October 2010

A Vintage Gift

October 25, 2010

Beginning from early childhood, I was raised pretty far away from most of my family. An East Coast family by birth (my mom and dad spent their years through college in Maryland and Pennsylvania), we moved from Boston to Chicago when I was 6, and then onto California from there.

I never met my maternal grandparents, they passed years before I came along. My paternal grandparents were lights in my summer travels, and I loved getting ready to go see my Nana and Pop once a year.

So many of my memories of those trips revolve around the home that they lived in, and how much I loved to explore every inch. My Nana had old cracker and cookie tins that lined her pantry, recipe cards that I so wish I had copied of the food she loved to serve, and linens that adorned her home. I remember every corner or their space, every color in every room, and I especially remember the milk glass that lined the cabinet in their dining room.

When my now 93 year old Nana recently sold their home (my Pop died just after Jacob was born), she had my mom send me all of those dishes I had admired through the years. Opening that box was like taking a very long walk into the past 35 years of my memories, and so many wonderful stories have been shared with my boys as I unpacked each box (which was fun for the first story or two, but really a 7 and 5 year old can only endure so many “Oh I remember this dish, your Nana served…….. on this dish” stories).

I realize now that my love of vintage style and stores comes from the love of everything that I ever found, explored or played with inside of my grandparents space. The feeling of that time period when they first set up their home, and the care that they took with the linens, furniture and dishes through the years is something that draws me time and again to search for and recreate their style in any space I can find.

Some of the pieces even brought with them extra surprises, as I found such oddities as my father’s childhood rosary and St. Mary’s medallion at the bottom of a vase. I felt like someone who had discovered a rare jewel, fingering the blue crystals and worn medallion in my hand. I had butterflies in my stomach as I delivered them back to my dad, knowing that they too would bring a flood of memories his way.

Of course the greatest treasure in that box, and the one thing I will cherish until my own time passes, was my grandmother’s candy dish. A staple in their home, and never empty, this dish held the treats that I ran to with each visit. The dish that I saw my own father sneak from at least a dozen times, and the dish that now holds the chocolate bars that my husband loves to treat himself to before bed.

I can not pass this dish without smiling, and that alone makes it something I am abundantly grateful for.

These precious pieces that bring back so many memories now occupy special spots all around my home as a reminder of my connection to the family I love so much, and that one day I hope to pass on to my own children to cherish.

While no material treasure can ever last forever, I love how many memories these pieces possess, and what a great walk through my own childhood they have given me.


Full of Wool

October 20, 2010

If I had to guess, I would say that my knitting needles have been packed away somewhere in my sewing room for the better part of the past year. Knitting has occupied little space in my brain, especially through the heat of this past summer. To be honest, I thought that perhaps sewing had begun to take on the dominant spot that knitting use to occupy, but thankfully a new baby and a new season has changed all of that.

With the start of my second trimester, and the looming birthdays of my two boys, I took up my needles once again. Pebble Vests were the first items to knock off the lists, but thankfully many more have followed.

This past Saturday, Jacob celebrated his 7th birthday. It was a very special day marked by BMX racing, a soccer game, family time, caramel apples and a lot of love for this little one. To say that Jacob is my miracle would be a huge understatement. At the age of 23, with mass endometriosis and a chronic illness diagnosed, I was told I would never have children. But it was a strange string of dates that would prove that theory wrong.

On October 16th, 1992, I would meet and fall in love with my now husband. On October 16th. 2002, we would find each other again. On October 16th, 2003 Jacob would come into this world at 12:09 am. This date is the most meaningful of my year, since it began the long journey of all of us becoming a family. I think that my favorite moment is always when I creep upstairs at exactly 12:09 to wake my sleeping babe up, and plant his age in kisses upon his forehead.

But back to the knitting.

This year Jacob’s sweater followed his brother’s, and he was gifted a soft blue alpaca Pebble vest. Using the same wonderful modifications as Elwood’s, I added an inch of length to the body and about 3/4″ to the straps to make this fit just perfect. I loved working with alpaca, as it made the sweater feel just a bit more luxurious.

Pajama pants had to come next, and Jacob’s pants were made in the same way as Elwood’s (I promise a tutorial to come shortly). I have to share that the night before Jacob’s birthday, I had procrastinated so badly on the making of these sweet pants that I almost failed to get them done in time. When the clock struck 6 am, and I had only had 3 hours of sleep, down came my oldest son with tons of birthday energy. As he woke me and we quietly crept out to his birthday table, it truly melted my heart that his eyes lit up so big to see his PJ’s made. While there was no reason for him to think that they would not have been there, it still broke my heart to know that I had come so close to falling short on something he was so eagerly anticipating. Lesson learned.

His day dawned clear with warm sunshine, and with everything completed we began the celebration.

Thankfully the boy’s birthdays have sparked a new passion for knitting once again, and while Saturday was spent enjoying my older boys, Sunday was spent dreaming of knits for the one not yet here.

Baby mittens, socks, booties, slippers, hats, sweaters, rompers. All queued up and ready in Ravelry, all yarns, needles and patterns gathered together in knitting bags just waiting to be started. This new little one will hopefully have a very warm and cozy wardrobe to be greeted into this world with.

Of course, while baby and kiddos take up most of the space in my knitting world, there is always room for a few mama items just for me. This easy bookmark form the great book More Knitted Gifts made for a fun hour of knitting, and a great way to mark my place in a favorite book.

My goal in these next few months is to knit up as much as I can for the boys and the baby, hopefully strongly trimming down what I need to purchase in stores. I have had a storage of yarn for way too long, and it is time to use what I have, and use it where we truly need it. Warm and functional is my theme, and I have a few short months of nesting to get to it.

So tell me, what are you working on right now, and what favorite patterns are you excited to dive into?