What I did on my summer vacation: I am bad at vacation. Because we have multiple sets of parents, we typically visit family. I often feel like my sole job is to provide the children and to make sure their blood sugar is maintained and they’ve had adequate sleep so they can be delightful and entertain their grandparents. Anyone who has done this for more than three days in a row knows that feeling in the pit of your stomach when your four-year-old crawls into your unfamiliar bed at 5 AM and says they can’t sleep.
This year, the younger one could suddenly carry her own stuff. All of it. Which made space for my markers, and some indigo. I spent the week working my way through a book on traditional Japanese stitched resist techniques, sewing and wrapping silk handkerchiefs into contortionist poses. I’d done this before, piecemeal, but I’d never made time to do it intentionally, over a series of days.
As the pile of odd shapes slowly grew, I had time to focus on what I was doing in a way I have not since 2006. I thought about how a simple thing like a line of stitches can make so many complex patterns. Then I dyed this pile of goofy shapes in an indigo vat, unwound and unstitched them, and learned some more. I was layering technique on technique.
It was luxury. The learning felt good. And, remarkably, the kids gave me the space to do it. Our indigo class on August 20th is sold out, but there will be another one on September 23. Come join me in my obsession.
Earlier this summer, my friend Marc showed up at a party with a bottle of ruby red liquid. This, he announced, is cherry shrub. Those of us lucky enough to be in the kitchen poured a splash in to a glass and tasted it. Sour and sweet and tangy and intensely cherry! Then we diluted it with some seltzer. And agreed that we would keep it in the kitchen so nobody else could have any. It was that good.
Marc sent me the recipe he used and I did some research and we have been making shrubs in parallel all summer. In my fridge, I have cherry (three varieties, each infused with a different spice or vinegar), blueberry, and currant. But he’s the master. Last night he sent me a photograph of the leftover mash from a batch of peach shrub he made yesterday, with the question, “Got any puff pastry?”
He’ll be teaching about this shrub obsession next Tuesday the 25th. We’ll go through five varieties of shrub –includingcombinations of sweet, savory, fruity and spicy. You’ll walk away with jars of all five, and a new obsession of your own.
Or come and make an apron custom-tailored to your body and your personal obsession! Yesterday I was discussing this class with a group of friends and one turned to her partner and said, “You should go. You’re obsessed with grilling, and you’re always getting stuff all over my aprons. Why don’t you go make an apron with a custom pocket for that special fork and knife from Argentina?” Another friend stroked his chin. I could not tell if he was thinking about his wood shop or baking. Either way, come. We’ll measure you and help you make a pattern that fits properly.
Bring your gear, and we’ll lay out your pockets so the gear will have a custom home. Robin’s keeps ink off her clothes. Mine will protect me from dye. Yours?
We have a great schedule planned for September. Keep your eyes on this space.