Friday, March 29, 2013

Sighted in Savannah

Last week, H and I were desperate to leave the New England winter behind, so we betook ourselves to Savannah, Georgia, where spring was well underway.

Oh, what a beautiful city! And quite pedestrian-friendly, too.

Luckily, on one of our rambles, we happened upon this wonderful LYS, The Frayed Knot, which I noticed immediately because of the amazing yarn-bombed bike in the window.

The bike's adorners were Jennifer Bagwell-Harvey, who owns The Frayed Knot, and Jami and Marianne, the owners of Perlina, a bead store that cohabits with the LYS. They are all lovely gals and the shop is well-stocked, so if you happen to be nearby, a visit would be in order.


When we returned to Rhode Island, spring had finally gotten its act together!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Last week at this time I was in NYC, tanking up on the usual mélange of music, art, comestibles, and social visitations, including a meeting at Lion Brand Yarns, for whom I'm now writing knitting-based fiction. Talk about a dream come true! Here's the first installment, called "Patterns of Change," published online yesterday in Lion Brand's Pattern Journal. (You can subscribe on the website, to get every installment delivered to your email box!) To prepare for the assignment, I actually began knitting the afghan on which the story focuses.

It was a great meeting, and afterwards I was delighted to tour the adjacent Lion Brand Yarn Studio, the company's retail shop on West 15th Street. It's a visual feast-- bright, light, extremely well stocked--and the staff runs a great variety of knitting opportunities, ranging from classes and workshops to a free knitting-themed film festival called "Flicks with Sticks." Neuroknitter and I are planning a private yarn crawl of the Big Apple in a couple of months, and this shop will definitely be on our list of Must Visits.

Customers can help themselves to yarn for swatches, enabling informed decision-making!

This long view of the Lion Brand Studio gives a general sense of its depth and breadth.
Now I'm back home, trying to catch my breath. Here in New England, spring's emerging in its typically ambivalent way, bringing snow and snowdrops (and crocuses) simultaneously.

As I'm currently knitting a hat out of assorted green yarn oddments, 

my thoughts have naturally run to the bottomless topic of stashbusting, and that made me think I should also stashbust the freezers. (We have, um, more than one. Would you believe... four?) So yesterday I made thirty-six jars of raspberry-gooseberry jam. This made about as much of a dent in the collective freezer contents as the green hat will make in the G section of my stash-a-teria, a.k.a. the store-room that moonlights as my creative unconscious. But the jam turned out really well, and I give you the recipe on the off chance that you've got ten quarts of frozen raspberries and one quart of frozen ripe gooseberries that you're desperately wanting to use. You do, right?

A sight for sore eyes.

SMW's Raspberry-Gooseberry Jam, for about eleven quarts of berries
 (results may vary, but it generally tastes like summer)

Cook your gooseberries (I used one quart), fresh or frozen, in their own juices in a covered pot over a low heat. When they burst and exude their inner gunk, remove from stove and cool. Then run them through a food mill twice, the first time with the coarse disk, the second time with the medium disk, to remove skins, seeds, and tails.

Put all your frozen raspberries (ca. 10 quarts) into a very large heavy pot (non-aluminum; Le Creuset or similar recommended), put the heat on low, and when they're all melted, soupy, and slightly bubbling add about one cup of sugar per quart. Then add the pureed gooseberries, mix well, and add more sugar if you want. (I prefer tangy.) Bring the mixture to a simmer, and while bubbling, stir in and completely dissolve one or two packages of pectin that you happen to have lying around. (I used 1/2 package of granular regular pectin, and one entire package of low-sugar pectin. Check the instructions on the box(es) in the canning section of your local hardware store to see what kind of pectin is best for you (liquid, granular, regular, low-sugar), then buy at least double the quantity.) Keep stirring, and when the fruit mixture starts to look slightly glossy on top, you can start canning. I use a variety of canning jars, but I never make jam in containers larger than six ounces, because once opened, large quantities of home-made jam have a way of mouldering in the fridge.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sound and fury before the storm. A contest.

Sky Scarf, begun 2-23-13, showing only one day of blue sky since.
The current New England winter has organized life into milestones not dissimilar from Kübler-Ross's Stages of Grief and Dying: the Anticipation of Storms, the Fearful (and sometimes Angry/Fed Up/Curmudgeonly) Anticipation of storms (fomented and abetted by the Culture of Fear media, including and especially The Weather Channel and its team of storm-a-holic reporters), the Stoic Preparation for Storms (Bread? Check.  Milk? Check. Gasoline? Check.), the Experience of the Storm Itself, and the Passing of the Storm, when we all emerge from our hidey-holes and trade tales of what we endured during the storm.

Currently New England is in the Fearful Anticipation Stage, as the weather brewing is supposed to dump snow and freezing rain on us ferociously, starting any minute now or maybe tonight or maybe early in the morning; the tides are high and already eroding the beaches with surge; the northeast winds are gusting up to sixty+ miles per hour.

The wind-whipped Wood River, Woodville, RI, in Fearful Anticipation Mode.

So, to take our minds away from all the ominous, foreboding, depressing etc. of winter's last gasps (note to self:  Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday March 10), I will draw your attention to a cute little book recently sent me by its publisher:

You might be wondering why I'm touting this, since this blog's focus is on New England--but, gentle knitters, I must confess that I was born and raised in New York City, and return there often. (In fact, I'm going to the Big Apple next week.)  And given that I'll be sitting around a lot during the next bout of Awful Weather, I'll at least start working on one of the clever designs in Knit New York.

British designer Emma King's patterns are all witty, but what really tickled me is a knitted Staten Island Ferry. It was my sad fate to spend my formative years on Staten Island, but my luck to commute from SI to New York on the ferry twice daily, whilst I attended Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty every morning and afternoon, and Ellis Island, Governor's Island, and viewing the Verrazano Bridge in the distance, on the bright orange ferry with dark blue letters--there are many happy memories for me clustered around those commutes.

Furby's on the same page with me.  We will be knitting a ferry during the impending storm.

Other KIY NYC icons in the book are the Empire State Building, the Walk/Don't Walk street-crossing sign that all dyed-in-the-wool jaywalking New Yorkers ignore, and a red fire hydrant, etc.

The publisher, Collins and Brown, has kindly made a free copy of Knit New York available as a giveaway.  If you, dear readers, will post a brief comment here explaining why you'd like the book, I'll choose a winner--contest closes on Sunday the 10th at midnight! (Please note:  the contest is limited to people with mailing addresses in the US.)

O.k., time to batten down the hatches!