What good is this gig if I can’t write about something random once in a while? Bear with! Bear with! I want to share something that has been fascinating me, in case it might be interesting to others.
Twitter Time Travel
I saw a tweet the other day about someone viewing their old home on Google Street View. And I thought—having plenty of work to do, needless to say—that would be a fun thing to do right this minute.
So I punched in 5701 and 5703 North 34th Street in Omaha, Nebraska, and there they were: my childhood house (5703) and my paternal grandparents’ house (5701), side by side, cheek by jowl, tight on their lots, just like always. The stone walls my grandpa built looking like new (he wasn’t a religious man, but he believed in granite). The ginkgo tree much taller, but still there. The stair handrails that my dad and grandpa installed still matching each other, even though I don’t imagine the houses are occupied by relatives anymore. Do they wonder why there are matching handrails on houses built in 1960 and 1907, respectively? Seeing this forgotten rhyme puts me back in the atmosphere of mutual mild irritation of those two men working on a project together; they always got it done, communicating with looks and grunts instead of words. My dad’s cusses and my grandpa’s stoic silence were the force that put air conditioners into our windows and tile onto our floors.
There were plenty of changes evident in the photos. Chairs for lounging, raised planting beds, a fence in front of 5701’s side yard. But the essentials are the same as when we lived there.
Seeing the houses was not a surprise; I try to drive by them when I’m in Omaha. But the cool thing about Street View is the street part. You can navigate virtually around a neighborhood in a surprisingly realistic way, at your own pace, with the perspective of a pedestrian, or perhaps a kid on a Sting-Ray bike. You can look up, down, all around. You can linger and stare, you can be pretty nosy.
I was unmoored by the feelings that hit as I saw the houses (and in some cases, empty lots) where neighbors once lived. These were our streets. Each ordinary, seemingly uniform block had its own character to the locals. Things happened in these houses that I had forgotten in the many decades since I lived there. So much came rushing back from the sight of a hip-roofed garage or an alley. I went down a block and over a block to see the cinderblock building at 35th and Jaynes that was our corner store and my brother’s first place of employment, looking as grimly utilitarian as ever, now painted purple. The house on the corner, which once had two really loud Great Danes, didn’t have a fence anymore, nor any Great Danes.
For the icing on the memory cake, I looked up the houses on Zillow. They’re not for sale, but the listings had some interesting—and surprising to me—facts about things that children never think of, such as square footage. How did a family of six plus pets fit in 900 square feet, and so unremarkably? Snug quarters does explain why I hung out at my grandparents’ house whenever I needed an hour or eight to read Anne of Green Gables in peace. Only now does it occur to me how much Grandma must have enjoyed seeing me sprawled on the rollaway bed on her porch, in leggy, lazy bookworm splendor. “You’ll ruin your eyes!” [switching on light]
The feelings were not unmixed—how could they be?—but it was magical, like a personalized Wim Wenders movie, to experience this place in this way. So: if this sounds like fun, or something akin to fun, to you, hop on your Sting-Ray and go back to where you once were.
OK, OK, knitting content—there’s always knitting content.
Lately I’ve been transfixed by a shawl I started in Cecelia Campochiaro’s sequence knitting class at our Knitting Getaway earlier this month. In the class, she passed out a sheet of paper with three 2-line stitch patterns and the briefest, most elegant of instructions to create three different shawls: the Anywhere, Conversation, and Careful shawls (in order of ascending difficulty, although “difficulty” is not really the word here).
This is the Anywhere. I grabbed a Freia Shawl Ball in the Ember colorway, cast on 2 stitches, and was lost to the world—and to my other knitting projects—for a good while.
Cecelia is planning to publish an all-in-one pattern for this set of shawls, so stay tuned. We’ll be sure to sound the call when it’s available. In the meantime, if you can’t wait to get an Anywhere on your needles for summer knitting ease, Cecelia tells me that the Armstrong Improv (Ravelry link) in her book Making Marls is the same stitch pattern, and as a bonus, it’s designed for using bits and bobs of leftovers to excellent effect.