Tag Archives: Crocheting

Help! My Life Has Become an Episode of Star Trek!

1 Dec

In Season 5, Episode 6, of Star Trek: the Next Generation, the crew is attacked by a video game trying to turn the crew into video game zombies. They have the first case I can remember of what the show called, “Virtual Reality Addiction.”

The writers had precognition! I feel at times that I am turning into a zombie addicted to games on my IPhone.   Since I got my IPhone 6, with its bigger screen and better graphics, I find myself playing these games much more often. Yes, I was always a ‘Words with Friends’ addicted person. I had to play it several times a day. But now, I find myself playing Dots and Solitaire and Blitz, when I should be doing something else. I do not even like those games that much!

For example, when I used go to a doctor’s office and knew I have to wait for awhile, I would bring my crocheting and work on my current project. But today, I went to the dentist, and did not bring my crochet bag. Instead, even though there was a sign asking that people turn off their phones, I sat in the waiting room with others playing my games. I was not the only one. There were other phone addicted people on their phones as well!

What was that about? I should have been working on one of my projects. I have a baby blanket that needs to be done!!! The baby was six weeks early, and my blanket is only part way completed. I should have worked a few rows while I waited. But the Phone and the games had me bond in their control!

Then there are my early mornings. When I first get up, I usually watch the news for 30 minutes before I get out of bed. But now, I get up for a minute to get my phone and take it into bed with me while I watch the news. Why?

At least I do not sleep with it like some people do. But I do check my mail first thing in the morning. As I listen to the news, I play games and watch television at the same time. Why?

Then there is the information from my UP. On my phone is an ap that tells how long I slept and how many steps I have taken.   Why do I need to check several times a day. Isn’t once enough. NO!

I have to force myself to put my phone down.   And each time that happens, I flash back the Star Trek episode called “The Game.”   I am there. I could have easily fallen prey to that evil game that controlled the crew members’ minds. This has got to stop!

I never understood my son’s affliction to playing video games whenever he could. He had Nintendo, PlayStation, X Box, hand held video game things! And whenever he was not in school or working on school work, he played games. I could never get into it even though he tried to teach me. I would ask why he was wasting his time. He should be outside running around. It was not that bad as he did do gymnastics and tae kwon do. So he had lots of exercise. But those hours playing games made me crazy.

But now I understand! My I Phone has me cornered and in its control. I would take the games off. But I know I cannot. I force myself NOT to add more aps. They would only take up more of my time. It has to stop! On the few occasions I leave my phone at home, I feel disconnected. I don’t see on my dashboard the words, “connected to phone.” And I worry. What if someone needs me. But before cell phones, I was fine. So I force myself go about my way without a phone for a few hours. And I do survive.

I have to add an another fact to this evil addiction. In the show it was William Riker who brings the game back to the ship. He has visited the planet, “RISA.” This is scary. That is my younger sister’s name.   She has been trying to be in control for over 50 years. But I stay in my role of older sister. Perhaps, however, she has a plot to take over my mind through games.   Wait that sounds paranoid. Those games are getting to me. She cannot be plotting this? Can she?

I do have to wonder sometimes who is in control: me or the games and information on my IPhone?

Is this really a good thing? I know I am not the only one caught up in the game aps. Look at all those little children playing on their own IPads! It could be that we are all inside a Star Trek episode.

Maybe this is an alternate universe? Maybe Data did not destroy the program and it now is putting all of us in the middle of a Star Trek episode.

Making The Chuppah For My Daughter’s Wedding Brings Me Joy

17 Nov

My daughter is getting married in less than ten months now. Although they announced their engagement six months ago, and I should be used to the idea, I am still excited and a bit anxious. I want it to be a beautiful wedding. And I wanted to do something special for her. So I decided I would crochet her chuppah, the wedding canopy.

Cotton thread

The cotton thread which will become the chuppah for my daughter’s wedding.

I am a crazed crocheter. I make doilies and baby blankets out of cotton yarn. Crocheting is how I relax.   For my son’s bar mitzvah, I made over 60 head coverings for the married women who attended the service. Of course we bought kippot for the men. But I wanted the women to have something special as well. And even though his bar mitzvah was 12 year ago, I still occasionally see someone wearing one of the coverings I made at our congregation.

I did not make anything for my daughter’s bat mitzvah. She occasionally would mention to me what I did for my son’s event, and not for hers. But I explained that I was not crocheting as much then. And eventually I would do something for her. The time has come.

When I first suggested making her chuppah, she told me that I did not have to take on such an extensive project. Then she posted a photo of a wedding gown someone crocheted on my Facebook page. It was beautiful. But I knew I could not do that. However, some of my friends (one in particular) went crazy and started sending me lots of Pinterest photos of crocheted wedding gowns.   They were stunning. But with my daughter living out of the country, I thought that would be too difficult.

So this summer I started working on a sample of the chuppah I thought I would make for my daughter to see when she came in to do wedding gown shopping. It was NOT a hit. She did not like the pattern I chose at all. I had to start looking again. She gave me some ideas of what she liked and then left it at that.

But her fiancée was more enthusiastic. His comments included: You can also make all the head coverings: kippot for the men and chapel covers for the women. How about you crochet me a new tallit. That would be great you can make me my tallit. I know how to but the tzitzi on.”

It is traditional for some Jewish families for the bride to buy her husband a tallit before they get married. I bought my husband his tallit.

I was not going to crochet a tallit. OY Gevalt. That was just too much pressure. I would like to say he was teasing to a degree. But I think a bit of him really wanted me to make one. (Actually my daughter says he really wants me to make one….but I do not think so!)

I still might make coverings for the women for the ceremony. But I do not think I am going to crochet all the kippot.

However, I am now working on the chuppah. I found a pattern my daughter likes and approves.   I have started making the squares and crocheting the pattern.   I am about 1/14 of the way. With just nine months to go, I have to keep busy. When my husband and I travel, I take part of the cotton yarn with me and I crochet the inner flower that will be at the center of every square.

Flight delays are a perfect time for heavy duty crocheting.   Volunteering at a registration table also serves as a perfect time for crocheting. Except when people keept asking what I was making and then want to look at it.   It reminds be that thread crocheting is almost a lost art. Many women, young and old, told me about someone that used to know who could crochet as I do, usually their mothers or grandmothers.   And it was my grandmother who taught me over 50 years ago.

They love looking at my work and telling me what their loved one made for them years ago. One woman told be about the veil another woman made for her daughter…a crocheted veil.   My heart is going there as well. But my brain says, STOP!

I get a bit anxious when I am sitting at a meeting and not crocheting. I feel like I should bring it everywhere with me. But would that be rude?   I am under a time crunch. And I want it to be perfect.

I will be honest, the chuppah I crochet will not be the only canopy over my daughter and her future husband.   We have the final tallit my Dad wore. When he passed away we buried two tallisim with him: his bar mitzvah and wedding ones. But this one we kept as our Mom purchased it especially when he became president of his shul. My son now uses it for services. But we (my siblings and I) agreed it would be used as part of the wedding chuppah for each of the grandchildren.

The beauty of the chuppah I am making is that after the wedding, it can be used as a tablecloth. It will have a life after the wedding.   I hope whenever they use it they will feel my love surround them and their marriage.

For now, all my other projects are on hold! I will stop making baby blankets and doilies. Well that is my plan, except people I know keep having babies. So perhaps I will have to sneak a few in.

And it is possible, just possible, I might have to add some crochet elements for my daughter’s veil. We will see.

In the meantime, I am making the chuppah for my daughter’s wedding, which brings me joy.


My daughter and son-in-law under the huppah I made.


Chuppah: wedding canopy

Kippot: head covering

Tallit: prayer shawl

Tzitzi: Fringes on the four courners of a tallit




Crocheting Toddler Blankets Is Keeping Me Busy

26 Mar

Although I am not a grandmother yet, I recently became a Great Aunt. And I have more ‘grand’ babies on the way. I am excited. I love seeing a new generation and watch my nieces and nephews become parents.

I have, over the years, seen many of my friend’s children and former students become parents. And I have enjoyed buying gifts and holding these new arrivals. But it did not occur to me to start crocheting gifts for these beloved babies.

I think I was so wrapped up in my doily making that I forgot that I could make something bigger. I made lots of baby and toddler blankets and sweaters when my children were little. I stopped when I broke my elbow. I only made small items after the accident. However, I have been healed for years.

My other issue is that I love cotton yarn. I do not like to crochet with polyester and other synthetics. So what to do? Baby blankets are usually soft and cuddly because they are made with manufactured yarns.

Thanks to a post on a Facebook group that I follow, Crochet Addict, I had a answer. Someone asked what else could be made with Sugar’n Cream, 100 percent cotton yarn. This yarn is usually used to make kitchen towels and washcloths. I have made some washcloths for a good friend from this yarn. I love crocheting with Sugar’n Cream yarn, but did not know quite what else to do with it.

On the comment line, someone said they made baby blankets from this yarn. I was hooked. Baby blankets? I could do that. The next day I went to one of my local mega craft stores (Michael’s) and bought some brightly colored Sugar’n Cream yarn. I also bought a pattern book for crocheting “Blankets for Toddlers.”   And I began a new journey. The other thing I like about this yarn is that it washes so well. Since it is made for kitchen work, it is also strong. Perfect for use with little children.

First two blankets with Sugar'n Cream yarn.

First two blankets with Sugar’n Cream yarn.

My first blanket is slightly off kilter. I did not plan well with the weight of the yarn and the pattern. So it is longer and narrower then I wanted it to be. But then I saw that people make blankets this size to use in strollers. So it will be used. I am presenting it to a neighbor who just had a little girl on my husband and my 35th wedding anniversary. She is the first baby born since I started making blankets.

My second blanket has come out much more in the shape I wanted.   I went back to Michael’s when the store was having a yarn sale. There is one problem with this yarn. It is sold, at Michaels, in just 2 ounce and 2 ½ ounce skeins. It is difficult to find enough skeins with the same lot number to make a full blanket! (The lot number means that the skeins were dyed on the same day at the same time. If they were not dyed together, then the colors can be slightly off and fade differently.)

I solved this problem by buying three colors and putting skeins of the same dye lots together, while separating them from other dye lots with the other colors. It forms a striped blanket, using one stitch throughout. I think it looks darn good.

Now I am ready to begin blanket number three. I have to make four in all by September. I was out and about and decided to go to a different mega craft store, Joann’s Fabric. I was in for a surprise. At Joann’s, the Sugar’n Cream yarn comes in bigger skeins! There are both three and four ounce skeins. But more than that, the store sells 14-ounce skeins on the cardboard tubes. I can definitely get the same lot numbers there. I now have enough yarn to make my third blanket. And I have a plan in mind for blanket number four!

My new Clover hooks.

My new Clover hooks.

I am having a great time. Especially since with this blanket, I will be able to use my new crochet hooks. Clover crochet hooks were another great idea from the Crochet Addict group. Someone posted a photo of these wonderful European crochet hooks that have a thicker handle. That is the most difficult part of using this yarn for me, the slipping handle. I am hoping these new hooks work better and cause less stress on my hands.

Once I finish the blankets I have promised myself I would make for grand nieces and nephews, I know I will keep making baby blankets. I posted a photo of the two I finished and now some of my younger generation friends want one for their children. I am happy to oblige!

When I am done with those, I will still make the blankets! A friend I know makes them and donates them to a hospital NICU for new babies who need lots of love. I will crochet lots of love in each blanket I make.

I am so happy that crocheting toddler blankets is keeping me busy. And am happy that all my blankets will be going to loving homes.


I Am Proud To Be A Cotton Thread Yarn Addict

25 Dec

I snuck over to the fabric store today. I needed one little spool of ribbon, but I knew it my heart it would be difficult to avoid the yarn aisles, especially the thread yarn that I use for crocheting doilies and table clothes. I am somewhat addicted.

I quickly found what I actually needed. But then, even with a creaky cart, I strolled over to the aisle with my favorite yarns: Aunt Lydia and Bernat Number 10 cotton thread yarn.

There were so many beautiful colors. So many colors I have not seen for a while. This is my favorite time of year. Right around the holidays the store seems to stock extra colors and extra yarns. New books filled with doilies patterns often appear.

Suddenly, I found myself in the right aisle, even though I had not been in the store for several months. The cart seemed to know the way on its own. I had a little chill of a thrill when I saw my yarns.

Yes hats and scarves are supposed to be here as well. A few are mixed in. Yes hats and scarves are supposed to be here as well. A few are mixed in.

Did I need any yarn? NO. I have lots of yarn in my house. I have a cabinet filled with colored cotton yarn. I even have started putting my yarn in the closet. Where there is supposed to be hats and gloves, now yarn has taken over. But I bought so much today, that I do not think I will find enough room there. I might have to find a new storage area.

But I did get the most delightful colors: a deep plum and then a multicolored yarn that goes with it. I got turquoise and teal, bright coral and grey. I never saw grey thread yarn before.   It is lovely! I even found two books that I did not yet own. I own them now.

Thank goodness for the coupons I found on line. It did save me a little on my spending spree.

I must admit, I stood in the aisle for a good fifteen minutes going through all the yarns that I liked and checking to make sure they had the same dye lot code. This is important because even if the yarns are the same color, if the spools of yarn are not made at the same time with the same exact formula, they often a slightly off. As the doily or other crocheted article ages, it will fade differently with different dye lots.

As other people came into the aisle, I was a polite consumer. I did move my cart out of the way. But I stayed in front of the yarn I was inspecting. Luckily the two women who came down the aisle were looking at other yarns.

Sometimes I can control my yarn addiction. When my daughter still lived at home she would stop me from going to the yarn store. But she is out of graduate school, out of the country and living far away. This gives me free rein.   I could fill my house with yarn and she cannot stop me.

I filled my cart with new yarns! I filled my cart with new yarns!

I actually took a photo of the yarn as I was filling my cart and I sent her an email of it.   Yes, I did! I told her that she could do nothing to stop the addiction now. And buying yarn gave me enjoyment. I could envision in my mind what I was going to make. One of the items was for her!

To be honest, I am not the only person I know who has a yarn addiction. My friend, Sue, is much worse than me. For a while she was using a loom to make shawls and afghans. She had tubs upon tubs of wools and yarns in color-coordinated bins, divided by yarn types, colors and weight.

My yarn cabinet is stuffed with yarn, books and finished doilies. My yarn cabinet is stuffed with yarn, books and finished doilies.

I am beginning to think that is a good idea, as my thread yarns are just all thrown into a space in no order. My main yarn cabinet is a bit of a mess filled with yarn, books and finished doilies. When my husband, who loves to do jigsaw puzzles, told me that my yarn cabinet would make a great puzzle, I decided I might need some help. I think next time Sue is over, I am going to show her my mess and ask for help. She has always been much better organized than me.

An additional reason for my yarn addiction ‘issue’, concerns the debate of nature versus nurture. Although some of my yarn enjoyment is learned behavior from friends who also love yarn, I am not the first person in my family with a yarn issue. I definitely remember that my paternal Grandma Esther had tons of yarn as well. She was always making an afghan or a sweater for one of her children or grandchildren or great grandchildren.   I remember her forays to yarn stores.

Yarn stores are much more prolific in the Midwest, in the Kansas City area, where I live. But near to where my parents lived in New Jersey, I finally find one store where I could get cotton thread yarn when I was visiting. This was important because I sometimes finished all the yarn I brought with me. And to be without a project causes me some stress.

One time I was in the middle of a project when I ran out. I was in the Catskills, and I was desperate. One of my cousins was going to a store in Monticello. I gave her a small piece of yarn to try to match it. There was not much of a choice. My lovely sea foam doily has a beige border. Beige was the only color she could find.

Having yarn was especially important when my parents were ill and in the hospital. I spent hours crocheting in hospital rooms while I sat with a sleeping parent.   Crocheting calmed and soothed me. While crocheting I could control what was happening around me, the only thing I could control then.

Perhaps that is why I find discovering new yarn colors so exciting?   Crocheting is a pastime that relaxes me and takes away all tension.

So why should I feel badly about this yarn addiction? I will not. I love cotton thread yarn. I like getting new books and trying new patterns. It makes me happy. That is it! No more making excuses or sneaking to the craft store! I am proud to be a cotton thread yarn addict.

How the Royals World Series Run Inspired Me to Finish my Mother’s Projects

30 Oct

I have a sense of completion. A sense of a burden lifted from my shoulders.   An empty container sits in my spare room. It held the pieces of an afghan that my Mom began knitting for my niece over seven years ago. This blue and white afghan made in Penn State colors was supposed to be used at college. That never happened.

But thanks to the Royals, I completed this afghan! Their drive to succeed and never give up gave me the inspiration to finish projects that my Mom had started years before she passed away.

My Mom started two afghans at the same time; a blue one for my niece and a green one for my son. She knitted large panels, completing five for both my niece’s and my son’s afghans.. She even started crocheting borders around the panels of blue that would one day become my niece’s afghan and green for my son’s.

But my Mom never finished either project.

My Mom working on the afghan for my son. My Mom working on the afghan for my son.

She could make the panels, but she never put them together. I have my opinions as to why she could not finish.   Partly I think because she had the pieces in two separate homes. Some she worked on in their apartment in New Jersey. Other pieces were completed at their home in the Catskills.

Any discussions of the afghans became a ‘tease.’ “Grandma, are you ever going to get them done?” She would nod her head and say she was working on them.

But she did not finish them.

My Mom died suddenly.  The afghans were left undone. But we were not thinking about them. We were trying to deal with life without a wonderful Mom and Grandma.

Nine months after my Mom died, my Dad died.

There were even more unexpected sorrows. My siblings and I left our parent’s homes untouched. The apartment and the house stood empty. We could not deal with the memories that awaited us. The afghans waited, forgotten.

In May of 2013, we began to clean my parent’s apartment. It had been almost two years since my Dad passed away.

While we cleaned, I found a container with some pieces of the afghans and some yarn, but not enough to finish the project. Since I am the only child who knits and crochets, I decided to send the pieces to my home in Kansas. Perhaps I could do something with them. But I knew she had completed more pieces. I just was not sure where they were.

In July of 2013 my brother and I went up to the home in the Catskills. I found the rest of the completed sections of the two afghans along with extra yarn, her crochet hooks and knitting needles, and the instructions she was using to make the afghans. My brother shipped these to my home as well.

I left the boxes in my spare room for a year, packed and untouched. I could not bring myself to open the boxes. I knew what was in them. I knew I needed to do something with them. But I just did not know if I could actually complete them.

But this summer, I finally tackled the boxes. A neighbor, a young woman I have known since she was in preschool, was raising money for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society by helping people organized.   Although I am usually organized, I needed help for this project. For my donation to the charity, I received five hours of help.

We went through all the boxes. We unpacked all the yarn, thread and instructions. We placed the pieces of the two separate afghans into two separate containers. I could see what needed to be done to complete the afghans. But I still was not quite ready to work on them.

I was not quite ready to pick up the pieces that my Mom had started so long ago. I was not ready to touch the afghans she had worked on so lovingly. My son and my niece both celebrated birthdays this month. Both are October babies. And with the Royals in the Pennant Race, I began to think more and more about the afghans. I felt that she wanted me to finished them this year. I could not give up on this project, just as the Royals would not give up on their October quest!

Game four of the World Series, Royals versus Giants. Since we live in the Kansas City metropolitan area, this is a very big event. My husband was out of town.   I was home alone, watching the game by myself. And I decided it was time. I could work on an afghan as I watched.

My niece's afghan, what my Mom had completed. My niece’s afghan, what my Mom had completed.

I brought now the tub that had my niece’s afghan. I put the pieces on the floor. I could see that my Mom had completed white borders around two of the panels, and started the borders around two others.   I set myself the goal of completing the borders while I watched the game. COMPLETED!

I then examined the pieces. My Mom had made each panel a slightly different size. I think this might be why she did not put them together. She did not know what to do.   I did not want to change these panels. I had three long ones (one very long) and two short ones. So I made a design using the shorter panels to go above and below the longer panels.

I began to sew them together, gathering as needed. I put the longest panel to the outside. And I finished that during Game 5! Then I began a border around the entire afghan. First I did a row of single crochet in white; then a row of double crochet in white. I knew my Mom would never leave a white border. So I added a single crochet of blue, and then a double crochet row of blue. It still did not look right. I then added a scallop. Perfect.

My niece's afghan completed during game 6. My niece’s afghan completed during game 6.

I finished it the day before my niece’s birthday, during Game 6. Yes even during all that excitement, I was able to crochet.  I mailed it to her on her birthday, in the afternoon before Game 7.

I thought finishing the projects my Mom started would be too painful to accomplish. But I was wrong. I felt a burden lift from my shoulders as I began to crochet. I think my Mom would be happy to know what I was doing!

The pieces my Mom finished of my sons afghna. The pieces my Mom finished of my sons afghna.

Before Game 7 of the World’s Series, I brought the container that held my son’s afghan into my family room. I took out the five pieces and decided what I needed to do. This border was different than the one my Mom had put around my niece’s afghan.   I began to crochet.

Sometimes my mind wandered to my Mom. I thought about her knitting and crocheting these panels. My stitches have a slightly different tension than hers. But it does not matter. When I crochet, I feel close to my Mom.

The Royals lost the game, but they showed so much vitality and good sportsmanship. Even when our catcher was hit hard in the leg with a pitch, he battled through the pain. I felt for him!

He never gave up.

Finishing my Mom’s projects during the World’s Series seemed like the perfect project to accomplish.   Soon my son’s afghan will be completed as well. Thank you to the Royals for a great October and for giving me the inspiration to succeed in a project as well.


Sometimes Rainy Days Were the Best Days In the Catskills

17 Sep

There is something special about a rainy day.

Perhaps it is my memories of summer time respites. On rainy days we were not expected to run around outside, we could stay in and read a book. I still love reading a book on a rainy day! It brings me such joy.

My friend and I were diehard Nancy Drew readers one summer. I remember wonderful rainy day afternoons lying on her bed near the window with our Nancy Drew books. We wanted to read every single one! I think we got close to accomplishing our goal.

Other days we worked on art projects. She wanted to be a dress designer and was always making paper doll dresses. Designing her own special dresses to fit the paper dolls we had. Hundreds of dresses were produced on the kitchen table during summer rains. And yes, she did study fashion design in college!

But for me the love was reading. I love murder mysteries and I am sure that this love started on those rainy summer days. I loved when our fathers came up on the weekends, especially if they brought along another yellowed-spine Nancy Drew book. However, I was not that picky, I read my brother’s Hardy Boy mystery books as well.

On those miserably cold rainy days that occurred in the 1960s in the Catskills, my grandfather would bake. That was a joy. The smell of fresh bread and cookies in the house was wonderful. He had an entire bakery shop set up in his basement, the remains of his bakery, which he had sold in the early 1960s. The giant mixer, the pans, the cooling shelves were all there. We would help him braid challah and shape cookies. Then we would run up and down the stairs with the pans for my Grandma and Mom to put into the oven. Sometimes we had three ovens going: in the house, in the bungalow and in the apartment where my friend stayed. It was a great rainy day event, especially since we knew we were going to have treats to eat!

My Mom did not always like rainy days, especially if there were clothes hanging on the line. We had no dryer then!   When the rain started we often ran as fast as we could to get the items off the line and hang them around the bungalow. This was especially important in summers when there was a lot of rain. We sometimes would run out of dry clothing.

One summer we actually did run out of clothes. I remember my Mom telling my brother to stay out of the lake! My brother was known for ‘falling’ in the lake. (Although one of my cousins admits helping my brother ‘fall in’ a few times.) Well you can imagine what happened. He was in the lake with his last dry pants. I do not really remember what happened. But I think he had to stay in the bungalow for a day or two in pajamas!

It was on rainy days that I learned to knit and crochet. I would sit with my Mom and Grandmas and all the other women knitting away in someone’s bungalow while having tea. While they knit sweaters, I and the other younger ‘girls’ had easier projects to work on. Those sweaters lasted forever. There are still some in the family.

Mahjong, gin rummy and canasta were important rainy day events for the Moms and Grandmas. While we played our board games, sitting on the floor; they played their games at the kitchen table. As soon as my sister and I were old enough, we were introduced to the importance of Mahjong.

It is true that on sunny days we were outside riding our bicycles, swimming, picking blueberries, running around, playing on the swings, and just having adventures. But sometimes a rainy day was really the best day in the Catskills. It gave us a chance to recharge and relax. Actually, I guess every day in the Catskills was truly the best day ever.

How 24-Hour News Turned Me Into an HGTV Addict

18 Jul

I stopped watching the news in 2008, during Operation Cast Lead. My daughter was studying in Beer Sheva, Israel, and I was on the phone with her when a rocket landed very close to her dorm. It traumatized me.  No mother wants their child in the line of rockets.

At that time the Iron Dome, which Israel is now using so successfully against Hamas rockets, did not exist. So when I watched the news, I would over and over again see rockets fired. See people running for cover. And then see the horrors of war for the people trapped in Gaza. I was immobilized by the endless stories repeating over and over again.

My husband and son said, “TURN IT OFF!”

And I did.

I started watching HGTV. No one ever dies in “House Hunters.” No one is ever hurt in “Curb Appeal.” The biggest issue in “Devine Design” is whether the family will like the new room, and they always do.   Sometimes the twin brothers argue. And on “Property Virgins,” the home searchers are not always realistic. While in “Income Property”, the home owners always make out really well with both new income and increased property value.

So I became an HGTV addict.

I learned so much. I realized that some of the remodeling I did in my own home could have been a bit better. I should have put heated floors in my bathroom when I had the carpet pulled out and the tile put in. In the basement, I should have put a subfloor in. But I still like what I have done.

This is the wall I painted before the accent color.

This is the wall I painted before the accent color.

And here is my accent wall with color!

And here is my accent wall with color!

I learned about accent wall colors. And even painted my front hall one weekend to address the need for a vibrant accent color in my house.

From Curb Appeal, I found out that we have done a great job making our house attractive from the street. I guess I already knew that because so many people stop me when they see me outside to compliment my gardens.

However, sometimes HGTV cannot keep me away from the news.

I have been drawn in to the news again the past two weeks. But the past two days have been especially bad. Not only is Israel now involved in a ground offensive in Gaza to destroy tunnels, but a Malaysian airplane, a 777, was shot down from the sky killing almost 300 innocent people.

I have watched the same reports over and over again. That endless news cycle is a killer for emotional stability.

Last night I was crocheting and watching CNN. Which lead to me eating brownies and watching.   When finally I told myself, STOP!!!

I went to directly to HGTV…Wow a family looking for a place to live in Barcelona on House Hunters International.   I really want to travel there. I have not been to Spain. They chose the place I liked. So I was happy. No stress. Sometimes, I do disagree with the choice a family makes, but that is okay.

Friends have been asking me, “How are you doing?” Knowing that my daughter is in Israel. Even my brother said, “Well, this time you really have something to be anxious about.”

To all of them I say, “On HGTV, everything is just fine.”

Grandma Esther’s Afghans Wrap Me in Love

28 Mar

Throughout my home are reminders of my Grandma Esther.   She spent much of her time knitting and crocheting for her three children, nine grandchildren and later 18 great grandchildren.

During the summers she stayed with my Aunt and Uncle in a bungalow in Kauneonga Lake, where my other grandparent’s bungalow colony once stood. Most days, rain or sunshine, Grandma crocheted.


I still have the first afghan that she helped me to make, when she first taught me to crochet. It was the first thing I made after a scarf.  This afghan began life as a poncho. But when I got tired of wearing it, Grandma helped me find matching yarn, and we made it into my first afghan with my Mom’s help when Grandma was not around.  This green, orange, yellow, brown and beige afghan stays in my sewing room/guest room.  It is starting to fray, and the stitches do not look so wonderful. But since it has to be about 47 years old, I would say it is in pretty good shape.


In my bedroom is the afghan she made as one of nine for her grandchildren.  My brother, sister and I each got one when we got married.  Mine is orange and green, because those were once my favorite colors (though not anymore). I keep it in my bedroom on a comfortable reclining chair.  When I am having a bad day or feeling sick, I wrap myself in my Grandmother’s afghan and feel only love and warmth.

My daughter has two afghans made by Grandma.  By this time Grandma only remembered one stitch.  So all the great grandchildren have the same pattern, just different colors.


She made one afghan when I was pregnant and presented to me as a baby gift.  The other afghan she made at my daughter’s request, using the colors she wanted…pinks and purple. (My daughter was almost seven when my grandmother passed away.)  But the green, yellow and blue one was made in anticipation of my daughter’s arrival.

Grandma was 88 years young when she flew from New York to Kansas to be here the week after my daughter was born. My sister and her husband flew here with Grandma. Nothing was going to stop her from seeing my daughter. She stayed for a long weekend.  It was a special time.  And these memories are there in the afghan.


A dark blue, kelly green and orange afghan was made for my son.  By this time Grandma has having trouble.  My son was born when Grandma was 92. Grandma had three great grandchildren born close together that year.  If I remember correctly, my Aunt helped Grandma complete these afghans.   She had several more to make after my son was born.  I think his is one of the last full-size afghan.  She made a matching pillow to go with it as well.

I keep his in a plastic bag in his closet.  When he was little he liked to sleep on the floor of his bedroom in a teepee wrapped in this afghan.  Now it waits for him to once again use it.  There is no room in his little college apartment.


On the back of the chair I work in, is a small lap afghan. This my Grandma made from scraps of yarn leftover from other projects.  She gave it to my parents, who used it for almost 20 years  after she passed away, until they also died. When we cleaned out their home, I took it home with me.

Besides my Grandmother’s afghans, I also have ones that I have made.  A purple one for my daughter when she was born is one of my favorites.


Each afghan holds love in each stitch.  The love I remember when Grandma taught me to crochet and knit.  The love my Grandma put into each afghan she made. And the memories she wanted us to hold with the little label sewn in each one that says “Made especially for you by Grandma Esther.”

A short update/ January 2022:  For the past seven years I have been making baby blankets for all babies born into my family, as well as for all babies whose parent’s invited me to their weddings.  Well over 60 blankets so far.  For my extended family, I make them in honor and memory of Grandma Esther.

Knitting and Crocheting Brings Love and Memories

13 Feb

I am told that what I do is a dying talent.  When I sit in an airplane or in a waiting room, people walk over to me to see what I am doing.  What am I making?  How did I learn to do that?

I am crocheting with thread.  I use a tiny hook, with thin brightly colored yarns.  Sometimes I make up my own designs, sometimes I navigate the instructions in a book or magazine.  My favorite is to make doilies, bookmarks and small table clothes.


I started when I was nine year old.  One summer my Grandma Esther decided it was time I learned to knit and crochet.  It became our summer project.  Whenever I was not running with the ‘pack’ of children,  I was sitting with my Grandma and learning a new skill.

My Grandma was always knitting…when she wasn’t playing canasta.  She made sweaters for all of us.  Afghans were important. She made one for each grandchild and great grandchild, when they arrived.  There was a yarn store in Kauneonga Lake where you could buy yarn in bulk.  I think my Grandma, aunt and mother supported that store.

But teaching me was much, much harder than she imagined, because I was left handed, and my Grandma did everything right handed.   Which is why, in the end, I crochet right handed.

I remember sitting on her lap on a wooden chair under a tree at the bungalow colony in Kauneonga Lake.  We started with large needles and thick yarn.  I first learned to make a scarf and a hat.  Knitting and purling; straight needles for the scarf, then a needle in the round for the hat.  I learned increase and decrease, casting on and casting off.

She taught me by holding her hands over my hands.  And soon the knitting was no problem.  I just sat next to her and knitted while we talked.  If I had a problem like dropping a stitch, she was right there to help me. She showed me how to fix it and to keep on going.  The idea was not for her to fix it for me, but for me to learn how to do it for the next time.

Once I finished the hat and scarf, it was time to learn to crochet.  This was oh so much more difficult.  At least when you knit, you use two needles.  So even though I was not right handed, I could still learn to knit the way she did.

But crocheting was different. Grandma tried.  We spent hours and days as she tried to crochet left handed to teach me the techniques of single, double and triple crochets.  She eventually gave up.

“We are going to try something different,” she said, as she put the crochet hook in my right hand.  It was not a problem.  I think as a left-handed person, you learn early on to do things with your right hand.  I had to cut with scissors with my right hand, I threw a ball with my right hand…we only had left handed gloves, so it made sense that I could crochet with my right hand.

The knowledge of knitting and crocheting that I learned that summer has stayed with me my entire life.

When my children were little, I made lots of sweaters, blankets, scarves and hats.  I made gifts for my friends’ children.   A close friend of mine and I knitted all the time, sharing patterns for sweaters we made for our children.  I enjoyed knitting more than crocheting.  It went quicker.

But when my son was four, I broke my right elbow and wrist.  And all knitting had to stop.  I was in the middle of a sweater when it happened.  I tried to go back to knitting after my arm healed, but I could not hold the weight of the sweater with my arm as I knitted.

I stopped all knitting and crocheting for years.  And I missed it.

Then one day while watching my son in his gymnastic class, I noticed a woman using thread yarn to make a bookmark.   I thought. “I think I could do that. “ It did not look heavy at all.  She was nice enough to share her pattern. I went out and bought a fine needle and some yarn.

Image Crocheting at our home in Kauneonga Lake.

I was addicted!!!  I made hundreds of bookmarks.  I used patterns from books. I made my own designs.  I made about five each day.  I crocheted at music lessons, gymnastics, basketball, bar/bat mitzvah lessons, watching television.  Whenever I had down time, I crocheted.

The bookmarks were everywhere.  My children’s school friends each got some. Relatives got them for every birthday and holiday.  I donated them to the school library. I gave them away.  Finally my daughter said in exasperation,  “MOM, CAN’T YOU CROCHET SOMETHING OTHER THAN BOOKMARKS?”

And I said, “Yes, I think I can.”

I started on doilies.  I have made hundreds of doilies of every color, except white….too boring.  For my son’s bar mitzvah I made 65 thread crocheted ‘doilies’ head coverings  for the married women to wear.  It was a great idea.  The men always get something, why don’t the women?  I was going to make them all green, my son’s favorite color. But my Mom insisted I made some quieter colors.   So I made blue and beige as well.  I still see women in my congregation wearing a head covering from the bar mitzvah.

I give them to people who frame them for their daughter’s room.  I give them to friends.  I give them to strangers.  If I have some in my bag and someone admires one, I will give them the finished ones.  It’s not like I do not have at least 30 at home at any time.

I became obsessed with the yarn.  When my daughter lived at home, I would sneak more yarn into my own home, because she could not understand my need for more.   “MOM, I can’t believe you bought more yarn. You haven’t finished the yarn you have,” she would say.  She wanted to do a yarn intervention.

But these were colors I did not have.  I had to buy them.  I have way more yarn then I have time to finish. And the crochet books! They fill a cabinet.  I admit it.

However, when I crochet, I enjoy the feeling of making something.  I love giving them as gifts. I remember the times with my Grandma knitting or crocheting, I have joy from giving them away.

Image My son wearing a scarf that my daughter knit for him.

So, finally, I taught my daughter to knit scarves and hats.  She made some for her grandparents and brother and friends.  And now she loves yarn as well.

From generation to generation, my daughter learned in Kansas,  because my Grandma taught me in the quiet of the Catskills.  And a tiny bit of me is up in the Catskills, sitting on my Grandma’s lap, learning a new skill, while part of me is enjoying watching my daughter follow in a family tradition.