Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Below Stairs"

The subtitle on this book reads "The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired  Upstairs, Downstairs and  Downton Abbey".  Margaret Powell's account of entering service at 13 because there were too many children in the house begins this adventure.  Her Mom had been in service herself.  Similar to last week's book review, I was surprised to find how differently the houses, the rules, the expectations and the work was.  I also thought about how many times certain staff were promised something but ended up with nothing.
How different this world of the early 1900s was from the world of the early 2000s.  Attitudes and expectations along with technology brought change whether wanted or not.

A very enjoyable read.
ISBN: 978-1-250-00544-1

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Weaving a Life"

This book has been in our Guild library for some time.  How interesting can a weaver's life be, right?  Enough to write 200+ pages about AND an index?  So, I had to read it.

Well, I'm glad I read it.  A rather easy read, and totally not what I anticipated.  Did you know that Mary didn't begin weaving until she was nearly 40 years old?

Her childhood life was quite affluent by my standards.  Being a child in the early 1900s she and her siblings were tutored at home.  Maids, cooks and nannies were a part of her upbringing.  

The majority of this book is written from Mary's notes, with her voice.  It follows her life before weaving, journeying through jungles, mountains and deserts following her engineer husband.  

She was quite good at mathematics.  This skill she finally used when weaving was introduced to her.  Later, she went through the Philadelphia, PA museums documenting weaving patterns and writing her book " The Shuttle-craft Book of American Hand-Weaving" ISBN 0-916658-43-0 .  Mary went on to write a mystery book (I haven't yet read), and a few other weaving books.  

I have a special love for old coverlets.  Mary's little red book, my edition is 1951, is thoroughly read.  Right now I'm working in the overshot section, the double-orange peel is one of my favorite designs, for the K-D Structure Study Group.  I thinking about using  this design for my samples.  

I highly recommend reading this book.  Mary Atwater is a good example of what many women have done through the centuries - reinventing themselves.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tucson Tuesday

At our monthly K-D Structure Study Group we are working our way through Madelyn van der Hoogt's "The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers".

Currently we are on chapters 4 and 5 where we have discovered what a profile draft is and how it can be woven on either 4 or 8 shafts with an even or uneven block.  This will be an overshot design.

The sample to the right is one of the samples in the book woven by Lucie Anderson.  I had a photo of Lucie with her entire sampler of 8 or more blocks but my photography wasn't up to snuff today.  I'll try again next month.

Our next step is to (1) choose a 4 block profile draft (2) make a thread by thread drawdown of that draft and either hand draw or computer generate what our drawdown would look like.  And, today we also decided that we could use either 10/2 cotton for the warp (5/2 for the pattern weft); or 20/2 cotton for the warp and (10/2 for the pattern weft).  I really want to make a 20/2 sampler, so I'll have to try to make a pattern that will ultimately end up 7" after wet-finishing.

To the computer to make a drawdown!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Tea Room

DH  calculating our bill!
After church DH took me to Mrs. Thomas' Lovely Tea House for luncheon.  Not crowded, DH made reservations beforehand.  XX

I enjoy this Tea House for many reasons.  Besides having a meal with my spouse, I enjoy the atmosphere, the delicious food (reasonably priced), and the tea.  We had a Caesar salad, grilled salmon with a pineapple sauce concoction for the sauce, grilled asparagus, and roasted little red potatoes.  Water and tea accompanied our meal. 

 And, this is a sampling from our dessert buffet!  Who knew?  They had a beautiful long table set up with special snacks made in their kitchen.  Kudos chef!

My dessert sampler

Back in the day there were many well run family-owned and -operated restaurants.  Many a Sunday we would drive for an hour or so to the outskirts of Baltimore, my hometown, and have a delightful meal in the country.  We rarely went out for dinner, unlike lifestyles today, so it was a wonderful treat.  The entire day was spent with my Mom and Dad with an unhurried meal, and,  I did not have to dry the dishes.

Of course, my very most favorite restaurant in Baltimore was Haussner's.  The atmosphere alone was unimaginable.  Priceless art was everywhere.  Here's a photo of Mrs. Haussner amid her restaurant.  There were rooms and rooms full of artwork, sculptures, vases, and who knows what else.  Read a little about the restaurant and their priceless collection here from a Sotheby's article.

At Haussner's there were no reservations.  I remember standing an hour or more in line for a table.  No one was rushed, and the food was exquisite.  The only day they were closed was Sunday.  They carried an extensive menu that was available any day.  Whether it be frogs legs; sauerbraten, or, my favorite, Baltimore Imperial Crab, everything was fresh and available.  A sorely missed piece of my life and memory.

So, now the only restaurants around, that I can find, are chain restaurants.  Either the music is so loud one cannot hear one think, or there are totally uninteresting surroundings and food choices.  There was *no restaurant* like Haussner's.  I'm glad this was a part of my history.

The following description was taken from Baltimore Style Column from The Jewish Times, November 2004

Has it already been five years since Haussner’s served its last slice of strawberry pie? When what might have been Baltimore’s most famous restaurant- or surely its most unique- closed in 1999, faithful patrons flocked from London to Arizona to eat sauerbraten and hasenpfeffer among the restaurant’s famous art collection one last time. That art collection fetched $11 million at Sotheby’s and the famous ball of string more than $8,000 at a local auction. 
Owner William Haussner was an infamous stickler when it came to service: rolls were not to be called “buns,” single diners were always seated immediately- even if there was a line- and every meal was to be plated with a parsley garnish. As the story goes, when Haussner’s diabetes finally took his sight, waitresses would sit him down at a table so he could run his hand over the white tablecloths to check their smoothness. He died in 1963, leaving the restaurant to his wife, Frances.     
You could find nearly anything on Haussner’s menu, of course: picked beef aged in vinegar and wine in wooden casks, diamondback terrapin, pig’s knuckles, not to mention kangaroo and whale. “It’s of the type that used to be called 'continental,’” displaced Baltimorean Stephen Hunter wrote in The Washington Post, describing Haussner’s food. “It flies from the fork to your arteries like a bat, leaking an oil slick of pure calories and enough cholesterol to kill your heart in a second.” 
On its last day in business, Sept. 21, 1999, hundreds of patrons waited for a table in the cold rain. There were two people in wheelchairs, one pulling an oxygen tank and another whom brought an IV drip that waitresses attached to a coat rack at his table. “We’re not pretentious,” daughter Francie Haussner said in an interview during the restaurant’s final week. “Nouvelle cuisine passed right over Highlandtown.”