Always at the loom, day and night. Dark gray is the new black, or Licorice Pipe to my mind.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
These are old lady questions. Am I an old lady? Also, an old lady question.
My blanket for a penal colony has become an 11 foot long table cloth. The penal colony I had in mind is one where dissident artists are sent. Pussy Riot sent to Siberia. Ai Weiwei in China. Not just the famous ones, but especially for the artists we don't even know about. I wish this could be on their table.
Friday, February 14, 2014
This week I had to re-thread my loom, since Mikey the Cat jumped sideways onto the warp behind the heddle frames, from the floor, taking all but a few warp ends down with him as he fell through. I had forgotten to secure the warp ends in front of the beater.
I always secure my warp ends when I cut a piece of weaving off the loom. In 34 years of weaving this has never happened to me. Now, I'm back to weaving more of the rag and yarn weave fabric, like what I had just cut off the loom, which I plan to cut and sew into a coverlet.
This time, I'm trying to weave a more rustic, plainer weave, with the idea of a blanket for a prison cell. Strangle the Cat will be the name of this coverlid, when and if I am ever able to make it. Lucky for him (orange striped above) I'm an unconditional cat lover.
The idea of coverlet weaving has wormed itself into my brain, and I am a little distracted. The modern, minimal weaves of Catarina Riccabona have been making me crazy for a while. I may even come around to some traditional overshot patterns. I never dreamed I'd go there, but I've been looking at old Marguerite Davidson again. At this moment, everything is fluid. Ideas are tumbling around in my head. I'll call that a good sign. Better than frozen.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Last night it was cold and starry. We put the cats out on the porch. Checked the stove twice. Then we went to a dance party in town. As people came in the door wearing fur hoods, down jackets, mittens, boots, scarfs, and they saw people talking, dancing, lights, and music, they smiled big. We were all together in the right place, at the right time.
Monday, January 20, 2014
When the polar vortex recently swept down across the land, with its purifying cold to the bone, I found myself a little on edge in the cabin. So to chill a bit, I went to my favorite winter remedy. I crave books about disastrous polar expeditions, particularly in the 19th c. Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. Some expeditions set out to find the remains of other expeditions, in the end losing more explorers than perished in the original expedition. I read with a horrible fascination, because I already know how it will turn out. First, polar expeditions were mostly doomed, and I have already read the book.
The Worst Journey in the World, by Appsley-Cherry Gerrard is one of the best of the genre, polar expedition gone bad. Another favorite, Sir Ernest Shacklelton's, South, is good. The Swedish balloon polar adventurist, S.A. Andree's Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897, began with the idea of skipping the inconvenience of navigating around ice bergs and snow in a boat or sledge, for the modern idea of floating in a hydrogen balloon over the North Pole, which leads to its inevitable tragic end, with some unforgettable pictures taken by the crew of the balloon crashed on arctic ice. There is a diary!
While some people choose to page through garden catalogs to soothe themselves at this time of year, that holds no interest for me. Besides, I don't keep a garden now.
I want descriptions of sleeping bags, frozen stiff, and rations cut in half, and halved again. Slogging and dragging heavy sledges (because they already ate their dogs ) through darkness, sub zero temperatures, up and down mountains of ice and snow, sometimes lost and going in circles, for 10 hours a day, only to stop to pitch frozen tents, and pry open, and crawl into ice encrusted sleeping bags, is just my cup of tea.
My books fall open to my favorite parts like my Joy of Cooking falls open at waffles, complete with dried batter splotches
I developed this taste when I was young, and loved to read, and re-read, Laura Ingalls Wilder's, The Long Winter, in a bitter cold week. Poor Laura and Pa twisting straw into sticks until their hands bled, to feed the stove, after they have run out of wood. "Pa! You should have put some more wood up." Blizzards of snow fell until it finally covered even their second story windows.
I just read We Die Alone, by David Howarth, loaned to me by my friend, Tamsen, who also enjoys a good polar expedition disaster book. In this one, the main character does not actually die, though I certainly don't know why, and lives to tell the story of his terrible ordeal. He is a Norwegian soldier pursued by Nazi occupation forces at the end of World War II, at the arctic circle in Norway. This one has arctic ocean swimming, barefoot snow skiing, and even gangrenous frostbitten toe self-amputation. Grisly. The narrative of his privations and cold misery seems unending, and I was deeply satisfied.
Call it schadenfreude, or feeling enjoyment at others' troubles, but aside from the Norwegian soldier, who survived his ordeal, and Laura's family, for whom I felt sympathy, I love to scold the heroic explorers, "What did you think you were doing? Stupid man!" Ranting at long dead polar explorers seems a relatively harmless, and satisfying way for me to engage the fearsome Ice Beast.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
I remember learning to bake it myself when I was almost 16 yrs old. I also remember one year, when I was still teenaged, I baked Swedish rye loaves in our summer cabin's old wood cook stove. The loaves came out very lopsided, and burned on top, on the side closest to the firebox. I remember burning lots of kindling, hot, to get the old oven up to 400º, and there was a crack in the top of the woodstove when I had finished baking, that I don't think was there when I started. The cabin was heated up like a sauna. It's a wonder I didn't burn down the cabin.
I packed up one of the loaves in a box filled with spruce branches, and mailed it back to my sweet, new boyfriend. Aha! We've been married for many, many years now. I think he was awestruck by my baking skills, and Grammy's recipe.
Happy New Year, and I hope you have sweet memories of the old, good years, too.
Grammy's Swedish Rye Bread (3 loaves)
3 c warm water
3 T molasses (or, sorghum)
2 t salt
2 cups med. rye flour
1 1/2 pkg yeast
1 cup graham flour (whole wheat)
3 T butter (melted in the warm water)
1/2 t fennel seeds
1/2 t anise seeds
5-6 cups unbleached flour
Let rise twice in buttered bowl, then rise again in loaf pans. Bake 15 min @ 400º
15 min @ 350º
30 min @ 325º
Sunday, December 22, 2013
The tree is a pretty one, with only one weird side. We cleaned house, shook out rugs, and vacuumed all morning, before we brought it inside. We even found our missing cobweb brush! The snow is falling softly, and it feels very much like a Wisconsin Christmas now. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday.