We press on.

I’d update less sporadically, but my husband’s hospitalization has gone on long enough now that it’s developing into a new normal, and the adjustment to that is rendering time irrelevant; there is only Getting Us Through This. Now the date for his homecoming has been pushed back another week, until April 25, but not because he isn’t making progress. At the rehab, that’s actually a pretty good thing. It means that you are making progress and they want you to make as much as possible before they transition you to outpatient therapy. He is responding well to intensive inpatient therapies. We are most grateful for every sign of recovery.

It’s peculiar how one loses days at a time like this. I was genuinely surprised to see it had been ten days since I last updated. The sad thing is that I’m still on the second sleeve of Rocky Coast (but with more rows done) and still about in the middle of the Hudson’s Bay blanket. Attempts to start other projects have met with failure. It’s these two or bust right now.

Since I’m stressed into a creative trough, I wanted to point you at a couple of things I’m enjoying right now. One is Hunter Hammersen’s blog and new book, Violently Domestic and The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet, respectively. I really enjoyed Silk Road Socks, so I knew I’d like this offering as well, and I’m glad she’s branching out to things beyond socks. I love socks, but I’m not what you would call a dedicated sock knitter. And I love the title of the new e-book (paper version available in the summer, she says) because it reminds me of one of my favorite things about museum work: fabulous collections. Cabinets of curiosities are thought to be the original “museums.” People in the seventeenth century in Holland, particularly, would fill large wooden cabinets with natural specimens from all over the world, as many kinds as they could get, and the specimens were used as teaching aids for children and adults alike. This also hit a sweet spot for the Victorians, who loved collecting and classifying things, and wrote exhaustively about what they did. One of the family members at a house I interpret collected postcards and seashells pretty obsessively, and she had a full accounting of the books in print in her preferred genre and the books she had read. In the last few months, I’ve been reading Miss Silver, and I know this family member read them also. It’s been an interesting and sometimes spooky look at her preoccupations.

The other thing I’ve been enjoying by way of escape is the Embroiderer’s Story blog. You may recall that about a year ago, I mentioned a charitable project to raise funds for a museum looking to re-house some embroidered gloves. This is the same blog, and now the author is gearing up for a class in embroidered caskets (speaking of curiosity cabinets…). These are why I fell in love with embroidery in the first place, honestly. I can’t remember exactly where I first saw one of these, but it was probably about fifteen or sixteen years ago. I had just barely missed the Curious Workes exhibit at the MFA in Boston, which had shown many examples from their collection, some of which hadn’t been exhibited in decades. I’ve always loved boxes, and these are boxes’ boxes. In the seventeenth century, well-to-do English girls would work a progression of embroidery projects: colored sampler to whitework sampler, whitework to openwork lace, lace to stumpwork and possibly beadwork, and finally, the panels of a large jewelry-type box, which would then be mounted on the outside of the box by a professional, and sent back to her with a storage case for the finished masterpiece. The blog has photos of some examples, and you can see many more through museum websites that show the collections. The V&A, for example, has many. It’s just so easy to get obsessed with these, even if embroidery isn’t your thing. They have multiple secret drawers, tons of compartments…It’s almost impossible not to want one.

Last fall, while I was at the embroidery symposium at Winterthur, Tricia announced the class, which was to begin in May 2012. At the time, it seemed impossible to wait. Seven months, almost! And I had a lot going on, so I thought I might pass. I considered it for a week. It’s a three-year commitment, pretty much, but at the end of it, I could have one of these boxes for myself. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I signed up, and so did 299 other people. The class sold out, and there is a wait list. I wouldn’t have known for the world that so many people shared this particular obsession, but so they do. She is getting us authentic re-created hardware and the opportunity to customize a box design just for each of us. And I feel like at a time like this one, where I wonder if I’ll ever have a sense of normalcy again, this is something I can sink my teeth into, even if I can’t do the actual embroidery until my younger son stops eating things that aren’t food. Maybe I can put some of this experience into something beautiful and lasting, or maybe I can at least externalize it and unburden myself. Or maybe it’ll be nothing more than a beautiful distraction. Whatever happens, that’s okay. I’ll take what I can get.

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