Stitched at Birth : Creating Family Bonds
A bit about who we are, what we do, and why love of yarn literally ties us together
Stephen and I seem to be at that age where we think a great deal, perhaps too much, about family. We enjoy the blossoming antics of our children even while we are plotting their futures. We also consider our own families, now so far away. These days, almost everyone that we talk to (mostly super-smart, outstandingly talented knitters of the hardcore variety) shares a similar quest of trying to accept, or at least understand, that family life can be at best complicated, if not downright impossible.
Like our friends, we love our families. Stephen and I grew up in the same small town and both come from huge families. That has not always been easy, and I admit that there have been times when I looked around at a crowded holiday get-together and wondered how in the world I could possibly share DNA with those people. At the same time, I have been fiercely protective of them, and of their choices in life. Both of our extended families have a deep appreciation for the arts, for reading, for education. My father’s relatives are deeply musical. Stephen’s grandmother made a living and supported four children as an artist at a time when women “didn’t do that”, especially young widows, especially in the Midwest.
To varying degrees, our family members support us in our creative endeavors. Sometimes there may not be complete understanding, but we are never outwardly criticized, either. My first and most outspoken advocate, my biggest fan from back in the day, has always been my sister, Melanie. She taught me to read, that books were magic, and that learning on my own was the way to understanding. My sister has watched me grow as a writer and as an artist. She comes to my shows, she begs for more, and she even cries with emotion when she is supposed to…what a rare gift. Melanie gets it. She makes me feel that what I do is important, that it matters to at least one other person.
It’s because of my sister that Stephen and I became parents in the first place. She let us practice our dubious parental techniques on her daughter (Megan, a baby when we were in high school, will start college this fall. How does that happen?), and encouraged us even there, even then. That experience convinced me that the love of my life deserved to be, needed to be, a father. And I have never been sorry. We also knew that we would do whatever it took to ensure that our own children are close. I don’t know if we could really determine that past a certain degree, but we did make sure that they were close in one way. Lucy and Lily are a mere 20 months apart, and have passed many childhood milestones together, hand in hand (Lu likes to take her time, and little Gracie is forever trying to be like her big sister). Fortunately, their personalities are such that neither minds just how close the other is, and aside from our “family planning”, the rest of their ironclad relationship is their own doing.
We do what we can to encourage three things every day: cooperation, creativity, and gratitude. It doesn’t always work, but a life centered around making stuff seems to suit us. One of our family rules is: Books (and yarn) First, Groceries Second. I don’t know if not watching television helps (one of Lu’s classmates asked if we were “pioneers”), but a lack of “must see” programming frees us to knit with friends several times each week. The girls are in the habit of never leaving the house without a bag filled with knitting and/or spinning projects, as well as a pad for notes and sketching, a bottle of water, and at least one book. They know that if we go out, we are likely to meet up with a friend or two and spend hours knitting and laughing in one of our favorite coffee shops.
Even when we stay in, the girls take turns at the spinning wheel. They dye yarn with Kool-Aid, design complicated and beautiful Fair Isle patterns on graph paper, and pore over books and magazines dedicated to the fiber arts. Don’t get me wrong (as Lucy would say), the girls have other interests. They play instruments, write and perform plays, create comic books, fold origami animals, and even goof off sometimes. And I am not such a fool as to think that these Golden Days will last forever. There will be a day when knitting in public, especially with their parents, may embarrass them to death, and we do hope that they decide to move out, eventually.
But for now, life is pretty perfect. When so many family relationships are mostly oil and vinegar, we feel very lucky to be a family made for each other, and for knitting.
This may be the Music Episode of LGStitched, but we want to dedicate it to our family, both relations and those who share our love of all things wool. Like music, family means different things to different people, and it is very entertaining indeed to discover the ways in which we begin to understand each.
We are celebrating our 100th post, and in this episode you will find spanking-new patterns, plus some old favorites (now FREE!!), as well as essays and tutorials from all four of us. Why are we obsessed with music, or socks, for that matter? Did you need another example of Stephen felting expensive wool? What have the girls been doing lately? Look inside. There’s even a contest, complete with prizes.
So, knitting family, get out your needles, and your headsets, and knit on.