Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It's been weeks since I've actually blogged about what I'm knitting and crocheting. In fact it's been so long since I mentioned what's on my needles, that a couple of projects have come off the needles! Before I begin, if you have read the Yarn Harlot's August 26, 2011 post, you may be disappointed with the size and quality of my below-posted blankets, but I so very much admire the Yarn Harlot that I only can feel honoured to complete one of my blankets in the same week as she blocked hers.  So without further adieu...

First I will tell you about the baby blanket that I made for my cousin in the U.K. She had a gorgeous baby boy while I was there, as I mentioned, and Mr. Frogged and I were lucky enough to get to meet the little monkey. Not only that, but he liked me (he really liked me!). Little Duffle deigned us with his presence at nine something in the morning after already hanging in an extra two weeks! At little more than an hour old we went to visit him.  After much begging and pleading we were allowed by the rigid U.K. hospital staff to visit this little man for whom we had made this special trip. We walked into the hospital room and he was there in his mummy's arms, happy as a clam. His daddy took him, he cried. His grandaddy took him, he cried. I asked for a cuddle, assuming that there was no way I could possibly make it worse, he stopped crying. He snuggled. He slept. His daddy took him, he cried. Therefore, I conclude that he likes me. What he also likes is his big baby blankie that I was able to give him that morning. Below are some blocking pictures and then a couple of cuties that I have been given to show you all. Awwwww, bless 'im.
36" x 36" of LOVE

See how all the extra stitches make ruffles?  Cool, eh?

Meet Duffle!

And now for a close-up...
But before Duffle arrived, there was much drama.  He was, after all, 2 weeks late, and did not come into this fair world on his own terms.  He certainly didn't come into it on my cousin's terms, who I love dearly, but had in fact been hoping for a relaxing water birth, with Snow White-esque forest animals fetching her ice chips but was stuck with midwives, a gross misuse of an oversized crochet hook, and what has been described to me as border-line torture.  The first day of this nerve-wracking madness we were in Bath sightseeing.  My glowingly round cousin and her ever cheerful hubby had ushered us there for the day because A) one must visit Bath when in England, and B) the induction was scheduled there.  We spent a glorious day in Bath and the pregnant party uttered not a single word of complaint in the sweltering heatwave walking for 8 hours, and in fact put every other pregnant woman I've met to shame.  As we readied ourselves to leave we received the call and were off to the hospital.  After leaving a fearful cousin in a hospital room awaiting the myriad ways of being induced, I sat in the waiting room waiting, as you do, because I was all but kicked out of the room due to strict security in UK Birthing Units.  Fortunately for the nursing staff I had a new baby blanket to work on and a nearly full ball of yarn in my purse to keep me occupied while I waited.  What seemed like two full hours of solid speed crochet later, my aunt and uncle arrived and managed to us an update.  It was going to be a long haul, was the update.  And thus the new baby blanket was seriously begun.  In those couple of nights while we waited for Duffle, I crocheted through an entire ball of Cotton Fleece yarn.  Since returning home I have managed to complete the blanket, and only have yet to wash it, block it, and weave in the ends before it meets its new little owner who will be born in a couple of weeks, hopefully with much less trouble.  It is going to a friend of the recipient of the first of these blankets that I made. 
Working on the edging where the ribbon is meant to go.

Edge Detail

The full blanket, awaiting a wash.

I am still working on my Frilly Filly Scarf Cowl, but am not very quick with it.  I have about 2 repeats done out of about 1000.  I pulled out an old UFO (Un-Finished Object) pair of socks and am knitting on those from time to time, but today I got a box of yarn. Heheheh, delirious laughter abounds.  My Knit Picks order of 11 skeins of Swish DK Yarn in colour Sugar Plum have arrived.  I am beginning a Bobble Baby Blanket, and I have another in the wings for when that one is done.  The Bobble Baby Blanket is a request from the recipient of my first pink blanket and I'm hoping she will like it.  I'm already in love with the yarn.  The one that is in the wings is not fully decided on at the moment, but it will be for another of my cousins who is expecting her baby sometime in October.  No rest for the wicked, as they say. 
Anyways my friends, I think that brings you all up to date.  Tell me what you're working on, I'd love to know.

Until next time, Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preserving Summer

As August begins to wind down here in Southern Ontario, the corn is high in the fields, the back to school ads are on TV, and the Canadian National Exhibition opened its doors in Toronto this weekend, but beyond this the best way to tell that the summer is coming to a close is to look for the Mason jars. I know personally my kitchen has been full of them for at least two weeks now.

Somehow the notion that in the midst of winter I can pull out pickled vegetables, jam preserves, or roasted red peppers without strange additives makes the impending cold Canadian weather seem a bit more bearable.  While pickling and canning isn't exactly knitting, I think that it really reflects the same sensibilities for me.  It is a link to my heritage, to the generations before me who did these sorts of activities out of necessity rather than the sheer joy of it.  I grew up making home made tomatoe sauce every August in the traditional Italian way.  My family does it less and less these days with busy schedules and myriad children running about, but I do help Mr. Frogged's family every year and in both instances the feeling of belonging, and of collaborating together on something that provides for everyone is a feeling that you only get with home-made things, be that knitting, spinning, cooking, or canning.  So in preservng the flavours of summer, I am also preserving tradition and preserving memories, for it will be these moments that I will continue to speak of when I am old. 

This year in particular I purchased some 12 L of peaches (really, I cannot explain how they measure these solid items by the litre, it baffles me enirely), 4 L of pickling cucumbers, 12 L of beetroots, and a bagful of red bell peppers. 

That first night I knuckled down to making my peach and ginger jam.  Following a simple ratio of 1lb of fruit, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tbsp lemon juice I make my jam with no added thickening agents.  Bearing in mind that this was merely my third foray into jam-making it went very well, except, of course for the fact that I ran out of jam jars which is how I explain the two large mason jars FULL of jam in my basement.  Nevermind, it still works just fine.  I like the peach-ginger combo because it's versatile and can be used sweet or savoury. 

Next we made pickles from the wee little cucumbers.  I used a cold pack method in which the cucumbers are packed into the jars tightly and then the hot salt and vinegar brine is poured over them before they are closed, causing the jars to seal as they cool. 

About a bowlful of pickles didn't fit into the jars, so I decided to put them covered in a bowl in the fridge.  Let's just say that they turned out to be so delicious that I bought two more baskets of them so they would last the whole year.  Since the larger cucumbers were cheaper, we now have sliced cucumbers pickling also - perfect for burgers. 

The larger pickles get a bath....

Slice 'em, Dice 'em, Fill 'em, Dill 'em...
Packed in like...pickles...

Ding!  They're done!

We also pickled beets which I think are the most tedious things to pickle since they require peeling, and slicing, and then boiling in brine....but SOOO worth it.  Yum!  The best part is that they are immediately ready to eat.  In fact, I ate some just tonight. 

Ready, set, PICKLE BEETS!

And lastly, we roasted, peeled and froze red bell peppers.  I love pulling them out in the middle of winter and having a taste of summer. 

As you can plainly see, my knitting time has been taken up a bit but I am faithfully working on a crochet blanket, and my Frilly Filly Scarf and I will post soon with all the knitting and crocheting updates. 

 So in the meantime, happy summer and happy crafting!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Reassurance of Craft

There is something thoroughly reassuring to me that it should be the case each and every time a stitch is made that the outcome is known.

It seems, particularly lately, that precious few of life's actions have this sort of unwavering result. The saying goes that nothing in this life is certain but I would argue strongly that I know if I insert my needle into a stitch, yarn over, pull my loop through and off I will invariably make a stitch. Good or bad, a stitch will be made. Furthermore, if the stitch is made improperly or something was forgotten 17 rows back, the piece can be tinked (un-knit, knit backwards) or frogged (therapeutic ripping out of stitches) and "re-done." This is not only legal but it often works to completely fix the error.

This, friends, is the reassurance of craft that so many knitters and crocheters, myself included, rely upon to calm them.

I hope it calms you too. Happy crafting.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Choose Love

Love, it turns out, is a choice.
My father tried to tell me this when I was a teenager. At the time the vast absence of romance of this notion lead me to discard it entirely and follow instead the more Beatles inspired philosophy that all you need is love. What I didn't consider was the co-existence of these two concepts, which would have lead me promptly to the conclusion that my dad was right all along. Love is a choice that we all need.

For ten days at the end of this July my husband and I traipsed around the midlands of England making it our sole mission to see as many family members as possible. The family members in question were my relatives, who I don't know all that intimately since we live in Canada.

Our first stop brought us to to Worcester (yes, of Worcestershire Sauce fame) where one of my paternal uncles lives with his clan. We stayed with my cousin who dropped everything to entertain us, making us a full English breakfast each morning and taking us galavanting about a medieval castle and a quaint English village (where I subjected her to a hidden LYS and bought some purple DK merino). The ENTIRE family got together for 3 nights running (including cousins and second cousins) for elaborate feasts that my aunt and uncle prepared with love. From there we continued to meet my maternal grandfather's extended family both in London and Derby who I didn't know at all. Again each new person embraced me with warm tight hugs, and heart felt smiles. We visited my maternal grandmother's sisters who know me slightly better since my nana is my biggest fan and keeps them well informed. Again we spent a wonderful day with them filled with stories and laughter. Next we visited my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mom's side. She is my only cousin my age and so we are very close. At 42 weeks pregnant (yes that isn't a typo) she took us to see Bath and each night we shared a great dinner with my aunt and uncle. While we were there my cousin (finally) gave birth to a gorgeous little boy, her first. Less than two hours after he was born and just before we had to leave altogether we managed to visit mum and baby. When he settled into my arms for a cuddle that day, he settled into my heart too.

This is my family, whom I've known in clips and snapshots throughout my whole life. Most of them don't get enough time with me to really know me, yet they love me. They choose to. The same way I chose to love each of my six nieces and nephews when they were born. The way I chose to love my new little cousin. The way my husband and I chose to love each other despite some pretty difficult times in our past. And all those years ago, the way my parents chose to love me.

As Knitters, we all choose love constantly. Every time we cast-on for a gift for a loved one or a charity blanket for someone in need we are choosing love and putting a little of it in every stitch. If more people did this for various activities can you imagine the result? If there was a little love in dinner every night, maybe it would be more interesting than frozen food. More love in work? Maybe we'd be nicer to our coworkers. More love in transit? Less road rage and violence. So at the end of the day, it's our choice how we approach everybody and every situation and if we do so with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces it will go a long way to making everyone's heart grow.

Happy crafting and much love....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone