I live in the retirement home my parents built down the road from our extended family cabin. The cabin is known by family and friends as the Red Cabin, the Red Cottage, or simply the cabin. It was built in 1923 by my great grandfather and is still in use today. Currently the cabin is an LLC with nine owners who are descendants of my grandparents, with the goal of making it available for all family members. Because we live near by, Wayne and I take care of many chores related to the property. I love the place and am willing to do the bookkeeping, pay bills, schedule and pay the cleaning lady, manage reservations, send out necessary communications to family, and keep all the paper files. Wayne spends hours mowing and checking on other maintenance needs.
Following is a needlepoint I did of the cabin yard in the 1970’s. My grandma painted the scene on the canvas, so I remember it was not easy to make the color transitions.
Every summer there is a family reunion when my mother’s family members with their children and grandchildren gather at the cabin. At one time there was a compound of seven homes or buildings where extended family could gather at the lake all at one time. A few of these options are no longer available, but we can still get about 30 people housed for the first weekend of the event. A few families stay all week.
There are some activities at the reunion that people look forward to every year, starting with a kick off dinner of wood fired pizza on the grill courtesy of one of my uncles who loves to cook. There are several potluck dinners in the yard, followed by a multigenerational kick ball game that goes on until the mosquitos come out, or this year until a dog popped the ball. One morning there is a pancake breakfast at Phelps Mill park about 15 miles away, featuring our family made maple syrup (click here for a post about that). Many attendees bike to the park. My 84 year old uncle biked both directions this summer!
There are always extra people staying at our house during the reunion, sometimes filling up every bed. It is all very fun but also exhausting. Between getting ready for the big event, having a house full of people, recovering afterwards, and other summer guests and activities, I don’t get very much knitting or weaving or spinning done during this prime time of the season.
Earlier in the summer I had thought of knitting a baby sweater. It is fun to knit baby things. They are cute and knit up quickly. My daughter-in-law’s cousin who lives in Fergus Falls recently had a baby girl, so I decided to make a sweater using yarn I already own from my 2018 yarn store liquidation purchase (read about that here).
I usually knit with natural fibers, but Baby Blossom Chunky yarn out of 70% Acrylic and 30% Nylon is a better choice for a baby garment since it is washable. This is a self patterning yarn, but I was not sure how the pattern would look on the sweater. The pattern I used, Quick Oats, is available on Ravelry. It says it takes “a couple of evenings” to make. It took me a lot longer than that because I did not sit down and knit for entire evenings, and I also had to redo some sections to fix mistakes.
I wanted the sweater to be baby size, but not too small. My own children were big, and my son actually never fit into size 0-3 months. The Baby Blossom yarn is thicker than the yarn that the pattern was written for. I knew it would work if I just went ahead and starting knitting, but I was not sure exactly what size the final result would be.
I had the sweater almost done by the time of the family reunion in July.
My niece from Northern Michigan loves coming home to spend time with family in Minnesota. She and her husband own and run Falling Waters Lodge in Leland, Michigan, so it is hard for them to get away during the peak of summer. A few years ago Emily convinced her husband to make the effort to come to the reunion. I can’t remember all the details, but he had made arrangements to fly from Traverse City, MI, to Fargo, ND, which is about an hour from the lake. We have all heard about problems with cancelled flights and lost luggage due to current staffing problems. However there have always been challenges at smaller airports with limited numbers of flights each day. Cooper had agreed to come to the reunion that year despite having to miss participating in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. At the last minute, Cooper’s flight got cancelled and there were not any more flights to Fargo until the next day. The next day the flight got cancelled again. I think he was finally able to get a flight three days later after many of the people had already left the reunion. Emily was so disappointed. Cooper was frustrated that he not only missed most of the people and fun activities at the reunion, he also missed the frisbee event because he was at the airport trying to get on a flight that was getting repeatedly cancelled.
Not surprisingly, the event this year was affected by covid. Emily and Cooper made arrangements for their duties at the Lodge to be taken care of, and drove to Minnesota with their two large Berne Doodle dogs. They got to participate in the annual kick off pizza on the grill dinner, hanging out in the cabin with cousins playing games, a kickball game, and some beach time. Then Cooper started to feel unwell and spent the next outdoor group meal in their room sleeping. At the end of the evening when he was not getting better he took a covid test. The result was positive. My husband and I, our son and his wife, and my sister and her family, had all been in close contact with Cooper visiting and playing games inside the cabin. The other families at the reunion only saw him outside in the yard so they were not worried about exposure. Emily and Cooper packed up and headed for home first thing the next morning. I know Cooper had a good experience before he got sick, so I hope this does not affect his desire to come again next summer. The rest of us who were exposed isolated at our house for the next five days. We missed out on some activities and visiting with extended family but otherwise it was not so bad. No one else tested positive for covid which seems suspicious, but that is another topic.
One thing that made the reunion interesting this year was the number of dogs at the event. I counted 10 ranging in size from tiny to giant. At my house we had another niece with her four month old German Shepherd puppy Azora, my son and his wife with their one year old mixed breed medium size dog Winnie, and our own 10 pound 14 year old Yorkie Poo Lyla. Lyla does not really know how to play with other dogs, is not used to sharing her space, and cannot hear very well, so sometimes she snaps at people if they startle her. She was confused about having her food moved to a different location. Several times the other dogs found her food and ate it. There were a few accidents and conflicts, but over all it went pretty well. Winnie figured out quickly how to sneak through the gate we had casually leaned against the space separating the kitchen and back hall from the living and dining area, stepped easily over the low barrier we have to keep Lyla from going upstairs, and figured out she could bust out the front screen door if it was not locked. Winnie also dug a big hole in the front lawn. Once she got into some of my hand spun yarn but no harm was done.
I did not take very many photos this year, but I have a few featuring all the dogs. In the next photo there are three dogs on the dock and one on a paddle board.
The following photo was taken inside the cabin. The small dog on the left is our Yorkie Poo. The two big dogs on the right are my niece’s Berne Doodles. Every time I see them together I think of the book “Go Dog Go” by P.D. Eastman. “Big Dog. Little Dog. Black and White Dogs”.
In addition to the three dogs at my house, my cousin had her three small dogs, my uncle had his two Golden Retrievers, another cousin brought his large Goldendoodle and my other uncle who lives near the cabin has a Springer Spaniel. The dogs had fun racing around in the yard and chasing after balls thrown in the water.
My son and his wife and I happened to be in the right place at the right time to get a sailboat ride with my cousin. We all got on the boat and left my husband Wayne in charge of Winnie. However as the sailboat moved away from the dock Winnie swam after us faster than Wayne could stop her, so we had to drag her onto the boat.
My son and his wife were able to stay for a whole week, working remotely during the week days. After all the other reunion guests had left, my daughter-in-law’s parents came for the weekend from their home in southern Minnesota. We invited the cousin and his wife from Fergus Falls over for lunch, so this family group could spend time together and see the new baby. Everyone admired the baby sweater, although it turned out to be toddler size rather than infant size.
Summer is short and precious in Minnesota. When one is making plans, it is easy to schedule in visitors and trips back to back without thinking about how that will actually play out. After the busy reunion week I had a few days to regroup and prepare for a ladies trip to northern Michigan with three high school friends, followed right away by another reunion at the lake with Wayne’s side of the family. It is all good!!