Tuesday, March 30, 2010

May I See What You’re Working On?

She was sitting with her legs crossed at the ankle, wearing a beige Chanel suit, her perfectly made up face partially hidden by the pages of the New York Times Arts section.   For at least ten minutes, I had felt her gaze wandering up over her paper to where I sat, knitting. I never looked up to meet her eyes, but I could feel her watching my hands like a hawk watches a rabbit play in a meadow.  The tension was mounting, to the point I was fearful of dropping a stitch when, finally, she spoke...”excuse me, but may I see what you are working on?”.  And thus began our conversation.  I showed her what I was knitting, let her look over the pattern.  She wanted to know who it was for. I told her it was a Christmas present and that, yes, I worked on Christmas presents in March, one has to if one wants everything completed by December.  She told me she used to be a knitter, years ago, couldn’t remember why she gave it up...  we talked and talked as though we’d known each other for ages.

And then.....once, years ago, I was returning home on a plane from Los Angeles, passing the time by needlepointing a pillow for my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  Slowly I  began to notice several serious-faced, dark-suited gentleman coming down each of the aisles, looking over the passengers.  All of a sudden I was aware of someone standing at my elbow.  I looked up to see former President Jimmy Carter smiling down at me, surrounded by secret service men.  He asked to see the needlepoint,  told me he really liked it and we proceeded to talk about it for a good while. Before he walked away, he told me he thought I was a very pretty girl.  Gee whiz.   

Such is the magic of doing any type of needlework in public.  It is an activity that just seems to be approachable; to connect people to one another in a way.   Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to see what you’re working on.  Whereas strangers might never inquire as to what book you are reading, or to whom you are writing that letter, they will almost always ask about what you are making. Who knows why?   Perhaps this particular art ties us a bit to the past, to those who once created this type of work out of necessity rather than luxury.

 I do know there is not much more satisfying that taking the time to make something for someone else, seeing the smiles when they realize how much you think of them is such a treat.  Believe it or not, yes, I am already working on Christmas presents.  Gathering beautiful wools and silks, deciding on patterns, and knitting away.... all activities I enjoy immensely, all year long. It is a sweet bonus to see all my  work later in its new home,  with the ones I made it for.  
Here.... see what I mean......

These beautiful eyes belong to Harlan. 
 You can see a bit of the hat that I hid in her Easter box last year. 
 Harlan is a magical creature, who makes exquisite little houses for the fairies in her garden and sleeps in a bedroom high up in the trees.

This is Walter. 
He is just a couple of  weeks old in this photograph, wearing a fair isle hat that I made just for him, before I knew his name of course.  
It happened to snow right after he was born, so with his new hat, Walter was ready for his very first snowfall.

This is my dear friend, Sandee, the divine photographer, modeling her most recent Christmas gift.  
We speak in shorthand and know each other’s secrets.  
You can see her amazing work HERE.

These lovely girls are my god-daughters,  Anna and Katie.
Don’t they look fetching
 in their colourful beehive hats?


Another hat, this time worn by the most exquisite, Sarah.

Oh, and this handsome fellow is Gatsby, wearing his Ralph Lauren coat and posing proudly by the petit-point pillow I made for him one Christmas.
  Gatsby goes to the steeplechase every year and has been on holiday in France where he managed to get off his lead one afternoon and cause his devoted owner no small amount of distress. 

My sweet friend Jan is modeling her latest Christmas presents. 
 Both the scarf and the hat were done in cotton in a colour I knew would suit the lovely Jan just perfectly.  Jan is my Francophile friend, the one who brought me home a fairy from the Ile Saint Louis, her favourite place in the world.

And of course, my favourite model is always Edward.
  This time he is wearing a scarf that I just completed using a pattern by the wonderful Emma Lamb.  This scarf works up beautifully, so much so that I’m in the middle of another one right now.  It’s a fun pattern and you can get it HERE.

Remember, it’s never to early to start on presents.  You’ll be entertained all year long,  and you never know who you’ll meet whilst you’re working.


  1. I last saw someone do needlework in the 60's. A beloved aunt. A piece of her work is in my linen closet.

    Oooooooh those beehive hats! Love them.

    And can see the love you put into each of your gifts. Beautiful.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. How magnificent!
    What a great story and what great models, the two legged and four legged varieties (wink!)

  3. Something knitted by my lovely & graceful friend, Pam, is a treasure to cherish! My Christmas scarf and cap are soft and beautiful and a joy to wear.

    Love from Jan de l'Île Saint-Louis

    P.S. - I have been known to ask total strangers what they are reading! I just HAVE to know. Who knows... I may want to read it too!

  4. Knitting and sewing are pleasures I don't know, but I'm beginning to think I've missed out on something. Hopefully they're not too difficult to start on as an adult.
    I absolutely LOVE the multicoloured hats your goddaughters are wearing.

    And I can confirm that Mr Jordan is a very kind man, even tho he had quite a queue of would-be Maths drop-outs waiting to see him.

  5. I love seeing your work-it's beautiful and warming. Your friend Sandee's photography is amazing. In her favourites-I love the photos of the children. What a heart-warming post here Pamela. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. Your blogs are always a treat and what lucky friends you have that you think so much of to bestow upon them your talent with the needle and thread!

  7. I love that story! Jimmy Carter seems to be pretty nice and I'm sure if it were me, I'd be stoked! You clearly have talent!
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  8. What beautiful knitted goods these are. I needlepoint, or I used to when I had time. Just love a good project. Thank you so much for stopping by Ragland Hill Social. Love visiting your blog. Talk to you soon.

  9. Edward looks so appreciative, how lucky they all are to have your presents and presence. Beautiful, and no it is never too early, for most things that express our friendship and love- or otherwise it may be too late.pgt

  10. I'm well and truly entertained. Your choice of colours is wonderful and what a treat to see what you do (other than write so beautifully) and seeing the recipients wearing their gorgeous gifts. Thanks so much for sharing Pamela. Lovely, lovely post!

  11. wonderful Pamela, and it's so true, people will always ask what you are making :)

  12. You are so talented Pamela and how lucky your friends and family are to be recipients of your beautiful handiwork. xv

  13. That is so true, the part of you being a beautiful woman.
    And of course, I must also agree that there is no gift as lovely as the one handmade.

  14. I love the story about Jimmy Carter, I think it is mesmerising, watching someone else be creative, be it needlework, knitting or painting, of course everyone wants to know what you are doing, what is it going to be and when will it be finished. Your family, friends and canines are very lucky to recieve such beautiful and lovingly made gifts.

  15. What super stories about the people who have watched you work. Your hats and scarves are wonderful - you have such great models too:)

  16. Looking at that last picture of Edward reminds me that some people actually use the fur from their PON's to make woolen thread. Seems a lot of work to me . Not sure the PON's would be too happy about it either.

  17. Pamela, I had to come back, because something was bugging me, it is the picture of Edward on your sidebar, wearing one of your wonderful creations, he reminded me of something and I have just figured out who it is, he looks like a doggy version of Peter O Toole, in Steven Fry's film, Bright Young Things!

  18. I love the Jimmy C. story! Such a dear man. And the photos were a treat -I love seeing all your work. The other conversation starters with strangers are if you have a baby or a dog. :<)

  19. All of your work is wonderful, Pamela.
    You are just too clever for words. I'm not a good knitter but my sister is fantastic. Se makes the most beautiful things.
    But, as much as all of your models look fabulous, it's Edward who is, yet again, the star of the show. XXXX

  20. Pamela!! You are so so talented...a talented writer and keen craftswoman. I feel there is much more yet to come! I totally agree with the reactions that needlepoint creates on passers by. I have created a few pillows ad christmas stockings over the years. Sadly,my latest creation has taken 10 years. A christmas stocking for my 10 year old son. It has become the family joke but someday...I will get there. This may be the year. You have inspired me!!

  21. I'm not sure my needlework skills are good enough to put on public display though i agree totally with the sentiments of your post! What a lovely selection of gifts here too and Edward looks every inch the seasoned supermodel

  22. Your words always fill me with such wonderful inspiration. I love visiting your beautiful blog and absorbing some of its magic. Ohhh to knit again, but it has been so many years. Maybe I will make time to learn once again.

  23. What a beautiful post, so many wonderful presents made with love. I especially like the little baby hat.

  24. I really want to learn to do some sort of needlepoint now! My grandma used to crochet, and I have a friend who loves knitting, but I've never tried it. And by the way - those hats are adorable!

  25. Gosh, I wish I was your friend getting something beautiful like that...as always your stories and darling pictures of sweet, sweet Edward make me smile. Thank you so much...you are very cool indeed..cynthia

  26. Beautiful work, Pamela. Gorgeous models. One of these days, spurred on by stories like yours, I'll try my hand at knitting. I fear I won't have the patience for it but maybe it's just what I need... to slow down a little.

  27. I was thinking that your work is so lovely, you could start taking orders, you know?

  28. how i wish i was so organised!!! love all your hats...and models esp. edward..what a star!!

  29. Well Pamela
    Is there no talent that escapes you.. wonderful weaver of stories and gifts... I'm afraid Edward has a little competition this post with Gatsby and his pillow by the same name.. Have a great week xx Julie

  30. Hi,
    You have done so many lovely gifts. You are so good of creating beautiful things ! AND you inspiers me :)


  31. I enjoyed reading how your links of yarn ties you and so many friends you had yet to meet. Your work is beautiful as well as all of your models and so the handsome Mr. Edward. xo

  32. Such a wonderful post! You must actually get to relax before the holidays! I love all your works..beautiful treasures!

  33. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Your work is a joy to behold! And I adore the scarf you made for Sandee. Would you be willing to direct me to where I might buy the pattern/instructions and also share with me your choice of yarn. It made up so beautifully.
    You have inspired me to pick up my needles again after many years of being put aside. Perhaps I will join a dear friend who attends a weekly knitting group. Thank you, Pamela and to your sweetest of models, Edward.

  34. That is thoughtful of you to make gifts so far in advance. What a fun story about Jimmy Carter! I loved seeing your handiwork adorning such lovely faces. You are very talented.

    I cherish the needlework pillows my grandmother in law made for us, especially now since she has passed away.

  35. Oh, Pamela - how amazing! What beautiful things you have created. There really is nothing better in this world than to receive a gift made specially for us by someone we love. (Cool about Jimmy Carter!)

  36. of course i think wee Edward looks the most fetching in his new attire... ;)

    i must say you are a very organised woman, i can't even begin to think about christmas presents until at least september! which of course is getting late for making everyone a personal gift...

    oh and thank you too for the lovely birthday wishes, i treated myself to a day off... !

    i do hope you have a fabulous easter weekend,

  37. The hats and scarves are splendid. There's nothing better than a hand knit garment, especially from someone who loves you. Your models are very pretty.

    The story on the plane is great, imagine. I think the reason people feel free to approach a person with hand crafts is that they believe something about a person who works that way - that they are warm and appreciate the slower life that allows people to connect.

    I wonder if Jimmy Carter told anyone about the woman knitting on the plane.

  38. i love the way you write! The story on the plane was wonderful. I have just recently taken up knitting. Just a few scarfs now, but I am on my way. I taught myself but am thinking I need to take a class. I really enjoy your blog.


  39. Oh now I know why I've missed you so much. What a fabulous post. You are so right about making things. I love making Christmas presents. I made my Grandson Jack an advent calender 2 years ago and he loves it. I knitted lots of things for the pockets and his mum and dad buy other things to go in them too.

    I made lavender bags last year using the lavender from our garden. I feel knitting coming on. I love those beehive hats. Do you have the pattern for those??


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!