Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Remembering without Tears

Today is the anniversary of the death of Elizabeth Zimmerman (Nov. 30, 1999).  We owe Elizabeth a lot, because she gave us a lot.  In fact, probably her greatest gift was her belief in the talent of today's knitters. I am sure that few of us would have ventured as far, if it weren't for Elizabeth's encouragement. She felt that knitters' should create their own patterns, spread their wings and move beyond the limitations of the printed instructions.

I will always remember a line from Knitting Without Tears, which suggested that you had to find the mistake in every garment.  This was empowerment to me. I didn't have to throw a sweater away because I had found a small mistake at the beginning or somewhere that required ripping back a lot. You could just carry on and perhaps the "mistake" would never be noticed.

Stories abound of Elizabeth's cavalier attitude to knitting, such as, knitting while riding on the back of her husband's motorcycle or offering a knitting needle as a kingpin when an outboard motor on a boat had failed. She made knitting fun, entertaining enough to be on TV. She made knitting easy, especially with her percentage system. She made knitting clever with her Baby Surprise Jacket and I-cord.

We miss you and your enthusiasm for knitting.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A yarn by any other name.....

....would knit as well - maybe; but, might not sell as well. I have just finished reading an article about a couple in Sechelt, BC who created a super new vegan breakfast cereal that tastes great.  They originally named it HapiFoods. The first day it went on-line, they sold 10 bags. A little later, based on customer reaction - most customers couldn't remember the name but just kept saying, "Holycrap, this is good," they decided to change the name to Holycrap - voila!  That day, they sold 100bags on-line.

Lugnasadh from Goddess Knits
Since then they have sold their cereal at the Olympics and appeared on Dragon's Den. They had no trouble securing a $120,000.00 investment from Jim Treliving (Boston Pizza) who tasted their product on the show! The rest is history. The Mullins can't keep up with the demand. Holycrap is going gangbusters!

Once a friend of a friend came to me with a chunky yarn that he was importing and asked my opinion about the name. He was going to call it ____'s Fat Yarn, after his wife who was very slim - this apparently was a family joke. He was also fixated on these funky new names for wine - "Fat Bastard" comes to mind.

I really didn't like the name, particularly given the sedentary nature of knitting and the tendency for knitters to put on weight because of their hobby. Well the yarn sold OK; but soon disappeared. I have since heard of a dyer - Indigo Dragonfly who has some really unique names for her yarn colourways, such as, "OMG WTF Pink" and "Enid Goes to the Movies". I'm still not sure about these. Perhaps famous lines from movies - "Shaken, Not Stirred" for a silver grey or "I'm melting...melllllting" for a bluey purple mix. Then there's all those fancy cocktails - Scarlet O'Hara for something spicey, or great songs - Eye of the Tiger - for something really grrrrrr!. I think that the message is to try to harness as much sensory and emotional impact as you can, by association, with the names you choose.

I know that I am remiss in this area of naming. I tend to give colours singular names, such as Pond, Reed, Meadow. Perhaps, I need to use more of the colourful language at my disposal, to create more interest in my products!

Fhomhar from Goddess Knits
Dinner - well it has to be pasta. Why, because I remember another story about a salesman who used to work for an Italian import company.  In the beginning, as he tells it, he had one product - Spaghetti, which he sold to the major food chains. Suddenly, though, the market changed and he was no longer just selling Spaghetti, he was selling pasta and he had 10 or 12 products to sell to the chains.  The product ingredients had never really changed.  The only thing that changed was the shape and, of course, the name. He now sold - penne, tagliatelle, cannelloni, fusilli, rotini - the list goes on. My husband swears that they all have a different taste - keep this in mind when you need to re-invent yourself, maybe you just have to change your name!

The pictures are of shawls from Goddess Knits with unusual names - in English, that is.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To be or not to be.....

Snowy Woods from Red Bird Knits
The phrase is perhaps a little trite, even though it comes from one of the greatest plays (Hamlet) written by one of the greatest writers (Shakespeare) of all time. Perhaps we have said it too many times. Maybe that's because this soliloquy was one of the few that we had actually memorized or maybe we hadn't memorized it, but others had, and said the opening lines to us and all we know, then, are the first few lines. This situation may be about to change.

Let me quote from Wednesday's paper, "The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, which already funds one of the world's most lucrative prizes for writers of verse, is looking to cultivate a new generation of poetry lovers." The trust, whose founder is Torontonian, Steve Griffin, is launching a bilingual poetry recitation contest in high schools with the winning student receiving $5,000.00 at the finals in April.  Hurray!

Finally recognition for the value of memorizing poetry, which I feel, not only builds our memory muscle, but also gives us something beautiful to say at a moment's notice! I use poetry as the inspiration for a lot of my lace designs and I know that other designers do as well. Here are two designs from the same poem by Robert Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The last lines of this poem were immortalized by JFK in one of his famous speeches - "But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."

Snowy Evening Shawl from Queen Anne's Lace
I remember being in awe one day when I took the subway downtown. I hadn't ridden the rocket in a while, so I was amazed to see, when I stepped into one of the trains, that all the advertising had been replaced by poems - real poems - both old and new. It was a project from the University of Toronto's literary department. I wish this would happen more often!

I would love to escape from the subway to Innisfree, to see Pied Beauty everywhere or to hear Jabberwocky once more.

Dinner tonight? Something  poetic - well this is a link to another weblog that is very rich in art, poetry and music and it does have a recipe. Maybe it's not enough for dinner; but add a bit to it - they serve it with deep fried turkey - or just decide to be thin; but interesting, like a good poet - "they also serve who only stand and wait."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let's Hear It For Herm!!

Reef Tea Cozy from Le Tissier
Herm is one of the Channel Islands, one of the smaller Islands. Apparently you can walk across Herm in about 10 minutes. Sixty people live there full time and its main source of revenue is tourism. So Herm has to do a lot of marketing to get people to take the boat from Guernsey to Herm to spend 10 minutes to have a look around, maybe have a cuppa, and then go back. How can you generate enough tourist dollars to keep 60 people going all year round in an area that's less than the size a city block?

Well, first, you set up a site on Facebook and garner 4,000 followers - WOW that's over 300 fans for each Herm resident. You Twitter with instant photos and snippets of life on Herm. You do YouTube for longer snippets - because really Herm is just a snippet itself - You do Flickr and TripAdvisor too. That's right you load the marketing arsenal with all the ammunition you can find and fire away - Voila! you are now an international destination and life, though confined, is good on Herm. Let's hear it for all those Hermits or is it Hermites!

Fishtail Scarf from Lucy Neatby

So now, to make your shop or website an international destination, you just have to do what Herm has done. Using all the FREE technology out there, you have to make your spot an international destination by taking lots of pictures, sending lots of Tweets, posting lots of Facebook comments, queries, replies etc. and trying to get as many people, who are in your area or who come to your area to come directly to YOU!

Please let me know if it works for you.  As an aside Lucy Neatby has just created an APP for the Channel Island cast-on. It's available as a download from Patternfish. And here's a picture of a pattern from Lucy's arsenal with a "sea" theme. Lucy is from Sussex, and to my knowledge is the knitting designer closest to the Channel Islands. The tea cozy is from Le Tissier who can trace her lineage back to a French connection on one of the Channel Islands - very cool!

Dinner? Here's a recipe for pancakes.  There is a strong French influence in the Channel Islands, so maybe this is more of a crepe recipe and you can always stuff crepes. I like this site because it lists the Channel Islands, including Herm and tells you what's happening there - It's on my hit list!.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pushing the Edges of Sagittarius

Well maybe it's not really pushing; it's more like thinking really hard about how I am going to add a lovely finish to the pink lace shawl that I am working on. But the ideas are not really taking on any shape, so I am pushing for some inspiration!

I have found a lovely stitch in one of Barbara Walker's books that could work as a knitted on border. In fact, it actually looks like the bow - as in bow and arrow - that Sagittarius is often seen with. If I used the bow idea, I would need some arrows, which isn't bad; but I don't want the pattern to look contrived. Somehow the arrows have to appear naturally - tricky, when was the last time you saw an arrow appear naturally? (and in fact aren't you lucky you haven't)

Aquarius Shawl from Queen Anne's Lace
Maybe if I thought a bit about Pisces, something will just pop into my head. I have completed Aquarius and here is the picture that I promised. Aquarians live in the future. They are the electrician of the Zodiac. We certainly are living in the Age of Aquarius. How many hours a day do you spend:
1. on the internet
2. on your computer,
3. watching television,
4. listening to books or music
5. using anything electronic

Enough said. I chose Blue for Aquarius, a fixed air sign. Blue to me says the future, air, maybe not electrical charge, but electronic thrust (blue lightening!)

Capricorn should really be the next sign, in sequence, that I design; but it is a cardinal sign and these signs will be done later. Pisces is a mutable sign and also a dual sign. I already have an idea for the border of this one. It's the main stitch (or stitches) that I'm struggling with.

Oh well, I am at 288 stitches with Sagittarius. I have a few to go before I have to start on the border. Really, things should start to come together now, since we have moved into the sign of Sagittarius. Imagine trying to design a mutable sign under the auspices of a fixed sign - no wonder things weren't happening.

Sagittarius in progress
Dinner? Something from far away and "charged." Yes, we could do take out - nice try! How about some fusion - here's a site that boasts - Thai Burittos, Hummus Guacamole, Pasta Masala among others. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Catherine Wheel

I was concentrating so much on the novel challenge that I forgot to post for two of my favourite days. Nov 25 and Nov 30.  Here is a re-post for Nov 25.

Catherine Wheel Crochet Stitch as Worked
November 25 is the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria. In Christian lore, St. Catherine was martyred upon a flaming wheel for her beliefs. The story, not only stuck; it flourished, to the extent that many common things that we use today are named after St. Catherine and her "wheel."

Catherine Wheel Crochet Stitch Reversed
The "Catherine Wheel"  lends it's name to: a firecracker, a rock band, a medieval torture machine, a ballet, a window design, a move in gymnastics, a film, a crime novel and a very lovely stitch in crochet. St. Catherine is the patron saint of anyone who works upon a wheel - spinners, sewers, potters, machinist and I am going to add knitters with circular needles. Bus and taxi drivers are late additions and, strictly speaking, do not come under her patronage - but, you can always ask!

I have a soft spot in my heart for St. Catherine and for Alexandria. Alexandria housed the first library, which was destroyed by invading armies, sometime in late BC or early AD. Information about this is sketchy. There are some who think that a lot of learning is a dangerous thing. A great loss - I'm not sure that anything was gained.

I named my daughter after St. Catherine (also spelled Katherine). Since, her older brother is Alexander, I felt that I had to chose a name of Greek origin for the third child. Well, I happen to like Christmas and the feast of St. Nicholas, Dec 6, is not that far away, so Nicholas it was. Also, and I just found this while researching for my post, as St. Catherine is the patron saint of young girls, so too, is St. Nicholas the patron saint of young boys. Serendipity is my co-pilot!

St. Catherine, doesn't have a lot to do with knitting - more with needlework. In France, she enjoys a real cult following among young women in the needle trade - seamstresses, milliners, maybe knitters. These would be mainly unmarried women, called Catherinettes, who send each other cards on this day.

All this folklore aside, St. Catherine was an amazing marketer. Her brand was not only cool (err hot) it had staying power. To die around 307AD and then to be the namesake of so many exciting things today, including a British rock group (1990-2000), how cool is that?

You might consider using St. Catherine in your marketing plans. Catherinettes made hats in her honour - think of a "hat day", serve anything round and enjoy.

Sagittarius is coming along.  We are now under the sign of Sagittarius and the pinwheel motif, that I am using, is another one of the symbols of St Catherine - remember the firecracker - it's a flaming pinwheel - how serendipitous is that?

Dinner? OK something round and Greek. How about Pitas? Here is a site with 19 recipes for Pita dips and sandwiches etc.  http://tipnut.com/pita-picks/

When I used to work downtown, I would hop over to Fit For Life every once in a while and get one of their stuffed pitas. I know that they lined it with Hummus and then added shredded lettuce, diced tomato, some slivered green pepper, sweet onion, hot peppers. Crumbled Feta would be good. You could also add some thinly sliced meat.  They had some killer sauces that went in too - sorry I can't help you there.

Enjoy - Carol

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let Chaos Reign!!!!

Crazy Quilt Mitts from Infiknit
On Nov 18, 1883 Sir Sanford Fleming spoiled all the fun - he got North America to adopt Standard Time. As a result we now have boring predictability. Why, because apparently before standard time each railway company (think airports, railways stations, bus and subway platforms today) literally had it's own clock. One station could have 5 or 6 clocks all set to their own time or the schedule established by their particular railroad - confusion reigned.

Can you imagine Air Canada, Westjet, Porter and all the other airlines that fly into airports, with their own standardized time. So 3:00 for Air Canada would be, maybe, 2:30 for Porter and let's say 7:00 for Westjet.  Talk about missed connections - throw into the mix a snowstorm and you have total chaos.  I know we often have chaos when flights are grounded, but at least their times are synchronized!

I don't know; something inside of me says that, yes it makes life easier to have everyone on the same page; but, something is lost - a happenstance, a serendipity, an accident in time that might make all the difference.

Crazy Quilt Socks from Infiknit
I designed Crazy Quilt Tunic and enjoyed the chaos so much that I went on to do Crazy Quilt Mitts and Socks. I have difficulty with directions. The Murphy's law that says, "when all else fails, read the instructions," speaks to me. Cart before the horse and all that.  One of my goals in life has been to try to understand the theory of chaos - which I believe sets out to make chaos predictable - these scientists!

Actually I have had knitters tell me that they have knit Crazy Quilt Mitts and have written down everything that they have done in the first mitt, so that they could make a second mitt exactly the same.  There is something in us that strives for order!  The whole idea of the chaotic crazy quilt is that you don't have to be bored with doing the same mitten twice!

I also designed the Kitten, Puppy dog and Teddy Bear Mittens and a few others so that you could just knit one of any type of mitten and combine them together. Or if one mitten of a set were lost, you didn't have to throw it away - you just wore a dog with a cat or a teddy bear with a pig etc. Kids would understand.

Crazy Quilt Tunic
Now, I do believe in manners and standardized etiquette; but when it comes to artistic expression, be creative!  That's why the more we standardize in our environment, the more we think that things should be standardized and the more we lose in creative expression!

Dinner tonight - something unpredictable. Soup usually works. To a can of broth add whatever works from the fridge or cupboard. Or a stir fried rice something - to a couple of cups of cooked rice in a frying pan add whatever works from the fridge or cupboard. I promise to be more controlled tomorrow. I think that I have been doing too much lace, which really requires discipline, so I had to vent!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I believe in dreams...

Winter Dreams from Red Bird Knits
On Sunday I bought Susan Boyle's new CD "The Gift".  I wanted to keep her dream alive!  And so it seems do a lot of other people, apparently, her new CD sold 318,000 copies in the first week of its release.  It also topped the US and UK charts simultaneously. In fact her first CD did the same thing less than 12 months ago - a feat achieved only by the Beatles in 1969 - Susan would have been 8 at the time - she was born on April Fool's Day 1961.

Susan bravely went where she had never gone before and succeeded in spite of tremendous odds.  This is what I believe in. I believe that you can succeed in spite of the fact that the deck seems to be stacked against you most of the time. I know that there are a lot of people out there willing to help anyone who is brave enough to stick their neck out (or arm) and try for the gold ring.

I mentioned that I was setting up a page in my Facebook profile for anyone - myself included - to post a goal, however small, and then to keep us posted as you set about trying to achieve it. Here is where help may find you or where you can ask for help or maybe you just have to see yourself in print, in public - well not that public - to get to the gym, make that call, write that inquiry...... Too often we under estimate our abilities to achieve and thereby diminish the goal - "it wasn't really for me"; "it would have taken too much time"; "people would think that I'm nuts!"

Chain d'Amour from Lucy Neatby - we are all connected!
Here is the link to the page. I call it Enterprise, partly from the name of the Starship and partly because that was a name that was available - there will be some luck involved in your success. The picture is that of maybe a star, or maybe a goal, or maybe my camera playing tricks with the sun.  It doesn't really matter, hopefully it becomes a symbol of lofty endeavours!!

Dinner? How about something with Star Anise. Here is a recipe for flank steak using star anise, which I always think is an amazing spice. The pictures are from equally amazing designers who have set goals; achieved them and have gone on to set other goals!!! Enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anti-Matter - does it really matter

Duck Sweater Based on M.C Escher's morphing images
I read the other day that they (great thinkers, scientists, surrealists) have been able to stabilize anti-matter for about 10 seconds - long enough for science to study  it.  Anti-matter, apparently was there at the "Big Bang". It was the universe as we know it, but with a negative charge and so it disappeared - sounds like my credit cards - any negative charges sure disappear in those positive charges (or is it the other way around?).

Well, today, I decided to set about to try and understand the concept of anti-matter. It's a slow day and I don't have much to do, so why not spend some time pondering Quantum Physics - beats chasing dust bunnies! Well anti-matter is what fuelled the Enterprise in Science Fiction, that is. I'm still stuck on what fuelled Patrick Stewart. Sorry, I digress -  Anti-matter in real life is actually "us" with a negative charge - is that like looking in a mirror and having the image disappear - very freaky!

It is always hard for me to put these huge ideas into perspective. Is all of time like a giant tapestry or lace shawl and we are a few of the tiny stitches? I also find it difficult to put my most important dos and don'ts in a day - pick up this, drop of that, cancel this, book that - into the back drop of something vastly more important, I guess - the discovery of something that disappeared eons ago.

Still, if I really think about it - and I really have to think about  it - I can imagine a universe that is completely linked together, with each one of those links having an imporatnt duty in that it must keep everything from unravelling. I think that we often forget how important we really are and also how more important we can actually be - like the scientists who spend their lives figuring things out and furthering us along.  We are important; but we can be even more important by achieving those things that we never set aside time to do.

In fact, I am going to set up my last page on Facebook and do something that I have always wanted to do - create a forum for people to "bravely go where they have never gone before." It's not as scary as it sounds.  It's just setting a goal, however small, writing it down - and you know that if you don't write it down where it can be seen, it will never get done. I think that I will do a cross linking of the face book page and this blog, since I find that things tend to disappear on Facebook - is this the original anti-matter?
Lace Moebius from Fiber Trends

Dinner - we could fast in the honour of anti-matter :(  No I think that we should celebrate with something light and airy. Something that suggests a scientific puzzle perhaps. How about an Omelette - as in which came first....the chicken or the egg and does it really matter? The pictures are knitting designs taken from scientific puzzles.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

What toque you so long?

I always love it when knitting becomes some big time in your face "thing". I love knitting "bombs" and I love it when advertisers use knitting in their pitches.  Years ago Campbell's soup had billboards with knitted cans of soup and knitted radiators shown graphically in yarns of their iconic red and white colours.  The billboards were arresting!

There was a similar campaign out last year in Quebec where they dressed bus shelters in large "knitted" toques to promote MILK as a natural comfort food to get you through those long Quebec winters. Here is the article.  It's more on the demise of advertising or more the morphing of advertising into something more in tune with the times - read Facebook et al.

I am always thinking of ways to "get knitting out there". Certainly Knit in Public days are fabulous. Stitch and Pitch events are great too. Knitters are getting together in coffee shops to chat and knit and entertain the curious. Ravelry has helped with groups of bus and subway knitters.  I still think that there could be more, though.

Free toque and Mitts pattern
1. Mitten trees in town halls around Christmas.
2. Knit for the Cure events during Breast Cancer Month or even just the general Cancer month.
3. Maybe you could persuade your local bank to link a savings account promotion and a display of knitted scarves from your company - all under the slogan - "protect yourself against a rainy day."
4. How about a reciprocal promotion with a local coffee shop.  You knit some coffee cup warmers for their display and you display their products in your shop. Or they/you do a contest for the cleverest knitted coffee cup holder. I know that coffee cup holders don't sell a lot of yarn; but they are catchy.
5. Libraries always like to have some display materials.  Lucy Neatby posted to my Facebook that she was working on a new sock pattern and was listening to a book by Ken Follett at the same time. This could be a library focus.

Just trying to come up with ideas to make your sales AMAZING!!

Dinner tonight. We've had a lot of soup and mushrooms lately - these do go with milk though. But maybe a quiche or a quiche with out the pastry just done in a lined pan and baked could be easier and quicker. The link gives a lot of recipes for Quiche. Take your pick!

Not your Grandmother's Apron

My youngest - the soon-to-be-18 year old (male) is taking fashion design at school.  This wasn't necessarily by choice - but, because he tends to dress as a "fashion plate," his guidance teacher suggested that fashion design might suit him - no pun intended. His response, as usual, was - whatever and when can I get back to the computer!

Well, we have discovered, because he has to commit to a post secondary program this year, that he wants to write apps - good choice since soon the Internet will be just a collection of apps. Ryerson is the target and the faculty that supports apps also supports - dance, theatre, interior design (different from interior decorating), fashion design, photography and a few others. So to get into "apps" with not the greatest marks in math, might be to start with fashion design and then switch. He actually could have done theatre or dance - but fashion design is what is offered at this school - so FD it is!

Well, it's 3:00pm on a Sunday afternoon and he announces that he needs fabric for tomorrow. He needs to make an apron!  OK.  The shops suggested by his teacher were:
1. The other side of the city & closed on Sunday.
2. Yorkville - think the most expensive shops in the world!!

So, what happened to the cheapies!!!  I decided that we could get some interesting and inexpensive fabric at Ikea - just 20 minutes away.

Well, the conversation evolved as we browsed the very limited, but very Swedish, fabric selection. This had to be an apron that you could walk down a runway with - cold sweat - maybe we were in the wrong place. Wait a minute; he loved a very busy design that would have made a great gift apron for a well dressed hostess..... But it needed something else. Underneath a few bolts were some gauzy fabrics - probably for sheers. (I knew we were in the wrong place) Anyway he decided that the navy gauze would make a lovely tie at the back of the apron and as he said "and this would go right on top of her butt". At this point, I realized, that not only were we in the wrong place; but also, that I had failed as a mother! We bought the gauze, the busy print and a solid complementary fabric for, pockets I guess, I'm not sure what one needed pockets for, in this soon to be a boudoir apron.

Well, at least the total bill was just $16.00 - today that is.  Because, as we were leaving he said, "I was also thinking of leather and we need buttons, lots of buttons."

This was not going to be your grandmother's apron.  This was really, as I finally gathered, a forerunner to a more high fashion garment, but the students' sewing skills were still developing. In my naivete I thought apron; he thought Alexander McQueen!

Fabric is just one step removed from yarn. There is a danger that we may be imposing our own limitations on knitting designs because of our own limited experiences. Maybe the next "scary" thing you do is to knit this or something as challenging, just to see what happens - untie those apron strings!!!

Spiral Top from Vadis Designs

Dinner? Something daring.....and raw. How about a Ceviche of shrimp. The heading for this recipe said that it was regularly served on the beaches in Mexico.  Well, you'd likely be wearing more than and apron - OK a little more anyway.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Last Rose of Summer......

This may very well be the last rose of summer. It's also the title of a very beautiful, yet very sad Irish folk song. The Irish may, in fact, be one of the few cultures that have turned death into an art form. Here's the link for the song, sung by John McDermott

Albert Camus, once said, "Art is the distance time gives to suffering." Certainly Art is one way that we have of dealing with suffering or just dealing with the human condition, which means dealing daily with a sense of loss - lost youth, lost time, lost energy...the litany goes on. However, with most things that are lost, something is gained. Surely a wisdom - don't tell me that we have gone through all of this and not learned anything. Possibly a sense of confidence - if I have survived one, I can survive them all. Maybe even a sense of resurrection - this will come again, in a different form perhaps; but, Spring is eternal!

Butterflies from Red Bird Knits
Knitting for many is a way of dealing with loss. The actual rhythm of knitting is very soothing. Some design a garment for a lost relative, others knit something to remind them of someone not here, physically - Still others just "throw themselves into knitting" as a means of escape. Knitting is very therapeutic.

Here are some "healing" patterns. I think that socks must be one of the most soothing of projects, even though you always have to knit two.  I say this because, sock knitting is still very strong!  Knitting mittens is also very comforting.  It's as though someone were holding your hand! and of course, I am partial to lace, which is very absorbing. Shawls and more specifically prayer shawls are like an arm around your shoulder

Wine and Roses from Jolene Treace

The rose pictured above was photographed on Nov 13. We note the day, each year, that we pick our last rose from the garden. The latest was Nov 27 a few years ago. Recording time, I think, is a way of slowing the passage of it. I really should find a place to plant Helleborus Niger or Christmas Rose, which is known to bloom at Christmas in a protected area - Spring really is eternal!

Red Rose shawl from Queen Anne's Lace

Dinner? How about a very traditional Irish dish - Corned Beef and Cabbage. This is comfort food too. Actually I cooked the Beef Stroganoff recipe that I posted earlier and it was delicious and very easy - definitely worth a try. I substituted onions for the shallots - something less to buy.

I'll be more upbeat tomorrow - but - hey, this is life!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mushrooms in Motion

I saw this slogan printed in very large letters on the side of a truck the other day.  It sounds like one of the great euphemisms of life. But that company certainly has brought a lot of life to, well, fungi! Now, if you thought knitting companies had difficulty finding a marketable name, given the sedentary nature of knitting, try being a mushroommonger!

At least knitting stores get to use names like Passionknit or Mad About Ewe - Porcini with Passion or Crazy Crimini just don't make it. Now there is a company in Ontario called Fun Guy Farm (Fun Guy = fungi) and I know of people who collect mushrooms as a hobby - some of them even have a sense of humour, such as, the friend who first introduced herself by saying, "Hi, I'm Gabriel, like the angel, no relation, though." I fell over - she was hilarious; she also collected mushrooms.

At Infiknit, the colour Mushroom in our Fantastic Knitting Zephyr lace weight yarn is a really popular colour. It is one of those shades that screams - well maybe it's whispers - understated elegance. It's a very tasteful shade - no pun intended. I chose it for Woodland Solace. I think that you could also use this pattern as a tablecloth - just make it wider and leave off the ruffle. (that's ruffle not truffle)

I know that I don't have any patterns for knitted mushrooms.  Though, I haven't checked the Jean Greenhowe books that I have.  She has some knitted food (great way to diet); but I don't think there are any mushrooms in the mix.

Mushrooms are probably best, just eaten.  Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms is a Weight Watchers classic. This may not be their recipe - but it's not too heavy on the calories.  If you're not dieting, just make them with a chop or chicken breast.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Button Day

November 16 was Button Day, so I am told. I am not sure whose idea this was. Most days of real significance have their origins in historical or cultural occurrences. Somehow, to have a day for buttons seems a little frivolous. A quick Google search led to this blog and their offerings:

  • Button Collecting and Display Day - collect and display clothing buttons
  • Button Up Day- 'cuz it's cold outside!
  • Pushing Your Buttons Day - you're kidding me, aren't you!?
  • Belly Button Day - now, here's one that could be real fun
  • Belly Button Fuzz Day - it's amazing what you find in there.
  • Wear Buttons Day - skip the political buttons. My favorite is a Smiley button. 
I also found a site that claims to be the Zany Holiday site. OK, I know that November can be a bit of a drag, often dreary and gray - Remembrance Day, mostly under the sign of Scorpio, waiting for winter, not much to celebrate - but "Buttons."

Now, I have some nice knitted and crocheted buttons in  patterns from Infiknit.  These might warm me up to the idea of a Button Day and then I could dig out an old "Kiss Me I'm Irish" button - that's always fun.

Maybe if everyone knew about this and everyone created a very special button to wear, we could really get something going here.  I need some help, though - got any ideas for button slogans for knitters, crocheters, spinners, or dyers. I always liked "Dye Happy".

Dinner? How about something really simple, maybe, mushrooms (button mushrooms) on toast with a few strips of bacon and some sliced tomatoes. You could melt some cheese over it and maybe fry up some zucchini with the mushrooms or whatever you've got in the fridge. Button Day, indeed.  Enjoy!

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Gotta Get A Pawpaw

    What's a Pawpaw? Actually, it's a tree that grows well in the Toronto area, which is rather amazing given it's unique name and even uniquer (is that a word?) fruit. Pawpaws yield fruit in September that look like small clusters of round green bananas, which apparently taste like a cross between a mango and a banana - WOW how exotic!  I found out about the Pawpaw from an article this weekend in the Toronto Star. Yes, you learn something new everyday.  Here it is:


    The only problem with the Pawpaw is finding a place to plant it.  Most trees need full sun and I have so many trees already in the garden, that there is just enough sun to grow a little Parsley and Basil. I could plant it in the front garden; but then it would grow up and I would lose the roses that are there.

    Well these are minor problems compared to the huge problems that others are faced with daily. I think that I'll just put a paw in it!

    What does a Pawpaw have to do with knitting, again not much, except that it was one of those Oh Wow! moments, when one says, "I didn't know that!"  It's like finding an elastic cast-off for lace, or discovering a new way to make a buttonhole. Lucy Neatby gives us a lot of those Oh Wow moments in knitting and she has a new (actually revised and very much expanded) book out - Finishing In Style. The retail is $19.95.  It's 175 pages, I know because I mistakenly thought that I was printing the cover from a pdf file only to discover, when the printer didn't stop, that I was printing the entire book on cover stock OUCH!

    It's at my office for $5.00 - first come; first served!

    Lucy's books will be in next week, along with a restocking of Lucy's DVDs which have their own Oh Wow moments! It's fun to try to add an Oh Wow moment as often as possible to your day, week, month....whatever, whenever. I know that there are some who say that you should try something that scares you, everyday - for many it's just getting up in the morning!  I know that I don't do this as often as I should -  push myself beyond my comfort level, that is - I do get up everyday! But, I'm sure that if I had done something everyday that scared me, well, I might be scared to death by now. However, I did have another thought, if you are frightened of doing lace - now is the time to try it!

    Here is Mountain Solace. My first lace design. It helped me overcome my fear of doing lace!

    Dinner to-night? How about fruited pork? It's not as scary as it sounds!  Here's the link http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Fruited-Pork-Tenderloin. I passed up a recipe that had something called "Liquid Smoke" as an ingredient - another Oh Wow - never heard of that before. I think that you could vary this recipe a lot - maybe this could be the scary challenge - OK not every day; but once in a while - just change the fruit!

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    The Enrichment of Advent

    My daughter called from university today to ask for an Advent calendar.  These are the rather large, but quite thin boxes that hide chocolates under numbers, which count the days before Christmas. It's also a very clever way to sell chocolates and to count the days before the day when lots of people get to open the socks or whatever, that we knitters have managed to knit for them.

    Actually Advent has its roots in both christian and non-christian practices, as a time of austerity before a big event, Christmas and the feast of Saturnalia perhaps. However, if it is a time of restraint, please explain the chocolate!

    Anyway I guess that Halifax doesn't do Advent Calendars (hmmm what does this say about Halifax?) or maybe my children think of advent calendars as something that is sent from far away - their aunt, who lives in Edinburgh and keeps the faith, always sent the kids Advent Calendars. Well, regardless of your spiritual leanings, small things, like the single bite sized piece of chocolate eaten each day from Dec 1 to Dec 24, can be one of those little activities that enrich a day!

    I like to think that she wanted the calendar because she wanted a way to count the time before she was able to come home for Christmas break - dream on - it's really all about chocolate.

    The calendar, though, actually gave me an idea for retailers. If something as small as a piece of chocolate can make a day, what can you give your customers that is a tiny bite sized offering but makes their day?  Perhaps, it's a daily quiz and people keep track of their wins, which are then "cashed in" for "something" in the short week between Christmas and New Year. Maybe, it's a sale item that is not advertised and only on for one day, or a daily draw with most numbers at 5 or 10%, but have 1 biggie at 30 or 40%. You have to hunt a bit for the correct number on the advent calendar so the suggestion is that it's a game or a challenge. I'll leave the rest up to you.

    All ideas are welcome!

    Advent doesn't actually start until Nov 28 and if you really wanted to be commercial about it, you could start Dec 1.

    Dinner - of course something with chocolate. Mexican dishes often use unsweetened chocolate in their savoury main courses. Here's one for chicken - it's in the middle of the page.

    I also couldn't leave you without a picture. This is "Chocolate Covered Cherries" from Heartstrings. The pattern also includes instructions for fingerless gloves - to eat chocolates with, of course!

    Enjoy - Carol

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Get Drunk on Knitting

    Lucy Neatby posted to my Facebook wall that she was off to teach a class on 3 scarves - Sea Lettuce, Falling Leaves and Mirror, Mirror and her comment was.."a nice knitting cocktail!..." Lucy is an amazing designer. She may even be considered a knitting acrobat. What she does with the simplest of stitches is pure entertainment. Here is sea lettuce. It is a ruffled scarf based on the short row technique. The other two scarves are just as exciting.

    The idea of mixing "things" up into a cocktail got me thinking about a number of patterns that could really create a buzz with the right ingredients.

    Use-up leftover yarn patterns do not have to be relegated to the scrap bin and look like leftovers, when they are finished! Here is a link to my website where I have grouped a number of these patterns.  At first glance they don't really look like anything; but with a little imagination you could really make them POP!


    Use these suggestions for the patterns and they will be stunning.
    1. Work any pattern in just one colour and all the same shade; but use yarns of different textures. Give a little thought to the arrangement of the spacing of the different yarns and you'll create a masterpiece.
    2. Use one colour again but in different shades and maybe different textures. The trick here is to make sure that the shades are very compatible.
    3. Use different colours and again maybe different textures; but limit yourself to 3 colours.
    4. Use the same colour; but add beads to some areas and not others. Use beads of the same colour or a complementary colour.
    5. Use different colours (3) or different shades and use beads or embroidery mixing up the placement of beads of one colour on backgrounds of another colour - are you still with me?

    Here is another link to a designer that really pushes the limits with mixing, matching, shape and design - Colleen Davis. Although Colleen is strong on creativity, the actual presentation of the patterns needs some work. "Everything" is there, you just have to do a bit of leg work; but you will get an amazing garment!


    So, will these cocktails be "shaken" or "stirred." Well, James Bond's martinis were always "shaken"; but I like the idea of stirring up a little magic with those needles. Speaking of stirring, my lace pinwheels are coming along. I'm maybe not moving as fast as a Sagittarian - I am a fixed sign - but I do have other work to do as well - not least among them is responding to those facebook comments.

    Dinner to-night? How about Penne al la Vodka - I like this recipe because it gives you an alternative to using cream. OK, you don't have to use the Vodka either; but you can still enjoy!!!


    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Feed your inner Russian....

    Borscht, I've decided is an acquired taste. I varied the recipe, I posted earlier this month, a fair bit and I did have two helpings (my husband managed one), but you really have to like beets.

    This is what I did:
    1. I cut the ingredients back by a third - and still had enough to feed the Russian army.
    2. I added the vegetables, in order, by the length of time it would take them to cook - I know that I am talking to a seasoned audience - no pun intended.
    3. I used just one sausage (health reasons) or I would have used the whole recipe amount and then some.
    4. I fried the sausage, onion and garlic and added a little of the tomatoes to the pan to use as a demi-glaze. I, then, added all of this to the pot, including the tomatoes.
    5. Next, I added a sachet of beef stock . (I still felt that it needed something!)
    6. I pureed everything.
    7. It even sat in the fridge overnight!
    8. I warmed it up the next day. This is beginning to sound like one of those Russian odysseys - War and Peace anyone? Finally, after ladling it into bowls, I added parsley and sour cream.

    Maybe, if I were going to watch Dr, Zhivago, as well, I might have been able to say that it was Fantastic!! I guess I'll just have to try another recipe - 150 million people (pop. of Russia) can't be wrong - but then again maybe it's not about the Borscht.

    The other day I saw a picture in the newspaper of a scene from Dr. Zhivago.  There are few films that have really moved me - political ones always do, that's why I never watch them, because I would go to bed angry knowing I were helpless.

    However, I watch the romances, the classics and I must say that Julie Christie and Omar Sharif are classic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXAa0XaS6bs&NR=1   Here are some scenes you'll remember.

    So too are Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh from Gone with the Wind and Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer from the Sound of Music.  I was also thinking that I ought to re-read Wuthering Heights and perhaps watch Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier again.  I must be needing a shot of Heathcliff, as it were.

    Fiction is the "virtual" of literature and film; it's our escape. I am working my way around the ins and outs of Facebook and I ran into a few glitches today so I guess, I was looking for a place to hide and these wonderful scenes passed through my mind.

    This pattern from Fiber Trends always reminds me of Dr. Zhivago. These are felted hats with an eyelash trim. Its called Winter in the City...or in the Winter Palace. Maybe the secret to having a "divine" pattern is just to have a pictue that reminds people of something famous.

    Dinner? I have to redeem myself - I am looking for a good recipe for Beef Stroganoff . This one sounds easy and delicious. And I know that I have sour cream left over. Wow, I can't believe it - write a blog; eat better - who would have thought!


    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

    Remembrance Day is the one day of the year that I read "In Flanders Fields." It is all about being connected, about paying back in some small, more like infinitesimal way, the great debt that we owe to those who did not make it back from the many battles that had to be fought, so that we could be a democracy, so that women could be considered "people", so that people could be gay, or right or left or what ever they wanted to be and  pray to whom ever they wanted to, and say whatever they wanted to, without being destroyed.

    Given the quality of life in other parts of the world, where people just do not have our freedoms,  we have to say, that if it weren't for uncle Bob, cousin Bill, my grandfather, your great grandfather, we would be as closeted, as subjugated, as shackled, as "they".  One day is not enough.  But if it is just one day, that we publicly acknowledge our debit, than make it a day that is full of love and rich with meaning. Make it a day that we really celebrate their lives - and somehow have this gratitude, this love,  pass through time and touch their souls!

    I have often thought... What is it about this poem, "In Flanders Fields" that has endured?  It has never been replaced. No one has ever said that they have found another poem, song or story with more meaning, more cadence, more emotional "pull" than the few lines written by a young man from Guelph, Ontario during the first world war. In fact, this is such a moving piece that it has taken on a life of its own - in song and dance, perhaps what better place than youtube, for all the world to see and acknowledge.  Now I know that we will never forget.

    Sorry there will be no comment on knitting or dinner, just a comment on the title of the post. It is the last lines of a poem by Wilfred Owen actually orginally penned by Horace - The poem is a very graphic description of the ugliness of war and the poet ends by saying: do not tell your children, the old lie: 

    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. - It is sweet and fitting to die for your country. 

    There is really nothing sweet about it. Tomorrow is another day.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Take an author to lunch...

    My friend JB told me about a new program at the library.  Apparently it started in Denmark about 10 years ago and has spread. Participating libraries arrange for you to take out an author, for an hour or so, on your library card! Well it's one way, albeit a very time consuming way, of reaching the public and reminding them that writers, designers, artists, creators are flesh and blood people.

    The music industry is holding more concerts; there are more signings, more pop up events, more trunk shows, etc. In fact, much more leg work is involved, in promoting any creative work, these days.

    I really don't know anything about this particular library program and I couldn't find anything on-line, so any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    The "sign out an author" idea really intrigues me, although I can't imagine what I would say to Margaret Atwood. I do, however, remember contacting Sasha Kagan about using one of her designs for a coffee cup warmer and she was most gracious and said that it was all right to use a leaf design from a book of hers that I had. I must revisit that and see if I ever did take the time to do a coffee cup cover. OK, I didn't exactly talk to Sasha personally, much less take her out for coffee, it was sadly all e-mail.

    I know that yarn stores have celebrated knitters in to teach.  There are knitting retreats, and more casual drop in nights and afternoons; but, I am wondering if there are even smaller, shorter opportunities to engage knitters, that may, long term, result in more traffic to your shop, site or blog.  Could you find an opportunity to film a brief interview with a famous designer and have it available on your site or in your shop? It might be something as simple as modelling their latest design or raving about a new yarn etc.... Always trying to stay a step ahead...or maybe it's more like running to catch up!

    Sagittarius is coming along, although I did have a moment when I thought that I was going to have to rip it back a motif, because I was thinking that I should perhaps reverse the position of the pinwheels in alternating rows. Anyway I consulted a friendly Sagittarius and she agreed that I should keep the existing format.  I will likely do some alternating in the border which I am still thinking about.

    Dinner to-night? Well Margaret Atwood is a big supporter of birds and the Pelee Island and Pelee Point bird sanctuaries among others, so nothing with wings. How about something with pork - pigs have not, as far as I know, learned to fly yet.  Here's a very easy stir fry.

    Have a great evening.  Carol

    Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    More celebrities on-line

    Well I just had to post to-day about the fact that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has set up a page on Facebook. Now, you can rub shoulders not just with movie stars, but with royalty.  It is really a very "cool" page with lots of people posting welcomes including me. Some pointed out how they were related to minor royalty and well known British historical figures - it's a lot of fun. I wonder if she will try to engage her readers with quizzes and puzzles?  She does have some lovely photos posted and, well, I guess we'll just see what happens!

    Here are some tea cozies fit for royalty from Lynette Meek at Le Tissier Designs.  These are all knitted.

    Infiknit is offering a special on all 6 designs.
    Just join my face book page to get the details.

    Dinner tonight should be something regal like Beef Wellington.
    Then again since she has joined with us commoners, perhaps she wouldn't mind some fish and chips! This recipe is for the famous beer batter fish and chips. If you really want to be authentic eat them out of newspaper - The Times, of course!

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Celebrity Knitting on-line

    This post is actually following along from an earlier post about celebrities who knit. I mentioned Julia Roberts and maybe Demi Moore....Well, I don't suppose that I will ever rub shoulders with Julia Roberts or Demi Moore, but I have been able to chat to Fiona Ellis and a few other knitting personalities on Facebook.

    Yes, I am now up on Facebook. I know, many of you are saying, "finally" and "what took you so long." Or others are saying, "Oh no not another one". Well, I am not about to be an Evangelist as far as Facebook is concerned. But I will say that you will never reach celebrity status unless you get a page for yourself, a page for your store and maybe even a page for your own exclusive designs, because, it is not about the posts you receive - many really are inane and it is not about what you have to say in your posts which I am sure will never be inane :) - it's all about just being there - it's the BUZZ.

    It is a lot like the reason why anyone, who wants to become famous, moves to NY or LA or maybe TO or BC. It is just easier for wannabes to be in the centre of a networking Mecca. To feed on the success stories of others, to catch glimpses of the rich and famous as they speed by or post from twitter (that's something else again - one step at a time). You really need to be part of this BUZZ. Not just because it is helpful when knitters come into your shop to be able to relate to their buzz; but it is energizing.

    Ravelry vs Facebook
    Ravelry is called the Facebook for knitters. Many of you have pages on Ravelry or follow Groups and Forums regularly. I like Ravelry.  It's important to have such a vast platform for knitting; but, I didn't receive the same engery hit there that I received on Facebook. Compare Times Square as it usually is, (mob scene) to a Times Square where everyone is knitting - great knit in public venue - but I am sure that you would want to leave at one point and wonder up to the Guggenheim, take in a Broadway show or go to Macey's!!

    To me Facebook merges knitting with the rest of the world. Ravelry isolates knitting from the rest of the world.  Am I wrong?

    Well, since we are all in NY virtually, wouldn't it be nice to go to John's Pizza - just off Broadway - a tip given to me by a knitter who teaches Tunisian Crochet and whose son writes for the New York Times (and he has just won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism)...climbing up the celebrity ladder, one stitch at a time!

    Need real food? Virtual is fine until you need something real, like food,- here's a pizza receipe  - but you'll have to make it yourself - sorry!

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Knitting and Sunday Morning

    It's Sunday morning and I'm cruising the web looking for a link between knitting and life....why don't I just pick up the needles and work on Sagittarius?  Well I do enjoy writing this blog and have written ahead a few posts already for Nov 11 and Nov 25 - significant days. But not much really significant has happened on Nov 6, 7, or 8 in history, that is. 

    But in the present, my little sale - mainly of discontinued patterns, went well. I found out about a new store in Vancouver that I will introduce myself to - or is it- to whom I will introduce myself.  There is something to be said about the vernacular - no pun intended. And I got to talk to a lot of knitters.  My friend JB - I never know whether people actually want their names mentioned on the internet - came by to help in the afternoon. She had attended a workshop, at the Purple Purl in the morning, on how to photograph your knitting. JB told me about "Light Boxes",  these apparently are a great way to illuminate your samples for photography with out a flash - gotta get one!

    Anyway wikipedia searches told me that Duns Scotus had died on the 6th of Nov, a long time ago. He was a philosopher, whose ideas fell out of favour at the time and he was actually the name behind the "Dunce Cap." I happen to like him and the poet he influenced - Gerard Manly Hopkins - but more about them later. I always admire people who press their ideas against prevailing thought trends - but I am always uncomfortable with people who cross on red lights, not sure why.

    Anyway, I had hit a wall this morning and so I just decided to read again about Elizabeth Zimmerman and her contributions to knitting. I googled Wikipedia and keyed in her name. It's a lovely read and she died on Nov 30 1999.  I will post more about her then. Well, there were a few pictures that also came up when you keyed EZ straight into google. One was of a lovely Fair Isle sweater designed by her and featured in an old issue of Ornament magazine, which is subtitled "the Art and Craft of Personal Adornment".  Now these pieces are divine!! Here is the sweater I saw.

    This is the standard that Elizabeth placed on knitting and this is the standard to which we all must aim. It is not something that a lot of knitters would knit and so if you are in the business of selling patterns and yarn, your sales would suffer. Still we must keep the standard up. I know that there are knitters who just want to relax and enjoy their knitting and not press themselves too much to move beyond their comfort level - this is allowed. But keep the door open. Know there is a whole amazing world of knitting to explore and enjoy. Lets breathe a little life into those afghans!

    Dinner?  I have to believe that Elizabeth Zimmerman had Welsh connections her maiden name was Lloyd-Jones. So Welsh Rarebit  perhaps. This is more of a snack then a full meal. Here is another one. I like this one because the introduction said: If you can't get any of the ingredients just use your imagination - someone should teach this guy to knit!!!



    Friday, November 05, 2010

    Terrorism and the British Tradition

    Terrorism is not new.  It has been with us since the beginning. On November 5, Britains "celebrate" one of the most "celebrated" acts of terrorism - Guy Fawkes Night. Here is more than you want to read about a "guy" in the 1600's, 1605 to be exact, who set out to blow up the British Parliament.


    It was basically all about religion - isn't it always. Interestingly enough, after the execution of Guy Fawkes, parliament passed a bill, called the "Thanksgiving Act" which remained for 250 years as a day of Thanksgiving for the preservation of parliament.

    Would the idea of Thanksgiving actually have started with this act and would the emmigrants from Britain to America have perhaps carried this special time with them?  Who knows?

    I do, though, remember when I lived in London passing a few effigies of Guy Fawkes, created and attended by young people asking for, "a penny for the old guy". I gave them the penny - one of those very large, very heavy pennies that were, before I came to England, actually subdivided into farthings - hence the "penny farthing" bicycle. The large wheel was the size of the penny and the small wheel was the size of the farthing or a quarter of a penny - well the scale for the bicycle was much bigger, but you get the idea.

    I lived in London before the conversion to the metric system. I know, I am dating myself.  I still have fond memories of the thr'p'nny bit or threepence (pronounced thr'pence) and two pence was tuppence. I was even there before they phased out the halfpenny, pronounced (hayp'nny). I always remember buying vegetables at a stall from an ancient women who annouced that I now owed her tuppence, ha'p'nny.  I suppose there are guide books that would translate, but, how do you translate an era?

    I went to London looking for Charles Dickens and for the most part, I found him.  I found a turn of phrase, a set of customs, a "stiff upper lip mindset" that permeated British literature, and I have to believe Britain itself, at the time of Dickens and his contemporaries.

    A chill still runs through me when I remember sitting in a teacher's staff room one day and someone asked the time. An old voice from the corner annouced that it was "five and twenty past the hour." Mrs. Haversham where are you?

    What has this all got to do with knitting and the business of knitting - not that much, except that knitting is a tradition, with a rich heritage - though most of the characters from Emily Bronte did petite point, because, of course, the peasants knit. There is still an understanding that those who knit are part of a very old, even ancient, tradition.  It keeps us grounded; it connects us to the past; we pass it onto the future. Knitting doesn't celebrate terrorism, but it has supported "the war effort" many times and although few women were at the "front" - many were in the rear, clicking away. Celebrate Guy Fawkes, if you like, we need to be reminded that we have a history, not everything, is virtual; but some things are virtuous!

    Dinner? Why Bangers and Mash, of course!  You can't blow up anything with out a "banger" - sausage and the resulting destruction is a mash - potatoes (mashed) and you are allowed to smother the whole meal with Ketchup and, if you really want to be British - do not serve anything "green".


    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Think Pink!!

    There was an article in the business section yesterday, which was actually "clipped" from INC magazine - (they provide the horoscopes for this site). It was about the importance of having something "flashy" in your store window or among your display samples etc...to get people excited about buying, which in our case is, yarn. The magazine gave several examples. One was Volkswagon's neon green car - tricky for a yarn store window, I agree.  This is not the colour that most people buy; but it is the colour that draws people in. Another example was a shop that put a pink purse in the window. Most people did not buy the pink shade, opting for black or grey, but they did come in to see it and be amazed by the dazzling colour!!

    Amaze your customers with exciting colours.  The focus of the article was about colour for branding your company or product, but there are more interesting examples of just what colour does for sales. Here's the link, it includes tips for on-line retailers as well:


    I guess that I was thinking pink last night because I cast on for Sagittarius in Fantastic Knitting Zephyr lace weight yarn - Dianthus. As I said in an earlier post, I am knitting through the signs of the Zodiac in lace. Every sign will be a top down triangular shawl in lace weight yarn. I have completed the 4 fixed signs and Sagittarius is the first of the 4 mutable signs.  For the lace pattern, I have chosen a pinwheel motif, because every Sagittarian that I have ever known has been in constant motion. They are the travellers of the Zodiac. Sagittarius is also a Fire sign, hence the high colour.

    Dinner tonight?  The lentil soup last night was excellent.  I added hot pepper flakes and since soups let me clean out the fridge, I also added a bit of parsnip and I was thinking of the bok choy; but decided that it would do for another night. OK, I don't have anything pink in mind; but I do have 3 rather large beets in the fridge that need to be used up soon. Here's a recipe for Borscht.  I know, it's another soup - actually this recipe reads more like a contractor's list for building a house - you will not go hungry - keep some frozen in the freezer, in case you have a Borscht attack or need to feed your inner Russian!


    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Robert's your father's brother...

    I promised that I would research the term "Bob's your uncle" and found some fascinating info. First, from Wikipedia:


    Lots of information about Lords, named Robert, appointed to do things. I did like the one about Lord Frederick Roberts (1832-1914. 1st Earl Roberts, and Roberts of Kandahar) who led a successful siege in Afghanistan - too bad he's not around to-day - we might be able to end this terrible war.

    I also had a chuckle about the British version of the term - " Robert's your father's brother". Canadians have apparently shortened the entire phrase to just "Bob". I'll opt for the happy medium.

    The female term is "Fanny's your aunt".  I don't have an aunt Fanny so I have to settle for Lil, who is actually a great aunt - so, " Lilian's your grandmother's sister."?

    This is starting to get as tangled as a skein of yarn. Complicated stories and tangled skeins seem to be the domain of knitters'. There are mystery books out now with knitting as the theme and other fictional stories set in yarn stores.  We gather to knit and tell stories, as many used to do before radio and television and Facebook and...and....There is this wonderful comraderie among people who share a common interest.  My mother and grandmother taught me to knit. I feel a little sorry for those who had to teach themselves.  They are missing that thread. Still they are able to pick up new threads along the way, with all of us who knit.

    My daughter wearing Midday Scarf
    Threads in time,,,

    Dinner tonight - How about spaghetti? Here's the link. There are a few listed here, so take your pick!

    Given the number of Italian restaurants around and the ease with which anyone can turn pasta into a meal, I think that we all have a little Italian in us. How about "Zio's your uncle"?

    Starting Sagittarius...please send me your knitting stories and I will publish them!

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Feed your inner Zen

    I am relatively happy with the intelligence that I have been given, because I know that I will never have to worry about crossing that line between being a genius and being insane!

    I was reading an article about Michael Clarkson in the Toronto Star. He is a former "Star" reporter and he has built himself a refuge at the bottom of his garden. He spends a lot of time there either thinking or de-thinking, that is, somehow trying to rid himself of some of the 66,000 thoughts per day that each of us has, according to Clakson.

    Also, according Clarkson, two thirds of these thoughts are negative. Now that's depressing!!!  Too bad no-one taught Michael to knit. Or maybe someone tried and failed - more negative thoughts.

    Anyway, I am sure that, if this reporter spent more time absorbed in an all-absorbing activity, such as, knitting, he wouldn't have to spend so much time in a make shift lean-to in the garden, especially now that the weather is turning cold and the days are drawing in.

    I know that a lot of meditation is about trying to rid ourselves of  "thought overload" - especially the negative thoughts. However, anyone who knits, and particularly those who knit lace, know that concentrating on a beautiful, intricate pattern, not only focuses the mind, thereby reducing thought overload, but also, replaces negative thoughts with positive ones. Plus after all that concentration, the knitter is rewarded with a lovely scarf or shawl.

    Behold, the product of my latest Zen time - Taurus Shawl! I am knitting through the signs of the Zodiac and Taurus is the 4th shawl to date and the last of the fixed signs - now to write them up as patterns so that others can knit them, if they like, and feed their inner Zen.

    I will post soon the shawls for the 3 other fixed signs - Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius

    Oh, the healing, in a ball of yarn, a chart and a circular needle!

    Dinner? maybe something simple, not too macrobiotic, but perhaps, a little spartan. How about lentil soup.
    In fact I am actually going to make this recipe tonight.  I'll tell you how it goes. After I cast on for Sagittarius, the first of the mutable signs.

    Enjoy Carol