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These Times We’re Living In
There are no roads that do not bend
And the days like flowers bloom and fade
And they do not come again
We’ve only got these times we’re living in
—Kate Wolf

On a cold day in March 2020, my youngest daughter Lelia and I were in Kalona, Iowa, at the store we call the Amish Dent and Bent, home of an uncurated inventory of last chance grocery items. As we foraged through the aisles, filling our cart with Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo Squares and other such random finds, my phone started dinging with texts. “We’re closing,” wrote my middle daughter, a librarian at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore.

“School’s closing!” wrote my husband, whose retirement job is being an English Language Learner paraeducator at one of our local high schools.

“Everything’s closing,” I told Lelia in what felt to me like a whisper. She gave me the eye, “Shh, you’re scaring the customers.”

I quietly collected my thoughts. Lelia had been warning me since January about a virus that threatened to spread globally. “Have you ordered masks?” she would ask every day. She was in Milan then, in Italy which was about to become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. A week or so later from London, she continued pressuring me, “Order masks!”

I live in Iowa City, Iowa, home not only of the Hawkeyes, but also of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, one of the nation’s largest teaching hospitals. After several more exhortations from Leila, I started asking everyone I knew if they were getting ready, if they had bought masks. No one knew what I was talking about then, so I dawdled a bit. Soon we began to hear about Covid-19. Now in an Amish store with dim lights powered by who knows what, where horse-drawn buggies clomped by outside and shoppers in bonnets checked out heavily discounted products, I knew that “it” was here.

The next morning, with a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook and a well-sharpened Blackwing #602 pencil, I began my Covid log. Inspired by the excerpts I had read from Britain’s Mass Observation Project diaries, I dated, reported, and wrote about anything and everything: the first obituary mentioning the pandemic (March 19, 2020), a front porch delivery of shawl yarn by a masked knitting friend from the Home Ec Workshop (September 20, 2020), the drive through a blizzard to Walgreens for our first vaccine (March 5, 2021).

I knit a lot during our isolation: baby sweaters, toddler spiral socks, hats, cowls, and many many ballband washcloths. For a while, two of my three daughters were sheltering with us. In the evenings after dinner, we would gather and watch something on TV. They chose shows we might have never watched: Schitt’s Creek, Younger, Drop Dead Diva. My oldest daughter left after six months, but my youngest stayed on, and we continued our viewing tradition, which was also my knitting time.

On the day the New York Times ended their Covid-inspired Sunday Home section, I officially declared my Covid log reporting over, though, in truth, I keep at it. My Covid log is where I store my unease, my observations, and where I continue to wonder, “Who will I be when this is over?” In January at a virtual event, I heard someone declare, “The pandemic will not be lost on me.” Exactly.

Another lifetime ago, after writing A Knitter’s Home Companion, I drove from Iowa City, Iowa, to Rhinebeck, New York, to sign my books at the famous Sheep & Wool Festival. For my birthday earlier that year my friend Monica Leo of Eulenspiegel Puppets gave me a doll she made; I named her Monica Michelle and took her to display on my signing table alongside my books and other small items of interest. Remembering how cool mornings in the Hudson Valley can be, I knit her a Rhinebeck Sweater and a pair of warm slippers based on a baby bootie pattern I loved.

I am writing this in August with the Delta variant hovering close, threatening us all. Throughout the hot summer here, Monica Michelle, who sits on a table near my knitting chair, keeps her Rhinebeck sweater on, ready to travel again. The other day it occurred to me she needs a hat—a soft watch cap with a big fluffy pompom on top, of course.

Who will I be when we finally, totally emerge? I am not sure of that yet, but I will be knitting—and keeping track of these times we’re living in.

Be well. Stay safe.

About The Author

Michelle Edwards writes about family, friendship, and community. Her work chronicles the large and small victories and defeats of everyday life. She frequently posts her illustrations on Instagram, her website, and at StudioScrawls, her Etsy store.


  • Thanks for sharing this article! I, too, wonder who we’ll all be when this is over. Much fiber work has been done…spinning, knitting, stitching, planned weaving….in the past year and a half while we sheltered in place (still are!) and wear masks every where we go.

    • Making is a kind of certainty in uncertain times, I think. Stay well, and keep making!

  • I really enjoyed your article. I’m from Iowa, West Branch. My niece is an avid knitter and she infected me with the knitting bug! She’s in CR. I live in Kansas now. I did the same thing as your daughter, early on I was almost begging my friends and family here and in Iowa to buy masks. Stay safe, and keep writing!
    Go Hawks!!!

    • Charley, I love West Branch! So good you were sounding the alarm early. Stay safe!

  • I enjoyed reading those comments. The Covid snuck up. I got my shots as soon as I could, thinking my weekly Meet and Knit group would regather. The yarn shop closed. I’ve turned to the internet for my knitting hints, for my companionship. But I still miss the gathering.

    • I think I may even miss gatherings I didn’t enjoy. I am glad you are finding some community online for the duration. Stay well.

  • Love your art writing so much, Michelle. I bet your Covid log is beautiful. I too have kept what I call my ‘quarantine journal’ this whole time, even though our periods of really hunkering down come and go. I kept thinking I’d stop writing in it in 2020 but, here we are, still in it. Also, someday I’d love to road-trip to Rhinebeck with you and Monica Michelle (or at the very least, maybe meet up for coffee and a visit to Home Ec.) We will make it happen! #iowagirls

    • A Rhinebeck Roadtrip would be a great way to celebrate the end of our Covid days. Monica Michelle is so ready — me, too. A visit to Home Ec and coffee on their front porch would be lovely! Yes! #iowagirls

    • (art + writing!)

      • Thanks!

  • A beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nice to hear this from you, Joanne. Be well.

  • Thanks for writing of your experience, and for the wonderful drawings. I also have been knitting my way through, and am grateful for curbside pickups to pick up new yarns from small local shops and my library’s knitting club’s Zoom knitting nights. Two vaccines brought some lessening of anxiety, but caution remains. Take care and stay well to all.

    • Mary, I appreciate your kind words. Caution does remain, and having knitting to see us through is a comfort. It’s great that your yarn store delivers and your library offers knitting nights. Be well. Knit on.

  • Beautiful, Michelle. Thank you for sharing. This is helping me feel a bit lighter this morning

    • Hi, Grapestain — I love your name. Glad this story lightened your morning. Take good care of yourself. Be well.

  • I enjoy your posts very much – it’s bizarre to read about my stomping grounds on a national platform! Iowa City is our big city, Kalona is where I took my boys for homeschool enrichment before we started public school this year. Thank you for the writing, keep them coming!

    • Knitting is growing stronger in Iowa, don’t you think? I just read that we have a new yarn store in Iowa City and it was completely off my radar. Glad you liked the story. Stay well!

  • We are all living in a new, evolving reality. There is no going back or getting over, only what is so today. Onward. Be kind. Do your best. Keep knitting.

    • HTSCHMDK, you are right about our new/old reality. It’s this day now every day. I love the Arthur Ashe qoute– Start where you are. Work with what you have. Do the best you can.

  • I’m also keeping a Covid Journal. Silly me thinking the back pages of my 2020 bujo would be enough. I began writing in March ’20 after a friend in England mentioned she had started one. Then I read that the archivist at UNI was asking people to consider donating their pandemic related writing (etc.) Being an alum, and a librarian, I said, “Of course!” I’m still writing entries, but not at the earlier pace.

    And sock knitting in Tama County.

    • It’s great you are writing, and keep writing, a Covid Journal. WE need many voices. I think the UNI archivist is right about donating pandemic writings; they will help us and future generations to understand our times. I have been thinking about where I’ll leave mine.Take care. Knit on.

  • We are currently evacuees from NOLA (but power is supposed to go back on in a bit less than a week – hurray) and I am feeling a tad overwhelmed even though we are more fortunate than 99 percent of our fellow New Orleanians so thank you for this. It was like balm for my somewhat frazzled soul!

    • Debbi12, thank you for taking the time to write. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I hope you are getting more settled and less overwhelmed. I am touched that you found comfort in my story. Take good care. Be well.

  • Thanks so much for the wonderful words.. Still knitting here in Florida where Delta ravages the unvaccinated. We’re short on LYSs here, so I am forever grateful for the online indie dyers and podcasters who have kept me motivated and sane during our extended self isolation. Hang in there everyone, this too shall pass.

    • Rosa, good that you have found the online dyers and podcasters. So much out there, so many good people making and working. That’s where I often find hope. Be well. Stay safe.

    • My mother used to say, “This too shall pass.” In 90 years on this Earth she built wisdom and strength and taught six daughters to persevere. It’s wonderful to see those words and experience the grace and sanity in this community which has allowed me to feel connection during this difficult time.
      Please be safe.

      • Thanks, Essie! Your mom must have been a force, Six daughters! Stay well. Be safe.

  • Thank you, wonderful thoughtful article. With calm and grace you sketch out the last 18 months.

    • Good to hear from you, Grace. I love your Instagram posts. Take care. Be well.

  • It was kind of strange, in my reading I picked up (about last December ) bad news coming out of China. I was kind of a family helper and suggested to the family to stock up on some things. We all did. Basics, and some creative things for parents and kids.things began closing down, libraries, bars, fast food place, restaurants, schools, businesses, government offices. We got daily updates, our numbers were in the low side.

    Our yarnstores were closed or only opened by appointment or porch pickup. We all checked on one another via group message, phone calls, or masked visits. We traded various DVDs rewatched Downton Abby, and watched old tv series, MASH, Barney Miller. We hunkered down, then we had a snow ice storm lost power and multiple layers, blankets were called up. you could not drive, no heat, and the weather made it to dicey to drive. We again checked on one another, and some of us hosted family and friends. Fireplaces, good things.

    We are now in September. Schools are closing down again, this time everyone is getting sick we are quarantining ourselves, looking out for one another, small businesses are closing down again, and we are back to what we were doing last year. Some of the fast food stores have no help, vaccinated verses unvaccinated conversations and we are all wondering if this is the new normal.

    Personal opinion
    Humans were not meant to live in isolation. We need to talk, hug, and cry sometimes. If you can grow food where you are please do so. I have noticed gaps grocery shopping. No water in the water isle. Sometimes fruit is weird. Trade recipes for low meat meals. Soups, stews, and frozen treats can help. Buy extra beans, rice, staples to give to neighbors and friends. Buy lanterns, batteries, kids games and put them away for when times get really tough. Help one another out.

    I kind of wonder if these times are like, the Kennedy, MLK, 9/11, periods. We remember where we were, the being scared, and longing for a time that safer….

    • Patty, thank you for sharing your experiences and community with us. How lucky your family and friends were to have you and each other in such warm hearted and positive ways! Be well. Stay safe.

  • I too have knit and knit—but not the covid cardigan i planned. I bought yarn for it in March 2020 but haven’t been able to start it. Maybe 2022 will be the year of the cardigan
    PS love the drawings of the doll

    • Some projects just have to wait their turn. I keep eyeing Monica Michelle’s cardigan and think I might just make myself an adult version of it.

  • I knit 17 dishcloths, most of them ballband, in the first two months of lockdown. That was all I could handle. And here we are again with people yelling at each other in stores, and I’ve knit 7 hats in the past weeks. Not good times.

    • Hi, Jude! Sometimes ballbands just are perfect projects . I love having a stack, knowing I have a little gift ready when I need it. I have given away a lot this year, small utilitarian joy. Hats are a close second in my book. Stay well. Stay safe.

  • Your words and drawings are always a comfort to me, Michelle, even before I knew you were a knitter and just over there to the east of me in beautiful Iowa. My covid knitting, crocheting, and needlepointing still cover the floor and chairs in my living room where I sat and held my breath for family, friends, and the world. I guess those UFOs, once I complete them, will always be imprinted with the same unsettled memories that we carry around from the 2020 and 2021 experience.

    • Mary Lou, thanks for writing and your kind thoughts about my work. I think our knits do get imprinted with memories — and stories. Be well. Take care … and knit on!

  • Thank you, Michelle, for sharing. Keep masking. Stay safe. Write more. oxo

    • Will do, Karen! Take care and be well.

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Don’t be afraid. Get Ivermectin and you’ll be fine. Keep knitting.
    • Please read Francesca’s and Melina’s post. Please get vaccinated and wear a mask. It’s as simple as that.

    • Please don’t. It is a very strong horse dewormer and is only approved for certain illnesses in very small doses on.humans. you can get really sick with it.

      • Thank you for posting this important reply. Be well.

      • YES!! Thank you for posting this reply.

  • Always so wonderful to read your writing, Michelle. Your values shine through. Maybe we need a picture book of The Adventures of Monica Michelle?

    • Thanks, Vicki! Monica Michelle may have a story or two, sometime. Nice to think about it. Be well. Be safe!

  • Thank you for this article – it has me thinking about how long this crazy period is lasting, and how important it is to take care of yourself, family and friends. I’m thinking about all the joy knitting has brought me – not only the knitting itself but also giving knitting gifts to family. And lastly, I’m thinking about the importance of knitting communities online that have been a lifesaver for me. MDK has been wonderful in all kinds of ways. Thanks to everyone who has shared themselves online and contributed so much to the well being of others – it makes all the difference. ❤️

    • Good to hear from you! You are so right. MDK and others have given us all so much to do and think about and cook and knit and watch and read and and and the list goes on! Be well. Stay safe.

  • Ah! My grandmother’s name was Lelia. It’s a family name. I have been keeping a Done List – not a ToDo List, just what I did each day, whatever strikes me. Somedays “brushed teeth” is an accomplishment. It helps me know that the days are *not* all the same, and it can spur me to action when the list is paltry. Knitting is a constant, almost entirely charity knitting from legacy yarns. The local guild has maintained its many projects, and I have made over 100 hats for a Street Medicine related project at a friend’s church. I participate in one Zoom knitting group and host another; both connect friends in multiple states. The local guild also hosts monthly Zoom meetings that include socializing and skill building presentations.

    • Wow, Bex! You are amazing. And I love that Lelia is a family name for you. It was my childhood babysitter’s name. Be well. Thanks for writing.

  • Your book is one of my favorites that I like to check out at the library every 1 to 2 years to revisit.

    • Thanks, Heykerrianne! I am touched. Take care and be well!

  • Thank you for this article. Knitting has also been my faithful companion. It’s comforting to know that others wonder who they will be when this is over. Your comment about missing gatherings you didn’t even really enjoy rang true for this introvert. I too will be knitting and hopefully doing lots of catching up.

    • Good to hear from you, Carol. I know it can be lovely to knit in quiet and solitude. Enjoy!

  • Thank you for writing and sharing this with us! As usual, I’m late in responding but I stumbled across this as I was scrolling through my email while on vacay from Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore!

    I was so tickled to read that your daughter works/worked here! It truly is a small world and the idea of a COVID-19 journal sounds wonderful!

    Thanks again!


    • Natalie, what fun to know this! Thanks for writing. I love when worlds intersect. Flory works at renovated downtown Enoch Pratt Free Library. Such a gorgeous place. Any favorite local yarn stores I should visit when we travel again?

  • Waving from CR. I have had many of the same thoughts that your article talks about. Yarn has been keeping me sane during all the turmoil and not knowing.

    • Waving back from Iowa City! I agree that preserving sanity is one of the many powers of yarn.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful article, reflecting on knitting in the time of the pandemic. My 2 closest friends have been meeting for dinner & knitting for years. During this time, at first we were knitting on zoom (we decided early to not do the dinner part remotely). Better than nothing, but not the same. My psychotherapy practice also moved to remote viewing-again, better than nothing, but hugely lacking in the richness that actual presence provides. The two seasonal craft shows (at which I’d had a booth for the past 5 years) both cancelled. Knitting was my constant activity, both for its meditative effect & to feel like I still had mastery over some small portion of the world. And, as an act of faith, I knit things for the post-lockdown craft show to come.
    Whether they were old favorites or new designs of my own creation, they all had one Marie Kondo-like characteristic in common: that they bring me joy, in the feel of the yarn, the rhythm of the needles, the intricacy of the pattern, the satisfaction of completion. When the world felt so chaotic and unsafe, the Isle of Knitting was an oasis of order and comfort, even if it sometimes felt like a very small island in an overwhelming ocean.

    • The Isle of Knitting, lovely! I think you are right about the knitting being a an oasis of order and comfort. I’d add to that the empowerment of making, be it a washcloth, a lacy shawl or warm mittens. I was tempted often during the depths of endless isolation to reconsider my position on knitting the Lativan Mitten kit I have saved from my trip there.

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