Well, more than the Yule Fair happened, but this helps me remember which weekend it was when I scan post titles.
These weekend roundups are getting so full and so damn long that I’m going to start breaking them into two parts just so I don’t end up piling every category I’ve got onto them… next weekend, that is, because if I break it here the Saturday one is still a huge chunk and the Sunday one is two paragraphs. Despite how full it was, there was still plenty of time to sit and relax so it feels like we actually had a weekend instead of two days jam-packed with rushing around. Not sure how that happened, but there you are.
Friday was our trip to Ariadne Knits to install ourselves on the chesterfields and knit for about three hours straight. It was glorious. The new layout and shelving are both great (this is one of those magic spaces where the more they put in the bigger it feels, oddly) and MA received our cupcakes with great enthusiasm. I’d carefully packed Devon’s wrap to work on, but when I got there I realised that I’d forgotten to pack the chart I’d done for it (not chart, exactly, more like six pages of every row typed out so I could cross each one off as I completed it; look, there are two different repeats going on simultaneously at different intervals, okay?). Fortunately I’d packed another Yule gift that needs to get done (no details, the recipient reads the journal!) so I knitted on that and got it to about 75% done. My posture while knitting sucks, so I had to get up and wander around periodically to stretch my back. I did not, in fact, succumb to the lure of trying a Hound spindle on one of these walkabouts, thereby saving myself from a $50 impulse buy, but I did buy a $4 sample pack of Falkland fibre (oooh, soft and cushy but less sproingy than merino) in order to try the resident Hitchhiker wheel. I hadn’t been sure it was operational or just decor, but it does function. As she handed it to me MA mentioned that the reason she hadn’t bonded with it was because it was a bit flippy, and when I started spinning with it, wow, was she ever right. I had to treadle relatively aggressively to avoid the jam and stall that the leather connection between the footman and the wheel ran into every few revolutions, and yes, without warning the flyer and bobbin would suddenly flip and start winding the opposite direction. Very frustrating indeed. I played with the entire range of tension but it didn’t have much effect. MA said that she’d wanted to love it, but it just didn’t work for her. I know there are people who rave about it, and I think it’s unfair that something so cute and adorable doesn’t spin perfectly for everyone. On the other hand, setting it up was totally intuitive, as was adjusting it; the design really is ingenious. It’s an excellent example of why you should try a wheel before you buy it, though. I’d have been frustrated and heartbroken if I had ordered a Hitchhiker as my first wheel and hadn’t been able to use it. (Although knowing what the demand for them and resale value is like, I’d have been able to sell it without losing much money and look at other wheels.) I also bought the copy of the winter issue of Spin-Off that they’d put aside for me.
Saturday morning I had my cello lesson, where we worked the pieces for which I was playing new lines. Last group class I volunteered to move from the first line of ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ to the second line in order to keep it on the programme. We’ve been working on this piece for an entire year. It wasn’t ready for last Christmas so it was bumped to the spring, and it wasn’t ready then either so it was rescheduled for this Christmas. And then we lost one of our musicians, which left our youngest cellist on this piece alone on the second line, and he needs someone steady to keep him on beat. I love this piece, especially in this arrangement, and we’ve all worked so hard that I didn’t want to see it cut. I’ve worked hard on the top line, too; it’s the melody, and it’s got some soaring bits and challenging shifts that I’ve really polished. But cutting it would disappoint everyone, so I stepped up and said I’d move to the second line if it meant keeping it. The other song I’ve moved lines on is V’la l’bon vent (do click through to the YouTube video of the McDades singing it, holy wow), a French Canadian winter song that I only heard for the first time this fall when I’d been assigned the piece. Our arrangement was done by my teacher’s father, and it has a lovely little swirling wind theme in the second part. It’s a call and response song that overlaps, so the timing is everything, and after learning the timing of the top line having to recast the timing for the second line, even though the line is simple, is breaking my brain a bit. When I played my part of the duet recital piece M and I are doing I had the very encouraging comment that my teacher really had nothing else to tell me. We could, of course, tweak and finesse till the cows come home, but with a week till recital it’s as solid as it needs to be. I am so happy about this. One more duet rehearsal on Tuesday, then the dress rehearsal on Saturday morning, and the recital is next Sunday.
I came home to collect the boys, and we went out for hot dogs and french fries for lunch before heading downtown to Le Melange Magique for the Yule Fair and my panel discussion. There was terrible traffic thanks to the the entrance to the highway leading down town being closed, so we detoured and I got there later than I’d wanted to, but others were a bit late, too. The panel was fabulous! We had eight of the contributors there, plus a few fair attendees, and we moved the chairs so we were all sitting in a circle with everyone mixed up so it became a round table discussion about the issues people brought up under the publicly-identifying-as-Pagan heading. It was fantastic. I loved how people asked questions of one another during the intro/quick summary of how they got to where they are, because it led to sharing other ideas and information. We could easily have gone for another hour.
The boy wasn’t napping, obviously, so after a bit of socialising and signing and stopping to buy handmade soap and bath treats from my favourite supplier Essentials (whose proprietor gave a broken Tub Twirler bath ball to the boy; he decided that night he had to have a bath so he could try it out… we have new Essentials fan!) we headed home to give HRH a break from corralling him and to save the rest of the world from the meltdown that might occur (to the boy, not HRH). I managed to miss saying goodbye to many people, and I didn’t even get to say hi to Judika. It all goes so quickly and there are so many people that it’s hard to keep track of who and when and where.
Back home we did a major overhaul of the kitchen, something that’s been on the schedule for a while. HRH’s parents replaced their dining table and sideboard this past summer, and we inherited their old set. The sideboard has a hutch and replaced both the rickety narrow table we had along one wall that supported all my cookbooks, my tea, and the robot baker, and as we sorted through everything we realised that it could house what was being stored in/on the old microwave cart we were using to store liquor and the ever-present Thing Drawer/Cupboard. So we spent a lot of the day sorting through old papers and fuses and elastic bands, moving furniture, recycling phone books and old vet bills, and figuring out how everything would fit in the best configuration in the sideboard. (The silverware chest! The crystal bowls! They all have an actual home now!) HRH located and hung the corner shelf for the phone and the pencil cup, as that was the other thing the microwave cart held. The room looks much bigger now, and we feel like we’ve leveled up in the adult world yet again, as both our families had sideboards and hutches while we were growing up and so it’s a benchmark of sorts.
And then the boy and I decided to bake gingersnap cookies from the latest issue of Fine Cooking, and he was very helpful indeed, cracking the egg and adding all the ingredients I measured out for him, and even turning the stand mixer on to blend things. He rolled out the dough and used the cookie cutters (trees and stars!) and put the cookie sheet in the oven, but made the mistake of touching the rack with a bare finger to push it back in (I was the one handling the oven, so it was unexpected). The dough is easy and cookies are delicious, especially if you put them in the oven to reheat and crisp up a bit before snacking on them a day later. You really do have to chill the dough, though, otherwise it smooshes all over when you try to lift the shapes onto the baking sheet, but try to explain that to a four-year-old. We baked half the batch; the rest of the dough is in the fridge for another day.
Sunday morning we went out right at nine and did the week’s grocery shopping, and we were home by ten, giving us the rest of the day to relax or get various house things done. HRH vacuumed while the boy and I played our cellos, and the boy wrote a song called ‘Blackie Loves Christmas.’ He told me the words, I wrote them down, and then together we wrote the music. It is an official though brief Christmas song, and he has been told that if he likes, we can sing it for the Preston-LeBlancs at our Yule gathering and singalong. After his nap the boy and his father put up the Christmas lights and the garland outside. We planned out the rest of the month, too. We usually put our tree up on the Solstice, but that isn’t sensible this year as we’re leaving on the 23rd. In order to have time to enjoy it, we’ll be buying it and putting it up in two rounds this Thursday and Friday. Putting it up so early really feels odd. We’re planning to take it down the night before we leave, too, so it’s not left as a hazard for the cats and Blade, who is house-sitting.
I started spinning the Ozark silk roving I bought for another Yule gift, and it’s not like spinning the tussah silk at all. I was warned that I’d have to fluff it up, so I did, and I split it pretty finely, but there are areas that are dyed more heavily than others and they’re a bit crunchy, so drafting kind of stalls there. There are places where the end of the staple is very obvious in the single. I wasn’t as comfortable spinning it; I really preferred the tussah. It wasn’t till I woke up this morning that I realised I hadn’t predrafted any of it: I just fluffed it, split it, and spun right from the ends, drafting and fluffing a bit more as I went. When I spin the other ounce today I’ll predraft and see if that helps. I may try combing a bit of it to see what that does, too. If worst comes to worst I can buy the other 2oz of roving in this colourway at Ariadne, if yesterday’s single isn’t usable.
Dinner last night was roast pork (with a dijon/maple/herb glaze and roast baby potatoes, om nom nom). And then it snowed just before I went to bed.