Birthday Hiatus

Fog Rolling In - Java Jacks

Just popping in after a little hiatus to promise The Art of Visiting Part II this week. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy a lovely birthday supper after a heavenly daytrip across Bonne Bay – what a fabulous way to spend the big day.

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On the Hook – Food Rations Rug


So it’s not exactly knitting. Or crocheting for that matter.

A blog about such lovely pasttimes as visiting and botany should never find itself speaking about hooking, but here I am doing just that (and no, it’s not what you think).

Food Rations Poster

This week I’ve abandoned all that I’ve been knitting for a more location-appropriate activity: the traditional art of Newfoundland rug-hooking, or, more succintly, hooking. The rug that I’ve envisioned is based on a war rations poster from the US Food Administration, put out in the early 1940s. I first saw a version of it in the April issue of Country Living UK, and was struck by how pertinent the suggestions were for a contemporary household.

On the Hook - Food Rations Poster

My rug-hooking experience is limited, but with more than a handful of talented women and a bevy of rugs in their wake, I think I’m getting the hang of it. I may have underestimated on the size of the overall rug (ie I’ll be squishing the final words in by the skin of my teeth), but regardless, I’m having such a great time hooking, hehe. The best part? It takes almost no wool, so as soon as I’ve finished with one colour, I can use the remainder for a fairly decent-sized project, like a hat or mittens. And at $4.50 a skein for 100% wool, it’s a win-win situation!

On the Hook - Food Rations Poster

I was lucky enough to receive another (!) gift book in the mail this week. This time, it’s William Trevor’s Love and Summer, which I am completely excited to start tonight. I haven’t even finished the first William Trevor I have (it’s on the iPad and I just can’t get into this e-reading), but I already love Trevor and expect to read a lot more of him in the fall. I love finding underappreciated novelists. I can’t speak to Love and Summer yet, but I have no doubt that it’ll be a winner. It was long-listed for the Man Booker last year, so I expect great things.

Have you ever tried rug hooking? Would anyone be interested in a series of tutorials?

Linking with Ginny’s Yarn-along today.

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The Art of Visiting – Part 1

Perhaps one of the most important skills that is of the utmost necessity to learn, but nearly impossible to teach, is that of mastering the social visit. Yes, the rules of etiquette and even good conversation can be studied and practiced, and the more common skills of baking, cleanliness, and good grooming are all qualities that the accomplished young woman may make use of to ensure a happy and successful social event.

However, no amount of training can prepare a woman for every moment that will occur during a social visit, and so I hope that with this miniseries to explore some of the finer points of visiting. From writing an invitation to setting the table to thanking a hostess, we will cover every aspect. We will begin this chapter of the Department with the most basic elements of a social call – the invitation.

How to Request a Social Visit

For better or for worse, we are no longer in a period that uses calling calls with any frequency. Although the trend of mom cards seems to be swelling, most of us will use a fairly informal method to invite a friend or neighbour round for tea. This doesn’t always have to be the case, however. Try sending a vintage-style calling card like the one below, or perhaps find a set on Etsy.  If your guest is like-minded, she will be thrilled to bits to receive a pen-and-ink invitation, and your effort will set the mood of the visit ahead of time.

When calling calls were the standard form of invitation, there were many short forms that allowed the sender to relay their intentions for the visit. According to one guide, the Victorians took up the following French acronyms to denote the purposes of their visits:

  • p. f. – congratulations (pour féliciter)
  • p. r. – expressing one’s thanks (pour remercier)
  • p. c. – mourning expression (pour condoléance)
  • p. f. N. A. – Happy New Year (pour feliciter Nouvel An)
  • p. p. c. – meaning to take leave (pour prendre congé)
  • p. p. – if you want to be introduced to anybody, send your visiting card (pour présenter)

It’s doubtful that this form of shorthand survived much beyond Victorian aristocracy, but however a woman makes the effort to invite a friend or acquaintance to a social visit in her home, she ought always to remember that hospitality and good manners are all the hallmarks of a rewarding time. Although the initial invitation may seem like a passing moment in the social call, it sets the overall tone – if you decide to put care and consideration into the the invite itself, you will find yourself already on track to a memorable visit for both yourself and the invitee. Do you have any special traditions when it comes to inviting friends over? Do you subscribe to any vintage methods?

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On the Needles – Art Deco Pullover

This week I’m returning to the idea of writing my own pattern. This time, however, I’m just going to take it slowly and not fuss too much about results. Given how cold it can get here and the prevalence of heavy-weight wool, I’ve decided to try my hand at a thick pullover to keep me warm (and possibly stylish) on these blustery nights.

On the Needles - 20/07/11

The pullover is sort of being designed as I go, and hopefully will turn out something like what I have in mind. The design is something I could see being rughooked just as easily as knitted, so if it doesn’t work out in this incarnation, I might get out some burlap and get hooking instead.

I’m finally reading a new book, though this time (and quite unusually for me), it is non-fiction. Black Berry, Sweet Juice was sent to me by its author, Lawrence Hill, who you might know from his bestseller, The Book of Negroes. This memoir is about growing up and understanding what it means to be of mixed race in Canada, something that touches my own identity. I won’t say much more about it here, because I still have a lot to puzzle out, but suffice to say that I’m enjoying it in a difficult sort of way. Hope that’s not too heavy for Yarn-Along with Ginny – what else are you reading/knitting/getting up to these days?

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Baking 101 – The World’s Best Banana Bread

I have made banana bread in the past. I’ve done nutty ones, ‘healthy’ ones, and even a Nutella-infused banana bread. But never have I had a banana bread as simple or delicious as the recipe here.

Banana Bread

Like many bakers, the incentive for baking banana bread this week came simply from the overripe bananas that I left to brown in the freezer. A quick Google search was necessary, since all my cookbooks are safely stored many hundreds of kilometres away. When I came up with a basic recipe I liked the sound of, I tweaked it a bit with the addition of the walnut oil.

Banana Bread

The flaw that I came up against was impatience, as I mashed the bananas while they were still cold and had to warm the bowl in order for the butter to mix without hardening in the mashed fruit. Nevertheless, everything came out perfect, and after dinner we all agreed that there was something scrumptious about this specific recipe. I already have plans to make it again, though I worry that the perfection may have been a one-off. If you try this recipe and find it perfect too, let me know. I’m in the mood to spread the gospel – simplicity, in this case. No nuts, no Nutella, no apple sauce. Just old-fashioned banana bread in all its glory. And what could be more perfect than that?

3 or 4 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup room temperature butter
2 tbsp walnut oil, plus more for greasing
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with walnut oil. With a wooden spoon (no need for a mixer), blend mashed bananas, butter, and walnut oil. Add sugar and mix. Add beaten egg and vanilla and stirred until blended. Add baking soda, salt, and flour. When the mixture is consistent, pour into the loaf pan and bake in the middle rack for 50-60 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf pan (my 9″ long one needed about 50mins). When a knife comes out clean, the loaf is ready to let stand before removing from the pan. This can probably last up to five days in an airtight container, though I doubt you’ll make it past Day 2.

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Summer Birthdays

Last night, we celebrated the belated birthday of a very special guy in true Newfoundland styles: lobster, beer, and Betty Crocker.

Lobster Fest

It’s been rather busy – people coming and going, shifts at the local restaurant, and more cooking than I’ve had a chance to photograph and post, but I’m excited to put together a little something on Indian food in the next few days.

Icing the Cake

Even in the farthest reaches of bucolic haunts, I’m managing to fulfil my need my Indian food. This time, I’ve made paneer two different ways, and am just narrowing down what it will become a part of for dinner.

A Moveable Feast

Until then, I’m contenting myself with lots of seafood, which is never a bad thing. Although I can’t seem to find much time for reading right now, I am enjoying the Lida scarf I’ve been working on. I’d love to have it finished by the end of the week though, because I’ve got an idea ruminating for another pattern (alas, my first pattern design is sitting unloved and forgotten at the moment) that I think will be fabulous.

After Dinner


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On the Needles – Lida Shawl

On the Needles - Lina 6/7/11

My first Newfoundland edition of Ginny‘s weekly yarnalong. And although I’m knitting something I’m excited to show off here, I have to say that I’ve got a lot of other fibre ideas on my mind. The community we’re staying in has some many talented women, and I think I’m quickly being seduced to try my hand at something other than knitting.

However, with the two skeins of Estelle Arequipa that I decided to bring over, I knew I wanted I come up with something lovely. Bristol Ivy’s Lida – published and sold by the fabulous Quince and Co. – caught my eye immediately. Every other shawl I liked seemed to require two different skeins, while this one only used one, and was just too lovely to pass up.

Lida Shawl - First Look

I must admit that I was bit confused by the directions at first – the diagram looks as though you’re knitting from the point down, when actually you’re adding increases that make up the longest side. This is probably a common way of designing a shawl, but since it’s my first one, I actually had no idea and thought I had got it all wrong.

There hasn’t been a great deal of page turning around here lately, unfortunately. I started a novel that I immediately fell in love with last week, but as it was a library book and we were leaving, I had to return it. Jake managed to buy an ebook version for me, but I just can’t get in to reading off the screen (though perhaps his iPad might work – he doesn’t arrive here until Saturday). In the meantime, I’m trying to find time to read Francine Prose’s Reading like a Writer, which is a booklover’s dream. It takes on literature from an anti-academic, pro-author slant, and it’s come at just the right time, I think.

What stitches are you knitting and pages are you turning this week?

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