We're none of us born patient, as a baby's wails demanding immediacy can attest. But we learn as we grow that we must wait, and we find that we can. We wait for big things and small alike -- our loved ones to return home, our gardens to grow, and our turn to cross the street. Waiting is hard, plain and simple. moreContinue reading
This weekend we celebrate Mothers' Day. I like to think about Mothers' Day not just as a day to remember our own mothers, but a day to recognize and honor all the influential women in our lives. Certainly, our mothers are the first to love us, but there are so many strong women who have nurtured us. These are the women moreContinue reading
My youngest, Colton, had just turned two when I opened the shop, so I find it quite remarkable to report that last week I took him to get his learner's permit. Time flies for sure. As we were out for his very first driving experience, was pretty comfortable maneuvering the car on the small road to our house. Backing moreContinue reading
The holidays are in full swing, as witnessed by the hoards of shoppers at Giant today. Everyone had a full cart, but no one seemed particularly happy to be there. It made me think about the concept of happiness -- that elusive feeling that so often seems just out of reach, just beyond our grasp. I just watched a video by Google X's Chief Business Officer. Mo Gadawt, called, An Algorithm for Happiness. In it, Gawdat describes happiness read moreContinue reading
Life is full of beautiful moments, from the exciting new experiences to special times spent with loved ones. But what makes those times special? Certainly, the emotions involved are a big chunk of it, but I believe it's more than that. I think it's the rarity of an experience that makes it special. The thrill stands out against the everydayness of our lives. It is when we don't see someone we love for a long time that the time spent together is all the sweeter. It's the contrast of the ordinary against the spectacular that highlights the beauty of our day -- of our lives. We especially treasure those events all the more because they are rare.
I've been thinking a lot about Noro lately, and wondering why I like it so much, and why it inspires such strong opinions - both positive and negative - in others. Noro detractors often point to that random "ugly" color that they'd like to just cut out of the skein. When you take that color out, though, the yarn loses much of its beauty and interest. Noro yarns are inspired by nature - their colors are drawn from the palette of the environment which, like life, has brilliant and dull in equal measure. The dull makes us appreciate the bright even more. The rich brown earth sets off your beautiful garden. A black sandy beach makes the the Caribbean Sea that much more dazzling. That contrast is what Noro colors are about, and why I love them so much. Here are some photos to show you what I mean. I'm sure you can think of hundreds more. If you do, please share it with me. I look forward to seeing you at the Noro Trunk Show Sunday - 12-4
A few weeks ago I took this class called Cardio Dance at Spice Studio. Now, I've been doing aerobic dance/exercise classes for going on 40 years now -- Jazzercise, aerobics, step aerobics, blah blah blah. So you'd think this would be a cinch for me. Well. It wasn't. The teacher, Taryn Brown, is a professor of dance at St. Mary's College, and winner of the Maryland State Arts Council individual artist award for choreography. She's talented, hip and fun. Her moves are current. Mine are not. Taryn is very patient going over and over all the moves slowly adding on a little at a time. Only I wasn't quite getting it. Just a smidge behind, you know. The gal dancing next to me was having trouble with it too, and we laughed and said that we hated it. The truth is, though, I didn't hate it, and neither did she. What we hated was messing up. It's embarrassing to be out of step - turned the wrong way - zigging when everyone else is zagging.
As adults, its uncomfortable to feel incompetent. We learned all the hard stuff, like walking and talking and typing and playing tennis or whatever, a long time ago. If we didn't learn to play a sport or a musical instrument when we were young, chances are we're not going to pick it up now. It's just too painful to be a beginner in a world we perceive to be filled with experts. And that's a shame, because not only are we never too old to learn, it's the learning that keeps us young and vibrant.
As knitters, we often sit at the table and see women of all ages stop by and admire completed garments or projects we're doing. They'll touch the yarn and say, "I never learned to do this," or "I don't have the patience to do this." Having taught hundreds of people to knit over the last 14 years, I know this to be false, but I also understand their real meaning, which is "I'm not comfortable putting myself in a place where I'm not competent." I get it. It's a hard place to be, and no one really likes it. But here's the thing - it's not a permanent condition. We keep trying and we get better. I submit myself to Taryn's class each week, because I love it, and I know that I'll get it. I'm not uncoordinated - I just don't know the steps yet. It might take me longer than some to learn them, but I will learn them. The only way I can fail is to quit.
It's the same with everything in life, including knitting. Whether you'r stretching yourself with a complicated technique, just starting your first sweater, or trying to decide if you want to give knitting a try, remember that it takes time to become proficient at anything. The only way to fail is to quit, or worse, to not even try.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table trying new things. You are always welcome here. ~Ellen
My bookclub's selection this month is The Little Paris Bookshop, a novel about love and loss and grief and recovery, all wrapped up in the enchanting notion that books are medicine for the soul. The bookstore owner refuses to sell a particular book to a particular client because, "It's not what you need right now." When recommending a book he asks, "How do you want to feel when you go to sleep at night?" and "How should the book taste ? Of ice cream? spicy and meaty? or like a chilled rose?" Seems odd maybe, but really, probably as good a way as any to choose a book. There are books for when you need a good cry - Little Women, Anna Karenina. When you need a thrill, there are books that take you on a roller coaster ride of fear and excitement -- The Scarecrow, and Silence of the Lambs. And there are books like The Night Circus that take you away to a magical place when you really need to go there. If you ever need an intellectual challenge, choose anything Umberto Eco has written.
As we get ready for Fallfest this weekend and planning our yarn tastings, I am reminded that yarn might easily be selected in much the same way. Do you want your project to taste like ice cream? Definitely Moonshine. Do you need to be comforted and reassured? Berroco Noble. Are you looking for something indulgent because you deserve to be pampered? Shibui Drift is the yarn for you. Craving something spicy and meaty suggests Noro Silk Garden.
Likewise, a project. Do you want something simple just to fill your hands with something tasty to knit? Luxe Alpaca Stole is perfect - it's the knitting equivalent of a rich earthy stew. I remember many years ago, long before Ginni was Crazy for Ewe's Technical Genius, she came in fresh off weeks of knitting for the church bazaar. Bored out of her gourd, she threw her latest novelty yarn garter stitch scarf on the table and announced, "I want to knit something challenging!" Ok. I scanned my brain for the knitting equivalent of Foucalt's Pendulum by Umberto Eco and came up with a pattern We found it in a gorgeous vest with half a dozen different cable patterns and short rows at the facing worked in fingering weight yarn on size 1 needles.
Of course, there are plenty of things we knit or crochet because we want to own this garment or that accessory, but it's important to remember that this is our hobby. The days of women's utilitarian production knitting are over (thank heavens) and we knit because we love the process and because it feeds our soul. Like the books we choose to read, and the foods we choose to eat, there's much more to be satisfied with our craft than simple hunger.
Join us at Fallfest this Saturday for a terrific lineup of yarn tastings every hour and see which fibers feed your soul. I look forward to seeing you soon - you are always welcome here.
Back to the 19 September 2017 Newsletter