Saturday, November 26, 2011

this lovely long weekend

Are you enjoying this long weekend?  Here in the northeast we are being blessed with the most extraordinary weather- warm and windy and dry.  I've had clothes on the line for three days running - all of those quilts and comforters and sheets and towels that will capture and hold the scent of these November afternoons, basking, in the sun.

Thanksgiving in Connecticut was wonderful.  My sister sets the most elegant table -
And the food was nearly diminished by all of the lovely crystal and porcelain and sterling - we had such a feast.  There was laughter and love and I believe that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, even Hilary, who was nursing a horrendous cold.
I couldn't take my eyes off of the chandelier - it was wearing such finery!  The afternoon light streamed through the windows and the combination of sensational food and loved ones was PERFECTION.
One of my blogger friends has complained that I never post any photos of myself, and she's right about that.  I have gained weight over the last several years and am never happy with any photos except, perhaps, THIS one ...
There's my girl, Clementine.  I am so thoroughly in love with this girl, and I'm not alone -
She has something special going on with my son.  We are all hopelessly in love.  (There may be cavaliers in ALL of our futures!)  These little dogs are incredible - they totally bond with their "people".  Sweet, unassuming, a joy to be with, this, coming from people who have always had retrievers!  It's a conspiracy!
I wandered around my sister's home and found so many beautiful nooks and crannies.  An orchid that welcomes one as one enters -
A favorite photo of my father - making faces in order to send his grandchildren into fits of laughter -
The front room - so elegant and peaceful with the fireplace lit .... and, oh!  My sister creates the most exquisite needlepoint pillows!  She has honored all of her beloved dogs, loved and gone onto the happy hunting grounds -
First - Sally.  She came from a Millbrook kennel and was truly, a remarkable lab.
There was Lola - she completely stole my heart and passed on way too soon.
Of course, we cannot forget Mr. March and Lily and the unsinkable Nick -
I think that she liked the newest addition that I brought along -
I hope that you all had a blessed joyous holiday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

quietly busy

The first year that we moved into this old farmhouse, Scott created a beautiful harvest table - large enough to seat our families.  This is where the tradition of having Thanksgiving in New York began.  There is a change in place this year, and the pressure is off!  We've been invited to my sister's home in Connecticut.  Instead of preparing the feast, I am responsible for just a few delicacies!  We are really enjoying the quiet pace of this day - so much so that my sou chef is napping without regret!

   I am making a cheese roll - the recipe originates from the Red Lion Inn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  They don't know how to prepare anything that isn't exceptional.  
Delicious herbs and cheeses make up the batter and after a 24 hour refrigerated nap it is rolled into a log and sliced accordingly.  The parchment paper should make the actually rolling easier.
These unexpectedly beautiful tomatoes are making it possible for me to concoct a family favorite - Spinach Rockefeller.  The spinach mixture is scooped onto thick tomato slices and heated quickly.  Mouth-watering.  The original old recipe (1973) actually called for MSG!!!!!  Thankfully, we've discovered that this is not an ingredient that one wants to include!  I've also put up a Salmon Mousse which will be served with pumpernickel toasts.  This recipe comes from my favorite, The Silver Palette cookbook.  There will be an applesauce cake, made from neighboring apples that I picked myself.  The cheesecake is relaxing in the fridge - there isn't much more to do.
I did finish the pillow for my sister.  I'll slip upstairs to her bedroom and leave it on the bed where she will find it long after we've left.  I'm happy with the end results even though my machine quilting leaves a lot to be desired!  Also, I punked out on the double welting ...  sssshhhh, don't tell.
Ruth McDowell I'm not!  Her machine quilting is sensational, but nothing can compare to my friend Linda Hibbert's work.  The paper pieced Cavalier is only one of many beautiful creations that Linda offers. If you haven't already, be sure to visit her website at Silver Linings Originals.
I've used many different paper-piecing patterns over the years and can say, without hesitation, that none can compare to Linda's.  There is a painterly feel to the patterns, a flow that is so intuitive one hardly checks the schematics.
I've always wanted to create my own designs - in quilting, in knitting, sewing and beading.  I think that I resort to the use of other's designs because I am (a) lazy, (b) insecure, and (c) totally without mathematical acuity and addicted to instant gratification.  Phew!  Glad I FINALLY got that off my chest.

I always wanted to become a painter.  I began taking life model drawing classes in my teens and worked with a local artist well into college, where I majored in studio art.  There was never a time when I was not drawing, illustrating, doodling and creating.  Where I lacked confidence in myself, my work, I found that fiber play was just that - PLAY, and fun and undemanding.  There was no one standing by to critique my quilts, my sweaters.  There was lots of praise for items that could be cuddled up to, worn happily.  But the work was not original.  At best, it only morphed from an original design into something that I went off the rails with! 

Here is one of those happy collisions - 
It began as another Honey Cowl and when I tired of the slip stitch pattern I added stitches and my favorite k6 p2 rib to the end.  Tomorrow I will give it to Hilary and take some photos of the finished piece.  It's really nice - and I'm thrilled with it.  I've started another in my leftover Epiphany from Cascade.
Perhaps this is the first of many baby steps that I need to take before plunging into Original Territory.  The journey is such a wonder to me that I probably don't even need to know or understand where I'll end up.  It is said that if one does what one loves, the success will follow.  How I would love to quit my "day job" to pursue such a sentiment!!!  Meantime, I'll keep creating.  
There are so few things that can compare to this kind of satisfaction. . . It might be time for a nap - imagine that on the day before Thanksgiving!!!  What are you all doing today?  I hope that you and yours enjoy a safe, joy-filled celebration.  And for those who do not celebrate Thanksgiving, safety and happiness and as much family connection as you can get!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the holidaze draws near

With less than a week to Thanksgiving, I find myself scrambling.  This project needs to be finished today, wrapped and ready to deliver.
I'm stalling because the double welting that would finish this so nicely is daunting.  I need you, Pauline.  No one does welting like you do.
This is the little hat knit to wear with the baby shower sweater that I last posted.  It's about as cute as I can stand.  Into the mail it goes!  I can imagine an entire box filled with these little gems (in assorted gumdrop colors).
I frogged an old project to cast on a second Honey Cowl.  It's going to be plump and gorgeous.  I can envision someone tucking their chin into this loveliness on a cold wintery day.

My cashmere Avery is finished and it is my favorite 2011 knit.  I want one in every color, as long as the fiber is cashmere.  Obviously, I'll have to be satisfied with this piece alone!  Another view - and an opinion: MAKE ONE FOR YOURSELF!  
We had bad news this morning - an old friend has unexpectedly and suddenly passed away.  This event gives one pause.  I see by my mother's expression that the upcoming holidays are dragging on her heart.  And I cannot stop thinking about my father.  
I wake up every morning at 2:00 or 2:15am, the time that my father passed on. It's futile to attempt sleep after this.  Insomnia is not good.  
I made this little piece for my father and it hung next to his bed in the nursing home.  You know, you think that you are moving through your grieving process with dignity and a modicum of grace and certainly with reflection and prayer.  But the dreams - the dreams tell a different story.

My dreams, when they come, are vividly colored with small details that I'd overlooked - often dating back to the time when my children were very small, and then even further - to a time when I was a child.  It's impossible to make any sense of it, difficult to shake the remnants, the longing, that these dreams produce.    

Maybe it's just the "Silly Season", the first without my father, without my good dog Jack, without our friend Glenn.
I think that it is important to give in to the holiday season - to honor it in one's heart, in one's private authentic way.  This can be a task, especially when one is bombarded by Christmas jingles long before the Thanksgiving turkey has been consumed!  I begin by pulling out the projects that need to be finished -
What do you do to stay in the spirit, the true spirit of the upcoming holidaze?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

baby shower, etc

It's hard to believe that my daughter's friends are having children.  Where did the time go to?  It seems like only yesterday that these lovely pony-tailed girls were piling into the back seat of my car - giggling, vibrant, ready for anything.  And of course 'anything' is life, and life marches on in a natural order, mostly.  Today's baby shower, or 'sprinkle' is to celebrate the upcoming birth of Michelle's second baby. Hilary is Godmother to her first, Julia, and there is an 8 year span between the children.  
What would equal an Elizabeth Zimmerman classic for this baby?
Softly knit in Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo - a little delight for a precious new life.
I was hoping to make a hat, but didn't have time.  This baby is due in late February so I will be able to complete a hat or two before then and send along.  
I am coming home in the darkness now and have to fight the urge to hit the couch after dinner.  Luckily, my knitting calls to me, so there have been a few projects that are moving right along.
My wonderful friend and hair dresser, Mary, saw the Kauni yarn in my knitting bag and went slightly ga-ga for it.  I plan to make a Newton Scarf for her Christmas gift.  I love the color changes in this yarn, but wish that it were less wooly, or scratchy.  It's definitely an out-side-the-coat knit!

Hilary bought a chocolate brown Calvin Klein coat and needs a hat - another Wishbone knit from Carol's extraordinary Nirvana fiber.  Dreaminess.
I wear my red Wishbone cap every single morning when Harley and I have our walk.
He's waiting for me right now.  What a face!  All of this knitting gets on his last nerve.  Throw the ball!  Chase me through the house!  Gimme a biscuit!  We all make sacrifices, but he's not interested in my 'knitting time'!  It's a theme that has gotten too much play of late.  Since I love him to stupid excess, I'll end this with one more little tidbit.
Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.  Part One of an adorable layette.  Suddenly, everyone is expecting babies!

Friday, November 11, 2011

how much is that doggie in the window ...

Now THAT's a sweet puppy!  I am longing for a puppy - a furry bundle of joy that will make me laugh and give Harley a run for his money!
This guy could come home with me without a single hesitation.  I found a breeder of Corgis in Albany, but they had no available pups.

This, of course, will always be my favorite breed.....oops!  Someone didn't appreciate that comment -

What kind of a post about dogs would this be without mention of a dog trainer?  This is my friend Dan Lussen - someone who knows a great deal about dogs.  If you are in the market for a trainer who knows his stuff, check out  He's really talented and nice and easy on the eyes!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

wool and cashmere

Such a WONDERFUL concept!  Kate Davies of the Needled blog ( put together a month long celebration of wool.  Do go over and have a look.  I have been an admirer from the first read - she is the consummate knitter and scholar!  If I ever run low on inspiration or gratitude I hop on over to Needled.  The world shifts back into view.

Wool has always been my first choice, and since we are celebrating wool this November I am hard pressed to talk about my current project.  I'll whisper.  cashmere ... cashmere from Lobster Pot.
It was time to break out the cashmere that my mom had brought back from Nantucket for me this summer.  It is so delicious that I can hardly stand it.  
Like Delisa's (Dances With Yarn) cotton balls growing in her Georgia fields, only more sublime.  I keep wondering how I ever passed over cashmere ... oh, that's right - the outrageous prohibitive cost! It's worth every darn penny.
If only you could lean in and touch this.  What am I knitting, you ask?  If might be my favorite for 2011.
I fully expect to live in this piece ... sleep in it, walk the dog in it ... go to the market and maybe to work in it!  
And believe it or not, there is another cowl being shaped.  This pattern is one of those wonderful staples that you can carry with you and pick up and not have to worry about counting - it's the perfect knit for when you are waiting on a line or perhaps sitting with your colleagues in a boring meeting  ... you get the picture!   Honey Cowl found on the Madelinetosh website - FREE! 
Miss Babs has colors in her repertoire that are just astonishing!  
We love this 'dahlia' with black or grey.
How pretty this is when paired with the blueberry bushes!  
So many people in the northeast have been hammered with this past storm - our cherry tree lost a huge branch, but we never lost our power.  Fall has slipped away - my sister says that the baton has been passed.  So sad.  No leaf peeping, no lovely foliage.