Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Dateline: Witch City

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Dear Kay,
Ahhhh, greetings from Massachusetts, hon! The plague known as Our Family on the Move is laying waste to lower New England, having landed in Providence, spent a few days in Boston, and now hunkered down in Salem, Mass. We’ve hit the Freedom Trail, the Heritage Trail, and at this point will follow any painted red line on a sidewalk wherever it goes.
The Knitting Situation: Up front, I have to tell you that the knitting this week has been absolutely righteous and insane. I decided at the very last minute to bring the Donegal Fair Isle sweater, figuring maybe I could do a row or two of the thing at some idle moment in an emergency room or Led Zeppelin laser show. Well, whatever doubts about the portability of Fair Isle need to be quashed and quashed anon. The little balls of yarn, the little chart, the little needles–I have been working this thing like a Wampanoag woman cranking baskets. I am full-out OCD at this point.
Hi-Lites (Assume That I Was Working on the Fair Isle Sweater During All of the Following, No Matter How Cumbersome or Inappropriate)
Providence: Begged our way into Al Forno at 10:01 pm, straight from the airport, by claiming that our 12-year-old was graduating from Brown and was leaving to begin his career as a Dominican friar the next day. Felt bad to have lied so shamelessly, but not that bad.
Plymouth Rock: Almost saw Plymouth Rock. We were within ten feet of Plymouth Rock, separated by only a chain-link fence, plywood boards, a scaffold, and a cement mixer. They were renovating Plymouth Rock.
Plimoth Plantation: After spring break’s triumphant visit to Williamsburg and Jamestown, it seemed only fitting that we relive the 1620s, Massachusetts style.
Now, you know how much I love a historical interpreter. If somebody is willing to wear dusty and sagging period-correct clothes, and talk in a peculiar and and semi-British-sounding way, I am absolutely going to buy into his fantasy. I am IN. If a guy is going to stand there with a large black ox in an expectant sort of way, I am going to rack my brain to think of a question to ask him about how that ox made it across on the damn Mayflower.
For those shopping around for the right historical village, Plimoth Plantation really kicks Jamestown Settlement’s butt when it came to livestock. When a non-animatronic chicken came out from under a lumpy-bemattressed hand-hewn bed, I was impressed. Strong work, that chicken.
Swan Boats: Saw a batch of ducklings at the Boston Public Garden that may or may not have been animatronic. I mean: people are expecting to see ducklings, right? These ducklings were stuck off in the bushes on the island, kind of shadylike. Not totally persuaded we saw actual living ducks.
Freedom Trail: Kept singing that George Michael song which wasn’t really such a colonial type song, now that I’m listening to it. But if anybody’s about freedom, it’s that George Michael guy. We’d covered maybe a quarter mile of Freedom Trail, then veered off to lunch in the North End, before we made it to the USS Constitution.
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Trying to explain to an eight-year-old about why some places are unskateable is like trying to explain to Paul Revere that you don’t really need sixteen children.
Paul Revere House: Speaking of silversmith/war heroes . . . Filling a never-ending need to see putty-colored houses. Sixteen children, he had. Personally responsible for filling the revolutionary army with his own offspring.
Led Zeppelin Laser Show: The fellas are all into Led Zeppelin these days, thanks to Guitar Hero. (Thanks a lot, Guitar Hero.) I got so bored that I started taking pictures of the laser show.
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Seriously.
MIT Museum: Ah, you’ve never been? Well, I’ll give you a free visit right this minute, to the single coolest thing we have seen on this trip: Arthur Ganson’s brilliantly witty and ingenious sculptures. Every single one of those little movies is worth seeing. I have never laughed at a sculpture before.
North Shore Medical Center Emergency Room: No, it wasn’t broken, but yes, the fella’s right thumb will be out of commission for a while. Car door: 1. Thumb: not a great day for the thumb.
So much more: Duck boat tour, a visit to Woolcott & Co., a tasty yarn shop in Harvard Square. Wandered around Cambridge, concerned about the extreme youth of everyone. I seem to recall standing on the shore of Walden Pond, seeing Gropius House, the Harvard Lampoon, a guy juggling knives in Harvard Square, or was I hallucinating?
We’re not done yet, missy. More putty-colored houses to come. And, if we can stop slamming our thumbs in car doors, I’m hoping for a visit with Moth Heaven Julia. Wish you were here?
Love,
Ann

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Hee, it’s always so weird to see people posting tourist-y stuff about the town you live in (near). Plimoth Plantation is some high-quality living history museum, it’s a perennial favorite.
    (And I get to go to church in the church where John and John Quincy and Abigail Adams are all buried, which still amazes me.)
    Enjoy your trip to Boston!

  2. The ducks, I can assure you, were not animatronic. We don’t go in for that stuff around here. Our historical sites have to be boring on their own merit. ;)
    Also, the staff at NSMC are top-notch. I would know – my mother has been a pediatric nurse there for almost 30 years. :)

  3. Wait! Stop! What about the yarn shop?! What did you see? What did you purchase? Are there pix to come?
    Carry on!
    :)

  4. Wow, ply (pun intended) you with a little wool, and your OCD really kicks in! You’re a gutsy woman, Ann Shayne, taking a Fair Isle project, its many charts and multiple skeins of wool, on vacation with a bunch of shoe-skating, thumb-slamming guys. The Fair Isle is lookin’ beautiful though!
    I only have one question: How does one renovate a rock???
    Mary o’Texas

  5. Was Sean working when you visited Woolcott? He’s a dear, our Sean.
    If you’d come an hour north you could have seen the oldest house in Maine, which is even older than Paul Revere’s house and not-putty-colored (It’s white). I do believe I’ve mentioned that it belongs to my rock star neighbor, Daryl Hall. He’s not doing tours, though.

  6. Oh silly Ann, why did you not ask for advice from your Boston-dwelling readers? Woolcott’s is awesome, yes, but did you make it to Windsor Button? It’s right next to the Common, you were pretty much already there. :) Also, next time, Mind’s Eye Yarns in Porter Sq. Lucy hand-dyes a merino-tencel sock yarn that is to DIE for. Even if you don’t like knitting socks, this stuff is completely awesome.
    The USS Constitution might be my favorite thing about Boston EVER. So. Cool. Didn’t it make you want to run away and be a sailor forever?

  7. I’m curious to know how one goes about “renovating” Plymouth Rock….it sounds like the premise for a Monty Python skit.

  8. You HAVE to come out to Concord to the Old North Bridge and Minuteman National Historical Park….you should have come _last_ weekend because we were at the park (Hartwell Tavern, in Lincoln. Go there), and I could’ve kitted out at least one (maybe both) of your boys…..in _accurate_ 18th C clothing…..
    Go to the Minuteman Visitor Center on Rt 2A on the Lincoln/Lexington town line. There is a “multimedia” show there (video with a room with lighted maps, and cool displays) that is very good, and has my DH in it…it’s 20 minutes, and gives _good_ history. Then head out to Concord and the Bridge…..And remember, Emerson lived in Concord (in the Old Manse, next to the Bridge…you can tour it, too) when he wrote “The Concord Hymn”, containing the phrase “shot heard round the world”…where do you think _he_ was talking about?
    I admit, though, Plimoth is a lot of fun, too….

  9. oh, next time you’ll have to visit the Mapparium (http://tinyurl.com/y2t75k) – gorgeous, very cool and one of Boston’s well-hidden treats.

  10. Who knew so many of us were from the area?
    The MIT museum is a hidden jewel and a great place to go with or w/out kids. And I can personally vouch for the realness of the ducklings- I saw them zig-zagging around the pond with Mrs. Mallard last week.
    Sorry to hear about your stop at North Shore Medical- Hope the thumb heals quickly.

  11. Hey, you all were in my neck of the woods (what does that mean, anyway?) Try Seed Stitch in Salem – it’s supposed to be a nice yarn store. Give a shout out if you make it to Rockport or Gloucester, we have Whale Watches!

  12. Hey Ann, will you be roaming to Western Mass.? We have some brown houses you might like in Historic Deerfield. And yes, I believe there is a putty colored one. On your way you could stop in Northampton and visit Webs. Yarn nirvana.

  13. Arthur Ganson is so cool. My favorite is the huge clanky thing that he drags down the street — maybe it’s only viewable on the DVD. And check out the kinetic sculptures of Tim Prentice (www.timprentice.com, click on the little squares). They are truly mesmerizing. If I could only knit one of those …

  14. If you’re in Salem, I assume you’ll be going to the House of Seven Gables. Our tour was given by a guy named Nate. No kidding. Nate.
    The absolutely BEST though – something I think about often – like maybe daily – was the re-enactment thingamajig at the Salem witch museum. It is so ridiculously classicly priceless you must go. Seriously. That place rocks.

  15. Ah, NSMC – know it well! Fortunately, I haven’t had to be in the ER there in a few years (almost 10 to be exact!) As a grad of both Salem High and Salem State, I can’t wait to see what you enjoy about Salem – please let us know where you stayed (other than the ER – poor guy!)

  16. write a post about our town and all of the locals come out of the woodwork.
    you went to woolcott but you didn’t go to windsor button? and you were so close too!
    enjoy the rest of your time in our neck of the woods.

  17. Ooh! I wanna go to the Zeppelin laser light show! I memorized their whole catalog in high school, so I should be able to knit through the whole thing…

  18. I saw Led Zeppelin in person…really. You’re in one of my favorite cities. The Peabuddy is fabulous. Check out the Chinese house.

  19. Okay, so please tell me you are joking and that Plymouth Rock is not being renovated with cement, I mean, it is a ROCK, isn’t it?

  20. Putty? Is that what the kids are calling that color these days?
    And I think a good accompaniment to the Led Zeppelin light show would have been the x-rays.
    You are teh awesome mom. Did the air smell funny at the concert? Oh, I see the comment about hallucinating. Never mind.

  21. Ann, if only I had known you and your family were in Cambridge! I would have been happy to give you a personalized tour, and you could have met Mr. Wigglesworth, in his Teeny Project Runway sweater, in person.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  22. Hey howdy! Welcome to the Bay State!

  23. Oh! Do enjoy Salem. Some of the shops there are so kitchy, but some are really lovely too. And there’s a candy shop you simply must go to. Ye Olde Candy Shop. Get some taffy. It’s the bomb.
    And while you’re there, give a wave to my aunt Jeanette? She lives in Salem, in the historic district, in the parsonage of an old church. big stone thing. Can’t miss it. I love her house as much as I love my aunt.

  24. Oh! And if they’re still doing the witch trial re-enactment, you must go. And participate! I did. I was given the key, and told to give it to no one. I smirked. When he came back for the key, I refused. He said, give it to no one! The ‘witch’ on trial laughed. I was dragged out of the hall .. and got to watch from the sidelines.
    Also, visit the memorial. I always do.

  25. you are in or were in my
    favorite haunts i used to live
    up there loved all the sites
    do not insult the ducks
    you are in the red sox nation
    i live florida trying to get
    them back to sarasota
    the yarn aura is on the yarn market site
    lots of colours- go up mt washington

  26. Ah, you’re making me homesick for my second hometown! I love how you made it through an entire post without mentioning the Red Sox or the Celtics….!
    And, did I tell you about the time I threw up on the USS Constitution? True story! (You’ll have to pry the details out of me..)

  27. No Fenway???….you HAVE to see Fenway, and if the Sox win we all sing “love that dirty water, oh,oh Boston your my home”… so don’t miss the ‘dirty water’ aka Charles River. Wish I’d known you were coming I would have stalked the yarns store to say Hi! Enjoy the rest of your trip! Another sountern in Yankee land!Wendy
    P.S. the ducks are real, that’s Mrs. Mallard and family from “Make Way for Ducklings”.

  28. I went to a winery there once and all the wine tasted like cranberry juice.

  29. Absolutely Righteous and Insane, she says! The knitting has been absolutely righteous and insane!
    Nobody can coin a phrase like you, Ann – that is my new rallying cry for knitters.
    I’m totally going to start a group on Ravelry…

  30. Very cool! My daughter and I have been Arthur Ganson fans ever since his animated version appeared in an episode of Arthur.

  31. Oh my goodness. That Led Zepplin lazer light show still exists???? My husband and I went it when it toured when we were in college. 14 years later it still remains in the top 5 most boring things I’ve ever sat through (the second and third Pokemon movies are right up there, too.) Bonus Mom-Points for you!

  32. I can’t believe you are in town and I had no clue! Today is my b-day and my b/f is taking me to Webs, it will be my first trip. So don’t take it personal that I’m driving 3 hours out of the Boston area! I hope you fun and all hands up to God before you close the doors! I did it once to niece, 15 years ago and I still haven’t lived it down!

  33. Loved your New England trip post. Brought back memories of a trip we made as a family in 1976. I know you don’t remember the Bicentenial, but it was fun.
    tp
    ps. don’t ask me how old I am.

  34. Welcome to New England! Gwen Marceline (of knitted quilt squares for the auction blankies) and I will be at Starbucks in Belmont Center Sunday afternoon (probably 1ish) with our knitting…come on down! You can leave the kids bowling in Cambridge…the alley is at the end of Route 2 East. Belmont is the next town over from Cambridge, and it has a wonderful hand-crafted jewelry store right next door – Terra Firma. Hope you have fun!
    Diana Glass
    ps-There’s a large yarn shop in Lexington just off on a side street next to the Minuteman statue…the staff are wonderful, the owner knowledgable but a bit grumpy. Big stock. Called Wild and Wooly.

  35. Oh, and I just read the comment from Western Mass…WEBS is where all good knitters go when they ….go. It is huge and fabulous and always has great buys. And it’s easy to find…Turnpike to Northampton, up RT91 to the Northhampton exit, left onto street, another left at the big blue ATM into the little industrial park. Not open Sunday, I think.
    We do field trips out there when we feel we need a big treat. Yum.
    Diana

  36. Gosh, I wish work hadn’t been completely eating me alive this week. I work right in Boston and it would have been fun to say hi!

  37. Arthur Ganson makes me positively swoon.

  38. Definitely hit up Seed Stitch Fine Yarns on Front St(historic area of downtown Salem). Ann Hood will be there on Monday night to read her new book Comfort! Glad to hear you are enjoying MA. NSMC ER (esp for kids) is phenomenal. Been there a few times with my kids! Don’t overload on the Witch Museums! Anyway the real witch trials took place in Danvers. Need to see the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers.
    Beth

  39. Definitely hit up Seed Stitch Fine Yarns on Front St(historic area of downtown Salem). Ann Hood will be there on Monday night to read her new book Comfort! Glad to hear you are enjoying MA. NSMC ER (esp for kids) is phenomenal. Been there a few times with my kids! Don’t overload on the Witch Museums! Anyway the real witch trials took place in Danvers. Need to see the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers.
    Beth

  40. Ooh, a Led Zeppelin laser light show. I love Led Zeppelin. It really is great music to knit by IMO!

  41. Ohhh now I’m home sick and I hardly ever get home sick. While I love the Great Northwest, where I now knit, there are a few times every three or four years that I get a longing for dropping my R’s and drinking a Regulah Coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or a beeh with my brothah at the bah. I kid you not it only takes landing at Logan Airport to bring out the mutant language. :0) Thanks and POST MORE PICKS. You can’t let the Italy trip out picture you!

  42. Who knew there were so many of us up here indeed!
    So, if you get to Lexington, do go see Wild N Wooly. And if you’re up this way you should also see the DeCordova museum in Lincoln. It’s about 10 mintues off 128. There’s a great sculpture garden, with a large pond and you can bring a picnic if you like. The museum itself has contemporary American artists it’s not too big so you can do it in about 2 hours. Don’t miss it.

  43. Were the willingness and ability successfully to cut a steek regarded as reasons to try a woman for witchcraft?
    How more heathery could it be? None. None more heathery.

  44. I live at Bastrop, TX where we do not have a needlearts shop. Your site/blog is quite delightful. I have fallen in love with the Donegal Fair Isles on needles pictures and the yarn used. Would you share the information about this project and the source(s) for the pattern and yarn?

  45. About 15 years ago Patricia Polacco came to a local bookstore and read The Keeping Quilt aloud to a group of moms and kids. She also brought along her family’s keeping quilt – the one from the book! It was a really special event that I’ll never forget. I wish I’d taken a picture.
    I love knitting AND quilting – knitting goes so slowly for me though…

  46. I know I’m late commenting, but I just had to say – Yea, MIT Museum!! It’s my alma mater, so I’m a bit of a sucker for anything related to it. Not to mention, it’s pretty great – I love the hack portion, myself.

  47. Another Massachusetts-ite here. Whoo Hoo Yay for Duck Tour. They actually are family memembers of Make Way For Ducklings. I saw someone else told you that too.
    Wayyy more yarn shops to see too, Windsor button anyone?
    Also no sox or celtics speak? Maybe you’re holding out ;)