No sooner had I posted yesterday’s deathless prose than the postman arrived at the door. I have done almost all my Christmas shopping on-line this year, and my reward is a constant series of pleasant boxes. Like having Christmas twice. I have never been disappointed with the quality of an object ordered like this, although in past years I’ve had some quarrels with delivery times.
Yesterday’s boxes were best of all, because as well as presents for other people, they included two from me to myself: Franklin’s book, and Nancy Bush on the Knitted Lace of Estonia.
I’m sure everybody else has got Franklin’s book by now – I went for the calendar first, because I feared it would sell out and become a famous unobtainable. The book is wonderful, better even than I expected and I doubt if I could praise it more highly than that.
I have not spent much time with Estonian lace yet. (I’ve read Franklin twice, straight through. The man is a genius.)
I think one of the most interesting things about Galina Khmeleva’s fascinating “Gossamer Webs”, about Orenburg lace, is the part about government regulation and control, going right back to Lenin. When the Soviet Union collapsed, so did standards – “lesser quality shawls are produced cheaply and quickly and sold inexpensively – the Russian market is awash in poor quality shawls.”
Estonia was only part of the Soviet Union (I learn from Bush) from 1944 to 1991. Knitting was done during that time through a cooperative. The director of the cooperative did a lot of valuable work in the 1970’s collecting, recording, and photographing patterns. Whether standards have declined recently, we aren't told.
The hat is fine. I tried it on again, in front of a mirror, and liked the effect. The 6” of ribbing is/are now virtually finished. Four inches of plain st st are meant to follow. EZ, in her only watchcap pattern I know of, is relaxed about length, and says that 11” in all, or even more, may be required. Her pattern, I think this is “Knitting Without Tears” I’m talking about, is in brioche stitch. I’ve knit it a couple of times, and love the result.
Phyllis and Shandy, thank you for the mitten-knitting thumb-tricks. Maybe I’ll really do some, before this winter is out. It’s bloody cold around here.
Boston baked beans
I wonder why we don’t get “navy” or “pea” beans here. Supermarkets are full of dried beans from all over the world.
Maryjo0, here is a link to something close to the bean recipe I used. I didn’t add salt when I was cooking the beans for the first time. In fact I wonder if I ever put in any, saltiness being provided by the pork. I used a pack of ham trimmings, sold “for soup” by my butcher. They melted deliciously into the beans. I didn’t use brown sugar, just molasses in a quantity less than that specified,(black treacle, in fact, which I think is the same thing), because of diabetic concerns.
The Gourmet Cook Book, which I am embarrassed to say I got as a wedding present, is emphatic that the water level must be kept level with, but not above, the level of the beans during the long cooking process. Too much, and you’re stewing rather than baking them. Too little, they dry out.