Thursday, February 28, 2008

Saved by the PIG!

Identify the mystery picture. C'mon, give it a shot. No? Well, OK, I'll help you out: it's the lunar eclipse, either almost-complete or just-after-complete. And to further clarify - it's the lunar eclipse as photographed by a very acceptable digital camera on the proper night scene setting..... held by someone with a benign tremor . So cut me some slack here.

On the subject of Good Luck, I'd have to say that seeing it, especially since there won't be another until 2011, and the sky was perfectly clear (nevermind the sub-zero temperatures) was pretty remarkable.

But the Good Luck didn't stop there. Remember how I'm down to TWO toques in my notebook, and when they're done I can actually knit something ELSE? These are the last two commissions I got in November at the North American Voyageurs' Council. For variation, I started the one requested in green; I was using Lamb's Pride for this one. I was knitting happily along, watching teevee, and I noticed I was coming to the end of the skein.

So when I could get up again, ....uhm....OK, here's the deal. Lately Evangeline has been creeping in behind me as I sit on the couch, under my shawl. She curls up against my butt and sleeps and purrs and sometimes I reach behind and rub her head. If I get up, it disarranges the shawl, disturbs her repose, and she gets all "you've abandoned me". So while she's tucked in there I try not to get up until a) I really HAVE to, as in a jog to the bif; b) I've fallen asleep on the keyboard and have to go to bed; c) something else happens that necessitates my doing so even if it disturbs her. What? I'm a slave to my spoiled, over-coddled, precious treasure of a feline goddess of a cat? And your point is...........??? Nevermind.

So! When I could get up again, I went down to root through the stash for the other skein of Lamb's Pride I knew was there. It WASN'T! So I began to root through the multitudinous baskets full of WIPs and oddments and new-stuff-not-yet-in-stash. NOPE! I repeated the above, twice, and then had to admit that somehow I had not Planned Ahead, and that I was OUT OF YARN. Well....not actually out of yarn, but apparently out of that particular color. What does a knitter do?

Cast on for the other - and this would be the LAST toque. I got about a third done while preparing for our program Saturday morning. We participated in a Girl Scout event where the girls learned about their communities by, among other things, hearing stories of "local lore" (as told by Mr Dearling and yours truly). I tried to put it out of my mind - the Worst-Case Scenario called "adding another color, finishing the green toque as a simple cap and then casting on ANOTHER toque in a different green ."

I duly knit on the blue toque during our time with the Sprouts, and when we got home, took another dash through all corners, baskets, bins where my yarns are concealed ehrm - hidden ...mmmm...STORED. No luck. For a moment I got all excited and hastily frogged the beginning (only a couple inches) of my BSJ which had been in time out; I hurried in, laid a strand over the toque, (you know what's coming, don't you?) and it was not even CLOSE ! The BSJ (sob) was a rich olive; the toque more a true green.

WEll, by now it was 4:30 on Saturday, and the Sow's Ear closes at 5:00 pm. I put on my coat and mitts, grabbed the toque and my purse....stopped to drop a few treats in Evangeline's bowl....shut UP, I always give her a few crunchies as I head out the door.... and rushed to the Sow's Ear.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't call it MY LYS for nothing. I got there, rushed in (they were dusting and putting chairs back, although there were a couple of staunch knitters blithely pretending they had hours yet, which always happens). "DEB!" I shouted. "OUTTA GREEN! Lamb's Pride, green something -- Pine maybe??"

NOTE to self: Keep the ball bands, Dummy. Or write down the specs in your cute little Knitting Book. Or...knowing me as I do, BOTH. Thank you.

You guessed it: Deb had one skein of Lamb's Pride, "Deep Pine", color M-172. There was (coincidence? I think not ) a shaft of sunshine splashing on the floor; I draped a strand, and - as Deb noted - it appeared to even have been the same dye lot. That might have been too much to hope for, but I CAN tell you that it's as exact and perfect a match as can be discerned by the application of a human eyeball. Vive la Belle Cochon!

So I'm back in business - did you catch the teensy bit left attached to the toque? Now really, don't Reasonable Intelligent Knitters plan ahead a little better than that? Am I therefore probably NOT one of those things? Well, to my credit, while I may learn slow, I DO learn. (Remind me about this if it comes up again, ok?)

Therefore, on the Knitting Scene, I expect to have both of these toques wrapped up and ready to mail before the end of this coming week. Oooh, and then...and THEN! Where to start?

On Sunday we drove up to Oshkosh to the Trade Fair, as we do (almost) every year. It's usually the most terriblest weather, blowing, freezing, snowy -- this year it was sunny and dry! Colder than a .... well, your choice .... but no problem travelling. We did see a number of special friends, but didn't have nearly enough time for a proper chinwag with any of them, really. Along with purveyors of almost anything ANY reenactor might want, there are a series of lectures; we took in one by a gentleman named Daniel Youngbauer.

He portrays a Meskwakie man (Fox), and after getting a formal education in art and ceramics and that sort of thing, began to research the clay pots made here in Wisconsin by the Meskwakie people. Since then he has been making these clay pots, as close to 100% accurately as research and archaelogy can get him - and they are BEAUTIFUL! Mr Dearling bought me one from him some months ago, and I was very pleased to hear his program. The deal is, you see, he sells them as UTENSILS, and the idea is that they are to be used . While he talked to us about clay, construction, shaping, ornamentation, &c, he had one of his pots on a small brazier just out the door filled with wild rice, which he then shared with us, to prove a) that these pots CAN be used, and b) produce food yummier than you get outta Revereware on the stove. (Both true, by the way.)

Now, the truth is, MY Meskwakie pot has been sitting all artsy-fartsy on the end table. I love it! But I WILL cook in it next summer at events because it is so super-cool. (Also, lovely Mr Youngbauer said if it cracks or manifests some problem because of construction - which can certainly happen with such things - he'll replace it for me).

OK - a Truth here: when we're reenacting, all properly dressed and our little camp is all set up and all, I really relish a detail like cooking in Just Exactly the Right Pot, or using Just Exactly the Right Food. I cook wild rice with dried cranberries flavored with maple sugar, or dried peas and salt pork. It's all part of the fun, trying to replicate the scene properly for the visitors.

(Of course, there's a down side: at this point I can't document the Ojibway or Metis women knitting . I hide inside my lodge at night with my lantern, knitting surreptitiously, hiding it during the day under my wool blankets - feels sort of deliciously naughty. Nevermind.)

Anyway, we did buy a nice large pot for our Fur Post at the Museum; also a bunch of very gay ostrich feathers. There's good documentation (paintings, sketches) of the native men wearing silk scarf turbans bedecked with ostrich feathers, which look I personally favor over the stodgy beaver hats favored by the French!

And in conclusion - I added to my collection of fans (this is painted wood, truly delicious and with the most fabulous "action") and a neat, tidy little basket, just right for my necessaries and perhaps two (or three small) projects. It has a wooden floor, and is a close weave almost in the style of the Nantucket baskets.

I am about to begin a Marathon Knit; I mean to wrap up these toques lickety-quick. ....ehrm - wish me luck!

NOTE: Didn't see any of our voyageur friends at the Trade Fair - NO NEW TOQUE ORDERS! However, to be entirely honest - my friend Audrey asked if I'd knit her a pair of socks. Oh, Audrey, you have no IDEA how glad I'll be to knit you a pair o' socks!


CathyCate said...

I recognized your picture! I had some just like it! And I only have a tremor when I've had way too much caffeine. So embrace your lunar eclipse smeariness! You KNOW what I went through to get a halfway decent photo, and even then my heartbeat made my lunar eclipse photo jiggle.

Beading, umm, basketry, I'm guessing, embroidery with quills and beads? Is that right? Is there other handwork Ojibwa women did? What can you do to take your hands' mind off the fact that you aren't knitting, when you're actively re-enacting? (You know what I mean.)

The Pig Rocks!! Been there once and came away with lots & lots of fun stuff I can't get at home. Including some books I hadn't seen up close & personal. As I told Beth, when the weather's good and I have a weekend I don't have to work, I will perhaps come to your neck of the woods on a Friday Knit Night Just To Knit! That will feel so decadent! Because I have absolutely no other reason to come to Madison, until & unless the Preteen is in another music festival this fall.

Jane said...

Hmm, seems to me that running short of yarn is going around lately. Glad you were able to find what you needed. We got to see the eclipse from high on a mountain in very cold California. Beautiful!

cheesehead with sticks said...

SHUT UP! I can't even finish reading the post before I have to comment! I went to high school with said gentelman Daniel Youngbauer! In fact, my best friend even dated him for a bit. Holy freakin cow!

I'm so glad to see he made a life of his art! WONDERFUL!

Okay - I must calm down, it's not that weird or big of a deal, but who would think you run into an old friend on someone's knitting blog - ha!

dale-harriet said...

Ladies: cathycate, you're right about the handwork. I took a workshop in quillwork and got a reverential respect for it (and owie fingers); other than that, I mostly fuss around my cooking or try to engage people in conversation (I can talk pretty good!) Jane - I'm always very moved to realize that all my friends, all over the WORLD, are looking at the exact same moon I me goosebumps. And cheesehead - YOU SHUT UP!! Really?? (I bet he looked a little different in high school...heheheee) The man has earned, however, truly deep respect in the reenacting community for his scholarship and artistry.

janna said...

You really are so lucky that you wonderful LYS had exactly the Lamb's Pride you needed. I, too, ran out of Lamb's Pride with about 2 inches (and a thumb) of mitten to go, and it took mine a month to get it in! Definitely not the same dye lot, since the first skein had been marinating in my stash for years (and apparently had had a tiny bit of it used), but it still matched...

cheesehead with sticks said...

Actually, he did not look much different at all. I looked close at the picture because I couldn't believe it. He was a bit younger, and smaller (weren't we all?!), but he had the long hair and feathers and leather mocassin boots even in high school. Sans face paint of course :) My friend's mother was his art teacher as well. (same friend he dated briefly)

My husband has always been fascinated by reenactors, and I can't say I'm not interested at all. Maybe we should start paying more attention when events come around.

Linda L. said...

Don't worry about your benign tremors, Dale-Harriet; even I cannot achieve a crisp, clear night photo without a tripod. Even steadying mt hands on a rock or a railing isn't enough to cure the blurriness. But with a tripod ($25-$30 at OMax, ask for Jay) it's amazing the difference.

And I'll cheer right along with everyone else for the Sow's Ear. One of these days I'll make it to Late Night Friday Knitting.

Otherwise, it sounds like you've been having fun! Take care!

Anonymous said...

Get out! Ostrich featherS? and gay ones at that?!? I have seen those paintings, too, but it never occurred to me to wonder at the ostrich plumes. Just how in tarnation did Native Americans in 18th century Wisconsin get ostrich feathers? Inquiring minds want to know.

Viva La Belle Cachon, indeed! Now I am all inspired to try to time my eventual visit to Madison so I can join y'all at a late night knit night. When the weather warms and the tax returns are all out the door...

Anonymous said...

Um, I meant Cochon, of course. No hablo Francais.

Juli said...

We have about 20 cloudy nights a year here in Four Corners, and wouldn't you know one of them was during the eclipse!