I’ve started an intriguing new habit lately. I know you are all shocked to hear that I spend a great deal of time knitting, but a whole new ritual has taken shape. I wake 5:30 or so, stumble to my coffee, and totter back to bed. Then the knitting comes out. Not the buntings on order, mind you. These precious morning knitting sessions are reserved for the projects on tiny needles requiring time and patience and the solitude of either early morning mists or slowly waking rays of rosy sun. The birds wake to the steady click, click, click of my needles and while the sun rises, my knitting slowly but surely descends from my needles.
We are on the fast track to fall around here and while I’m rushing to finish the sweater I’ve been designing all summer, the weather is seeming appropriate for a pot of soup simmering in the background. What I love about making soup is it’s delightful imprecision; the exact opposite of painstakingly detailing the notes of my knitting patterns. Note the almost complete lack a of guidance in this recipe. It’s like cooking without training wheels.
2 yellow onions
Several garlic cloves
Fresh chopped Tarragon and thyme
Good dollop of bacon grease
Half dozen fingerling potatoes
1 enormous overripe heirloom tomato that may have fallen out the grocery bag earlier in the day
White button mushrooms
An ear of corn
Veggie buillion cubes
1 pound each whitefish, scallops, shrimp
1 pint of raw cream so thick you can stand a spoon in it
In a very large pot, add your bacon grease. To that, toss in chopped and/or minced (per your liking) garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and herbs. Cube your potatoes and add them, too. Cook over low heat until the onions are translucent. You’ll be able to get a healthy dose of knitting done while this happens. Just don’t forget your cooking!!
Use a spot of sherry to deglaze the pan and stir in a few large spoonfuls of flour.
Add the broth and some water to your desired quantity and buillion cubes to taste. Slice or chop the mushrooms and add them to the concoction along with the injured tomato, now thoroughly crushed by knife and hand.
Let that all simmer until the potatoes are tender and the mushrooms are cooked through. Continue to knit lazily while all that takes shape.
Shell the shrimp (save them to make more shrimp broth later!) and chop all the seafood into bite size pieces. Throw it in the mix. When the seafood is cooked, stir in the cream and corn.
Family gatherings are always festive, and with my in-laws I’m never quite sure what activities will ensue. At a recent get-together haircutting became the theme of the night and the warm familial bonds and smiles were captured on film. I’ve been determined to translate one snapshot into a hooked rug design, complete with a barbershop stripe border. The scissors are obscured from view in this rendition and I haven’t decided how to correct that yet. If only drawing came naturally to me. Sigh.
Truly, I can’t believe we are well into August. The summer seems to be speeding by me. Already, I smell the whiff of fall in the early morning air. Not a complaint really. I’ve been quite productive. I’d much rather work out the details of a six foot stole in a cool breeze than bind a four foot rug in 80 degree humidity.
Like summer produce, everything all ready at once, the studio has finally completed two big projects just in this past week. (Fanfare, please!) The Amsterdam Rug, inspired by a photograph we took in the fields of Holland last year has finally been hooked, bound, and installed. We are both thrilled with it, and I encourage any of you hookers out there to transform your own favorite photograph into a treasured fiber memory.
Second, I’ve finally pulled together the pattern for my favorite stole. I love this thing and use it for everything from chilly summer mornings to dinner outings. The pattern is in full color with two different types of written directions to match your knitting style and lots of pictures.
I thought I knew where I kept what I’m looking for, but apparently not. It’s not there, and it’s not anywhere as near as I can tell. I pulled the studio apart. I even put things away. Some cleaning happened. A whole bunch of things I hadn’t even noticed I’d lost were found, and I can’t imagine how I’ve survived without them. I gave up. I walked away. Two weeks later an epiphany struck. I opened the carriage house cupboards that line the back of my studio, and there it sat prim and proper and reporting for duty. That was my missing thread.
I have recently come to the conclusion that much like good wine, stash is best when it has been given time to age, ferment, breathe. We add to our stashes because we see potential and promise in the materials. Perhaps the sun, the temperatures, the rain were just right for the grapes this year and we buy on speculation, but we don’t drink it right away. We let it develop into its best version of itself. Stash, too. It needs to evolve and interact and be inspired by the amalgam of materials around it. The insides of my studio cupboards are my version of the charred oak wine barrels. All ingredients are waiting for the best versions of themselves to be enticed to blossom. Just as it would be foolish to expect an infant to contribute to the household, it is equally foolish to expect the new aquisition to the stash to be immediately helpful. We just know and love it and see what potential it has. Perhaps, in that way, it is even more like choosing a husband–they too need to time to grow and mature.
I spent the morning adorned in a paper dress. I wasn’t terribly happy about it. Actually, I was a wee bit offended by the whole thing. While I’m no fashion diva, I am a fiber affcianado. This was not a nod to avant garde alternative fashion. I bet you it wasn’t even an earth friendly recyclable. This was an atrociously ill fitting, ill-conceived insult to my $35 copay. Miffed.
As I was saying—-For the record, my husband is crazy. But it is the best kind of crazy you could ever hope for. At the moment, he is intent on saving us from being washed away in some very heavy rains. Noah doesn’t need to be called in for a consult by any means, but it is charming to see his sweet intensity to divert rain and gutter run-off as if Satan himself had come calling. It is late, dark and (obviously) raining. I will prep warm clothing, get dinner to the brink of serving, and ready a hardy hug. Tomorrow will hopefully be drier and his attentions will once again be directed to the true craft at which he excels: turning old salvaged discards into useful and beautiful treasures.