Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Smishsmash: A smattering of hats

Merry Christmas, with a few of the hats I've been doing this month.

Just a word: I've not been posting in part because the pictures I'd upload would reveal Christmas presents best left unseen until Christmas.... And in part because I've been finishing my Cornell semester and trying (with little success) to organize my house in advance of renting it out for the six months I'll be in Massachusetts on sabbatical leave. The regularity of a row of stitches corrects the opposite: the confusion of moving photograph boxes from closet A to storage stack B, of heave-ho'ing ink stamps and Easter seals and worn dog brushes, of schlepping things to the dump, the Library book sale, the Salvation Army.

Tonight's a breather, as we gather for family time and time with friends. On the 26th, it's back to packing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


A few of my favorite unfinished sweaters. Undone: them and, in different ways today, me. So none will get finished quite yet. I'm off to sit in my first movie theatre in about five months, me the film professor. The newish Woody Allen film, Victoria, Christina, Regina, whatever-a. Leaving this sweater, above, needing buttons and crocheted button loops, so it will another day become Dawn Paige's little side-to-side sweater, in Kaffe Fassett's Regia sock yarn.

And leaving this sweater, below, which will keep trekking upwards to become my sister's Christmas vest, based on a pattern in the new Knit One Below, "Curves and Columns." On the needles in two heathers of Cascade 220, and having bedevilled me earlier with short rows forever at the beginning, this is the, I do believe, fifth attempt to knit my sister a Christmas vest--my third pattern, two rejected or rejecting me, and my third attempt to get this one going.
But something is done: "Habitat," for I don't yet know whom; the Jared Flood hat with a superfluity of cables. Resting on the dogs' biscuit jar. Knit in Lavold Classic AL, alpaca and merino wool.

Off to the movies.

Caillum and snowmen

Another present has come home to roost, photographically. Meet Caillum and his mother, Mirja, ready for the Chicago winds. Pops Ted is one of my son's best friends from college, Cambridge, Ithaca, and beyond, a fellow I've loved for years. Caillum has dutifully donned or been covered by a sweater that will suit him better after the new year, but what a nice oversized thank-you-note photo, which makes me laugh. I made the neck of this sven sveater big so big baby head wouldn't struggle getting inserted, but it looks like I was over-generous in conceiving of Caillum's circumference. Brilliant child, beautiful family, chill-beating sweater.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not Knitting on Halloween

I could have been knitting for hours on Halloween, as I basked in the sun at EXtra Mart in Greene, NY. But there was too much activity at the gas station, and too much sun, too much sadness, and too much peacefulness, as I waited for Carl Wrench to come to my rescue.

I had been driving for forty minutes, leaving Ithaca for Massachusetts, deep in thought, as I’ve been all week, for the untimely death of a young cousin; when I hit a football-sized boulder-- “BAMMM. . . . DAMN” -- and wended a mile down the hill to Greene’s corner gas station. I had not cried yet for this death, but wept then, deflected tears, at the blow out; which was just a blow out, but was just too much, just then. Just for a moment.

Then I let go of the annoyance, the delay, the inconvenience, and absorbed the sunny wait. While I waited, the price of gas in Greene went from $2.94 to $2.87. A mother and son in the Freihoffer’s Cookie truck overfilled their tank, so Greene’s Gus had to spread absorbent sand and sweep it up. I greeted a guy in an orange sweatshirt, the perfect match to my orange fleece: “We’re the great pumpkins.” He had no reaction; maybe didn’t like being called “great.” Three people told me I had a flat tire. And Carl Wrench was too busy over in town doing end-of-the-month car inspections (“they always wait till the last moment”), to come before noon. But there was lots of sun, and an Old Codger.

After his ancient Ford pickup stopped at the pump next to my car, he descended from the driver’s seat, preceded by a cane; he descended so slowly that the price of gas went down another nine cents, to $2.78. If he could see at all, he had time to see every thing below knee level before his bowed legs got out of the pumping bays. And one tire caught his eye. To the tire itself and to no one in particular, he spit and affirmed: “The bottom of that tire is flat.”

Well, that did it for me: joy in the gruff ongoing of this ancient woodsman, delight in the image that I might drive on the other parts of the tire. I loved that dirty Methuselah, that coffin dodger, that cunning fellow, whose wispy gray beard highlighted his toothless mouth, whose legs were as stiff as the jeans overalls he’d been wearing since May:

“Yup,” I replied, “the bottom of that tire is way flat.”

And I just kept basking, until Mr. Wrench helped me on my way.

On my way to Halloween with my son, my d-i-l, my grand daughters, aka Flying Turtle and Butterfly/Fairy.

On my way to seeing dancing girls in some of the sweaters I’d recently knit .

Friday, October 31, 2008

If you read this blog, you've seen the likes of this sweater/jumper before: this is my fifth "Samantha," Kate Gilbert's delicate gift for baby girls. My first, for one and the other of my grand daughters, was in a very large, four-plus, size; then I did three little baby sizes; now this one, about an 18-24-36 months size (it grew a little as I washed and blocked it), in soft salmon (Filatura Di Crosa Zara), machine washable wool.

I'm off to visit my twins for Halloween--one's a turtle, one a fairy/butterfly, both with wings/carapace homemade with gusto and glitter glue--so will pack and mail Samantha when I return. Its recipient is Maggie, the newly adopted daughter from Colombia of a favorite mentor/doctor in Boston, of my daughter (quite evidently I haven't yet met Maggie--or her parents; but hope to, at least at my daughter's graduation next May from medical school).

I liked knitting for this little person, the idea of her.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Last weekend my sister asked me to knit her an interesting vest. And so I did.

As we cruised through a LYS in Connecticut where we were sharing a family reunion, she drew close to various turquoises, some Noros with variegated blues: "those would all be fun, turquoise, or something else bold and primary, perhaps variegated."

I had my assignment, as well as some freedom of choice, in patterns and in yarns: dandy.

But some things went awry in the course of that straight-forward project.

Back home at Knitting Etc., I drew close to Schaefer's turquoise "Susan," knitted up in a beaded scarf as well as in a sample vest. I liked this Schaefer glistening cotton, even if I wasn't going to go with the pullover vest pattern. I liked the turquoise base of this variegated Schaefer yarn.

On the internet I found a Classic Elite cardigan vest pattern with enough interest to keep me knitting--lots of right twists for faux cables, eyelets composed out of k2togs, slip stitches, yarn overs, and so forth: see above, Wicked Eyelet Rib Vest.

Okay, I've got my pattern, free on ravelry. It calls for or recommends a lot of cashmere: $$$$.

I'll get my yarn in Schaefer mercerized pima cotton, Susan: $$.

Ooops, the shop's out of the turquoise-based colorway. I'll substitute "Althea Gibson," in violets and beiges, not so bold and not so primary, but that's okay. . . . .

Off I went for four hours with right twists to create my faux cable ribs, having a good enough time with this fairly springy cotton. But even after changing from Addi metal needles to bamboo needles, I was unagile with the slipperiness of the cotton, which made me brace it against thigh or chest or grasp backloads of it in my left hand. But that's okay. . . .

The slipperiness, the not turquoise, the not cashmere, the not inexpensive cotton alternative to the expensive cashmere. (But my sister's pretty rough and tumble, go as you go, with her clothing, so I was thinking a machine-washable alternative was going to have a safer future in Wisconsin than something from a special goat.)

Wrestling with this world of ambivalence, after four hours I stretched back and stared at about six inches of the faux cable, watching it flop about.

And then admitted to Suze that I didn't like it. She and I let forth with its old-lady qualities, its tame colors, its overstretchiness: it doesn't shape, it sags; it doesn't drape gracefully, it hangs like donkey ears.

What to do?

Of course, and two hours later:

"The Wicked Eyelet Mesh Bag."

(With thanks to Ashlee's grocery bag pattern for the top, and to untold caps for the circular-with-decreases bottom.)

Or perhaps it's a legless bathing suit.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finished; now what?

I like this even more than its imperfections warrant. Guess I became good pals with the sweater through all the seed stitch, oh lah, so much seed stitch. Off you go, Aran Cables with Heart.

out with the old, what's the new?

Today I think I can and will finish the Aran sweater that 's been hanging about since August. I've finished one saddle shoulder insert, need to do the other quickly, attach arms to body, work the collar, sew on heart buttons, block, and Ta-dah. I've so enjoyed working with this superwash Dreams in Color yarn, even if the cables are less pronounced than they'd be if the yarn were not variegated. The yarn has a spring, that's pleased me through a harrowing amount of seed stitch.

Tomorrow I leave for a long weekend, with friends and relations in Connecticut, so will want to find a new project for the road--not actually for the road, since I'm my own driver, but for quiet times while away. I have nothing pending but this pink Aran sweater, a rare moment of clean transition, a chance to plan.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Big Nameless Baby in Chicago

To be fair, Ted and Mirja have probably named him by today (when Social Security wants it in writing), but their little boy, born on the Thursday evening of October 2, arrived a week late and a name short and a pound heavier than he might have had he been born on my birthday in September. I lept to my needles, and kept myself off the street over the weekend by inserting snowmen and snowflakes on this superwashable one (was actually on the street Sunday morning for our neighborhood Block Party, so am speaking metaphorically).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

POROM times two

Here are two "Porom" hats, designed by Jared Flood (at brooklyntweed), knitted from my stash in Blue Sky Alpaca. Blocking them on balloons works nicely. The first, on the right over a purple balloon, had a few mistakes, but was also larger than it should have been, larger not in the amount of slouch, which will be fine, but in the ribbing brim. I'd gotten gauge with needles one size smaller than the pattern had suggested, yet still, the softness of the yarn, I think, the give, made it harder to get tight enough stitches.

So, Porom over the pink balloon is knit on yet smaller needles--4 and 6, rather than the pattern's 6 and 8-- and I think it will be a good fit. And it has no mistakes, which is desirable when its recipient is Hickory, the owner of our yarn shop. Heh. She won a lottery/raffle we had at one of her baby showers, where everyone predicted the date-0f-birth of the Steven and Hickory's baby. The prize for the winner is anything she'd like knit from my stash.

Hope it suits her.

Baby Maren

Now this is a treat, to see one's little "Samantha" top go far away and come back, photographically. I don't know the woman, but suppose it's baby Maren's grandmother, in Connecticut, where baby Maren, who lives in Florida and whom I also do not know, was recently visiting.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman just died

Paul Newman just died.

Why does my sadness that he has died settle me down, when I've been in a headless chicken snit since the Presidential Debate (my lordy, isn't this a world of fluid chatterers!), not sleeping till three hours after the commentators gave it a rest. Knitting this little hat (Jared Flood's Turn a Square) was my "keep it together" project for attending to the debate, but though I've now got a slightly-short-over-the-ears cap, I have hardly kept it together, roiling for a spoil.

Paul Newman just died. Ohhhhhh. What will I knit to honor and grieve for him? Something gold-- for the lion in his middle name (Leonard) and his ambition into gently grizzled old age.

I knit this hat because everyone else is knitting it, a model (by Melanie Towner) stands at the check-out desk in Knitting Etc., so I didn't have to wander around looking for a Presidential Debate project. It should be a little deeper/longer, though the circumference will suit pretty much any adult head.

I don't particularly like all the (Cascade 220) green, or that particular dark heather green, though I chose it to pick up on the greens in the Noro Kureyon. It's, ah, okay, a sort of "whatever" little cap, that got me through the evening. And I do like Jared Flood, his blog (Brooklyn Tweed), and his gift/ free download of this pattern.

And I liked learning the jogless jog--what was that Seventies movie about doing it without touching, in Paris, the touchless touch,as it were? Or do they do it without talking? Or speak without names? Too bad it's not Paul Newman, for neatly connecting here on his death multiple times . Instead--it comes to me-- Ultimo Tango a Parigi/ Last Tango in Paris, it's Marlon Brando, before he ballooned into Jabba the Hutt (when he was still jabbless Jabba?).

Paul Newman just died.

The Sting
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cool Hand Luke
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Long Hot Summer
Torn Curtain
The Verdict
The Color of Money
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge
The Hudsucker Proxy
Road to Perdition

Whew, each one of those encapsulates or calls back to me a vivid moment in my life.

Long Live Butch Cassidy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I don't yet know if these completely suit the dancing girls, but legwarmers are rolling off my needles nonetheless, as the perfect knitting through the dog park in the early morning project--stuff a few colors into the pockets, and go, round and round the park, back and forth the needles.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

some solutions

These little mis-matches definitely solve the leg warmer puzzle. From Kat Coyle's Boho Baby Knits, knitted up in Rowan Wool Cotton, these are the new blueprint for many leg warmers to come. I'll finish up pairs from some of the other singlets, ones the girls have approved of the fit of, but then go to town with the BOHOs--perhaps sewing in a little elastic. Thirteen inches long, knit flat and seamed, eight rows of 2x2 ribbing at top and bottom: what can be simpler?

I'll top the purple one with another two inches of white 2x2 ribbing, so one could fold it over (or not), throw away the Cascade Fixation pinky, and complete the Dreams in Color all in ribbing pair.

And the Cable/Heart Aran continues apace: I'm crawling up the two sleeves, for a saddle finish.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sample leg warmers

Scrimpy first leg warmers, about to be mailed to the twins, so we can learn what textures they prefer and how long to make them (I did not bind off, awaiting news of leg lengths, which I find curiously hard to envision or mentally measure at this distance).

The light pink one, worked in Cascade Fixation (cotton and elastic), was the first one I did. I opted for elastic content to ensure that it would stay up. It's butt ugly, the 2x2 ribbing at the bottom does not grab, the stockinette of the body is boring, and the 1x1 ribbing for the top--which I'd probably extend so one could fold it over as a cuff on the thigh--is marginally better than the rest. Overall, stitches don't look clean and interesting.

The next, worked in a colorway from Dream in Color--a superwash hand-dyed yarn I bought two years ago, and am using mainly for the slow and elaborate Aran sweater I'm back to work on--I like. I did it all in 2x2 ribbing, wonder if it's too thick, and too short (one of those is remediable).

The third, another superwash, is at work in Lamb's Pride superwash Bulky, odd bits stashed from numerous sweaters. It's even thicker than the Dream in Color (Classy).

We'll see. Leg warmers are certainly not interesting to work on. Yet I did get to master the Magic Loop method of little rounds, so find myself eager to make fancy mittens, perhaps even some socks, now that I've got a speedy way to (continue to) avoid double-pointed needles.

And, here's the second Big Sven Sveater, done like the first one in Louet Riverstone. I made up some different-from-the-pattern fair isle patterns for the yoke, and stuck in a few lines of alternative colors across the body and the arms. Mastered the short rows along the upper back, and did 2x2 neck ribbing as soon as I came off the fair isle yoke (the neck was too high on the first one, so I had to turn it twice, instead of once, having mis-measured. I did inattentively misdo the Kitchener stitch under one arm, so can show the class what NOT to do (and will fix it myself before sharing it with Ainsley and Eliza, after the class studies the two samples).

I'm wandering and wondering what big and contained new projects I'll undertake. I want to find a good sweater to make for Elizabeth, for Christmas, make myself a vest, make varieties of , as I said, mittens, socks, and tams/hats. We'll see. My knitting picks up as the Fall semester picks up, each activity compensating for the other...or something.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Legwarmers and more: I'm back

Anyone with suggestions for little-girl leg warmers, to help them stay up? I'm not short of suggestions, from, for how to make little leg warmers, but before experimenting would appreciate ideas on good yarns to use or how to sew in above-the-knee elastic --which sounds binding and too primitive a solution. I haven't begun to look around, have just "faved" a bunch of tubish patterns from ravelry. But my three-year-olds are about to start ballet and tap class, so must must must have a range of leg warmers to fill out the leotard and tights, ballet shoes and tap shoes outfits, a crucial accessory, no?

As two-year-olds, with a dancing mother's encouragement, they prepared, as in the accompanying photo; now they're ready for Dawn's School of Dance every Monday. If I can become mistress of the leg warmer, I could supply their little friends as well. Appealing leg warmers will also be good for living with the lower thermostat settings this winter. My D-I-L predicts a cottage industry in leg warmers, once I get them right. So, help please.

Six weeks since an entry here, and more of that time I spent not knitting than knitting; but as I return from heaven-on-earth, the family compound on Lake Huron in Michigan, and sense overnight crispness in the air, my fingers increase their twitchiness, my lap no longer abhors being covered with wool bits, and I re-engage my need to stitch.

Since I'll be teaching two new classes in the upcoming weeks, I've done test runs of "Big Sven Sveater" and of a Christmas stocking. And will do more Christmas stockings before starting that fun class in ten days. This second Sven Sveater will remind me what I didn't like about the pattern, help me to make it a smooth project for the upcoming SvSv class; doing a few more stockings will help me get used to a little bit of double pointed needles, which will help me learn to love them for doing all the leg warmers.

I've also got a handsomely intricate aran sweater on the needles--of course, for the twins--with hearts and cables, and a #4 needle, and a not easily available hand-painted superwash yarn in variegated pinks/violets.

Bring on Autumn and bring on the leg warmers!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fifty-three Sweaters

It's been a month since I've touched yarn to needle. The closest I've come to knitting in all this long time: yesterday I brought all my stash from the back yarn room to the living room, to sort, record, dispose of, and. . . get ideas for knitting?

Sorting stash reminds me of nothing so much as going through family photographs, for the sometimes hesitant recall of where that was (from), the cringe at having made such a choice; the longing for involvement with that seven hundred yards I bought twenty months ago at the little shop outside Milwaukee, but I'm sure there's not enough for what I envision. Nothing direct or unencumbered about this sorting, it's not like putting away winter clothes, not even like choosing to Salvation Army this and to keep that. Those can be crisp choices.

Now that I've got wireless connections with my laptop, I have the prospect at least of taking the laptop into the living room, and typing onto some site at Ravelry exactly what amounts of which yarns I have. Then it will be done. Will I do this tonight?

Will I ever knit again? (You bet I will, for I see dollar signs as well as textures in the yarns that surround me.)

I have found four sweaters, each one finished and totally forgotten, but each in a baggy in the stash. How peculiar. I now add those four to the ones I've got better in my mind, and in my photo records, and announce with wonderment, that I've knitted fifty-three sweaters in the last two years, along with multitudes of smaller items; fifty-three sweaters since I started knitting in August of 2006.

Will I ever knit again?

I have been teaching, film studies to high school students at Cornell, intensively for three-plus weeks, the major reason why I've not been knitting. All day, every day. But before, when was real life any bar to my knitting?

Will I ever knit again?

Probably, to speak with some prescience, never with the productiveness, expansiveness, devotion of these last two years.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

motley aran

I started this one in Huron City, when I stayed longer on vacation than I'd planned, six days longer, and had only one book of patterns, Starmore's Children's Collection, and only one yarn stash--Rauma 3-ply strikkegarn-- necessity is the mother of . . . . Yarns left over from the elephant Christmas stocking.

A little classic Aran, done in motley: knit from the bottom up, in the round, going as long as one color lasted, shifting, up we go. All was seed stitch, triple cables, honey comb (a bruiser, every stitch cabled), slow going. The saddle sleeves were a finishing first for me. The defects of this sweater: it's a rough yarn, will need to be worn over turtle necks for comfort; it's a strange thing to have all the switches of color; for some reason, it's very wide compared to its length.

Anyone know a round and chubby four-year-old who'll fit it?

final footnote about "Jenny Wren": A day passed with no activity after I moved the in-house basket to the front stoop. Then the couple returned, overstuffed the nest, and laid a few tiny eggs.

I was away for a few days, and on my return: no wrens, and cracked eggs. I don't know if some other bird ate the eggs. But there's no one left around my house. hmmm

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Elephants for Little Lee

But first a note about Jenny Wren. It's cute, having Jenny Wren dash in and out. But sometimes, Cute Is Not Enough.

Now is Sometimes, though I'm still not sure how to curtail that nesting. In a basket atop my kitchen cabinets, where she's made her nest. Really won't do, as much for babies' sake as mine. So I put the basket outside, NEAR the house, for Jenny's and pete's sake, but outside. We'll see what happens.

And elephants for Little Lee: worthy Alice Starmore elephants, now embedded in a simple and washable raglan sweater, and marching around a modified "Judy's Colors" Christmas Stocking. One to outgrow, the other to enjoy annually.

Just as I have satiated myself with Samantha jumpers, so, now, am I mistress and past-mistress of l'éléphant. On to fresh pastures.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jenny Wren

Please note, that the entire time it takes me to share the lore, legends, literary heritage, and Audubon factoids about Jenny Wren, Jenny Wren flies in and out of my house, nest materials in beak, making anew her nest (where inside I'm not yet sure), while Hubby pads the nest outside my window, more cautious? happy to make do?

I've been gone thirteen days, slept at home last night (with the front door closed), opened it up this morning, . . . and in comes Jenny Wren. She and her male bested the cardinals in competition for the robin's nest at my window, so I've got visual access to her, as she, immediately this morning, re-entered the living room: what memory, what what? brought her right back in as soon as she was able? (But she shall not make a nursery in my doggie treat jar again).

So, googling around on House Wrens, I'm beginning to take offense at others' characterizations:

  • "[Another] thing about House Wrens is that they are not too choosy about where they build their homes. " Clearly, my Jenny is very choosy, discriminating, and tenacious of her homestead.
  • Here's a pair of "Jenny Wren" socks: but when I say "here" and the image appears "there," above, it means I can't figure out how to interpolate where I want the photo into the blog.

  • And here's Paul McCartney's "Jenny Wren" :

with lyrics:

Like so many girls, Jenny Wren could sing
But a broken heart, took her song away

Like the other girls, Jenny Wren took wing
She could see the world, and its foolish ways

How, we, spend our days, casting, love aside
Losing, sight of life, day, by, day

She saw poverty, breaking up her home
Wounded warriors, took her song away

(solo) verse, chorus

But the day will come, Jenny Wren will sing
When this broken world, mends its foolish ways

Then we, spend our days, catching up on life
All be-cause of you, Jenny Wren

You saw who we are, Jenny Wren

  • In the nineteenth century, in Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, Jenny Wren is "a child — a dwarf — a girl — a something, " the put-upon and old-before-her-time daughter of an alcoholic father, orphaned by her mother's death. The following tells her story using quotes from the book:

A parlour door within a small entry stood open, and disclosed a child -- a dwarf -- a girl -- a something -- sitting on a little low old-fashioned arm-chair, which had a kind of little working bench before it. "I can't get up," said the child, "because my back's bad, and my legs are queer. But I'm the person of the house. . . . You can't tell me the name of my trade I'll be bound. . . I'm a doll's dressmaker." Her real name was Fanny Cleaver; but she had long ago chosen to bestow upon herself the appellation of Miss Jenny Wren."

[Miss Jenny Wren describes how she finds the fashions for her dolls] "Look here. There's a Drawing Room, or a grand day in the Park, or a Show, or a Fete, or what you like. Very well. I squeeze among the crowd, and I look about me. When I see a great lady very suitable for my business, I say 'You'll do, my dear!' and I take particular notice of her, and run home and cut her out and baste her."

"Then another day, I come scudding back again to try on, and then I take particular notice of her again. Sometimes she plainly seems to say, 'How that little creature is staring!' and sometimes likes it and sometimes don't, but much more often yes than no. All the time I am only saying to myself, 'I must hollow out a bit here; I must slope away there;' and I am making a perfect slave of her, with making her try on my doll's dress. Evening parties are severer work for me, because there's only a doorway for a full view, and what with hobbling among the wheels of the carriages and the legs of the horses, I fully expect to be run over some night. However, there I have 'em, just the same. When they go bobbing into the hall from the carriage, and catch a glimpse of my little physiognomy poked out from behind a policeman's cape in the rain, I dare say they think I am wondering and admiring with all my eyes and heart, but they little think they're only working for my dolls!"

[Miss Jenny Wren tells of the shining children] "For when I was a little child," [she said] in a tone as though it were ages ago, "the children that I used to see early in the morning were very different from any others that I ever saw. They were not like me: they were not chilled, anxious, ragged, or beaten; they were never in pain.. ."

". . .such numbers of them too! All in white dresses, and with something shining on the borders, and on their heads, that I have never been able to imitate with my work, though I know it so well. They used to come down in long bright shining rows, and say all together, 'Who is this in pain? Who is this in pain?' When I told them who it was, they answered, 'Come and play with us!' When I said, 'I never play! I can't play!' they swept about me and took me up, and made me light. Then it was delicious ease and rest till they laid me down, and said all together, 'Have patience, and we will come again.'"

[Miss Jenny Wren is blessed with friendship] It being Lizzie [Hexam's] regular occupation when they were alone of an evening to brush out and smooth the long fair hair of the dolls' dressmaker, she unfastened a ribbon that kept it back while the little creature was at her work, and it fell in a beautiful shower over the poor shoulders that were much in need of such adorning rain.

  • Only slightly later than Dickens, round about the turn of that other century, appears E. Cobham Brewer (1810–1897), with his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898:

Jenny Wren,

the sweetheart of Robin Redbreast. 1

“Robin promised Jenny, if she would be his wife, she should ‘feed on cherry-pie and drink currant-wine’; and he says:—

‘I’ll dress you like a goldfinch,
Or any peacock gay;
So, dearest Jen, if you’ll be mine,
Let us appoint the day.’
Jenny replies: 2

‘Cherry-pie is very nice,
And so is currant wine;
But I must wear my plain brown gown,
And never go too fine.’”

  • But the finest, oddest account I can find, in its original 1820 facsimile is this child's reader:
A very small book,
At a very small charge,
To learn them to read
Before they grow large.

I CAN GIVE YOU ONLY THE website, and promise it's worth your visit:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

sunrise and sunset: I can't come home.

I won't post knitting pictures this time, as the photographed images I snapped are of surprises, for Steven and Hickory. Those I knit during my first--my only scheduled, intended--week in Huron City. But I failed to leave the shores of Lake Huron. I am failing to not thrive. I have to be back in Ithaca by Saturday night, and that may well be when I get back (if I can remember to check the internet late in the week to ascertain when Saturday appears).

Having but little stash left on my vacation, having used most of it for the Baby Lee surprises and an Irish Hiking Scarf, in Berocco something or other with silk that was 50% off at the Knitting Etc Spring Sale, I am now knitting an Alice Starmore Aran sweater in multiple colors, with a fine (and surprise) yarn, one I have about thirteen skeins of, but each skein a different color. I've just built the in-the-round bottom, up to four inches, in Navy; and am taking a break after a long morning's mindfulness (there's not a five-stitch sequence of the same stitch in the whole bloody garment (dash it all for the too attractive picture that snared me: if it's not a single cross cable it's seed stitch or 1 x 1 ribbing or 3 x 1 cabling)).

But I stayed in Michigan precisely for the slowing down, the mindfulness, the solitude. My sister and brother-in-law, with whom I spent a wonderful week walking, talking, reading, and (me) knitting, left on Sunday, when I was leaving. Now I'm left. Now it's me, the three dogs, and the weather.

Ah, the weather.

It dropped from 86 degrees ( a very ominous and sudden 86 degrees) to 38 degrees, in the course of the evening and overnight. That's almost fifty degrees. And now it's about fifty and blowing to beat the band, in a full sun. Weather is a chief occupation up here, in Natechuh. At dawn I was sitting with my coffee at the picture window in the master bedroom thanking the weather tides for lowering the temperature and picking up the drama: big white caps, fourteen shades of gray and blue, something akin to a howl, backsides of baby leaves getting a whatfur.

I've made a fire in the "frpl" (furpull, realtor ad speak). I wore two sweaters, a sweatshirt, and my down jacket, to walk with the dogs up and down, up and down the beach this morning. I'm all for all the weather we can get.

I've read the four books I brought, to prepare for summer school teaching, last week. Our books in the family cottage have been standing here for centuries; well, decades. I've either devoured, tasted, or outright refused each one over multiple years. There'd better be one good book at the Port Austin Library, ten miles away, because I found Waiting--that I borrowed from the family cottage next door, after exhausting my own exhausted book shelves--well, like waiting. It performs what it says it's about. I kept waiting. From the first sentence, the guy is waiting, for the seventeenth summer in a row, for his wife to agree to get a divorce. At the start of the book he's a doctor; two chapters later, he's waiting to become a doctor. Ho hum, don't think I'll revisit that book tonight. Maybe I'll write a book.

Okay, no knitting pictures. But some pictures from where I am, to save me the trouble of finding words to explain why I have not come home. (I'll be back here, in Huron City, for perhaps three weeks in August, with lots of kids, mother, grandchildren, cousins. Now all is quiet.)