Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Sock Knitter

I write this in a library. One of my girls loves writing and she comes to the library once every week for this what they call "A Story Cellar". They - a bunch of maybe ten quiet kids - write all sorts of stories and poems with this fantastic and inspiring lady.

I bring her and stay here for this hour and a half. Because this library is on the list of my most favorite places. I love the building, it was designed by Alvar Aalto; I love the interior, you can see Aalto's handwriting all over, from door handles to furniture. If you click the library link, you can see what I'm talking about.

While amongst these books I usually knit. Sometimes read, sometimes draw or try to write. Always hope that on some happy day all these fantastic words hovering around will end up on my pages...

In this special atmosphere (this is like a pilgrimage to me) the knit must bear a special meaning. I can knit whatever happens to be at hand while waiting children in a car in a parking lot but not here. In the spirit of Alvar Aalto every single little detail counts. So today I couldn't make up my mind, I stuck three different knits into my backpack before I left home. Number one was the Pacific NW Shawl and number 2 and 3 were both stockings.

Summer is s-l-o-w-l-y crawling closer. Usually I go barefoot during the summer BUT NEVER leave the house without having a small woolen-wrap-around AND a pair of hand knits socks in the pack. When the sun is high above the horizon it can be hot (really!!) but when she gets closer to the horizon it might get very cool, and then in a garden party at the friends' house or by the fire in the woods or in an outdoor concert it is pure joy to dig woolly socks from the backpack.

On such occasions I feel a bit like Moominmamma. She is a character created by Tove Jansson and a mother who carries all sorts of things in her black purse. But did you know that she is a knitter too? (This is a cover page of Tove Jansson's number two comics book.)

There are other reasons to knit socks now besides the arctic summer.

After a long and weary day when I feel a bit neglected and need to pamper myself a bit, I bathe my feet, do a thorough pedicure, massage some of my favorite lotion and finally top this off with hand knit socks and a lot is saved of a long day. Even though my feet/legs may not be the best part in me on a pedicure night I thank these "busy little feet" for taking me through another day and they deserve this attention once in a while. Wear hand knit socks and hum "my darling feet, you are wonderful tonight" and you will feel different, I guarantee. (I hope I did not ruin Clapton's song for you forever...)

When the kids were small and I saw a small foot sticking from under covers, I had to go and tuck here and there to get the toes covered. So I'm living this over and over again. I look for these cold feet without socks. When my children grow up and leave this house, I would like each one of them to have a hope chest full of beautiful, handknit socks so that their feet would never touch the cold ground but have something to make their steps a bit more comfortable.

If I was a sculptor, I would sculpt their faces to show them that I love them, if I was a poet, I'd write poems for them, if I was a writer, I'd dedicate books for them, if I could compose, they would have their own songs... but I'm not. I'm a knitter. So my children will have socks.

Let the shawl rest. I will knit socks what is left of this hour and a half.

PS. Hang on to your socks in these spring winds...

36 comments:

  1. Loved your post today. You have such a wonderful way with words. I bet your children feel hugged/loved everytime they put on socks made by their mom.
    I'm working on the Finnish Socks from the Folk Sock book. I have one almost done and will post it next week.

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  2. How talented you are, Lene. You can write, draw, knit... and everything in such a peaceful manner. Thank you for today's post, I feel different after reading it.

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  3. Beautiful! You expressed it so well! The love of a mother and a knitter! Have a great day!

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  4. What a calming way to tell your story. It is beautiful.

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  5. Barbara B16:39

    Lene,
    I love your entries--they truly take me to another place (one that I hope one day to visit--more and more since I've been reading your blog! I love the way you bring nature into your writing, through both words and pictures. Truly inspirational.). And, you make me proud of my Finnish roots!

    Yes, the Alvar Aalto library is beautiful. What a lovely refuge.

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  6. Well said, Lene. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

    I love that all the birds in your drawing are wearing wool socks.

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  7. What a beautiful "Melkein Huhtikuu" picture. I love the colors you added to the background.
    When I was growing up you introduced the Mommin family to us. What fantastic stories!!! Our family usually read books aloud after dinner for all of us to enjoy. I did not know they had comic books too. I'll have to do some research.
    Soon Nathan will be old enough to enjoy stories like this too and I can carry on the tradition.

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  8. We have a moomintrolls book uspstairs. I'd forgotton about moominmama.

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  9. Beautifully written post, a true pleasure to read. If your daughter shares your passion for writing and loves writing stories of her own, we might be witnessing the birth of a great Finnish author...

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  10. how wonderfully put, I almost get tears to my eyes. maybe I too should go out and buy a few small chests and start filling them up with socks to give my children as a leaving-home present. btw. I have 5 children and 2 children in-law and a grandchild coming soon, so it would be quite a lot of chests.
    greetings from Iceland
    Frida

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  11. janeen17:19

    Lovely, post Leni!
    You really are all of those artists that you mention ~ but in your own very special way.
    You are a treasure!!

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  12. What a truly wonderful post today.
    I feel very inspired after reading it. Thank you for making the art of knitting a special one.



    P.S. You Library is very impressive. I love the way he created the flowing lines and lighting.
    I have always had such a great reverence for libraries, universities and nature and you seem to capture that in such beautiful words.

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  13. What a wonderful post! I love the art you did & the comic also. And now I am thinking of little feet under blankets - a nice way to start the day. :)

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  14. My favorite was always "Vem ska trösta Knyttet?". Sad but wonderful. And the artwork in her books is so perfect.

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  15. Of course you *are* a writer..... :-)

    The library is amazing. I would feel the same way about it that you feel.

    I love the little birds in their comfy socks, buffeted by the wind....

    Thank you for sharing all this with us.

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  16. Your post was very inspiring. yes, I also love to knit in beautiful inspiring places!! I especially like to knit while listening to books on CD.
    I don't have your talent for drawing and writing however. but, I am a librarian and I was very, very pleased to see the photos of your library. What a magnificent structure. Can you tell me, how is your library dealing with the internet, i-Pod, etc., age? I know that you Finns are technologically more advanced on a day to day basis than we Americans are. Does your library distribute e-books, etc?

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  17. Your post was very inspiring. yes, I also love to knit in beautiful inspiring places!! I especially like to knit while listening to books on CD.
    I don't have your talent for drawing and writing however. but, I am a librarian and I was very, very pleased to see the photos of your library. What a magnificent structure. Can you tell me, how is your library dealing with the internet, i-Pod, etc., age? I know that you Finns are technologically more advanced on a day to day basis than we Americans are. Does your library distribute e-books, etc?

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  18. I have to protest, you are a writer and this post was beautifully written. Your post really evoke your life beautifully. I love the idea of sending your kids off with a sock collection. I am a weaver and I have started a dish towel collection for my daughter, perhaps I need to start doing socks too. What wonderful gifts we can give to our children.

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  19. Beautifully written and illustrated post. Thank you.

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  21. I just love those moments, when I can say I feel a bit like Moomin Mama. :) I have a collection of the Moomin mugs , (DH owns Haisuli = Stinky ;) and I use them every day. They remind me of the happy and peaceful Moomin world.

    And what Wonderful thoughts about keeping your kids' feet warm throughout their lives. I guess that's one of the best parts about being a mom, when you know you've made your babies feel good and comfortable. <3

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  22. I love libraries, and yours seems especially comfortable and welcoming. I love how the books are around the edges, so the middle of the floor is spacious and open. I've never seen a library arranged like that before.

    What a great space to be creative in! It explains a lot. :-)

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  23. Lora00:32

    What a beautiful sentiment about the socks for your children. It reminds of Latvian women and the hundreds of mittens they knit for their dowry.

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  24. I agree with everyone here, your post today was wonderful and truley inspiring! I enjoy visiting your blog everytime!

    Rebecca

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  25. Just wonderful. Your blog slows me down to enjoy life as it is. I will pamper my feet and hug my children tonight.

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  26. Oh.. I loved seeing the library. Thanks for sharing the link. I am exactly the same way about socks.. I knit them for my boys to keep them warm with my spirit, and I knit them for myself as a way to nurture and care for the nurturer within. I just discovered your blog.. and I love the peek it gives me to another part of the world. From the sunny south of the US...to the cold of Finland, there are universal truths among mothers and knitters alike.

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  27. Hi Lene, I loved your writing today. You've reminded me of those little "tucking in" moments when my children were small, that I'd almost forgotten about. You so eloquently brought those memories back to life. Thanks for writing about the small things of life, which are really the most important.

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  28. You brought tears to my eyes today, Lene! What beautiful words and your daughters will never have cold toes! I did send a copy of the site for your beautiful library to the gals in my book club. Three of them are librarians - retired, but I know they will love your library! Like you, I do not have beautiful hands or feet, but my hands and feet can do wonderful things and take me fantastic places, so I love them for just being there! Love your little birds with socks!!

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  29. What an absolutely lovely post! Thank you.

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  30. What a lovely post, the library looks very inviting.

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  31. I have been popping in for a while now. I enjoy your drawings very much and your pictures and words always make me feel calm but tonight~ tonight there are tears in my eyes.

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  32. You are a gifted wordsmith weaving exquist pictures that carry me into your world. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement on a bleak day here in the NW of US.

    Alvar Aalto certainly was a master at creating open, beautiful library spaces. I enjoyed looking at all the pictures. But what's with all the poles in picture 2/8?
    I was privledged to work in an Aalto library until this past December: Mt Angel Abbey Library. http://www.mtangel.edu/library/main/library.htm On nice days I'd spin as I walked the winding, tree lined path up the hill to the library. The serene walk set the mood for working in such a rarified atmosphere. One of the enjoyable aspects of working there was meeting people from all over the world who came to study Aalto's architecture.

    Great idea of filling a chest with handknit socks for the kids!

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  33. Carol02:52

    You ARE a poet. Lovely

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  34. Tears. Not tears of sadness nor joy. Just something like tears of "wow, this is peace and happiness and contentment" all in one. I just can't describe how much I love coming here to read your blog.

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  35. Elizabeth D18:19

    Lene, I was so smitten with your library photographs that I went in search of other Alvar Aalto libraries. None of the other sites have photographs anywhere near as evocative as yours. Thank you for a lovely moment in your library.

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  36. What a wonderful post! Thanks for the Moomin image! I happened on the Moomin books when I was a kid and loved them. I hear that the comics are going to be published with English translations this year and I'm looking forward to them.

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