Thanks so much for your comments on the last post, which have really got me thinking about what one might term the cultural politics of macaroons (or ons). Clearly I have become far too bourgeois for my own good, since I was talking about the miniature meringues that feature in French / Italian patisserie, rather than Roy Cropper’s coconut confections, or indeed, Lees’ famous fondant delights. For this macaroon is the kind that Shandy said she once bought from a Fife bakery, being “amazed to find it was almost solid sugar.” It does apparently involve potato, and a recipe can be found in the Maw Broon cookbook Patti mentions. If you’ve never seen or tasted one, you are missing out: Lees’ macaroons are a singularly Scottish treat, they are coated in toasted coconut and chocolate (Belgian, according to the Lees website – ye gods!) and deliver an instant sugar hit. They are a favourite walking food of mine, which I suppose puts them in the same category as Kendal Mint Cake – but while mint cake somehow carries an aura of worthiness (the Everest-themed packaging?) there is nothing remotely improving about a Lees’ macaroon.
Anyway, from your comments, Tom has now collated information about the fancy, meringue-y style of macaroon, and intends to make some this coming week. (Perhaps he could flavour them with potato?)
Meanwhile, I have been having a horribly slow few days, after being hit with an evil bout of fatigue. I now realise there is nothing much one can do in these situations except roll with it, wait for it to pass, try not to get frustrated (I’m not so good at that part) and forget about doing the three-sets-of-exercises-plus-mile-long walk that form part of my usual daily routine. Actually, one can forget about doing most things that involve much effort or exertion, so I have been doing a lot of sitting still this week, expending my limited physical and mental energies on knitting. Above you see the fruits of my labours in the wrong side of my new tortoise and hare prototype. It just kills me how the stranding picks out the beasties in relief! You will note that I have not woven-in any strands at all despite the long repeats – this method works very well for me, as long as I am a) maintaining an even tension and b) using a nice, slightly sticky yarn like this wonderful natural-shade Shetland from Blacker Designs, which is a complete joy to knit with. I am now at the steeking stage – the qualities of the yarn mean that I can happily cut into my work and pick up stitches without worrying about unraveling – no crocheted reinforcements or anything!
The whole of the body is worked in the round with steeks at the neck and armholes – there is no colourwork purling, and indeed, no purling at all until one picks up the sleeves, which are set-in and shaped with short rows a la Barbara Walker. There is something a little heart-in-the-mouth about this construction – I’ve been unable to try the sweater on, or stick it on the dress form because the arms and neck are closed – so I will not know if it looks ok until I’ve finished the last sleeve. I am loving so many things about working on this design – the beasties, the braids, the yarn, the 20s/30s sporting style of this kind of sweater (which I somehow imagine being worn by Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby) – all are pleasing to me – and there is something singularly meditative and interesting about working on a garment whose theme mirrors one’s experiences while knitting it. For this week has definitely been one in which I’ve been trying my best to be the patient tortoise, but secretly wishing all the while that I was the hare.
Here is a peek with one sleeve done (no blocking or sorting out of ends as yet). I really want to finish the sweater so that I can wear it on Wednesday (my birthday). I shall be thirty-seven, and very happy to be alive.