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What's a home supposed to be like?
Functional routines and physical spaces that keep us safe, cared for, and able to grow
Knitting and home life are deeply connected. Yes, we can knit anywhere, but I’d venture a guess that most of us knit (and crochet) the most while at home. Home holds our yarn stashes and our supplies of needles and hooks. Our notions and the items we’ve made.
Home also holds our feelings: feelings about ourselves, our bodies, the things we’ve made for our bodies (or beloved people’s bodies), small items we’ve sewn or crocheted or knit to adorn our homes.
What, then, is a home supposed to be like?
Growing up, I moved a lot. I lived in 18 different places before I was 18 years old (most of them for just a year, some for just a few months). I was always making or remaking or packing or unpacking a sense of home. Only a few items of furniture moved with me, and most of the time, my mother and I started from scratch. As the “easy kid” who took care of adult things at a young age, by the time I was 12, I was adept at outfitting a new apartment kitchen for the minimum amount of money, knowing exactly how many large melamine spoons we needed for cooking.
But home isn’t just a place for your things. Or a safe place to sleep, or a kitchen that’s well-enough equipped so you can feed yourself. Home is deeper than that.
There are so many ways home can fail us but, at its best, and what I think we are all striving towards, is a place to hold our feelings and our families. It’s both a physical place and an emotional one. It should be functional. It doesn’t need to be pristine, like so many Instagram influencers will tell us. It doesn’t need to have clean countertops. It should hold us, in all the messy and imperfect ways we love each other. In all the ways we strive to connect and support and grow and thrive.
I think this aspiration, this yearning, for home to hold the messiness of life, is why, when it fails, it is a fundamental failure.
Given the way my formative years were spent in moving and impermanence, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life longing for home—both a physical house and an internal sense of home.
The home I’ve made with my partner (my husband), here in San Francisco, is all the things I always wanted: it holds our family of three tenderly, it has room for messy feelings, it offers each of us soothing spaces, and it has simple but functional systems. It feels like a small miracle every morning when I empty the dishwasher, put away the just enough number of cooking spoons and make breakfast for the teen. I do this routine every morning as part of my “opening duties,” a term coined by KC Davis, author of How to Keep House While Drowning. I “open” the kitchen for the day’s eating and meal prep, and I know that our home has space to hold all of the messy and still-unfolding parts of us.
Lest you think my home is picture perfect, I invite you to imagine with me my un-remodeled kitchen in my hundred-year old home. It’s not vintage, it’s 1970s home DIY, with formica countertops and a linoleum tile floor. We’ve replaced a few appliances, but my refrigerator is the exact style I remember from 1980s rental apartments: freezer on top, ice cubes in trays. It’s simple. It’s good enough. It’s ours.
My (French) mother-in-law visited us just over 16 years ago to help when our son was a newborn, and she scrubbed the kitchen floor on her hands and knees. She said, “c’est pas beau, mais c’est salle,” which translates to it’s not pretty, but it’s dirty. The floor is still not pretty, and still often not as clean as she made it. But it’s functional. It’s clean enough. It’s good enough.
I adjust my eye like a camera lens and let my gaze fall on the slow, small, sweet things of home. The wooden bread box which is giving me wonderful grandma vibes. A bowl of lemons, ready to flavor my water or be turned into a lemon cake (gift link for the recipe!). The basket of knitting-in-progress on my living room side table.
I readjust my eye to see the big picture: this is home. The place where we are safe, loved for no other reason than that we exist, and where our passions and hobbies and joys and fears and frustrations can thrive and blossom or be worked through.
My words for you, this Sunday, are to adjust your eye to see the small, the beautiful, the clean or the messy. To make just one part of your home more functional or to do nothing at all. To use the treasured things, the fancy china, or the special tea cup. To see the progress of your knitting and know that home is both a place and a journey.
I wish more home for you.
Would you like to join me for the next round of Kindred Spirits yarn?
My yarn subscription club, Kindred Spirits, is one of the very best things I make, and I would love to have you to join me for the next round.
It’s $34 or $44 (depending on whether you want a coordinating mini-skein), and this club gives you delicious, joyful hand-dyed yarn, right to your mailbox. It’s for knitting right away because you fall in love with the color and can’t wait to get it on your needles, and it’s for stashing for that just perfect future project.
Each colorway is a surprise, you get a new one every other month, and I dye it on my most luxurious fingering weight yarn base, Cashmere Blend (70% SW fine merino, 20% cashmere, and 10% nylon). It’s also super-versatile: I’ve used it for socks, shawls and sweaters.
The sign-up window opens for two weeks, every other month, and it’s open right now through Tuesday, May 16.
Why is it called Kindred Spirits? Because each colorway is inspired by Anne of Green Gables. Whether you're a true fan of the book series or movies (original or Netflix remake) or simply want the prettiest yarn subscription you can find, this yarn is the one you will reach for, again and again.
My colorways are complex, layered, and gently speckled to create a yarn that is a true knitter's delight. When knitted, it looks semi-solid from a distance and, up close, will contain a multitude of shades and tones, from stitch to stitch.
Your subscription will start with the June/July skein.
Coming to the shop next week: studio sale!
In a working dye studio, you accumulate lots of extra yarn. There are test batches, colorways in development, things that turned out beautiful but not quite right for a particular collection. When I say a lot, I mean lots.
Pre-pandemic, I used to take a full week, every January, to deep clean the studio, set aside materials that hadn’t been allocated to a project in the previous year, and identify and photograph all those beautiful working skeins. I’d then host a studio sale, which I love because I get to see your creative combinations of yarn bases and colors and pack up the most beautiful packages.
I haven’t had a studio sale like this since 2019, and I am so pleased to be ready for a big one starting next Sunday.
Please save some of your yarn budget because this time next week, I’ll be listing over 200 skeins of yarn together with a helpful guide on how to make the most of a yarn sale, limited edition yarn drop, or festival shopping experience.
Start thinking about:
Lightweight wool tank tops and tees
That gorgeous sweater quantity of yarn for fall
A well-wish for your week
If your in-box and social media is anything like mine, you can’t avoid the fact that today is Mother’s Day in the US. It’s a bit much, so today, I wish you a happy Sunday, full of the deepest meaning of the word care: a social safety net, enough to eat, safety at home, people who love you, space for your feelings, abundant knitting, and a furry companion if you’re very lucky.
Also: thank you to readers who recommended audio books as a way to recapture some of my reading mojo. I am deep into my third audio book in two months!