This Part Doesn't Really Have Much In It About Knitting
So I went out to Guthrie, Oklahoma for the annual Sealed with a Kiss Knit Out. It was the first time I'd done anything in Oklahoma other than spend a night in a hotel during a drive to Santa Fe, and it's not fair to make a decision about any place based on the quality of your stay at a Hilton Garden Inn.
I had a blast. In writing about Oklahoma, Mr. Hammerstein got it surprisingly right for a New Yorker–there was indeed a bright golden haze on the meadow every morning; and I saw a hawk making lazy circles in the sky. I awoke to the cry of a lonesome train whistle, and that would have been extremely Johnny Cash except I was sleeping in a canopy bed covered with blue roses.
The knitters were good-hearted in the extreme (a future post will be devoted to a piece of stunning generosity–I haven't yet been able to photograph the gift properly). The event itself is so awash in charm, I didn't wonder that students had come from far afield (and my fellow teachers, the redoubtable Fiona Ellis and Jane Thornley, had come all the way from flippin' Canada).
Guthrie, which you should visit, is about the size of the frozen foods section of our Costco. It consists in the main of gloriously untouched High Victorian buildings standing cheek-by-jowl, with occasional outcroppings of Art Deco. There's a historic theater (the kind with live actors and footlights), a truly splendid yarn shop (see Sealed with a Kiss, above), art galleries, good restaurants and so many, many, many antique shops.
We have antique shops in Chicago, but I usually can't afford to look in the windows. For example, once I noticed in passing by a store in Ravenswood that they had a bag of old wooden clothespins for sale. They were the kind with no spring that I remember my grandmother keeping in a big old chip basket, handy to the washing machine. They were nicely weathered, and I thought they'd be useful for photographs, so I went inside and asked the price.
It was $35.00 per dozen. That's $2.1966666 per pin. The saleswoman explained that they were eco-friendly and upcycled, and that hanging out your wash is the new In Thing for the local yuppified supermoms–apparently it offsets the carbon they generate while driving their kids three blocks to school in a Range Rover. Rustic "vintage" clothespins are sine qua non for the fashionable wash line.
Guthrie is far more reasonably priced, not to mention blessedly free of yuppified supermoms; and on one afternoon plus two lunch breaks plus a quick dash in early evening I...um...well, I bought some stuff.
Including thimbles. It seems I have kind of a problem with buying thimbles. Well, no. I have no problem with buying thimbles, I have a problem with not buying thimbles, at least when they're as cheap as they are in Guthrie.
I'm not gaga for all thimbles, mind you. I don't care a fig for the twee pewter souvenir variety that could never be used to sew because they were designed to sit on a rack and remind you of your crazy party weekend in Yucca Flats.
The thimbles I like could be used for sewing, if you (okay, me) could fit your stubby manfingers (okay, my stubby manfingers) into them. They're old, and slightly battered, and often offer charming suggestions like "Make It Yourself with Wool."
And yes, fine, along with that one and the bridal thimble from Royal Worcester, and the advertising thimbles from Newsom's Flowers of Marion, Kansas and Glass Portrait Studio, there is a souvenir thimble from Mesa Verde. I'm hoping it will give visitors the impression that I once had a crazy party weekend in Mesa Verde, because my reputation could use a dash of daring.
The only thing difficult about shopping in Guthrie was that I was making the rounds on the eve of the Rapture, and the little old ladies at the cash desks kept wishing me "a blessed day." I'd stand there holding my two dollars and wondering, "Are you saved? Because if you are, I'm just going to come back the day after tomorrow and pick this out of the rubble."
This Part Has Even Less in It About Knitting
I wish I could show you what I'm knitting right now, but everything is either for a client and therefore top secret, or it's my niece's not-a-pink-poncho and still bunched up on a circular needle and therefore unphotographable. However, I fully expect the pink thing to be unfurled in a week or so–we're nearing the end of the third version of the cape. There's also a new design for Skacel, of which I am immensely proud. Pictures forthcoming.
In the meantime, I have flowers. If you don't care for flowers, you can go back to planning your Disney vacation or reading Justin Bieber slash fiction or whatever.
I took a head count a week ago and realized that in the two main flower beds I have to play with, which together measure a whopping sixteen square feet, I have 14 herbaceous perennial species represented in a total of something like 34 specimens. This is the antithesis of the American suburban gardens of my childhood, which considered three gaudy Burpee marigolds in a line near the front door to be overdoing it.
Among the plants currently doing their thing, and doing it well, we have Dicentra spectabilis "Alba," a white clone of one of my favorite plants, commonly known as Bleeding Heart.
And there's also an Aquilegia, or Columbine–new for this year–which is obliging me with a second round of blooms. It's my first Columbine, and what the gardening books don't warn you about is that once you have one, you'll find yourself wanting more. They're like thimbles that way. I will for the present confine myself to hoping it sets seed .
And not yet in bloom, but getting there, is another new acquisition: Alchemilla mollis, or Lady's Mantle. The leaves are shaped like inverted umbrellas (which I, as a Chicagoan, know all too well) and are covered in tiny hairs. The hairs catch the dew in the morning and the entire plant sparkles like a dress covered in crystal beads.*
The first spikes, which will be covered in chartreuse flowers, are just emerging.
Yes, I know it's not knitting. But aren't they pretty?
* Hence the name, or so I've read. Alchemists believed the water collected by the leaves was purified, and therefore suitable for alchemical experiments.