(designed by Kate Gilbert, destined for greatness):
(Peacock Feathers Shawl, destined for
many little flubs only I can point out to you):
Because last night, my husband surprised me. To mark the occasion of our ten years together, he invited over all of our favorite people who were invited to the wedding but didn't make it, or those we hadn't met yet, and cooked dinner for us all. And he pulled some amazing wines out of his stash in the basement (what we call "The Cellar").
Here's a rundown for all you closet foodies:
1982 Veuve Cliquot Brut
1995 Batard Montrachet Grand Cru
1995 Chateau Beausejour Saint Emillion Premier Grand Cru
The two 1995s were contributed by our friend Chile.
Wine guys do this sort of thing. Just like you would think nothing of bringing a skein of Koigu or Fiber Artist-something over to a friend's house to share, wine guys like to give each other wine of outrageous retail value, mostly to show off their cleverness in having bought the bottle back when it cost six bucks, and practiced the restraint of not drinking it in order to have it years down the line, only to open it to discover that heh, this is pretty good stuff. (That's official wine guy lingo for pretty good stuff) Never mind that silly Sideways talk of mouth feel and fruit acids and long finishes (sample dialogue:"Is that apricot in there?"); real wine guys--especially the Francophiles-- look at each other meaningfully, widen their eyes, and sigh. There is seldom need of language; they just know. In having held on to a promising bottle, in stashing it in a consistently temperatured spot in the basement for seven or ten years or more, they feel part of the process, of having cellared it well and preserved the magic synthesis of terroir and wine maker. By sharing it, they get to show off a little, and how is that different really from any other hobby?
But because I drank enough of each of these to appreciate them, I couldn't sleep. When I drink, even a little, I can't stay asleep and I wake up at two in the morning. Then it's a matter of how much I had to drink before I can fall back asleep. Terry had invited me at the last minute to drive out with her, and I told her I would if I survived the surprise dinner party, but at four this morning I had to email her to let her know that I was not going to join her. It's a bummer, yes, but I have Fiber Frolic to look forward to in a few weeks, and a class there with Alden Amos, so I'm content. I know that there is a danger here in telling all of this that the blog will think that I have a pattern of expectation and frustration when it comes to fiber events, but I just want you to know that under these circumstances, with such glorious wine to drink, food to eat, and company to share, I really need not feel any twinge of regret, even for Cummington.
But just so that you know: wild horses ain't keeping me from Fiber Frolic.
I am knitting the Big Blue Favour to a deadline this weekend. Last night I got as far as I have instructions for, so I took a little vacation from the 24 square feet of light worsted weight stockinette and put a few fiddlely rows in on PS 136. I just love looking at this sweater. Hmmmmmm.
That's all for today. I got to get back to the needles. Hope to be back in full blogging mode early next week after the Big Blue item gets it's very own fed-ex box.
Ingredients for Knit Gathering:
Pleasant weather forecast,
Ducks in a row, including elaborate drill team navigation of entire family around oldest child's new job and middle child's school commencement ceremony -- mandatory attendance -- for handing off boisterous toddler mid-way through the afternoon to run around on the grass while middle child sings theme from Les Choiristes in chorus and various pedagogical figures wish graduates a bright future. Pray the loudspeaker system will drown out boisterous toddler.
Back to making ready:
Yarn to share (including 25 yards of my own homespun)
Drop spindles and fiber (because you never know who might be susceptible)
(see Ben? I didn't forget your the blue container)
Risotto a la Milanese ,
Ready . . .? Okay, right about now, this is where things start to go wrong.
Change forecast to
Understand that Commencement will now be held under a tent, eliminating the running-around-on-the-grass option. Resign self to waiting for end of ceremony and make phone plans to meet husband and middle child half-way, to exchange minivan-with-boisterous-toddler-strapped-into-car-seat for wagon-with-broken-tape-player-and-no-cup-holders (what do Germans have against cup holders?) for solo ride to Knit Gathering.
Print out directions.
Wait for phone to ring.
Look at clock.
Wait some more. Pace so much that no knitting gets done.
Call Hostess and ask if it's okay that I show up even later.
Bless her little heart.
Entertain boisterous toddler. Paint. Draw. Knock over blocks. Imagine handing him off anyway.
Ring husband. Get James Earl Jones' voice telling you party is unavailable. Remember that husband still doesn't know how to use the vibrate function in his phone so he just turns the thing off. Remember that he's had this particular phone for five years.
In order to show you the most relevant events, we have omitted some entries very similar to the "wait" entries already displayed.
Watch clock creep toward event horizon, the moment when departing would mean arriving only to have to turn around to come home. Consider tears. Remember that you're a grown up, and it would only upset the toddler to see you freak out.
Apologize to hostess. Listen to assembled crew hail you over the phone. Feel a little better, and a little worse.
Welcome soaking wet family home three hours later than expected; make dinner of Risotto a la Milanese; drink glass of Neapolitan white wine. Tell husband it's okay: there's a spinning bee in Chemsford tomorrow if he wants to make it up to you.
I can't help myself.
I just have to knit some lace. It may have something to do with Stephanie's Chai silk shawl she was wearing over a t-shirt at the Elegant Ewe. She just made the whole lace thing seem just so very possible, so very wearable. As in everyday wearable, not just for knit events and special occasions, but for grocery shopping and eating warm meringues. And when another knitter came into the shop wearing the same shawl but knit in a pinkish handpainted silk/merino Stephanie greeted her like a favorite shoe, a fellow lace knitter, a comrade in arms (the arms in this case being size 4 needles).
It may also have something to do with my finally finding the right yarn for the Fiddlestick's Peacock Feathers Shawl pattern I've been sitting on for a year: it's Cherry Tree Hill Possum Lace in the River Run colour, which reads to me as peacock, even more so that their so-called Peacock colourway. So I cast on yesterday, and here I am at row 35.
The things that I like about this pattern are how clearly written it is, and that so far, the number of the chart row corresponds to the number of stitches on either side of the middle marker. This is very handy for figuring out where I went wrong when I discover I've messed up. Is it my chart reading for this row?(count the stitches, yep, right number, I messed up the chart reading, tink back to the beginning of this row) or do I not have the right number of stitches because I messed up the previous row? (wrong number of stitches, %&*@# tink back three rows). I have yet to really settle into a chart reading method, but dashing across the row to the middle marker, breathing again and plunging into the second half of the row has gotten me this far. It took until the 30th row before I could "read" my knitting and see what I've got going. From here, it should get easier.
Famous last words, I know.
Deb is also knitting one right now, but she's almost to the last chart. Go and admire it.
I humbly eat her dust.
It's true, the Saturday attendees of New Hampshire Sheep and Wool had a warmer and drier time of it. There was spinning and laying about on the grass, but we few Sunday types, we stalwart second-dayers who know no fear of dire weather forecasts and empty vendor shelves, my fellow Knit-Clubbers and I were witness to a peculiar phenomenon: people wandering the grounds, dressed in foul weather gear, gripping cups of hot cocoa, water streaming from their hems and soaking their shoes . . . people with giant smiles on their faces. (I wish I remembered my camera)
It was a day for mittens. Alas, my hands were bare. I bought two skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery's Sylvan Spirit, partly because Lisa Lloyd made me do it, but mostly because on a chilly damp rainy Sunday in May, fingerless gloves with cables and traveling stitches that I would make from that yarn seemed like they will be the best thing in the world.
The sheds out back were a bonanza of little vendors and many fiber buddies. I picked up the winter issue of Wild Fibers for the article on Mulesing (which they'll have on-line pretty soon) and bought a subscription because I realized that almost every issue has a Lisa Lloyd design in it, and I simply must have a complete collection of her work.
I was delighted to run into a pair of friends: Doug, who a year ago threw me into the deep end of fiber-reactive dye, and Laura who had been part of the spontaneous dinner gathering after the Elegant Ewe Harlot event last Friday. They know each other! I tell you: fiber is a small small world. So I submitted my fingers to the touch test to humour Laura in her passion for the little bags of Guanaco she was
pushing selling, and I relieved her of some, and some Baby Camel blend. Oh yeah, and some Baby Yak, which she insists spins well, even though it looks like the stuffing from an old pharmacy bottle. It feels like fairy breath, it's so soft. In my infinite free time I think this collection might become some kind of luxury shawlette. (after hanging out with the lace knitters on Friday, I'm all about shawls at the moment. Trouble is, a shawl for me is equivalent to knitting a jib. So the word of the day is shawlette )
While in the sheds, I also picked up two 4 ounce bumps of Lincoln Longwool, a breed on the verge of extinction. Either this is my last chance before it blips out of existence, or I helped to save the little guys from commercial obscurity.
I visited Linda Diak to pick up a batt I requested, but the colour wasn't what I was expecting, so she'll make me another one in time for Fiber Frolic next month. That Laurie wizzed by as I was fondling Linda's crochet hooks. She was in a hurry I think, but stopped to say hi and to gloat that she had already made a promising dent in her shopping list. I made the obligatory dip into The Copper Moth (you doubt that I could avoid buying something from a vendor called the Copper MOTH?) and was delighted to see that all the Saturday shoppers had picked the place clean of the the pinks and blues I don't care for, clearing the view of my beloved autumn colours. And no one does autumn colours like Susan. I bought the last big bag of hand dyed Romney locks and a few bags of her new superwash in natural colours like cochineal and madder to be plied with something neutral for the sake of stretching it further, and making those colours pop.
Three hanks of The Sheep Shed's handpainted tencel merino, because everyone else was doing it and that's exactly the kind of cliff I want to jump off. I also bought the bright apple green roving Mary Lynn was still sitting on at 4:30 in the afternoon on the second day. It was fate that I should have it. (Hey Norma, there was still cocoa Border Leicester roving left; lots of it. If you hadn't bought yours, I'm certain that it would have been gone.) And I made it to A Touch of Twist where I found Circles Alison and Judy rummaging through the mohair. (promise to self: make it to Sunday knitting at Circles soon) I made note of the alpaca, which I plan to buy from them at Fiber Frolic once I have picked out a vest pattern for my husband.
I also bought a 5 pound Cormo/ Border Leicester fleece. I was on the lookout for Cormo since I had promised Emma I would procure some for her, but the nicest fleece I found all day happened to be this one, and there's plenty to share. I dropped it off to be processed into roving, because I know myself by now, and while I enjoy the washing, I don't have the time these days. This way, sometime mid-summer, I will have a big box of roving arrive just in time for a big dye session one sunny warm day!
And now for the "awwwwh" factor: I brought home this little sheep train for the Boy.
When trawling for fiber at a big sheep festival, you see something you want, but there is someone else with their hands on it. They may even be paying for it. Here are some of my tried and true strategies for acquiring rightful possession -- without bloodshed.
1. Jedi Mind Trick:
"This fiber is not your fiber.
This is not the fiber you are looking for.
2. Reverse Psychology:
"Those are absolutely gorgeous handpainted romney locks. I've never seen anything quite like that. You must buy that bag. Those colours would be perfect on you. You simply must buy them because if you don't I will have to and they won't be here when you come back to look for them later in the day and you'll hate yourself."
"Look at the crimp in that Cormo/Border Leicester! And the sheen! Magnificent. And such a fine wool, what a beautiful sweater it will make once you wash it twice--because there is a tremendous amount of lanolin in it and the fine wools really need a lot of extra cleaning--and even if it does survive all the extra work without felting, the combing process will be really easy and only about half the time it usually takes for raw fleece, unless you think you might want to dye it which is only a minor step if you know what you're doing, and then you can make it into top and spin 5 pounds of it up for a sweater. SO. . . What are you going to make?"
I will have pictures and a play by play of my glorious Sunday at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool for you soon.
Yesterday, a school day, a day that requires as much magnanimity of an Albert Schweitzer that two adults can muster, two cars, and the choreography of George Balanchine to land three kids at three different
germ pools schools and home again, my husband gave me the final installment of my birthday present.
I learned a lot about the world yesterday.
I learned that as a yarn destination, The Elegant Ewe is worth every minute of the hour and a half drive that it is from my house.
I learned that in New Hampshire, it is perfectly acceptable to open up a Adult Toy store across from the State House.
I learned that pelvic floor exercisers come in candy colours, with sparkles.
I learned a lot about the charm of the Newfoundlander dialect that I never was exposed to even when I actually lived in the Atlantic Provinces, and how to say "I'm so hungry I could eat the arse-end off a flying duck"
I learned that you can almost tell what the nuances of a "bonfire" colourway of fiber might be by the light in a car trunk at ten o'clock at night.
I learned that it is indeed possible to be a good judge of character when you've read someone's blog for a year, and that when you finally get to meet all of them in person and they are in fact as funny and friendly and full of stories and wonderful turns of phrase as you suspected, that all can feel right with the world for a few hours.
I learned that Concord sets off fireworks for mysterious reasons, but when the company you keep is worth celebrating--that they can feel personal.
Wild Bill Hickcroc?
(I know I know; that's just baaaad)
What's green and full of holes?
Once I managed that first psychic hurdle of grafting the right shoulder seem, I was fearless and much more efficient about that second one. Whereas the right took me maybe three hours of sweat and anxiety, I whipped off the second one between Maisy and Miffy (that's an hour of programming on Noggin for you non-toddler moms)
So, final verdict? It's very much the sort of thing I would wear over a dress or a tunic top, especially on a fresh summer evening. I think the Desert Garden Aran must be less drapey than the Willow that the pattern calls for. It has a lot of heft and body to it, so that this short jacket doesn't flow like I think it should with these proportions. Were I able to find a worm hole that would let me communicate with myself from before I bought the yarn for this project, I would advise that self to splurge for the suggested yarn. Maybe there's a lesson in there somewhere. It's not that I don't like the fabric --I do-- it's just that I wished that this was a little softer. Perhaps time and wear will loosen it up a little. It does have lovely stitch definition, and while I found the yarn to be a bit splitty, it wasn't nearly as ruthless as the Linen Drape.
I like the neck detail of an eyelet row through which you thread a twisted cord. It's a very clever pattern, knit in one piece -- if a bit cumberson as arm sections sprout in four directions -- but if you avoid my gratuitous grafting adventures, it is not a difficult knit.