Be Thankful (We've come a long way, baby)

As you pause and consider that for which you are thankful tomorrow, I hope you'll think of me. Well, not ME exactly, but me as in, knitting instructors, knitbloggers, and knitting enthusiasts, who make knitting content available to you for free everyday.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, if you were curious about knitting, you had to find someone in your circle of acquaintance (and we're talking, actual acquaintance, not virtual) and ask them to show you how to knit. Unless there were a war on, knitting classes were not really a thing in this country. (I can't speak for the ancient Nordic peoples, whose descendants require knitting instruction in schools today.) It was your grandmother or aunt or the nice lady next door.

Knitting content was available, and I have a couple of older books that showcase the best of mid-century printed knitting instruction and patterns. Grainy black and white photos with very short patterns, all written with the assumption that you know A LOT about what you are doing.

We are so fortunate today to have so many ways to learn to knit, to learn about knitting, to find and share patterns and ideas and yarn. At any hour of the day we can turn to another knitter and say, "What in the WORLD is wrong with this row??" We can find inspiration, motivation, instruction and commiseration. It's a beautiful thing.

So I ask you again, be thankful for me and (others like me) who help make the knitting world a little smaller and more friendly, because we really have come a long way. And please know that we are thankful for YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This lovely Three-Piece Cape Suit comes with 14 paragraphs of instruction, which covers  almost  2 pages, for all three pieces. Good luck!  As found in "Complete Guide to Modern Knitting and Crocheting" (1942)

This lovely Three-Piece Cape Suit comes with 14 paragraphs of instruction, which covers almost 2 pages, for all three pieces. Good luck!

As found in "Complete Guide to Modern Knitting and Crocheting" (1942)

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Veteran's Day, WWI and Knitting

Today is a holiday in this country and many others. For years I assumed that it was all the same holiday with different names, depending on where you observe it. I was sort of right.

November 11 is....

1. Veteran's Day (U.S.)--Veteran's Day is our day to honor those who have served in the military. It began as Armistice Day (see below) and the name was changed in many countries, after WWII.  According to, the national Veteran's Day ceremony is "intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces." This includes both of my grandfathers (Navy and Marines), my father-in-law (Navy), and my mother's cousin, who was the first woman I knew who had served in the Air Force and who I wanted to be just like when I was a kid. Living as I do in a military town, this also applies to more than half the people I know. So, to all y'all, THANK YOU!!

2. Armistice Day--This is still observed as "Armistice Day" in some of the countries (France, Belgium, New Zealand) who were part of the Allied forces during WWI. On November 11, 1918, at 11:00am, the armistice (or truce) was signed, ending the long and very bloody Great War, which raged from 1914-1918 and cost the lives of 16 million and left 20 million wounded. The Armistice is still remembered at 11:00am in the US, Canada, Great Britain and elsewhere, usually by 2 minutes of silence, the laying of wreaths on graves, and the sadness that comes with knowing that so many died so young in a horrible global conflict.

3. Remembrance Day (Canada, UK)--This began as Armistice Day and is usually observed on the Sunday closest to November 11--Remembrance Sunday. It is a day to remember both the Armistice and the fallen from other wars. The poppy flower is worn as a symbol of remembrance, thanks to a poem by John McCrae "In Flanders Fields."

At the Tower of London, artists have created an installation of ceramic poppies as a moving tribute to the memory of every British WWI fatality.



The Knit Guru has a free knitted poppy brooch pattern you can make, and if you have little ones who like to craft with paper, here's a site with instructions to make a paper poppy.

Do you recall me mentioning the WWI movie being filmed in England? It seems that "Tell Them of Us" is finished and has been released in England on a limited basis. From here I hope that someone picks it up and makes it available in the U.S. The history and the knitwear are both real.

I found this site via Pinterest, that includes, among other things, a list of books for kids about WWI--The Children's War.

No matter where you live or what you thought you knew about the Great War, I hope that this November 11 you will find the time to remember our great-great grandfathers who served and our great-great grandmothers who knitted while waiting for them at home. It is a history shared by the world, that unites us all in loss and the desire for peace. And in Remembrance...

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Holiday Hijinks, with Knitting

Actually, "hijinks" might be too strong a word choice here, but I really like the word "hijinks" so I used it. I have a list that I keep of words that I like, because I like words and I like lists, so that makes sense to me. Some random words from my list: pith, conflagration, vim and foible...but I digress.

I can tend to get a little freaked out about holidays. (If you examine that sentence, and remove the superfluous cushions, you'll see: I get freaked out about holidays.) Maybe it's the perfectionist people-pleaser in me, but whatever the cause, holidays get to me. We took a "holiday quiz" a few years ago and the kids picked Halloween as their favorite holiday because Mom doesn't get stressed about Halloween. Halloween requires virtually nothing from me and the expectation levels are healthy and I love pumpkins, so yeah, Halloween is pretty much stress-free. This was pretty enlightening to me, as I assumed that Christmas would top their Favorite Holiday list, but it turns out that Christmas tops the list for Holidays That Stress Mom Out. (Why is that even a list?)

It's true. Christmas can be one long session of nightmare workaholic perfectionist guilt: cards, gifts, shopping, movies, parties, performances, outfits, cookies, food, etc. I know this will sound very Grinch-like, but wow can we cram one more thing into that month? And as it is now mid-October all this holiday madness is only mere days away and I'm exhausted already. What's that? You, too? I knew I wasn't alone.

OK, so here's the plan: We are NOT going to panic. Once upon a time, Christmas was something we loved. Like an exciting new knitting project that over time loses its momentum, Christmas needs to be dug out of the bag under the bed and faced head on.

Remember how we purged projects and yarn in Finish For Fall? It felt good to focus and know what was worth taking the time to finish (beaded scarf we hate, NO; socks for hubby, YES). We are going to make a list, several lists if needed. Examine the holidays. What stresses you out? What should you keep? What should you never ever, under any circumstances, do again during the holiday season? And my favorite: What would a stress-free holiday look like? (It looks like Halloween, but I'm pretty sure they won't let me celebrate that in October AND December, too. It's pretty much a one-shot deal.) All of those perfect holidays we see in magazines and on Pinterest and HGTV are not going to happen for us because we are not a full-time staff of decorators, seamstresses and cooks. Unless you in fact are a staff of such, in which case, go for it.

I know that you just can't spring A Different Christmas This Year on your unsuspecting family. I've tried it and believe me, you don't want to go there. This will take strategy and preparedness and a plan. In the long run, if you are happier, more relaxed and actually able to enjoy your holiday, the family will come around, provided you first ease them into it.

Here are some tips for calming the hijinks in your holiday. They are knitting-related because that's what this blog is supposed to be about...

  • Do not try to cast on a project after November 1 for giving in December. Madness.
  • Do try to knit a little bit every day.  It's your hobby and it brings you pleasure. Don't neglect it till January.  Don't neglect YOU till January, either.
  • Don't laugh in the face of the friend who offers to pay you to knit a sweater for their co-worker's Christmas gift. This may be your first impulse, but curb it in the spirit of the holiday. Politely but firmly thank them for their confidence in your abilities, but decline the offer. Then you can laugh, just not in their face.
  • Don't be upset if you can't finish a holiday gift in time (which we all know you started before Nov. 1, right?). My sweet friend Dianne has proof that even an unfinished gift is well-loved.
  • Do try to remember that you once anticipated the holiday season with excitement, not dread. Like rediscovering neglected old yarn that you loved when you bought it, find a purpose for the holiday that will make it fun again.

Christmas and other holidays are not bad, they just need dusting off and refurbishing. Underneath all of the unrealistic expectations, holidays still have some vim, they needn't turn into a conflagration of stress and accentuate all our foibles.

2008. Seems like yesterday.

2008. Seems like yesterday.

The pith, the essence of it all is this:

Even if you don't have kids, the people you spend your holidays with aren't getting any younger (and neither are you, but you look marvelous, so don't let it get you down). If we can just figure out how to spend less time trying to put Martha Stewart out of a job, we will be able to find the time to tell someone they are special. And isn't that what the holiday hijinks are about after all?

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