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03 June 2016

Progress Report: Kelly Cardigan

Happy Friday, everyone!  It's been a wild and crazy week here on the farm, and that includes the weather.  Remember my complaints about cold weather?  You won't be hearing those today.  Over 80°F (about 27°C) every day this week, with plenty of humidity and frequent thunderstorms.  Last night, we had a downpour that soaked the soil and spurred some flash flooding across the region.  (Nothing like Texas, though -- those folks are having a really hard time of it right now.)  The dogs don't stay out long when I turn them out to play and potty in this heat and humidity, and even Steve has forsaken his neighborhood sweethearts in favor of the shade beneath the rosebush.  I guess it's too hot to go a-courting ....

Wednesday and Thursday, I had grandlittle #3 (my Mini-Me) for company.  We ate oodles of strawberries, caught some missed episodes of "Peppa Pig", and built a house out of a folding table, an old sheet, and lots of imagination!  Brought back memories of playing with her mommy at that age .... and of cleaning up the wreckage when playtime was over!  But it was worth it.  We had so much fun.

We are once again in the son-in-law's Chevy, pending the return of our trusty SUV.  I'm not fond of the Impala, but I am fond of the son-in-law, and am grateful that he loans us wheels while our own are in the shop.

When last we chatted, I told you that I was in the process of knitting Tracy Darby's adorable Kelly Cardigan for grandbaby #7, who will join our brood in September.  I finished the sleeves and the front bands, and wet-blocked it today.  Here's a photo of it so far:

I did put buttons on it, but took them off again.  I didn't like them.  So I'm off to town tomorrow to find buttons.  I went ahead and blocked it, though, because I plan to embellish it, and I wanted it to be blocked before I embark on that project.  The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly DK (55% nylon, 45% acrylic) in Popsicle Purple. I used 3.5mm needles for all the ribbing, and 4.0mm needles for the body.  At the risk of repeating myself:  this pattern is super easy, and a good jumping-off point for anyone who's wanted to make a sweater but doesn't know where to start.  Tracy's directions are very clear, and there are photos for the one tricky bit.  It's knit in one piece from the top down, so no sewing!  I have to laugh, though ... while Mini-Me was here, I was working on it, and she asked me what I was making.  "It's a sweater for Aunt A's baby," I said.  Mini-Me came over and looked at it carefully, and then said, "Well, it looks pretty good, so far."  Ever had to bite your cheek to keep from laughing at a six year old?  Yep, that was me.

Now I'm going to tease you a little.  I've begun working on something else (yes, I know, that officially makes 4 works-in-progress!), and I'm really pleased with it.  Let me give you a little taste, pun intended:

Most folks have to wait until autumn for root veggies, but not me!  I made these little carrots and this little beet this week between knitting sessions. I also have two radishes on the worktable, but they don't have their greens yet.  All of these came from a single pattern collection by Veronica Kay, 35 Crochet Play Food Patterns: Fruits and Vegetables.  At just $5.00 for the digital download, this pattern is a fantastic deal.  I'm very pleased with the patterns in general -- have to admit, though, I'm not fond of the zucchini, it looks a little wonky -- and Veronica has made it really easy.  If you're familiar with the amigurumi/spiral/no-rounds style of crochet, you're set.  (If you're not familiar with it, you can check out this video tutorial on Moogly, and also this photo tutorial by Dedri at Look At What I Made.)  I'm using yarn from my monster stash of Palette by Knit Picks (100% wool, fingering weight) to work up these little garden goodies.  And no, I'm not going to tell you what I'm making ..... yet.  ;)

But I do want to share the story of that little basket with you.  Over 25 years ago, we met a unique and amazing man named Coy Huff.  Mr. Huff was from Knott County, Kentucky, and he made traditional Appalachian split-oak and split-ash baskets.  I don't know very little about him.  From his obituary -- the only mention I can find of him online -- I know that he was born in 1920, and that he left behind three sons and two daughters when he died in 2005.  I know that he had little schooling, because he trusted his customers to make their own change from the money in his pocket.  But I do know his baskets very well, because we bought them every chance we got.

Mr. Huff made different styles of baskets, but he specialized in what he called "split-bottom" baskets, known elsewhere as "egg baskets".  He went out into the mountain behind his home and sourced his own wood, being very particular about the saplings he chose to make into withes.  His baskets are put together with whittled wooden pegs, although I'm told that in his later years, when his eyesight was failing, he resorted -- reluctantly -- to using metal staples.  He also made flat-bottomed "pie carriers" (I have a regular sized one and a miniature one), Easter baskets (I have one of those, too), and I don't know how many other styles.

Only one time do I know of anyone cheating Mr. Huff in making their own change, and that was a stranger "from off", as we Appalachian folks say of people not from our folded hills.  Most people knew Mr. Huff and thought kindly of him.  We were certainly wild about his work.  Those who gave him rides to and from town -- he didn't drive -- often took him home with no baskets, but with a full billfold.  

The world lost a true craftsman when Mr. Huff passed.  Those baskets in the photo above -- a photo taken this afternoon -- are 25 years old.  They are as strong as the day they were made, and their wood has acquired a beautiful patina over the years.  They have survived cats, dogs, children, grandchildren, and four changes of residence.  They've held everything from animals to toys to magazines to quilts to yarn to socks to miscellaneous "stuff", and they still continue to hold their shape and serve their purpose.

When you find a Mr. Huff of your own -- a craftsman who makes beautiful things with time-treasured skill -- spend the money to buy one of his or her creations, even if it's the smallest item on offer, even if buying it means you'll have to forego a few luxuries until next payday.  You won't regret it.

Well, I have a few radishes that need their leaves, and then I think I'm going to make a turnip, or a tomato, or maybe even an ear of corn!  Thanks for stopping by, and do pop in again to see what vegetables get added to my basket.  Know someone who likes knitting, crocheting, or just visiting with folks who like cats, dogs, birds, baskets, living in the country and playing with yarn?  Share this post with them.  You can always find me on Facebook (see the link above), less often on Pinterest and Instagram because, frankly, I'm rubbish at updating those sites.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  See you next week!

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