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Team Blanket No. 2: For Survivors of a House Fire

Hi Karen, any details yet about Saturday’s sew up?
Thx,
Kristen

READ THIS! I am so sorry this is so late. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. My boyfriend ended up at the ER twice and they finally decided to keep him. He’s on the mend but is now in a nursing home for at least a month getting wound care for his poor little foot.

That said, Dec. 1st snuck up on me! I know this is last minute but if you’re in the NY tri-state area and want to join us, that would be lovely. If you can’t make it, I’ll be having another one in the dark, boring days of January!

I’m hoping for a fun filled afternoon!

If you want to come to Yonkers at noon, we’re having a little pre-game cultural excursion! The Hudson River Museum (511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10701) has quite an amazing exhibit up right now. Maya Lin has a place based installation about the Hudson River. If you are not familiar with Maya’s work, she is the architect who designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. She also designed the bakery where I work! The Museum got a new executive director a few years ago and she has been doing amazing work.

Admission is free for Team 2. Just go to the counter and tell them you are with Karen Tumelty. I will be there from noon until about 12:40 to greet everyone and help with any check in and then I will head out to our work site to set up.

Blanketing begins at 1 pm and goes until at least 3 pm at Gianna’s Restaurant (1034 North Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701). It’s a five minute drive up the hill (and it’s a big hill). Gianna’s is a local Italian restaurant that I go to often. It’s a friendly spot owned and run by very nice people. We’ll all be on our own for what we eat and drink (my non-profit job doesn’t give me a lot of luxury) but their prices are very reasonable and they will be very good to us!! They’re glad to have us coming!

We will be doing a three needle bind off so please bring at least three size 8 needles. Don’t panic if you don’t have them–I’m bringing extra.

There will be special guests and a few little door prizes! I think we’ll have a grand time.

Any questions, email me at kjt1211@optonline.net or call my cell at 914-772-8590.

I totally panicked when I realized that I had lost a week but now I’m excited!!!

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This sounds like so much fun! Oh how I wish I lived closer. I have a dear friend of my mom’s who lives in Yonkers…

Can’t wait to see the finished blanket!

So funny! I just emailed you. Where does your mom’s friend live? Wouldn’t it be funny if I knew her?

I am not completely sure where exactly she lives, I’ve been to visit her but it was many years ago! Her name is Marly Rusoff!

!!!IMPORTANT!!!

Last minute change of plans. Gianna’s had a funeral lunch scheduled for today but they moved to tomorrow so we are moving too. The Hudson River Museum is still at noon but we will be gathering at 1 pm at Francey Brady’s (72 Main Street, Yonkers, NY). It’s about the same distance away but on the Yonkers waterfront. If it’s nice out, we can take a little walk too!

There will be updates at the museum and directions at Gianna’s for anyone who isn’t online tonight. There is metered street parking and a municipal parking structure in the same building as the restaurant.

We’ll be upstairs.

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Getting ready!!! I’m so excited!

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I love our knitting community! What a gorgeous blanket this is. xo

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Wow!! It’s going to be beautiful!

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Fantastic job Karen. You put together a lovely afternoon and a beautiful blanket.
Thanks so much.

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A Knitter’s Christmas Carol

Chapter One

As the sun went down on Christmas Eve, Karen looked around her house and sighed. An unfinished hat. A pair of gloves yet to be started. A rogue piece of embroidery that was so close to done.

“Bah Humbug! Everyone thinks the’re entitled to a hand knit at Christmas. Well, I’ve had it. They’re not! And they don’t appreciate it anyway!”

She tossed it all in pile and went out for a Bailey’s on the rocks.

When she returned home later. She poured another Bailey’s and sat down on the couch. Suddenly, there was a softly glowing light coming from the stash closet and the sound of rustling. Now, normally, she would have run screaming out of the apartment but she was having none of that tonight.

“Bah humbug,” she muttered as she yanked open the closet door.

Standing in the glow was an old woman. Her hair was pulled back in a bun, she was wearing a beautiful, wool shawl, and she had an oddly shaped piece of knitting on her needles. Karen jumped back in fear at first but the figure quickly seemed familiar. No, she was sure that this was not a person she had ever met, but somehow it felt as if she knew this old woman.

The woman sat down carefully on a bin of yarn, leaned forward, and in a soft German accent, said “Karen my dear, you seem to have lost the spirit of your knitting.”

“Bah Humbug,” said Karen. “No one appreciates it, it takes too long, and I’ve had to rip that hat back twice because I suddenly can’t count to three. No!! There will be no Christmas knitting any more. For that matter, there will be NO KNITTING ANYMORE!!!”

The old woman softly shook her head and said “I had a feeling this might be bad. That’s why I came to see you. You will be visited by three spirits tonight. I hope you pay attention to all that they have to show you.”
“Feh! I’m not interested. Keep your spirits and your knitting to yourself, old woman.”

The old woman simply smiled and said, “It’s time for me to go. Three spirits. Don’t forget.”

And with that, mist started billowing from the corners of the closet and the back wall somehow seemed to dissolve. Behind the wall was an old man in a canoe with a picnic basket and an odd little cat sitting in the bow. He waved to the woman and a beautiful lake took shape behind him.

“Sleep tight my dear, you need your rest. Pay attention to the spirits and you will knit without tears.”

The old woman climbed into the canoe and the two rowed away, with the cat leading them across the lake. She turned her head, held up her needles with oddly shaped fabric and said “By the way, it’s a baby sweater.”

Karen blinked her eyes, shook her head hard, and stepped all the way into the now normal closet. She knocked on the back wall—solid as a rock—and checked all the bins for any moths. She thought to herself, “perhaps another Bailey’s is not a bad idea”, changed into her nightgown and went to bed where she soon fell into a fitful sleep.

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A Knitter’s Christmas Carol

Chapter Two

The sound of jingle bells roused Karen from her dreams. She didn’t particularly mind because they were troubled dreams, full of ugly Christmas sweaters and rumless egg nog. She sighed and got out of bed. The room was hot so she opened the window a smidge to let some cool air in.

As she turned around, she jumped back in fright. A small girl was standing in the room holding a large, fluffy cat.

“Don’t be afraid,” said the little girl. “My mother told you I was coming. I’m Meg, the Spirit of Knitting Past. And this is my cat, Bill.”

“You’re not real! I’m imagining things! I must still be sleeping!”

The cat jumped from the girl’s arms and wound his way around Karen’s ankles meowing loudly. “This must be real,” she thought. “The cat is so soft and his meow is so clear. Or I’m going slowing mad!”

“Bah humbug!” she said. “I’m going insane and you’re not real.”

Meg just laughed and picked up Bill. She tucked the kitty in the crook of her elbow and took Karen’s hand.

With a woosh of the cold December air, Karen, Meg, and Bill were suddenly standing on the terrace of a brick apartment building looking through a sliding glass door. The room was large with a big, blue and white, comfy couch and two green chairs. There was a small girl with long, brown, curly hair snuggled up on the couch with a big ball of yarn, two plastic knitting needles, and what appeared to be a “How To Knit” booklet. The little girl had roses in her cheeks but they were the pink of fever, not of fresh air.

“That’s my parents’ living room,” said Karen, “but very long ago. Why that must be me on the couch.”
“It is indeed,” said Meg. “Do you remember that day?”

“Strangely, I do,” said Karen. “I was home sick from school and decided I wanted to learn how to knit. But the booklet told me to hold the yarn in my right hand and I just couldn’t make it work.”

“It is that day,” said Meg, “keep watching. Things are about to change.”

With that the little girl flung the knitting on the floor and called out to someone in the kitchen. A woman walked out with long, dark hair in a high ponytail wearing a perfect 1970s housecoat. She had a glass of juice in one hand and a plate with buttered saltines in the other. She brought them to the little girl and sat down on the couch with her.

“That’s my mother,” said Karen with a small smile. “Look how young she was.”

As she watched her mother pick up the yarn and knitting needles off the floor Karen said, “Why can’t we hear what they’re saying. I want to know what we were talking about!”

Meg just smiled and said, “Keep watching, this is the my favorite part.”

With that, Karen’s mother got up and went to the bookshelf. She returned with a book. A slim volume with some mittens on the cover, and handed it to her sick child. As her mother went back into the kitchen, young Karen opened the book and started flipping through it. At first, she had a puzzled look on her face. There weren’t a lot of pictures and those that were there were in black and white. She closed the book, folded her arms, and sulked. She looked around for something else to do but there was nothing else to be found so with a resigned frown, she picked up the book and started to read.

“I remember this!! I remember this so well! That’s the day it happened,” said Karen. “There, in black and white, in a real book, I found out you didn’t have to follow anyone’s rules but your own when you knit! I remember picking up the knitting, putting the yarn over my left finger, and starting to knit.”

Karen smiled and said, “It was magical.”

Meg nodded and said, “The magic is still there. You’ve just lost your way a bit.”

“Bah,” said Karen, “it’s all just gotten to be too much.

Meg laughed her little laugh again and said, “at least you left off the humbug this time.”

And with another whoosh of the cold night air, Karen found herself back in her bedroom with the window slightly opened behind her.

She looked around and thought, “I must be sleeping walking. "What an odd dream.”

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Well, I guess there is nothing to do while we wait except maybe pour a Baileys.

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Enjoy the Bailey’s. More to come after I drop off some Christmas treats!

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Aaaahhh, don’t leave me hanging like this!! Lol

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A Knitter’s Christmas Carol

Chapter Three

It seemed to Karen that a good night’s sleep was out of the question. She went to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Baileys? No. She pulled out the milk, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, and heated it up on the stove.

With a warm mug in hand, she snuggled down on the couch with the remote control. Click. Law and Order. I think I’ve seen this one. But who is that man in the background? And where did his dog get that wonderful, colorful, striped sweater? Click. The Pioneer Woman is cooking for cowboys. That one on the black horse looks kind of like that guy from Law and Order. And is that the same dog in the same sweater? Click. Ahhh, MASH! You can never go wrong with MASH. Wait a minute. Is that the same guy? With the same dog?

Before she could google IMDB to find out who that actor is, Karen’s TV screen exploded. Sparks of every color showered her living room like a Fourth of July spectacular. As the smoke cleared, she saw a small man in a heap on the floor with a lovely pit bull in a coat of many colors licking his face.

“Sorry about the dramatic entrance!”, he said as he straightened his round glasses. “I’m still figuring out how this works.”

“Who on earth are you and what are doing in my living room?” said Karen. “By the way, my building doesn’t allow dogs so you’re going to have to go.”

“Oh we’ll both be going,” he said. “For I am the Spirit of Christmas Present and we have a lot to do tonight. This is Rosamund. She’ll be our guide.”

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” said Karen. “I know this is just a dream. Can’t you just let me sleep.”

“Well I’ve been called dreamy before but this is no dream, honey. We’ve got work to do and you’re going to need a sweater. That nightie is not going to cut it where we are going.”

“Ba—,” she started.

“DON’T SAY IT!,” he replied. “There’s a fox and a boxer at home waiting for me to make Yorkshire Pudding. Let’s get going!”

Karen grabbed the closest sweater and threw it on over her nightgown. “Wait! I’m not going anywhere with you, you’re a total stranger. You’re a guy, for heaven’s sake. Guy’s don’t knit!”

“I’m Franklin,” he said. “Now we’re not strangers any more. And if you’re going to play that “guys don’t knit card”, I will summon up BrooklynBoyKnits. I will raise up Brooklyn Tweed. Dammit, woman, don’t make me call up Kaffe Fassett! It’s Christmas and I have my own knitting to finish. Grab onto Rosamund’s leash. Time’s a waisting.”

Karen rolled her eyes but she held onto the dog’s leash and with a lightning fast blast, she found herself at the top of a large mountain with valleys to the north, south, east, and west. The wind was howling and she was glad she knit this sweater in a bulky yarn. “Where on earth are we,” she asked.

This is “Mount St. Webs” Franklin replied. It’s the very center of the knitting universe. From underneath his Steven West poncho, he pulled out a pair of binoculars. “Here,” he said. “Take a look down in the valley to the west.”

Karen took the binoculars from Franklin, with more than a little suspicion. She raised them to her eyes and looked down into the western valley. “What is this place? I see a lot of people I know! There’s the Yarn Harlot, and Thea Colman! I see Sonya Phillip. Oh no! I totally fan girled on her last year. Is that Sue from Snowshoe Farms Alpaca? And those nice people from Cape Cod. I see Earthtones Girl and Shannon Okey! There’s Nell!! Franklin—is this Rhinebeck? It looks so different from up so high! Who is that tall, grey haired woman. She has such a wonderful smile. I could swear she just looked right at us, winked, and said Bill says Hi.”

“Yes sweetie. It’s Rhinebeck. It’s where your crowd lives. Where you all come together. But it’s not the only place. Take a look to the north.”

Karen turned to her right and focused the binoculars into a tiny little town surrounded by mountains. A little shop had twinkling lights and local yarns in the window. “Franklin, it’s Six Loose Ladies! I love that place. I always feel like there should be an alpaca following me around when I’m there.”

“Well he might as well be because they’ve got so much yarn that comes from just a few miles away. Your people don’t just shop for yarn. They work hard to make sure that the yarn is made safely and with kindness. The rest of the world could learn a lot from your knitting world Karen but, I understand, you’ve given up. That’s fine, though. I’m sure you won’t miss any of this at all. Why don’t you take a look down into the eastern valley now. See what’s there.”

“Oh how pretty. It’s Flying Fingers, my local yarn shop. I love them. Can we stop in and say hello?”

“Not tonight. We can see them but they can’t see us. Just take a look in the window and see what’s happening. Go ahead, you can focus in closer.”

Karen focused the binoculars tighter and saw Elise and Dylan opening boxes of new yarns. Diana and Miranda have just arrived with a plate of Christmas cookies and Kim is teaching a class at the table.

“Franklin they all look so happy! And that new yarn is beautiful,” said Karen.

“I know you can’t hear them but I can,” said Franklin, “and Dylan just set aside a skein of lace weight possum in the most beautiful green because he knows you’ll love it.”

“Wait a minute,” Karen shouted. “Is that my niece Bratty Girl? What is she doing there?”

“She’s picking up your Christmas present. It’s a shame you won’t use it anymore. But, really, it’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.”

“Would you like to take a look to the south,” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’m not going to change my mind about the not knitting thing. If I haven’t been clear so far, I’m done.”

“Of course you are,” said Franklin. “Why on earth would you want to keep knitting. I totally get it. Take a look anyway.”

So Karen turned and focused the binoculars to the south. All that she saw was her own desk with her laptop open and turned on. “What the heck is this,” she asked.

“Grab onto Rosamund’s leash again,” Franklin commanded. “We need to go in deep on this one.” As they both clung to the leash, Rosamund flew them down the mountain to Karen’s desk and, because she’s such a good girl, Rosamund landed them comfortably in the desk chairs.

“I don’t understand,” Karen said.

“It’s the internet,” said Franklin. It’s blogs, the MDK Forum, and knittinghelp.com. It’s connecting with people all over the world without thought of gender, religion, politics, wealth, or any of the things that divide us. It’s where you have made so many friends who you have learned from and who have learned from you.”

“Well maybe I’ll just keep up on it online for a while but I told you already. I’ve given up knitting.”

“You do whatever works for you,” Franklin said. “There will be plenty to look at. Mary Jane Mucklestone has a new knit-a-long, Clara Parkes has a book coming out, Kristen over at Brooklyn Haberdashery has lots of new notions to play with and, naturally, Delores has something snarky to say. I don’t even want to tell you what Norah Gaughan has planned. You’ll be fine.”

“Franklin, I want to stay here and just watch. Would that be okay,” Karen asked.

“No, my love, it’s time for me to take you home. You have one more spirit visiting you tonight. Take Rosamund’s leash. It’s time to leave.”

Reluctantly, Karen took hold of the leash and before you could say cashmere, she was home again, alone on her couch, with the mug of spiced milk still warm in her hand.

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More please!!!

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Yes more please!

A Knitter’s Christmas Carol

Chapter Four

Karen took a sip of her warm milk and wondered if Urgent Care was open on Christmas. She was clearly hallucinating and this would just not do. As she was reaching for her phone to check in with Dr. Google, she heard a single, loud knock on her front door. “What now,” she wondered.

She sat quietly waiting for whoever was at the door to go away when she heard another, single, loud knock. Reluctantly, she got up and opened the door.

Standing in the doorway, blocking the light was a large creature dressed from head to toe in what appeared to be a black blanket. The creature’s head was covered and she couldn’t see its hands or feet. As a matter of fact, she couldn’t tell if the creature was standing or hovering in the doorway. The only thing that was clear was that the blanket was knit at a really poor, inconsistent gauge in a really crappy acrylic.

“Let me guess,” she said. “You’re the Spirit of Knitting Yet to Come.”

The creature simply nodded.

“Well you may as well come in,” she said. “The neighbors already gossip about me enough.”

The creature floated into the apartment which suddenly seemed changed. At first, Karen couldn’t figure out what was different but then she noticed that the pile of unfinished Christmas knitting was gone.

“Hey,” she cried. “Did you take my knitting?” The creature shook its head.

“Well where is it,” she demanded.

From what appeared to be a sleeve, the creature raised what could only be loosely described as a hand. It appeared that the fingers were made out of plastic drinking straws and Karen began to notice the smell of petroleum coming off this monster. It pointed to the stash closet.

“That makes sense,” she thought. “I must have left it in there when I dreamed of that old lady.”

She opened the door to the stash closet but it was empty. Completely and totally empty. “Oh great, now I’ve been robbed. What a night!”

The creature simply shook its head.

“What, I haven’t been robbed,” she asked. The creature shook its head again.

She ran for her purse. There was always a sock or a mitten in there but when she opened it, all she found was a pair of Isotoner gloves. “What’s happened,” she shouted at the creature but it only stood in silence. Suddenly it dawned on her.

“I stopped knitting. I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”

Suddenly the creature came toward her with its plastic straw hands out and she closed her eyes in fear. She felt those strange fingers on her shoulders and summoned the courage to open her eyes. She found herself in the lobby of a large hotel with hundreds of people of every shape, size and color, wearing hand knits of every shape, size, and color.

“Oh thank God. I’m at Vogue Knitting. I can get some new yarn and needles. And I’ll see all my friends and tell them about this crazy dream.” But the creature just shook its head again. “What? Why are you shaking your head”, she cried.

Suddenly she realized that no one could see or hear her. She wasn’t really here. This was just a mirage. She had left her community behind.

“This can’t be true! I want to go back. I want to knit. I want to create. I want to make mistakes. I want to tink back 2000 stitches of Estonian lace.”

And with that she woke up, in her own bed with a start. The morning sun was streaming through her window and she jumped out of bed and looked out at the beautiful, clear Christmas morning. Across the parking lot, she saw two figures but couldn’t see who they were. After last night, she really wasn’t even sure what they were. The sun was shining on them and they appeared to be surrounded by beautiful, yellow light.

“You there,” she called. “Is it still Christmas? Do I still have time?” The figures started walking toward her and as they stepped into the shadow of the building she saw that the light surrounding them was simply the sun shining off their eyeglasses and their lovely blonde hair. And there weren’t two figures, there were four. There was a tall woman and a small woman being followed by a rather large cat and rather small dog. The dog was wearing a Stopover sweater.

“Ann? Kay? Is that you,” Karen cried as they waved up to her window. “Wait, let me throw down some English coins. You must run to the butcher and buy me the large goose in the window!”

“What the hell are you talking about Karen?”, said Kay as the little dog barked at some squirrels.

“If you think we’re going to the grocery store for you, you’re insane,” said Ann while the cat laid down on the warm sidewalk at her feet. She looked at Kay and said, “I think she’s gotten her Christmas Carols confused.”

“Buzz us up,” they yelled in unison. “We heard you had a little Christmas knitting meltdown so we brought the Forum to you.”

“Put the kettle on! I’ll steam your pompom for you,” said Kay.

“Fire up Spotify, I made you a playlist,” said Ann.

“We’ve got Nell on speed dial! We can do this together!”

Karen buzzed in her friends and looked at her lovely apartment. Still trashed from the night before but full of beautiful yarn and tools that she used to show people how much she truly loved them.

She picked up the half done hat, gave it a squeeze, and opened the front door. As Ann and Kay stepped off the elevator she called down the hallway to them “Knit bless us! Everyone!”

The End

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Merry Knitmas and “God bless us, every one!” (as Tiny Tim would say!)

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