Maple Syrup and Bagels

Spring is an in between time in the Gatineau Hills. There is still piles of snow, (there’s a mountain approximately 12 feet high beside my house) but it’s really mushy and muddy where the ground is exposed. You can still ski if you are keen, but there isn’t too many other activities that will take you outside for any length of time. The crows are active, the indoor cats are getting restless, the streams are swollen, and it is possible to sit outside to bask in some sunlight if there is a nearby fire to stay warm by.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Is there any better reason to sit around and knit outside in the snow, than participating in a little maple syrup production? (Not that we really need an excuse to sit around and knit!)
Maureen got ambitious this spring and tapped 12 sugar maples high on the hill behind her house. Collecting the sap and getting it down the hill to the fire is no mean feat. She filled 5 gallon water jugs that are barrel shaped, tied a rope to them and then rolled them down the hill. The rope is the insurance they won’t get away and bash up against a tree or rock. You wouldn’t want to lose a precious drop of the maple elixir. It is a delicate operation slip sliding down the hill on the sugary snow, trying to control the jug. At the bottom of the hill, 2 large plastic garbage cans are filled to the brim with sap and buried in the snow to ensure they stay fresh until the boiling begins. On good friday Julie and I  got the call, the fire pit was prepared and there was soup on the stove.Image

The ski hill in the distance is still open…

Image

The sap has got a good boil on

Image

Skimming the sap

Hopefully there will be a good gallon jug after two days of boiling. We had to taste the sap here and there as it boiled. Mmmmm, it is better than chocolate!

Saturday was another warm beautiful day. Much too nice to spend inside. So around this house we had to invent an excuse to spend some time outside by a fire. With no trees to tap we decided why not make our wood BBQ into a wood fired oven and make some Wakefield bagels. You can get a pretty good bagel in Ottawa but the best ones are in Montreal. Well it just so happens that I found a recipe eons ago for bagels from the famous Fairmont Bagel Bakery in Montreal. Steve dug out the BBQ which was pretty much buried in snow and got the fire going. I went to work in the kitchen. A crucial ingredient is malt powder or syrup. I knew we weren’t going to have any luck finding that at the General Store. I was just about to go ahead and make them without it when I had the brilliant idea of asking at the local bakery if they had any. I phone Phil at Pipolinka and lo and behold he had the malt syrup! He actually donated it to the cause although he did wonder if we were going to open a bagel shop in the village.Image

The top of the BBQ sticking out of the snow.

Image

Poppy seed and sesame seed bagels ready to be baked.

Image

Bagels cooking in the ‘oven’

Image

17 beautiful, delicious Wakefield Bagels!!! (one had already been consumed)

Image

Hannen gets the first one.

Image

What is bagel without cream cheese?

And because this is a blog about knitting not food here is a picture of the merino singles lace that will be going to Lettuce Knit in Toronto next week. Happy Easter!Image

Big Beautiful Batts

A brand new toy (ummm, I mean tool) came into my studio last Thursday. A Patrick Green Big Batt Drum Carder. The excitement!!! The anticipation!!! I spent Friday dyeing up bits and pieces of fibre so there would be something to experiment on. Julie and I set a date for a carding party, and on sunday we spent the day in fibery heaven. We opened Deb Menz’s Colour in Spinning up to the the carding section and then we got busy.

The carder in motion

The carder in motion

 A batt being formed

A batt being formed

The finished batt!!

The finished batt!!

another batt

another batt

yet another

yet another

Monday we spent the afternoon spinning up our new treasures.

All spun up. 50 grams of incredibly soft gorgeous yarn.

All spun up. 50 grams of incredibly soft gorgeous yarn.

Our spinning companion

Our spinning companion

Now it’s back to the studio. Stay tuned for more beautiful batts, soon to be available at katsriversidestudio.etsy.com

Wakefield Knitting Retreat 2013

The days are getting longer, the sun is stronger and it’s time to think spring! That means, time to plan this year’s knitting retreat at the Barn near Wakefield.

The Barn in early spring

The Barn in early spring

Julie and Kathryn have some exciting workshops planned and I’m already testing out some new recipes so it should be a great weekend!

The dates this year will be May 3-5 and the price will be the same as last year ($300 for all classes, meals and two nights accommodation). We wanted to let you know what Kathryn and Julie have planned for the workshops:

Julie will present an introduction to stranded knitting  i.e. two-colour knitting with short changes between colours whereby you carry the unused colour (float) behind the one you are knitting with:

We will focus on knitting a swatch in the round (without really knitting in the round), colour dominance and managing floats.  If you are really keen, I suggest practicing knitting (before the retreat) in the style you do NOT currently use (if you knit English, practice Continental, and vice versa) if you would like to practice two-handed knitting (only the knit stitch, there won’t be any purling), otherwise you can alternate your colours from the same hand.
36

Julie’s second workshop will be on yarn substitution:

We will examine how to substitute yarn for a given pattern, including possibilities for using different fibres and touching on using yarn with a different gauge. There will be a very detailed handout and lots of props as examples. If you have any questions regarding a specific project you would like to tackle, bring them along.

Knitting workshop

Knitting workshop

And once again, Kathryn will lead a workshop on dyeing yarn with professional acid dyes:

In this workshop you will learn how to create fabulous painted yarn with professional acid dyes. The colours you can achieve are brilliant and endless! Acid dyes use citric acid, which is a food safe acid. You will learn to paint self-striping multicoloured yarn, and kettle dye using common kitchen tools, like a crock-pot. We will dye 2 skeins of yarn with the idea that they will be used for colour work.

Kathryn's dyeing workshop

Kathryn’s dyeing workshop

dyeing outdoors

dyeing outdoors

smallDSC_0177

The Barn accommodates only 12 participants in dormitory-style rooms so if you are interested in coming this year, please let us know as soon as possible by emailing threecrazyknitters@gmail.com or calling Maureen at 819 459-3164. We’ll then ask for a $100 deposit to confirm your spot.

Here are a few more photos from last year to give you an idea of what’s in store: great classes, lovely people, lots of time to relax and delicious food! Spring can’t come soon enough.

The kitchen crew

The kitchen crew

small 101

Early evening visitors

Early evening visitors

The Agony and the Ecstasy

No, I’m not comparing myself (middle-aged knitting obsessed public servant) to Michelangelo (brilliant sculptor, artist etc) – as if anyone would remember Irving Stone’s novel (I don’t think I actually ever got through it), I’m just resorting to a bit of hyperbole.

The Agony, found this morning:

1 2

Culprit:2013_02180014

Guess I should have knit him a hat too. Well, my Sunday knitting has been determined for me. But however aggravating this is, that is the great thing about knitting: you can FIX it. I’ll have to reknit the crown and part of the pattern, but I can fix it, and no one will be able to tell (unless they read this blog, and even then they won’t be able to tell). (Oh and if anyone is wondering why there is a garbage can in the living room as can be seen in most of my pictures – it’s just full of kindling, not garbage, we haven’t become THAT crazy yet).

But in happier news…

The Ecstasy:

11

I actually designed this! I am donating this hat for a fund-raising auction for our local elementary school. The pattern is a traditional Fair Isle one, but I did all the math, picked the colours and graphed out the top.

4And I am particularly happy with the I-cord edge. I knit it so that the brim would be split open, then you work an I-cord for a couple of inches, pick up the brim stitches, work the I-cord all around, and then for another couple of inches, and this way you can tie it in the back, so it is adjustable for size (and gives it a bit of jauntiness, don’t you think?):

3I used Knit Picks Palette, the background is silver, and then various blues, with a bit of purple and red thrown in. My first attempt was laughable. The patterns I chose didn’t really turn out the way I was thinking and just looked like random patterns, and I only used hues of blue. The problem with Palette is that the light blue colours are a bit garish, they are bright and leaning to aqua or lavender. There is no nice light grey-blue or denim. So I replaced that with the purple and red which I think worked really well. It needed another colour. I might knit this up in another colour scheme, maybe greens, and then sit down and  write it up. But how many times have I said that?

This picture is for Margo, who said I looked like a sour school teacher in my last photo.

7Yeah, I know the smile looks fake, even pained, but I was happy, just feeling weird about smiling at myself?

I’ll end with some action shots! Well, as much action as a 4 week old can muster!

photo (17)

The Pacman sweater fits! My daughter crocheted the hat, it’s a ghost from the game (not a poppy like my sister thought). And here are mom and babe in all their Pacman glory:

photo (18)

Now how cute is that?