Some Campfire's Love Poem
Weary child, as evening
casts your shadow long
across this pebbled bank
the sun, who held your face
in daytime, selfless
who only told you true
for all of your life
who kissed your cheeks
and showed you how
to plant your feet down and
how to lift them up again
weary child, the sun is fading.
Draw near me now in reflection
and be held almost whole
in this unsettling hour.
Elizabeth Keefer, May 2021
In the third installment of the ongoing saga that is patching my well-worn and heavily-mended Lucy and Yak dungarees (here would be part one and part two)…
I squatted down to adjust the height of the lawnmower and the entire butt of my pants split right out! Down the middle and to the side in the shape of a crooked “Y” – I wasn’t mad, I look forward to big mends like this.
I used a pocket from a retired pair of light blue linen pants that belonged to my husband and a handful of colors of linen thread. The pocket was a nice upgrade from a regular fabric patch; now I have a good place to tuck my gardening gloves in a pinch.
I loosely reinforced the edge of the hole with running stitches before pinning the pocket over top, edges folded under and pinned flat. I worked the perimeter of the pocket with hand-stitching until satisfied. Simple enough!
Below is a recent picture of the original knee patches after about a million washes and rough wears…
On an average day I’m wearing an outfit like this: heavily patched pants, long sleeves to protect my arms from the sun, no-frills Casio watch, wool socks with sandals or boots (depending on the tasks of the day) and a me-made wool sun protection hat. It doesn’t get more “me” than this look right here. 🙂
These pants have developed a spirit of their own. I can’t head out into the yard to work, or pack my bag for a camping trip without them saying, “Hey! I want to play, too!”
And who am I to deny them the rigors and grit they so crave?
My primary interests this spring put me outside for long stretches of time, subsequently exposing my skin to the sun more than I’d like: hiking, camping, landscape photography, fishing, gardening, etc.
I wanted to create a custom-fit sun protection hat for myself that ticked all of my “must have” boxes:
100% natural domestic wool with natural lanolin retained to increase the inherent moisture-repellent properties of minimally processed wool
Comfortable custom-fit cap intended to wear over a thin scarf or bandana for added sun protection of ears and neck
Dense, totally opaque fabric to maximize sun protection and reduce the risk of picking up ticks in my hair while in heavily forested areas
Secure/heavy enough to not blow away in the wind without being overly warm
Extra wide, semi-firm brim extending wide enough to protect my neck, ears, and entire face from the full noontime sun
Crocheting is old hat for me (har har! I’ll never pass up a good pun) – I picked up some of my favorite wool yarn and a hook, threw a few stitches into a magic ring, and an hour later we had the start of something promising…
Once I was satisfied with the fit of the cap portion, I moved on to the brim with the intention to try the hat on every few rounds until I was satisfied with the width of the brim and the amount of sun protection coverage for my face and neck.
My goal was to finish the hat completely in time to bring it with me on a weekend camping trip.
I finished just before bed the night before we left and snapped a window-lit selfie as the sun went down to commemorate.
This hat is a delight! Truly one of the best things I’ve ever made, all crafts considered.
It fits my outdoor needs exactly, which means I will treasure it and wear it for years to come.
This feeling; this is whole point of slow craft. ❤
As it turns out, an unintended benefit of my new wool sun hat is that it helps me hid from neighbors and sip my tea in peace…
Anti-social sun protection…
But as always, my anti-social inclinations are betrayed by a big grin and friendly disposition. 🙂
My new hat even matches my favorite self-drafted knit shawl.
This look is giving me amateur mycologist, forest dwelling Carmen Sandiego vibes and I love it.
*singing to myself* – “Where in the woods is, EK Sandiego?”
There is a cake recipe at the end of this post as your reward for continuing to indulge me in my steadfast effort to convert my modest wardrobe into a curated collection of slow craft, folk art heirlooms. I’m only half kidding when I say “curated” and “folk art heirlooms” and I’m not kidding at all about the cake recipe… scroll down to the bottom if you need hard proof.
Years from now I’m sure I will look down at these finished knee patches and remember fondly all of the delicious loaf cakes I baked and ate while stitching my way through the cold, dark winter of 2020.
A meditative stitch (or 100 stitches) here and there, day and night, always quietly accompanied by a hot mug of coffee, tea, or cocoa…
Now, about that Sour Cream Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake Recipe.
As a “mature for my age” child and an inevitable coffee lover, to me, coffee cake was the pinnacle of grown-up baked goods. I could argue the Seinfeld episode titled “The Suicide”–during which the main characters discuss at length the merits of Drake’s Coffee Cakes–had a strong impact on my young, impressionable mind.
The success of this cake depends on only two things, really: 1. starting with room temperature ingredients and 2. incorporating them together as thoroughly and slowly as time and reason will allow. It’s best not to just slap this one together; take your time and your prize will be an easy, delicious cake.
Sour Cream Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake Recipe
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350ºF
Butter and flour a 9″ rectangular loaf pan and set aside.
To prepare the cinnamon swirl: in a small bowl combine 2/3 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and set aside.
In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat room temperature butter on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape the sides down into the bowl and add sugars. Cream together again on medium speed for an additional minute.
Scrape sides down into the bowl again, then add vanilla and molasses and incorporate on medium speed for 2-3 more minutes.
Scrape sides down into bowl again and add eggs, one at a time on the lowest speed, stopping to scrape the sides down into the bowl between each egg. Batter should be fully combined and smooth in consistency at this point.
Pour approximately half of the batter into your prepared loaf pan and even out the top using a spatula. Using a spoon, sprinkle approximately 75% of your cinnamon swirl mixture evenly across the top of this first layer of cake batter.
Proceed to pour the rest of the batter overtop the cinnamon sprinkle layer and even the surface with a spatula again. Finish the top with the remaining 25% cinnamon mixture evenly sprinkled with a spoon.
To swirl the center cinnamon layer, insert a butter knife down from above into the batter until the tip of the knife reaches the pan. Slowly drag the knife through the batter in an easy S-shape swirling motion from one end to the other. Repeat a second time.
Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 60-75 minutes until a butter knife, cake tester or wooden skewer inserted carefully down into the center of the cake from above pulls out clean (crumb is fully formed/no wet batter clinging to it) and the top is puffed and browned. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before carefully lifting or turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Good for 3 days at room temperature.
I silently cast a white
with the new moon
A starless revolution
I waited, visiting in
hanging in the air
Fat Moon –
I rose to melt the frost,
blinked blood and
knew it didn't take.
This untitled poem is an original piece that attempts to express the particularly crisp, acutely bitter ache one can feel after struggling to start or successfully maintain a pregnancy.
Do you enjoy reading and/or writing poetry? I do, and I think I’ll continue to share more of my own to this space.
Sashiko is the traditional Japanese method of decoratively mending or reinforcing textiles with cotton fabric and white or indigo-dyed thread. Sashiko is an expression of the traditional Japanese aesthetic Wabi-sabi, which is characterized by the appreciation of “imperfect beauty” and impermanence.
I plan to sew each patch down by hand in a grid pattern of small stitches using linen thread in a few different natural tones that remind me of wildflowers… the resulting mend should reinforce the knees and lower legs for at least another year of abruptly kneeling in dirt to spot cool bugs, and scooting across the living room rug while “playing dogs” with… the dog. Don’t ask, I’m an adult and this is just how I live my life.
I’ve had this same pair of dungarees since the early days of Lucy and Yak, and I have worn them more times than I could possibly count. I envision them 10 years from now, held together entirely by clever little hand-stitches and assorted patches cut from long-since-retired-yester-clothes.
In current food news ‘round these parts: I baked a lemon loaf cake today using this recipe and it turned out great, really great. My only deviation from Maria’s recipe was that I opted for a quick vanilla bean icing to douse the top instead of the suggested lemon glaze. Smash hit. Well done on the recipe, Maria. 🙂
I’ll continue to share the process of mending the knees of my dungarees as I go.
What was the last piece of clothing you brought back to life with a thoughtful mend? I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments below.
Yarn is good old affordable (US grown, Canadian spun) Lily Sugar’n Cream in the color Tangerine.
Dish cloth? Wash cloth? Face cloth? Cotton scrubby? Trivet? Doily? These decorative, machine washable workhorses go by many names and serve a thousand various functions in my house.
I say “dishcloth of the day” in jest – although they are quick projects and the idea of knitting 365 cotton dishcloths in a year isn’t totally unrealistic for me, I won’t be posting a new hand knit dishcloth daily. Let’s shoot for weekly? we’ll see…