Saturday, February 20, 2021

Swedish Fam, Baking fun, Warps and Wefts (The Pandemic Distractions)

In a year without races and training and everything "normal", I've filled the gaps here and there with activities I may not have had time for, or interest in, otherwise. It's been rather low key.

King Arthur Baking School

I try to avoid wheat and grains, but I like to bake for the family. I've been taking online baking courses with King Arthur Baking Company (formerly King Arthur Flour) that have been a lot of fun. Soft pretzels, empanadas, and rugelach have been a hit... lemon meringue, eclairs and scones are in the future.

 Soft pretzels, so good!

King Arthur Baking class via Zoom
Chorizo-Chickpea Empanadas
with Cilantro Creme and Gallo Pinto


With my grandmother's (and great-grandmother, Amy's) weaving loom stored in pieces in our closet, awaiting the pandemic to pass so I can begin to restore it, I've been experimenting with weaving on a small rigid heddle loom, learning the ins and outs of warps, wefts, and pick-up sticks. (Back story, my grandmother's loom, from the Devereux Mansion, was stored in an attic for decades and is in pieces. The loom is well over 100 years old, based on a Swedish design, gifted to my great-grandmother from her mother, Amelia. I'd like to hire a professional to help make it functional again, but Covid restrictions have put the project on hold.)

Meanwhile, on my little Ashford Sampleit, I've been honing some basic skills. Scarves and towels have been my go-to projects, though sadly the 16" loom isn't quite wide enough for the towel width I prefer. The towel are a bit skinny. LOL. I'm thinking spa face cloths might be my next project.

Weaving on the Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Skinny dish towels 

Swedish Fam

Soon after receiving the family loom, I became curious about my great-great grandmother, Amelia. I only knew of her as a Snow, (married to my great-great-grandfather Nat Snow), but not of her life before marriage. After a conversation with my dad, the family genealogist, I discovered he had very little information of her life prior to immigrating from Sweden, so I set out to discover more. I mean, what else am I going to do with all this time during a pandemic?

With an initial assist from a dear friend from Sweden helping me break through a brick wall, (Thanks, Magnus!), I was able to put together our family puzzle, piece by piece. Immigration records, Amelia's hometown, birth records, church records, and locating the family farm... I can now challenge my father in the genealogy department. And I learned a little Swedish along the way. 

Through the help of a very-distant relative online, I was also able to get in touch with third cousins still living in Amelia's hometown, not far from the farm she grew up! It's been so fun getting to know new cousins and learning more about the area Amelia emigrated from. One new cousin, Lise-Lotte, has been especially lovely, sending me a Christmas gift from Sweden, (including the hat in my photo above). Really cool. 

Emilia Charlotta Nilsdotter
(Amelia Charlotte Nelson)

Bränna, Hjärtum, Vastra Gotaland, Sweden

Home Improvement Projects

Our house projects were put on hold during the winter, but several are on tap for Spring. Obviously home and garden chores are never ending... but with Covid restrictions gradually lifting, vaccines becoming more available, and the weather improving, I'm hoping to get a jump on some of them now so I have time for the good stuff, (running, biking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends), later. I'm feeling optimistic.

Cheers for Cocktail Saturdays