December 21, 2020
It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here. The last blog I published was in September. I’ve missed you guys in a bunch of ways, and the connection through this blog is one of them.
I’ve been thinking about why I ended up on ‘radio silence’. I’ve been thinking about the number of times I did a Facebook live, and we connected there. I’ve written short blips about special things or people. But I’ve needed to protect my heart. The world we are in, in the last several months, is not one that is conducive to putting the frayed bits of your heart out there for others to react to.
I read back to my 2020 New Years blog. Wow! I wish I had THAT 2020 vision. I hope that I said the kind word, or did the right thing, but what I now know is that the current environment has made it extremely hard to look outside of ourselves.
Many of us are really, really, only talking to ourselves. We are isolated and yet still barraged with 24/7 media noise. We are trying to stay connected, from 6 feet apart. We are quarantined and socially distanced and yet have a constant ticker tape of the world’s events shouting at the bottom of our screens. Many of us are trying to keep smiling through the tsunami of emotions that are washing over us.
I’m finding I just can’t connect with some of the people I love the most. The distance is too far. Maybe we don’t have anything new or exciting to talk about, or technology is not our friend. Maybe we are looking at the world from different views. Maybe I love Duke’s mayonnaise and they are Miracle Whip people, vinegar bbq people or mustard.
I know many of us looked around to find a connection that would help keep our heads and hearts above water so the tsunami didn’t drown us completely. I think many of us found that connection through hooks and sticks and string. It wasn’t the connection we REALLY needed, but if even for a couple minutes of social media we were all talking, or typing, about the same thing, it was a connection. For a couple minutes at time we were all bound together by the same string that pulled our mothers and grandmothers and others together when times were tough and the answers didn’t seem very clear.
I don’t know what happens next. My tea leaves and Magic Eight Ball have failed me. What I’d do know is that we still have hooks and sticks and string. We can still be inspired by pretty string that will calm our jangled souls. We can find comfort in the rhythm of hooks or needles in our hands. We can breathe for another minute if we can just work ‘one more row’. We can still connect to others who love all things fiber, and find a safe spot for our hearts and our heads to be.
I don’t know what happens next, but I hope that you, my friends, my people, will be here with me. I cannot say ‘Thank You’ enough times to ever express my gratitude for your kindness and support. I think, I hope, we are through the worst.
I am humbled by your love and loyalty. And I cannot wait to hug your necks and see you in person. I wish all of you all the joys of the holiday season. Hug the necks, eat the pie, laugh and love like there are only the people you love most in the world. Be blessed.
In hooks and sticks and string-j
The view from here.....
Saturday, September 5, early morning.
Today will be the last of my “Day 6” days for a while. During the summer I have always worked 6 days a week so I could have every opportunity to see you guys, my loves, while you are here on vacation. This summer, in spite of all the challenges, I kept mostly to the Monday thru Saturday schedule, with a little “-ish” thrown in there. I wish I could say that I’m heading into the fall with a comfortable cushion, that the savings account is built up for winter and that I have a wildly optimistic fall waiting for me. I can’t say much of that, but I can say Thank You!!
Thank you for continuing to be my people, thank you for continuing to let me be your Local Yarn Store, thank you for sticking around either through visits in person or phone or web orders from home, Thank You for doing what you could to keep Knitting Addiction going. May 4, 2020 marked the 16 year anniversary of the shop, and I hope we are around for many more years to come.
This year hasn’t been easy for anyone. I won’t list all the difficult parts, but I will say that owning a small business when the world pretty much shut down was certainly an adventure. I think this year has taught me to adapt and change. On the Darwin model, adapt and change to the environment and survive or refuse to change and perish. I’m the first to say that a lot of the things I needed to adapt to and change were not easy for me, but I think I’ve survived.
I thrive on people, I love the chatter and the face to face with you guys. I love seeing your projects, and hugging your necks and hearing your stories about life and who you are knitting for and how things are going. There wasn’t a ton of face to face this year, and what there was often had a mask covering part of your beautiful faces. But we managed to adapt.
I had to figure out new ways to keep our relationship “face to face” or screen to screen and that was certainly a challenge. I am, at best, technically challenged and at worst a cave woman with rocks and the end of a burnt stick trying to communicate in a foreign language. The Facebook lives started out of desperation. I needed to figure out a way to be your LYS, from a distance. So I adapted. I bumbled my way through the first couple FB Lives, and you guys responded with such love and support.
At first I really just wanted to let you see some of the new yarns I purchased for the season. I made a couple of huge orders in February in anticipation of a great season. We all know how that worked out. You couldn’t be here to see and feel all the new pretty things I brought in for you to knit or crochet with, so I had to figure out how to get the things to you. And since we couldn’t do that in person I adapted and changed and figured out how to show you the pretty things in your living rooms.
I knew many of you were missing this sandbar, this crazy place I call home. It is a piece of a lot of our “happy places”. So I tried to bring the beach to you. Brown dog and I bumbled our way through videos on the beach and you responded with such love and enthusiasm. We adapted and changed.
I figured out projects to tempt you with new pretty things. My indie dyers helped out a ton with new colors and impromptu shopping binges. Designers were a huge help with patterns that were fun and knitable. Patterns you could get your hands on from there, while I was here helping you pick all the pretty colors made a lot of that work. The folks at the post office know me by name, I’ve been there a lot.
I could go on about the challenges I managed to overcome and the ones that still mock me from the sidelines, but for this post, I will say with much sincerity, I think we are going to make it. I am pretty sure that the panic will subside and the fears will diminish. I hope that as things settle into some version of the “old norm” we will again be hugging each other’s necks and laughing about family shenanigans and celebrating triumphs. I am pretty sure that Knitting Addiction will see 2021 and mark our 17th year of being your Local Yarn Store.
Thank You. Thank you for continuing to watch the dadgumed videos where I bumble and stumble on words or stand at the beach and just cry my way through the rough spots. Thank you for your phone orders and web orders and especially for the visits when I do get to hug your neck and tell you how much you mean to me and to this crazy scheme I put together so many years ago. Thank you for continuing to be my people and for continuing to love me and the shop and that silly brown dog who still has moments of being a complete chicken biscuit. Thank you for seeing us into the fall and beyond. I know we will be together when 2021 rings in, and I hope we will be together for many more New Years.
I will keep trying to do the dadgumed videos (even though I am a complete goober). I will continue to work on the website to make it more user friendly. (Did I mention the rocks and burnt ends of sticks?) I hope with all my heart that soon we will be hanging out on the sofas with sticks and hooks and string and laughing about crazy family and showing off pictures of the sweeties we love in the things we have knitted or crocheted for them.
I will keep adapting and changing. I hope in the best ways. Adapting and changing to keep you guys, my people, happily using sticks and hooks and string to keep your adapting and changing easier.
None of this year has been easy, but with good friends around to help, even the most difficult times are more bearable. Add in some pretty string and I’m pretty sure we can see our way through.
Thank you for being my people. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Thank you for being with me as I have learned to change and adapt and survive.
In hooks and sticks and string,
Happy New Year
posted January 1, 2020
2020, a New Year and a new decade have just arrived. It strikes me how we often say “Hindsight is 20/20.” Usually in response to realizing how an event was obviously going to play out, after it has passed. “Well, hindsight is 20/20, I should have seen that coming...” The eye doctor wants to adjust your current sight to “20/20” what if we could adjust our foresight to 20/20?
What if for this year we could look at the people around us and really see their struggles in the right now and be able to reach out a hand to lift up another soul. What if we could clearly see the consequences of our actions and choose to do things differently? What if we could hold our tongues long enough to find the kind words and use them instead of looking back after being sharp-tongued and regretting words that can’t be unsaid. What if for this year we could look forward with 20/20 vision and make the world a bit better instead of looking backwards and realizing our lack of vision or understanding hurt those around us.
So many of us are navigating our own rough waters. It is hard to see the heavy seas and heavy hearts around us when our own hearts are awash with troubles and heartache. It is hard to reach out a hand, or throw a life line to a friend when we don’t really know what to do or say. And so, maybe we do nothing, or avoid a person who needed us. After days or weeks go by we might look back with our 20/20 hindsight and say, “I wish I had made time to talk to Bonnie more often while she was struggling. I didn’t know things were that rough. Hindsight is 20/20.” What if for this New Year we took a minute to adjust our FORESIGHT so we could see things more clearly. What if for this New Year we took the time to be kind when it was most needed. What if for this year we thought about our words and actions BEFORE we did them, so we wouldn’t be looking back and realizing with our 20/20 hindsight that we should have done things differently.
Does this have anything to do with hooks and sticks and string? Maybe yes, maybe no. This summer a favorite aunt went through a short round of chemo, the predictable hair loss followed. Chemo and hair loss are not new or unforeseen events. I’ve botched it in the past, waited too long, didn’t want to make my person sad by knitting her a hat to remind her that she was in rough waters. Selfishly didn’t want to knit a hat that would make me sad knowing what my person was going through. This summer I jumped on the opportunity and knitted a very lovely cashmere hat in a clear blue that matches my aunt’s eyes. I was so happy to hear the hat fits perfectly and will keep a very dear noggin warm while hair grows back. For a moment my vision was 20/20 looking forward, doing something kind in the right now that would make a person I love, know how much I love her.
Does my most recent knitted hat absolve me of opportunities missed because I couldn’t see forward with my 20/20 vision? No, it doesn’t. Does it grant me placement on a marble pillar to accept the accolades of a kind gesture? Absolutely not. Does it remind me that looking forward with clear vision makes the world a better place? Yes. Even if the betterment of the world was just my sweet aunt’s warm noggin.
So, my dearest ones, may we all begin this New Year and new decade with 20/20 vision looking FORWARD. Look for the chance to do the kind thing. Think about how deeply sharp words can cut and how long those cuts take to heal, before you say them. Take a minute to look over the rails of your ship and see if others might need a kind word or a life line. Will we make mistakes? Yes. Will we drop stitches or opportunities where we could have done better if we were looking forward? Yes. Will it take extra thought and time? Yes, but if even a couple times through the year you can look forward to the right thing, and not need to use your 20/20 hindsight to regret opportunities missed it will be a wonderful year.
May your vision for this year be 2020 looking forward.
In hooks and sticks and string, and all of the very best for a New Year.
Posted on 24th Jul 2018
We all have different ideas about what makes any item an 'heirloom'. An heirloom, to me, is something that is so special it cannot be replaced. It holds such a significant emotional connection to your past that it is a treasure beyond words. My Great Aunt Connie's silver, my grandma's stemware, the christening dress hand-made for my grandfather at the turn of the century and then used to bless another 30+ babies into this world. Your grandma's wedding ring. Those things are heirlooms, you can't go to the W-place and purchase those pieces of your history.
The whole concept of an 'heirloom' item that has been knitted or crocheted, or smocked or sewn has me intrigued and in awe. Many of you have seen the sweet little peach sweater in the shop that was knitted by my Grandma Fugina for me to wear home from the hospital. I was a February baby, it was Wisconsin and in those days, women of wisdom wrapped the small humans they loved in the warmth and comfort of wool. (They hadn't heard about 'wool allergies'...)
When I talked with my mom one day, long ago, after opening the yarn shop she said "You will never guess what I found...." my response..... "Not a clue mom."
I am the last of five kids, there was not a baby book to chronicle the milestones of my life. My mom was busy caring for a whole passel of children. I was fed, I was clean, I was loved. That's what life is as the fifth child. There wasn't the hoopla of being the first, there is very little hoopla attached to being the fifth.
But somewhere out there my Grandma Fugina knitted the tiny peach sweater, a pattern she knitted for nearly all of her grandchildren. And it was knitted Just.For.Me. It was not a hand-me-down. Nobody else wore that sweet peach sweater. It was knitted for me, grandkid number a zillion and not for anyone else.
And it was worn, a lot, and washed by hand, a lot, and gently blocked to a bigger size several times. Small puke stains remain on the sleeves. The peach sweater was not a 'one and done' item. It was a source of warmth and comfort for small human me, and it was used. And it was treated with care, because to my mom it mattered that her mom had knitted this sweet little sweater for grandkid number a zillion. It mattered so much that when I was no longer able to fit into that sweet sweater, my mom washed it a final time, wrapped it up in tissue, tucked it into the cedar chest and it was saved.
I'm thinking mom might have hoped, 'If Jeanne has a baby, her little human could wear this.' I kaboshed that plan when I failed to have small humans. I adopted dogs, and I'm pretty sure there was no chance of the dogs wearing the tiny peach sweater. But it was saved, tucked into tissue paper and saved in the cedar chest. An heirloom.
I have no memory of the peach sweater from my childhood. It was far earlier than where my memories start. But it was mine, and made for me, and it mattered enough to my mom to save it when I could no longer be warmed by those tiny perfect stitches. An heirloom. When it arrived in the mail, wrapped in tissue with a note that said 'for the shop' I was in awe. Such a treasure to arrive in my mailbox.
Many of you have knitted or crocheted special things for the special small people in your life. Blankets, christening dresses, tiny sweaters, things that were made with love and a million stitches and you hoped they would be treasured. I love to hear about when that beautifully made item becomes a treasure. The christening dress that was saved and the next small human was blessed into this world in it. The sweater that was passed to the next family member. Those amazing things that become an heirloom.
I did not think I was in the realm of knitting heirlooms. It is a different age and time. The world we live in is so disposable that making 'an heirloom' just doesn't strike our minds. You likely do not walk through the shop thinking "heirloom, heirloom, heirloom" - I NEED to knit or crochet and heirloom.
A couple centuries ago, (ok, it wasn't THAT long ago...) when my Grandma knitted that tiny peach sweater for me, I'm pretty sure she had not set to the task to make 'an heirloom'. She was knitting, a favorite pattern for a new small human, and I was the blessed recipient. My mom is the person who made it become an heirloom. It meant enough to her that her mother had knitted this tiny sweater on size 0000000000 needles for her last small human. And she saved it and washed it a final time and stored it with love in the cedar chest of memories.
A couple years ago I was blessed by becoming a Great Aunt. I thought I was pretty cool as an aunt, but when your nieces and nephews usher new small humans into the world, you end up, by default, becoming a Great Aunt. When the 'great' small humans arrived, I knitted small things.
One blast was 'Jerry the Monkey' (Rebecca Danger pattern). The first two 'greats' got them, then the next 'great' in the same family came along and was possessed by Jerry the Monkey. Older brother was NOT going to share, so I bartered with Sister Beth to knit another monkey for her most recent granddaughter. Kiddos loved the monkeys, I have silly pics of them all mugging with monkeys.
But those silly monkeys will not become heirlooms. They have been loved and snuggled, dragged around, tucked under a pillow, or snuggled at night, but they will certainly NOT become 'heirlooms'. The silly monkeys shouted Love me! Play with me! And that is a wonderful thing. I knitted silly monkeys, for my silly monkeys and they have loved the stuff right out of them. Not an heirloom. You can't pass down a partially stuffed, much loved, slightly mis-shapen stuffie and anticipate it will hit heirloom status.
But then there was the sweater. Great number 4 was in progress and I just NEEDED to knit some thing so sweet and so special for this tiny human. She was such a special blessing. I found a vintage pattern I loved, but the actual instructions were mind-numbing. I fudged the pattern some, and the sweater knitted for tiny human Hannah Beth was adorable. I wrapped it in tissue and wrote a note and sent it off to the wilds of Wisconsin. A thank you note followed shortly after. But the real treat was when a picture of sweet Hannah Beth showed up in my inbox. Sweet squishy small human in the sweater I knitted. My heart exploded a thousand times. I printed the picture and tortured everyone who didn't run with the sublime cuteness that was my great niece Hannah Beth in a sweater I knitted for her.
A couple years have passed, my sweet Hannah Beth is no longer a tiny human, she is a walking, talking, tell you how it is, medium human. I had no idea what happened to the sweet sweater I knitted. Mommas with 2 small humans, who work and do stuff, likely do not preserve hand-knit sweaters as something special.
And along comes grand number 5, cooking along in the momma oven. A shower is planned, presents are shared, blessings are said. But I'm not there, I'm here, 600 miles away. I don't see the great anticipation of pretty things to adorn new small human.
And then, my sweet Charity is ushered into this world at the end of January. Oh. my. she is a beautiful small human. Mocha skin, a tuft of black hair and the most amazing big brown eyes. My sweet sister-in-love makes sure to send me pictures as my sweet Charity is starting to find her own face, and smile her own smile.
And then one day I open an email from my sister-in-love and it is the most adorable picture of our sweet Charity in the cutest sweater I have ever seen. Her big brown eyes are bright, she has a giant smile on. And all that captivates me. Beautiful new small human, now a part of our crazy, mixed up tribe. We are blessed. And then I have that moment where I'm really looking at all the details of the picture and the sweater is SO adorable. I look and look, and it hits me that the sweater is SO familiar. I know that yolk, I love those buttons..... golly gosh jeepers, that is a super cute sweater!! It isn't until I turn around and look at my magnet board that it hits me..... I knitted that sweater. That was the crazy, funky, vintage pattern I reworked for Hannah Beth. And then my face started to leak. A.Lot.
The sweater I knitted for our Hannah Beth was just a sweater. It was cute, it was a fun knit, it stretched my brain. It was knitted with love, but it was just a sweater. The yarn was Dreambaby, the buttons made me smile. I was honored that it was put to use to keep our Hannah Beth warm. But there it was, on another great niece, saved by the first niece, to hand down to the next small human, who ended up being her cousin's new human.
I talked with my sister-in-love, Mary, the grandma to our sweet Charity and thanked her for sending me a picture of tiny human in the sweater I knitted. I talked to Sister Beth about the sweater being saved and then shared in the family. I thanked Hannah Beth's momma for saving the sweater and sharing it. I was assured by Mary that this sweet sweater, knitted from a funny, funky pattern was, indeed, an heirloom. Mary assured me that when our sweet Charity no longer fits this sweater it will be washed a final time, tucked into tissue paper, and the next tiny human to grace our crazy tribe will wear this same sweater.
My face leaked, a lot. It has leaked through writing most of this. A cute sweater, out of everyday yarn was saved for the next tiny human to be snuggled into. All those stitches, knitted with love and prayers to usher our Hannah Beth into this world was saved. And now our sweet Charity is wearing the sweater, with all that love knitted into every stitch. I knitted an heirloom, y'all. And maybe you are knitting or crocheting an heirloom right now.
Isn't that cool. I'm connected. I'm connected to my niece Bonnie, Hannah Beth's momma, I'm connected to my niece, Katie, Charity's mom, I might even be connected to the momma and the next tiny human to join this crazy tribe. That y'all. That. That is why we do what we do. Because maybe the sweater or dress or blanket will be washed a final time, wrapped in tissue and saved for the next tiny human. Maybe you will have knitted or crocheted something so special that it gets saved to grace the next tiny human with all the love and prayers that were worked into the piece for the first tiny human. An heirloom. It isn't Great Aunt Connie's silver, it is not my grandma's wedding ring, but that little sweater is being treasured just the same.
In hooks and sticks and string-