Today is my New Year. I happen to have the luxury of having been born a few days after after the New Year. I am the fourth of five children. My due date was Christmas. You would think that, being number four, the calculation would have been a slam dunk. But I procrastinated, and waited, and waited until all the shouting was done and the snow was falling to make my way into the world. J.R.R. Tolkien was also born on January 3, which I figure is one reason why I am so enthralled with his writing. And not just The Hobbit and LOTR. Tree and Leaf, and Smith of Wooton Major are just two of his lesser-known works that speak volumes of the human condition. Once you have read through Tolkien, you have been exposed to just about every facet of human psychology, at least in my humble opinion. I totally respect Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Middle-earth, although I think that he put way too much emphasis on violence in The Hobbit. But that’s just me. (I overlook all its flaws because I am so totally moved by Howard Shores’ musical score, which perfectly captures the experience.)
So today I started my new year/birthday with a Jazzercise class. There was a paltry attempt at taking down the Christmas decorations, and then I had a fabulous lunch with my husband at Isabella’s Kitchen. Isabella’s is new, and offers a casual atmosphere with hand made pasta. Since both parents are Italian, the promise of fresh made pasta is a sure-fire way to get my attention, if not my total adoration. The pork pappaderre and the buttermilk pannacotta were fabulous. At one point I did a little weaving, and worked on my almost-done leg warmers, which I am knitting from some merino multi-colored yarn I spun. This particular project has been on the back burner for quite some time. It’s not like I haven’t been productive – my poor pillow covers have given me tension problems with the last twenty inches, so they have taken a second fiddle to all the Christmas gifts I worked in the past two months. Ryan received the scarf that I made at the November Weave-In. Alexander received the first project that I wove on my second hand traveling loom, which I just received this past month. Other projects were knitted, such as a hand-spun, hand knit headband for Emily, and cowls for Sarah and Jonathan. And don’t forget the silk/merino wrist warmers for Anita and Paula. All made one stitch, or one throw, at a time. This allows me to imagine them on the wearer, and pass on my good feelings to them all. You can imagine that has kept me busy, and in the season.
My grandmother, Maria Pasetto Cocco, was a weaver in Italy. I didn’t know or realize this until I took up the craft myself, on a whim, and relatives who knew her “in the day” told me about it. Then it made sense that she had given my oldest sister a toy loom which I vaguely remembered from pre-kindergarten age. It disappeared with many things from that time. I also learned that my mother had been a spinner, making angora yarn from rabbits which they grew in their yard in Italy. My mother was also an excellent seamstress, taught by her aunt who sewed professionally. Truly, I believed that there was nothing my mother couldn’t make by hand. A lot of her skills were learned back in the “old country”, where nuns taught how to embroider, knit, sew, tat, and all sorts of fiber activities. It saddens me that I can’t share my passion with my mother now. Back then, growing up, life centered around making the budget stretch to the max, doing well in school and doing what we were told while the adults worried about covering all the expenses of a growing family in the NY/NJ metropolitan area. We grew up in the age of Wonderbread and standardization of everything – food, clothing, looks, thoughts – so you really had to be off the grid to have the access to the type of supplies that fiber artists now use. In the town of Belleville, we were limited to the acrylic wool available at the 5 & 10 cent store. Irving’s Thrifty Fabrics was our supply for sewing. Irving was a great source of inspiration and really helped my mother with some fantastic finds. With these finds, and disparate remnants, like the quiltmakers of Gee Bend, my mother made the most beautiful (to us) dresses and coats. Such fun memories sewing with her during all the seasons, for all occasions, or just because.
So tomorrow is another day. Maybe I’ll finally get those pillow covers done. My circle of weaving friends have scheduled another weave-in this month, and I need to use my ski shuttles for the project I am planning, so I HAVE to get them done, and soon. Not a bad way to start my new year, indeed.