Thursday, January 31, 2008

Matrimonial Cake

Last week I was craving matrimonial cake. My mother used to make it, and it seemed such a nice winter treat. I'm trying to eat somewhat healthier, so I figure the dates and oatmeal are the way to go. Plus, anything with oatmeal in it is a comfort food in my book. I've only made this cake once, many years ago, and I'm not sure what recipe I used. My mom passed 23 years ago, so she's not here to ask. Still hurts. I put most of the grief away, but it's nudged when these questions come up.

Last week I picked up a package of dates and started digging through recipe books. Couldn't find the one my mom used, so I tried another. It just wasn't the same at all. (Of course, we ate it anyway.) So today I'm trying again. Still can't find my mom's recipe, so I'm using one from one of her old cookbooks. I don't think it's her recipe; this one has orange juice, grated orange rind, and lemon juice in the date filling, and I don't remember her using those ingredients.

Man, I wish scent could be transferred online; it smells heavenly in here.

My mother started teaching me caring skills when I was quite small. She would sit me up on the counter and we would make baking soda biscuits. I was so small, my feet didn't hang over the edge of the counter. Good times.

She taught me how to knit when I was about eight. I was underwhelmed. It was awkward and difficult. My hands would sweat and my stitches would get tighter and tighter--so tight I could no longer get the needle tip into them to form a new stitch. I received the stitch knowledge, but not her love of knitting. That caught up to me a big way.

I did, however, inherit her love of good food. She was a marvelous cook because that was what women of her generation were supposed to be. I think sometimes about how different her options were. I'm glad women like her went before me because they had strength and convictions, and future generations stood on that strength and demanded more.

I'm so appreciative that she taught me these skills. I don't bake as much as she did, but I know enough about it to get that good old home-made taste when I want it.

And knitting is in my soul.

So tonight, as soon as that cake cools, I'll put down my knitting, and savour a slice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I finally got my STR kit! Post office was open! Yaaaaaay!!!

The colourway is called Dragon Dance and it's GLOR-EE-OUS. Can't wait to start knitting it. Must finish Doug's blue socks first. Looks like I have to redo the first one so it fits as nicely as the second one that is 3/4 complete. I can't have my man walking around with one loose sock and one snug sock. It would just be too, too weird. Maybe if I knit really really fast I can tie into the STR on the weekend :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blue Moon

A few months ago, I signed up for Blue Moon Fiber's Rockin' Sock Club, and my excitement about it has been building ever since. Members of the sock club receive a sock kit every second month that includes special yarn developed strictly for the club and a sock pattern created by a popular designer. Neither are available to the general public until the sock club year is over.

I put aside the sock club fee from some money that I received from a small editing contract, and then forgot about it. I got busy with writing and editing contracts. Christmas came and went. But every once in a while, I'd remember and get excited. Each stage of the process since has refueled my interest. At the beginning of January, I got the payment email. I transfered the money to my credit card and paid the fee through PayPal. On January 21st, the first installment was shipped from Scappoose, Oregon, where Blue Moon lives. Last week, I checked the mail on Friday, but there was no sign of it yet.

Today, I had my son check the mail and sure enough, a postal slip had arrived. I threw on my Sorrels, my parka, my mitts, and headed into the minus 30C weather to my car. After I started the car, I tried to unplug the extension cord, but it's one that is nearly impossible to plug in or unplug. *sigh* So I called my son out to unplug it for me, and once he wrenched it apart, I was off.

In this cold, my car becomes a Sherman tank. The tires are frozen so the bottom of the tire remains flat when the tire goes around. With every bump you go over (and the frozen snowy roads are full of 'em) the car lurches and the shocks groan but they don't move at all. It's kind of like riding in Fred Flintstone's car.

I got to the drug store, parked, and sprinted across the parking lot, not breathing (I didn't want my nostrils to freeze up). As I headed up the aisle toward the postal outlet, I felt stirrings of apprehension. The light looked dim over the postal counter. Surely the bulb is burned out I told myself. When I got closer I was relieved to see lights burning brightly in the back. I confidently strode up to the counter and tapped the counter bell for service.

"You want the post office?" I heard from the pharmacy counter behind me.
"Yes. Is it after 7?" (They close the post office at 7:00 p.m.)
"No, our postal employee was unable to make it to work today because of the weather, so we couldn't open the post office, " Dave, the pharmacist and store owner, replied.

Now, it's a good thing I'm not the type to freak out in these situations. Once in a while I get miffed, but in general I'm pretty laid back. I asked if the postal outlet would be open tomorrow and he replied that it would be. Dejected, I returned home without my much anticipated sock kit. *heavy sigh*

I can't be mad at Dave because he went way above and beyond the call of duty for me last spring. It was the Sunday that we were leaving to go to Ireland and I realized that I'd forgotten to pick up the prescriptions I'd phoned in at the other drug store in town. I had to have my meds before I left, but that drug store was closed Sundays. So our Dave, wonderful guy that he is, left the comforts of home on his day off, unlocked the other drug store (it's not open Sundays. And it's not his store), retrieved my prescriptions, and delivered them to his store where I picked them up later on the way to the airport.

Days like that are what make small-town living the best. Unfortunately, the price you pay is a day like today. Good thing they only happen once in a blue moon (pun intended!)

So, I'm curbing my excitement for tonight, and I'll get my first Rockin' Sock Club kit tomorrow. And, if the postal outlet is closed again, I'll have to go postal myself.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stash Puzzle

I love knitting sweaters, and when I buy for a sweater, I always buy lots of yarn. Explains the huge stash. What puzzles me is I've run out of wool before I run out of pattern on two occassions. And of course, there was no getting any more. One batch I bought in a Northern Ontario Trading Store on a family holiday; in fact, I bought all the store had of that white buffalo wool in black and two shades of blue. Turns out the mill that produced it closed seven years before I set eyes on it. I had the back and one-and-a-half fronts done before I realized the wool wasn’t going to make it. The second sweater was made from a ribbon silk. When I ran out of that (two years after I bought it) not even the manufacturer could scare up a few balls of it.

A more recent buy also fell short. My husband admired some thick German wool at River City Yarns and I jumped at the chance to knit him some socks. He's been adamantly against me knitting him socks; he felt they wouldn't stay up well, and would never measure up to store-bought socks (The arrogance!). I purchased an extra ball of the wool, and a larger ball of Phildar Preface for extra durability, and dove in. I ran out of the Preface about 2/3s of the way through the second sock. I had gone back to the store once already to buy more of the wool (there may be a problem with my math skills here), but I wasn't confident they would have any more of the nylon blend. My concerns were well-founded when no store in the entire city had any of it, and I couldn't find it online either. So his socks are unique in that one toe is a few shades lighter than the other. But, he loves 'em anyway. Every day after work he peels out of his shirt and noose, jumps into his old comfy sweats and slides on the socks. He says they're home to him. Does it get any sweeter than that?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sunsets and Diets and Sanity Oh My!

I just returned from an hour walk with my little dog Myzee, where we got to see a gorgeous sunset. I'm not naturally an active person, but I just quit smoking and put an extra ten pounds on an already full figure. So rather than sending one of my kids to exercise the dog, I'm breaking my sedentary lifestyle and taking her myself. And a sunset like
today's makes the walk so worthwhile. As I was walking, I got to marveling about my stash.

Like many of you, I have an enormous stash of yarn waiting to be knit. I can't figure out why because, for the last two years, I've had myself on a strict yarn diet. Well...I guess I have strayed a time or two...but…it couldn’t be helped. I took a trip last spring to Ireland and the Isle of Man. Can anyone blame me for ferreting yarn like a heat seeking missile? To my dismay, with a bazillion sheep and a staggering number of lambs, there are few yarn stores there. So, when I got to Donegal, in North West Ireland, and found a yarn shop (Wool'n'Things) that sold tons of actual wool from a nearby mill, I bought like a woman possessed. The picture below shows the Donegal Aran Tweed that I bought a kilo of and am currently knitting using Debbie Bliss' Kilcar pattern.

There have been other times that I indulged, but again, I was not in my right mind at the time. No-one can fault me for buying a sweater's worth of Mirasol Miski last year. When the skeins AND sweaters were passed around at the Jane Ellison Knit-Along at River City Yarns last fall, I fell hard for this baby llama wool. One look and I was smitten; one touch and I was overcome.

So, as anyone can clearly see, when I fall off the diet and buy, I can't be held responsible. Must have something to do with the separation of me and my mind when I'm standing in front of a rack of softness. My eye is caught by the colour; my diet is abandoned with the feel.

I guess there's only one thing to be learned here....diets SUCK!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Knitting and Meditation

Many knitters enjoy the Zen of knitting: working stitch after stitch, sometimes counting, perhaps whispering a little prayer with each one, enjoying the peaceful rhythm and the sensuousness of the fibre. This weekend I worked on the second of a pair of socks for my husband. That's Cascade The Heathers (9332 Sapphire) and Madil Kid Seta (486 Delft Blue). This is my first attempt at toe-up socks, and I'm enjoying the challenge.

The weekend was stressful, and as I knit, I found myself wondering what my therapist and many other knitters would think if they knew that with each stitch I focused not on peace, but on a fast and violent end to the sources of stress around me (and you know who you are)....Hmmm. Anyway, the thoughts were brief, and the mature adult in me (wherever she is) stepped up and brought me back to my senses.

I picked the sock up many times over the weekend, but it's knitting up much slower than the first one. I wonder if external stress is one of the factors that contribute to one-sock-syndrome? I've managed to avoid one-sock-syndrome by forcing myself to finish a pair before I start anything else. So far it's working ok. These are only the second pair of socks I've been able to part with. The first pair went to my husband as well. I made these top down using Cambio Zitron (606) and Phildar Preface.
He's an easy give cause they're never far from sight, and if I really want to, I can wear them when he's not looking ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Made it to the Blogosphere

That was just too easy. I've been thinking this was going to be a strenuous adventure, but here I am. Intact and unscathed.

I'm just beginning to feel human again after enduring the
100-day flu. When I wasn't comatose, I was knitting. Some days I didn't even knit. Got front number two and one sleeve done on the Kilcar sweater. Someday I'll post the picture. I'm trying to finish up many UFOs before I start the Juliaca sweater from Jane Ellison's Mirasol Project, Book One. Her baby Llama wool is whispering to me daily...It's the most gorgeous teal blue I've ever seen, and SO SO soft. When it's done, I'll have pictures. This shot of the skeins doesn't do the jade colour justice at all.

To break up the monotony of the Kilcar, I finished a pair of half gloves (Jane Ellison) and knit a sock for the husband. It's thick and soft - Cascade The Heathers with a strand of Madil Kid Seta. This is the second pair I've knit for him and again I'm pleasantly surprised at how well they fit. They're too thick for regular shoes, but he wears them around the house. He's too much of a man's man to purr in them, but they're now part of the come-home-from-work-lose-the-monkey-suit-don-the-sweats ensemble that he lives in.

Well, I've babbled enough for my first crack at this...Crack...hmmm....That's a story for another day...