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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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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Peeling back the layers

This is on the topic of life after the loss of a loved one.  Not the emotional impact nor the significant life change but more-so on the items that were labeled ‘his’ that were left behind.  What I call the layers of physical reminders in and around the house.  Loss is a tricky thing and we all cope differently.  I am speaking of how I handled his ‘comforts of joy’ that I no longer desired to have around. Where to begin?  How to deal?  Well, I did what I do best.  I organized them. I organized in groupings, like layers, from easiest to most difficult in their significance to our relationship meaning the easiest to the most difficult in coping with each of his things.

I call it the removal of layer one.  These are the large furniture-like pieces that I wanted removed from the house quite immediately after his passing.  Like neon signs of significant loss. Examples: his leather chair, his dresser. Our bed. I was on the hunt very quickly to find someone who could utilize this large furniture.  His clothing and shoes.  These items found alternate homes quickly.

Layer two.  These are things that were of significance to him, only.  His toys. Such examples: his fishing rods and equipment, baseball hat collection, pen sets.   Homes for these things were sought after the ‘big’ items.  Of course, offerings to family members were made, accepted, and appreciated as keepsakes.

Layer three and by far the most difficult to confront were items of his, however held the memories of our connection to one another, his passion and obvious talent. These items of his stemmed around all things music. His large collection of musical instruments, both woodwind and baroque, sheets of music, and extensive CD collection had to go.  About a year and a half has gone by and I knew it was finally time to face the inevitable.  What to do with them?  Knowing that instruments need to be played to keep from self-destructing as well as knowing their function is to be played, it was time.  Well, what instruments need are musicians.  Musical friends came to mind first in bidding them farewell.  Then, consignment shops.  A local shop took in his woodwinds. The baroque instruments . . . a trip to Boston.  Taking the baroque instruments back from whence they came could serve as purpose, perhaps some pleasure.

Potpourri Boston ~ We chose a quaint little apartment airbnb in Boston’s Historic North End.

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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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Relationship of fabric to design

Well, at this point, this project has been knitted twice.  Not by choice, of course, but to eliminate too much shelf time, aka, not be worn.  I knit to wear so if there is something about a garment that doesn’t feel right or comfortable, I know its future is doomed.   I must say, the fabric that was created by this stitch was the conundrum.

The honeycomb stitch is a type of cable that is dense, especially when using Lion Brand’s fisherman wool . .  held double.  Not so much dense in weight as the pulled stitches create a kind of air hole behind it.  Maybe, you can make this out here, but dense in body.

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Reflections

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.

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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Full-on Indulgence including Runway Revisit, 2018

If you are a follower of VKL (Vogue Knitting Live), you may be aware that this event in NYC is historically held in January.  After travel debacle of December, I was fully aware January could prove the same.  JetBlue, however served its travelers well, weather cooperated, and I found myself at VKL NYC 2018 in good form.

Having attended the event before, I knew what to expect but wanting to make something new of the occasion, I chose to volunteer at the event.  That immediately changed the dates of travel due to a volunteer meeting held on the Wednesday evening before.  It also meant two glorious extra days in the city and lots of decision-making on how to spend that time. When the weekend was all said and done, as in all travel, there were certain moments, expected and otherwise, that stand out, so with this post, those are the moments I will highlight.

Wednesday ~ easy travel.  With room readily available and map in hand, I settled in for my stay and planned where I was going to ‘tour’.  It was a simple choice.  Mood, of course followed by Bryant Park.  Why?  I am a huge fan of Project Runway and wanted to see (and possibly shop) the fabric store where PR contestants make their purchases in the competition and Bryant Park hosts the final fashion show.  So, off I went with my poor sense of direction but great determination.

I found this (admittedly after 2 mile jaunt in the wrong direction) :

So excited, I walked in.  As a tourist does, I snapped these.

Bolts and bolts of fabric miles long and miles high.  A few floors just like this.  Then, I asked where Swatch was.  (Swatch, to you unknowns of the reality show is the visiting pooch of Mood.)  And, I was told I was in the upholstery section of Mood NOT the fashion section where Swatch typically hangs out!  WHAT??  Never suspecting and already in heaven she pointed to the door.  I was to take the Olmstead (a familiar name) elevator to the third floor.

WOW.  I immediately recognized THIS as what I was seeking . . .

Black in EVERY fiber!

And . . . where fabric gets bolted, cutting boards, patterns, and classrooms!

Of course, I asked about Swatch again.  He was not there that day, but I did spot this which filled my heart.

On leaving Mood, I was quite satisfied having found it that I wasn’t too disappointed having not purchased anything.

My next desire was to find Bryant Park.  Back to scouting my map and asking an occasional passer-by, it was in no time I was there.  On this weekend, it was set up as a lovely winter wonderland.

The volunteer meeting was Wednesday night, a welcome time to sit at the end of a tourist’s day.

Here are some jobs you can sign up for in volunteering.

Thursday ~ Knowing I was to be in NYC, I signed up for the MoMA tour as offered by VKL.  Scouting out the location of the Museum of Modern Art, which was basically in the opposite direction of the day’s before outing, provided all kinds of new stimulation, it was easy to find.  The tour called, “Is Fashion Modern?”  had an excellent docent who took us to task with asking ourselves that very question.  I thought it pretty cool that Lululemon’s original pant made it into the display.  The little black dress and orange piece are pieces I loved.  So, if these were examples of what was in the exhibit, you could ask yourself, Is fashion modern?

I visited the gift shop and found this great cross-over bag.  A picture of my MoMA keepsakes . . .

One must visit Central Park when in the city.

And, of course one must take in a show on Broadway.  A chance friend and I chose Amy Schumer in Meteor Shower as our pick.  The ticket taker, Georgie, was especially personable and left this sweet note for us when we went back to pick up our tickets.

Friday – Sunday ~ Days to volunteer, window shop, and take in classes/lectures.  I built my class schedule for all three days around the theme of designing.  Each teacher had her own take on the topic and it was interesting to hear of the process from different points of view.  The lectures I sighed up for were inspiration filled.  My favorite class was on sketching.  Deborah Newton could not be more enthusiastic about her designing and that enthusiasm was not only palpable but contagious.  Here, we are studying sketches.

Her tip is seen on the right, my practice, on the left.

I did indeed make one purchase during my stay.  Could this book be any more beautiful and so aptly named.  Glamourie, indeed!  Now, THAT is knitting!

I thought the main highlight would be the Readers’ Runway Fashion Show.  As delightful as it was, it was the second time I’ve entered and somehow, the second time is never as exciting as the first.  My favorite part was meeting someone AND her husband who I have talked to on Ravelry and BOTH walked the runway, as well.  Also, the young girl captured my attention who was with her Mother.  How special for these pair to do this fun thing together.

The fair isle coat earned this award.

Here is a candid pic of the group who walked the runway this year.

The most meaningful highlight was however my daughter and her friend meeting up with me in the evenings.  Whether ordering room service or having a delicious meal at a lovely Irish eatery, talking about nothing of consequence and laughing really put the weekend into perspective of what matters most and certainly added to what truly was a full-on indulgence weekend for me.  A goofy selfie ~

We said good-bye Sunday night to each other and to this great city.  Until next time . . .

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.

 

 

Coping with Great Loss, Intentional Moves

I don’t know what the psychologists would say but I certainly know what my heart and mind are saying and I am listening.  Here is what has been going on with me.  Each of these moves are or has been intentional to help cope with the great losses I have experienced this horrific year.  Do not read into the order as truly many if not most of these things are happening simultaneously.

  1.  Adopted Lady.  By adopted, I really mean accepted her as my own.  I continue to grieve and have a good dose of guilt about Lizzie (please do not try to tell me otherwise) and continue to pray her new family loves her the way I did.   Articles on Health and Wellness always include how owning a pet aids to a person’s overall sense of well being.  
  2. Going out on a Monday night.  Now twice.  Much fun.  Enough said.

    Rochester Knitting Guild, gathering ideas

  3. Furniture give-away, furniture purchase.  Pieces I associated with bad memories have been thoughtfully given away which then changes their memory to the positive and those pieces have been replaced with new purchases.  Or, adding to existing collection(s).

    Added new pieces in hubby’s memory

  4. Removed doors, three of them last week in an effort to gain light and space within my living space.  Light and space gives me a sense of freedom and tranquility.

    glass door knob-8 paneled doors, on a pallet in the basement

  5. Repaired old favorite keepsakes.  Over time, things would need repair and get forgotten, at least in our household.  Ex.  When cleaning out the basement, I have found two such lamps and now, after repair, are fabulous keepsakes and reminders of our 35 years together and how/why/when these particular items came to us.
  6. Out of a massive collection of photos we have (we all have), I have framed and put out only a few around the house, but in prominent places. It really becomes the location of the photo, rather than the quantity (which I think can be annoying) that makes the statement. 
  7. Finding NEW activities with no associations to the past and for the purpose of meeting people.  Ex.  agility training with Lady (now into the 5th class) and joining a team constructing a new build for Habitat for Humanity (I am now the proud owner of steel-toe boots).
  8. Asking for and accepting help from neighbors.  Ex.  How to add water to the boiler, fire alarm issue, rules for garbage vs. trash in our Village
  9. Out of my control but very noticeable and appreciated is the continual support of family.  Ex.  daughter making short jaunts back home,  step-son sending texts,  sisters-in-law emails, flowers being sent from dear hubby’s family members (just received yesterday).  This continuation of including me into the family fold is imperative and what I am most Thankful for this season.
  10. Grief counseling/groups of all kinds.  Hospice follows up with the family 13 months after the death of the loved one.  I am taking advantage of this opportunity.  There are groups for specific loss as well as generic loss/relation.
  11. Crying.
  12. Accepting.
  13. Finding that sense of humor, again.

    teasing gullible daughter about some knitting needles

  14. Doctor’s appointments for wellness checks, prevention down the road.  They’re all lined up.
  15. Visiting loved one(s).  Well, I  visit my sister and Lizzie via photographs and I  visit my dear hubby.  It is currently helpful to face my reality and hoping in time will be a source of solace, maybe even contentment of sorts.  Once a best friend, always a best friend, perhaps?

And, writing!  Writing this list and thinking about my intentional moves these days is reflective in nature and is allowing me to ask myself, “Is what I am doing helpful to my overall happiness?”  And, I answer, what I am doing is, at least in the ball park of coping and healing and allowing me to find my way to a new normal and all that life, in the future, has to offer.

In the Pink (2 of 2)

It begins as a knitting project but somehow each garment ends up having a more involved back story.  This project was all about finding the right yarn or should I say, the right yarn combination.

Fur varsity jacket.  As quickly as I could say those words, fur varsity jacket, I was smitten.  Vladimir Teriokhin never disappoints and again here I was ready and willing to embark on another one of his designs.

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