Thursday, September 18, 2008

For My February Baby

This little sweater goes part of the way toward explaining where I've been all summer, and why there haven't been any foxhunting reports lately. Our first child, a son, is due at the very beginning of February. I couldn't be more excited!

Knitting on this sweater was a way to keep my hands busy and my mind quiet during the tense and sick first trimester, which seemed to last all summer. I seem to finally have gotten the fabled second trimester energy surge, so hopefully there will be more crafting (and email responding-- I've been absolutely terrible about that all summer; sorry friends) on the horizon. I'm disappointed to be missing the hunting season (as I was telling a hunting friend on the phone this morning, there's really nothing like that feeling), but I'm happy to do it to protect my little one.

Anyway, this is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Sweater on Two Needles (Ravelry link), also known as the February Baby Sweater, from her Knitting Almanac, done up in Rowan Wool Cotton that I had on hand. It was a dream to knit, neither the pattern nor the yarn could have been nicer. I still need to sew on the rest of the buttons, but I can't wait until it helps to keep a little winter-born baby warm in a few months!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Dear Jane

Two new Dear Jane blocks this week. Both blocks came about when I needed to zone out on piecework. Those foundation papers make this so easy to do, and so relaxing. First is L-5 Chattanooga Charlie, another batik block. This block was meant to be brown, but I like the additional color and movement that the wilder batik adds. I'm getting a little sick of all the brown blocks, and my stash is running a little thin.
And this is M-11, Rickshaw. There was a little more lining up to do in this block, which as you can see wasn't as successful as it could have been. But I still like the finished product. This is one of the first fabrics I bought on my own as a quilter, in 2001. I find it kind of somber now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The winding road

Seems I like to post photos of this peaceful road on this day each year. A sun-dappled space for a deep breath. When I took this picture this morning around 10 am, it was so cool and fresh in this leafy corridor. I wonder what's around the bend.

The summer between eighth grade and the beginning of high school (how old were we then, 13?), my friend Addie came to the farm with me to visit my grandparents, and we took this road to riding camp each morning. One morning she sighed and said, "Oh, this road is so romantic!" She always did remind me of Anne Shirley, red hair and all (although hers would probably be called a distinguished auburn).

I think the romance is part of what is so calming about this place. It is quiet, but so full of possibility. It always reminds me of that Celtic blessing that begins, "May the road rise to meet you." This road always reminds me to breathe.

PS: Corny today? Yes. But if not today, then which day?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Subtitled: Do you stew?

Today I'm making a big pot of Brunswick stew, willing it to be Fall even though I know we're still in for at least another week of hot sticky summer. With its mix of summer and storage vegetables (corn and tomatoes; potatoes and onions), Brunswick stew has always seemed a good bridge meal. The stew used to be made with whatever meat a person had around, squirrel or rabbit being the easiest to rustle up, but now it's mostly made with chicken (except, apparently in Georgia where it's apparently made with *brace yourself* beef).

In our house when I was growing up, we always called this just plain "Brunswick". It was one of the things that we could heat up all by ourselves for Saturday lunch. My grandmother who lived in Houston but was born in Richmond was delighted when my mother brought her a stock of Mrs. Fearnow's in the bright yellow cans with red writing and those old-fashioned looking pen and ink trees.

This is the stew that is often a side dish on North Carolina barbeque restaurant and church buffets, along with the cooked-to-death collard greens and the boiled potatoes. In Raleigh, I used to make it to go along with oysters done under steaming burlap on the grill. And I still remember the first time I made this in the Little House at the farm. I made the biggest mess of that no-dishwasher kitchen, and ended up giving much of the huge potful away to co-workers and my friend Karen who doesn't like lima beans but can pick around them in this stew.

Late last month, my parents (and my parents-in-law) went to a wedding on the North Carolina coast. My mother told me this story. Our childhood friend, who was getting married, is a native North Carolinian, as are her parents and grandparents. Her husband is from the North. At the rehearsal dinner, Brunswick was served as a side dish, and the Northern contingent couldn't quite figure out what it was. Too thick to be vegetable soup, too tomato-y to be meat stew. "What is this?" asked one of the Northern guests.

"Why, it's Brunswick stew," the Southerners explained.

"What's that?" the Northern guest persevered.

"Well," said a long-time Carolinian, "think of it as vegetable stew that a squirrel tripped and fell into." A clattering of spoons on soup bowls. "Although," she added slowly smiling, "now it's mostly made with chicken." Whoops and cackles from the gathered Southerners.

My stew still needs its corn and hot sauce, but then we'll have a favorite dinner. Hurry Fall!