Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Red in Winter, Warm and Bright

Red in Winter, Warm and Bright

A Red Rose
     Red in winter lends a kind of warmth and brightness to cold gray days. A crocheted rose came in the mail for the Lady-of-the-House. She is as pleased as punch with its shades of red. A welcome feminine accent, it is pinned it to the hat she knit for herself. Lisa of Happy in Dole Valley crochets posies in pretty colors for her etsy.

 A Red Coat
     Some years back the Man-of-the-House came across a red wool coat in the community thrift store. He bought it for his wife for ten dollars. “Wear the old coat, buy the new kindle,” came to mind. This is the Lady-of-House’s modern twist on Benjamin Franklin’s “Wear the old coat, buy the new book.”

This 18th century American, of relentless curiosity and ingenuity, would probably approve of the twist to his motto. The priority is the same.

How long will it be before the Lady-of-the-House gets used to her kindle and appreciates it for its convenience, economy and ability to pack whole bookcases into its memory? A printed page may always seem the normal thing to her but she is open to trying new things.   

A Red Ball of Yarn
     Do you know how to wind a ball of yarn so that it can be drawn up from the middle? Make a tail. Place this tail between thumb and forefinger. Wind the yarn around it loosely. Continue to wind loosely in varying directions with three fingers now, keeping watch that the tail is always accessible.

     Wool responds better to being knit up when it is allowed to keep its natural elastic kink and hasn’t been held taunt in a tight ball. A mother, too, responds better to her husband, her children, the day’s duties, when she is not uptight – can pace herself and reserve some minutes to unwind.

A Red Shawl
     Fine red yarn on narrow needles makes a bright lace edging. After the strand of lace reached the desired length to edge a shawl for Helen, the Lady-of-the-House attached yarn to the center of the strand.

     To begin the body of the shawl, pick up three stitches at the center and knit across. Pick up two stitches at the end of each row - knitting one at a time as you pick them up. Turn. Knit the next row picking up and knitting two, etc.

     Repeat, and watch the garter stitch shawl form into a half-moon.  

A Skirt with Red
     Wool plaid skirts are a favorite of the Lady-of-the-House. She collects them when the price is right. Knowing this, the Man-of-the-House stopped into the Pendleton outlet while he was running errands. “I found a skirt you might like,” he reported on his track phone. “I think it’s a catalog return. It’s been marked down three times and is your size.”
     “What does it look like?” What are the colors?” 
     “It’s plaid in gray and red.”
     “Hmm, How short?”
     “Let me ask the sales lady. . . . She says it’s petite and would be just below the knee if you’re 5’4” or shorter. If you don’t like it we can return it.”
     “Well, okay.”

     At home, with the skirt out of the bag the Lady-of-the-House feasted her eyes on its colors and ran a hand over the warm-as-a-blanket fabric.

     “Do you like it?” asked the Man-of-the-House.
     “Yes, I do,” she replied. He was instantly proud of his purchase - and again when she thanked him in her usual manner. 
     She likes the skirt’s 1940’s style. But she has one quibble. She is still getting used to the so-called “natural waistlines” of this century. Whatever it’s called – it means “off the waist” to her. Anyway, she is happy at how her butter-colored cardigan picks up the gold thread of the skirt, warm and bright.

A Story with a “Patch of Scarlet 
     A story that could turn into a perennial read for those with early American leanings is A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos, awarded a Newberry Medal. It is a little novel, meant for girls ages 8 -12 - so it states on the back cover - but it proves a warm and bright companion to the Lady-of-the-House - a grown-up who can get uptight with life’s trials and cares. Trials and cares are common to most of us and it helps to be transported to another time and place - to unwind – to be put in company with the intimate lives of the people of a story. It is a relaxing comfort to the Lady-of-House to read this fictional dairy of Catherine age 13.

     Catherine begins her diary on October 17, 1830 in the state of New Hampshire where, like most of her neighbors, her father is a farmer. This is a gentle, quiet story where Catherine records the struggles and joys of pioneer living, her father’s remarriage, and the loss of her closest friend. She takes part in the traditions of a rural community. Although there is no mention of Christ Jesus, the family observes the Sabbath, respects and looks up to Providence.

     There is historical flavor to the writing, such as the subtleties of Catherine’s speech. Because the author did extensive research, pouring over archived newspaper articles of the 1830s, Catherine’s choice of words seem natural and so convincing that, along with its other early American atmospheric details, the diary seems more real than fiction. 

“ Of this I shall remember forever the look of that cold and wintery clearing, the quilt tucked in the foot of the tree and folded carefully to display a patch of scarlet.”

     Catherine comes of age during the course of the diary. She records timeless truths she meets in her speller and in life, such has her father’s:

“It requires but little discernment to discover the imperfections of others; but much humility to acknowledge our own.”  

A Red Ribbon    
     Have you ever noticed how the design on a Whitman’s Sampler resembles a traditional cross-stitch sampler? A deep red satin ribbon was wrapped around a box of four luscious chocolates - a February surprise for the Man-of-the-House. He shared his surprise with the Lady-of-the-House. And thanked her in his usual manner. 

     I wish you a February in many ways warm and bright.
     Karen Andreola

Post Script

A Song of RedRed
I like Christian lyrics by Petra in "The Coloring Song." 


  1. Lovely post, no surprise, as I enjoy all of your blog posts! Red is my favorite color and it is a color that I use in decorating our home and wearing.
    I have a Kindle and although I agree that there is nothing quite like holding a real book, especially when enjoying the photos or prints, I do like the convenience of the Kindle. There is so many free books through the internet and our local library.


  2. Having just learned how to crochet flowers, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful one in your picture. Mine aren't quite that perfect yet! :)

    And, since my girls and I are delving into knitting (the girls for the first time, me as a sort of re-kindling of my first craft) I enjoyed seeing the red shawl for the doll.

    And I enjoyed the twist on Franklin's "Wear the old coat..." - I enjoy my Kindle, too. Although, since reading somewhere about the nebulous-ness of e-publishing, Amazon's ideas of who owns what and whatnot, I've stopped buying higher priced books for my Kindle, as they might not always "be mine." Still, for reading in bed (and ease of using the dictionary in bed) a Kindle can't be beat!

  3. What a cheery post! Thank you.

    Our preacher has a holder for his hand-held-electronic-note-pad that has a bend in it that fits the hand more naturally than do the flat ones. I think I might be willng to try a Kindle if I can find one of these cases.

    I like the quote about discerning the faults in others. It is a helpful reminder to be more.

    Signs of spring are everywhere around our neighborhood. I'm hoping for one more snow, though!

    One of my favorite red sights is a cardinal in the snow.


  4. Oh Karen, how happy I am when a see a new post of yours! Thank you for all the loveliness of this one. You look so cheery in your red ensemble, but the photograph of you in your new plaid skirt is simply stunning! Your longer hair is very becoming and so is the new skirt. Helen's red shawl if perfect. And finally, thank you so much for the introduction to the (new-to-me) book, Gathering of Days. I have liked every book recommendation you have given on your blog, and so I am confident I will enjoy this one also. It seems I am always saying "thank you" in my comments, but this is only because you give so much to us, your readers. Happy February to you and to the Man-of-the-House!

  5. I'm all alone having the third awful night in a row getting my five year to stop crying and to stay in bed, after a horrid day dealing with my nine year old who won't do his homeschool work and has hysterics about going to an actual school - and I so loved finding this cheery, interesting post in my reader! Thank you for being a bright spot in a dismal day.

  6. Love all your red is a good color for winter indeed...blessings

  7. I love all the red in this post! And it looks so nice on you--I love the red wool coat especially.

  8. You look so pretty in your red coat and hat! :)

  9. I love that skirt! So pretty on you!

    Red is a favorite of mine, so I loved all the ways you incorporated it into this post!

    Your hat is darling, the flower just right with it and it all goes with your lovely red coat!

    I like your twist on B. Franklin's quote!


  10. I love all the red.You look quite lovely in your red coat.If I wish to do the lace such as you have here,do you have a pattern you follow.?I think that should make me a good wintery day project. Thanks again for brightening our days,Blessings, Dawn E. Brown

  11. Beautiful broach from lovely Lisa.. Thanks for the mini shawl instruction. I have many a chilly dolly in this house and making lace in miniature is about all my attention span can handle these days. :)

    The Petra song ~ wonderful lyrics. I'm afraid the only version I knew was Tim Hawkins goofy twist on this catchy tune. I found myself singing ridiculous words all day once it got in my head. I'm very happy to have the original!

    Blessings, Debbie

    * You look fabulous in that skirt by the way!

  12. Thank you, Ladies, for your friendliness.

    I do remember those days of little children when the Man-of-the-House was away on business. Oh, it can be unnerving - especially if a child is sick or teary-eyed. I also sympathize with those moms who have husbands away in the armed forces.

    So glad this post was a bright spot on a cloudy day.

    The strand of knitted lace is from Nicky Epstein's book, "Knitting on the Edge" page 72 "Molly's Lace."

    I am very fond of the character Molly in Mrs. Gaskill's "Wives and Daughters" and perhaps this made knitting it all the more charming. Metal sock needles worked better than my wooden circular #1s. Because of the (sl2, k3tog, psso) I needed a pointy needle. I think you will enjoy this lace pattern.

    Happy to hear from you,
    Karen A.

  13. Michigan winters are so gray--I think I need some red! Thank you for the beautiful post.

  14. Sipping a cup of coffee this dark and quiet Saturday morning while catching up on my blog reading, what might I find? Dear Karen, I am so thrilled that you are enjoying the brooch I sent your goes perfectly with your red hat and coat ($10? What a deal!). That skirt is lovely on you as is the longer hair style. :) Like the other ladies who comment here, I appreciate all the wonderful book recommendations you make; my AnnaLynn is going to love "A Gathering of Days" -- she's reading through the Laura Ingalls Wilder books this year as we're studying early American history. She's enamored with the simplicity and community of pre-electric life. I've revived a hibernating shawl project and am working my way towards finishing by Easter. Thanks for sharing the Coloring song. :)

    Blessings in HIM,

  15. Beautiful post!

    I followed the link, loving to find another kindred spirit who loves books and gardens and cooking, etc. :)

    I love the way your and your hubby think of each other when you are out and about. Mine would never purchase something to wear but he has been known to pick up some Lindor milk chocolate truffles.

  16. I do appreciate how women find delight in the month of February. This post "tickled me red" with its delights of domesticity and femininity.

    You look beautiful in your gifted skirt! I know what you mean about waistlines...and for me it is also a matter of knee lengths. As with the Kindle versus the printed page, I find I learn to adapt with the waves of change to whatever degree I desire.

  17. Karen,

    Thank you for the cheerful post ~ encouraging as usual! The new skirt is lovely. Thanks for such a colorful post!

  18. You make me want to learn to knit. I take pleasure in reading your posts because they are encouraging to me as a homemaker. Our world is so messy and it's easy to forget the joys of simply being at home and loving your family. Also, I found a wool coat at a local thrift store years ago. I love it and still wear it.

  19. Dear Karen,
    How I adore the color red also:-) I knit my Tasha Tudor shawl in it and at first glance I thought it was the same as your doll's. Different edging , but close. I have a closet of plaid/tartan skirts! Your cloche hat looks charming on you too. Did you knit that? I have been looking for a pattern for one if you happen to have it to share. Thank you for the book recommendation-I love short diaries like that I can read a snip of here and there:-) As always, lovely to visit with you.

  20. I am sitting with your comments on my lap top - in the sunny parlor. I like knowing something about my readers. What a pleasant visit.

    The Hat
    I improvised while I knit my hat - with size 10 dp needles and two strands of wool. It is a simple variation of a rolled cap, really. I cast on more stitches than a cap to make it wider at the brim. After the roll I decreased to give it a snug wind-proof fit at the ears. Then I increased a few rounds to give it a bit of a puffy hat look before decreasing for the top. Sorry, I didn't keep exact records.

    "My love is like a red, red rose," is the verse that came to mind this February when I attached the finishing touch.

    Until next time,
    Karen A.

  21. This Lady of the House enjoys her quiet days with her needles and yarn. At this moment, they are coming mighty handy while she recuperates :) The Kindle goes everywhere she goes :) The color red is one of my favorite colors...I am currently making a crochet shrug for a jumper I just completed. Thank you Karen, for sharing with me today...


  22. Hi Karen!

    Red is definitely your colour!! You are very beautiful! ;o) I love your hat, coat and new flower brooch!

    I love your new skirt! What a lovely find!!

    Helen's shawl is very pretty!

    Love, HEather