If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see youΒ at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Dear Kay,
Thank you for all your valiant correspondence in recent days. I don’t really want to dwell on it, but all that pretty stuff you’re doing is called “quilting,” not knitting. I think it all looks great, but I just had to point that out because it may have escaped your notice that it’s a sewing machine you’re using now, not knitting needles.
I’m happy to report that I am BACK, after successfully covering six countries in eight days, returning home with a pocketful of kroner, kroonies, euros, some other kind of kroner, and rubles. It was a Grundy County-to-the-Baltic sort of headspinning journey, with an unscheduled road trip to northern Michigan along the way.
The Michigan part added an exciting randomness to the week leading up to the departure date for this trip. Once the phone call came from the infirmary at David’s camp, it quickly became apparent that we were not going to be able to fly David home with his friend as planned–what airline would take a befevered, hacking-cough-ridden, Kleenex-trailing boy? Fedex was not an option, it turned out.
So I flew up, rented a car in Grand Rapids, drove through every town named for a General Motors product, and tired of Madame NeverLost telling me where to go. I found my fella in the Boy’s Infirmary, along with at least a dozen other rheumy waifs, looking like a character from a Dickens novel. I would like to say that I was a stalwart supermom when I arrived–all business and hand sanitizer–but when he limply handed me the little copper crab he had made in metals class, and showed me the way the pincers opened and closed, and said it was for me, I cried and cried until he quietly said, “It’s not THAT great, Mom.”
The Boy’s Infirmary was absolutely competent, but I had to get him out of there. They kept moving him from bed to bed as new victims arrived, and when they announced that a batch of girls was going to take over the room he was sharing, I scraped him up and ditched out.
I was totally fatalistic about everything: I knew I would get the flu from David, I knew our dreamy cruise was not going to happen. But none of that mattered. I was consumed with a ferocious love for my slim 13-year-old boy, and I knew that I would have driven to the North Pole to retrieve him.
Of the sanitizers I used, I found that Purell had a nice, no-nonsense fragrance. Stay away from the Walgreen’s store brand, whatever you do. You smell like you’ve rubbed Jolly Ranchers all over yourself. We made the trip in 13 hours, windows down to suck out the virus, and I’m pretty sure I hallucinated all the way through Kentucky. There is no state as wide as Kentucky. When we finally got home, I discovered that we had made a stop at an outlet mall, where I apparently landed some awesome J. Crew t-shirts.
The next days passed in a schizophrenic Florence Nightingale/Eugene Fodor mix of nursing and packing for a cruise. Which way would it go? To paraphrase the Clash: Should we stay or should we go? If we go there would be trouble; if we stay it would be double.
The Decision
His fever broke, just in time. I debated stocking up on Tamiflu for the rest of us, but our doctors weren’t too interested in pre-dosing us for something that we didn’t actually have. We concluded that we would just see what happened. Once I decided that I absolutely was going to get this flu, I had a peace of mind about it that meant, of course, that I never actually got it. None of us did.
Here’s a note to you I started on the day we left:
I’m sitting here in Atlanta, on a very hot Delta flight to Copenhagen, with David and Clif in tow [Hubbo was to meet us the following day], waiting to take off, and I’m thinking to myself, Man, what a good-looking set of passengers. Who are all these tanned and fabulous mothers toting these white-headed babies, these people wearing clothes that you can’t get at the Gap? Everybody looks like Sting. One kid has jeans that bunch up at the ankles. Denim harem pants! OMG! I’m going to take more of these flights! Nobody looks tired! SCANDINAVIA, here we come!
To be continued, needless to say. There is knitting to come, and yarn, and the secret to feeling YOUNG!
PS Guess where I am in the photo above. YES! The quilter’s Valhalla: the world headquarters of Fiskars! Do you know where that is?



  1. Oh boy, made me cry. Ferocious love, what a great description. Lay off Kay about the quilting-I’m enjoying it! Keep up the travelogue, loving that too.

  2. I just took a look at the photo and then a second look at the blog – it took a while for it all to compute to see that place here! Greetings! And yes, I do know where they are :).

  3. So glad you told us upfront that you all had a successful trip. I would have hated fearing that the flu would cancel your plans.
    Fiskars building– would that be Stockholm?
    I used to babysit one of those white-headed babies. Now he’s tall, dark-blond and handsome like his parents. Still has the big blue eyes, too.

  4. Aww, the story of rescuing your boy from camp is so sweet! When I think of Fiskars HQ, I think of Helsinki. I don’t even know if that’s right, but it’s what I think.

  5. Glad to hear that David recovered in time for the family trip. The copper crab will bring back many memories for you over the coming years!
    Your hasty-retrieval-of-kid-at-camp tale reminds me of my hasty retrieval from camp (twice) of my then 9-yr.-old daughter. Camp Week 1: Beloved grandfather dies suddenly and unexpectedly, and I drive 150 miles to break the news to my daughter and bring her (and all of her belongings) back home.
    Camp Week 2: Drive daughter (and all of her belongings) back to camp so that she can at least have some time left of the camping experience. Two days later: Get a phone call from the Camp Director who is at an emergency room with my daughter in a small town closest to the camp. Daughter has fallen off a high platform, and arm is being x-rayed to see if it is broken. ER physician will call back with the results. Results: Arm not broken, just badly sprained and must be kept in a sling–no swimming, no horseback riding, no fun-at-camp activities. I drive back to the camp to once again retrieve bruised daughter (who is quite proud of the pink and white stripe sling she chose at the ER). Ah, the joys of parenthood!
    On another note, would that photo, perhaps, have been taken in Helsinki?
    Mary G. in Texas (who thinks that Texas is wider than Kentucky, but I have never driven the width of Kentucky with a fever-ridden, hacking 13-yr.-old, so I might be wrong.)

  6. Nice to hear you are back. Perhaps you can pull Kay back from the dark side. I worried that you were just sitting rocking on your porch cranking those tweed squares and perhaps enjoying some bourbon. Glad to see you were out and about, germs and all.

  7. Can’t wait to hear the rest!
    Christina from Copenhagen

  8. Can’t wait to hear the rest!
    Christina from Copenhagen

  9. I’ve always wanted to see Helsinki.

  10. Definitely want details of that cruise–haven’t spent any time in Scandinavia, but did once date a Finn (and they look Scandinavian, even if they aren’t!) Glad Clif came through okay and you didn’t come down with the plague.

  11. I thought it looked familiar, you are on Mannerheimintie in Helsinki!

  12. Thank you! Thank you, Kay has been puttin big ideas in my head, quilty, sewy, fabricy ideas. I thought I was invincible against the quilting, until the tablecloth…the images, they won’t go away!
    Congratulations! That was quite a mission accomplished, I am glad the rest of you avoided the flu, had a successful trip and you lived to tell the tale with great humor. I’ve been in that stay or go situation, very stressful.
    p.s. the crab for you made me cry a little too

  13. ok. i cried when i read about the Crab.

  14. Glad everyone is well, and am looking forward to hearing more about your trip!
    What’s with the red circles on the photo?
    I agree about the purell. A cheapo brand once caused me to pull my car over in a rest area to see if my radiator coolant was leaking. I had to wash my hands repeatedly with the industrial-strength highway restroom soap just to replace one disgusting odor with another. Phew.

  15. uhh, what camp was he at? My daughter is at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, near Muskegon, MI. Is that where he was? Is there some kind of flu outbreak there?!?

  16. I saw that photo and went ‘well, that looks familiar’, which would be because I was there just last week. Helsinki, Mannerheimintie. πŸ˜€ Hope you enjoyed the yarn shops – at least two less than half a mile from that spot, I think.

  17. I was already a fan. But a knitting blog that quotes The Clash?
    Now I am a SUPER FAN.

  18. I was in Helsinki, but never saw Fiskars. πŸ™
    I can’t believe that you were in Scandinavia and didn’t stop by to say “Hello!”. We could have had fika (the Swedish tradition of coffee and sandwiches or cakes and cookies).

  19. I know you’re not at the Fiskars headquarters here in Madison, WI, so you must be in Finland!! Enjoy your trip.

  20. The thing I love about You People is that even when you veer from knitting (and please know I love all good textiles as much as the next person), your blog is just so darn well-written and intelligent. A hoot, but a smart, dare I say, literary, hoot!

  21. Just be glad he didn’t come down with the flu ON the cruise. I was just in the baltic on a cruise and missed Estonia due to medical isolation after a nasty bout of food poisoning. I am happy he recovered and can’t wait to hear about your trip. I saw the FisKar headquarters in Helsinki too. Did you go to St Petersburg?

  22. Just be glad he didn’t come down with the flu ON the cruise. I was just in the baltic on a cruise and missed Estonia due to medical isolation after a nasty bout of food poisoning. I am happy he recovered and can’t wait to hear about your trip. I saw the FisKar headquarters in Helsinki too. Did you go to St Petersburg?

  23. Helsinki. Anywhere near Stockmann department store? I don’t remember…

  24. there you are good to see you
    kay has this really long tablecloth
    you may have to fisker it
    i like travel stories something
    to read before bed time and
    lots of pictures in case
    i lose my glasses stay well

  25. Ah, the peril of not reading blogs promptly. Many others beat me to it. Mannerheimintie, Helsinki. I was an AFS exchange student to Finland and lived in the Helsinki suburbs from June 1960-Jan 1961.

  26. Just got back from 2 weeks in Sweden and Finland~such beautiful places! Enjoy!

  27. Muskegon doesn’t exactly qualify as Northern Michigan does it? Anyway, Michigan was glad to have you, and would like you back again under nicer circumstances.

  28. I know not of fiskars as tools pertaining to quilting, but I am the owner of several fiskars axes, hatchets and the like.
    With them, I can chop wood like grandma who did it every day of her life. She would be so proud of me.

  29. I am so glad your son is feeling better!
    I wish we were in Scandinavia with you! While in Denmark, would you please stop by and say hello to my cousins and aunts and uncles? We hope to go next summer. How did you handle the flight?

  30. Welcome home Ann,
    I don’t know much about the secret to feeling young (tell me, tell me), but I sure would like to see (if it can be managed) a picture of that sweet little copper crab: pincers open/pincers closed.
    The width of Kentucky not withstanding, you sure have been having some adventures!
    P.S.–TELL me you were standing just across from Fiskars, and you did not enter even one fabric shop nearby (knitting in tow, of course). Yeah. Right. :):):)

  31. I have to agree with Mary G, Texas is wider than KY as is Oklahoma on I-40! I have done them all. Glad you didn’t get the flu and had a good trip! πŸ™‚

  32. Welcome back Ann. What a description of your trip and retrieval of your boy! So glad you all were able to make the trip and … we must have just crossed paths. I was back in the old homeland (Denmark) and just came back a week ago. Just curious – did you visit Marianne Isager’s yarn store in Copenhagen? The cutest little store you ever saw near Kongen’s Have (The King’s Garden). If not, go on http://www.isagerknit.com/1-35-topmenu-1.html and put it on your list for your next trip there (I’m assuming that you’d want to go back there, right???)

  33. I think you were on the same cruise with my boss. The money all makes sense.


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