I'm obsessed by all things yarn and fabric: knitting, weaving, sewing. Admirable crafts. Not that I can do much in these ways. Lately--and maybe because these days I'm still that child reaching for her blankie--I've been noticing how much wonderful stuff there is out there to support the crafter, and to replenish our stashes. And I've been holding close the gifts made for me. They comfort.

It all started with a basket of hand-knitted socks that caught my eye at a lovely shop in Tiverton, Rhode Island, Courtyards. Vibrant colors and nubbly stitches. Just the thing for cold floors first thing in the morning. I bought a pair for my friend Hanne who reported that the texture was perfect for getting a grip on wood floors. We should all pad around the house with such style.

Have you ever noticed how the sight of striped socks always make people smile?

My sister inherited my mother's knitting gene. She used to make all kinds of sweaters and hats for our children; she also taught all the cousins, boys and girls, to knit. I hope some of them pick up their needles again. Nicole would fly through the air to close some multi-gazillion cable deal for MTV, knitting baby socks all the while. When I was pregnant with the family's first grandchild, my mother picked up her needles for the first time in years, made booties, and then retired her needles again. Once my son outgrew his socks I framed them in a shadow box.

The sight of them still makes me happy. Handmade gifts are something to treasure for a lifetime.

My friend Caroline cannot keep her hands still; no matter what else she is doing, she is knitting. She could run a marathon (well, she does) and knit a hat at the same time, but I wouldn't want her tripping on yarn. She's made me several hats, and every winter morning I dip into my rainbow collection to choose my topper for the day.

Hats off to every woman who helps us keep a lid on life!

There are so many knitting books out there, but a really lovely new one is My Grandmother's Knitting, by Larissa Brown. Brown pieces together the inspiring connections between generations in her family. And, her pattern for a leaf quilt is gorgeous. If I ever get further than knitting straight-ahead scarves...

What's better than one generation passing crafty knowledge to the next?

These days I've had a soft, cuddly scarf wrapped around my neck as I write; the kitchen table sits in a chilly draft--probably good for oxygenating the brain, but not so much the shoulders. The scarf was made for my birthday by my friend and colleague, Ronnie Citron Fink, at Moms Clean Air Force--where, by the way, please sign our petition urging President Obama to support the strong regulation of toxic mercury. (Just to knit citizenship into this conversation.)

I love that the color is subtle, so the amazing pattern jumps out. Ronnie's own blog, EcoNesting, is always worth a visit. I don't know how someone manages to be a knitter and a writer. I mean, you have to have four hands...That's my excuse, anyway.

"Ah, sweet sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care."

To which I add: Ah, sweet knitters, who stitch our ravell'd hearts with love.

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