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.

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