Monday, August 31, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Our peaceful vacation came to an end. We pulled our ancient little red Civic hatchback out of its parking spot, loaded it to the gills with bathing suits and knitting and books and pottery, and headed home.

I came back with these intensely itchy little souvenirs all over my arms and legs. It made it very hard to sleep last night.

* * *

Today we return to our normal life. The public schools open their doors today and Son (who is homeschooled) is planning to wrap up a few projects he's been working on over the summer. Although we wont officially celebrate the start of 5th grade until the day after Labor Day, it feels like Autumn has arrived. All is settling in and my calendar is filling up with classes and lessons, plays and concerts to attend, and playdates. Even the weather cooperated with the school calendar this year--rare for the Middle Atlantic. The temperature has plummeted to a high in the low 70s with low humidity.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Roadside stand offerings:

Fresh tomatoes, iced glass bottles of Coca-cola in a washtub, spicy pork rinds, and packets of chewing tobacco.


Liquid Satan

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Fruits of Rainy Afternoons

Every vacation is bound to have a rainy day.

We spent some of ours reading on the front porch, or knitting as we watched the drops of rain fall into the lake.

Eventually we headed into town to visit the antique stores and a few pottery studios along the way. We came out with new table linens:

This quilt top was made by the owner's husband's great-grandmother shortly before she died in the 1960s. It makes a beautiful tablecloth--although I admit I worried constantly that we might spill something on it.

We also bought a "totem" candle holder made down the road from our cabin. It is influenced by the Carolina face jugs of traditional pottery. I love it.

* * *

Of course, we came prepared for rain with a few of our favorite boardgames, as well.

One of the games we played was The Settlers of Catan. It is certainly one of my favorites, although I always seem to lose to my metropolis-building husband. And appropriately enough, I always seem to wind up with handfuls of sheep!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Big Day, part 3

After was drank our champagne and ate a wonderful dinner (of store-bought trout), we played Bananagrams, one of our favorite games. It is sort of a variation on Scrabble.

When I downloaded my pictures this morning, I found this message, written out in Bananagram tiles by our 10yo son:

Big Day, part 2

The day we spent on the path and in the water was our fourteenth wedding anniversary. We had a lovely time, smooching along the path while our son took photographs of us.

Yes--I cut my hair short last week, and yes--that is definitely the beginning of a sunburn...

* * *

How fortuitous that our simple cabin is stocked with champagne glasses--including these two, for Bride and Groom!

* * *

It was so nice of the local yarn store in Brevard to have a special sale for us!

Big Day, part 1

We had a day full of outings while we are on vacation.

We started the morning by reading on the porch and drinking hot coffee. But soon we packed our water bottles, a few peanut butter sandwiches, and some empty containers to prepare for a hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Why empty containers? For the tiny, intensely-flavored black raspberries and for the sweet plentiful blueberries that drew many other hikers to the same path.

David filled his container with almost-black dead-ripe blueberries. I picked some, photographed some, and ate a few. Our son filled his belly as much as he filled his pail. Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. (Are you still up on your McCloskey?)


* * *

After the long morning hike, we spent the afternoon at North Carolina's fantastic natural water slide, Sliding Rock. This blogger was too excited about her new camera and too scared of the icy cold water (as well as nursing a sore ankle twisted slightly on our rocky hike)--but her family had a fabulous time.

Check out this short video of Papa going down the rock:

Fun was had by all.

* * *

We ended our afternoon with root beer floats at a local ice cream shop.

* * *

When we came back to our cabin, we had a special evening celebration. To be continued...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boiled Peanuts and Books

After a long afternoon fishing, we retired to our cabin porch to read Tom Sawyer aloud...

and enjoy a snack of boiled peanuts (still hot, made at the stand down the road)--served with delicious local beer for the grown-ups and a very special bottle of root beer for those without ID.

Homemade Fishing

Our 10yo son woke up to a cool mountain morning with a plan: he wanted to go fishing in the little lake that has been a centerpiece of our vacation.

First, he found some long sticks, still a bit green, in the woods. We went shopping for some fishing twine and a colorful lure, and we used a champagne cork for a bobber. (Two of the poles had plain hooks and no bobbers. We must remember to drink more champagne next year...)

David and I checked online how to tie the monofilament to the hook while our son dug for bait.

For a while, I stayed on the bank as Papa and son went messing about in boats. The tried the paddle boat first. What a wonderful fishing vessel it makes!

I joined them after a while and we spent another hour or so on the lake, reading and dangling fish snacks. My kind of multitasking.

We have no fish for our dinner--and honestly, I am sort of grateful. What would we have done had we caught something other than pond muck on our hooks?!

My camera caught the only fish of the day:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Brevard Shawl

When we drove through Asheville on our way to our mountain cabin, we stopped in at the amazing fiberworks store Earth Guild. Although (of course) all three of us (husband, son, and I) brought plenty of knitting for the vacation, I was drawn in by a simple cotton shawl on display, made from the slubby yarn called Ironstone Flake. The display shawl was knit on large needles with the yarn held double, and I did not love the way it draped. The pattern, while quite simple in its stitches, seemed a little too fussy for the yarn. It looked almost like macrame. Nevertheless, it seemed like such a perfect summer shawl. When I looked at the gauge swatch for the yarn on a smaller needle, I was convinced to purchase three balls. I knew I could play around on Ravelry until I found the perfect pattern.

Before we had arrived here in Brevard, I realized that the elegantly simple shawl called Boneyard, designed by budding knit-god Stephen West, might be the perfect pattern for this yarn. I just knit a Boneyard with a pale gray Felted Tweed (pictures coming soon) and love it. The relaxing, straightforward knitting seemed perfect for days on a porch swing overlooking the lake.

I cast on.

Although I love the finished products, I've never enjoyed knitting with cotton or hemp or linen. They are often hard on a knitter's hand. But this yarn was soft and even a bit giving. Not too bad to knit with.

I had a great deal of trouble seeing the m1's with this yarn. (The pattern uses m1's as its major method of increase to keep the fabric solid.) We are currently on vacation and I have no stitch markers (although I have since realized that my husband has a pack in his knitting bag). Instead, I used yarnovers to keep things easy.

When I got to the first garter ridge, I began to think that even the elegantly simple garter ridges in Boneyard were too fussy for this slubby yarn. I decided to leave them out.

So here we have a perfectly plain shawl with lovely drape, amazing sheen, and a beautiful celery color. I guess it really is not a Boneyard anymore. I’m calling it my Brevard shawl, because this name shares so many letters with its parent pattern and because it was started here is the mountains of this town in North Carolina.

It is chilly here in our vacation cabin in the mountains. Wish the shawl were already finished and ready to wear!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Johny Cake Hoe

Many of our days at the cabin revolve around food: acquiring it at local farm stands, preparing it, and enjoying the dishes we prepare.

We started the morning with Johny Cakes, made with cornmeal ground at our son's old camp. We served them with blueberries from these mountains.

If you don't know about Johny Cakes, or hoe cakes as they are sometimes called (or Johnny cakes or jonnycakes or even journey cake, as they are sometimes spelled) be sure you read this short fairy tale aloud while you whip up a batch of these. ("I've outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and two ditch-diggers, a bear, and a wolf, and I can outrun you too!")


1 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil or melted butter
3 eggs
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups white-wheat flour (or use all-purpose white, whole wheat pastry, or even a non-glutenous flour)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder if you like 'em fluffy (we don't use it)

Mix and cook as you would pancakes.


Monday, August 24, 2009

To the Mountains

For the last few Augusts, we have spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina. Our son, now ten years old, attended a farm-based outdoor camp--the same one I attended as a little girl--for a week while David and I hung out at a beautiful little cabin nestled next to a little lake--about a mile away. This year our son decided to join us rather than attend camp.

Our week will be filled with local food, good books, lots of knitting, a little adventuring in this beautiful state (where I was born and raised). I hope you will join me for it over the next few days.

* * *

There is nothing like being paddled around a lake on a sunny day:


Monday, August 17, 2009

Fair Isle in Unfair Times

One of my husband's friends recently lost his mother. When she died, she left quite a bit of wool and knitting--including a large in-process colorwork sweater intended for him.

The friend sent it home with David for me to look at--and I'm pretty sure it is a worsted-weight Norwegian-style sweater planned to be a cardigan. There is no yarn with the project, and no pattern.

The sleeves are finished with the exception of stitching the facings under...

...and the body is finished up to the top--but it needs to be steeked, the neck and edge stitches picked up, etc.

It would mean a great deal to David's friend to have the sweater finished.

Does anyone recognize the pattern, by any chance? Might anyone know what the yarn is?

I'd love suggestions about how to proceed. Any ideas?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

To the Rescue

There is nothing like a torn bed sheet,
some random building tools,
a beautiful summer day,
and a little imagination.


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