36 minutes | Feb 21, 2019

How to Stand Out in a Family of Makers

Episode Details Air date: February 21, 2019 Guest: Jo Lager Runtime: 35 minutes, 54 seconds Summary: In this episode, Jo Lager joins Jen as they discuss their mutual love of knitting and bread baking. They also find themselves in a deep conversation about sibling rivalries and creating a distinct making footprint. Links of Interest: Jo on InstagramKing Arthur’s Sourdough Baking GuideSourdough Pancakes What I Made This Month From the transcript: “And now I’d like to tell you about something I made this month. I was inspired while editing this episode and made the pretzel dogs that Jo recommended. And the dough recipe is so forgiving, that I was even able to get my 4-year-old in on the action. She loved all of the steps and helping me time out the baking soda water bath part of the process. I didn’t have any hot dogs on hand, but I did have some marvelous Ginger and Garlic Sausages from a local farm that were perfect. We snuggled up to enjoy our pretzel-wrapped sausages and introduced the kids to the 1986 Don Bluth classic An American Tail. It was a perfect evening.” Episode Transcript Introduction Hello, and welcome to “How to Make a Memory,” the show that explores the items we make for one another and how they impact our relationships. My name is Jen Tierney and my guest this episode is Jo Lager. She is an accomplished knitter and bread baker and I am lucky enough to be related to her by marriage. She is my father-in-law’s cousin and somehow we’ve always missed each other at various family gatherings. And since she lives close by, this past Fall I invited her to come by for a meal, to meet my kids, and to record this episode. Jo is a pleasant conversationalist and I found that in no time at all, we were touching upon some similar sibling dynamics that we’ve experienced in our own immediate families.    Conversation Jen Thank you for coming and visiting me at my house and coming to be on the show. So this is the second time we’re meeting, I think. Jo Yes. Jen But the first time seems like we mostly missed each other. Jo Yeah. At a big family gathering. Jen Yes. Jo So, my mother told me that you were slightly fanatical about knitting. Like me. She considers me to be slightly fanatical about knitting. Jen You are excellent at it, I’ve seen your stuff! It’s much better than mine. Jo So, I was interested. And I think I actually saw something that you had posted on Ravelry one time and I was like, “Hmm, I think I know that Tierney.” Jen Yes! Seriously, Jo is a very talented knitter. You can peruse through her many projects over on Instagram @sojolala. I’ll include a link in the show notes. Jo So, I’m happy to be here. I think I consider myself, as a maker, primarily a knitter. I really enjoy knitting and I always have a knitting project going. I learned to knit when I was five. At the time, I knew how to do some embroidering. My mom taught me how to do some embroidery. I made some little embroidered flowers and things like that. And I had a friend coming over from school and when we were planning what we were going to do, she said, “Do you know how to knit?” And I said, “Yes.” And then I was like, I had some inkling that maybe sewing and knitting were not the same thing. So I asked my mom, “Do I know how to knit?” And she said, “No, but I can show you.” So she taught me how to knit then. And I did some knitting when I was growing up. When Cabbage Patch Kids were a craze I made Cabbage Patch Kids sweaters. Although, I think it’s funny because my mother, you know, like we got to the collar and I left the collar on a stitch holder for a really long time because my mom was like, “Oh, you probably can’t do that part.” And, I probably could have. Jen Yeah, yeah! Jo Anyway, and then when I went to college… My older sister had gone to college and decided she was going to make a quilt while she was in college. And she made this beautiful, hand sewn quilt while she was in college. And so I was like, “I’m going to college! I need a project. And neither of my older sisters did knitting. So it was kind of like it could be my thing. So I started out making a blanket, which I think I got halfway through and decided I didn’t like the yarn. It wasn’t fun to make. So that eventually went to a yard sale. But then my oldest sister got pregnant. And I was like, “Ooh, baby clothes!” So I made lots of things for my first nephew. And since then I’ve really continuously been a knitter. Although, when I had my son, I didn’t knit a lot when he was little. Jen It changes a lot of things! Jo Yeah! Jen Yeah, I’ve had so many projects that I’ve started and I’ve sort of committed to and I talk to people about it and they’re like, “You’re not going to work on that for another 10 years! Just calm down about it. It’s okay. You’ve got little kids!” So trying to come to terms with that is hard. Especially when you make so ferociously before you have kids. Then all of the sudden you can’t anymore. Jo Yeah, but my son is now 13. And then you can again! Suddenly they’re doing their own things. And you have a lot more time to do your own things again. Jen Yeah, you’re own stuff, yeah. As someone who is constantly overextending, over promising, and over committing to a variety of projects, I so appreciate this glimpse into the future. This light at the end of the tunnel. I’m getting ready to welcome a new little infant into the house in just a few months, so “me time” seems further away than ever before. But Jo very kindly puts it in perspective for those of us who need to remember the impermanence of our young family. Jo I at one point took up spinning, before I had [my son]… but I realized that I was buying yarn and I was buying fiber. And it just was like compounding the problem of having too much stuff and not enough time because I didn’t want to just make yarn. I also wanted to buy yarn and I actually realized I liked buying yarn more than I liked making yarn. And then I sold my spinning wheel to someone a couple years ago. And then I was like, “Oh, all these people I know are spinning and it looks so cool!” But, I find one of the nice things about knitting is that it’s so portable. I don’t have a lot of time to just sit in my house and do things. I like to sew, and I like to spin. But I just… And when I’m there, I’ve got lots of other things to do. So I like that I can grab my knitting and go out. Either go to a cafe and meet friends and knit together or knit while I’m commuting or, you know, while I’m waiting. While I’m going to my son’s hockey games, you know, waiting for the game to start. I can do it then. Jen Most of my projects, unless I’m working on like a very large blanket that’s far along, most of them get done outside of the house. It’s one of the great things about it is: it’s got a modest amount of gear for a hobby. There’s some hobbies that just have such a colossal amount of gear and they keep you really tied to… Jo Yeah, planted. Jen I mean, I have a 30 minute walk as part of my community. And I knit while I’m walking now, which is great. As long as you have a pattern that’s easy, right? You just do a while you go! It’s really great. I originally took up knitting because I was spending way too much time watching TV on the couch and getting nothing done. And I was like, “If I’m just gonna sit here watching TV, I might as well do something my hands.” It took me a long time to get good enough to be able to watch TV while I did it. But now I can just listen to a podcast, and I can do whatever. You know? Great. Jo One of the things that’s changed what I like to do in my spare time is what I’m doing while I’m working. When I was working in the hospital and on my feet all the time, then I liked having that sitting in fron tof the TV doing… But when I spent my whole day sitting at a desk, then I was like, “Yeah, I can’t do that when I’m home.” And then I was doing more baking and other things just because they’re active and on my feet and not sitting there like a lump. Jen Yes, absolutely. I spend very little time now watching something or listening to something while I knit. It’s mostly like active time or outside of the house time. But I used to have blankets that I made that I called like, “Oh, this blank. It was my Buffy blanket.” Like, I watched the entire series of Buffy while I made this blanket. I’d tell people when I gave it to them, like, “This is your marriage blanket, or your house warming blanket, but also it’s the Dexter blanket.” You know? Jo If you see any blood splatter, don’t be surprised. Jen So it’s fun to be able to sort of think about projects in that length for me, because, you know, I can sort of be like, “Okay, this is gonna take me about eighty hours. What is about 80 hours long that I can watch while I do this?” I don’t really do it that way anymore. But now I think about it in terms of like, “how many trips back and forth from work is this project?” Jo I recently… in the past year – I commute from New Hampshire to Cambridge, which is a long commute. And I recently found a van pool, which is awesome! Because most days, I can sit and knit and listen to an audio book or… It’s awesome. I’ve had so many different commutes over the years. I recently read that the average American commute is 40 minutes. Which is
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