Sunday, August 10, 2014

20 Things, too

Alex did this thing, and I basically want to be her when I grow up (moment of appreciation for how she can make me laugh every. time. no matter what), so I figured I'd do it, too. And yes, if she jumped off a cliff, I'd totally jump off too since I know this girl, and the only way in holy heck that she'd pull such a stunt is if there were 0% chance of it causing bodily harm. That's what trust is.

Note: photos have nothing to do with post, being random samples available from my phone. Enjoy.

Besides, I was looking for something to reinvigorate my desultory blogging, and it's past my bedtime so I'm in a divulgatory mood.

1. Every time I see a picture of myself I think, wow, I look so much like a praying mantis.

2. The only bone I've broken is my head. I'd knock on wood, but I'm hoping that's enough of an ante to hold me for the rest of my life.

3. My first pet was a calico kitten named Minnie who slept on my pillow and sucked my pinkie while I sucked my thumb. She was tragically killed by a car, and I am still mourning her loss.

4. I am a consummate dilettante, and my enthusiasms are boundless -- for everything. It is due more to circumstance than any particular effort that knitting has stuck, I was a pen-twirler before I started knitting and the introduction was like water to parched earth, and I kept knitting until my fingers were literally raw. Then I didn't pick up needles again for five years because I was playing with horses and dancing my fool head off, until motherhood curtailed those activities.

5. I appear to be immune to addiction (haven't tested this theory too broadly, mind you) since I react very aversely to all of those substances to which people seem to become addicted. Two exceptions: reading and braiding. In my heyday of endless free time I averaged one book per diem, so I started listening to them to make them last longer and so that I could function in the world -- drive, do dishes, etc. And as there is no real fix for braiding, I had to grow my hair long again, despite my horror of hair all over the bathroom, just so that I can braid it. Since that wasn't enough, I had a daughter so that I could braid her hair, too. Since that wasn't enough, I lurk in the shadows until unsuspecting victims come within reach and then accost them with glassy-eyed zeal and the insistence that they really intended to go through their day with a braid. Three strands, four strands, crowns, zig-zags, inside-out-and-backwards, it's all fair game. If you've got hair, I'm imagining it braided.

6. Nothing makes me cranky like a hot, airless bedroom.

7. Except for activities that require me to reach above my head and push for long periods of time, such as painting ceilings or putting away heavy boxes on top of shelves.

8. Despite a certain short-lived blog series, I don't really have favorites of things -- music, foods, colors, seasons -- and I'm always fascinated by peoples' certainty when they say they do. I do, however, have definite DISlikes -- for the color olive drab, for instance. Part of the problem is that it really wound up on the short end of the stick when they were handing out names, along with puce and mauve. I never understand things like that, how such words can exist in the same category as chartreuse and periwinkle and vermilion. Like fly and hippopotamus, someone was clearly phoning it in with one of those nouns.

9. I love heights, climbing up to heights, swinging from heights, bungee jumping from heights, all kinds of heights. But I go belly up at the prospect of a jump of more than two feet off a rock into water. In these instances it is only my self-respect as a card-carrying tomboy that makes me screw my courage to the sticking place and hurl myself to certain doom. Go figure.

10. One of my greatest fears, while we're on the subject, is of tsunamis. Yet I still dream of a nice seaside cottage.

11. Apparently I am just a bushel of contradictions, for instance:

12. I graduated high school two years early, was an Oregon Scholar and won top honors from one of the most prestigious preparatory schools in the country, and yet at thirty I am a career-less single mother of two. Buy me a drink some time and I'll tell you my cautionary tale to frighten your children with, otherwise it's not all that interesting a story.

13. I own more scarves than I do shirts, clearly I have my priorities straight.

14. I adore the English language. I swoon over words like 'defenestration' and 'absquatulate' and have the utter tactlessness to use such antique expressions in quotidian speech, which often gives people the inaccurate impression that I'm either particularly clever or particularly snobbish. I am also an excellent speller.

15. I exist in part because my Danish great-grandfather challenged the Prince of Denmark to a duel over a woman, and had to flee to America after the royal family put a price on his head. The other half of my family were Croatian peasants since time immemorial, and I can say only very rude or nonsensical things in Croatian.

16. I still sometimes try to tap into my undiscovered powers of telekinesis just so that I don't have to walk across the dang room to pick something up.

17. The worst thing to ever happen in my life was the half second of watching helplessly as my son fell through the air and bounced twice on the ground, breaking the slender twig of his wrist into a sickening oxbow. I swear I never knew what fear was until I had children and had the entirety of my sanity wrapped up in the survival of two people whom I am powerless to wholly protect.

18. The best thing to happen to me was becoming a mother. Once again, go figure.

19. Taking photographs is one of the nearest things to complete happiness. Someone ought to pay me for it... Oh, wait.

20. Finally. This is an awful lot of talking about myself, I had no idea how hard it would be to come up with only twenty quasi-interesting facts about the entirety my life and being. This, right here, is the root of why I blog so little -- whatever would I say?

Cheerio, my dearios. Drop a line and tell me a thing or twenty about yourselves, you can be sure that I'm listening and dying to find out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


It is June again, so soon! And on this day, two years ago, with the rising of the sun and the birds, our girl joined us. Happiest of birthdays, little darling, my lady of inimitable style and staunch independence, my tiny snuggler and dancer and hum-singer. Your flashes of temper and placid expanses of concentration are a continuing source of wonder and amusement and no small amount of respect for me, as are your clever little hands that love to be doing. A knitter in the making, I think. My garden girl who believes with stout-hearted infallibility that outside is better than in, that places are meant to be gone to, but that having backup is always best when encountering the unknown. My leaper and strong jumper, my climber and risk-taker, I think it will be you giving to me all the grey hairs I gave my own mother. Thank you so much for being here and pointing out all the things I missed.

Sweet new bunny made by Auntie Sorren, whose own girl baby was born yesterday, hooray!

Nobody rocks the underpants hat like this one. She didn't even have to think twice, it was instinct told her to what immediate use these should be put.

With all my love, for another lovely year,

Monday, February 10, 2014

I scream, you scream...

This is the way it happens: Warm air (usually off the Pacific) crowds down on top of the cold front that has brought our snow. The clouds thaw, but we down below are still chilly so when they let go their weight our world gets covered in a sheet of ice. It's beautiful.

It is also quite treacherous. Trees break, roads are downright wicked, walking is for the adventurous. People actually strapped on skates and used the streets as an ice rink. Magical, but at this point I will be glad when it's melted and I can open the doors to my car again, when the animals' waters stay liquid, and I can send my youngest outdoors to frolic without physically holding her upright. It will happen soon, the cold never lasts long around here. In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying scenes like this one:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snow Day

It is not often that we get any real winter weather here in my hometown. The mountains to our east are too high and the ocean to our west too vast, so our darkest months tend to be chilly and wet and grey, rather than white.

Every few years, however, we get some real snow. When this happens there is much rejoicing and everything shuts down. Those residents who have migrated here from snowier climes too often waste this magical, breathtakingly quiet time in scoffing at our noobish inability to function when the ground is covered, but to them I say this: how much better is it to be skiing in the streets and sledding to the store for a few days than to grind on through the grey and dirty plough drifts in our same old workaday worlds?

Also, we have almost zero snow ploughs, true story, since we so rarely need them. So when it snows a lot here conditions really are much worse in many areas, making a lot of people who have never had the need or opportunity to drive on ice and snow suddenly have a, ummm, crash course of study.

Better by far then to stay in, romp around, make hot drinks and decadent foods, watch some Olympics and build cardboard houses, throw snowballs and watch birds, venture tunnels and draw with sticks, make fallen angels and find animal tracks. Better to take the gift of a few days to just enjoy, because you know that the time will be fleeting.

I have spent some winters in the midwest and New England, and that kind of endless slogging and ground covering requires a whole different list of supplies and tricks to survive. Respect to you all, I almost went out of my gourd with the lack of color in the landscape (though my driving, thankyouverymuch, was and is just fine), but here that erasure is such a treat.

Next, a look at how these storms too often end. Until then, friends, be cozy and safe and full of life wherever you are wintering!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Trunk Show

Hello friends! Just a quick note to let you know that North is going visiting, and you're invited, too! Starting tomorrow, February 3rd, the collection will be at Twisted for a couple of weeks and it's anxious to make friends with you.

If that isn't incentive enough, Sorren and I will be hanging out with our knitteds next Sunday, February 9th, from 2pm to 4pm in case you have questions or have just been dying to spend some time with us. Understandable, we're nice ladies and we've been dying to see you, too. I might even bring a small person or two to imbue the scene with a bit of action for a while.

That's all for today, carry on!

** Update February 7: we are postponing the meet & greet for a week to give the city time to plough the roads...Happy snow times, Willamette Valley!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Family, in monochrome.

Taking photos of people is often a bit like stepping into their lives, and this is almost always a really good thing. This last fall I got the chance to meet some very lovely people, tour their beautiful homes, and take pictures of their families. It is such a privilege to be welcomed like that, and to witness the care people have for each other. I'll share a few of these sessions with you in the coming weeks (have to stretch these things out), starting with this foursome. I took everything in color, I should add, but black and white is where my heart really lies, and I never get to use it for the knitting work, so I'm going to indulge myself for a bit.

The real danger is wanting to immediately adopt everyone I meet, invite them over for dinner and set their children up to be friends with my children. People want to have photographs to tie their memories to, and to share those memories with others, and all the photos I take become a part of a collective memory that far outlives the often transient relationships I get to form with my subjects. Thank you, Tinsel Family, for an unforgettable autumn afternoon!

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!