read the description on how to make this pull, you see how it denotes “very easy”.  Take out pearls, white gloves, and shoulder pads (however, I have heard they may be making a return), I felt this a real possibility.  Also, in this age of ‘borrowing from the other gender’ era, how fitting. Case in point:  the below is taken right from a fashion magazine looking for this specific design inspiration:


With growing trends towards genderfluid dressing and genderless fashion, we’re seeing more and more menswear inspired details on the women’s catwalk. These details include:

  • Oversized silhouette (the boyfriend cardigan, boyfriend jeans, etc.)
  • Heritage focused (Fisherman and Aran sweaters)
  • Vintage, varsity style clothing
  • Raglan and Saddle shoulder sweaters
  • Styles that both men and women will wear

Decision made, I found me some interesting organic cotton that had a similar texture to the yarn of yesterday, and utilized stash

yarn, a worsted weight cotton for the collar and a worsted weight wool for the tie.  The tie is lightweight so as to not pull down, yet long enough to not blow away in the wind as you can see is happening . . .

After setting up gauge, this knitted up very quickly as you might expect, sewed on collar and tie, and off to the photo shoot we went.  Where?  to my alma mater because . . . why not?

Pretty cool standing next to a building I had many classes in 40+ years, ago.  (Buffalo State)

And, pretty fun fashioning a vintage pattern.

Project as seen on Ravelry


Sometimes you cheat on your own website. My View, a column in the Buffalo News offers a place for writers to express their own personal thoughts on a topic of your choosing. There are some guidelines (of course) which can easily be found online. Today, I was published.  Some of you have been asking how I’ve been since my great loss(es) of 2017 and here I try (within the word count allowed) to express where I am today.

My View: Beginning life again after a year full of loss

By My View Published

By Holly Olmstead

As we live our lives, we can expect to lose our elderly loved ones. We are saddened, of course, and we respectfully mourn those we loved. We realize it is the natural order of things when the aged pass away. The stone that is cast by that death has rippling effects that last for years.

Adult children who may have come into town to visit that parent stop doing so, family gatherings are less frequent and sometimes difficult without an identifiable matriarch or patriarch, and the next generation of babies born to those adult children are born and create new, exciting attentions.

Now, when there are losses of loved ones that are unexpected and do not align with the natural circle of life, that brings on a grief of a whole other kind. You wonder how your life will go on. After a long and successful marriage, I lost my husband of 35 years. He was my best friend, cheerleader and protective caretaker my entire adult life.

Through the last few months of his life, we had to re-home our Labrador of five years, a sacrifice for hubby’s safety in the household. Even though it was a successful transition, one’s pet is like one’s child, a terrific loss.

In the meantime, my sister with Down syndrome passed away, a death more bittersweet than upsetting as at the age of 62 and born in the 1950s we felt she lived a full life. However, it was indeed a significant, heartfelt loss to me. Having lost my sister, pooch and hubby all in one year, I felt like I had lost my entire identity.

Holly Olmstead

This was overwhelming, to say the least, for me. Where to begin? Where to pick up the pieces? Where to turn?

At first I was numb. In shock, anger, and likely, in denial. So, I did nothing. Mourning: Who knows what that looks like? They say gather with others, join groups. Keep old traditions, consider new. Give permission to yourself for time, space and for your family.

So, I took on some new things. I now volunteer at Habitat for Humanity at the construction site and run with a group from Fleet Feet. I’ve just signed on to teach knitting at Cornerstone for the winter semester and completed a grief group session at Hospice.

I’ve learned how to time manage the job of two people regarding house maintenance, including grocery shopping and cooking. Children are out of the area and trips scheduled to see them are and will always be in the works.

It has been over one year. I am dating. While all this was well and good, the busy, full schedule was not filling the void and the loneliness I was continuing to feel. It wasn’t until I had a euphoric moment that things began to take a turn for me. My past and present do not need to look the same in relationships. While I understood and had accepted my activities looking different, why not my relationships, as well?

This simple shift in thinking, of taking off the parameters of expectation of the familiar interpersonal relationships I had known, is allowing me to be more open to friendships of all kinds.

Much like starting adulthood over, I can enjoy people I meet, find joy in others’ ways and traditions, and accept new ideas in conversation and lifestyle. The world actually feels like a bright promising place for happiness and love, once again.

Holly Olmstead, of Kenmore, is a retired teacher from the Sweet Home Central School District.

PS.  The photo, above is of my home where I’ve hung outside lights for the first time, have a new storm door, new mailbox, and hung a vintage poinsettia wreath, a wreath that hung on the front door during my childhood recently given to me by my mom.  Not forgotten, the beautiful wreath hubby gave me a few years back is hanging on the mantle, where sweet memories of Christmas past remain present.

[HERE] is how the article appeared in the Buffalo Evening News.