Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Great-Grandmother's Quilt

My great-grandmother was an amazing woman. She had to flee Lebanon in the 1930's after my grandfather was killed for political reasons. She immigrated to the Pacific Northwest with four young children, the oldest of whom was my grandmother. My "Citty" (as we called her) had to figure out how to make her way and support her children in a foreign country where she didn't speak the language. Fortunately, she was very resourceful and good with her hands and was able to raise her children to be honest, hard-working, productive members of society.

She taught my grandmother to knit, who, in turn, taught me to knit. So, for that in and itself I am forever grateful. But, I also loved her for her gentle and loving nature. She seemed to be one of those people for whom adversity and sadness had distilled in her a sense of what is really important in life and she was generous in her relationships with others. One of her most obvious traits was that she could never just sit still and relax. She always needed to be doing something and so knitting and quilting became important activities for keeping her hands busy during her infrequent moments of "relaxation."

By happenstance I inherited a quilt top she made in the 1930's out of scraps of fabric from various items of clothing she'd made for her children and herself. She pieced this Star of Bethlehem together by hand but never finished it and it was found among her personal belongings when she died at age 92.

I was honored to inherit it, and since I am not a quilter I had a professional quilter finish it for me. It now hangs in my therapy office and I hope it brings a sense of comfort to my patients. I know it does to me. Thank you Citty!

The backing is a reproduction fabric from the 1930s. It depicts little girls in long dresses serving tea to little boys with waistcoats.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


"It surely is a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions."

- Ted Berrigan, poet

Clearly, this is not a calamity from which I suffer.

Over the Labor Day weekend I went into an organizing frenzy. The label gun was out and the dust was flying. Eventually when the dust settled, here is what became evident.

First, the knitting books.

Then, the (partial) yarn stash.

This is an embarrassment of riches. If I sat down and knit for the rest of my life, I wouldn't run out of yarn or inspiration. On the one hand, this gives me a great sense of comfort (as in, "Phew - I'm glad I don't need to worry about having nothing to knit."). On the other hand, I feel more than a little embarrassed and somewhat baffled. How did this happen?! Have I been in a fiber-induced fugue for the past 18 months? And, most importantly, how will I work my way through this?

To wit, here is my knitting queue (in no particular order, because the latest project in which I've fallen in love always jumps to the top of the queue:

1. Gedifra Moments #1443

2. Narvik by Dale of Norway (for my bro)

3. Ivel by Evi T'Bolt

4. Ginny by Kim Hargreaves

5. Autumn Rose by Eunny Jang

6. Ingeborg Jacket #12614 by Dale of Norway

7. Military Jacket by Veronika Avery

8. some stealth gift knitting ...

... and many other projects for which I either have patterns but no yarn, or the yarn but no plan.

But, in closing, I must admit that I am not looking for a cure. It's my therapy. It keeps me sane. When things become overwhelming or stressful, I can always lose myself in the Zen of knitting.