Sunday, December 25, 2011
(9th century Irish)
This I Heard:
Belled the stag, the winter snows
Winds high and cold
The sun is low, short its course,
high the seas,
Deep red the bracken, leaves lost;
The wild goose utters mournful cry,
cold its wings;
season of ice,
This I heard.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Today is a quiet day, the day before Christmas...
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind.
The owlet’s cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
‘Tis calm indeed!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Frost at Midnight (1798)
My day is planned: more braided bread, the Christmas eve pie, wrapping presents... and finishing presents that now must be late...
a little hint:
(The recipient of this doesn't read my blog, I'm sure, so it's safe to give a little view.)
I've always loved the day before Christmas, with it's air of expectation and excitement, it's purposeful preparation, and cosiness. We have had frost, and snow. It melted away overnight so it will be a green Christmas, but cold. A perfect day today for cooking and baking...and for slipping my wrapped presents under the tree.
Some presents from friends have already been opened, like this wonderful vintage Beehive knitting gauge from Marky in Australia! I love it and have been searching for one for a long, long time! Marky can find anything. He's a vintage-finder-wizard! I love the soft blue colour:
The day is moving forward and -being in the middle of unfinished projects - I have little to show for it, so I'll wish you a peaceful, productive day and get on with my work. god Jule! Joyeux Noël! bonum jule! Happy Christmas!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
"Now trees their leafy hats do bare,
To reverence Winter's silver hair;
A handsome hostess, merry host,
A pot of ale now and a toast,
Tobacco and a good coal fire,
Are things this season doth require."
-- From "Poor Robin's Almanack," 1684.
I have miles of knitting to go before I sleep. That's right, I haven't finished my Christmas knitting and the time is drawing near when my knitting will be officially late. Christmas boxes have been mailed - sans knitting - and a kind of sub-aware knitting panic has set in. I rise early to knit, and then spend 2 or 3 hours on the webz looking at everyone else's wonderful gift knitting while my little project bag rests quietly beside me...
I drink tea...
from my wonderful new Winter Robins mug...
I plan future, post-holiday projects...
and peruse websites for knitting gifts I'd like myself....
I make ornaments for our tiny little tree...
and I bake the Christmas bread...
But what I don't do is finish the Christmas knitting, as lovely as it is. I am very close to finishing. An hour here, two hours there, an embellishment, blocking - all of these things would create the finished projects I desire. But my will-power is exhausted and my mind just craves a period of marshmallow-y old holiday movies. How to call my knitting energy back again? I know! I'll have a cup of tea!
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~ Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
~ by Robert frost
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Well, we don't have snow yet - we got rain instead - but we do have silence!
I have been stymied as what to post because I am knitting on nothing but Christmas presents. And those are, you know, secret.
And I'm not doing very well with them either. How could my knitting mojo pack up and fly south with the talkative V-shaped Geese migrations? Honk! Honk! Honk! they shout overhead, and I look up and see my inspirations flying away like ribbons behind the birds.
I do truly want to knit for everyone I know. Socks, Hats, Fingerless Gloves, Shawls, Scarves, Balaclavas, Cowls... alas, nada. nul. nothing. I think I'm doing only 3 gift projects this year. Unless I get in my butt in gear.
One project I can show you because the recipient doesn't read here. Here is the Bloomsbury Saroyan scarf in Madeline Tosh Pashmina, colour: Bloomsbury:
I've made this pattern several times. Knit side to side, it is easily modified to suit your purpose - scarf, shawl, shawlette - and is fast simple and easy! Its a free pattern on Ravelry and one I go back to again and again.
I plan to put little soft pompoms on the ends, maybe today!
But for now, I am cooking cinnamon buns instead:
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The next part of out DC trip involved tea. Really, really good tea.
Teaism is such a fun tea room, stocked full of beautiful tea accessories and tea-related gifts downstairs:
and a small, cosy room to rest and sip upstairs:
We waited patiently for a table
next to a Zen-like minimalist stack of seating benches beside the winding staircase...
I very much wanted a bento-box with my tea, but was still full from the fresh-strawberry-and-nutella crepe I had eaten at the French crepery just a little earlier...
Our hotel was walking distance from the National Zoo, and it was a beautiful fall day so we strolled while I gazed, amazed at all I saw. The street was lined with gorgeous big buildings - with lovely vintage era details. This place has been turned into condominiums, I think. It looks like something out of an old Cary Grant movie!
One townhouse has this lovely llama sculpture in the front garden - doesn't he have such a personality in his face?
As I was trying to capture a good picture, a curious fellow jumped up on his back and watched me intently, seeming to ask for his photo to be taken too!
For some reason, at the zoo, I was so amazed by everything that I forgot to take pictures until we went inside the small mammal building!
We saw the Saki Monkeys:
The Golden Lion Tamarins (which I loved!):
The Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (a big hit with a huge crowd of children):
and the Degu who were so cute sleeping in a big pile, using each other for pillows:
We strolled from one end of the zoo to the other and areas we especially liked were the Lions and Tigers. They were so beautiful! They hold themselves and move so majestically, it's easy to see why they're considered the "Kings of the Jungle".
After the zoo we had more tea and then took a drive to Old Town Alexandria, Va, and found this amazing place:
Fiber Space, a knit and crochet universe, is everything it's name implies. What a wonderful magical place!
The people were wonderful, the stock was immense and unique, and the atmosphere was relaxed and hip. I felt instantly welcomed there! One of the things that most enchanted me was that they had yarn from companies I'd never heard of before as well as patterns and yarn from companies that I'd always to own (like Pidgeonroof Studios).
Right away someone came up and said hello and asked if she could help me with anything. When I told her I was from out of town and just wanted to go around the store and look at every single thing, she laughed and said "enjoy!". I was there for about an hour and she came back a couple of times, not to bug me or to 'check up' on me, but to make me feel at home. We chatted about different yarns and she showed me the ones that were local to the area. We had a super conversation about cashmere, and she encouraged me not to fall for inexpensive cashmere that resulted from poorly cared-for animals. I was really touched that someone would be so open and friendly to a person that they didn't know at all. It was pretty amazing. Oh, by the way, the placed was PACKED with people - they had groups of people knitting and shopping and the staff were each helping someone to calculate their project, or wind their yarn, or figure out a pattern - but it wasn't hectic and didn't seem crowded... it was just so...nice...It was like a big family on Thanksgiving.
And I bought a ton of stuff. Of course. I was comforting myself for missing Rinehart this year. That's fair, right? And she put it in a GREAT Fiber Space bag!!
AND she gave me a Fiber Space tote!
This is my swag:
Brooklyn Tweed patterns - Hourglass Throw by Anne Hanson, Ranger Cardigan by Jarod Flood, Caldwell Vest by Stephen West, and Levenwick Cardigan by Gudrun Johnston.
A skein of Pidgeonroof Studios Cassiopeia, a MCN in a colourway that could either be "legolas" or "sage lt"...
A most beautiful local yarn - I could have bought one in every colour - of mohair and silk by The Neighbourhood Yarn Company in the colour Rock Creek Park...
A skein of Silk and Merino from a company called Viola, which is shortly to become hard to find... this skein is called Unpredictable and is a pretty pinkish, like a vintage doll's body...
Another Viola skein, this one fingering merino in "Dark Ghost" such a beautiful pale green...
and yet another Viola skein, a soft lace weight single ply this time, again in "ghost"...
and then a few accessories that are always highly coveted by me: Purple Puppy Snips, Green KA stitch holders, and the new wonderfully colourful HiyaHiya darning needles for seaming.
Did I say how much I loved Fiber Space? I love them so much. If you have a chance to visit one place in the DC area, go to Fiber Space.
After that, we wandered a bit among the lovely streets
and when it got dark we retired to the most incredible restaurant called Old Europe and ate German food and drank a chocolate-tasting beer...
The perfect end to a perfect DC visit.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
We recently spent a week in Washington, DC and I have a ton of photos and experiences to share. It seems unkind to write a 45-photo post - who would read that?! - so I'll divide it up a bit so it's more accessible, though it's still photo-heavy.
I'm not able to fly right now, so we took the train, which was a long, weary journey but very beautiful, watching the coast southward all day!
Our friends had reserved a haven for us in a wonderful hotel, the Omni, where they brought fresh-squeezed orange juice to our door every morning. The veranda-style dining room was peaceful and pretty, and we always started our day there with tea, looking out at the brilliant sun-reflecting autumn foliage through the French doors.
The hotel had some kind of French-themed gourmet event going on called "Simmer, Saute, Sante: The Flavors of France", which meant the menu was full of mysterious items that we guessed at, to satisfying effect. The cheeses were especially fun, though I found out I'm mildly allergic to Gorgonzola.
The next day we went shopping around an older section of DC, to find a couple of Antique shops. My friends found a great 50's black leather chair that looked perfect in their apartment! I did pick up a few gifts (one of which is going to Australia for a combined birthday and Christmas present), and my bf bought me a pair of green stone scarab earrings.
This part of town was so interesting! There were trendy upscale shops, and gorgeous antiques, and effervescent florists with colourful bouquets bursting out the doors, side-by-side with empty buildings and broken sidewalks.
I was so taken by the wall paintings everywhere! This was on a jazz bar:
Painting on brick takes a particular skill, I think, especially to have the impact that these paintings did, such as this poignant painting that advertised a family counseling and support center:
I have no idea what these huge flying pandas wearing mortar-board caps and holding diplomas were advertising:
But my favorite was this two-story one on a building that used to be a bar called Lautrec:
We traveled to another part of DC to visit Looped Yarn Works on Connecticut Avenue so that I could get a fiber fix. I had brought knitting with me - two projects - but my knitting mojo was low and I frogged both projects. I needed inspiration.
Looped is on the second story of a city building, up a narrow set of stairs to a little hallway...
But this hallway holds a treasure, a beautiful old framed photo - it looks like the 40's - of knitting girls! I wondered if it was of a relative of the owner?
Looped was super busy, super, super, Super busy - and it was the middle of a Friday afternoon! It is two smallish rooms and a narrow hall connecting them where the counter is across from the entrance door, and every inch of each wall is used to display things. It was a bit frustrating to have to shoulder my way through people to get from one room to the other, and to view the yarn from behind the backs of other shoppers. The tables and chairs in both rooms were all occupied by knitter's groups and it was noisy, thought cheerful and contented noise. I tried twice to get help from the staff, but both times they tried to talk over the noise and got harried and left me. Twice, I reach out to pick up an item I wanted to buy, and someone else's hand shot out from behind or beside me and grabbed it before I could. Twice I tried to talk to the staff to ask if they had something in stock and was interrupted by two other people vying for their attention. Don't get me wrong, the staff was very nice and the stock was enticing, but the experienced wasn't soothing... or exhilarating. It was like a competition.
Still, I managed to come a way with a fair amount of stash that I'm looking forward to using. I wish that they hadn't been so low on stock of the project bags and that that woman beside me hadn't grabbed two out of my fingertips as I went to picked them up. But I didn't come away empty-handed.
I have Madeline Tosh Merino DK (single ply) in Iceberg, Madeline Tosh DK (2-ply) in Ginger, and a yarn new to me: Poet Seat Yarn Merino/Silk from Kangaroodyer in Sunlight in the Forest, very lush. I also got three packages of hand crocheted embellishments to decorate my sweaters. And... this little collection of cute buttons, pink abalone flowers, wooden airplanes, and one very special painted-on-wood giraffe:
I'm exhausted just remembering this busy afternoon! It was great fun though, as you can tell from the photos. I'll save the next few days for my next post.