Time trackers

I discovered twelve wristwatches while taking stock of Mum’s possessions after we sold her condo. There’s no doubt she saved things. Of the find, nine of the watches were hers (that included Windfall), two belonged to her mother Mildred, and one was my Dad’s – the last one he wore. Although I was able to find homes for most of her things after she passed away, the watches were personal and too meaningful to me, so I kept them. I felt they deserved a place of HONOR.

Later, while integrating her things with my own, I found fifteen more watches stored away. As my mother’s daughter I tend to save things too. Five were mine, seven were Juliet’s, and the last three were Peter’s – a total of 27 family wristwatches in all, and my Watch Box project was born.

That was back in 2010 just after I retired from my day job and my new found time was my own. The Watch Box had all my attention and my project had a healthy start. Over those few weeks I built 27 - 2” boxes to contain each watch and wrapped them with silver paper. Then I found and scanned 27 photos of the watch owners in their representative time and place. It was a healthy and strenuous start for sure – that stalled out pretty soon after due to my indecision and project fatigue, I’d say, and also because my knitting was calling to me.

So I packed it all up and stored it neatly in a clear plastic bin – just to make sure it could be easily resumed and stayed within my sight – and I promised myself I’d get back to it soon.

Fast forwarding to now, 2019, and as luck, or fate, would have it (though I tend to go with fate) – for the past few weeks I’ve been nursing a tennis (knitter’s) elbow that’s forced me away from my needles. And it’s been during this knitting drought, in an uncharacteristic bout of housekeeping, that I came across that neatly packed, clear plastic bin containing my project, still underway.

Taking advantage of serendipity, I went at it again, this time with fresh energy, and this time I finished.

Introducing my Watch Box – a collection of wristwatches

 
 

with those who wore them, where and when.

Martha

Peter and I have a daily ritual of watching Leave it to Beaver each morning over coffee. It’s really kind of embarrassing. Initially we just wanted to get away from the news – we’re up at 6 each day and by the time Beaver comes on at 8 we’re toast – but by now we watch because, well, we like it. Jerry Mathers, the actor who plays Beaver, is about my age and it’s set in the late 1950’s early 60’s – the time of our childhood. June Cleaver is his stay-at-home mom, and a homemaker who does housework wearing a dress and pearl necklace. She doesn’t drive (at least I don’t think she does – otherwise wouldn’t she have been able to take the boys to the track meet in the episode when Lumpy’s car broke down?), and she defers to her husband Ward on all matters of importance.

It’s an idealized view to be sure, but the series makes me think. Although Marlene often allowed Dad to take lead, not much of the rest rings true for me. Mum had a job and went to work each day while I attended nursery school, elementary school and so on. She drove. Was she ahead of her time?

I recently updated a knit design named for my great-grandmother Martha, once again giving me the opportunity to dive into family records, this time for a closer look at her story.

 
Martha Steig c1893

Martha Steig c1893

 

Martha Theresa Louisa Steig b. 1877 in Germany migrated to the US with her family in 1887 when she was 10.

At the age of 20 she married Albert Ulrich Ziegler, b. 1874. They had 5 children: Lillian Hildegarde (b. 1898), Arnold (b. 1900), Mildred (b. 1901), Walter (b. 1906), and Albert (b. 1911). The oldest, Lillian Hildegarde (Hilda), contracted polio as a child that left her handicapped.

 
Martha and Albert c1905

Martha and Albert c1905

 
 
Martha and Albert c1916

Martha and Albert c1916

 

Sadly, some years later Martha and Albert had discord and divorced, caused primarily, as the family story goes, by their disagreement over Hilda’s college attendance. Huh?

I have confirmed that they were divorced at some point between 1920 and 1930 since the 1930 census indicates Mrs. M T Ziegler’s status as such and shows them living separately. Divorce was spoken of in whispers during the time of my childhood, never mind 2 full generations before that – and undertaken for reasons of a female child attending college?! Just wow. Although the messages were mixed – Martha feared that Hilda would not find a husband to support her financially – I’m struck by Martha’s obvious innovation, and courage. There was likely more to the story, but she wanted Hilda to attend college and Albert did not.

Fast forwarding to the end, college was attended and Hilda became an MIT librarian where she worked until her retirement in 1969. Thanks in part to mother Martha, she lived independently for all of her days.

 
Martha and Hilda c1925

Martha and Hilda c1925

 

Circling back to the beginning of my post, I like to think that the variation in Marlene’s 1950’s lifestyle might stem in part from something in her DNA, something maybe from Martha, that hopefully I got a bit of too. I’m going with that.

Martha, my latest knit redesign, just republished 3/27/2019.

Delicious toast

My grandparents Mildred and Harold (My Valentine), aka Nanny and Gramps, were fresh on my mind as I searched recently for the name of my latest knit design. We were close throughout my life, and they were often present, but it’s a few early memories that got me smiling, and as a new grandmother myself, began to resonate.

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Sometimes when my parents had a late night out I would be lucky enough to have an overnight with Nanny and Gramps. It didn’t happen often and I was too young then (or maybe too old now) to remember too many details, but the experience based on early impressions was a good one.

There was the black alligator-printed valise just big enough for a 3 year old’s pajamas and tooth brush, a dinner stand-out of white rice with ketchup, and sleeping in the middle of a huge-to-me double bed. And in the next day’s sunny morning, I would eat Arnold Brick Oven white bread toasted and spread with margarine. Bliss.

I’m grateful for these memories, and all the rest from my loving and supportive home that shaped my filter on the world. This I don’t take for granted – which brings me next to my young occasional charge.

 
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Whatever will this ladybug remember of her visits with me, Ninny, and her grandfather, Bop.

Perhaps this.

 
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Delicious Toast, my latest knit design, just published 2/25/2019.

My valentine

I’ll be digging through my family photo archives soon in search of a name for my next design, currently in the works. What I find there is always a surprise. I wasn’t intending to post on my blog today, but on this Valentines Day something prompted me to take a peek into the folder labeled with my own name, where I discovered this small envelope, yellowed with age.

 
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I do love that Marlene saved things. This was my valentine to my grandfather Harold (Gramps – a name I gave him) Welch, c 1961. And since most of my posts highlight the women in my family due to my feminine knit designs, I’m pleased to take a moment and say hello to Gibby (soft G), as my grandmother Mildred called him – her rock of Gibraltar she was fond of pointing out, and that I love remembering.

 
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This was me then, posing in one of the few sweaters Marlene made for me, beside my parakeet Pete. Coincidences abound as I married Peter 18 years later – ya, not the parakeet :).

Undoubtedly Mum knitted this drawstring top using Hattie’s needles, on which she later taught me – one of the rivers that runs through my life. (They’re there if you look for them as I tend to.)

 
Marlene and Harold ( Gramps, Gibby ).

Marlene and Harold (Gramps, Gibby).

 

Sometimes brushing my teeth in the morning I see him looking back at me. Marlene and I tend to favor his lineage. It’s usually a sign that I should get my eyebrows done – reported lovingly.

Happy Valentines Day Harold-Gramps-Gibby. I’m thinking of you.

Hattie's needles

I relaunched a renovated Hattie pattern over the weekend. She’s top down now and reknitted in a worsted yarn, replacing the DK that had been discontinued. My only regret is that required new photos now replace the originals of my girl. See? Alas.

My Hattie pattern was published initially in January of 2011 – the fourth design in my newly formed Deb Hoss Knits endeavor, released after Marlene, Mildred, and Martha, (named for my mother, grandmother and great grandmother, respectively). Hattie deserves this prominence in my lineup as she was an early champion and mentor of my interests. It was on Hattie’s needles that Marlene taught me to knit after all. I gathered them up for this writing and was pleased to find so many – my old friends.

Sticker decorations courtesy of my Violet.

Sticker decorations courtesy of my Violet.

Harriet (Hattie) Stieg was born in 1888 in South Boston, the second youngest sister of my great grandmother Martha and 11 years her junior, nearly overlapping generations. I never got to meet Martha, who died when my mother was in high school, but I did meet Hattie. One summer day in the 60’s her son drove her out to our Waltham house. She would have been in her 70’s around then, and I would have been around 10. After birthing 4 sons, Hattie was likely delighted with my sewing interest and, no longer knitting herself, with finding a home for her fabrics and tools.

In researching for this post I came across these fun photos of Hattie’s crowd on a Florida vacation back in her day, c.1908.

 
 

Happily, as luck, or fate, would have it, Hattie had many, many days. She died in August of 1980 at the age of 92, overlapping 1 month with the life my daughter, her great great great niece Juliet born in July of that year. Amazing right?

Thank you Hattie, for your motivation and support. I carry it with me still.

For our wild child

Highlighting November activities – I’ve recently updated and relaunched the pattern for my Gussie design, a sport weight lace pullover.  Originally published in 2011, I reformatted the instructions and schematics, and added metrics with a row tracking tool – just to save knitters the step.

Gussie  c 2018

Gussie c 2018

While I was at it, I re-imagined her as Chunkie Gussie, recalculated stitches for aran weight yarn, and launched that pattern too. 
It’s fun to see how a simple change in the yarn effects the overall character of the design.

Chunkie Gussie  c 2018

Chunkie Gussie c 2018

Which brings me next to their namesake – my aunt, my great great aunt, that is, and according to legend, our family’s wild child – Augusta Elisabetha Steig, aka Gussie.

In these photos taken around 1905, she would have been about 19 years old, and since the only images I have of her are at this age, there she stays for me.

I’m thinking of her now, forever young – and wonderfully wild. 

You go girl.

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.