Saturday, March 28, 2009

Big Day Out -- "Good Things Come in Small Packages"

I knew it - in spite of his many fine qualities, my Mr Dearling is (ALSO!) a masher ! (Oh, come on, you had to have seen that coming.) I showed off my wonderful new potato masher previously; as I mentioned, we boiled up some potatoes straight up. Now, with a beautiful, primitive kitchen tool like this, you just don't put the potatoes into Tupperware. I shudder at the thought. But I venture to say that every single reenactor home - up to....say....World War II reenactors (there ARE! I KNOW!) contains at least one enormous wooden bowl. So we got it down, and Mr Dearling mashed potatoes.

It was as we thought. It really IS superior to our regular mashers. It's heavy enough and wide enough to quickly mash the potatoes - and we found that it's very natural to stir the potato down into the middle of the bowl and keep mashing. Truth to tell - the potatoes were smoother and evenly mashed MUCH faster than with anything else I've ever used.

Hmmmmm.....wonder if I could find a butter churn somewhere....or a washboard!

Fear not, friends. As much as I relish spending a few days in the 18th century, I feel no qualms at all using my microwave, indoor plumbing, teevee -- you know, COMPUTER . But I am very well aware that some "old-timey stuff" really is superior to the "improvements". Thus ends my soapbox.

We went to our tours on Wednesday, as usual. I had one at 11:00 (they're each roughly an hour) and Mr Dearling's was at noon. Our boss-lady, knowing our plans to go to LaCrosse, told us we could leave when his tour was over, rather than staying until 3:00. I tucked in for some research after my group left -- and at nearly 1:00, the coordinator radioed me saying that the volunteer slated to give the 1:00 tour hadn't shown up , so "Could you take the 1:00 tour?".

Now - it's a little less than three hours to LaCrosse; the Knit-in-Public was scheduled from noon to 8:00 pm. Whipping out my paper and pencil, I did some figuring, and realized if we left a little later we'd still be there in time to make Franklin's program at 6:30.

OK - I lied. I didn't really do any math. Furthermore, I wouldn't let a group miss a guided tour except in really dire circumstances. But you know, that was one of those It Figures moments.

Anyway, we did actually get out around 3:00, and Mr Dearling put the pedal to the metal (legally, of course) and we found a parking place RIGHT IN FRONT of the library (I generally have good parking karma, but these last few weeks? Uncanny!).

As a result, we were in plenty of time to enjoy some shameless Knitting in Public in the library. There's something so wonderfully companionable about settling into a little knot of knitters. Instantly everyone is exchanging tips, admiring work, asking about needles, &c. It's as if you live in a place where you're fluent in the language but it's not your native tongue - and then you go to a gathering of countrymen and everyone is speaking the same language and when you say "It's just K2, YO, K4 all the way" everyone knows exactly what you mean, can see it in their mind's eye - and is remembering something in the stash at home that would work perfectly.

Besides that, two things happened immediately I arrived. 1) Friend Ann, whom I had never met but we'd exchanged emails about toques, came up and introduced herself; [see photo, right] and 2) a lady came over, said the Yarn Swap was underway, and gave me 6 tickets with which to "buy" some of the yarn! She'd brought a whole bunch, she said, (you got a ticket for each skein you brought) and she didn't want anything else! Now, I'd forgotten my bag of yarn to bring (NOTE: I'm going to ship it up to Abigail at the library, for her kidknit group) so it was very generous, and I did avail myself of a few skeins of acrylic for my preemie caps (I'm slowing down a bit but still hackin' on 'em pretty good) and two of those big CONES of yarn, one cotton, one a lace-weight. I've never used those and I'm curious.

I'd call that a pretty fine "welcome to LaCrosse" moment, wouldn't you?

After a while of friendly knitting, the announcement was made that we could repair to the auditorium for Franklin's program.

NOTE: may I say, it occurred to me frequently during the evening - it was awfully nice of Mr Dearling to drive me there - and help out by taking pictures and keeping me company, and then, on the way home, getting us hangerbers ("Checkers" mushroom and swiss burger and some really fine seasoned fries) and driving us home in the dark. For all of that, and everything else (you know what it is) THANK YOU, Mr Dearling. Baby - you're the best!)

So we went down and Ann and I found some good seats. They were ALL good seats, matter o' fact, and sufficient to the crowd. As we came in, I did see Julie, a Sow's Ear colleague and Cathy-Cate, -- we'd been in contact about meeting there.

There were some presentations of perfectly beautiful community-knit afghans to worthy recipients, and then, Franklin Habit was presented.

I imagine anyone reading this is a fan (probably long-time) of Franklin's blog The Panopticon , and therefore knows him to be a brilliant cartoonist, master knitter, and the hilarious keeper companion of Dolores, the "two pounds of Romney fleece" he ordered (eventually). Franklin talked about his knitting projects, read some passages from his book, and was entirely delightful. At the end, he displayed some of his knitting, to the wide-eyed admiration of us all.

NOTE: when displaying his ethereal shawl, the 1840 Gentleman's Cap and the 19th century Infant Hood (think "angry baby") he tossed them, flipped them, swirled them - resulting in very blurry pictures. I apologize.

While this is fuzzy, it still shows the lightness of this beautiful lace. which floated like cobwebs. He had said it was "easy"....although there are some of us for whom that may not be entirely true. (ME - that would be ME.)

The tassel on the Gentleman's Cap was spinning like a pinwheel on his hand......

Well, we listened, we laughed, we knitted - and it was an absolutely splendid evening. I was SO pleased I'd seen the mention if it in time to actually get there! I'll end with a couple of more pictures of a terrific evening (then I do need to start to get ready for State History Day - we have to report in just over three hours!)

"EASY" he says....yeah, talk's cheap! However...maybe not impossible .......

Here's Cathy-Cate, resplendent. The shawl she's wearing is one of the most beautiful examples I've seen; the delicacy of the pattern and the perfection of the blending colors is unbelievable! I'd say that the shawl with the simple black frock is the definition of "elegance". Also - the piece she's working on is stunning, and do you see that? She's knitting from the SKEIN! I've heard of that, but now I'ves seen it. And the grace of the shimmering loop of yarn on her arm, leading into the fine lacework, is at once a delight for the eyes and an inspiration.

In conclusion, do you notice - standing next to Franklin (allow me a "SQUEE!") I feel like a regular-sized person! There are very few people of a height with me over the age of nine . Can't speak for myself, but I'd have to say that he MORE than proves up my mother's old adage: In this case, "Good things (clearly) DO come in small packages!"

Maybe....just maybe...being next to all this knitterly greatness this month may rub off on me. Now...where's that lace shawl pattern??

(Under the preemie caps, the toque, the dishcloths...........)

Oh yeah.


MX said...

You lucky duck!! Had me scared for a minute with that tour leader debacle but what a happy ending.

Good for you!

Joy said...

Thanks for sharing the photos and Franklin's visit - isn't he great? :)

Cathy-Cate said...

Oh, garsh....I'm resplendent! You're pretty luminescent yourself, if it comes to that!

It was so good to see you! And to meet Mr. Dearling (who takes very good pictures, may I say.) The entire evening was amazing. I had so much fun.

The concatenations continue: I think the person who gave you the yarn tickets may possibly have been my friend? Was she short, dark-haired and pregnant, with a brownish February Lady Sweater on? My friend Catherine said she was stash-recycyling, and had more tickets from doing so than she could use, and gave some away.

I found out when I got home Wednesday that part of my family will be in Madison on May 2nd, but unfortunately I won't be (because I'll be chaperoning a school Safety Patrol trip to Washington DC with my younger daughter). My older daughter did very well in her National History Day presentation (she and a friend did a dramatic presentation of Rachel Carson's life: not only are they going to State, but they won the "Women's History" award for the Western Wisconsin region, woo-hoo! there's my young feminist!); anyway, the state competition is Saturday May 2nd. I wish I could be there instead of on a bus....

Anonymous said...

I bet Franklin was equally happy to have his picture taken with someone distinctly shorter than he is!

Annie said...

You captured the event impeccably! All the warm fuzzies came right back while reading your recap. A wonderful get together indeed, and thanks for including me in your blog!

Alwen said...

Isn't he fun? And now I have a good idea exactly how tall you are!

MollyBeees said...

I'm so jealous! I am going to track that Franklin down one of these day and give him a squeeze myself! We missed you at Last Saturday Knitting (which I gave a new name to seein's how I spent all afternoon working on a pine needle basket!). Linda got a job! Owen dropped in and I almost didn't recognize him. He's gargantuan! Wasn't he just 'this' high?

tea4too0 said...

This is my first time to comment, and I want to say how much I enjoy your blog. I had so much fun reading about your evening. You make it easy to feel like I am there also. Thank you for your blog. Terry

tea4too0 said...

This is my first time to comment, and I want to say how much I enjoy your blog. I had so much fun reading about your evening. You make it easy to feel like I am there also. Thank you for your blog. Terry

Marjorie said...

Heh, good thing green's my favorite color, et-- cuz I'm turning a most becoming shade of it at your getting to hear YH and Franklin and hang out. . . P. takes wonderful photos- no wonder you look so good! :) Congrats on a stellar day!