Me and Mrs. Dalloway


     “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”  This first line from Virginia Woolf’s novel (named for its heroine) fluttered through my mind Friday afternoon as I made my way through a local supermarket, admiring and photographing the displays of flowers, exchanging small talk with employees, and selecting a few items for an easy end-of-week dinner. In the manner of Clarissa Dalloway, I can be an introspective person, critical of life’s absurdities and saddened by second-guessing past decisions.  But, like Clarissa Dalloway, the bustle of the marketplace and the pleasures of getting swallowed up in making plans distract and engage me, lifting my spirits when they are slumped. 

I couldn't resist a rare treat--roses on sale.  

      While I move in a very different social milieu than that of Clarissa Dalloway and don’t plan society parties or even, at present, have the energy to plan a small get-together in my home, I occupy myself with planning meals, devising household organizing schemes, browsing online maps and tourism sites for an upcoming trip, and other diverting pleasures.  And, of course, as spring approaches, making plans to knit up garments in bright lightweight yarn occupies my thoughts.

     Perhaps I don’t have a right to yearn for spring, though, as I live in a region of North Carolina that hasn’t been walloped by a harsh winter with record-breaking snowfall--like so many states to the north of me.   The Charlotte area only had a light sprinkling of snow once or twice and was hit with a light sprinkling of freezing rain (although the media built up that particular storm with the dire warnings and dramatic diction and tone of voice suited for an impending apocalypse).  But it has been wet and dark on many days.  And we’ve had a schizophrenic season with bouts of record-breaking cold on the backs of balmy days in the seventies.  It is, perhaps, this inconsistency that has made people here ready for a new season.  I hear again and again, “I’m done with winter.”

While this is wool Malabrigo yarn, the "English Rose" color is perfect for spring.  This will be the Berry Wrap from Juju's Loops, a favorite pattern book I bought from Loop of London.   

The color combination found in these flowers on display at Publix could be used to make a pretty knitted spring accessory or garment.  

      Knitters share that sentiment.   My local yarn shop is a bustle with shoppers selecting linen, silk, and cotton yarns that recently hit the shelves.  As I am on a yarn fast until Easter, it is difficult to resist these temptations.  However, a store credit allowed me to engage in my addiction and obtain some Louisa Harding Noema in cheerful shades of pink.  Last year, I knit a sweater with this same yarn in a teal color; now I’m planning another, something light and open—perfect to wear this coming summer. 

This Noema yarn displays springtime tones.  


     I’m also looking for inspiration for new projects and hope to make a day trip to The Biltmore Estate during spring break.  The Vanderbuilts, who built and lived in this mansion, had an elegant way a life similar to that of the Granthams of Downton Abbey, so, appropriately, an exhibition of 45 costumes from the popular BBC mini-series is currently on display there as part of an exhibit entitled "Dressing Downton."  Making plans for a day trip to ooh and ah over exquisite garments and to visit the Biltmore's springtime gardens is a welcome distraction from this dreary, dragged out winter season.  And, as I’ll be making this excursion after the end of my Lenten yarn fast, I might have to make a stop at one or two  Asheville yarn shops on the way home.  Escapist activities such as yarn shopping and costume viewing—or the party planning and flower shopping of Mrs. Dalloway—might be a bit superficial and shallow, but they take me, and I’d venture to assume lots of other folks, away from the dark moments of  a long winter. 

Lynn, the owner of Cottage Yarn, took a picture of me with my finished winter project, the
Tracery Vest, from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits.  

I looked at the pattern too quickly at first and cast on and knit the wrong size.  My vest is now proudly on display at Cottage Yarn.



  1. Mrs Dalloway leads the way! I'm with her and you on this. Sometimes, for which read, most of the time, it's a question of just doing it for ourselves! I love your tracery vest but feel so sad that you can't wear it yourself - after all that work and it's SO beautiful....! By the way I love your porcelain bust beside your flowers - is it an antique? Wolf Hall DVD has arrived today - can't wait to watch this with you when you're here. The music is extraordinary alone - real shade-distrubing stuff. Might take you to the Tower of London and the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula where Anne Boleyn and Thomases More and Cromwell are buried but if this series is anything to go by they may well be up and about again! Much love E xx


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