Friday, February 22, 2008

Remembering Aunty

Today was a tough day. I found out last night that my Aunty Alice passed away this week. The funeral was today, and my Dad and I attended. My husband came too. We have our ups and downs, and lately they've been epic, but at times like these he's my Rock.

Aunty Alice was the only sibling of my Mom. I lost my Mom 23 years ago. She didn't have much family. Aunty Alice was 14 years older than my Mom so they weren't day-to-day close. But they shared great loss. Aunty Alice lost her Dad when she was very young. Their Mom died when my Mom was 14 and Aunty Alice was 28. Their Mom got very ill with cancer when my Mom was around 7. By the time my Mom was 9 her Mom was in a sanitarium where she stayed until her death.

Aunty Alice had 5 children. 2 daughters and 3 sons. The elder daughter was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at a young age. She was trying to figure out how to tell her parents she was dying when her younger sister was killed in a single vehicle accident. Both left three small children. And shattered my Aunty. She was always an anxious person, but that year left her with anxiety and depression that no medicine could touch.

Yet, you never saw her without a smile, as the picture above can attest. Like my Mom, she had a faith that nothing could budge, she had intelligence, kindness, and light. She was a last female connection to my Mom.

I called her one day a few years ago to chat. I told her I was knitting a scarf out of pink and white variegated yarn. Turns out, she was knitting a scarf out of pink and white variegated yarn too. We had a good chuckle and agreed that "great minds really do think alike."

I have a letter she wrote to my Mom when I was born. In it she tells my Mom how thrilled she is that my Mom finally had a girl. The letter is filled with joy and hope and love. For my Mom and for me. I cherish it. And I'm so glad she was in my life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Support Your Local Yarn Store (when you can)

I'm thinking lately about my favourite yarn store. Being on Ravelry, I'm learning all kinds of new methods, browsing many lovely patterns, hearing other knitters' ideas about the best needles, the best stores, the best websites, and so on. But I'm concerned. There are a lot of people ordering their yarns online, often at lower prices than our local stores can afford to offer.

I love my favourite yarn store. The women who work there are more than yarn experts. They're friends, supporters, champions, and more. With all the online buying, how long will we have these stores. I don't want to think about a world without yarn stores.

I myself ordered yarn online once. But it was a specialty fibre that my store didn't carry. Many knitters order online because they don't have the luxury of a yarn store close by. Others order online because of the cost savings. I can't hold it against them. If I were in their shoes, I'd order online too. eBay is probably the most economical place to find yarn. Many knitters fuel their passion as economically as they can using eBay. I don't blame 'em.

I also want to support some of the local online stores. They are the new Mom & Pop stores and they bring unique products to the market. I rally against the big box stores. They're killing our small businesses and removing any semblance of charm or intimacy in our retail interactions.

So, you can see my dilemma. I love my yarn store. I applaud the small online companies. I respect shoppers getting the biggest yarn bang for their bucks. But what will we do when these independents are gone? Will they be gone?

I guess I'm thinking today about the plight of the little guys. I'm going to continue to shop at my favourite store when I can. And I'll order patterns or fibre online when I can.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The House that Yarn Built

I was cruising around Ravelry the other day and I happened upon a blog by Christy Clark. In it she proposes a wonderful idea: knitters donate the cost of a skein of sock yarn to Brad Pitt's Make it Right movement. It would only take 7800 knitters who donate $20.00 each to provide a new house for someone in Louisiana. She's named this humanitarian project "The House that Yarn Built."

Click on the links above for more information. Don't we all have enough sock yarn? For you non-knitters, don't we all have enough ( fill in the blank)? I'm donating my $20.00. It's the least I can do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines from Balmy Alberta

Finally. We finally reached 0 degrees C. It's downright balmy outside. I know 'cause I just walked my little dog. We're both pooped. She's taking some well-deserved TV time on the couch while I write this blog post.

I'm still working on the STR socks. They're fine. Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend and she brought me stuff. In the "Shelley" bag (I love the "Shelley" bag!) was a book she's returning (Dave Barry), a Timmie's shirt (Yeah!),

the yarn she chose for her Christmas present (lovely, but this picture doesn't do it justice, at all.),

AND one of her zucchini cakes! These cakes are so good I actually have seconds, which is something I never do (no really. I don't have much of a sweet-tooth). LOVE HER! And I'm deeply, deeply honoured that she would give me her last one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Blue socks are done...well, I still have to weave in the ends, but they look great. I'm on to the Serendipity socks from the sock club. The pattern is quite easy, and the first sock is coming along.

I bought more dates yesterday. The matrimonial cake has become somewhat of a habit. For anyone interested, the recipe is as follows (and then I promise, I won't speak of it again.)


1/2 lb. chopped dates (I use a 283.5 gm tub)
1/2 c. cold water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
Grated rind of 1/2 an orange
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. lemon juice

Cook dates, water, orange rind and sugar in a small saucepan, over a moderate heat until thick and smooth (You may have to add water as this cooks. It usually takes around 30 minutes to cook.) ; remove from fire, add fruit juices, mix well. Cool before spreading.

Matrimonial Cake

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter (I use non-hydrogenated margarine)
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. coarse oatmeal

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Rub in butter with tips of fingers. Add sugar and oatmeal. Mix well. Spread 1/2 the crumbs in a greased shallow pan (about 8 x 14 inches). Pat to smooth. Cover with cooled date filling, spreading evenly, then cover with the remaining crumbs. Pat to smooth. Bake at 325F. for 30 to 35 minutes. Increase heat slightly and bake for a few minutes longer, to lightly brown mixture. Cut in squares while hot and allow shortbread to cool in pan.

This recipe is from a Five Roses Flour cookbook from 1957. Some of the best recipes come from these older books. They don't have the nutritional information we're used to seeing, but they do have recipes that taste great.

Dates are highly nutritious. Perhaps their high iron count is the reason I crave this stuff. Unfortunately, the cup of brown sugar isn't good. I may try to reduce that this time. I'll let you know the results.

Time to walk the dog. I'm trying two 30-minute walks instead of one 60-minute walk. We've been in the house for over a week due to the cold weather, so I gotta break us both in again gradually. I've put on weight since I stopped smoking, and I'm counting on walking to take it off again. Lucky me, all of the five or six pounds I've gained landed directly on my stomach. Looks terrible, feels terrible. Can't wait to shed it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


The matrimonial cake is divine! Forget Mom's recipe; I'm sticking with this one.

The weather here is slowly, very slowly getting warmer. Today we got up to -17. Back down to the -27 overnight. By Wednesday, we should be up to -9. We'll all be out sunbathing! There's nothing more freeing than shedding the winter layers.

Around here none of us can wait for spring. I was in Canuck Tire today and they have all the gardening stuff out. My heart skipped a beat. I so want spring to come. I want it so badly that I delude myself into thinking this is a sure sign of spring, and that it can't be far off. I cling to that delusion with the blind determination of a mole. We might not see an end to the snow until April or May, so spring could be a long way off. Or, we might have spring arrive in March. Do you see how the unknown in that feeds my delusion? And the stupid groundhogs are not to be trusted.

Well, I finally finished the second blue sock for Doug. Unfortunately, it fits waaaay better than the first one, so I'm going to rip out the first one and knit it again. *sigh* With any luck, this one will knit up in three days like it did the first time around. Or...maybe I'm just deluding myself again.