As our thoughts seem to follow the prevailing autumn weather, harbingers of cooler temperatures and early morning fogs, we begin to think about the time when wearing warmer clothes, woolen cardigans and maybe a wrap, cowl or wristlets does not seem totally incongruous any more. Hot soup recipes reappear, as do those for fruit pies and lovely jams made of plums or pears with cinnamon, apples with a shot of Calvados, grapes, rosehip, melons with lemon zest and figs with walnuts. 

One item that has no particular season, yet a more intensive day-to-day use in fall and winter is my beautiful lithophane, a white dome for tea lights, made of very thin, translucent porcelain. The pattern of a lithophane (in German: Lithophanie) can be a pretty design or a scene, appearing in a contrasting gray (en grisaille) or outlined in ebony white. Lithophanes were very popular starting in the early part of the 19th century and to this day those early tea lights are collector items. And if you live in Toledo, Ohio, don’t miss a visit to the ceramics museum: The Blair Museum of Lithophanes.

The fine porcelain dome looks precious at any time, but especially when lit from inside with a tea light, literally bringing to light its imposed designs and scenes. I think it will make a lovely present for the lucky ones having a birthday in fall or winter, giving their birthday table a special shine! My lithophany (above) is from Bernardaud, a  dome with dancing butterflies. Lithophanes are available in a wide variety of designs and prices.

As fiber equivalent to the translucency of the porcelain, I fell in love with Chinese silk. Visiting a Chinese silk factory in Suzhou, we were shown the entire silk-making process. And although spun and dyed silk in skeins as well as tapestry, garments, quilts, blankets and so forth are readily for sale, just plain silk skeins are not and it took all the charm of our Chinese guide (the elderly lady knew how to knit!) that I was able to buy one: such a fine feel, such a fragile look, yet the continuous staple of the silk filament being so incredibly strong!  

Feel like reading a silky tale? Or enjoy some Silk music? Long ago, I had decided to make a special gift to each of my friends for whom I make knitted or crocheted gifts: each one of the knits/crochets includes somewhere a long thread of that special Chinese silk skein. Mostly, it is invisible, melting into the freeform yarn texture. But sometimes it stands out in a special light, maybe in the shimmering glow of a candle, a cobweb-thin shiny thread tying us together, my friends and me. Or myself. Or whatever.