Saturday, February 19, 2011

Little Pink Socks

One of my (far too many) hobbies is knitting. Actually, although I've knit a few scarves in my day, mostly I knit socks. Oh, I've also done quite a few pairs of fingerless mitts, but, really, those are just socks without feet. I started knitting right after my middle brother died. He was a wonderful, funny guy, easy-going, who died too early. It had been a standing joke between us that I always gave him socks for Christmas -- it got to a point where he'd be disappointed if he didn't get them. One year when I got him something else he grumbled that he really needed socks and put off buying them since he knew he'd be getting them from me for Christmas.

Anyway, when he passed away, I took a week off from work, and, after a few days, found myself at odds and ends. I took a trip to the local Michael's and found a little pamphlet on knitting socks. I collected the necessary yarn and needles and headed home, on a very serious mission. I would knit socks in my brother's honor. That poor first sock. I must have cast it on and ripped it out easily a dozen times. Of course the important thing to realize is that, when I started, I didn't know how to knit! Except for a brief and exasperating (mostly for my mother!) few days when I was about 10, I'd never picked up a knitting needle in my life. But I persevered. It was important, you see, to learn how to knit socks. Not only for my brother, but for me. I needed something to concentrate on, to work through my grief. And every time I cast on that poor sock, then ripped it out again, a little of the pain that I felt over losing my brother came away with it. After about three straight days of work, I finally managed to complete a perfectly acceptable sock-shaped object that even fit my foot. A day or two later it had a mate, and, although I wasn't healed, I was, at least feeling more like myself. And when I looked at the sock and thought of my brother, I was just as apt to smile as to cry -- a definite improvement.

And so, in honor of my brother, and as part of How Sweet the Sound's Pink Saturday,  I present my latest finished pair of socks. No, not the first pair I made -- to be honest, I don't even know where they are right now. Probably lost on the Island of Missing Socks. No, this is a pair that I started over a year past and finally just finished a few weeks ago. They're made from a hand-dyed yarn I found on Etsy (Hippie Feet Sock Yarn by St. Seraphina Knits in the Black Light Poster colorway), in the Wildflower Socks pattern, which I found on Ravelry. The color is a little louder than I normally work with but, like the memory of my brother, these socks make me smile.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who Was Thalia Twiss?

I love ephemera, and a few years back I bought a box full of late 19th/early 20th century stuff. I ran across it the other day and started going through it, looking for a few Valentine's Day pieces to decorate the house with. In amongst the various bits of advertising, holiday cards (including Valentine's Day!), and diecuts, I found a calling card for a woman named Thalia A. Twiss. It's a pretty thing -- pink flowers, a butterfly, an anchor (? -- must be some meaning for that, I'm sure), her name in a lovely font -- but honestly, it's nothing special. It's in color, but no embossing, or anything that would set it all that far apart from hundreds of other calling cards. But her name -- Thalia A. Twiss. That's the kind of name that invokes visions of...well, I'm not quite sure who. Would Thalia be a wispy, thin, ethereal creature, with soft, wavy blonde hair and luminous blue eyes? Or maybe Thalia is a stern schoolmistress, hair pulled tightly up on the top of her head, black dress covering her from chin to wrist to boot-toe? Truly, I'm not sure. So, I did what any curious person would do these days -- I Googled her.

Although there wasn't a lot to find, I did find a marriage record for Thalia Angeli Twiss, who married Orlin Gorman (an equally exceptional name, I think) on October 27, 1865 in Geauga County, Ohio. Although there may be more to Thalia's story that could be teased out of the labyrinth that is the web, many of the other sites that might have had additional information charge a fee. And, I have to admit that, while I'm curious to know more about her, I'm just not that curious. Still, at least now I have a reference point in which to place her life.

I've framed Thalia's calling card and set it on my desk. As I look at it, a tiny thing from nearly 150 years ago, I realize that it serves as a connection between a woman who lived long before the age of computers and me, sitting here in front of my laptop. And I realize that despite its ephemeral nature, this little scrap of paper has lasted longer than the memory of the woman it represents.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A-maize-ingly Corny!

Yes, I did just manage to stuff two really bad puns into my poor, unsuspecting, never-did-anything-to-anyone title. But it seemed an appropriate way to introduce one of my favorite collections: corn pottery. I've been picking up pieces of this kitschy pottery for years and, like nearly all of my collections, I do my best to pay very little for it. Most of the corn pottery I've bought comes from my favorite semi-local auction, where I've picked up lots of several pieces for as little as $5.00. I've also gotten a number of pieces at the Golden Nugget Antique Market and at various antique shops over the years. I admit that it's a point of pride for me when I see something that I paid $5-10 dollars for selling for $50 or more at a flea market booth or antique store. Yup, I'm cheap and proud of it!

Most of the corn pottery pieces I have were made from the 1930s through the early 1960s. Some of the pieces I have were made in Japan, but others were made by several American ceramics companies. The best-known of these is probably Shawnee Corn King and Corn Queen lines. In general, I've found that the easiest pieces to find are the ubiquitous salt-and-pepper shakers. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are both easy to display and useful. Corn holders are also fairly easy to find and come in an array of shapes. More difficult to find are plates. I have several styles, and although they're on the small side, I'll sometimes use them for lunch or salads. I've also picked up several pitchers, and one very nice casserole dish, all from the auction. I think my very favorite pieces are the miniature sugar and creamer. They're small (a lot of my favorite things are) and just adorable. Now I just need to find a matching tiny corn teapot and I'll be all set!

I don't know why I like corn pottery so much. Maybe it's the happy yellow color, that looks like summer sunshine. Or maybe it reminds me of summer picnics when I was a child, of the fresh corn on the cob that Mom used to pick up at a local farm stand near where I grew up. Whatever it is, it makes my heart happy when I look at it.

Linking to Vintage Thingies Thursday on The Coloradolady's blog.