October 16, 2006


In the house where I grew up, my parents kept a calendar in every room. Okay, maybe there wasn't a calendar in the bathroom -- but there was one right outside the bathroom door, on the wall above the light switch. That house was a small, World War II-era rambler; with a second wall calendar in the hallway where it branched off to the living room, other wall calendars in the kitchen and in each of the bedrooms, and a desktop calendar on the desk in the living room, the ability to double-check the day's date, or the date of the next upcoming holiday, was never more than a few steps away. We laughed about the sheer number of calendars, when a new year would come and we'd take down the old ones. What would fill that blank space on the wall? (Could our family even live with a blank space on the wall?) Nothing but a new calendar for the new year would do, of course.

Some family habits are inescapable. I can move out of my parents' house, but I cannot leave behind the compulsion to have a calendar handy at every turn. I even keep one of those credit-card sized ones in my wallet, and there's a calendar in my car's dashboard.

I prefer a wall calendar so that I can see how this day relates to the ones that came before it, and the ones yet to come. I liken this to preferring the old-fashioned, dial clock, rather than a digital one -- the relationship of this minute to this hour to this day is always in view, whereas the digital clock only tells you flatly that it's 10:10 now. I've tried those page-a-day calendars, but they just aren't as satisfying, as the day comes in August when I realize that no one's torn off the page since mid-April -- or, worse, I have the compulsion to save their insightful quotes (the Zen calendar, the Shakespeare calendar), or their day's challenge (the Scrabble calendar), and the little torn-off pages accumulate embarrassingly in the kitchen catch-all drawer or taped to my bathroom mirror.

Our kitchen wall calendar, being on public view, notes in my very best handwriting the family schedule: tickets to Evita on the 22nd, Allegra had no school last Friday and a late start this coming Wednesday, the Janet Fitch reading of last week, the Annie Leibowitz reading for next. But I think my life would get completely derailed if it weren't for the calendar I keep next to my bathroom sink, and the to-do list that goes with it. This calendar isn't on public view, and it gets scribbled over with all kinds of personal notes. (This year, because of the New Year's resolution to walk 10,000 steps a day, almost every day has some kind of number on it; about half of these numbers are 10,000 or higher, and about half are less.) Every night when I brush my teeth before bed, I look at the calendar and remind myself of what appointments the rest of the month holds. Every morning, I re-refresh my memory by looking at that calendar again.

In 1997, I was president of a nonprofit organization. As the end of the year rolled around, I started thinking about giving each of my fellow board members and each of my volunteers a gift to thank them for their service. This was going to add up to a number of gifts, and I wanted to keep the cost reasonable on my pocketbook. I hit on the idea of giving them calendars, and I chose each calendar based on what I knew each person's interest to be. For instance, one woman had a thing about lions -- they were definitely her totemic animal -- and so I found a lion calendar to give to her.

One of my fellow board members was trying to knit her husband a sweater for Christmas that year. She'd bring along her knitting to our meetings. I was just on the cusp of taking up knitting in what would turn out to be this very all-consuming way. Watching her count her stitches at our meetings, watching the gray fabric grow on her needles from one meeting to the next, was one of the factors that inspired me to take up knitting that year. I wanted to give her a knitters calendar, and I don't know that I ever shopped for anything so hard in my life. Quilters had half a dozen glorious full-color calendars from which to choose, but knitters had none. Zero. Zip.

The only knitting calendar I could find at the time was the one published privately by the KnitList, where each month had a photo collage of various List-er's projects. It was a homey calendar, the kind photocopied at Kinko's, suitable for List-ers to put a face to a name or see a project that they'd read posts about. But if you weren't on the list, the calendar wasn't really going to grab you. I bought a couple of these calendars, a couple of years in a row, but I don't know whether the KnitList publishes this any longer.

How times have changed since 1997. The knitting boom has re-invigorated the craft, giving us more knitters, and more different kinds of knitting needles, yarns, you-name-it. And now knitters have almost as many choices in calendars as quilters. Last year and this, Two Swans is carrying wall calendars for knitters. I hung my copy of this over my computer yesterday:


and it makes me feel right at home.

Posted by Karen at October 16, 2006 10:51 AM

Your post was timely; we just ordered calendars for work. I don't feel so badly about having two calendars just for my desk - one for the wall, and one on my desk.

Posted by: Jewel at October 16, 2006 01:25 PM