For over fifteen years, my Mom and Dad and our extended family would meet in Cambridge, MA for the semi-annual University of Pennsylvania vs. Harvard Football Game. My Dad, a son of German and English immigrants, went to Penn on a full athletic scholarship back in the late 40’s. Dad was a "southpaw" – a left-handed pitcher with a mean fastball. He never forgot the generosity the school paid him by giving him an Ivy League education. He chose to support his alma mater both financially and spiritually by rooting for the team no matter where they played. My mom, my sisters and I – “his girls” - were an accessory for his passion and we willingly went along.
All football season, we were dragged from school to school to cheer on Penn as they faced opponent after opponent. We were supplied with red and blue cheerleading pom poms and we learned all the university fight songs. We ate hot dogs with mustard and hot chocolate on the concrete bleachers to try to keep warm. We learned to love soft, hot pretzels with mustard - a Philadelphia tradition. If Penn won, we had a good ride home to NJ. It they lost, it was awful – Dad’s spirits completely dampened and his mood cranky and ornery. During these years, Penn wasn't very good and so we had a lot of tough rides home, cigar smoke swirling around the car making it hard to breathe easily. "Please Daddy, open the window!" we would all chime in. To this day, when I get a whiff of cigar smoke I can't help but think of my dad.
The trips to Philly went on and on our teen years and we began following our own local high school football team. Dad’s support for Penn never dwindled and after all the girls were off on their own, he and Mom religiously went to game after game cheering on the team and developing some fun friendships with many of the other crazy alumni.
When two of my sisters and I ended up in New England, Mom and Dad started to come to the Harvard games and a long family tradition began. As sister after sister married, husbands came along. Then grandchild after grandchild was born, and they started tagging along. One Penn weekend, my sister Nancy went into labor and we anxiously watched the game wondering how she was doing with the birthing and whether we would have a niece or a nephew.
This weekend, my niece Celia is turning fourteen. My Dad has been gone almost three years. Fifteen of us are descending on Harvard Square, including my Mom who is traveling from NJ. We’re going to tailgate in a parking lot and then go to the game. I’m sure a few tears will be shed when the band plays the Penn fight song but we’ll all go, remembering all the fun we have had as a family cheering the team on.
Now, I know you are wondering where this all is going on a stitching blog….. I developed my own little tradition of going to the Penn/Harvard game. You see, quite close to the stadium, there is a wonderful yarn store named Woolcott on Mt. Auburn Street. I’m not much for football games in November – they can be cold, damp and rather snowy. So usually after the half-time festivities are over, I sneak on over to the warm and cozy yarnstore that is Woolcott. Over the years, I have known and loved the different owners. First the gracious and sensible “Cynthia from Woolcott.” Next, I so enjoyed the spirit and crazy style of the outrageous “Nicki from Woolcott.” This Saturday, I am meeting, for the first time, the new owner “Sean from Woolcott.” He is really excited about the event and I hope that some diehard knitters will come! I’ll be doing a booksigning from 2:30 to 3:30 and I’ll have lots of samples from my new book Kristin Knits. If you arrive towards the end of the signing, you'll get to meet The Farmer, Julia and my mom, sisters and everyone else. (Do you think I should tell Sean about this part?)
If you are local to Cambridge, I would really love to meet you! Stop by if you can.
So what the heck is this little baby doing on this post, you ask? You see, the sweater is called “The Harvard Square Cardigan.” I designed it for Knitting For Baby, a book I co-authored with Melanie Falick. I’ve heard there are lots of these little sweaters gracing little ones all over the USA. If you are a new knitter or know a new one, this book is a great starting point – it teaches you in a very friendly way how to knit, to purl. The projects begin simply and readably in normal language and then progress up to cables, colorwork, felting and knitting language. You can purchase it on my website.