These are busy days. A newly-completed doll comes to life every hour or so. We are packing up for a show tomorrow and Sunday at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. Here we have Miranda, a strong-minded young mermaid. Below her is Ulrich, who holds a mouse. Beneath him is a full-bearded Santa in red plaid. I look forward to quiet winter days with time to write more about Alice Miller books.
While I sew I am a news junkie and after I sew I read great books, like Alice Miller’s FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. Oh how familiar that title sounds! She speaks about “poisonous pedagogy” and I add, thanks to Ms. Miller, several characteristics to the list of forbidden traits ~ children in my past were not allowed to exhibit exuberance, because all emotions off the “golden mean” were unacceptable. I remember being in my twenties, and after spending time away, realizing that I did not know how to come down off a high. In addition, children must not wonder or ask too many questions. Neither must a child become attached to any person or object. No well-worn stuffies or favorite blankies, no imaginary companions comforted my childhood.
How fortunate, that I was incapable of adhering to the system! I must have been the cause of great distress to my elders, but I survive and thrive today, and am free.
And here is The Great Tomte, busy about the evergreens, the yew, after exploring the woodpile.
Today we picked sorrel, mesclun, thyme, fennel and dug up the last of the beets and carrots. We checked the cold frame, where new red leaf lettuce has sprouted. As you can see, Tasha keeps a close watch on our activities.
As soon as we fill the feeders with sunflower seed the wild birds arrive for a feast.
This morning I am finishing up a felted pouch from the WOODLAND KNITS book. It turned out large and roomy, and the llama yarn did not felt as well as I would have liked. I have searched through my stash, picked out some Rowan Scottish Tweed sock yarn and several sets of the double-point needles usually used for socks. I am determined to create a little felted pouch about the size of a bird nest, in which I will set one of my dolls.
One of the most charming touches for the pouch is the set of three knitted leaves that twist about the strap.
The oak leaves that I pressed in wax paper bags have held their color and remain flat.
These are busy days for the doll maker.
This peaceful face, autumn poets, deep red begonias in a garden planter, the statue that stands through sleet in winter and is planted with hanging vines and flowers in summer, the garden steps with moss, a Shakespeare garden, old paintings, the deep orange maple, chickadees flitting in weblike patterns to and from the sunflowers, nasturtiums in banks on the white picket fence, an old edition of the short pieces of Brahms, COME AWAY ~ a few red raspberries ripening each day, silks, carpets of fallen pine needles, REACH ~ Do not speak ~ Irish fisherman yarn in creamy white, sweet cider, DO NOT THINK ~ spinning wheel, spinning golden dun fleece, winter songs, DO NOT THINK ~ bulbs to plant, embroideries, new tubes of transparent paints, recipes, illustrations, waxed furniture, laces, pink and rose and wine ~
BREAKING OBSESSIVE THOUGHT ~
Autumn is here. The maples leaves in front of the house are daily deeper shades of flaming rust.
I am stoking the winter cupboard with quinoa in three shades, with sesame tahini, raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dark organic chocolate, and a Greek yogurt surpassing all others. Yes, I have visited the Morning Glory natural food store!
In my garden the lupine seeds that I planted a year ago have decided to bloom!
In my continuing effort to read all of Dostoyevsky I am about halfway through the difficult novel DEMONS, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, and savor the challenge of pondering whether this is a political/historical novel or a psychological novel, or both.
I continue to spin the grayish-oatmeal wool fleece and will soon ply another ball of yarn for the winter shawl that so far looks blizzard-worthy.
These days are very busy with the challenge to complete eighty (80) dolls by October 25. I picked up a small bagful of Star Anise to decorate the gnome hats. Today I will sew a liripiper dressed in the hottest orange print you might have ever seen, and some tiny orange finger puppets are coming up. It’s not every year that a show is scheduled for just before Halloween. I am working on a small wizard hat as well, with an ornate buckle on the band.
We know the sumptuous Keats poem To Autumn and its line, “Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?” But had we ever heard of the Thomas Hood poem titled simply “Autumn” with its line, “Where are the songs of Summer?” Which one of these poets knew the work of the other? It turns out that the Keats poem was written on September 19, 1819, and that Hood’s poem was possibly written in 1827, when Keats had been gone from this world already for six years. When time allows, have a look at these two beauties, and decide which poet favored the season!
And while you are having a look at poems, glance at the Last Poems of A. E. Housman and find number 40, opening with the words “Tell me not here, it needs not saying,” to experience a traveler’s walking song in the harvest mode. We will see if Ralph Vaughan Williams or Ivor Gurney found a tune.
Indignant, indeed, I have been, reading the judgmental biographical notes on A. E. Housman that ignore the trauma of his loss of his mother on the very day of his twelfth birthday. Who, in those days, would have helped him grieve? Why can we not accept that his preoccupation with death in his poetry was perhaps a way of working through long-frozen grief over the loss of his mother?
As I read and reread these three poems I am reminded of Paul Fussell’s admonition ~”The principle is that every technical gesture in a poem must justify itself in meaning.” I find this an endlessly fascinating subject. Fussel’s book is titled, Poetic Meter & Poetic Form, revised edition. Much modern poetry gave me the impression that all rules were thrown out, that meter and rhyme and all poetic devices were outmoded including poetic language. From Fussell I learn that we must know and comprehend and master the ancient forms and from this knowledge and discipline speak in our own day of our own time. The new evolves out of the old.
Look at the Autumn, producing seeds and basal leaves and buds for the coming Spring.
The scarf is knit in the Drooping Elm Leaf pattern from Barbara Walker’s book of stitches, using a cotton tweed yarn from a cone that I brought inside from the garage. I had hoped it would make inconspicuous plant ties, but it proved too flimsy. I wound off a ball, and used it two strands together with the remaining yarn on the cone. The finished scarf is a great success! An additional amount of yarn remains on the cone and I am trying to knit a slouchy beret, with some other fibers mixed in on alternating rows.
The wrinkled fabric in the photo is a great prize, a half yard of dupioni silk that I purchased for 99 cents! I am planning the doll outfits I will create from it.
The warm shade of herringbone tweed is another thrift store find, perfect for the suits and hats of my fall gnomes.
As I consider the imminent change of seasons the weatherman predicts temperatures in the mid-eighties for tomorrow!
I found this big cone of white cotton yarn at the Goodwill thrift store and left it there because the strand was very fine; too fine for knitting. Then I thought better of it, realizing that a typical skein of yarn can easily be twenty dollars, this fall. I thought of wrapping several strands of the cone yarn together. I went back and looked at it again. The label inside read “Wiscassett Mills Co., C.P. Wax Finish, All Cotton.” Somebody who worked in the old mills could probably explain that to me, and what this kind of yarn would have been used for when the mill was operational. I purchased the cone for $2.99 less ten percent with my discount card, drove home, and started wrapping the yarn into a ball. I thought I’d make three or four balls and knit them all together.
Then I thought of using my spinning wheel to ply the strands together. This morning I filled three spools with the yarn. I could say I spun it but really I simply moved it from the cone onto the spools. Then I plied the three strands together by spinning backwards, and wound the result into a ball.
The photo shows my first ten-row repeat of the Drooping Elm Leaf pattern, knit with size four wooden needles. I started with a four-row seed stitch border. The beginning scarf is very soft and stretchy with no hint of the supposed wax finish. The color is a warm and creamy off-white. I am pleased so far with the results of a tiny financial investment and minimal effort with the spinning wheel. And I have barely made any reduction in the size of the cone! Looks as though I have a lifetime supply of creamy white knitting yarn for lacy projects!
- About Christine
- Delicious Food
- Fabrics and Fibers
- the book
- The Memoir