Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Charlotte Elizabeth's Horse Ride

Before  Charlotte Elizabeth became a prolific Christian writer and the author of many anonymous tracts, she spent some time in Nova Scotia where her best friends were her horse and her dog. Though not a horsey person myself, the following poem made a deep impression on me when I read her autobiography many years ago. Not able to find it online, I decided to post it myself for my friends who love horses and for those who, like me, are inexplicably captivated by the abandon and comradery so beautifully expressed in this poem. She composed the following lines in the early part of the 19th century while riding a dappled gray Arabian named Fairy.  Marco was her dog.

I know by the ardour thou canst not restrain,
By the curve of thy neck and the toss of thy mane,
By the foam of thy snorting which spangles my brow,
The fire of the Arab is hot in thee now.
'Twere harsh to control thee, my frolicksome steed,
I give thee the rein -- so away at thy speed;
Thy rider will dare to be wilful as thee,
Laugh the future to scorn, and partake in thy glee.
Away to the mountain -- what need we to fear?
Pursuit cannot press on my Fairy's career,
Full light were the heel and well balanced the head
That ventured to follow the track of thy tread;
Where roars the loud torrent and starts the rude plank,
And thunders the rock-severed mass down the bank,
While mirror'd in crystal the far-shooting glow,
With dazzling effulgence is sparkling below.
One start, and I die; yet in peace I recline,
My bosom can rest on the fealty of thine;
Thou lov'st me, my sweet one, and would'st not be free
From a yoke that has never borne rudely on thee.
Ah, pleasant the empire of those to confess,
Whose wrath is a whisper, their rule a caress.

Behold how thy playmate is stretching beside,
As loath to be vanquish'd in love or in pride,
While upward he glances his eye-ball of jet,
Half dreading thy fleetness may distance him yet.
Ah Marco, poor Marco -- our pastime to-day
Were reft of one pleasure if he were away.

How precious these moments! fair Freedom expands
Her pinions of light o'er the desolate lands:
The waters are flashing as bright as thine eye,
Unchain'd as thy motion the breezes sweep by;
Delicious they come, o'er the flower-scented earth,
Like whispers of love from the isle of my birth;
While the white-bosom'd Cistus her perfume exhales,
And sighs out a spicy farewell to the gales.
Unfeared and unfearing we'll traverse the wood,
Where pours the rude torrent its turbulent flood:
The forest's red children will smile as we scour
By the log-fashioned hut and the pine-woven bower;
Thy feathery footsteps scarce bending the grass,
Or denting the dew-spangled moss where we pass.

What startles thee? 'Twas but the sentinel gun
Flashed a vesper salute to thy rival, the sun;
He has closed his swift progress before thee, and sweeps
With fetlock of gold, the last verge of the steeps.
The fire-fly anon from his covet shall glide,
And dark fall the shadows of eve on the tide.
Tread softly -- my spirit is joyous no more,
A northern aurora, it shone and is o'er;
The tears will fall fast as I gather the rein,
And a long look reverts to yon shadowy plain.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Variation on the Felt Slippers

When I tried to make my felt slippers by memory, I happened upon a variation that doesn't require cutting after the felting. It still leaves the ankle free, but comes up higher in the front.

You cast on 6 extra stitches. Then after you work the heel, you decrease 5 of those stitches across the instep when you do your second decrease along the side stitches of the gusset. Decrease the last stitch on the last decrease row of the gusset. Here are the modified instructions:


2 3.5 oz balls worsted weight wool
Double points and/or 24" circular needle, size 11 Double points recommended for toe. If used on the whole slipper, they should be at minimum 8" long.
Using two strands at once, CO 48 stitches. (for woman's narrow CO 46) [for men's medium or large CO 51] Join, being careful not to twist stitches.
Knit one round. [for men, k 3 rounds]
Knit 24 stitches (22) [26]. Work back and forth on these 24 stitches to create the back of the heel. Work 15 rows stockinette st. (Knit one row, purl one row.) End with a purl row.
Turn Heel:
Slip 1, K13 (11) [15] K2 tog, k1, turn
Slip 1, P5 (5) [7], P2 tog, P1, turn
Slip 1, K6 (6) [8], k2 tog, K1, turn
Slip 1, P7 (7) [9], p2 tog, P1, turn
Continue in this manner until all stitches are used up. End with a purl row. (For narrow sizes, the last decrease row will be a knit row. P1 row before beginning gusset.) There should be 14 (13) [16] stitches on needle.
Make Gusset:
Knit 7 (6) [8]. Place marker, if using circular needles. Switch needles if using double points. K7 (For narrow size, K2 tog, then knit 5). Pick up 10 (10) [11] stitches along side of heel flap. Place marker, or switch needles. Knit across 24 (24) [25] stitches, placing them on one needle, if using double points. Place marker, or switch needles. Pick up 10 (10) [11] stitches along other side of heel flap. Knit 7 (6) [8] stitches.

You are now at the center of the heel. This will be the beginning of your rounds. You should have 17 (16) [19] stitches on each side of heel.
Round 1: Knit to within 2 stitches of marker {or the end of the first needle.} K2 tog. Knit the 24 (24) [25] stitches that form the top of the foot. After next marker, {or at the beginning of the 3rd needle} K2 tog.
Round 2:Knit.
Round 3: Knit to within 2 stitches of marker {or the end of the first needle.} K2 tog. Knit the stitches that form the top of the foot, decreasing 5 stitches over the course of the 24 (24) [25] stitches {19 (19) [20] stitches remaining.} After next marker, {or at the beginning of the 3rd needle} K2 tog.
Round 4: Knit

Repeat Round 1 then Round 2, 3 (3) [4] more times until there are 12 (11) [13] stitches on each side of heel. On the last round, decrease one stitch in the center of the instep. You will now have 42 (40) [44] stitches total. From here the pattern is the same as the original slipper pattern. 

Knit around and around to the desired measurement from the beginning of the gusset {where you picked up stitches.}:
For woman's small: 7" 
For woman's medium: 9"
For woman's large or men's medium: 11"
For man's large: 12"

Decrease for toe. Double points will work best here. If you are using a circular needle, you will have to pull up the cable as you go. In other words, pull out a loop of cable without any stitches on it, so you can reach the stitches on the needle to knit them. {It is a hassle, but it is only after years of knitting that I acquired double points in the larger sizes. If you only do an occasional project of this type, the circular needle will work.}

For women's regular size:
Round 1: *K 5, K2 tog* repeat around.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K4, K2 tog* repeat around
Round 5: *K3, K2 tog*, repeat around
Round 7: *k2, K2 tog*, repeat around
Round 9: *K1, K2 tog*, repeat around

For women's narrow:
Round 1: K3, K2 tog, *K 5, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: K2, K2tog, *K4, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 5: K1, K2tog, *K3, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 7: K2tog, *K2, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 9: K2 K2tog *K1 K2tog*, repeat between * to end of round

For men's or wide slippers:
Round 1: *K 5, K2 tog* repeat between * around until 3 stitches are left. K1, K2 tog.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K4, K2 tog* repeat around until 2 stitches are left. K2 tog
Round 5: *K3, K2 tog*, repeat around K last stitch
Round 6: *K2, K2 tog*, repeat around, K last stitch
Round 7: *K1, K2 tog*, repeat around, K last stitch

Cut yarn with long tail. Thread on tapestry needle, and sew through stitches on needle. Pull tightly into a circle and sew up. Weave yarn ends into work.

Make flower to put on woman's slippers. Use one of these patterns, if desired:
Five Petal Flower
Easy Flower

Felting Instructions:
Place items to be felted in a pillow case. Tie shut. I use a rubber band or hair tie. This keeps the wool fuzzies from getting in your washing machine. Set machine to smallest wash setting, hot water, and most vigorous speed. Put pillow case with wool items in the machine along with a heavy piece of cloth to increase the agitation. I use an old drapery panel. Allow to agitate 15 - 40 minutes. The time needed will vary according to your wash machine, the water temperature, and the yarn used. I use two wash cycles, or about 24 minutes.  Do not spin out. Spinning may cause creases in the fabric that can not be gotten out. I leave the machine open, so the spinner will not activate, and cover the machine with a heavy cloth. Pull pillow case out of water. Squeeze out excess water and rinse in cold water. Remove slippers. If they need more shrinking, return them to the pillow case and put them back in the washer. If not, squeeze out the water, stuff with towels and allow to dry. They can be stretched a little, if needed.
(Be sure to pull the fuzzies out of your pillow case before throwing it back in the washer to spin out)

These slippers were left in the washer through the spin cycle, and you can see a crease across one of them. This cannot be removed, and it is the reason for NOT spinning felted items. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Perfect Church

   Over two years ago I wrote a blog post about A Christian Home. I was inspired by the description of a nearly perfect home to turn our attention to the only One who is truly perfect. After quoting a verse from the hymn by Barbara Hart with the same title (A Christian Home), I wrote:

   "God in his word speaks to every person as an individual, regardless of his circumstances.  We desire to have Christian homes, but the first thing is to have Christ and to be Christ's ourselves.  I thank God that Christianity is not dependent upon having a Christian home, Christian neighbors, or a Christian nation.

   "Too often, while looking to have perfection in our surroundings, we fail to overcome in the little things of life.  Someone else becomes impatient in turmoil, and we get discouraged.  Someone else fails to remain calm and courageous in a time of trouble, and we are disgruntled.  Those in our home don't seem to find any joy in serving others, and so we excuse ourselves for being the same way ~ and we wonder what happened to love in the days dark and grim.

   "The trouble is that we are looking too much for results and have lost our focus on the Savior. Oh, to maintain high aspirations and to expect great things from God, including great changes in ourselves and our family, without taking our eyes off the one and only, the Lord Jesus Christ!

   "None of us is without sin, and no family is perfect. Some are beautiful and worthy of imitation, but all have their blemishes. If we look upon the blemishes, we may become disheartened and justify our own wayward behavior, even thinking, perhaps, that we must have a certain kind of Christian home in order to be the sort of Christian we desire to be ~ when the exact opposite is true. Our power to live a Christian life is in Christ, and in him alone.  And only in discovering this can we do our part to make a Christian home.

  "A Christian home where others behave as they ought to will diminish our temptations, but it will not give the power to become the sons of God.  It will not give us the victory of faith.  Those things are available only in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are available whatever our circumstances, and regardless of what sort of home we have."

   Today I add that Christianity, not dependent on a perfect family, is also not dependent on the perfect church. Each of us has the responsibility to fellowship with a church which is as much conformed to the Scriptures as possible, but even the best of those will have its blemishes. 

   All the things said about the Christian family also pertain to the family of Christ. We are each of us responsible for ourselves, for our own relationship with the Father, with the head of the church, and with each other. We can choose the best church possible, and we should, but when our brothers and sisters in Christ fail to be patient, calm, courageous, joyous, and servant-like, it is no excuse for us also to become so. 

   We have no business to become discouraged or to blame our church for our own failures. Our strength is still where it always was (or should be) ~ in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  No matter how weak and failing our church or our family may be, we have the power in Christ to be conformed to His image; to be one of those who hears what the Spirit says unto the churches and to overcome.