Reuimel’s Mittens


They were knit in a soft tan and cream wool. There’s a left one and a right one--a refinement I left behind a hundred mittens ago. The cuff is ribbed with a two stitch cable. The top of the hand and thumb were decreased to form a triangle. The diamond stitch pattern is an interesting play of negative and positive, knit at 7 stitches to an inch. A simple folk mitten, they are more complex than any of my own creations.  And though they are a tight fit for my hand and rarely worn, they reside in the basket where I keep my everyday walk gear--hand knit mittens, hats, and cowls. Their presence adds a welcomed grace.

I found the mittens at the Crowded Closet, a thrift store in our town, run by Mennonites. A thin strand of the mitten’s wool held them together along with a small tag-like card completely written in what I thought was Cyrillic. Today, examining the tag more closely, I found some English words. Googling them, I learned the mittens were Estonian. Studying that informative little slip of paper with its official looking rubber stamp, and unique code of numbers, I was drawn to very last entry on the back side. Meister. Mactep. Although I could not translate it, I think I know what it means. Master--the knitter who made them. And beside it, inked in a confident blue scrip was just one name. Reuimel.


Of Interest --Related and almost related suggestions

Children’s Books

Winter is the Warmest Season, Snow – Lauren Stringer.

Lauren’s books are picture book winners. Look for her titles as well. And check out Lauren’s new blog.


Estonian mittens all around the world- Aino Praakli

I haven’t read this yet, but it came up on my Google search. Looks very interesting. 

Lativan Mittens: Traditional Designs and Techniques  Lizabeth Upitis

At one time, I owned two copies of this book. I have never knit any of the mittens, but I love looking at the piuctures and reading about them. One day, I will knit a pair. Or maybe just one.

Recipe: The Best Brisket Ever

What to serve on a cold spring night?

This recipe is from Art Ginsburg, a.ka. Mr. Food. I knew Art and his family when I was growing up in Troy, New York. I wished had known his brisket recipe years ago. It took scores of advice from the experienced, and the first few years of my marriage, to nail down cooking brisket. I had been a vegetarian, and back then, beef baffled me. Now brisket is what I make when I need something easy for dinner. I like to make it the day before, or early in the day. That way the brisket has time to sit, and the fat can easily be skimmed off the top. Try this recipe with potatoes, carrots and cabbage.

Note: I will now be blogging regularly on Fridays. Post should appear by noon CST. I have added a Blog RSS for those of you who would like to follow that way. I am thing about starting a monthly newsletter with stories, pictures, pattern and recipe links. If you'd like to be on my mailing list, send me an email from the contact page.

Full Moon and New Year


Note: full moon tonight. And here’s our morning weather report at 9 am CST. Barometer 30.2 inches. Wind 3 mph NW.  Dew point -15. Humidity 77%.  -4° Snow

In this deep cold, my needles are at work. Called into service to provide warmth and comfort. Two cowls were knit for my youngest daughter. Mittens will be started tomorrow and hopefully finished before she leaves to go back to college on Sunday. A healing shawl and two chemo hats are in the works as well.

In college I took a Chinese calligraphy course. Before our brush touched the paper, there were steps to follow. Feet positioned first, if I remember this right. Firmly on the ground. Posture was important, too. And then, there was the grinding of the ink. A small amount of water was poured into the pool at the end of grinding stone. The ink stick was dipped into the water, pulling a few drops on to the grinding area.  Circular movements of the stick against the stone broke down the ink particles while mixing them with water and creating a fluid. Brushes held in a prescribed manner, tips of the thumb and forefinger grasping handle, the middle finger behind and lower on the stem, giving the artist maximum control.     

There are weeks when my studio time feels like that grand preparation of ink I did back then. Monday, after I finished my Lion Brand essay and card, I was determined to do a New Year’s sweep: cleaning, organizing, shedding the unnecessary and distracting, preparing for the work I hope to do in the next year. A box of letters turned up the other day, hidden as they were in a messy drawer I usually try to ignore. From 2002, they included a note from my friend Anne Ylvisaker (resolution-learn to spell her name!)  who I had just met. Also in the pile were several thank-you notes for healing shawls. And a card I forgot to mail.

Cards remembered, cards forgotten. Mittens knit and lost. Life does go on, imperfectly at times. And with it, each new year I am filled with hope and enthusiasm. Gripped with an eagerness to greet new work and challenges.  Feet positioned firmly on the floor in my almost clean studio.

Happy New Year.




Snow blowers and soup pots and good neighbors


Our first snow.

In this early morning state, at 6:30 a.m. my neighbors were already out with their snow blowers. We have one, too. Most days, though, I prefer to strengthen my sword arm. Today, shoveling to the rumble and roar of Hondas and Toros, brought me back the memory of the first time I heard a snow blower. It was in the late 1960’s in Troy, New York. And it belonged to an Englishman, Gordon Leavis. He and his family had just moved a few houses over from us. We hadn’t met them yet, but learning of my young father’s heart attack, Gordon zipped up our walk, and cleared our snow.

A few phone calls were made that day,and later, when Gordon, his wife Valerie, and their daughter Susie were in our living room, they entered our family’s heart and life. Drinks were served for the adults, I’m sure. Maybe my dad even baked his famous cheesecake. Or maybe he whipped up an enormous pot of the mushroom barley soup he loved to make and often distributed to the worthy in cleaned out Hellman’s Mayonnaise jars.

My parents, Gordon, and Valerie died many years ago. School friends and neighborhood kids from my growing years are spread out all over the country and the world. We now meet on on Facebook. Susie Leavis is there, too. She wrote me that she has my father’s soup pot. And when she takes it out, she thinks of him.

Here’s to snow blowers and soup pots and good neighbors.



Socks, handknit

Socks. Another pair knit. But these were not quite like others. Knit while life around me, my life as a mother, began it's steady shift away from all that it had been. Soon that movement will be greater, in September, the nest, our nest, once so full and crowded, with just be for the two old birds.
The Stalled Sock, this month's Lion Brand essay.


Shawl Friday

It's been a summer of reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane. I'm not quite sure what keeps pulling me to find out what made them tick. Perhaps it's the closeness of their archives, housed down the road in West Branch Iowa.

Studying new picture books, I have found I really love Mo Willems. And I adore his early readers. Thank you, Debbie Dunn for introducing me to them.

So what does this all have to do with shawl Friday? Sketching lions for the new Lion Brand healing shawl cards ( ), I looked for a visual guide. The lions were my first attempt at anthropomorphizing. I thought Maurice Sendak and his Little Bear illustrations would be most helpful, but it was the spareness of the Mo Willems elephant and pig that guided my hand.

graduation and motherhood

The days are long and the years are short. Last night was the last orchestra concert. Saturday night graduation. My to-d0 list is long. At the top will be to remember to enjoy the present.

Thanks for dropping by. This summer I hope to post more regularly. And with some luck, my Etsy store will be open for those who have asked for cards and posters from my books and knitting life. Soon.

Happy Spring

chick on image to download card

Here's the thing about blogs, they are often started with the loftiest of intentions. Take mine, for example. I had planned to post every Friday. No matter what. I was positive I would post more often than that. But books have a way of taking over the nooks and crannies of your life. My last post was in January. And now it's May.

There's just a bit of last minute work for me on the knitting book due out next Spring. The Hanukkah Trike will be out this Fall. I'm back at my desk now with a head full of stories and a summer packed with ideas. Stay tuned.
Thanks for visiting.