Harvest

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I was in the shower on our first morning home when I heard the thunder of a large African mammal barreling up the stairs. It turned out to be Ada, fizzing with excitement. “I FOUND A ‘NORMOUS CUCUMBER! YOU LIKE TO HOLD IT, MAMA?” I would. Our first cucumber was a prize specimen. Nothing to be done but hastily throw on clothes and go down to see if there were any more. And there were! We ate the first one on the spot. The carrots and beans had doubled their length during our absence, too. (Thanks to our neighbors, who watered them!) There is hardly anything as sure to give you hope for the human race as watching little children goggle at food they’ve grown themselves.

And my mother made Ada’s fabulous birthday dress. I tell you, she is revoltingly talented and she doesn’t even practice. I can’t recall that she ever sewed for me and my brother apart from the Halloween costumes, but boy does she have skills. And maybe she’ll leave a comment to tell us what the pattern is, because I forgot to ask. It has a sweet row of pleats at the neckline that’s just enough detail without being frilly, which Ada definitely isn’t. She loves this dress and so do I. Thanks, Mum!

Verge

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There’s nothing like finishing a wool sweater at the height of summer, is there? Lucky me: I laid mine out to block and woke in the morning to the idle patter of summer rain. (Well, that sounds more pleasant than the reality, which was that I’d already woken twice to Jolly’s wails for milk and company in the dark, so the raindrops found us dozing together and more than a little bleary.) The Pacific Northwest doesn’t do summer showers, those sudden drenches that briefly break the soupy heat in many landscapes. This light dampening was, I heard one San Juan local saying in the coffee shop, the first rain in 47 days. It certainly ended the spell of clear sunshine and stage-whisper breezes we’d enjoyed during our visit. But as much as I love the summers here, nothing beats a misty morning with the hills still swathed in cloud and the roadside wildflowers greedily sucking the dew.

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Verge environments. Who’s really looking at the profusion of Queen Anne’s lace, chickory, and hardhack toughing it out along the fencelines when the view across the valley offers the Olympic range over the straits to the south, Mt. Baker lording it in the east, Mt. Dallas hulking on the western horizon and framing the Sundstroms’ doughty oak with the gnarled leafless arm quirking skyward? On wet days the sky closes in to sequester those vistas. The saturated colors near at hand leap against the gradient of green and tan: mauve, rust, cornflower blue, shocking yellow. I knew just where I wanted to photograph my new pullover.

This is Moroccan Nights, and she’s all about verges. Her simple, current lines are a canvas for architectural shifts in texture.

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The designer who calls herself Rililie artfully places fields of different stitches and delineates the transitions between them in ways that hook and trick the eye to flatter the figure. Slanting welts emphasize and narrow the waist even while the A-line conceals it. Playful cables draw the eye upward, combining with the boat neck and reverse-stockinet shoulders to balance what would otherwise be a bottom-heavy shape. This design does everything right to make the trend for wide bodies and narrow sleeves wearable by those of us who usually try to trade on our curves. I think Amy Herzog would have to admit it’s a trompe l’oeil masterpiece, even if it’s theoretically quite wrong for my body type.

The yarn is Imperial Stock Ranch Tracie, which comes in just the lavender I’d been imagining, a color they call “tufted primrose.” (This shade doesn’t seem to be available on their website and I hope they haven’t discontinued it; I got mine at Twisted in Portland, but their web shop is down today… I’ll check back later to see if I can add the link.) I like it a lot. It’s very softly spun and my skeins had a number of knots where one ply had broken; this is inevitable in a woolen-spun yarn of Tracie’s character and no big deal. I just sucked and rubbed the afflicted areas to lock down the ends without removing the knot. The fabric is airy and soft but cohesive; the sweater is cozy but practically weightless. Brooklyn Tweed Loft has similar qualities and would be a very handsome choice, too.

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Happy, if not yet night-weaned or caffeinated, knitter. Someone’s going to wonder about my funky pants, so I’ll just tell you: Rebe. They aren’t cheap, but I mean that in the quality way as well as the pocketbook way. They’re handmade by a woman who went out and found just the right linen blend when I said I wanted a light neutral rather than the black she had in stock, and I’ve been living in them all summer. I can’t wait to get them out again next summer, and this one’s not even over. You can’t really see in these photos, but they have the most marvelously capacious pocket on the off side. Roald Dahl could have written an adventure story to take place inside this pocket. My kids love it. Sometimes I find little unexpected treasures in there.

And don’t you love the soaring sense of possibility that comes with finishing a big project? What to cast on next? Boardwalk for fall? Imagine When for mostly mindless fun and stashbusting? Raiun, because summer’s not over yet? Actually I need discipline not to start them all. I am a few licks of ribbing from finishing Jolyon’s short-sleeved Pomander, and I’m not sure I’ve even told you about the mini-Boreal I’m knitting for Ada to wear as she heads off to her Big-Girl Preschool next month…

Island

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This one has island blood. He shrieked to be free of his carrier as soon as we scrambled down to the beach. I lowered him to the sand and he was off to explore.

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This one needed some food before she was ready to brave the slippery seaweed and the chilly water. (In fact, there was a whole week that felt like an endless succession of meals punctuated by the declaration, “I’m STILL hungwy!”)

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Jolly couldn’t be bothered with a bathing costume. In he went.

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Oh, that island of mine. I’m never ready to leave. Ada, though, was missing her own home. Despite the beach, despite swimming in the lake, stalking deer with a gaggle of other little people, cooking out with friends, exclaiming over the cows every time we passed their fields, eating ice cream and watching the ferry churn away from the dock, staying up late for live music, and riding the patient horses at Plum Pond, my girl was asking to go home to Portland. It’s a little sad to know our deepest roots won’t be sunk in the same soil and that she may never love the island in her marrow the way I do. But there’s time for her to claim a second home as she grows. And I’m glad she loves the life we’ve made for her in the city.

I have a souvenir of this vacation: a finished sweater! I stuffed the ends I hadn’t woven in up the sleeves and made my husband pull the car over on the way to the ferry to take pictures before we left. Stay tuned…