Magic Hands


Here is friend and neighbor Susan, whose birthday it is today, and who, in all the years I have known her, rarely appears anywhere (except perhaps the theater) without a bag containing at least one current knitting project. Over the years I’ve watched beautiful pieces flow from her talented hands, destined for family, friends, or strangers in need: scarves, hats, sweaters for all ages, socks, and blankets—including a beautiful off-to-college afghan for her daughter Sara made of leftover scraps from years of Sara’s knitted garments. Each square carried distinct memories. At a recent gathering, we discovered that most of us happened to be wearing scarves Susan had made for us.

Her knitting alone might be a sufficient lifetime achievement, but Susan is also a rich literary and artistic resource, an endlessly interested and enthusiastic traveler through the world and through life, a doting mother, a fabulous cook, and a fun, funny and generous friend and human being. Happy, happy birthday, Susan, and many more to come!



Groundhog Candlemas


This is the day on which, according to tradition, the groundhog makes all his candles for the coming year. (When he has finished, he will stick his nose outside the burrow to check the weather.)

For another picture of the groundhog at home, please see Light Those Fires.

CakeSnowmanRoshan (“Bright Light”)

CakePolkaDotsMarius—born today!

In the Stable


For a long time I wanted a Nativity scene, and several years ago I suddenly realized I might make one myself from stuffed wool felt. My delusional scheme was to create one figure each Advent until we would eventually have a vast elaborate setup resembling the creches of Italy and Provence and the angel tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Except in wool felt.

However, once I had completed the Holy Family, a donkey, a shepherd, and a sheep, and my husband had built a stable from branches and a lovely fragment of bark (thanks, Leah!), the time available for handwork had pretty much evaporated, aside from necessities like sock-mending and the occasional Halloween costume. Perhaps one day…

I wish you all a joyful, loving, and peaceful Christmas.





Paint-Your-Own ceramic places do a booming business during the holiday season. My son has a growing collection of dishes imaginatively painted by his sister—if he ever gets married, he and his bride won’t need to buy a single dessert plate. (I hope she will like plenty of color.)

For those without inspiration, there is a large selection of mass-produced figurines. But we always go for the plain white dishes. I’m sorry, but I pity the grandparent who finds the Little Mermaid paperweight under the tree.

This sketch is from another Christmas season, so I’m not spoiling any surprises.

Farm Skills Day

Three times a year Claude Moore Colonial Farm (a small corner of McLean, Virginia that is frozen permanently in the year 1771) holds a Farm Skills Day to teach 21st century children about what life was like for colonial Virginia families way back when. The content varies somewhat with the season. This was an April visit, and the children carded wool and dipped candles.


A Winner!


I know, I know, this is cheating because I haven’t drawn or painted it, but I had to put up the results of the Quilt Raffle for Haiti project.

Today some of the members of our little homeschooling community gathered for a celebration and official ticket-drawing. It was fun to read them as we tossed them into the basket—there were lots of Mid-Atlantic and New England tickets, but also some from as far away as Montana, Oregon, California, and (Olde) England. The winning ticket belonged to: a kindergarten teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Congratulations! Let’s hope this beautiful quilt helps keep her warm and well for her little pupils during the last few weeks of chilly weather.

And in 10 days we sold 143 tickets, raising $1,430 for Haiti Projects! Thank you, thank you, everyone who purchased tickets for this worthy cause! We are hanging on to them for a second drawing, later, because there were some extra unused squares that will be transformed into…we know not what. You may be hearing from us.


Here is my daughter knitting a square for the Haiti project, for which you can see yesterday’s post or download the flyer here.


If she looks a little dreamy-eyed, it’s because we are also watching Walt Disney’s Cinderella, made in 1950. My, the animation is impressive, considering it was hand-drawn and painted frame by frame with no computer assistance! Go watch again the scene where Cinderella scrubs the floor, her image reflected in dozens of lovely floating multicolored soap bubbles.