pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fresh off the needles ....

My first finish of 2014 is this shawlette created from a pattern called Cadence. I love the name because it felt like I got into a regular rhythm as I knitted along. It was an easy pattern to follow, with just enough variation to give it interest without being so complicated that I'd get lost.
The yarn was so much fun to work with -- Odori by Noro, a heavenly blend of silk, wool, angora and kid mohair. It felt so good to my fingers and, as always, the coloration by the artists at Noro lent itself perfectly to make this look like it is made with lots of different yarns, rather than just one self-striping delight. It is a rather chunky yarn so the shawl will feel snuggly and warm, not wispy and airy. I will block it out to be a bit wider at the wingspan -- just the size I love to wear.

During this frigid, wintry spell we're having, I've had to discipline myself to not just sit at the kitchen window, watching the many birds. They are so entertaining! I've been surprised the last two winters to see bluebirds at the birdbath. They are very shy and don't venture near the feeders or even browse on the ground for leftovers, but they come often to get water. Yesterday I saw four, two females and two males, drinking at the same time. By the time I grabbed my camera, one pair had flown away, leaving these two. I use a heating element in the birdbath to keep the water thawed, and it is quite an attraction. All the ponds are frozen completely. 

This book, published in 1996, is one I found at a second-hand book store several years ago, and it remains one of my favorites. If I were to write a cookbook, this is the book I'd want to write. Inside, on the title page it says, "A Treasury of Old-Fashioned Foods and Fond Memories." Food and recipes are so closely tied to memories for me -- they go hand in hand, intertwined forever. Jane intersperses poetry, personal family recollections, old photos and pencil sketches among her own personal favorite recipes, ones that always seem like something I want to make.
The Girl in White
We saw her standing on our lawn,
One zero winter-day;
She never stirred, nor said a word,
Nor asked if she might stay.
And though it may not seem polite,
Indeed, almost a sin,
We never said a word to her,
Nor asked her to come in.
Her gown and cape and hat were white,
And white her feet and toes;
Her mittened hands were just as white,
And white her very nose.
She stood out there upon the lawn
All day, and all the night,
And never once lay down to sleep
That stranger girl in white.
A dainty little maid she was,
A playmate you all know,
For she was "Jack Frost's little girl,"
Carved from the soft white snow.
~Charles Stuart Pratt
Jane tells about her Aunt Heta making Chocolate Snow Ice Cream, and of "Good old winter, when kinfolk stop by to talk a spell and break bread," and of her uncle in 1911 getting new red flannel long underwear ordered from the Sears Roebuck when he was just four and of how he loved the "neat trapdoor."
Jane, like me, loved winter and celebrated its beauty and coziness. She saw crystals in snowflakes, heard songs in the wintry wind, and loved nothing more than to bundle up her children and take them out into the contryside, to experience nature first-hand, even in the extreme. A wintertime picnic was an adventure, with chili (and hands!) warmed over a fire and hot chocolate and cookies for dessert.
In addition to feeding the birds, we put out ears of corn on this spinner for the squirrels. It's fun to watch the acrobatic ways they take kernels off the cob. This morning, Mr. Redbird thought he would see if it some corn might be a nice addition to the birdseed he's been getting.
On the farm, we spend most of the cold, snowy days taking care of the livestock. They usually do well in cold weather if it isn't too wet. Yesterday, however, we found a month-old calf that had somehow gotten separated from his mama. He was down, dehydrated, hungry and very, very cold. The temperature was not even 5 degrees, and it was dangerous for him. So we brought him into the barn.
With no calf milk replacer on hand, I mixed up a concoction of milk, eggs, sugar and calf vitamins, and, since he was too weak to suck from a bottle, he was force-fed (drenched) with this. Later in the evening, the calf was sitting up and holding his head up. This morning, the routine was repeated, and he's looking better all the time. Hopefully, he will soon stand up, and then we'll give the V for victory sign! I think we found him just in the nick of time.
Another important job for me during these cold spells is to keep the tea kettle simmering on the stove. Something hot to drink is always welcome when someone comes in to warm up, toes frozen and cheeks red. I think I hear the sound of boots stomping at the back door and the kettle starting to whistle, just in time to make us a cup of tea. And maybe a cookie or two to go with it? Just what Jane Watson Hopping would have ordered!


  1. What a cheery, uplifting post in this cold winter day we are having. What a blessing you are to all of God's little creatures, keeping them alive and warm! The shawlette is beautiful!

  2. This blog made me want to come have tea with you. :) I am going to copy and paste the calf story to our daughter Deb. She will like that.

  3. Janet, this is such a great celebration of winter. I love your little bluebird, dipping it head to drink, and watching out the windows with you from the coziness of your kitchen. I bet it smells wonderful.

    I do hope the calf is ok.