If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Parallel Lives

Dear Kay,
OK, I had to crack up when I saw your photo of that giant loop of linen, because the fact is that I myself recently bought a loop of linen in February at the Tailgate antiques show where I bought that red-and-white wheel quilt.
I’m planning to use it up at the shack this summer as a roller towel, which is what the thing is, I think we can all agree. I mean, what else would you use a loop of linen for? NO I AM NOT WEARING IT AS A TUBE TOP. That’s just creepy.
Parallel Lives, Part 2
The other thing I had to crack up about was the fact that we each took our famblies to Williamsburg, unbeknownst to the other, exactly one week apart. I can tell by your chronicle that you didn’t spend enough time in the Prentis Store–too busy making eyes at the cobbler’s apprentice, I’m guessing–because if you had, you’d have ended up with these:
This is a flint and steel, used in colonial times for fire-starting. Of course my fellas instantly had to get in on the colonial fire-starting which, in this day and age, is mostly a comically terrible way to start fires. You hold the steel across your knuckles, then strike the sharp edge of the flint with the steel as hard as you can. Really, it was like the Three Stooges. The glee/misery cycle was about three seconds long.
“I did it!”
“I did it!”
I’d be happy to send these small instruments of torture to you if your fella isn’t having enough colonial fun yet.
The other item that came home from the Prentis Store was some yarn made out of the grubby sheep that we spotted grazing in a picturesque way behind the blacksmith’s cottage.
Mr. Prentis confessed that while the fleece is a genuwine product of Williamsburg, the spinning actually takes place in a distant land known as West of the Mississippi Which We Haven’t Really Explored All That Much Yet But There Are Spinners Among The Native Tribes, We Think.
A quick detour down Pochahontas Trail took us to Knitting Sisters, a seriously fine shop stocked with a boatload of yarn and a really great staff. Snagged a skein of Colinette Jitterbug yarn in that shade I love so, Lobster:
A product of the Mother Country, likely to be blockaded at any moment.
I really, really loved Williamsburg. Next time I want to stay in one of those little colonial houses. It really is possible to do that, you know. I’m renting a costume. I’m going to shepherd some sheep. Put my boys to work with the brickmaker.
One Mystery Solved
You speak of the mighty power of blogging. Lemme tell you, I’m feeling it right now. My lack of a skein of Alice Starmore Campion in Old Gold is completely and thoroughly resolved. My profound and deep thanks to Kabira, who posted my dilemma to the members of the Knitting Beyond the Hebrides listserv. (You can subscribe here. There is infinite wisdom in there about all things Hebridean.) The heroic Margaret of the Upper West Side not only had some Alice Starmore Campion Old Gold but sent me her entire stash of gold-colored yarns so that I could be sure I had the right shade.
I’m back at my Keava sleeve, relieved at the whole thing and still marveling at the coolness of the Internet.
If you did not guess what the trick in our post from the first day of the month was, it is this: all the words have one part. None of those words with two parts, or three, or four. It is sort of hard to use words with but one part. One tends to sound sort of like the ape man who swings on a vine and has a gal pal named Jane.




  1. Your parallel lives remind me so much of myself and my BFF… I’m in love with the flint and steel!

  2. I use my flint and steel for starting all of my fires when I camp. I’m hoping it came with some char cloth or tinder. It’s a lot easier to use if you have something that will catch the spark.
    I’d be happy to share.

  3. Okay, that lobster yarn jumped out of the screen at me. Love it!

  4. Aren’t the ladies at Knitting Sisters lovely? I was lucky enough to road-trip there with some knitting friends, and I just loved them.

  5. My son, who can actually start fires with his, uses his by holding the steel still, and stricking with the flint. And force is not important, is all knack and angle.
    You also need some tow and charcloth. of course, you need a fire to make charcloth…take a tin, poke a hole (a candy tin will do). Put in some scraps of linen or cotton. Stick in the middle of a fire, until the smoke comes out, then wait until the smoke coming out changes. Rake tin out, let cool. Open and inspect….neat dirty little squares of charred cloth. Strike flint so that the sparks fall onto char cloth, where they will smolder long enough for you to start blowing gently. Feed it tow, and when it’s burning merrily, add your kindling….
    Did you come home with a Trap Ball set, too? We’ve had more fun with that toy than all the others!

  6. All these parallels are soo weird..but fun..
    I really, really want to go to Williamsburg someday; I would totally dress up in a colonial costume, too..

  7. Tarzan the ape man! How did I not guess? I had my first ever crush on Johnny Weissmuller while watching the Tarzan movies on TV.

  8. If you think that flint and steel fire lighting is fun you should try the rubbing two sticks together kind using a bowstring. It works a lot faster than you think, and gives you a real appriciation for the calamity of having the fire go out. It takes work to get one going again without a match.

  9. That old man, who spoke of the sea, and bulls, and a meal gone from one place to the next, might not see eye to eye with you, young miss.
    Oh, man, this is a great game! I want to play more!

  10. And Ooooh, Jonny Weismueller!
    (I cannot believe I admitted to that.)

  11. I wish I had the wherewithal to fashion pretty scarlet Ks from silver or gold and enamel or rhinestones and get the jump on that biz. I think you would be starting a wildfire…

  12. I met a mohair goat rancher in Texas who has the life she lives because, as a teenager, she applied to be a shepherd at Williamsburg (her mom worked as a colonial lady in a house there). She was rejected, a female shepherd was historically inaccurate.
    Moral: Fiber farming is THE BEST revenge.

  13. That flint stone looks like the state of Wisconsin, if you flipped it over to the left!

  14. Are you sure you two aren’t really one soul traveling around in two bodies?
    And does anyone else think the flint and steel might make an excellent sweater fastener? (slightly modified of course)

  15. You and Ann could star in a new Bravo show. The Real Housewives of Colonial Williamsburg. Imagine the fun that could be.

  16. On the subject of the giant loop of linen, it seems it was in fashion since at least 1936:

  17. On my first trip to Colonial Williamsburg I was THRILLED to pat the sheep and talk to the shepherd. I was about 12 and so excited to see a REAL sheep. A live and actual sheep that you could touch. And the fleece is soft and greasy and leaves your hands soft, oleaginous and sticky.
    I love Williamsburg. The Spouse and I went there on our first and second wedding anniversaries.
    Good times.

  18. How many people will notice that your last paragraph is also made of only one syllable words? :o) It is using “part” instead of syl/la/ble that tipped this primary grades teacher off.

  19. Thank you for the memories, ladies, #1 daughter, went to the College Wm & Mary, and we spent 4 happy years going down to the ‘Burg to watch her play lacrosse, (and away games in C’ville, when the Tribe played UVA. Also loved the pedestrian mall there where we would run into people we hadn’t seen in years!) And I loved both knitting shops. Had I known you were going Kay, I would have given you directions on how to avoid a good part of I 95 with its awful traffic and accidents, and not add time to the trip.

  20. happy to have been of some help to you and Keava – the power of the internet, indeed!

  21. We go to Williamsburg every other year, so we’re going back this year. I love going there, and I always make my husband stop by Knitting Sisters. That store is fabulous! The daughters like the historical stuff almost as much as I do, so it’s always a popular trip.

  22. After you explained the joke – it seemed easy. Oddly enough, I thought that the trick was to get short words out of removing cuss words from potential two-part words. The clue even goofed me up more though. I was thiking dog—-, —-load, hard—, etc. I guess I’ve been reading Norma’s blog too much. LOL! It’s easy now that I see it! It sure did get me scratching my head though! T

  23. The flint and steel sounds like something that would be funny for boys of all ages. I’m sure my hubby and his friends would get a kick out of it (and probably hurt themselves something fierce in the process).

  24. Our “camping survival kit” has a flint and steel that is not nearly so dangerous looking. Dryer lint works great as tinder as it’s quite flammable. My SIL used to use it to make paper also but it’s way less time consuming to set it on fire! Is anyone thinking of making a(nother?) MDK Perfect Sweater? Webs (yarn.com) has Cascade 220 in their 20th Anniversary Sale at only $4.89 per skein. That’s less than $50 for a sweater even for us big boned gals. 🙂 Hurry! Some colors are going fast. (I admit it- I didn’t post this til I ordered my 10 skeins of amethyst heather and grabbed a couple singles for hats and felted bags!)

  25. Hey! When are we going to join our afghan squares? I’ve been cranking out blocks out of extremely wooly Bartlettspun, and the suspense is killing me. My plan is to make a big blanket for my bed, and I’m using natural cream, medium sheeps’ gray, dark sheeps’ gray, light lovat, and dark lovat.

  26. We went to Grand Portage, and the re-enactor there used the flint and steel, char cloth, and sheep’s fleece to start a fire. I always regretted that I did not buy one. I’d love to take yours off your hands, and share it with our scouting troop! Hurry with the new book. When I finished the last one, I felt like I had said goodbye to a good friend.


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