Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Happy week before your birthday! I've missed hearing from you - hope all is as well as it sounds here!


By Blogger Amie, at 1:10 PM  

Lovely to read about your MIL & to read of your week off. All the fibers & WIPs plus the scarf sound gorgeous. Your words allow me to clearly picture them.

By Blogger Martha, at 2:12 PM  

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005  

Today is Grandma’s birthday. It was always a twinkling delight to me to share the Birthday Month with my mother-in-law. It was particularly fun that our birthdays were exactly one week apart. On the 14th we would take her out to dinner and one week later she would take us out to dinner. This was back when going out to dinner was a Big Deal. For more years than I’d care to remember, money was tight in the Champlain household and this week of extravagance always had a little bit of naughtiness about it - a bit of devil may care, caution to the wind throwing to it. Sometimes we’d drive over to the Potomac or down to Urbana for dinner, but more often we’d just eat locally. It was the celebration that mattered.

Grandma, nee Baby Margaret, was born to an ante-bellum papa and a very Victorian mama. She was the second child, the baby, the delight of her father’s eye, the precious gift, vouchsafed this quite elderly couple. She was a born story teller and delighted me with memories of her childhood that are so vivid I sometimes think her memories are actually mine. I can walk with her to school, all the way from Champlain to Lloyd’s. I see her, 7 years old, on that first day, inviting the entire school (there were 4 classrooms for 12 grades at the old Lloyd’s school). Her mother had told her she could have a birthday party and invite all her friends. Now here was a whole room full of children who might be friends too. Many of them beat her to her house that afternoon and by the time she got home they had commandeered every toy in the house and were loose in the barnyard with her best dolls. I asked her what her mother did and she said she’d cut the cake very thin, but told her later that she was never to invite the whole class home again.

She was only partly successful in obeying that dictum - for she was a legendary hostess. There was always someone staying with her, someone who was traveling through, or who had talked (and sipped) so long into the evening that driving home was unthinkable. Someone who was a friend of a cousin or a cousin of a friend. One neighbor of her daughter’s came and stayed almost 10 years! There was always another pallet or mattress she could spread out on the floor. There was always another serving of whatever she’d planned for dinner - add a little more rice, another can of tomatoes, and there would be enough.

There were other wonderful stories Grandma told us. Like the one about the Baylor boy, who’d been refused from every boarding school his parents could find, and was rusticated one winter. He was big and exciting and adored her mother. He is the one who plucked the half frozen buzzard from the fence post on the way to school and secreted it in the closet so that when the principal opened up the door to find out what was causing such a racket he was liberally spewed with stomach contents - a common buzzard defense.

There was the story of Miss Vic Pitts, one of many indigent post civil-war maidens with no place to live. She was then living at Rock Springs, as was Grandma’s Uncle Ned. This was Papa’s brother who had only just survived the war and consoled himself with whiskey. These long staying guests had dislodged both Grandma and her brother Ben from their rooms and Ben was quite tired of it. Knowing that Baby Margaret could get away with most anything, he prompted her to ask, at the supper table, why Miss Vic and Uncle Ned didn’t marry. Gobbling in indignation Miss Vic rejected even the thought of such a suit by such an old reprobate. "Marry? Marry?! Why, I wouldn’t have him!" she claimed, to which Uncle Ned murmured loud enough for everyone to hear "Hmmm. First time I’ve ever seen a mule kick before she’s spurred."

Both Uncle Ned and Miss Vic stayed for several years at the farm in Champlain.

Grandma’s stories were wonderful to hear, but I always listened to them with a cocked ear. She did embellish things now and then, and sometimes she flat out changed them. I once caught her telling a story that involved LD and it was not true. When I took her to task she merely made a little gesture with her head and laughed. "I know, but it makes for a better story that way." That made me think it was a shame she never wrote down all these splendid tales. Never tried her hand at essays or short stories. I think they would have been very popular, for she could capture a scene, an era, a memory with the most charming turn of phrase. Many of the little things she used to say have become catch words in our household.

We have all the letters she sent to Pop during WWII. BD’s sister is transcribing them so that everyone in the family can have a copy. They are full of little stories and tales about the children and life in a small southern town in the 1940’s. They are a rich resource of cultural and social, as well as family history. But they are of the moment and don’t have quite the same literary feel her stories hold. Perhaps it’s time I wrote down all her tales, for it would be a tragedy if they disappeared altogether. If for nothing else, I hope, one day, to pass those tales on down to my own grandchildren, threading the 19th century into the 21st.

* * *

And all the above just goes to show you that I never know what I’m going to write about when I sit down here. I’ve been away for almost a week now - and I’d not intended to lie utterly silent during this time, but somehow I just didn’t have any urge to expound. I’ve been home, during this glorious weather, reacquainting myself with my fibers. I’ve knit on several UFO’s - even completed the sage green scarf knit from my second wheel spun yarn. GD admired it just as I was wondering whatever I would do with another scarf. Happily, it found a good home with her.

I plied up that lace weight mohair single spun from naturally blue (steely grey) roving. I’ve knitted 2 patterns of an open airy lace pattern from BW’s 2nd book. This is the fiber I picked up at Montpelier last October, from Cecil’s Follies Farm. He has the most beautiful blue and cocoa colored goats and a great display about them - but he has the tightest spun sample of yarn - thick and hard and harsh and not at all what I think of when I imagine mohair yarn. This sample of lace weight yarn, knit up into a big swatch will be a gift to him.

I’ve knit 1/4 of a garter stitch diagonal rectangle to be made into a cap sleeve top. It’s from 2 different hanks of silk, one I spun and one I dyed - over a year ago. Silk is my favorite inelastic fiber. Its slippery softness makes up in ease of knitting for its lack of spring. It’s half a blue hand paint and half a vivid orange/gold. It will look great beneath a jacket in winter and solo as a summer top.

I’m also knitknitknitting on the sample pieces for my KRRetreat class. I want to get the homework assignment off to Clara as soon as possible - as in, like, yesterday. It’s mostly just "knit 3 large swatches in stockinette stitch", but I want to be absolutely sure how big I want the swatches to be.

And so. My vacation comes to an end. It was just the rest I needed. Staying off the computer has helped my hands rest. I also have an inner peace that has been missing a long while. Yesterday I even thought "hmmm. I wonder what’s going on at the library?". So. I believe I am ready to get back in harness. Just in time too, since it’s 8 o’clock and time to get dressed.

posted by Bess | 7:58 AM