Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Stole Full of Peas

If Chicago's rainy streak doesn't break soon, I'm afraid I'll break out in moss. Everyone passing the café window is bent forward, shoulders hunched under the weight of the persistently beastly weather.

This has been a dreary spring even for a city in which dreary weather is a specialty. The only thing grayer than the sky is the grass. Optimistic trees that put out buds during a freak warm spell weeks ago are now shivering with regret. We got a few daffodils and tulips, here and there. Most died quick and humiliating deaths, beheaded or stabbed in the back by the north wind.

To garden near the lake in Chicago is to be a masochist. Nature intended this land to be swamp, wind-swept and mostly populated by grass and skunk cabbage.* You are reminded of this every time you watch a perennial trumpeted as "bulletproof" pop its clogs due to the sort of bizarre weather you thought went out of fashion after they put the finishing touches on the Book of Exodus.

Mind you, the city's official motto is Urbs in horto–city in a garden. Hah. A fib in Latin is still a fib.

But this is the first place I've actually got dirt to play with, after a frustrated lifetime of poring over gardening books and poking dejectedly at window boxes. It's not my dirt, but it's dirt. Though I don't own it–it's a series of neglected beds attached to a condominium in my neighborhood–as long as I've got it, I'm going to make it bloom, dammit.

Unlike many of my strong impulses, which will not be itemized here as my mother is probably reading this, I know where this urge to garden comes from.

One of my very earliest memories, clear as a bell, is of sitting on the turf by my grandmother's vegetable garden, watching her dig and plant. I can't have been older than a year-and-a-half. I may have only just learned to sit up. But I recall the scent, and the feeling of the clammy earth, and the print of her cotton shirt and the soft sound of the spade. It was a moment of pure joy, and before I die I plan to recapture it as nearly and as often as possible.

The garden is long gone, but I know for certain that my fascination with planting and growing–which for years has been stifled–comes from that moment.

A New Pattern

When Véronik Avery asked me to do something with Boréale, the fingering weight yarn from her St-Denis Yarns line, the color and texture sparked the memory of my grandmother's garden. I'm sure it was because of the richness of the brown–deep, not dull–very much like well-worked soil.

I turned into a stole, Pauline, named after this lady, to whom I owe more than I can ever hope to repay. It's in Issue 3 of the St-Denis Magazine, now winging its way to local shops and online shops pretty much everywhere.

Pauline Stole

The pattern is designed to be extremely adaptable. Without any complicated math whatsoever you can change the width and length to suit your purposes. It'll scale down to a scarf or up to a bedspread with ease.

Pauline Stole

And the framework will accommodate your own choice of small lace motifs if you so fancy. I've put in things I remember my grandmother growing: peas-in-the-pod, strawberry blossoms, and (because even a vegetable garden should be pretty) hydrangeas.

Pauline Stole

The overall look is rustic. I wanted to see if I could make lace look pretty, but tough...just like my Grandma.

Royal Wedding Report

In case you haven't been following the unfolding events via Twitter at @yarnpoetharry and @doloresvanh, Harry made it to London. So did Dolores. She wasn't supposed to go, of course, but was (this is what I've been told) a victim of her own selflessness.

So worried was she about Harry's ability to negotiate the perils of O'Hare Airport on his own that she jumped through hoops to secure a "gate pass" from the airline and accompanied him to the aircraft. After helping him settle his snickerdoodles in the overhead compartment, she tried to exit, but tripped and got stuck under an empty seat in First Class.

Fancy that. It's a good thing she had a toothbrush, a copy of Liberated Ewe Quarterly and a week's worth of clothing with her.

I asked why the airlines didn't send her right back upon arrival at Heathrow. All I got was somewhat incoherent babble about one of the pilots busting in on her in the loo, and now having something in his private life he'd rather not have her tell the tabloids. If you want to know more, you can ask her. I'm keeping out of it.

Harry's Twitter feed suggests that he is having a marvelous time, making friends with Australian yarns who are also staying at the International Yarn Hostel in Wapping, visiting Kew Gardens, and going to see friends at I Knit London. Dolores can barely type at all, so I infer that she is also having a marvelous time in her own way.

I have been promised a full report after the solemn occasion, so look for it here this weekend or keep an eye on Harry's tweets. I hope he remembers to iron his formal morning ball band before setting off for the Abbey.

*Shikaakwa or chee-ca-gou in the tongue of the native peoples, from which comes our name.

30 comments:

Sahar said...

Oh Franklin. The Stole is beautiful. Grandma will be so pleased. Lovely Lovely!

chellebelle said...

What a lovely stole. I love to garden too.. I'm horrible at it, but love it for the dirt.

Pat said...

Beautiful stole, Franklin, and your posts always make me smile and give me something new to think about.

This in particular, "Optimistic trees that put out buds during a freak warm spell weeks ago are now shivering with regret. We got a few daffodils and tulips, here and there. Most died quick and humiliating deaths, beheaded or stabbed in the back by the north wind," made me laugh. Your imagery rivals a 19th century German poet's. (Don't know if you fancy Schubert, but Renee Fleming's rendition of his Viola always makes me cry. And somehow your quote reminded me of this song.)

kmkat said...

If you garden and you read, you must read Green Prints: The Weeder's Digest, a quarterly print magazine. There are a million how-to garden books but only one weeder's guide.

I follow Dolores, but how foolish of me not to overlook Harry! Thank you.

Mel said...

I've pointed this out before, but it bears repeating. Reykjavík is considerably warmer than Chicago in winter. And they have hot tubs.

Seanna Lea said...

Lovely. I would tempted to leave the squares blank and fill them with embroidery. It's a lovely canvas for many imaginings.

The Foggy Knitter said...

I spotted Dolores and Harry at the Abbey, loved Dolores' hat, should she have been sitting in among the royals though?

Tara said...

Just about har a heart attack when I saw my picture on your blog, Franklin! Your stole is magnificent, just a lovely piece, and a pleasure to wear. And I agree, Véronik's colours are wonderful.

nanaknits said...

crossing my fingers that this pattern is already up on ravelry so I can queue it right away. Thoroughly enjoying the wedding coverage through Harry's perspective... wondering what's next for Dolores :)

Alrischa said...

Tara (the model) was stoked to be on your blog ;) She's a knitter, too.

hehehe, Tara.

http://dearknits.blogspot.com/

steel breeze said...

I think we (UK) may have your spring - we usually get April showers, and we've had no proper rain in weeks - in fact we've been having temps of 28 degs C which is better than Tenerife.

You'd better ask Harry to bring the good weather back when he returns. Our spring flowers were lovely for weeks but have now keeled over due to lack of water.

Ali P said...

Thats my pal Tara modelling your beautiful stole. They compliment one another very well!!!! Can't wait to get my hands on this issue!!!

Moondancer5 said...

I heard Harry gave a helluva speech last night. But we knew that given the spotlight he'd spin a good yarn.

Laura said...

It's such a lovely stole! I just picked up the new St-Denis at Toronto's Knitter's Frolic this weekend. There are so many great patterns in the issue!

Marilyn said...

I hope that Harry and Dolores made it home safely!

Alwen said...

We're going moldy across the big lake, too - the Grand Rapids National Weather Service office said it was the second wettest April on record.

I need to go down the road and take pictures of the houses that look like they're in the middle of a pond.

HipDroppedStitches said...

Thank you for sharing your garden memories. One of my fondest childhood memories is of pulling a carrot out of the garden, rinsing it with the garden hose, and snacking on it with the long greens still attached. :-)

The stole is stunning!

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie said...

Why heap disparagement on the poor reviled skunk cabbage? Every time I find it in the woods in February, it lets me know that I've survived another midwestern winter. Did you know that it was eaten as a starvation food by the indigenous people here before us?

Seriously, I enjoy reading your blog so much. I also garden, knit, and now am starting on a new project, building a backyard top bar bee hive for my garden. Green is the new red. Keep up the good work.

Linda S. said...

I was really hoping for a big change for May, but no luck out here in the NW suburbs, at least not til next week. At least I do have things blooming. The magnolia is almost done, the daffs are in full bloom and the flowering crab is on deck.

Anonymous said...

Did you see the photo of the panoptican in Bunny Mummy's blog? Fascinating! samm@ravelry

Lisa said...

That moss you're about to break out in.... would that be moss stitch????

Hope your weather improves soon.

Harpa Jónsdóttir said...

The stole is exactly ad you describe it. Pretty but tough to. Perfect.

Sandy said...

That stole is beautiful! I managed to get in your class at sock summit so I am looking forward to learning your knitting secrets to beautiful work!

KnitWit said...

I absolutely L-O-V-E that scarf/shawl/magic creation!! I will have to go check Ravelry because I'm itching to see it!

As for "April Showers" bringing May flowers, it's still grey and grim southwest of Chicago, too. At this rate, I'm not only covered in "moss" but will have a raging Vitamin D deficiency.

I love your blog!

Hüseyin USLU said...

You'd better ask Harry to bring the good weather back when he returns. Our spring flowers were lovely for weeks but have now keeled over due to lack of water.
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Hüseyin USLU said...

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I follow Dolores, but how foolish of me not to overlook Harry! Thank you.
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