“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel
And let’s not forget the animals, our planet, our communities.
Scrolling through my drafts, I found this piece from over a year ago that never got published. I’m not sure why. But for some reason reading it today gave me great comfort. My now dearly departed Zoey lived six months past the writing of this, surprising us all with determination to live on and love well past her expiration date.
The New Year is always a time of taking stock, regrouping, making plans. This year is more poignant than most. We have numerous life transitions going on, but the most important may be that our 16 year old dog is phasing out. She came to us as a 13 yr old whom we thought we’d have a couple of months, at best. Almost three years later, she is our shadow, our hipbone, our much loved and constant companion. And now she is dying.
We first realized how her ailments were outpacing her in early November. We didn’t expect to have her for Thanksgiving. Her appetite waned (usually the kiss of death for a lab!). She slept longer and deeper. We were preparing ourselves.
I thought we’d be burying Zoey at Christmas, then again after she got to see her favorite people, then New Year’s. She eats sporadically. I’d do anything to help her, but she confuses me. She is skinny as sin, refuses to take any of her medications, but she is the first dog to meet me at the door with wagging tail, loves to go for her walk (aka put-put), can’t wait for a car ride, dozes peacefully touching one of us—tucked on top of my foot, curled into the the crux of Dave’s arm. We swaddle her in love and sweaters. Gauging her happiness and comfort is a minute by minute task. We wish she could talk to us.
Our life is moving in big, bold new directions. It saddens us that Zoey won’t be on that journey with us. But what she has brought to our lives, and (we hope) we have brought to hers, is an immeasurable gift. In the meantime, we are gathering the strength to help Zoey with the best path for her final days, stunned with the knowledge that her only goal seems to be to let us know how much she loves us.
The sounds of my home waking up in winter are quite different than the warmer seasons when the windows and doors are thrown wide open and we are roused by the birds and the wind. In the colder months, we are closed up and tucked in, insulated from nature’s alarms. When I wake before light to start my day, our winter home offers the comforting morning sonata of the gurgling coffee pot, the furnace kicking in followed by the soft whir of the blower, and the gentle snores of my dogs (and sometimes husband) as they all linger in dream land. It is this winter soundscape that will always be audible memory of writing this pattern. Up before the rest of my household, my knitting would expand with the growing light.
As winter projects go, there is none better than this alpaca throw. Steaming cup of coffee beside me, I’d work tucked beneath the warmth of my work in progress watching the sun burn the mist off the field outside my window. Core spun alpaca is a sensory joy too work with and it’s working weight would gently nudge my sleepy muscles to wakefulness. Finishing up at over 6 lbs, this throw is a physical project with big broad movements as undulating cables are manipulated and the throw is rotated from row to row. Back and forth. The greatest pleasure may be rewards of seeing such a large project work up so quickly. Knit on size 50 needles, progress is swift. Cast on today and you will be snugly tucked in beneath your completed blanket in no time.
This past year that we are tucking into bed for its final slumber, has been a notable one for us. For our family, we had some very hard and sad losses. But we also achieved great milestones and took wild leaps of faith together. We stirred the pot and sometimes marvel that we had the courage to do so. Change is unsettling. Change can be downright scary. Yet life is change and to both enjoy and share that joy with others requires an embracing of this force that can sometimes cower us and at other times empower us. During this year of endless challenges, we’ve learned to turn our faces to the wind. Whether biting or balmy, there is always something to be learned and an opportunity to be a better version of ourselves tomorrow.
As we prepare to wake to a new baby year, I wish for our family an ability to hold on to the lessons of the year in our wake and to carry them forward. We wish for ourselves and everyone the ability to be brave and outspoken, even if the only audience is yourself. From our home to yours we wish everyone the silence of peace and the roar of change.
It’s a bitter day out there. The wind is whipping. The sun is even intermittently hiding. My dogs steadfastly refuse to go outside and are equally unanimous in that the beautiful color coordinated tartan fleece jackets I got them make them all look like dorks. Stogie seems to lose his ability to move in his and starts to moan. Shmoo hides and hangs her head in shame. The girls are blind, so don’t experience quite the same level of mortification, but the point is made. I’m supposed to be hooking and writing out a new knitting pattern, but I’d rather be baking, and I really want to see high tide. I forced us all out of our comfort zones — they into their plaid, me into my oompa-loompa coat that I can’t move my arms in, and marched us into the cold.
A number of years ago I came across a pattern for a simple baby kimono. There were a lot of things I liked about it, but there were also a lot of things I didn’t. I’d been brooding over how a kimono I designed would differ for quite some time before I finally put pencil to paper and needles to yarn. The beautiful Cumbria by The Fibre Co helped spur things along. As soon as I had sample in hand, my head started whirring with the possibilities. Finally, after many stops and starts. Knits, tinks, knits, tinks, pencil scratches, recalculations, tear outs it has all come together and my newest pattern is now available in my shop.
I’ve always been a texture girl, and Cumbria excels in its stitch definition. I really wanted to create an interesting visual and I’m a sucker for a YO. After much fiddling, I devised an all over eyelet pattern I was happy with. The other thing that I really wanted to achieve with this piece was beautifully finished edges that did as they were told. No rolling or buckling or bad attitudes. I-cords came to my rescue at every start, stop, and turn. From the cast-on, certain bind offs, and all along the neckline I-cords were my design friend. It took a bit of re-work of the traditional I-cord edge to accommodate the quick decreases along the neckline, but tiny little short rows did the trick. I really couldn’t be happier with how the whole thing came out and am already working designs for companion pieces and variations for different skill sets.
I’ve also stocked my shop with three beautiful shades of Cumbria to get you started knitting right away!
This project has been calling to me for some time. These pillows are a precursor to the alpaca rug I want to hook next, but these are definitely a creative pursuit I could both sink my teeth and toes into. The alpaca is milled just for me by a couple local family farms. The all around goodness of them is swoon worthy. If you want one of these for your own snuggling purposes, they are available for purchase at The Barn at Todd Farm in Rowley, MA or you can purchase online.
It is that time of year when we are busy preserving our and our local farm’s abundance. There are pestos and sauces and most especially this year apples. And apples and apples and apples. Then there are more apples. We are making chutneys, and crisps, and pies, and applesauce, and drying them in droves. Never one to let me down, Dave has risen to the occasion and has engineered an ingenious apple corer. Click below to see it in action!
As you know, I’m prone to a vintage bent. And it extends beyond “things” to the world and family Dave and I create. Case in point: this week we are celebrating a very happy Gotcha Day anniversary of our sweet Zoey. Three years ago our home was enriched by the arrival of Zoey and her sister Maggie. They came to us with the help of a Tennessee rescue I volunteer with and at the time they were 11 (Maggie) and 13 (Zoey). They were elderly with numerous health issues. We thought they would be our summer dogs. While our Maggie died at 14+ just this Easter and our 16+ Zoey is fading, we never would have thought we’d be blessed with the joy and wonder these dogs brought to our lives for so long. It’s been THREE YEARS! Honestly, it is a toss up who loves me more—Dave or Zoey. They are in open competition and are fierce rivals with each other–though they utterly adore each other, too. I’m flattered to be the subject of their affections. And I’m honored to have have known both Maggie and Zoey and to have ensured that their final years were ones that were comfortable and well loved. If you’ve ever considered taking in an elderly pet of any ilk to your home, all I can say is that the rewards will leave you speechless.