Making … a Bundle of Joy

Last week I packed up a pair of jaunty booties and a cheerful cardigan to send to my little nephew-in-utero in Texas. I've been planning this gift since well before we left Virginia, so it was a joy to finally plant the package on the UPS counter and send this little bundle southwest.

The sweater (Oscar, by Lili Comme Tout) is a beautifully textured grandpa cardigan, knit up in sand stitch with bands of garter stitch at the hem, cuffs, and collar. The pattern is similar in style to a free pattern called Baby Sophisticate, but it's constructed very differently. I found it a bit fussy to knit at times, but the lovely details—the nubby texture, the slipped-stitch raglans—make for a very special garment. (If you're pressed for time, though, the Easy Baby Cardigan from Joelle Hoverson's Last-Minute Knitted Gifts just can't be beat.)

The booties, I love: they're the perfect mix of slipper and sock, and my new favorite pattern for TV knitting. This pair is brought to you by a couple of episodes of The Americans and a home screening of The English Patient.

These are just two of many baby things I'll be knitting over the next couple of months—we have a lot of babies coming into our lives this summer and fall—so if you have a tried and true baby knit, please share it here! I'm eyeing Petit Artichaut (my head having been turned by Christine Chitnis's and Alicia Paulson's gorgeous versions) and the Vintage Pixie Cap from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies.


Bits and Bobs: Big Box edition

What are you up to this weekend? I'm hoping to finish seaming a wee sweater and to get the hang of riding a bike (a skill that never quite stuck with me).
  • Two eye-opening reads: In "Spin, Measure, Cut: Hobby Lobby and the Tangled Skein of Reproductive Rights"(The Hairpin), Susan Schorn folds the story of her creative family into a discussion of the Hobby Lobby contraceptive case, which the Supreme Court is expected to decide by the end of the month; at NewYorker.com, Amy Merrick wonders why college students—who traditionally have fought for better working conditions in factories—continue to support fast-fashion chains like Forever 21, where cheap clothing comes at a high human cost.
  • How about Kate Davies's wonderful series of posts showcasing the Great Tapestry of Scotland?
  • I grew up not far from Oak Spring, the garden estate of Rachel "Bunny" Lambert Mellon, but was unaware of its existence until I saw this story in the New York Times Style Magazine. According to a Vanity Fair profile, Mellon's design philosophy was "Nothing should be noticed."She clearly made an exception for Yellow Expanse, the glorious golden Rothko painting that leaps out of the third image of the Times slideshow. I wonder what will happen to it now. (Mellon died in March 2014.)
  • Minneapolis is bursting with world-class museums. Last Saturday I spent a happy afternoon exploring the third floor of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Walker Art Center and the Mpls Photo Center are next on my list. (My summer goal is to be able to bike to the Walker and back.) The latest Art Assignment video, How to Visit an Art Museum, is full of wonderful advice, even if you're a relatively seasoned visitor. Even better is the debate in the comments—I love seeing people get so passionate about art.


Q: Where Have You Been?

A: Weaving in the loose ends of my Charlottesville life and casting on the first stitches of my new, midwestern one.

I've left places before; I've even left Charlottesville before, thinking I'd never live there again. But after I found my way back, it became the first place I felt really and truly at home in a home that I created myself. It became the place I married my husband; where I wrote my first freelance pieces; where I discovered the pleasure of growing plants and feeding birds; where I bought my first grown-up piece of furniture (a light-colored sofa—mistake). And it became the place I discovered knitting.

Now we are in the Twin Cities, where I feel a little bit lost, but also a little bit in love with my new home. I wish I could say that knitting has been my constant during this hurricane of appointment-making, goodbye-saying, and document-signing—but, truthfully, I've just picked up my needles for the first time since early May. (A sign, perhaps, of feeling settled. Get on with your knitting, indeed.)

I hope to have more to share in the weeks to come. In the meantime, what makes a new place feel like home to you?


Is it too early to think about buying holiday cards? Because these textile-inspired ones are tops. (All cards and photographs are by Red Cap Cards, which doesn't know that I exist.)

Keep Warm, by Yelena Bryksenkova
Snow Clothes, by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Tall Toque, by Jon Klassen


Get On With Your Knitting

"When I was leaving my office for the last time, I grabbed a book off my shelf, Robert Frost Speaking on Campus. In closing, I’m going to leave you with some wisdom from the Colby College commencement speech the great poet gave in 1956. He described life after graduating as piece of knitting to go on with. What he meant is that life is always unfinished business, like the bits of knitting women used to carry around with them, to be picked up in different intervals. And for those of you who have never knitted, think of it as akin to your Tumblr: something you can pick up from time to time. My mother was a great knitter and she made some really magnificent things. But she also made a few itchy and frankly hideous sweaters for me. She left some things unfinished. So today you gorgeous, brilliant people, get on with your knitting." —Jill Abramson 
I don't envy Jill Abramson for having to deliver a commencement speech just days after she was fired from the New York Times. And I suspect it would have been better written had the timing been different. But I did love the last sentence.