Monday, June 18, 2018

Relax




It’s a terrific scorcher today.  The sky is white-hot, the sultry air is thick.  Suddenly-blossoming antique roses sprawl along the prickly hedge and the perfume from them suffuses easily and heavily into the kitchen window.  The lily buds are fat and ready, and the cherries are just the color of bittersweet now.  In a week I will start eating them in tart little handfuls, when they are not yet quite ripe.  I sit in front of the fan, beside the open window, and glow with sweat and contentment.  My happiest season is here.  The farmer mowed his meadow over the weekend, just as I was waxing all rhapsodic about it.  It looks like a kid who’s just given himself a haircut with a pocketknife, clumped with dead grass and brown patches.  This is the way of it in the country—things grow, things die, things grow again.  A farmer has no time to be sentimental about a wildflower meadow.

Obviously, I’m still knitting.  This is my newly-finished Relax pullover.  It is very relaxing, in every way, really.  So much plain knitting, and so easily worn.  It looks absurd without a person in it—enormous body, and teeny little doll sleeves—and I have no idea why it works so well, but it does.  Something about the shoulder shaping, I think, keeps it from being just a sad, droopy sack.  Anyway, it’s great.  I used Primrose Yarn Co. Sophia (a 3-ply fingering weight) in the [I’m pretty sure discontinued, ugh] colorway “Abyss”, and I alternated skeins to prevent the wildly vareigated patterning from pooling too much.  It is just about exactly the colors of all my favorite jeans in all the denim stages of fading.  It feels just right for summer.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Houll hat and the meadow





This meadow is near my house.  Years ago, it was planted in apple trees, and they were bent and ancient-looking, and stooped like old men, and had become more interested in making leaves than in making apples, so a few years ago, my farmer neighbor brought in a huge piece of equipment with a big claw on the front of it and took them out.  There was a sad bonfire, and the land looked demolished, and I was innocently devastated.  I’ve since learned that these old farmer neighbors know what they’re doing, and that in these parts, if there is a bare patch of earth, somebody will plant apple trees, so I know that one day, this meadow will be an apple orchard again.  Now, though,  it is fallow, and rich with long purple-tipped grass and wild daisies and clover, and the wind (there is always so much wind) ripples along it, making waves in the grass.  I can see a distant farmhouse and barn; someone else’s farmer neighbor.  Sometimes, when we walk along the roadside here, we see a hawk, lazily circling.  Killdeer make their nests, and when we walk by, nattering on about nothing and everything, they jabber loudly in a big ruckus and try to lure us away.

It is very easy for me to remember, as I walk down these quiet country roads full of raucous birdsongs and untouched wildflowers, holding Doc’s hand, that I have everything, everything, everything.

This hat is new:  it is the Houll hat by Ella Gordon, knit in a mix of yarns from my stash—there is some Rauma Finullgarn, some Holst Supersoft, some KnitPicks Palette, and one (the turquoise) fancy hand-dyed sock yarn from Stone Edge Fibers.  June has been cool enough to make a hat seem like a good idea, but it is almost summer, so, a mango pineapple popsicle seems like a good idea, too.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Threipmuir, in June

Well, June has just been a gorgeous month so far.  I have so many peonies in blossom now, and Doc remembered to tie them up, which I always forget to do, so instead of flopping around in the mud getting ruined before I’ve even seen them, they are proud and perfect this year, and so lush.  They look like party dresses.  Party dresses that are full of ants but smell like the breath of angels.  June, you are my favorite.

Festival season is here, and Doc and I went to the CNY Fiber Festival on Saturday.  Guys, I love a yarn festival more than I can say, and not even because of all the yarn and fiber, either.  Baby lambs, newborn sheepdog puppies, elderflower soda and kettle corn, and the Nicest People Anywhere.  Doc wore his kilt (and was much celebrated everywhere he went) and I wore my newest finished object; Threipmuir, designed by Ysolda.  This was knit from some of my New York City yarn haul (Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift in ‘cream’ and ‘dewdrop’ and in Le Petit Lambswool from Biches & Buches in ‘Vert Gris Moyen’ (Medium Gray Green).  These two-ply fingering weight wooly wool yarns are so wonderful to work with and to wear—gently fluffy, and light as a feather.   It is not too warm for handknits.  It hardly ever is.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Golden



We went home last weekend, to visit our families in Michigan.  My nephew graduated from high school, and his party was sort of a mini class reunion, and it made me so happy to see friends from a long time ago, to reminisce about the olden days with people who knew me when I was young.  One of my dad’s old friends told me the story he always tells me whenever I see him, and I love it so much; I’m going to tell it to you just the way Don always tells it.

“We were playing golf, and your dad hit one off the tee and it plopped straight into the sand trap.  We all went ‘Oh no!’  As he’s choosing a club I said, ‘What are you doing?  You can’t hit that out of there with a driver!’  Your dad said, ‘You don’t know much about the game, do you?’  He took a swing, and the ball sailed all the way over to the green where it hit the flag, flapped around in it for a minute, and then dropped straight into the hole.  It was the most beautiful golf shot I’ve ever witnessed in my life.”  Don shakes his head.  “An Eagle!”

Cue the cheering!  I have no idea what an Eagle is, but I don’t doubt for a minute that Dad bought a round in the clubhouse after that.   He’s been gone for seventeen years, and things like that, hearing a story that a man has kept alive all this time in his own memory keeps him with me.  I can see Dad now, as surprised as anybody, watching the ball drop in and doing a happy little dance in that moment of glory.  I’m so glad Don was there to see it, and to tell me about it all these years later.

More and still more sweaters are happening around here.  This is Cabeladabra by Hanna Maciejewska (pattern is here) knit in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Zalti, in the colorway “Hermitage”, an almost uncapturable mustard/olive/highlighter pen yellow combination that just calls to me.  This color is so irresistible.
Look at those gorgeous cables, in that glowing, golden yarn!  I really love how this one turned out.  It makes me want to do a little happy dance, too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rainy Day Socks




                                                     
It’s drizzly here today.   I don’t mind these rainy, gloomy days, as long as they are interspersed with sunshine-y, blossomy, birdsong ones, and they are.  The fading pink petals of the crabapple tree against the moody sky are so beautiful.  They glow like a neon sign: This is Spring!  As long as it isn’t snowing anymore [please, no] I am willing to pull a wool sweater on over a fresh sunburn.   Yesterday was sort of a wash because I spent the whole of it maniacally focused on a project that has since failed and been ditched, but of course I —as I always do—learned a thing or two in the process, so it was okay.  The problem was [this again?] value and contrast.  I swear.  Anyway, knitting is fun, so I don’t mind.  So that was a long afternoon in the sunshine, getting a little bit fried because I didn’t realize how much time had passed and that one arm was not underneath the umbrella.  There’s one downside to taking a deep creative dive.   Also, Catdog, who spends 99% of her life inert and asleep, stood up and surprised me by bolting into the underbrush.   Friends, this dog lives to relax.  I have seen her watch a chipmunk run underneath her nose without even flickering an ear.  She had her annual burst of energy yesterday, though, and I chased her in my flip flops all over the neighborhood, dress flapping, through freshly-tilled gardens and behind other people’s garages, calling and cajoling and basically being ignored, and when I finally caught up with her, she was wild-eyed and covered in creek mud, and she looked like she’d discovered something brand new.   Wait, there’s more to life than napping?   She’s still a catdog, though, because five minutes of running flat out was her limit, and, freshly dried and sweet-smelling after a warm bath, she coiled up under her down comforter, with nothing but her nose peeking out, and fell soundly asleep, a little mouse in a feathered nest.



After all that, I’m a little glad it’s raining today.  It seems like a good day to wear a new pair of warm socks.  The pattern is here

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Anoushka




Here is another pullover, off my needles.  I know, it’s not gray!  Who even am I?   This is Anoushka, by Regina Moessmer (pattern is here) in Knit Picks Palette.  You guys, this yarn.  It is so nice!  Why haven’t I been using Palette for everything?  Palette is making all the tres fancy yarns in my stash a little bit nervous right now.  I used “Currant” and “Seraphim”  (which is really a light lilac, not white as it appears to be) and they worked so nicely together.  I worried about the fit of this one as I was working, and I even wet-blocked the yoke, and then the body, and had honestly almost decided that it was going to be too small, but in the end, once the collar and sleeves were on and it could hang properly, it fits wonderfully.  I’ve worn it three times already, because even though it is the middle of May, I am almost never warm enough and wool is life.  

In other news, this is what I got for Mother’s Day:

My beautiful boy has earned his Bachelor of Architecture.  He will imagine amazing things, and people will build them!  I can’t stop marveling at that.  I could not be happier or more proud.  As I am writing this, he and his girl are on a cross-country journey, following their dreams to have a life in The West.  Letting them grow up and go away is so hard, but I am also thrilled for them, too.  Adventure!  Friends in Denver, Colorado, please take good care of them.  That’s it, all my children are grown up now.  I’m not saying I’m getting ready to start dressing the catdog in human clothes and letting her sit at the kitchen table, but I do think she would look really cute in little jeans. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

New York City Birthday




I keep saying this, to anyone who will listen:  what I really want in this life is to go places.  As much as I love my little cozy house in the country and all the ways rural life manifests for me, I am not content to just sit in my patio chair shelling peas and wondering.  I want to go.  There’s a whole big world out there!  There’s so much to do, so much to be amazed by.  When I turned fifty last week, it didn’t go as planned, you guys.  I totally meant to celebrate my half-century of life in this world, and to embrace the beginning of the next phase, but instead I wallowed in self-pity and was, in general, a giant ugly pain.  And then I hated that I couldn’t, even at fifty, be a grown-up, which made me feel worse.  I have never yet learned to keep the emotional baggage of my birthday at bay, and I always spend most of the day near tears, for complicated reasons that honestly don’t have much to do with getting older.  I am thrilled to be getting older, in part because it means I am not as yet dead, but also because I feel more free to yell when I want to and when somebody needs it, and to care less about what my hair and backside look like, and because my children are grown, I have more time and resources to go places.  So when my birthday was finally over and I had cheered up a little, Doc and I got on a train for New York.  

A word about train travel.  I’m a little afraid that somebody will find out how wonderful it is to travel by train in the US and ruin it somehow by adding a bunch of annoying rules, but until that happens, I’m traveling that way whenever I can.  I could write long verses of love poetry about train travel—it is so uncomplicated, so civilized and gentle.  So comfortable.  It is patient and kind.  Liberate yourself from the airport security line and take the train.  


I love New York so much.  There is such an abundance of life there.  The theater lights glow golden in the twilight, the same color as the hurtling, honking taxis.  They are everywhere, but still, take the subway; it is so much more pleasant and I am not even joking.  It is clean and efficient, and everyone makes room for each other, and teenage girls get up and give their seats to grandmothers, and kids on their way home from school play rock-paper-scissors and read library books, and if someone bumps your foot, they apologize.  If you don’t know how to find your stop, someone will help you.  I just love it.


Central Park is ravishing.  It is in bloom right now, and filled on a warm weekend with children and dogs and musicians and people (like us) walking hand in hand.  We walked for miles, for hours, dragging up, finally in a sandwich shop on 43rd Street, and I sank gratefully into a chair, planning never to get up again.  





At the MoMA, we finally saw “The Starry Night”, which has its own guard, and a big crowd of people lined up and waiting to take a quick picture with their phones and then leave without even looking at the painting (Doc said, quietly, to me, “You know, they sell postcards of that in the gift shop...”). The Cy Twombly gallery was the one that really made me light up, though; that one up there is from his huge “Four Seasons” work.  They were so wonderful, and I am wildly inspired now.


Of course I bought yarn.  Armloads of it.  I could have bought armloads more.  Much more about that later.  

Until next time, NYC.  #heart