Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Home Is the North

I've always had a sort of genetic nostalgia for the North, realm of snowy swaths of land and rugged peoples, craggy rocks and rocky waters. My Viking and Celtic forebears knew much more of those things than I do now, in my temperate life in this lush valley. I can only imagine that kind of cold, the short but tireless summers and long dark winter. But I can be assured of one thing: our common affection for wool.
This collection for the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project  was born out of the romance I have for the far North and their knitting traditions, especially their way with colorwork. I almost always enjoy my work more in collaboration, so I begged Sorren to climb aboard because I have absolute faith in her taste and impeccable knitting skills. And the result was these six patterns, mostly geared around our children because they are so dadgum adorable in things like hoods and legwarmers, but there are a few options for adults, too. Alongside the instructions and photos are some irrepressibly whimsical illustrations by Sorren, in short, this was a lot of fun to put together. Without further ado, the patterns:

Anders (Ravelry link), by Sorren


A beautiful and approachable colorwork sweater in four sizes, Anders is full of possibilities. I love the options to wear it with the buttons on the front or the back, depending on how much you trust your little one to not chew them off.


The color choices for this little snowy scene are pretty irresistible, and in a sport weight it can be either a cozy middle or light outer layer. You may have already noticed this one, it's kind of taken Ravelry by storm. Sorren would never be so crass as to brag about it, so I have to for her.

Anikka, by me





I had been wanting to make a little knitted jumper for Anaiah ever since I became aware about a year ago of the eminent versatility of this type of garment for a little girl. I imagined it being a no-fuss kind of affair with a bit of sweet colorwork around the hem and a simple bodice, the kind of thing that can grow with a girl and be as much use at two months as two years. Or almost. I made two sizes to span that amount of time, anyway, each one can easily cover several months of the rapid growth that is legend among the half-pint set.


Eivor, by Sorren


A quick and cozy cowl in two sizes, with the same motif as Anders but in a worsted weight to keep the Arctic chill from your collar.


Kirsa, by me


When I started to think about patterns for this collection, this was the first one I thought of. I wanted something slightly gnome-like without being too utterly twee (I hope), cute as a button and practical, and with pompoms. I am a firm believer in pompoms. The faced brim makes this extra warm, the colorwork is all achieved in the round, and there are enough sizes to keep all the young and adult people in your life in cheery comfort.


Lucia, by Sorren


Little legs also need something to keep the chill out, and these are just the ticket. They coordinate uncommonly well with Anikka (cough, cough), and with an articulated knee and reflecting patterns they are quick and ready to be on the go, wherever they go. They can also come in handy for mom's arms, or even baby carrier straps in a pinch.

Tovi, by me




At the eleventh hour, I needed a hat. That serious late-fall cold snap was sweeping across the country, and my ears are very sensitive to such things. I knew precisely what I wanted, a snug triple-layer brim with a roomy and festive body. Something to kick around in all winter long, to cheer up a gloomy day, leave my hair in place and that could be knit up in one or two evenings. Fortunately for my ears and this collection, I got it right and in time to publish. Hallelujah!


That wraps things up for us, I think. Now I'm all excited about wooly things again, hmmm...and I have so much yarn left over...

Stay warm, friends, and ring in the new year in style!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Around the bend

Is where I am headed! No. Not yet, anyway. Rather, there is something else coming around the bend, a bit of a something that occupied most of my 'free' waking moments this fall...


Not Instagram, but that bit of fluff on my son's head...as soon as I finish going through all the bajillionty photos I took today and agonizing over which to use, you'll get to see more. Hooray! It should happen soon.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From the archives

I keep meaning to get some sort of photojournal thing started. You know, the kind of thing where I shamelessly display the photos I take for people, but it gets tricky because a lot of them have their own release dates that exist far in the future...and to keep track of all that would require a level of organization heretofore unseen in my business life. We're working on it. But here's the rub, guys, I get really excited about this work, it makes me tick, it pushes the right buttons, it floats my boat. So I am going to try harder.

What I love most about this work is the people, far and away. I go weak in the knees over good textiles and magical lighting, I grant you, but it's these people, these brilliant and generous and hard-working people that warm the cockles of my heart. Take Hannah:

If you are thinking that she looks like the kind of person you'd like to share studio space and possibly a few secrets with, you're right. And she has made (with her husband) the most lovely home, really a photographer's dream, and in that home she is crafting some truly phenomenal things. But don't take my word for it, go see for yourself.

A few months ago, Alex encouraged me to offer my services to the contestants on Skacel's The Fiber Factor Challenge. Most of my good ideas are actually Alex's good ideas (thanks, love!), so I did, and Jennette Cross took a chance and hired me. To say I was honored is an insipid simplification, I very much hope that I did her proud.



And, oh golly, I have thousands upon thousands of pictures of beautiful things and people. Sounds like it's time to make this a regular thing. Until the next time, then.

Cheers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

*cough, cough*

Getting pretty dusty around here. I'm going to skip the hangdog excuses and move right onto the rest of it. Life, that is. It happens, we all know that, right?

I turned thirty last month, I was pretty happy about it.


With your permission, let's explore age a little bit. Aside from the sobering development that I am now, for the first time in my life, older than I actually feel (and I hear things will stay this way in perpetuity), I don't think much about my age. What I have started to ponder are the ages; generations, to be precise. Suddenly we can't make it through a news cycle or publication without someone declaiming the ills of my generation -- the Millennials. Our new sins, our inventive lack of morals, our utter fecklessness, our incomprehensibly public lives, the hopeless futures we are ascending to. Few and quiet are our supporters, Gen-Xers, in particular (our bullish big brother), are clarion in their disgust and self-righteousness. Does anyone else think this ironic? Just as the aged laugh indulgently at the young and the way they think they invented ideals and sex and art, can we take a moment to laugh at the aging and the way they think they invented work ethic, upright values and civic-minded stability? The older I get, the more I conclude that people are people, always have been, and always will be. The rest is just paint -- the changes in fashion, technology, culture, even paradigms. Our is to scoff at our elders when we are young (and think that we invented ideals and sex and art), and then be deliciously and smugly scandalized by youth in our turn.

There is a lot of growing up happening around me. A boy who is on the cusp of seven years, tall as a small pony and with an insatiable appetite for experience and answers and information that is only matched by his sister, on the cusp of seventeen months. It is delightful how parallel their paths are, and yet how very different. They are both discovering a new realm of language, horizons of expression, refinement in physicality and pushing to find the edge of their worlds. They are so well-suited to each other, then, to be on this journey, and have started to single out their own relationship that is like no other -- the sibling. Which calls for another collage, though alas with only one child; the boy is wilier these days.

There are many more things coming down the pike to get excited about and they deserve a bit of gussying up before they arrive. I will be back, and I'll likely continue to tweak the face of this creature for a while, too, it was high time for a new look.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stage Two: Raymond, ME

After our exciting debut in Gorham we traveled a bit farther inland to the Lakes Region and the kids' other set of grandparents. A point of order here (if you've known me at all in the last decade or so, I'm sure you've heard this bit. Apologies.): Being on the east coast confuses my compass, I might as well be in Australia. I never realized how much I rely on my internal area map and relation to major bodies of water (i.e. oceans) and mountains. Almost all my life, the ocean has meant West and inland means East, and every time I find myself on the opposite coast I make a fool of myself.

With a baby and a broken arm, we spent our time much closer to home base than is our usual wont, but that's not to say that things lacked excitement. There were frogs and fish to catch almost every day, a Portland Sea Dogs baseball game, family and friends galore, lakes to splash around in, and food and food and food. Anatole ate his first two lobsters, swiftly becoming an expert, it's in his blood. And he helped his grandmother make genuine whoopie pies, the official state treat of Maine (not dessert, which is the blueberry pie, they know the important differences between these things over there).

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Even cooler than all that, though, was our visit to grandfather's place of work as a railway engineer. We got a rare and privileged view (though regrettably few pictures, I was so busy just pushing buttons and holding onto babies), and Anatole even got to drive a train down a short section of track, steam blowing and bells ringing and horns a-blowing. It was a sight to remember, a one-armed boy lost behind a giant orange safety vest and face-splitting grin.

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The coup de grace is this much-abused and gnomic sign:

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Stage One: Gorham, ME

At the end of June the kids and I went to Maine. I had flown solo with Anatole several times when he was an infant, so I thought I knew a thing or two about traveling alone with kids. I was wrong, it turns out that I only knew about the peaceful experience of traveling alone with kid, singular, and the overnight cross-country version was an eye-opening experience, so to speak. To be fair, they both behaved extraordinarily well, I felt so lucky, I just did not in any way have enough hands or eyes to get the job done with much dispatch.

But we arrived, gleefully, into the arms of one of my best friends and her darling little boy in their sweet home in Gorham. I am not much of a photojournalist, I tend to only take my camera out (in real life) when there is not much going on, so I miss a lot. I'll have to tell the story, then.

Our first day, we took the ferry out to Peak's Island. It was very windy, which Anaiah loved.

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The boy lost his hat shortly after this photo was taken:

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I actually briefly contemplated whether there was a way for me to fish it out. Crazy person. Then we hit land again and away went the camera in favor of ice cream and sand and an illogically cranky toddler. Just when we hit our stride and were truly relaxing it was time to dash back to the ferry and console ourselves with delicious pizza.

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I love this place, but then so does everyone so I don't know if I'm allowed to say that I love it... New from when we were last here (I think, feel free everyone to tell me how wrong I am) was this 'Before I die I Want to Have..."chalkboard wall. A cute concept, but it was oddly irksome to me because it just wound up reading like everyone's Twitter feeds that you never wanted to read. I think that we are far, far too practiced now at writing anonymous sound bytes for public consumption. Being overly clever/zany/heartfelt/sarcastic/edgy/philosophical just doesn't pack the same wallop that it used to. And of course someone had already taken my stock ├╝berlazy reply of "lived" so I was just so over it.

But this was a hiccup, a minor glitch like the hat overboard. We cavorted, we were on vacation and it was stretched out before us like a long, smooth sunlit road.

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(Hint, foreshadowing.) Roughly an hour later, just after we returned to Jane's house, my lovely, vibrantly happy little boy broke both bones of his right forearm. I didn't take pictures of that either. I also somehow didn't just lean over and vomit up the sickening desperate feeling gripping my gut at the sight of the wrong wrong wrong oxbow in his slender wrist. I gathered him up and ushered everyone back into the car and we drove back to Portland to sample of their emergency medical care. I've had better nights, but morning always shows up again and after all, we still had a vacation to attend to.

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We spent the rest of ours days with Jane in some welcome R&R, chasing chickens and picnics and watching the bullfrogs. Then it was time to move on to Stage Two, where I'll see you again soon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Caught In the Act

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Here I was, living this summer as though the internet didn't exist. As though I had no tales to tell or pictures to show or news to share. Then it crept back up on me at 10:30pm this evening and there was nothing for it but to dig out all those photos I've been hoarding and make some sense of them.

We have been busy.


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(Is it weird I see pictures like this and go, Wow, I'm a MOM?!)
We have gone hither AND yon, done this AND that and I'm trying to eat my weight in ripe peaches because they are gone before you know it. In a few days, when we get back from going wherever it is we're going and having all kinds of fun, I'll tell you all about it. Until then:

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Love always,
me

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prepare

It is coming.

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Doomsday.

1911

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The book, that is! I am now finally allowed to give you a little glimpse from this gem, and I'm excited to be bringing you the news. I think you might really find something to love in these pages, that Alex Tinsley - she's a winner. I can only show you what she has shown you on her blog already (can't give away the whole farm now, can we), but I've chosen some photos that didn't make it into the book just for variety.

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These patterns cover quite a range, head to toe, and as advertised it also covers a range of locations. If I keep talking about it I'll be tempted to show you more, so I'll leave off here. Make sure you go give Alex some love (better yet, buy her book!) since these kinds of projects take a lot of time and money and effort and I'd love to see it give back to her a bit.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

{12}

Happy Birthday, Little.

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This day was, inevitably, full of remembrances of this short sweet year. Of this person who has been my constant companion these 365 days. I wish I could do it again, I wouldn't change a thing.

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From the beginning, Anaiah has been such an excellent companion. To think that in twelve months she has grown into this walking, talking, affectionate, hilarious little person, as if by magic. She loves to read, that is my most frequent request. But when I am busy, she reads to herself and has started putting her books away when she is done with them. Her favorite food -- and my favorite word of hers -- is 'Cheese!' You have to imagine what it would sound like if a very excitable mouse were saying it. Cheese! Her other favorite food is strawberries, though there is a whole world of berries to discover now, so she may yet join me in the raspberry camp.

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She has started just running up to me and hugging me spontaneously about the calves (small person!), not at all in a begging-to-be-picked-up way, but just because hugs are worth the trip. I used to think that I was the luckiest person in the world, but now I know how much luckier I am than before, with two such sweet and endearing children. Ever since this day a year ago when she arrived with the dawn, each new day has been full of wonder, something to look forward to. In a time when so many other external powers in my life could have been overwhelming, we have contentedly whelmed.

Not to say there aren't those moments...when luck looks much more like a silent and empty room and a clock that never moves, and perhaps some cool and refreshing beverage...but we need those for contrast, to add shadow to the light to see the true shape of the thing. Which is lovely.

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Fly on, Little Lark, with all my love.

Not to fear, this blog will still be full of the small people, just not on a scheduled basis. I didn't intend exactly to start this project until I already had, and it turns out to have been the only one that I've stuck to (ahem, Favorite Things, I'll get back to you eventually). Thank you for growing with us each month!