Entries in Sticks and Strings (27)


Hurray for Jane!

Good news! Let's have a parade! My blogging idol, Jane Brocket, has gotten a publishing contract for her book The Gentle Art of Domesticity. It's due to come out in the U.K. in October; I can't wait until it is available here in the States. She'll be preaching to the choir when it comes to me (and to you), but as a perennial choir member, I've always enjoyed receiving preaching.

Jane is such a lovely writer--contemplative, articulate--and has the all-too-rare gift of not taking herself too seriously. Her devotion to her family comes out very clearly in all she records. She's also quite talented when it comes to many of the domestic arts--plus, she loves Cary Grant. She's pretty near perfect, in my book.

She has my warmest congratulations. If you want a treat, spend some time going through her blog archives. You won't be sorry; if you're like me, you'll come away inspired and renewed.

I'll update you when the book is available; I'd love to help make it a bestseller here, so that she'll be forced to make a U.S. book tour, and I'll be able to meet her in person (yes, shades of the Brent Spiner encounter). Keep your fingers crossed!


Needlework Group

I'm starting a Needlework Group! I know that many of us have half-finished (or never-started) projects in closets and cupboards. There they sit in the dark, waiting for us to have a big block of time to get them out and work on them. But we are busy, and our projects languish.

Let them languish no more. The second Monday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., I'll provide my living room, protected from the elements and stocked with good snacks (feel free to add to the stash), as a meeting and working space. We'll get together, visit, support one another's creative endeavors, and eat. Please join me--come when you can, leave when you must. It'll be great.

I look forward to seeing you this Monday, 12 February! Call me or email me if you need directions.


Shades of Bartholomew Cubbins

The knitting of hats is an even more addictive subgroup of knitting than knitting itself. Hats are so fast and easy, so pleasingly sculptural as they progress. The knitting of socks is nearly as addictive, save for the fact that one must (hopefully) knit two of a kind. Fortunately, my latest hat will be finding a home other than the shelf of our front closet.

Our nephew Michael is a new missionary in Chicago, and he is as fresh and green as a newly-cut Christmas tree. His emails and letters have been delightful thus far. The winds of Chicago are apparently as fierce as legend portrays; his poor exposed ears are suffering. I just finished a hat for him, knit out of a lovely Malabrigo color called 'Azul Bolita.' I'll send the hat off, along with some treats, via Fed Ex today.

And here is Daniel with an old pilot's helmet on. It weighs nearly as much as he does, but he was somehow able to hold his head up straight. Up in the air, Junior Birdman!


Mad Hatter

Daniel asked for a hat, which coincided nicely with my new resolve to knit down that stash in the attic. This stripy number is some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran leftover from a yoked Fair Isle sweater I knit for myself a couple of years ago. I think I still have enough left for one more hat; I may make a spare to have in the hall closet, just in case.

Hope begged in on the photo shoot; I acquiesced, since her hat hadn't been published yet.
Question: Is Daniel this happy all the time? Answer: Yes, actually--pretty much.


Sock and Scone

Perfection. I'm always reaching for it, nearly always falling short. Perfect writer? Hardly. Perfect knitter? I wish. Perfect wife and mother? Lamentably, not even close. But when I do attain perfection in some tiny corner of my life, it makes the reaching in all arenas easier to continue.

I tasted perfection twice the other day--a rare occurrence indeed. I made a batch of scones on Wednesday morning; this is a recipe I've been tinkering with for over a decade. The original recipe--called "Dried Fruit Cream Scones"--came from The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham. I've changed it enough by now though to call it my own, even by the strict interpretation of my copyright lawyer husband. I've made it frequently enough to have gotten it into the category of "Very, Very Good" for a long time, but a new twist (sour cream instead of my usual buttermilk) the other day brought it into a flawless state.

Chocolate (or Peanut Butter) Chip Scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips, if you like)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the first four ingredients together well; add the chips. Add the sour cream and the melted butter; mix only until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes.

Full credit goes to Shauna for suggesting years ago that the scones were great with dried fruit (when I want to go that route, I use chopped dried cherries and apricots), but that they'd be outstanding with chocolate chips. Pure genius, Shauna--thank you for once again dramatically improving the quality of my life.

I can't stress how easy these are--such delightful payoff for very little work. Of course, perfection in the realm of food carries a degree of subjectivity about it, but give these a try and see what you think.

The other instance of defectless excellence was my first-ever full-sized finished sock. I grafted the toe Wednesday evening, wove in the two ends, and presto! Completion. I'm sure a discerning judge at a County Fair might find fault with it, but what a thrill it is to put on something that I made to fit my own foot exactly. Impeccable comfort. Can't wait until the other one is done.

Failure frequently looms large in my life; I try to be patient with its bitter presence, as I know that there is much to be learned with each new mistake. How pleasant is the contrast then, once in a great while, to savor perfection's rich flavors.