Mrs. Donahue

Peter received a gift from a friend recently of carefully packaged vintage newspapers where headlines highlighted historic sports events.  It’s a fun keepsake for sure, and one that our babies Violet and Jack might well enjoy too, someday… but knowing my penchant for neatness, and tendency to too quickly recycle (guilty as charged), he decided to store his treasure box deep in the bottom drawer of his bureau, where, come to find out, he puts other special items to ensure their safety – like our old address book, newly discovered.

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Judging from its contents this is circa 1990s, right about the time I was keying our family data into my new apple computer – moving us too quickly into the future for my husband’s comfort I guess, hence its stashing. He came clean and revealed the find, expecting me to rip out the pages and uncoil the wire binding as prep for the recycle bin, but I couldn’t – at least not yet.  This was a time capsule and I needed a closer look.

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Area codes were just then being assigned and required for calling.  I’d forgotten that transition.  I found addresses of friends and family who had moved away, or passed away, phone numbers for old employment, business contacts, and service people.  We were immersed in Juliet’s world then – her classmates and their parents, summer camp, her orthodontist.  My parent’s page had been erased and rewritten several times as evidence of their multiple moves since my high school graduation years before.  I kept them in my hometown too long, and they were like a clock wound too tightly that needed release.  And there were some names I don’t recognize at all, such as Mrs. Donahue, that honestly would freak me out a bit, except that Peter doesn’t remember them either.  It’s nice, at least, to have company on that front. 

I’ve lost track of many – no, most – of the people on these pages.  It happens, life goes on.  But remembered or not, as thank you to all the people who have participated in and enriched our lives along the way Mrs. Donahue will be the name of my next soon-to-be-published sweater design.

Let the recycling begin. 

Update:  Mrs. Donahue, my latest knit design, just published 9/15/2018. 

I know that look

I found this from my great aunt Hilda while rummaging about for my next sweater name.  She was big on thank you notes, sometimes even thanking us for a thank you note we had sent to her – that admittedly made us smile.  The year was 1983 and by this time Hilda resided in an assisted living facility.  Predating the internet, her letters to us were her lifeline and Marlene reciprocated.  I'm grateful for that.  This thank you from her was sent in response to shared photos of our recent Easter that year.  M kept Hilda in the loop about family news, particularly about my daughter Juliet, then just 2 1/2 years old and changing daily. 

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Reading through, Hilda's handwriting is warmly familiar and I can hear her voice.  As a retired librarian she wrote well.  I find I even enjoy how it looks visually on the folded page – most definitely a futile plea for reviving this disappearing letter writing practice.

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This exerpt got my attention. 

In the picture that shows Juliet alone she has a totally different expression from any others that I've seen.  In fact it's an expression I have just recently seen on the face of your cousin Martha McKee (Arnold's daughter).  And what's more, Walter made the same observation before I did (an independent thought for each of us).  That expression we first saw on the face of our mother, Juliet's great great grandmother!

As background – Hilda, Arnold, and Walter (mentioned above) and my grandmother Mildred were siblings.  It was in the face of my baby girl that both Hilda and Walter had found a familiar look, one that they had seen before in their own mother Martha, 4 generations before my girl.  How delightful that in Juliet's exponentially enhanced gene pool, Martha revealed herself to us this way.

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Will my grandchildren's children's children find me in a sideways glance?  It's fun to think about.  Frankly, I'm planning to be there, in one form or another, whether they know it or not.

I Know That Look – my next sweater design – coming soon.

 

Update:  I Know That Look, my latest knit design, published 8/13/2018.

Paid in Full

While searching out a name for my latest knit design I serendipitously came across this delight – an ID card for my then 11 year old daughter Juliet from the Fafa/Mar Loan group, an agency founded by her grandparents, Bern (aka Fafa) and Marlene.

It seems that funds in the amount of $17.50 were needed by the young one and a teaching opportunity was hatched. This was so like my Dad, who delighted in all things Juliet.  At that time her emerging affinity for math, that likely originated from the gene pool of both him and Juliet's paternal grandmother (middle school math teacher) Lavalie, resulted in many happy after-dinner conference calls over homework assignments.  

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In this lesson, he drew up the contract as she calculated principle and interest amounts for a 6 month repayment plan. 

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It's noteworthy, that the loan was forgiven after month 1 – that was like him too. 

 Bern and Marlene, proprietors of the Fafa/Mar Loan group

Bern and Marlene, proprietors of the Fafa/Mar Loan group

Thinking of my Dad on Father's Day.

Paid in Full – my next sweater design – coming soon.

 

Update:  Paid in Full, my latest knit design, published 6/29/2018.

Walk this way

Still smitten with the lace of Windfall, and especially its silk wool blend, I'm conjuring up a turtleneck now in the same knitted fabric, one that's sleeveless.  It's definitely something my chic Marlene would have worn.  Though our styles often differed, Mum taught me to love clothes, buy good ones, and take chances with fashion.  She walked that walk, and usually more bravely than I.  

Those who knew us both say we looked alike and I tend to agree.  I see her staring back at me in the mirror every morning as I brush my teeth.  And sometimes I hear her too – her words, her laugh – coming from me.  Our resemblance has given me curious benefits – of checking out hairstyles she wore that might work for me too (okay, joke), and seeing in advance how I'll likely look as the years go by (joke, not).   

Some years after we lost Dad she was lonely and feeling ready to venture out into the dating world.  She had some cosmetic work done to boost her confidence and was happy with the result.  "What do you think Doe?" she asked.  She called me Doe.  "I don't know M," I responded, "I don't really see a difference," a response that at the time was likely accompanied by an eye roll.  Well, I'm near to the age that she was then, and although I'm not entertaining the idea for myself, her motivation is now crystal clear.  I’m sorry Mum.  I should really have been more supportive.

Mother's Day is this weekend and I'll be visiting her soon – my semi-annual pilgrimage to Maine where she rests.  I'll fill her in about Violet and our new baby boy on his way, though I suspect by the manner she guides me each day, in some cosmic way she already knows.   

 Marlene's Christmas card, 2008

Marlene's Christmas card, 2008

Walk this way – my next sweater design – coming soon.

Update:  Walk This Way, my latest knit design, published 6/14/2018.

Windfall

Marlene's watch died recently.  I've been wearing it for the past few years, putting my own aside.  Hers was special – because it was expensive, and it was engraved with her initials and date of her purchase, but most notably because it was hers. I checked into its repair and was told $1,200 would cover it, so...

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Here's the back story.  Marlene had always wanted to invest in the stock market, but Dad wasn't game for it.  Family chatter had it that Uncle Don had made some serious money in his day on the blue chips and Marlene wanted in on that.

Years later, on her own then and independent, she revisited that dream and asked her son-in-law, my husband, Peter for advice.  He had been interested himself, enough to see what was going on but without investments of his own, and the dot.com bubble was underway.  "Amazon," he advised, "put some money in that."  So she did, $10,000 – more than she should have risked probably, but they'd be watching and he wouldn't let her lose it, at least not all of it.  They watched it then as it climbed higher than anyone expected, for 6 whole months – HOO HA!  Then watchful Peter advised her to sell, which she did – begrudgingly.  It climbed a bit more after that before it fell back to earth. 

Mum walked away with $150,000 and one of the biggest thrills of her life.  We likely got some of her winnings, I'm forgetting, which at the time would certainly have gone to Juliet's college fund.  And Mum bought a $5,000 Rolex – the wristwatch of her dreams.  

After she died I had it stored away with her things for a time, but its value, both monetary and sentimental, gnawed at me, so I made it my own.  Admittedly it's super pretty, although with my aging eyesight it's hard to read the gold hands on its gold face (and that's the last time I'll admit to that).  One year I even ponied up the $400 (annual?) maintenance required to keep it running right. 

But lately it had been losing time and I now had a quandary I'm sure Marlene never intended.  The jeweler pointed out logically that if I fixed it I'd have a $5,000 Rolex for $1,200 after all – hmm.  So I asked Juliet how she felt about it.  If she wanted I'd keep it going, for her and conceivably for Violet too.

"It's not something I would wear Mum,"  she responded, putting the matter finally to rest.

So I'm storing it back away with her things, that we'll take stock of from time to time and remember this story.

In its (her) honor, Windfall will be the name of my next knitwear design – currently underway.  At least there's that.

Update:  Windfall, my latest knit design, published 5/9/2018.

My paper toys - taking stock of Hoss holiday fun

I've always loved New Year's Day and its promise of a fresh start – my annual bugle call to take stock and make plans.  This year I thought I'd begin by tidying up a bit, finally cataloging my paper toys:  the holiday ornaments announcing Hoss gift giving assignments.  

They started out as pure fun – fanciful experiments in paper mechanics.  I enjoyed making boxes and pop-up books at the time and these were an extension of that.  It's interesting to see how they've changed.  Over the years they've become richer, I'd say, by commemorating our family events, and for the last 10 years especially, creating an inadvertent historical record.  They've found their calling. 

20 years of Christmas Pick paper toys... where ever did the time go.

Happy New Year, everyone.

For A Good Egg

This was the lone egg cup I retrieved from my grandmother's kitchen years ago.  Though there were likely 4 once – a mum, a dad, a girl, and a boy, for their family – I had only known of 3, no girl cup, and by the time of my retrieval, only the dad cup remained.

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Turns out these were Cleminson ceramics, made in California in the post WWII 1940s, "a time after the war when society breathed a collective sigh of relief and went out looking for a bit of fun."  Who knew. 

Years later, aiming to recreate my childhood memory, I took a stroll on ebay and found my egg cup a friend. 

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And then more friends.

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Uh oh.

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Help me.

 

But wait, before you do – I think there's just one more I might need...

I won't stop until I find you.

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Thinking of you Mildred, my Nan.

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For a Good Egg, my latest knit design, published 11/21/2017.

Paper toys 2017

We had Sunday dinner at Ellie and Mark's yesterday and its end-of-summer timing was just right for distribution of Hoss holiday gift giving assignments – our annual event.

This gift pick toy commemorates a year of special generosity and selflessness, as we witnessed our Sheryl's kidney donation to her aunt Dianne.  Approaching their 6 month anniversary, both are doing well and we're grateful.


The off-season delivery

With another sweater design in the wings, off I went to the family archives in search of its name, a familiar drill by now.  As I've mentioned before, Marlene saved everything, and it's during these name hunting episodes that I often find myself – for better or for worse – on trips down memory lane.  This time, I ventured into the dreaded card box.  And this time, I finally took the time to see what exactly I had there.

Diving in, I found lots of correspondence – between my mum and her girlfriends, from her brother Sonny, thank you letters from great aunt Hilda, cards from my grandmother Mildred to my newly married parents, congratulations on my birth, some of my childhood artwork – all very fun to be sure – but most delightful to me, as I categorized each set and sorted by year, was realizing that my parents shared valentines every year of their 4-plus decades together.  A sampling follows.

 1950s

1950s

 1960s

1960s

 1970s

1970s

 1980s

1980s

And this was the last.  Dad died the following year.

 1995

1995

It's nice to know, amidst all the ups and downs there most surely were in their lives over the years, that the backdrop was this.

Paying homage to their romance, Be Mine will be the name of my next sweater design – a September valentine delivery.  I'll post and tweet upon its release.

 

Update – Be Mine published 9/20/2017


Love Letter

Hi my Nan,

How are you today?  I couldn't let the day go by without a big hello and hug from me.  And with today being your birthday, well, it has to be an extra big hug and hello.  All of your family and friends are here with me and we're all celebrating you today and remembering how special you are.  And because you are so special to me, I wanted to write you this letter to let you and everyone know how wonderful our story is, and how thankful I am for you.

Think of this letter as one of a string of the emails we would exchange throughout our day.  This one might be a little longer than the one you wrote to me on September 15, 2008 at 10:16 pm that simply said, "thinking of you... hoping all is well... love you always, Nan"

And the subject matter of this letter might be a little more serious than when you emailed, "just bought 7 items in Filenes Basement for $127... not bad eh? xoxoxo" on July 27, 2007 at 11:55 am.

I also hope that as you hear this letter it will cause far less confusion on your end than on mine when on April 27, 2006 at 9:29 am you wrote, "Hi my hon... just heard the most interesting news... a cat in China just gave birth to a puppy.  The rest of the litter were kittens.  Now how funny is that. xoxoxo" 

But just like all of those emails, this letter helps me say hello to you and let you know in this free minute of my day that I'm thinking of you and wanting to connect with you even though we may be in different places.  The beautiful thing about correspondence like this letter or our emails is that the feelings written within them never fade and that each time stamp has the ability to record a moment in our story so well.  So whenever either one of us is missing the other, we can reread them and be reminded of all the xoxoxo's exchanged throughout the years.

This is how Juliet began her eulogy for Marlene on July 1, 2009 in front of family and friends.  

This letter is not meant to grieve your passing or to dwell on the awful sickness that took you from us.  While those are all important emotions that I and everyone here have no doubt felt, this is my love letter to you, one in which I get the chance to reflect back to you all the love you've given me over the last 29 years, and express my gratitude for having had you in my life.  I know that with all the love and gratitude I am shining on you – that we are all shining on you today – you will be the brightest and most radiant Nan out there, visible to everyone in this chapel and beyond, and will continue to shine as long as we remember.

If I were to explain the story of you and me to someone else, I would have to divide it into 3 chapters.  The first chapter would be about the first way that I knew you:  as my grandmother.  You made everything special.  You let me have Fruit Roll-ups when my parents would not.  You brought me to Canobie Lake Park and Water Country in the summertime.  And when we played miniature golf you stood with your feet positioned so that my ball would always land in the hole no matter how bad my aim.  You spoiled me on holidays and at birthdays. You loved whatever gift I presented to you at Christmas and always said, "Well this will have to go in a very special place in my house."  And it always did.  You took me bathing suit shopping every spring.  I can't get rid of any of them, so seriously, I have a drawer full of like 15 or so.  You always sent me a valentine.  For my 25th birthday you gave up your engagement ring and allowed my mom to use the stone for the necklace I'm wearing today.  And together with my parents, you were my biggest fan, and supported me when I decided to change careers.

As our story continued and I grew older, I got to know you in a different way.  You were still always my grandmother, and became my friend.  However unconventional it was for a grandmother and granddaughter to become real friends, we didn't care.  We enjoyed each other's company.  We could talk about anything and keep each other's secrets.  We would have one of our little chats, as you named them, over lunch or on our way to the movies.  You accepted me for who I was, and it was a rare day that we didn't talk on the phone or email.  We gossiped, traded tips on which store had the best jeans or which actress had the best haircut.  We danced together at family parties, toasted over glasses of wine, had spa day, and when we quarreled, which was rare, you would wait until I was done with my rant, look at me, pause for a second, smile and say, "You know, I really just love the way you did your eye makeup today my hon.  You must show me how you did that."  And at that moment all I could do was smile back, forgetting whatever I had been mad about, and tell you that I used brown pencil instead of just powder.

The latest chapter in our story started not long before you got sick and is the role that I know will continue to live on.  Nursing school was especially stressful for me and I was living alone in New York for the majority of it.  Whenever I had an exam or assignment that would stress me out I would tell you and you would say, "Well don't worry.  I'm your guardian angel and will send lots of good vibes from Massachusetts while you're taking your test, so it will surely go well."  It sounds crazy, but it always worked.  If I was stuck on a particular question all I had to do was stop, take a deep breath and know you were thinking of me.  You once wrote, "Hi my hon, tonight is the big exam.  I got up especially early this morning to start sending you good vibes, so you will have nothing to worry about."  I surely would never have made it through school without you.  If it's okay, I'll still think of you as my guardian angel, only now you aren't so far from me.

And so my Nan, though my heart is broken knowing that our little chats over lunch and birthday celebrations will now exist only in my memory, I feel better thinking of you in a brighter place; that you are relaxed, comfortable, and free from pain and nausea.  I know where ever you are, you have a big glass of white wine with ice cubes and are listening to Willie Nelson or Whitney Houston.  Maybe you have just completed a long walk by the water and have noticed all the birds and fish along the way, or perhaps have just finished up 30 minutes on your rowing machine and are energized to start your day. Maybe you are seated at a table on the porch with Fafa at sunset and are catching up with your parents and brother on all the events they've missed since you last saw them.  Or maybe you are even trading stories with Farrah Fawcett, someone you've felt connected to, who shares your beauty and your strength.  Where ever you are, please know this.  I think of you every day and keep you with me always.  You are my grandmother, my friend, and my heart.  I only hope that one day, I am fortunate enough to share with my granddaughter a love as special and true as ours.

My daughter takes my breath away.  So does Marlene.

Farrah published 6/1/2017.


She loved Lucy

My design ideas have been coming up in pairs lately, where discoveries made in the first spawn revisions and additions in the next.  And although I do enjoy the opportunity to go back at the math and construction in a second go-round, I admit that it hadn't been my initial plan.  It's just what happened along the way and accounts for the lame naming of Brooklyn2 following the previously published Brooklyn – alas.  

So when I saw it happening again in my current design duet I decided to get out in front of it by determining a family sourced name pair from the start.

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This is a favorite family photo – my parents, Bern and Marlene on the left, with my aunt Kay and uncle Clem (aka Junior or Luke) at a night club somewhere.  I enjoy this point-in-time glimpse into their lives, and imagining them then.  It's 1951, Marlene was 20 and working full-time at a Boston insurance company.  They married the following year.  

I remember Dad would happily recount how she'd laugh out loud watching I Love Lucy on TV during those years and I like to think of that.  Watching those early episodes gives great insight into the society of the times and the roles of men and women – a time when a clear hierarchy existed between the sexes. During those years most women gave up jobs and became homemakers after marriage, but Marlene wanted a career.  So bucking the tide and amidst some gossip (I'm told), she continued working.  By the time of her retirement years later she had become a beloved fixture and integral member of the staff of the Harvard Athletic Department.

I know she never felt that she had achieved the career status she wished for, but she was definitely ahead of her time.  I hope she found pride in that, and for being a terrific role model for me – this yet another in the myriad of things I should have told her.

Lucy and Ethel – 2 button-less garter stitch cardigans with shrug and wrap-around variations – are currently underway.  Updates to follow.

 

Update – Lucy published 2/22/2017 followed by Ethel on 3/1/2017.


Brooklyn

Amidst the myriad of changes that have happened in 2016 – the birth of my granddaughter (oh hooray!) and the presidential election (omg!), to name a few – is another, worthy of note.  My daughter sold her Brooklyn co-op.

She bought it a while after graduating from college.  At the time there were good reasons for her to move there – a job opportunity, friends in Manhattan, new adventures; and some undeniable reasons for procrastination – the unknowns of a new job and city, leaving the comfort of family, and most of all, living alone.  I knew she was up to it, and admired, I suppose, the freedom for reinvention she had at that stage of her life.  So, in response to her announcement that she would move only if she purchased a place, off we went.  That weekend we made the trip, found her co-op, she made an offer, and the deal was done. Unexpected? – oh yes. 

That was 2005.  I remember our surreal drive from Boston for her move, and making our way back home without her.  Marlene used to say that our children bring us along and I balked then at the concept.  I see the truth to it now.  She moved in and never looked back.  As for me, I got the gift of seeing my daughter flourish and visited as often as I could without becoming a nuisance, happily experiencing this new, now favorite city for myself.  Yes, I've definitely been brought along. 

Where will she take me next?  Where ever it is, I'm in.


Continuing my homage to life events – pattern writing for my latest knit design, a cardigan named Brooklyn, is currently underway.  Publication is planned for next week, updates to follow.

Update – Brooklyn published 11/30/2016.


Nans

Now that I'm a grandmother I've been thinking more about being one.  Honestly, it hadn't occurred to me before this  my daughter becoming a mom took precedence over all of my thinking.  

In the few weeks before new baby Violet's birth, and during the several that have followed, I've been asked what she will call me  hmm, more uncharted territory. Does one pick a name, or is it chosen for her. My google search yielded:

Modern names for grandmothers include Ama, GoGo, Gigi and Mimi. Grandmothers choose modern names to symbolize that they are young and cool, and avoid traditional names such as Granny and Grandma. They choose unique names to distinguish themselves from other grandmothers.

And being young and cool...  one of my pals has started calling me Gigi.  I find this hysterical.

From postcard correspondence I see that Marlene's grandmother was Nana.  My own was Nanny.  I don't know how either name came to be and Mum's gone now so I can't ask. (Regrettably, this happens a lot.  I thought I knew it all.)  

Mum was a Nanny too, that got shortened to Nan later on by her then adult granddaughter.

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So for now, I guess I'll be a Nanny or Nana or Nan, until Violet decides. I'm sure she'll pick one that rings just right.

Meanwhile, a cardigan – Nan – honoring all of us, is forthcoming, and currently being tested by glorious knitters.  Estimated publishing date is set for late October 2016. 

Update – Nan published 10/27/2016.


Paper toys 2016

The Hoss clan had dinner together last night, celebrating Ellie and Mark as they get ready to head back home to West Virginia after our usual summer of fun.  With all of us in attendance it was the perfect setting to distribute this year's paper toys for holiday giving assignments, so I hustled to get them done, finishing up finally on the car ride to Scituate. 

The panorama that wraps each was taken at one of our parties on Ellie and Mark's ocean-view front porch, and hints at the happy craziness that's gone on there over the years. 

But this time their departure is different.  They're packing up everything and clearing out on to new adventures.  After a lifetime of ownership they've sold their cottage and won't be returning to it.  They will, howeverbe returning to us, for more happy crazy times, where ever we are.  We'll make sure of that. 


B is for Betsy


Yes, I'm definitely feeling nostalgic these days.  Looking backward while moving forward – my usual state – has been made more-so by a combination of summer dreaming, impending grand-motherhood, and my significant family tree research of late now that son-in-law James has introduced his additional and excitingly deep lineage to explore.  I'm channeling Dad (Bernard Henry) now in my effort to get our family history documented, all neat and tidy for our new baby girl.  BH would surely approve.

So recently, while conjuring up a new knit, the spirit of my great aunt Lillian Hildegarde joined in. B is for Betsy was her chapter book gift to my mum Marlene in the 1940's, that eventually made its way to me in the 60's, and then to Juliet in the 80's.  Its current state, as shown, now complete with the markings from 3 generations of bedtime reading and a vintage DYMO embossed ownership label (I found its name on the internet), has over the years provided hours of parent-child quality time, the familiar names of all of our pets, and most recently that of my latest knit design, just published.

Flipping through its pages while preparing this post I came across its chapter 8 – How Betsy Went to Pick Violets and Got Into Trouble.  I had to laugh.  Could this book have been the subliminal source of my new granddaughter's name as well??  Okay, kidding – since its source is obviously the heavenly reach of Juliet's paternal grandmother, Lavalie Bixby Hoss, who long ago claimed the flower as her favorite.  It all makes perfect sense to me.  That's how I roll.

V is for Violet Mae, born August 6th – my future sweater model, or protégé perhaps, if she'll agree.


You & You Too.

I've got a new knit design underway, a pair of cowls, and the set needs a name – a task I sometimes find more challenging than working out the design itself. Keeping consistent in combining my interests (all my designs' names have a family link), I turned once again to Marlene's archives – this time, specifically, her greeting card collection. She kept them all, every one she ever received, or so it seems.  

Years ago, while taking stock of her possessions, I had grouped these, tied them up with twine, and stashed them in the plastic bins that now occupy the corner of my workroom. My knit-design-name-searching gives me reason and motivation to revisit these bundles, and doing so I often rediscover family events I've forgotten or learn things I never knew. This time, among valentines and birthday cards, I came across 3 postcards, out of place – from Dad.  

As a young man Dad worked in a sheet metal shop at the Charlestown Navy Yard. He made pipe fittings. I'm not exactly sure what these are, but over time he parlayed this work experience, coupled with his innate neatness and attention to detail, and moved from the making of these things to the planning of their placement on big naval ships. By the 1970's he found himself traveling to ports around the world on shipchecks.

I miss my girls too much to be away alone. They were 20 years into their marriage by then. I was 17. He didn't travel without her again. The very next month photos find them together in London, the next year in Rome and Paris, and in the years that followed in many more European and Island destinations. It's nice to see them smiling back at me in the photo below, from somewhere in Italy. They lived well, and happily.

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Its name now known, my cowl set – You & You Too – is forthcoming. I'll update this post and send out a tweet upon its release.

Update – You & You Too published 5/13/2016.


Miss Me Yet?

The name of my latest design (almost literally) fell into my lap as I was working with Mum's postcards.  While sorting through I found this one among them – a message from then teen-aged Marlene, writing home to her family.  

Always on the lookout for a family story to apply to my knits, the irresistible Miss Me Yet became its name even before any of its design details came into view. Then most of these came easily too.  And that never happens.

Still swooning over the quince & co. cotton yarn I used for the remake of May, the single skein remaining from that project called to me.  I ordered more and Miss Me Yet used up every last bit.  

Juliet's Openwork Mitts spawned its lace.  The stitch count repeat in multiples of 6 was easily translated to the rib trim variations of its hems, pocket tops, and button lap, and provided elegant hiding places for the invisible shaping of its bodice.  

Knit in the round, from the cuffs up, I worked out something entirely new while shaping the sleeves.  Increasing only 1 stitch on the round instead of 2 eliminated the visual jog, spiraled nicely, and was an easier story for knitters trying to follow my directions – something I value as much as the design itself.

The stitch pick-up count of a button lap is often more science than art.  Too many stitches and it bulges badly, too few and it pulls upward.  Aiming at just right I had the additional self-imposed mandates of a count that was divisible by 3 (to match the rhythm of the lace) plus 2 more (for a clean edge), and 4 buttonholes that needed to be spaced evenly from v-neck base to hem.  In addition to all of this, but held on the way-back burner for the moment, was my wish that as the 3x3 ribbing joined with the back neckline, its sequence would match the pattern of the stitches that were held there.  Too much to ask?  Mathematically possible, but in my experience, unlikely – and yet all of this, including the long-shot of the back neckline segue, worked out on my very first try for all 7 sizes.  

Serendipity?  Sure, but in this case I prefer to employ a bit of magical thinking.  

8 glorious test knitters from New Jersey, Texas, Washington, Denmark, Germany, and India are working as I write this to prove out my calculations and check my text. I'll plan to publish in late April once they're done.  

I have a good feeling about this one, an angel on my shoulder.  And to answer the question posed by its title – yes, Marlene, we surely do.

Update – Miss Me Yet published 4/23/2016.


The collector

I discovered Marlene's postcard album when I was going through her things.  I was in a hurry then so bundled them up, and they've been sitting on my shelf since. Recently I circled back.

She collected postcards when she was a girl during the 1940's and continued through the 50's.  It was either the rage to send cards back then or widely known that she collected, since there are several hundred in the bunch.  Probably both are true.  She had them to and from friends and family (among them Hattie, Hilda, Mildred, Martha, and Mitzi – for those who follow my sweater designs). 

All delightfully vintage and visually interesting for that, of equal treasure, especially for me, are their backs.  I saw where they lived through delivery addresses and their hand in their writing.  Reading through I met my mum as a girl and a teenager, and my grandmother Mildred younger than when I knew her.  I met my great-grandmother Martha too, for the first time. 

Included among this vintage set, was one a little less so.  At the very end of the postcard pile I found this.

Apparently I felt the need to clarify as sender.

I've put aside my knitting for the past several days to make their container as these cards are box-worthy for sure – 

– keeping kindred spirits alive.