I have no illusions to how incredibly fortunate I am. I love my work. I love my home. I work from my home. I love to sit by my window with the piece that I am knitting or stitching or hooking, an audio or podcast burbling in the background, a batch of cookies in the oven. That’s the fun part. The more tedious bit, that bit that reminds me that it is a job, is when it comes time to marketing all the new wonderful things I’ve created. The photography, the editing, the social media, etc, etc, etc. Not my favorite part. But a funny thing happened the other day: the weather finally warmed, the grass and trees were turning green, and I had a number of things that needed to be photographed. Never has a photo session been so inspired. I threw open the doors and hauled a favorite chair out under the apple trees. My dogs padded behind me befuddled, but delighted with the diversion. And never was I happier to be taking care of the business end of business.
For all the time I spend making things, very little ever gets made (or mended) for me. I may sew for a living, but my wardrobe is riddled with holes, frayed cuffs, and is frequently held together with safety pins. In what was quite a departure for me, as well as an excercise in discipline, I decided to both knit down my stash and be the beneficiary of the enterprise.
My sweater is off the needles, though yet to be blocked— and it needs it. It is something of a bastardization of the beautiful Hiro pattern. I used inappropriate yarn, lengthened the cuffs and added thumb holes, widened the collar, eliminated any waist shaping. I still plan on adding pockets, but I haven’t decided where or what style yet. I made it ridiculously large to wear cross country skiing over leggings finished just in time for — ummm— spring.
Yes. Spring has finally graced our little corner of the world. It seems overnight we’ve gone from snowblowers and parkas to throwing all the windows open and ferrying ladybugs out to safety. Thick winter boots have been traded in for muck lucks to traverse wide swathes of mud. And who could stay holed up in the studio when the landscape is finally inviting you to be part of it again. Certainly not me and my ever faithful crew. The front stoop become the official hookery of the day.
In cooperation with The Syria Refugee Mission of the North Shore the next Bee in the Barn at Todd Farm will be be a collection site for donated handcraft supplies to be contributed to NuDay Syria’s frequent shipments of humanitarian aid to two refugee camps in Syria. These are communities of primarily women and children who have very little opportunity to build a better life. Textile and handcraft tools and materials will provide these women the ability to develop a vocation and a means of support for themselves and their families, as well as the much needed supplies to enrich the lives of a community teetering on the edge of sustainability. Sewing Bees have a long tradition as community gatherings for a common goal. In that spirit, at the next bee we will be accepting donations of any handcrafting material or supply you would like to contribute.
When: March 19th, 1-4 pm.
Where: The Barn at Todd Farm, 275 Main Street, Rowley, MA
What to Bring: A handwork project of your choice and a friend! This is a free community gathering open to all with a love of handcraft and community.
What to Donate: Any handcrafting material or tool, including fabrics, sewing supplies and notions, yarn, knitting needles, sewing machines; to name a few!
NuDay Syria is a 501c-3 non-profit dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians. They are particularly focused on creating safe environments and opportunities for single and widowed women and mothers. For more information, visit NuDaySyria.net .
For more information, please contact Jess@jwrobel.com.
“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.
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.
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!