Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baby Sweater

Just in case you thought I wasn't knitting anymore, here's proof.  I made this for my adorable nephew.  The color suits him, don't you think?
Sweater pattern is from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight.  One of my all time favorite baby knitting books.  The patterns are incredibly simple and the pictures are lovely.

Monday, April 12, 2010


This has been an exciting year for me as I have had the opportunity to be in the studio audience for 2 MARTHA shows!  The first was back in February for the couples Valentine's special and the second was just last week with my friend, Alexis.  

I couldn't really enjoy the first one - I was way too anxious about actually seeing someone I have admired for years.  But it was really about more than that.  I've been sewing and knitting for as long as I can remember.  In fact, the desire to do needlework is in my blood.  On my mother's side, my mother, grandmother, great-aunt, their mother, their great aunt all knit, sewed, and embroidered.  Part of the family folklore is that a great-great-great aunt of mine, Cassandra Burgess, sewed a stunning trupunto quilt using her old ball gowns from the antebellum South.  She had been disowned because she married a sickly man who subsequently died and left her penniless.  Nonetheless she created beautiful things out of such misery. Another of her creations is a whole cloth quilt meticulously quilted at 12 stitches per inch.

On my father's side, my maternal grandmother sewed and knit keeping her Singer Featherweight set up and ready to go in her home office where she made decisions about investing in oil wells.  Her mother sewed a bit but her grandmother, my great-great grandmother was quite an accomplished seamstress who also did intricate beadwork.  The remnants of her work that still exist are breathtaking.

Now I am not suggesting that I am nearly as accomplished as these women were but I do think that I was born to work with needles.  You may ask what this has to do with Martha Stewart so I will tell you.  Through the years my hobbies seemed like something that old women do, sitting in their rocking chairs.  But Martha Stewart gave all of this crafting street cred and she elevated it to the level of art.  Her magazine and television show profile needlework artisans as great artists, which they are.  They create the art that surrounds us everyday, that we use on a daily basis.  They make the functional beautiful.

So, to meet this maven of craft completely freaked me out!  I was a wreck.  My stomach in knots, my brain in a fog.  Having my husband with me (remember, it was the couples show) didn't really help as he found the whole thing a bit on the silly side.  Although he was quite happy to receive his free ipod nano!  But at the second show, I enjoyed myself immensely.  I sat in the front row with my dear friend Alexis and I even got on TV a little bit (I'm the one sitting next to the pregnant woman, smiling in the orange top and red classes).  There were no giveaways but just being in that gorgeous studio again was enough of a gift for me.

I hope that Lucy will also inherit this love of needlework.  I'm starting her early and so now she sews on that Singer Featherweight though we don't invest in oil wells while we sew - we watch MARTHA.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Box Arrives

I came home this afternoon to find two boxes waiting for me.  Both were from my father in Oklahoma City.  I knew what was inside but I didn't know exactly what I would find.

My grandmother, Dorothy, passed away a little more than two years ago.  She left behind a huge legacy - some great and some not so great.  As her only granddaughter I had the opportunity to have an exclusive relationship with her.  She had high hopes for me - that I would become a great physician, marry a wonderful man and move back to Oklahoma.

I didn't become a doctor much to her dismay though over time she accepted my chosen profession of midwifery, in fact she often bragged that I was a graduate of the best midwifery school in the country and it was an Ivy!  I did marry a wonderful man who, as it turns out, is a physician so I guess I came close enough to the doctor thing for her.  She was one of the few in the family who supported our engagement as Mitch and I are not the same faith.  Her final wish was not granted.  I never did move back to OKC and visited infrequently, less and less after graduate school and even less once I started my job as a midwife.  I toyed with the idea with moving home but I knew that I never could.  Not that Oklahoma doesn't have its bright spots - really that had very little to do with decision.

My father is a bright man who suffers from an illness that makes him a bit...unpredictable.  Over the years I got used to this and learned to live with it until I really couldn't and moved away to be educated.  The stories are endless and so there is no need to detail them here.  But there is one story that relates back to these boxes.

As Dorothy approached her final months, my father's actions became more and more erratic.  He cut his family off and went into a dark and crazy place.  Upon her death, my father held an estate sale the day before Dorothy's funeral.  I flew into town to lay my grandmother to rest and ended up having to frantically  go through her belongings and pay for what I wanted.  There was little time and much emotion making the whole process gut-wrenching.  I paid for what I knew Dorothy wanted me to have and grabbed a few other of her personal belongings including her signature purses and decoupaged lunch box.

A few months earlier my father had removed her Singer Featherweight and promised me that it was mine.  I did manage to get it out of my parents' house the weekend of her funeral and have safely stored it in my sewing room ever since.  Recently I unpacked it to teach Lucy to sew but found it too emotional to actually work on the machine.

In these boxes that I received today were the rest of her sewing supplies.  The attachments for her machine, instruction manual, sewing needles, patterns, thread, scissors, lace, fabric.  Can you believe that the thread actually smelled like her?  I went through each box, untangling thread, organizing needles and testing scissors.  I cleaned out what was no longer needed or was too old to use (elastic) and neatly arranged the rest in a box to be taken upstairs.  The fabric I will give to Lucy for dress-up.

The day that I had to buy my own grandmother's belongings was one of the worst days of my life.  It was a blur in the midst of insanity.  But with these boxes full of sewing notions I feel that my father is trying to mend things, make it right again.  I appreciate that and will accept from him whatever he is willing to offer.