When I was growing up in Quebec and going to French school we learned all about the folklore of this traditional Christmas dessert. We learned how to make it in a jelly roll pan, we learned how to wrap it in a lightly floured tea towel, to roll it and about creating pseudo-mushrooms with meringues that have had cocoa dusted onto them. The only thing that stumped me was when the heck was the plum pudding (with hard sauce, of course) going to be eaten, and why didn't any of my friends know the French name for plum pudding? Growing up English in a French community, it was not an uncommon thing to learn theoretically about traditions that we never got to practice at home, but the details that I retain of the importance of buttered hands when pulling taffy (la tire de la Ste Catherine), making maple poached eggs, and how to perfectly apply the icing to the Christmas "buche" to make it look like bark, are all fond memories that stay with me much as I remember the details of "Catherine's" bed chamber in Wuthering Heights: dear to me in an outsider's way.
Actually none of this has much to do with knitting, but what I did learn is how many interesting experiences one can have by following from one link to the next on the internet. Here is the address for the blog where the Yule log recipe is found: http://www.foodtv.ca/BLOG/archive/2008/12/01/12-days-of-holiday-treats-chocolaty-christmas-log.aspx and being a blog, they're are always links to other blogs. Well, go figure, who knew that there would be as many, if not more, obsessed foodies wanting to share their ideas and discoveries with their cyberfriends on food blogs (over 50 of them have links from that page.)
Now why would I find it odd that there would be so many food bloggers? I'm a big food fan myself. I guess I just don't hang around with people who are as passionate about food as they are about knitting.
Anyone who wants to take the "Sock in a day" class at the store in January had better "get their skates on" (as they say on Coronation Street.) We're already half full. Lots of other great classes coming up too. I'm really looking forward to it.
As promised, this is a picture of the tea cozy that I knitted, felted then needle felted for my oldest who really enjoys her tea. The scroll work along the bottom is just multi coloured roving as is the "I". The heart and the tea pot were made by using miniature cookie cutters that I got at the Bulk Barn. You lay them on the fabric to be embellished and fill them with fleece then start poking the heck out of it with a felting needle until it's nearly flat. If you want more high relief add some more fleece and poke the heck out of it again. Remove the cookie cutter frame and use your needle and accent/shading colours to work in the details.
It really is as easy as can be. But my advice is that it should be appreciated by all from a distance of not less than 3 feet. Like much art work it loses a lot of its magic when scrutinized too closely. If you haven't tried needle felting, it really is worth the $15 investment to have a real play time. Great way to distract yourself over the holidays.
Contact the store at 613-384-3951 or email us at email@example.com
Go through all of the steps in knitting a sock in just one day. Also great for sock knitters who want to learn to adapt to any yarn/ foot size.
Learn the basics of this traditional craft using wool strips, yarn and burlap as taught by one of the area's finest registered teachers of rug hooking. Kit provided to create a beautiful wall hanging/ trivet .
Saturday, Feb. 21st:
The simplest way to discover the wonder of spinning fibres is with a drop spindle.Try your hand at it this age old craft .
Cost: Workshop $45. Includes all materials & handouts.
It's interesting to think of what we find beautiful. One of the sales reps for a major supplier was in the store yesterday so that I could check out the spring lineup and do some ordering. He was saying that it took awhile but that the design department had finallly figure out that knitters will drool over handpainted colours in any fine yarn, but that when it comes to the thicker yarns, they prefer the solid or heathered colours. I had to agree. And I always like to analyse responses, but darned if I can figure out our drool reflex in front a glorious skein of multi hued lace weight yarn and our gut response to a gorgeous skein of the purest colour of solid rich grey in Cascade 220; and conversely, how the opposite just doesn't say very much to us. (The obvious exceptions to this rule are all the Noro yarns and the Manos del Uruguay handpaints, which of course are just simply exquisite, no matter how thick they are.)
I'm working on the newsletter and had to take a break (I do believe that it's called "procrastination"). The other day I finished a great felted tea cozy on which I needle felted the cutest details. This is for my oldest daughter for Christmas. When I get the battery charged in my camera, I'll have to show you a picture if you promise not to tell her.
Last night I finished these thrum mitts. The colour in the picture is a bit bright but they are in fact burgandy and gold, which I beleived to be her school colours. I did have a nagging suspicion however that this was not completely accurate as I had just heard of the school colours through her, followed by the disclaimer: "I think". So this morning, as I was getting ready to put them with the other gifts that I've finished, I looked it up on the internet, and sure enough, the colours for her University are in fact burgundy, gold AND BLACK.
Now I certainly could have looked this bit of information up the same way, and in the same 10 seconds worth of time investment, a couple of weeks ago when I began them and I could have included black with the yellow thrums instead of burgandy and yellow ones. But that is my nature; for some reason I feel that it's more important to get on with the job at hand and tidy the details, if necessary, later on.
In this case, I'll probably do a bit of duplicate stitch to add some black around the cuff. It's not the end of the world, but it certainly is a good thing that I'm not a perfectionist or a slave to the sequential order of things.
Then on Tuesday we welcomed Alana as our newest staff member. Alana is new to Kingston, extremely knowledgeable, and a calm and patient helper to all knitters with questions. Please feel free to pop in and welcome her to our knitting community.
Some of you may know that in my former life I was a teacher. And one of the things that I do miss about teaching was learning new "stuff" on (good) PD days. (Not all of the "stuff" that we learned was of value, but much of it was very good.) So I booked myself out of the store for a day and took a "Professional Development" day and sat down with Cat Bordhi's book: New Pathways for Sock Knitters, and a set of needles and some yarn and proceeded to make Charlie's Seeded heart socks using her Sky sock "architecture". This is one of the most amazing books I've ever come across, where Cat takes the basic premise that in creating a sock you need extra room to accomodate the instep area and she adds those extra stitches at many different places in the design. I fell in love with the concept and within minutes I was designing an advanced sock course incorporating some of her ideas. (Watch for details of this class in the spring.)
There are few people who have influenced me as much as Kaffe Fassett in giving me permission to just enjoy the colours that are out there to be put together. He encourages us to use our eyes and our taste to identify if we actually like the way that different colours, hues and textures work together.
The last time that I wrote about Kaffe Fassett in this blog, I searched high and low for a picture of a sweater I had made when I had first been seduced by his "go for it" attitude towards colour. It was a giant pullover knit during the winter Olympics of 1992, at a time when winter had gone on way too long and I was needing some colour in my life. Kaffe, in his PBS show that I had religiously video taped from our old television with terrible American reception, was so exhuberant about colours and trusting your instincts that I dragged out my stash and "went for it". I still haven't found the picture of me wearing the resulting sweater that measured about 58" across the chest and was as cozy as an afghan, but weighed as much as an elephant. It was not something that I wore much if I was in an introverted mood.
So here we are, 16 years later and there has been a lot of creative and learning water that has flowed under my knitting bridge since then, and I still am so glad to have had that early encouragement from a stranger from across the ocean who felt that it was his mission to give people an insight into what is possible if you just use your eyes and learn to educate then trust your taste.
For more information, or for tickets, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 613-326-0626.
On day 3, which happened to be a Monday, I went on a yarn store safari and arrived at the 1st store on my list on the East side of Central Park and was "gobsmacked", as they say on Coronation Street, to find the store closed. I couldn't believe it...This is Manhattan for heaven's sake, not the back of beyond. After having walked the 35 blocks to get there it took me a few minutes to summon my energy and courage to move on to the next store about 5 blocks away. There I met Carol from the Woolgatherings, who was a perfect hostess offering suggestions for accomodations for our next visit, good restaurants, what other yarn stores might be closed and therefore avoided on this Monday, and a firm opinion about every topic that we covered. It was wonderful.
More about that tour later, but the day was perfect weather wise, so I decided to pretend that I was a real New Yorker and walk the 28N+10W blocks to the appointed restaurant from the apartment where we had stayed during our 4 days in the big city.
Now you don't have to be a whiz at math to recognize that if you cut diagonally across a space, it's shorter than walking around, so I cut through Central Park to get away from the constant NOISE (which amazingly all but disappears within 20 feet inside the park) and to shave a bit of time off my trek. I knew that I had to head North West as I was at 60th St E and wanted to get to 77th St W so I aimed myself in that direction (it's all so logically rectangular) and followed paths that were heading off to the leftish and found myself walking, by pure chance, into Strawberry Fields, of the song, and more recently immortalized by this Italian Mosaic tribute to John Lennon who was shot in front of his apartment just a few hundred feet away.
It was an amazing find, not just because I'm a bit of a Beatles fan, but more because I'm a completely, hopelessly addicted people watcher - and what a place to watch people. I'm sure that I heard 7 or 8 different languages in the few minutes that I spent there. There was every skin tone from probably every continent on earth among the 30 people who were respectfully looking at the few memorials that were left at the site. Someone had even left a battered guitar, covered with tacky stickers with a hand printed sign that said: "Make a wish". It appeared that whoever it was who deposited this token by the famous "Imagine" site was just passing on John's frustrated entreaties about thinking well of yourself, of your world, of those around you and your collective future.
Needless to say, none of this has anything to do with knitting but it does have a lot to do with what I find interesting in the world. The trip was magnificent in so many ways. And those of you who knew me 4 years ago, when we went on our first trip to New York will be pleased to hear that I made it back without breaking any bones - last time it was a bone in my right hand that go crushed in a trip/fall on our way back from a Broadway show.
The knitting side of the trip was fabulous, from the 90% completed glove of Malabrigo's new sock yarn, to meeting several shop owners and staff, and being surrounded by the beauties of yarns that are difficult for us to access here in Canada. But again, more about all the knitting stuff in the next few days.
The September newsletter should go out on time (Monday) and any of you who would like to receive it and have not signed up yet, please link at left to the sign up site. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.
The Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine (premier issue) was something I expected would be lovely. Debbie is one of the few designers who was well established when I got into this business 12 years ago, and she is one of the few from that era who is still fresh, still creative and still around (from a design perspective, I mean)
It took a few days of carrying the magazine around in my Loblaws
Green Bin, which is my traveling office, before I got a chance to go through it with a coffee and a muffin this morning. I'm glad I took the time to sit and enjoy the experience as it is a publication deserving of some quality time to savour it. I LOVE IT!!!
Truly, for the first time in a long time Debbie had me drooling over each page (like she used to in my earlier days as a knitter, more than just an LYS owner) and planning how I could run away to a monastery dedicated to knitting in order to make every pattern. I could think of a recipient for each and every design, from the most simply glorious peplum sweater I have ever seen (for me, of course), to the mini egg cup cozy/sweaters (for my niece), to any of the gorgeous men's sweaters (all the guys in my family), to the stunning array of garter stitch baby blankets (and I don't even like garter stitch).
It's nice to spend a half hour every now and then, forgetting that I already have 3 socks, and 2 sweaters on needles, not to mention a lineup of ideas for designs for our pattern web site, floating around in my head. Anyway, check out Debbie's mag. (available at WOOL-TYME Kingston of course.) You'll like it too.
Tomorrow at 8 am local time is also the official start time of the Ravelympics (which corresponds with 8 pm Beijing time, the beginning of the Opening Ceremonies.) Now this is ironic as I very deliberately decided not to choose a project to try and complete before the Closing Ceremonies as one has enough stress in one's life without putting any more time constraints on my knitting time too. But as it turns out I will be starting a new project at about the same time as the rest of the knitting world anyway because I always start a new project at the Sheep Dog Trials. And strange as it may seem for me, I will be making the exact same sweater that I began last year sitting in the crafters tent at Grass Creek Park. (I wonder if that means that last year's sweater was like training for this event?)
This sweater, pictured at right, was a big favourite among our customers and was lots of fun to knit. But as with many exquisite patterns that we have made up as samples, this sweater sold a little too soon and I felt that it was time to have another in a different colour. So I am taking up my needles with my fellow knitters although I am unable to bring my television with me to the park and will miss most of the first 3 days of the Games - I will be watching in spirit. (I am a sucker for competition, whether I am involved in it or I'm just watching someone else fighting for their honour on a playing field of some sort. )
Hope to see you at the Sheep Dog Trials. Bring a chair and your knitting and we can show the rest of the visiting world what sheep are really all about -- producing wool for us! (never mind this clever dog stuff!) Meanwhile, I reserve the right to be considered or not as a participant in the "Ravelympics"; we'll see how much I get done on the weekend. I'll keep you posted.
Learn the simple techniques used for centuries to turn luscious fibres into beautiful hand spun yarns. Anyone can master it and achieve the satisfying pleasure of an ancient craft, which will introduce you to a world of beauty from which many have never returned.
Our friend and fellow knitter, Jay, made it to the beach in Toronto at 3:10 this morning after spending 41 hours in the cold waters of Lake Ontario.
Truly, how many of us could swim in an indoor pool for 41 minutes, never mind over 2 days and an overnight and into the wee hours of the next? Not I!
Those who know Jay and his love of joke telling will appreciate his sister's words:
"Now, we need some good punchlines for: -Why did the swimmer cross the lake?"
Jay has shown all of us who have met him, what it takes to be a real champion - and a pretty funny and prolific joke teller too!
We are still accepting donations for the swim at the WOOL-TYME Kingston store, where we are proud to be corporate sponsors for the swim4aspergers.
Click on the title of this post to link to the site that keeps you updated on Jay's progress throughout the swim. At this point (10:30am) they are expecting him to arrive in Toronto between 7pm and midnight.
Things have been a bit crazy this summer but I plan to get back to some fun knitting posts soon. Probably next week.
As for me and my store, the WOOL-TYME Kingston contribution to the Olympic watching effort will officially take place at Jakk Tuesday's (the sports bar next to the WOOL-TYME store, which has a 120" screen television in their back room) on each of the 2 Wednesdays of the Olympics -Aug. 13th and 20th from 5 to 8pm. I will be there eating natchos and knitting and will feel really silly if I'm the only one there -- so please come and join me to cheer on the beech volley ballers, or the wrestlers, or whoever happens to be on the screen while we're there.
Speaking of crafting and sports events, just one more week for anyone who wants to order their tickets to the Stitch n Pitch game in Toronto with the Blue Jays and Oakland A's on Aug. 5th. Just $20 for the game and goodies and lots of fun.
Hope to see you there!
It’s time again for Toronto’s annual Stitch ‘N’ Pitch! Stitch ‘N’ Pitch is a fun fibre arts event which gives needle arts enthusiasts a chance to practice our art while cheering for the Blue Jays. A group of tickets in the 200 level are offered at a discount of $20 (from $26), and the first 1000 people will get a free Blue Jays tote bag filled with yarn and needlework materials valued at $40. You’ll rub elbows with famous Canadian fiber arts designers, authors and bloggers! Even if you aren’t regular Baseball fan you’ll find that it’s really enjoyable, not at all boring, when shared with friends and colleagues. It’s like going to a party where you don’t know anyone and having a great time because you have a lot in common with everyone there! Its also fun for spouses and children to attend (plus you can keep their freebie bags for yourself!).
Where & When?
This year’s event will be held on Tuesday August 5th, at 7:00 pm, when the Blue Jays host the Oakland Athletics at the Rogers Centre (formerly Sky Dome) in Toronto. For directions on how to get to the Rogers Centre visit their website at http://www.rogerscentre.com/inaround/visitors/directions/index.html
How Do I Buy Tickets? PLEASE NOTE: If you want to sit with your friends from your fibre arts guild, group or Stitch ‘n Bitch you should purchase tickets through your local fibre arts store! (WOOL-TYME Kingston)
Purchase tickets at your local fibre arts shop (knitting, crochet, quilting and other needle arts). They will collect $20 in cash from you, take down your contact information and contact you when the tickets arrive in the store.