October 31, 2004


On the flight home from Pittsburgh yesterday, I read a couple more chapters of The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. This book is so rich, I read it slowly and savor it. I found this book in the "Self Help" section of University Book Store, which I thought was a slightly strange place to shelve it, as I thought the book was an autobiography. Now that I've read about half of it, I understand the reason behind that shelving: This book contains Twyla's insights and directives into forming good work habits that will foster creative works, and at the end of every chapter there are creativity exercises that she recommends. There is an autobiographical element to the book, as she recaps her own work habits, and recounts her process when choreographing certain shows of hers, but perhaps the book is more of a self-help guide. In either case, it is the best book about creativity that I have read in a long time!

Also during the flight I knitted on the Karis poncho, as well as the socks I am designing for my daughter Jennie.

This morning, knitting in bed with my cup of coffee, I arrived at a crucial point in the poncho: I am exactly halfway finished with the bottom edging! The orange marker is at the center front of the poncho:

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Is the mohair really that fuzzy, or is this picture out of focus?!

Now that I'm back home with my camera and its little cord for transferring photos from its memory bank to my computer's, let me show you the photos from the tour of Amish country. Our tour group went to the New Westminster/Volant area of Pennsylvania. The Amish farms all had white houses with doors painted a lovely shade of aqua blue, and white curtains drawn to one side in the windows:

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We stopped at Teena's Quilt Shop, a shop that was in a private Amish home and sold goods handmade by the Amish -- quilts, table runners and placemats (both quilted and handwoven), aprons, candles and soaps, wooden baskets, beanbag rag dolls, and wooden toy horse-and-buggies.

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You can see to the left of the door bags and bags of heating coal.

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Quilts on a handmade rounder; in the foreground are quilted chair pads.

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I was drawn to this quilt, but didn't have enough cash with me, had left my checkbook in my hotel room, and the Amish don't take credit cards. I bought an apron instead.

Two young Amish women were running the shop. The younger one wore a little white cap and a purple dress, so we assumed she was unmarried; the other wore a blue kerchief and a black dress. The Amish women don't use buttons, zippers, or other fasteners. They use straight sewing pins for closures. I noticed that their waistbands were pinned at the back, the pin going in and out of the fabric several times, like sewing stitches. I cannot imagine how long it would take or what contortions these women would have to go through, to pin themselves into their clothes every morning.

Behind the front desk they used as a checkout stand, the wall was plastered with the typical kitschy signs you might see anywhere: "If you are grouchy, irritable, or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you." And the like. I wondered what this said about the Amish women's sense of humor. The two women shared a pocket calculator when figuring out the charges, so that modern convenience was in evidence, although the receipts that they gave us were hand-written.

I tried to get a picture of the horses and buggies that we passed, but it was beyond my skills to get anything that wasn't a blur. A single horse would pull a small, boxlike buggy, and in this area the local custom was to have the buggy cover be orange. (Apparently, black is a typical color for other Amish communities.) The horses trotted along the pavement at the side of the road; I did hope the pavement wasn't too hard for their legs.

I'll leave you with this picture, which goes back to the beginning of my trip, when Stormy was helping me to pack:

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Posted by Karen at October 31, 2004 10:42 AM