Saturday, April 23, 2016

She's Back!
It has been many months since I last posted here at The Knitorialist. I've been living in the east and have spent lots of lovely time within closer driving distance to the Atlantic Ocean and the tri-state area nearer to my family. I've met new people, am editing the final draft of my book manuscript and made strong connections in other areas. I still haven't gotten used to taking trains to Manhattan and driving around busy New Jersey and Connecticut. I guess I've been spoiled by 25 years of wide open, speedy, southwestern roads. I don't seem to remember my way around either which is sort of embarrassing. In Taos I took for granted an abundance of sun, dramatic neon sunrises and sunsets, blue sky winters and generally lighter clothes--all elusive here among trees, endless grey skies, frigid and gloomy winters that require long LL Bean Ultra down hooded coats with faux fur. All winter I felt compelled to knit wool socks and nothing else. I added to my sock yarn stash and have enough yarn to get me through future winters. Most of the finished socks ended up with friends and family members.
But it's spring now and I am awakened every morning by a cardinal singing high up in a tree outside the window. After-dinner strolls in the 23 acre park outside my door now puts forth the color I longed for all winter and sought in yarn.
I will try to write this blog at least weekly from now on and will post excerpts from one of two manuscripts I'm working on: a collection of creative non fiction essays and another of poems. Meanwhile I wish joyful spring thoughts to all of you who return to these pages.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

begin with Yes

Frankly friends, I don't know where the special effects for this photo came from.  It's a mystery. Yes, it's the view from my kitchen window, but the falling snow? Wow. Magic? At the same time that this appeared, the photos I was downloading disappeared. So. What does this all mean? It's been a difficult year and it is drawing to a close in many ways subtle and not so. I've learned that meditation helps, saying yes and breathing helps, knitting helps. In the midst of an anxious week I came upon a skein of cashmere yarn that I'd purchased a year ago and forgotten about.
It's from Lobster Pot Yarns and the name alone is compelling. Dyed in lobster pots, dried in the wind of east coast beaches. Lovely! So I began to knit a Colonnade triangle/lace scarf and more magic happened. The soft luxury of this Mongolian cashmere and the color called Shoreline Heather (lighter than the photo) seemed to bring an inexplicable inner peace. I'm loving it, appreciating it and very very grateful for the animals that give us their wool. To all the sheep, goats, alpacas, and silkworms, thank you! Thank you to the trees that produce apples in Christmas colors, too!
I'm writing a lot these days, filling notebooks, mostly with junk. Sometimes I have the greatest urge to consign them to flames, but haven't done so thus far. What I do know is that I'm not writing very often on this blog because too many other things are clamoring for attention. Therefore, I am going to take some time off. As Terry Tempest Williams said recently on her facebook page, I am going to take three months off from most social media and do what the bears do. They hibernate from now until the Spring Equinox. Tonight I meet with a group of women who will be celebrating the return of the light on this Winter Solstice night and then it's a 21st century version of hibernation. I'll be back in the spring. I hope you will meet me here then. For now, I'm poised and ready. See you when the robins are twittering and the meadowlarks are calling from fenceposts again
Life is a Hallelujah
Hallelujah when we're born
Hallelujah when we die
And Halleluljah when we rise each morning
           T. T. W.

Monday, November 24, 2014

afternoon beer

Many years ago, I was part of a survey team researching New Mexico quilts. The project was the brainchild of Dorothy Zopf, quilter and retired art teacher, who discovered that there was no data on an extremely important element in Hispanic New Mexican life: handmade quilts. The survey was conducted over several years, spread to Anglo quilts as well, and the result was Dorothy's book, Surviving the Winter. I was one of five women who helped with the research. My job was scribe and backup photographer and I loved toting notebook and compact 35mm camera on each trip.
Last evening Dorothy and I were invited to speak to an audience at the Taos Retirement Village Center about our adventures along the highways, byways and rural areas of NM. It had been snowing in Taos all day but I was able to navigate the roads into town from my perch in Des Montes at 7500 feet (Dorothy lives in the village and just walked over). The invitation prompted me to search through personal notes, photos, articles and poems I'd written at that time. A favorite experience was afternoon beer at The Rosebud Saloon in Mountainair. Although written long ago, it still resonates.

The Rosebud Saloon

Thursday afternoon
southwestern New Mexico
early summer beer
at the Rosebud Saloon
pool table fluorescent lights
guys in big hats at the bar.
I think about danger
something I read once
men and bars in afternoons
in remote towns. Here
it's only a TV rerun of
This Old House.

They take no notice
of five old girls who want to
carve their initials into the table
laughing in their beer
laughing with each other.

Maybe the sun's shining outside
maybe not, in the Rosebud Saloon
bright light illuminates fading hair
wrinkles, someone has arthritis
a guy at the bar tips his hat
red light blinks Budweiser's Best
and I wonder whose dream I'm in.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

seeing more directly what is true

Beware of that determined slide to the worst possible, barely imaginable scenario. You don't have to go there. Let's just see what happens now.        (Sharon Salzberg) 

(facsimile of Emily Dickinson's handwriting with ED mittz)

Good advice, since I just spent the last half hour or more writing and whining about waking up at 3 am to impossibly strong winds blowing in a snowstorm that turned my mind to typical wee hours thoughts of disaster, loss, old age, disease, joy, worry and doubt. When I'd finished writing, all my too many words and photos disappeared. So that's what happened then. This is now. It's snowing. It's pretty. It's winter. The dark time is coming.
Now that I've gotten that out of my system (without any wi-fi connectivity issues), I sit at my kitchen table writing in mid-morning as the snow comes and goes and have faith that in a day or so the sun will return in a Taos blue sky. There is food in the house, my cup of tea nearby, a notebook, camera (just in case), and wool. Wool. Wool.
Completed this cheerful pair of socks that reminds me of alpine ski lodges, mountains and snow that is actually fun to romp in if one is so inclined (I'm not, although I live in the environment described). I immediately began another sock with colors that simply feel good. Joyous socks, flower garden yarn, faith-in-the-future socks....
We face the darkest time of the year and I admit to often having low feelings around the holidays that include losses and gains, memories and longings. I know others do, too. My antidote is wool, color, the act of hands busily moving to create something pretty while the mind goes off on its alpha journey and diminishes some of the darkness. It is my version of hibernating into the tactile pleasure of mostly silent knitting (and writing -- they go together).
Since I no longer do an annual craft fair, I am not compelled to create "inventory" and now only knit what I love and am in the mood for. Yet I am almost always working on something and once finished I can easily let go. It seems to be about the act rather than acquisition. Since I don't need as many pairs of socks (or sweaters or scarves or hand warmers) as I turn out, they generally disappear onto other feet, hands, necks, heads...because other people love these things, too. Strangers, friends, family. It gives me great pleasure when I see or hear of someone wearing socks or hand warmers I knitted, a granddaughter wearing the felted bag, a poet using the teapot cosy as she writes and sips hot tea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Away from this blog for a long long time, I will try to catch up. Back in Taos now after six weeks or so in the east with friends, family, and a writing retreat. Ron was informed that he is "cancer-free" and although he has to build up his strength and gain some weight, he managed to take care of himself in my absence. Actually, I think he was pleased to be free of my nagging him to eat! I walked a lot, knitted some, wrote a lot and did some shopping in the tri-state area. I found a couple of cool yarn shops and indulged in some Malabrigo Finito yarn for handwarmers and a shawlette (kettle dyed in Uruguay).

I (and my eager assistants) had fun "researching" the ubiquitous New York black and white cookie (the one shown is not the traditional version, but it will do). We had to give up the profject when our jeans got a bit too tight. But we will eventually resume for the cause!
I will post about this fun "project" soon. Back east I got to hang out with some new friends.  One friend, today, sent a photo of a Christmas tree trimmed with balls of cashmere yarn! So you see, besides cookies, they got to know me pretty well! Since my granddaughter and great grandson are planning to visit again in early December I may have to trim a Christmas tree this year -- and while it may not be all about cashmere, it could easily be about yarn balls. If they come though, I suspect I might be forced to open those boxes of old old Xmas ornaments stashed in the garage. We are a sentimental lot -- and I haven't seen those contents in many years. Which reminds me that a high point of my visit was being with my older brother Frank (and his beautiful wife Rita) for a whole day. He cooked for me and we reminisced and laughed a lot (also drank Scotch at 4 pm -- his daily prescription for good health (he's going to be 87 in January so manybe he's on to something).
Walking wooded paths, I encountered more dramatic huge mushrooms I still couldn't identify, colorful spiders, deer and cheerful graffiti.

The weather was generally warm and pleasant, but now "...winter circles and moves in..." (Charles Wright) and I need to wrap myself in wool.
At this time, on a dark night in November, I write, sip chilled Pinot Grigio and eat too many Pirouette Chocolate Hazelnut wafers. Not necessarily a good idea, but life is short and you only live once.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

she returns

a different kind of beauty
Still in the northeast, I have spent part of each day (when it isn't raining) walking paths near woods. It feels safe and I'm grateful that there is no strenuous hiking. I have encountered interesting natural phenomena. If you are a regular reader you already know that I am not a naturalist, nor a forest ranger, nor particularly entranced by forging new paths through forests and mountains. And god forbid I have to camp out! That said, I thoroughly enjoy not only city sidewalks, but paths and parks that offer abundant foliage, birds and bees, waterfalls, and places to sit to enjoy them with or without my notebook. At this time of year there is also an abundance of strong color which makes me think I need to find a yarn shop around here and buy some new autumn inspired sock yarn.
This giant monster ear thing mushroom fungus along my path measures about 18 inches from end to end. I have no idea of what it is called or whether it's benign or poisonous. It is thriving at the bottom of a long decaying tree stump on damp soil.
As were the orange mushrooms at the bottom of a log. Now I'm looking for sock yarn that  color. It is so vivid and beautiful. Maybe I'll have to dye some yarn when I get home. I'll use packs of orange Kool Aid and Betty Crocker neon orange food's worked before and it's fun.
Oh yes, and there is this colorful creature weaving its tangled web on the glass door of the place I'm staying. It's beautiful and scary and I'll use another door to go in and out. I've been advised to kill it, but I can't seem to do it (instead, I'm looking for sock yarn in that color and pattern).

Meanwhile, on these rainy and overcast October days, I'm trying to work on the manuscripts, listen to music on my iPad and do some journaling and knitting as the days and nights get cooler and cosiness sets in. I finally finished a pair of socks that were dragging along for months and I'll post pictures in a couple of days. I walk, embrace solitude and the occasional good company of other writers. Things seem to be going well at home in Taos where I get reports that the sky is stunningly and cloudlessly cobalt blue day after day and snow has already powdered the highest peaks. I wonder if the aspens have already spread swaths of yellow and salmon on those same peaks. Perhaps it's already past. One more example of impermanence.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

a rose is a rose

After more than a year of uncertainty, medical concerns and treatments, things are much better and Ron's doctors are encouraged. So while he regroups before the next round of appointments in Albuquerque in early November, I am taking the opportunity to give myself a long sabbatical from caregiving and creative inertia and am heading east for an extended stay. This has been an exhausting year for everyone and since now there's an open window, I'm jumping out of it! (figuratively, not literally). My granddaughter's old Bert (he emerged from a dusty box when she and Dante visited recently) is sitting on the bookshelf and represents how I feel at this time.
But Bert usually keeps a positive attitude and, taking my cue, I'm packing and getting ready to leave on the midnight flight to New York tomorrow. Will see friends and family before heading to a hideaway. The challenge is packing (is there room for one more sweater?). And figuring out how to stuff one more ball of yarn into the smallish suitcase. I dislike huge heavy luggage and try to avoid it even if it means I have to leave lots of clothes behind and wear pretty much the same things for several weeks. Of course that means blacks and browns and items that can be dressed up or down. But the yarn. How much do I bring, where will I buy more if needed? For me color reigns supreme in sock yarns -- the wilder and brighter the better. I'm currently working on the second sock in this pair which I intend to keep for myself (unless someone looks longingly and asks nicely).
It's another wonderful Opal sock yarn from the Le Petit Prince collection (The Rose of the Little Prince) and it reminds me of summer and watermelon, sunsets and...roses.
Part of my escape involves continued work on my other GIOs (guilt inducing objects) also known as manuscripts. My publisher has given me three months to get a completed/edited manuscript to her (or else) and I intend to meet that challenge. Meanwhile, I look forward to autumn in the northeast. It's been years since I experienced that seasonal transition in the tri-state area. And it seems there's already a plan afoot to pick apples on Sunday with a 3 1/2 year old.