Talking Across the Fish Pond: Letters to and from Amanda, Installment 1

You might have read the post about Amanda (Moo2Moo) some time ago. I asked her questions, she answered. . . Well, we’ve been talking a bit since. I thought I’d start posting some of our back and forth. . . she thought it was a fine idea.  So, here’s the latest, with more to come once a week on Wednesdays until we tire of it, I suppose.

Subject: Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Hi Nora,

The postie has just been bringing with him the most amazing parcel. Can’t begin to convey the level of excitement at this. The contents are amazing. Fabulous. Anouk is jaw-droppingly beautiful. I can’t get over just how squooshy Shepherds Wool is; there’s nothing even vaguely close in the UK without paying $30 or more per skein and the presentation bag is such a fabulous finishing touch. I have a huge beaming grin from ear to ear.

I was rather miffed at having to stay in all day tomorrow to wait for the OH’s shed to be delivered but its the perfect excuse to familiarize myself with Anouk. The quality of the patterns is outstanding, makes such a change from flimsy paper ones that start to fall to bits before you’re part way through.  I love the attention to detail and the notes on the rear about Soma are so damn cute and the suggestion about felting in a clothes dryer rather than a washing machine is so obvious it rates a *duh* as I’d previously done it by stopping the washer mid cycle and faffing about emptying it in order to check it which takes 15 minutes each time, top loading machines are extremely uncommon in the UK.

I can’t even begin to thank you enough. I’ve been wanting to knit your top down ribbed pullover for ages but kept persuading myself it was beyond me. Thanks to you I’ve discovered that I’m stubborn enough to try anything at least twice and in the case of a shawl named Haruni 8 times before conceding that its just not working and trying something else before having another go.

Going to whizz thorough today’s housework, massacre a couple of dozen metres of hedge, finish the last half dozen rows of a tea cosy and cast on for Anouk. The Fuschia Wrap is on hold until I can find somewhere that stocks the wire for shaping the flowers because all I’ve come across so far is far too thick and I’ve yet to some across a rigid enough alternative. Rather than knit them from a single strand and find I can’t shape them I’m holding off until I know what gauge wire I can get hold off. Its most infuriating. The best my local store was able to come up with was plumbers solder or paperclips and the local craft shop owner looked at me like I’d grown two heads but then she can’t understand why anyone would want to knit anything tha’ts not a pale acrylic.

Enough waffle. Domestic drudgery beckons.

Hope you had a great holiday.

Thank you very very very much!



Subject: RE: Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Dear Amanda,

You are such a love to say such lovely things—I want a recording for when I have low days!  I have sat here reading your note with a bit of a dopey grin on my face.  You write such great letters.

I’m trying to plan a teaching trip to the UK. I’ve asked Pavi Yarns if they are interested and they are keen to do it if we can work out the details. I was wondering if I might bring my family out to you and we could all meet (if I can pull this whole thing off)? The place where your forever home sits looks so absolutely breath-taking I want to sit and look for days. I have the bold idea that you might even have an extra bedroom and we would all get along so well you might say “stay!” and that would be that. And you are so deft with words that if just the thought makes you grab the edge of the table and whisper, “o no!” you’ll say, O, do come for tea or coffee and we can make a pie together (I mean that about the pie), but the back bedroom we used to use for guests has been taken over by the guinea fowls and now you wouldn’t want to stay there. Or, Just last week we lost our back bedroom to a horrible mud slide and simultaneous tornado and now there’s just a sad spot where it used to be. Or, the sod house we are building that will look out over the water and house the steady stream of guests we sometime have is still, pity, under construction probably until 2020, so I am so dreadfully sorry to say that we know a little place in town that you will love!

Most important, what time of year do you think is best both for knitting workshops and visiting? I’m trying to put together a proposal to several shops. I’ve got one in Scotland, Pavi, maybe Get Knitted. . .

I have always wanted to see the V&A and I want to see where Doc Martin is filmed (I don’t have to, but I just love that place or someplace similar) and all my graduate work was on English religio-political tracts so I’m keen to see the places I’ve only thought and read about.

But to the issue of wire. Have you no beading stores or anything of the sort? You’ll probably laugh at that question. I should know the answer just looking at that picture you sent of the shore line with not a soul on it for miles. And the story of the man in the shop and his incredulity.

But I live in a place like so many here in the North East of the US where the house next to mine is a stone’s throw, literally, away and we have to contend (while we happily watch the hummingbirds fly back and forth and try to hear the buzz of the bumblebee’s wings as it works over the lambs ears) with the motor of the next door neighbor’s pool filter rackety packety from 8 am until 8 pm every day–I could set my watch!. And huge stores with more plastic throw away things to tempt your money out of your pocket than you will ever care to see in your life! So we have whole shops (some of them quite large) devoted to beads and bead tools, and the assorted wires you might need, depending on your project. You can get silver covered wire that is then colored different shades you think you must have because you are convinced for a time that a red tulip must be wired with red wire. You’ll get over this, of course, because the silver wire is twice the price and the color wears off with the sort of wiring of flowers that you might be wanting to do, and it bends too easily with even that little bit of silver coating.  I think you should have 26 gauge brass wire.  A plumbing supply place might not be a bad place to start. I found my first little reel of wire in a funny hardware store. Brass or copper wire will do, though brass might be a bit more stable?

When I was writing the book, I was in rural Michigan—not so rural as a friend down the road whose house could be reached if you followed the signs for “yarn” written small in paint. First off the main road to a smaller road where the cars scoot over to the side as its really only big enough for one, and then turn a corner to a yet smaller road that is dirt and quite a fun bumpity bump ride for about the first 30 seconds, and then to a yet smaller road that’s barely bigger than a driveway, and finally to her farm where her little out building is home to a tiny yarn shop and in the summer if you visit she’s got lemonade in pretty glasses on a board table in the shade and you’ll wish to stay there until you need something like beading wire and it’s nowhere to be found for tens of miles or even hundreds of miles.

Unless you happen, in desperation, to go into a shop aptly named “Everything” or something like that and you’ll find there a bright orange hunting cap that you think will come in handy as it might be November you’re in there and it’s hunting season so even going to the car seems like a risk. And a bright orange jacket with the name of the high school sports team emblazoned on it over the heart, but it’s big enough for your father in law, which means its big enough to fit over your winter coat comfortably and you can even go for a walk without fear for your life.

And on you go down each isle carefully. There are two toilets on a low shelf.  Some faux flowers of unspecified botanical origin, several shower curtains in faded and dusty packaging that shows a slim, smiling woman with one hand raised to touch the curtain and the other hand poised in the air. Around the corner is the wire “section” if it can be called that. There is dusty plastic tubing on dusty shelves, and there, on a little hook, is 26 gauge brass wire on little reels that allows you to cut the wire right off the reel without resorting to the kitchen scissors you keep in the drawer for challenging cutting tasks. . .

Here I’ve just sent you a present (I’m so glad you like it!) and I’ve invited myself over for dinner and a vacation! You will think I’ve lost my mind and wonder about these crazy designers over there in Maryland and wish you’d never got all excited about that name the bag contest. . . Or maybe if I’m lucky you’ll be delighted and like the idea.  I’ll hope for the best and push send. . .


Dear Gentle Reader: If you like this post, please share it with like-minded friends and sign up for the RSS feed. . . Look for an installment in Talking Across the Fish Pond every Wednesday. For a new feature, Noni Q&A, check in on Fridays. Mondays–I will do better and post Monday’s post on Monday!–will be my whatever comes to mind post. Maybe gardening, maybe knitting, maybe something else . . .


1 thought on “Talking Across the Fish Pond: Letters to and from Amanda, Installment 1

  1. Nora…..
    A cup of coffee….gentle breeze blowing through the window….and reading your blog. What a wonderful start to my day!

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