Help! My Poodle is a Yarn Eating Monster!

Writing twice in one week is an aberration for me, but I need to talk about the destructive predilections of my 11 month old poodle.

This is what he did today – my knitting was secured in a zippered bag and I found this knotted mess.

It’s hard to believe. You can see that the bag was still zipped, but he managed to make a small hole in it and get the knitting, the needles, and the yarn out and onto his teeth.

I know poodles are smart; it took him no time to learn the meaning of the words food, hungry, cookie, treat, chewie, but this particular yarn sourcing and destroying talent is beyond ridiculous. Yesterday he ripped opened a plastic bag with yarn and needles in it.

The only saving grace in all of this – I can tell when he has something that’s neither a toy nor a chewie, so I race to the location and save the knitting, the slipper, the credit card, the wallet, the shoe, from destruction. Even more of a saving grace is that Hugo is a sweetheart and he thinks he’s a lap dog, although a bit oversized at 60 pounds.

The only solution to save my projects? All knitting bags will have to be the cloth, zippered variety, at least until either I train Hugo better, or he turns into a dog. He loves the beach, too.

Last minute update – Hugo brought me a cone of yarn on my way out the door. I’m afraid to go home.

What I Learned at Camp

In 2017, Camp was not the Guide Camp of decades ago, rather a weekend away with fellow knitters on the north shore of Lake Huron. Backpacks were in order then, knitting bags now, like the perfect-for-the-weekend one pictured.

What else was different?

  • There were 4 of us, not 30.
  • Cooking was on a stove and BBQ, not over an open fire.
  • Food was much better, although appetites were not quite as ravenous.
  • There was wine and beer.
  • Sleep was in actual comfy beds, not in tents on rocky ground, flesh barely protected by sleeping bag and groundsheet.
  • There was a bathroom with a toilet, not holes in the ground that we campers dug ourselves.
  • There was a shower, not a frigid lake, although there was a frigid lake.
  • No badges were earned; lots was learned. We worked on projects, but none were finished, despite intense efforts.

Continue reading “What I Learned at Camp”

TNNA, Enhancing Strawberries, & Mellowing Garlic

I just found a delicious thing to do with strawberries, especially those that are suffering from the entirely-too-much rain this year. The berry taste is good but weak – all the delicious flavour of one normal sized berry has been flooded into a behemoth.

But first, behind the scenes at the Spring TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association trade show), where the yarn and pattern creators congregate to sell their wares to yarn stores. Knitty’s Amy Singer took some yarn and people photos that had me wanting the yarn and wanting to attend next year. And Tara Swiger, maker, teacher, and marketer, took a walk-around-and-be-introduced look at the show and posted this You Tube video.

So, the strawberry back story –  I was at my local farmers market with a bag of rhubarb and a flat of strawberries and the scone seller told me about macerating, then roasting rhubarb before adding it to her amazing rhubarb/almond scones. (Yes, I bought one. It was delicious.) It occurred to me that maybe roasting the strawberries would improve their flavour, so I searched on-line and discovered that people have been roasting strawberries for years. It became a thing in 2014.

Into the oven they went at 350°F for about an hour. One pound/1 quart berries sliced in half, on parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. Rimmed is very important. Very juicy stuff. I added about 1/4 cup sugar to aid the juice release. This photo is the berries right out of the oven, still bubbling.

Delicious. Fantastic on yogurt. They pretty much retained their shape and had silky flesh, crunchy seeds, and concentrated strawberry scent and taste. The house smelled like berries.  And they keep for days.

And here’s a better way to mellow garlic that I learned from Cook’s Illustrated. I was making pesto and the original recipe called for blanching garlic in boiling water for a minute or so to mellow the flavour, but the newer instruction, in the 100 Best Recipes book, has the garlic cloves tossed in a hot pan, skins on, and cooked a few minutes until they are soft. Poke with a skewer to check. This was the best pesto I’ve ever made. Who knows if it was the garlic that made a difference? Maybe it was the basil, the cheese, or the olive oil that was different but I’ll be using this mellowing method for lots of purposes this summer.

It’s Canada’s 150th Birthday

The plan – write about the terrific Canadian yarn dyers and knit designers  who are celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1st. But where does one begin? Canada has an outsized proportion of dyers and designers for its population. It’s impossible to do even part of it justice, so here’s a very small selection.

I chose Canada Deh! socks by Dana Gervais to be front and centre, not just for the wittily appropriate name and the Maple leaves, but also because every element is Canadian. It’s a collaboration with Alberta dyer Stephanie at Knitley Road, using Canadian raised and milled wool, the pattern both tech edited and test knit by Canadians. The mission was “to make a very Canadian sock to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday.” Consider it achieved. And what pattern could be more appropriate for Canada than socks?

Continue reading “It’s Canada’s 150th Birthday”

Acacia Fritters From The Woodlot

It’s time for some fun stuff. Acacia trees – acacia blossoms – acacia fritters.

This glorious photo, Acacia Wood, was taken by photographer Ramunas Raundeliunas. My photos of our Acacia trees, aka Black Locust, in full bloom, did not do justice to their beauty, so an internet search was needed. We’re surrounded by these trees. The smell is heady and glorious. Is anyone working on delivering scent on-line?

Every once in a while the internet delivers up something delightful and surprising – this time a treat appeared – acacia fritters. Completely new to me.

Continue reading “Acacia Fritters From The Woodlot”

Sometimes It’s a Pattern that Inspires

Impressionist Stripes, a new design from Natalie Servant, was introduced just before my Be Inspired By Your Stash class at the YarnOver SleepOver Retreat in April. Terrific photo, great colours, and Natalie describes it compellingly – “I came up with this simple twist on seed stitch using some slipped stitches when looking for a fun way to work with a gradient set. I wanted the colors to almost melt into each other.”

I was head over heels. Gradient set, combining yarn colours, plus a clever new seed stitch method.

I have loved seed, moss, and rice stitches since my first days of knitting, for the texture, certainly, but more because they look great on both sides. Perhaps those stitches drove my passion for reversibility. Creating new fabric by combining yarns and colours is one of my favourite ways to be inspired by my own stash, so this pattern was a must to show my class.

Continue reading “Sometimes It’s a Pattern that Inspires”

Designer Innovation in Triplicate

The more we knit, it seems to me, the greater our appreciation for good pattern design and writing.

And if my feelings about designing are at all common, having an idea that must be turned into a pattern, then taking the steps to create that pattern increases our appreciation ten fold. Pattern design is hard to do well. It’s lonely work and the range of skills required is both wide and deep.

That may be why we’re now seeing more teams of designers producing patterns. Working together, bouncing ideas off one another, can produce more innovation, satisfaction and fun for the designers, and happily, better patterns for we knitters.

A terrific example of this is new design team, Knitacation.

Continue reading “Designer Innovation in Triplicate”

The Value of Colours

I’ve already written about colour twice: How to Use Inspiration to Choose Colours and Choosing Colours From Inspiration – A Klimt Painting , but it’s clear to me that I’m not done with the topic. It’s a subject that many of us, me included, feel unsure about.

Experts in the world of colour say the best way to learn about it and become comfortable is to work with it everyday. Deb Menz, the author of Colorworks, a terrific book about choosing and using colour in the textile arts, says “..besides reading, you must participate! If you play with colour at least 5 minutes a day, I assure you that you will soon find that working with colour is fun and easy.”

Continue reading “The Value of Colours”