Michelle Obama Took Up Knitting During COVID-19 Pandemic — and Went on a Recent Beach Date with Barack
Keep a sharp eye, internet knitting enthusiasts: The next user you talk to just might be Michelle Obama.
The former first lady appeared on Rachael Ray's talk show Wednesday where she talked about the importance of voting and her family's life during the COVID-19 pandemic, including her new hobbies
″Did you think that during this time somehow you would work less, or somehow you'd find some hidden talents and hobbies that you were fabulous at?″ Ray asked Obama, who was appearing remotely from her home in Martha's Vineyard.
″I’ve started knitting,″ Obama said.
And how: ″Over the course of this quarantine, I have knitted a blanket, like five scarves, three halter tops, a couple of hats for Barack, and I just finished my first pair of mittens for Malia," she said. "One is twice as big as the other. I’m still working on my stitching gauge.″
Obama added that she heads online when looking for knitting advice — but does so anonymously.
″I’m a knitter. They don’t know I’m in the knitting community because I don’t use my real name, but I have some knitting tutors who I kind of go through to get my yarn and my patterns and all that,″ she said. (And she's been "doing all my own manicures, pedicures, waxing," — but "I’ve stayed away from haircuts and things like that, because we’re going more with the natural style.")
Asked by a viewer about how she and former President Barack Obama kept the flame flickering in their relationship, Mrs. Obama said they had just recently gone on a beach date, courtesy of her husband.
"What he did for me the other day — because he was writing his book all summer so I was a little bit salty, because he didn’t have as much time — but he’s finished, it’s coming out, all that good stuff. So as a treat, he surprised me with just a beach lunch date, just the two of us," she said. "Because we’re in Martha’s Vineyard and we live close to a beach and things are more quiet now."
"So he had a lunch pack. He didn’t do it, but he had it packed," she continued, "and we had wine and a little jazz and we had our two little beach chairs and an umbrella and we were just hanging out on the beach alone."
Mrs. Obama also talked more about how she and her husband and their college-age daughters, Malia and Sasha, have been spending their time since the pandemic's onset in the spring sent many people back home in self-isolation.
The togetherness has had its ups … and its downs.
“It’s really interesting, because sometimes Barack just comes into the room, and I’m in the middle of something, and he’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ ″ Mrs. Obama said, a little wryly. ″And I’m like — 'nothing, nothing. Just please go.’ "
″Sometimes you just don’t want to talk," she said. "You’re not ready for a check-in when they are. Quarantine started out so lovely. There was the first phase when we were all together, and we’d go apart, and then we’d come together … [then] right around June, all that magic started wearing off. So, yes, Barack Obama is a wonderful man, but he is still a man.”
The former first lady told Conan O'Brien much the same last week, saying then that the novelty was gone after the first few months of card games and family activities and nowhere else to go.
"I think first our kids got a little sick of us … which was fine, 'cause we were pretty much sick of them," she told O'Brien. "And so the summer started happening, and then we could be outside a little bit more, and we came to the vineyard, where we still are, and so there's more room to roam around … that was good, 'cause it helped us break it up. And now the kids are back in Zoom land with classes. They're doing it remotely. And they're no longer thrilled about being with us."
Speaking with Ray, Mrs. Obama said that her priority as a mom to her daughters in such an uncertain year has been giving them space to process their feelings and try to keep them focused on character above all.
"We’ve tried to use this time as a family together to do what we do a lot with our kids, which is let them talk, in the same way to let them emote — not to judge their feelings," she said. "One of the things I have to remind myself and some of my girlfriends: What our kids are going through is unlike anything we’ve ever had to experience and I try to communicate that to them. This is all new. And the feelings that they’re feeling and the fears that they’re having and the confusion and the malaise sand the highs and the lows, it’s all new and trying to get them to talk that through."
She continued: "I’m telling my kids right now: I hope you pursue your passions, but the most important thing you can be in life is a good person who is decent to other people. We need more of that. We don’t need more investment bankers, we don’t need more doctors and lawyers, we don’t need more television personalities. We need more decent, compassionate people who are willing to stand in the shoes of others and share the great wealth that is this planet and is this country."
Such was the importance of voting, too, Mrs. Obama said — a topic about which she has become increasingly vocal.
"When it was time for me to vote I did it with enthusiasm and pride," she said. "A lot of times we get caught up in the big impressive change, the protest, the rallies, being able to register thousands and thousands of voters and we lose sight of the fact that our greatest sphere of influence is right around us. It’s the people that we know."
And while Mrs. Obama was supporting Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election against President Donald Trump ("the choice couldn't be more clear"), she noted that she wanted voters to participate regardless.
"People should vote," she said.
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