Every now and then I enjoy taking a few hours to visit some of my favorite antique shops in the area. Most often, I'm window shopping, inspired by imagining the original owners of the variety of goodies I see. Now and again, I have a day when I find all sorts of wonders that I can't resist. Yesterday was a craft-themed day.
I found a trove of vintage knitting and crochet magazines. Pretty proud that I only brought four home. Aren't the covers fantastic?
I picked up the crochet hook in the same booth as the magazines. It was FILLED with vintage linens. I had to remind myself of the drawer full of my Gram's linens to keep from greedily snapping them up. The tag on the hook claims that is ivory, but I'm betting against that. Still, it is comfortable in my hand, especially for a size 1.
The box. Oh, the box. That was from another shop. It was labeled "tatting". I didn't look too carefully inside. I was drawn to it as though it had been placed on the shelf for me. Only once I got home did I investigate more fully.
I was gobsmacked to find a stack of hemstitched "blanks" partially made into a project. My mom recently wondered if such things were still available. I have linens edged by my Gram, and I wanted to copy some of her work. And look at this! The unfinished project of a crafter from days gone by, just waiting for me! It might take a while for me to decipher just how the original crafter created her joins, I'm psyched to give it a go.
Gram taught me to crochet doilies using similar crochet thread. It will be a return to my crafting roots to play with these supplies.
What supplies have you eager to get crafting?
*Last night Neal flipped through one of the vintage magazines in an effort to show interest in my finds. His question made me laugh until my stomach hurt. He was utterly sincere, utterly adorable!
If I could give everyone a gift today, it would be a warm, sunny, summer day! This will have to do.
A History of Sorts
Most Christian holidays have a strong tie to ancient Pagan holidays, and St. Valentine's Day is no different. St. Valentine's biography is shrouded in mystery as is the case for so many saints. Depending on the source, he either continued to marry young lovers secretly after young men were forbidden by the Emperor to marry (he figured unmarried soldiers were better soldiers), or he strove to save Christians jailed and tortured by the Romans, curing the blindness the jailor's daughter and signing a note to her "from your Valentine".
Conversion is difficult when a culture has deeply cherished holidays of its own, and the ancient Christians understood that aligning their holy days with those already celebrated would help the cause. February 15 is the celebration of Lupercalia, a raucous fertility rite.
Now, February 14 is a day that carries a lot of weight. Expectations can run high, and wallets sometimes must run deep to meet those expectations. When I posed the question on Facebook "how do you feel about Valentine's Day" I was met with a lot of frustration: "Meh" said Jessalu. "Too much pressure for guys because the media creates unrealistic expectations in women," commented K-Dubs. "Stuff-n-Nonsense...but good for the restaurant business," said my pragmatic ex-SIL. "Huge bummer," was the comment of my Most Eligible Single Girlfriend (okay, I have a couple of those, but she was the one who replied). Rae called it a "waste of time, energy, and money." The commercials, as Jessalu noted, are enraging. How to combat the ridiculous notion that a woman needs something expensive to know she is loved?
A More Cheerful Look
But then Rae made another comment, one that speaks to how I feel about this day: "I do like the red and hearts in the middle of winter. Brightens things up a bit."
Kelley (we were in first grade together! Bet we exchanged plenty of little Valentine's Day cards in our day!) said, "If it is kept simple, it can be lovely," which was echoed by Therese (from Norway, where the holiday is not celebrated) "It's a nice tradition as long as we don't over do it."
Valentine's Day at Chez Golightly
Keeping it simple is how I like to celebrate Valentine's Day. Boy, oh, boy was Neal relieved the first year we were together on Valentine's Day. About a week before, I made sure to tell him that I didn't buy into what Kate called "the annually scheduled day of affection."
My birthday is less than a week before Valentine's Day. I have no need to be celebrated twice in one week (although I have high expectations for lots of love and surprises on my birthday). But Valentine's Day is not about one person celebrating the other. To my way of thinking, it is about celebrating connection. Celebrating all types of love the Greeks defined for us: Eros, Philia, and Agape.
I tell Neal I love him many times a day. I tell my siblings I love them when I chat or email with them. I tell my parents I love them every time I see or talk to them. I am not shy about telling my loved ones how I feel. I'll bet you are the same way. Why one day to "schedule" that affection, then?
I think Rae hit on it. Winter is long. The time between Christmas (or whatever you might celebrate in December) and Easter (or whatever you might celebrate in the spring) is long and dark. A little brightness, a little cheer doesn't hurt. What does hurt is feeling that one particular form of love must be expressed in a particular way on this particular day because we have been TOLD that it should be.
What if, instead, we all took the chance to bring a little joy and cheer to ourselves and our loved ones by giving them a little time, a little, sweet, sincere expression of love? Neal and I plan to exchange homemade Valentines this year (I've even written a poem for mine!), and I am going to cook a few new dishes that I know will give pleasure to us both. I'll bring a bag of sweet treats to school for my students and colleagues. I'll take a few moments from my day to cherish those around me.
You, dear reader, are one of those whom I cherish. Thank you for giving me a reason to write. Thank you for your comments and emails. Thank you for becoming a part of my world and letting me be a part of yours.
Happy Valentine's Day, all you little pieces of my heart! Kisses and cheer to you all!
Cross-country skiing is something I like. Until the icy junk hit on Tuesday, we had some of the best snow in recent memory. I was starting to feel like I knew what I was doing out there in the woods, but the ice has changed that!
Here are some other things I've been liking lately:
Moop Letter bag: I purchased this during Phase 1 of Project 333 when I realized that the leather tote I'd been burdening was not holding up under the strain. While I prefer open outside pockets (the flap covers two front pockets), the bag feels great on my shoulder and holds a LOT! The quality of the bag is fantastic, and the customer service is amazing.
Delias Thompson Eternity Secret Message Necklace: The way the secret message circle slips gracefully along the necklace's chain is far more pleasing than I could have anticipated. Delias is charming and delightful to work with, and I am thrilled with the elegant playfulness of my new necklace. It's a great way to keep your own mantra for 2011 close to your heart.
Rosebud Salve: this stuff is perfect for winter lips and cuticles.
Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter Yarn: Have you knit or crocheted with this stuff yet? As his prize for my recent contest, Drew asked me to knit a hat for his wife. I'm making this pattern, and every stitch is pure, squishy goodness.
Roasted Chickpeas: I saw these on Pinterest (are you using Pinterest yet? Why not?) and promptly made them. They are delish on a salad. Much healthier than croutons, they give that same crunch and pop of flavor.
Thanks to your generous support, Catherine and her class are closing in on raising the necessary funds to help them to build a classroom in Nicaragua. You are the best, dear readers! Thank you! Thank you!
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you had a great weekend. We had an adult Christmas (no little kids. Boo hoo!), and while it was quiet, it was certainly restful. The big snowstorm yesterday made it easy to relax on Sunday, and since Neal had a furlough day today (who says the state workers don't give back?), we were able to get out for the first cross-country ski adventure of the season. Neal took this picture of the brook that wends through the woods across the street from our house. I felt strong skiing, and my spirits were lifted by the beauty around me.
My friend and colleague is bringing a group of students from our University to Nicaragua to build a much-needed classroom. The group has $3,500 to raise before they go, and I thought I'd share the opportunity to help them with you.
To thank you for your generosity (any donation is generous in my book!), I'm running a little contest. Donate between now and December 26, and leave a comment here that you donated (again, any amount, and you don't have to tell me how much), and I'll enter your name for a glamorous prize. If you're a fiber-y person, I'll send you a skein of hand-dyed yarn. If not, I'll make you a cushy cowl.
Ready to donate? Click here to learn more about the program and to make your generous donation.
Earlier this fall, while playing catch with the dogs, Neal felt his wedding ring slip from his finger. We couldn't find it. My pleas to St. Anthony* did no good. We had no access to a metal detector. This was the third time his ring has been lost.
This weekend, while raking, he found it.
*I don't post my pleas online. And, yes, despite no longer being a Roman Catholic, I do still practice some of my old habits!
Last weekend was close to peak for leaf peeping, which made the drive to Rhinebeck beautiful. Sara and I wended our way along Rt. 44 until we got into New York. There were some ominous clouds above us, but (knock wood), it has never rained on our Rhinebeck trips.
I had no shopping goals for the trip, although I did manage to find some nice things to bring home...a hat from Robin's Hoods ; a woven alpaca stole to replace my worn-out pashmina (I'm saving both for post-Project 333; they are great additions to help me create my well-appointed minimalist wardrobe); a big orange basket; three skeins of cormo/nylon yarn to use for the Macro Lace cardi I'm eager to make (and, hey, Laura was in the Foxhill Farm [no website] booth sporting her BBCs while I was shopping! I saw the boots before I realized who was in them. She is super nice.); a skein of creme puff from Decadent Fibers (where I also had a movie-star sighting! Uma! I Kinneared, but the photo is so bad. Do you want to see it?). I picked up a button at Jennie the Potter's booth, and some vintage millenary trims at another booth (sorry, can't find a card).
There was plenty of gorgeous yarn to pet and dream about:
These precious 2 oz. skeins of cashmere were all gone when I went back on Sunday to consider buying one. Oh, how happy the knitters that bought them!
Best of all, though, was meeting friends, new and old. I had dinner with my NM SnB girly Cari, met up with my dear friend Cheryl--not a knitter, but converted on Saturday night--and saw tons of my Ravelry, Twitter, and blog peeps (too many to link, but I loved seeing you all). I had my picture taken by Gale and was given an adorable book by Manise as a reminder to pick my strawberries before any little thieves do. I drank warm cider, tasted cheese, and petted puppies.
And critters. Alpaca and llamas. Goats and sheep. There were plenty of them.
Next year, I'm planning on some big doings for Rhinebeck. It's one of my favorite outings of the year. Hope to see you there some time!
I'm excited to share with you the Holcomb Farm Scarf, a pattern I created for a Hairpin Lace class I'm teaching at my LYS. The pattern calls for two skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino, which is so dreamy to use. You can download the pattern for free on Ravelry.
I first learned Hairpin Lace from my mother; it was my gateway craft. I started by helping her with fringing the afghans she made, then learned to connect the strips, and finally, to make the strips. I want to bring back this delicate little craft, so I've been designing a few patterns that I'm looking forward to sharing with you.
P.S. Isn't my model gorgeous? Spring graciously tromped all over Holcomb Farm earlier this summer and allowed me to take tons of pictures. She's a photographer, and I was lucky enough to get a few tips from her during our shoot!
ETA Please note that I fixed a type on 7/24, so you may want to re-download!