Arlaine (left) and my Mom, Pat
Hello again my Neeshies…I hope you are still there! I know that I am a little slow to post new blogs, but I want you to know that I love sharing my Neesh world with you. I guess I just need a bit of reflective time to “hit” on the next bit I want to share with you each time!
So, I have allowed myself the luxury of visualizing all the things that I love and that comfort me in my life. It is such a short journey really…shouldn’t we allow ourselves the time to reflect, remember and feel?
Not sure if you know this, but Neesh by D.A.R. was once D.A.R. sweaters. I am a knitter from way back. It has always been my first love and I still marvel at the miracle of making something from “string and sticks”. Really! And D.A.R. sweaters were beautiful hand crafted sweaters made in my own artisan studio and hand finished with beautiful vintage buttons from the Paris flea market. And of course the hand embroidered labels – each and every one of which was made by my Mom.
When I was a little girl growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, my parents had a small group of friends who regularly socialized together. Because they were “teetotalers”, their favorite social outings were dinner and bridge at a designated host’s home. I fondly remember falling asleep upstairs with the comforting sound of their voices bidding and giggling, a sound that lulled me to sleep like a lullaby. I loved knowing the house was filled with people.
My mother’s best friend in the group was named Arlaine. I loved Arlaine. She had a hearty laugh, Boston Terriers named Terri 1 and Terri 2 (really!),
a beautiful “moderne” home of the 60’s,
and two sons, who were my personal nemeses. The elder was a sort of “beatnik”, and wouldn’t allow anyone in his room, which he enforced with a hand-written sign taped to his closed door, “my pad, keep out”.
But I digress…this is about Arlaine and her knitting!
You never know what will influence a young one. Funny how now, at my wise old age, I am still discovering and making connections to the world of my childhood and the sights, smells and sounds of that world and how they influenced who I am today.
Arlaine loved to knit. I cannot remember a time that I saw her without her knitting.
Always on the floor next to her feet was that beautiful “Florida” bag. And out of the bag a continuous piece of yarn, spiraling up to her hands. I’ll bet some of you remember these bags?
I would watch her hands move pushing and manipulating the stitches and hear the needles clicking. And the result was a miraculous piece of warm and cozy cable fabric sitting on her lap. How could that be? To me it was as if someone was performing magic!
She would knit sweaters for everyone! Lushly textured cable knits, in colors that ranged from soft pastels to vibrant jewel tones, tweeds, bouclés, oiled wools and occasionally the requisite acrylics for the doggie sweaters!
I watched her for years and years, wondering if my turn would ever come and if one of those beautiful cabled sweaters would be made for me?
And then it happened! I was entering high school, my brother was a junior and Arlaine knit us our sweaters. We were given the choice of color and either a turtleneck or a crewneck cabled sweater. Mine was to be a pale yellow turtleneck and David’s a cream-colored crew neck.
We loved those sweaters and wore them throughout most of high school and college. To me they were works of love and beauty and represented a much bigger idea; “making something from nothing”.
Creating something useful and beautiful through an idea or vision, dexterity or ability, and some basic math skills…I didn’t know it at the time, but this foundation or simple observation influenced my life forever.
And how I wish I had some remembrance of those sweaters—a picture, a piece of them, the pattern, Arlaine’s needles…alas, I do not. But what I do have is the love and ability to knit! A love I hope to share with all, as long as my fingers are able.
And so, my homage to Arlaines cable knit sweater…in the works.