Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Christmas (Stockings) of Past, Present, and Future

It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas says the song and friends as they post their newly decorated holiday trees and assorted decorations on social media. Every image is beautiful and encouraging to begin decorating. I like deciding whether to be sentimental (hang the antiques from yesteryear) or crafty (make a few), or to consider purchasing new ornaments for the tree. Whatever the case, decorating for the holidays brings on excitement . . . but also the emotions. So it is for me.

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Indiana Amish

I call it a sabbatical. Sounds educational. Sounds important. For me, it is personal.

My self-prescribed sabbatical away from the familiarity of WNY, non-stop schedules, teaching, employment gigs, and pretty much anything and everything familiar to me continues. It has led me to some pretty interesting places, which of course was its intention. Currently, I am in Bedford, Indiana with MG, in a very comfortable camper complete with internet, overlooking beautiful country, adjacent to corn fields, and on a rolling road lined with pines and deciduous trees preparing themselves for winter. On this particular day, adventure was calling and its name was the Amish. On the way, anything was game.

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Knitting, step aside for barn quilts!

Perhaps a hidden gem of a ‘field trip’ or perhaps I am the last to partake in this experience, here is an idea for you and your family, rain or shine. It is called the Wyoming County’s Barn Quilt Trail. I originally heard about it from the Rochester, NY cadre of colleagues from SME some years, ago and as we do in life, filed it away as a really neat thing to do wondering if the opportunity would ever arise. And, it did thanks to a very patient and kind CF (college friend). Think map of Wyoming County. Think quilts. Think a community who has united themselves by hanging quilts, that is barn quilts, on different structures throughout their community. Wyoming County Strong!

These structures currently include businesses, private homes, and barns. The quilts are called barn quilts in the fact that they are wood therefore can be displayed outside, sometimes painted in design, sometimes pieced. All of them are brilliantly colored and all represent traditional quilt patterns. (The names of all the quilts seen here are posted on the map at the bottom of the post. Can you make the match?)

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Spool Knitting, Anyone?

A sweet story of perhaps a budding knitter . . .

So, of course, I feel it my mission as Grandmother (or otherwise) to encourage some sort of yarn crafting to my grandchild (or anyone else for that matter) who lives in Austin, Tx. About a year ago I sent L a box with some scrap yarn and a spool meant for spool knitting. Of course the tool came with directions and I was hoping that this might spark some sort of yarn crafting interest in her. About a week later, I was informed that no one in the house could figure out how to operate this little spool. Mind you, this is a house of very bright collegial people. :)

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Making Friends with Lace

Lace is not what I normally wear therefore it is not what I usually knit. To me, lace fabric doesn’t have body that I normally like in a garment, isn’t practical in its open-weave nature, and tends to be fashioned into shawls and/or scarves to show off its beautiful intricate patterns.

I am someone who does not wear shawls and rarely scarves mostly because I cannot seem to succeed in draping them on my body and if I do succeed, they do not stay. What I was seeing in fashion, however back in Spring/Summer 2017 of Vogue Knitting was the mixing of fabrics and styles, the mixing of fabrics traditionally used for one type of garment being used for another. And, when the unexpected happens, my attention is lit.

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Appreciating Kindness

A recent study, done before this pandemic by Amerispeak and WebMD, found that “57% of Americans are grieving the loss of someone close to them over the last three years.” I am one of those people. What I have learned about grieving people is that we all handle our personal grief so very differently.

I am the griever who acted on ridding herself of ‘his’ belongings, not the memories, the things. It was and continues to be my way of coping. The process began about three years, ago. In phases from what I deemed less significant to most meaningful, I began the removal. I have written more extensively about it [here]. I strategically found people, family members first, who I knew would appreciate the item as well as hold dear the memory of my late husband. The process of exchanges went smoothly with the what-you-might-expect niceties. 

This purging of ‘things’ due to grief however, has morphed itself into the consideration of other house items, now moving into the furniture category and the realization that when a family changes due to life circumstances, the items in a home do not change. So, I’ve been asking myself, “Are these items relevant to me now? Are they blocking future endeavors? Controlling me in any way?” 

I seem to always answer with the need to purge. So, now to be intentional and purposeful about my life, the giving away has continued. Photographing the ‘thing’, advertising its availability on a social media site, it being picked up. The receiver and I barely exchanging a word, no history shared of the piece, the deed happening in my driveway. Done. It is amazing how easy this process has become and how much I am enjoying the light and space that is left behind but, sadly, have come to accept the lack of any emotion with the new owner. 

Until the dining room table. A hieroglyphics of our lives. The first major piece of furniture late hubby and I purchased together for the house. Memories of the high chair, the traumatic moment of a food allergy, homework view point arguments, meal time candle burning, Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, social gatherings. 40 years of gathering and living. I had a replacement in mind, moving another smaller table into its space from another room. I pondered for a long time and came to the same decision, the large stately table needed a new home. 

I thought of the other things that were given away. This was clearly more difficult. More personal with our family history literally etched into it. I imagined it leaving me in the same way. On the other hand, did I want a table to hold me back from making my current living space more conducive for me now? 

As is the routine, I took photos, prepared it for its re-homing, and posted its most flattering pics on social media. The first response came within the first hour. Oh, I thought, here we go. 

But, this exchange was very different. I noticed the careful attention to the way my family heirloom was packed into their vehicle. Tenderness that I might be losing a great friend via commentary was felt. Those nicks? “A little Pledge Restore and Shine won’t hurt,” he said. A personal story or two shared. A gift bag given for the exchange of kindness. Words of gratitude and appreciation were said and felt. 

But, what inspired this writing and the memory I will keep is the message just received, and a day after. “I will treasure the table and create new memories with gatherings of friends and family. Thank you so much.” 

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.

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