Weekend Reading
June 21, 2020

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I did some knitting this week.

To give you a little background, my mom has been encouraging me to knit for years now. I haven’t been resistant, exactly, just lazy and unmotivated. I remember knitting a little bit in childhood and liking it, but with all of the day-to-day stressors and things that need doing, it feels difficult to carve out time and space for a hobby.

I’m so glad that I picked up those knitting needles, though. I haven’t knit much except a few experimental patches, but I can already see why my mother was so sure that this would be good medicine for me. It’s soothing and calming, and it gives my busy brain and busy hands something to focus on that’s a lot more productive than compulsively checking my phone.

A friend of mine once told me, “you make things, Gena.” It was a compliment, but I remember feeling a little baffled by it at the time. I had (very) early education in the Waldorf school system, a culture in which people of ages really make things: candles, clothing, carvings, crafts of all kinds. I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly crafty or creative in that way.

I’ve gotten better at questioning my own limiting self-identifications, and this may be one that deserves a closer look. I cook, and I bake, and I publish recipes, and I guess that all of that qualifies of making things. I bake bread. And now, I’m knitting. Whether I stick with it for a decades or only through this strange time, I’m enjoying it, and it does indeed feel special to hold in my two hands something that I’ve made.

Knitting is a lot like bread baking in that it begins with confusion and hesitancy. I remember my first few nervous loaves of bread, how hesitantly and gingerly I kneaded, how afraid I was to deflate or overwork the dough. And I was equally frightened when I started to knit this week, moving my needles as if the yarn would snap if I applied too much pressure.

My first few swatches were full of mistakes and inconsistencies, just as my first few loaves of bread were dense and dull and badly shaped. But the thing about making things is that you become more confident as you go, realizing that your fear was the thing that caused the most mistakes in the first place.

During that fearful phase, it really seems as though your bread will never rise, your scoring will never be anything other than a series of messy scratches, your messy knitting will never turn into a bag or scarf or sweater. The desire to keep creating doesn’t spring from an easy start. It comes from having faith, from believing that if you continue to keep going, stitch by stitch or fold by fold, things will come together, sooner or later.

That reminds me a lot of healing. And that’s what I’m thinking about on this Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

Hello, summer! Gina’s vegan ricotta and roasted strawberry toast looks lovely.

A brothy, earthy, nourishing pot of carrot white bean soup and herbs from Erin.

Sophie is right: this rainbow salad is definitely the hippie salad of my dreams.

I love Israeli couscous, and I’m excited to give this sweet and savory salad a try.

Mmmm, oatmeal pie crust. Thanks, Marly!

Reads

1. A lot of people who had never really celebrated Juneteenth before, myself included, spent some time learning about its history this week. I was also interested to read about different personal perspectives on the day, and this essay struck me with its complexity.

2. It’s been a while since I’ve read directly about the cost of climate change, as the Covid-19 crisis has been so much on the forefront of my mind. But this article is worth looking at, no matter how sobering. I hadn’t known about a rise in heat-related deaths.

3. Speaking of Covid-19, An interesting interview with a disease modeler about contact tracing and quarantine.

4. In cool news, handheld ultrasound devices seem to have potential to speed Covid-19 diagnoses.

5. Finally, a great interview with paleobiologist Melissa Kemp, who offers perspective on biodiversity, being an outdoorswoman, and being a black scientist.

Stitch by stitch, day by day, another week begins. I’ll be back tomorrow with a fruity staple food these days, and some 4th of July friendly recipes soon!

xo

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    2 Comments
  1. Gena, I’m so excited you are knitting! I am also a person “who makes things” and it’s wonderful you are returning to that in a new form, and that you are taking stock of all the ways you are a creative with food and recipes. These reads and recipes look great too. Looking forward to spending time with them.

    much love,

    Maria

    PS: I loved your post last week about NYC opening up just a little. I’d been wondering what that was llke. Thank you!! xoxo

  2. Great to hear about the knitting. Yarn stores are often very community-spirited and more than willing to help beginners sort out projects. There are also online communities like FB’s Ravelry Crafters that do the same. Consider checking out the podcasts by Arne & Carlos—they talk about more than just knitting and are really charming. Happy knitting!

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