This little piggy went to market…

From May till October, there is a farmer’s market in Wakefield every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. Fortunately you don’t have to be a farmer to participate. Kathryn doesn’t set up a tent every Saturday, but sometimes she does, like this past weekend. And of course I was more than happy to lend a helping hand. We get to sit and knit, chat, eat, shop and hopefully sell some yarn.29Her booth, freshly stocked.

Oodles of yarn!30And a few of my samples hanging from the rafters to entice people.31We always get enquiries about selling the samples, and have to disappoint people by telling them that they have to learn to knit, buy the yarn and then knit the thing themselves. I never ask what they would be willing to pay (don’t want to give them false hope) but I’m pretty sure it would be something like $60, at which point I would have to laugh and/or blow ice tea through my nose in shocked disbelief. We’ve also had people ask us if sell hand-knit socks, one woman said she bought a pair for $40. Lucky her, foolish knitter. At about 34,000 stitches for a pair of socks, I’d rather keep them for myself than hand them over for $40. So if I ever make you a pair of socks, I really, really like you.

I am, however,  planning to knit up silk shawls to sell, but those won’t be ready till next year (since I have to come up with the patterns, dye the silk and then knit the things myself) and they will be more than $60. I will soon have more time (and motivation) to do all this, but that will be another blog post.

It was a beautiful day, there was music and great food.36 Crêpes from Alska Farm (I always buy their maple syrup). They have one savory and one sweet and different ones each week. Mmmm. I had ham, cheddar and lemongrass on a kamut crêpe. They also had ice tea with a touch of maple syrup, which I luckily didn’t blow out my nose. And they are super nice people.34Another favourite vendor of mine is Water Willow Design:32I have jewelry, a glass bowl, a shoulder bag, yarn basket, eyeglass case, iPad case, camera case, clothes, and mittens from Mie who sews all this herself. She mostly works with felt and linen now, but still sells some glass jewelry. I didn’t realize I had this much stuff from her! But they are all being well used.

So if you are ever in the neighbourhood on a Saturday, stop by the market and pick up some fresh veggies, crêpes and maybe some yarn!

I’ll leave you with some market doggy cuteness (not Frankie) but Django (who we occasionally doggy-sit) and friend.37They are surely thinking “nummmm, crêpes”

Retreat!

Well, we are gearing up for out little retreat at the end of May (29-31) here in Wakefield. Maureen is deciding on the menu, Kathryn is mixing her colours and I’m writing up my classes and knitting samples. This year I am teaching double knitting (as colourwork) and mending your knitting with the Swiss darning method (or over-stitching). Friday is meet-and-greet and show-and-tell after stuffing our faces over a fantastic dinner. Saturday will be the double-knitting class and dyeing (and more gorging), Sunday you’ll poke a biggish hole in your knitted homework and then mend it (just pretend Frankie put a claw through your sweater like he’s done to me more than once.) (Oh, and one last food-fest at noon).

I will have patterns available, and Kathryn is putting together kits, and participants can dye their own yarn for their future double-knit projects (or for anything they like, I wouldn’t force anyone to double knit, except in my class).

This is what I have been working on:aDSCF4488The yarn in this picture will all end up as samples, and then kits made by Kathryn. The leaf cowl will be written up for the retreat. I am also working on a scarf (with cowl option) and a flowery cowl. All these patterns are based on my grandmother’s Hungarian embroidery.DSCF4492

We have many cushion covers from her and table cloths, but they are slowly disintegrating. So I mostly keep them wrapped up, but thought it would be nice to translate them into knitting. Some of them will only be for double knitting, others I’ll do as stranded knitting also.

Here are the pieces showing the other side. It makes a nice squishy, warm fabric (especially with Kathryn’s yarn!)aDSCF4490I’ve been wearing my proto-type all winter, and it has kept me warm in the piercing winter wind.aDSCF4437We still have some spots available, so if you are interested, let us know and Maureen can send you the information.

Kathryn has been dyeing up a storm. Her yarn went to fibre festivals in Paris and then Edinburgh with La Maison Tricotée, it can also be found locally at Wabi Sabi and at her studio, just give her a shout if you want to come out.aDSCF4410Here is some drying, some waiting to labelled and some bagged and ready to go.aDSCF4403

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In other news, our little Corgi is going home tomorrow. We will miss her, although I suspect Frankie might be relieved to be an only child again. And he can stop eating fruits and vegetables, which he eats now ONLY because she does.aDSCF4435(Notice the bags of knitting peeking out – I have them stashed all over the house. Except in the oven – I still use the oven).

And one last romp in the snow.aDSCF4485 Although I appreciate that I am not in the Maritimes under another 45 cm of snow, I still felt like weeping when I woke up to this. And although I love knitting in the winter, by a cozy fire, it is mid-March and I am heartily sick of it. Hopefully by the time we have our retreat, all this will have melted, but I won’t hold my breath!

Almost there…

Next weekend is our little retreat! I’ve written up the classes and am just finishing off some swatches. Kathryn is preparing the dyes and Maureen is  finalizing the menu. It will be a lot of fun. I will even have door prizes, for like, everyone! That’s one way to cull the books and stash. We have a few spots left, so if you are interested, contact us. It starts Friday night with a fabulous dinner and show and tell, or just knitting if you have nothing to tell. But a glass of wine (or two) might loosen you up. We are usually booked up when we hold it in the spring (but it just couldn’t happen this year). The fall seems to be a busy time of year for everyone but the weekend so far looks like it will be beautiful,  because you know, seven day weather forecasting never lies. Next year, however,  we will hold it again in the spring (hopefully we can get the venue).

I am just about finished my grandson’s hoodie. I have not knit the band around the hood, I want to make sure it fits first, so I’ll do that “in situ”. I just have to find some buttons, and maybe finish that second sleeve…IMG_2060I just love those fish. I’m going to make him a new blanket with those fishes swimming up and down it.

In November, I go to a knitting retreat in the Gananoque. I have yarn from sheep from a friend of mine and promised to have it finished for show and tell. I will definitely get it done on time.IMG_2055I really like the yarn, it is super squishy (yes that is an official yarn term), with lots of lanolin in it still but washes up beautifully. I also plan on finishing my Betty Mouat Cowl, I am using darker shades than the original, in Jamieson & Smith yarn. I knit a matching tam from Gudrun Johnston’s upcoming release, Shetland Trader – Book 2 (lots of great patterns), Hermaness Hats, I was apparently the first one to finish! Yay me! I plan on making the slouchy version too in a reddish colour. One can never have too many hats. Or scarves, or sweaters, or yarn…IMG_2051(Gawd, I just realized I sort of match my couch).

I also bought some Shelter, love the colour and the yarn. I plan on making a leafy top-down pullover so I can use every last drop. The colours are all incredible. Will post pics as  soon as I have something to show for it.

IMG_2054Well, back to work, I have a few buttonband swatches to finish. It is a rainy, albeit warm, day and Frankie is quite enjoying it. Who ever said we spoil our dog?IMG_2050

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whew!

It has been a whirlwind 3 weeks (for me, Julie, at least). So  I will go backwards in time…

THE RETREAT!

We just had our little retreat in Wakefield (first weekend in May). It was a blast. There were 16 of us, 12 participants and 4 worker bees. We hold it at “The Barn”, which used to be somebody’s very funky home but is now rented out for events of all kinds:

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8714931231_cd6afeae2d_z (2)You can see why it is called the Barn. Despite a bad cold, Maureen cooked up a storm, with help from her daughter (and Kathryn). Although I’m not sure that we had enough food, I mean sometimes an entire half hour went by when we didn’t have something to eat.

8716056788_3ca5576111_z (2)Although it was a beautiful sunny weekend we spent a lot of it inside knitting… A few keeners, concentrating hard…

2013_05050030There was lots of sharing, and all I can say is thank god for iPads and free wifi! I might have to get one…. When we weren’t knitting, we were scrolling.

2013_05050031There was also some relaxation and lots of laughs. Although as you can see, some people can NEVER put down their knitting needles.

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I gave a class on two-handed stranded knitting and another on yarn substitution, Kathryn gave a dyeing class. Here is some yarn steaming and simmering on the stove (conveniently located outside).

8714946167_98c5c47347_z (2)And drying on the line, yarn couldn’t have a prettier place to hang out and dry.

8716063654_f7c2398fc3_c (2)There were also oodles of Kathryn’s yarns for purchase:

8716061996_5003525f2c_z (2)Because every knitter knows, you CAN’T have too much yarn, despite what other people might say (who know NOTHING, by the way).

On our final day we took a group shot, unfortunately two of our participants had already left, but they have their yarn and memories…

8716052482_2e313feb93_b (2)We think everyone had a good time (at least they tell us they did) and that some new things were learned and shared, including lots of food and probably a few extra pounds (if I could share those, I would!)

And one of our participants, Josée, sent me this picture just after the retreat, well on her way knitting her stranded mittens!

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Before the retreat, I went to visit my daughter and grandson in Cape Cod. First time I met the little guy (who was 2.5 months when I arrived and 3 when I left). I came prepared with all kinds of knits (which will surely humiliate him later in life). Every baby needs an octopus hat.

1Mother and son in knits, knit by me. I know, I know, it’s not always about ME (knitting) but actually this blog sort of is. Note the Peter Rabbit buttons…

3He is a very happy baby:

2013_04290026And we managed to spend a bit of time at the ocean, windy but nice. The baby just slept through it all, he’ll have years and years of ocean fun ahead of him (with more crazy sea creature hats, I’m sure).

IMG_0745 (2)And despite some worrying and a desperate search for lower-back painkillers, it turns out that walking a lot and carrying a 12 lb baby around for 2 weeks actually does wonders for the back. For mine at least. Maybe when I go back to my cubicle-rat job, I should periodically rock a 12 lb bag of flour at my desk. If nothing else, maybe I can get myself forced out for mental health issues? I’ll have to dress it in an octopus hat…

I even managed to pump out a Cape Cod sweater (a tradition I seem to have started with myself). I didn’t think I’d have time, but I knit this up in one weekend. Norah Gaughan’s Route 1, knit in Berroco’s Remix. It took less than 4 balls!

1 (2)Just before I left for Cape Cod, this was the weather here:

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But while I was gone, my little Magnolia tree actually blossomed! I received this last year from my son for my birthday and I didn’t kill it!

2013_05070019And a moment of magnolia zen for Frankie:

2013_05060010Which lasted until he noticed this visitor, up a tree:

pA chubby porcupine! I love porcupines, they are like Dr. Seuss characters come alive. Frankie has yet to be quilled and he couldn’t get near this guy (yay fence!) but I think he would learn his lesson if he ever did (he would just want to play, no aggression in this guy).

I’ll leave you with some human cuteness this time:

photo (31)Might Finn be thinking: “where’s my Canadian Grandma??” But more than likely he’s working on a fart (a few which, by the way, I have on video) – kids these days have no idea of their future torment with every burp, fart and sneeze digitally captured.

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…

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The sap has got a good boil on

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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.

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Poppy seed and sesame seed bagels ready to be baked.

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Bagels cooking in the ‘oven’

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

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Hannen gets the first one.

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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

Yarn Pics from Riverside Studio

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Superwash Merino Singles Fingering 440 yards 115 grams. I made Making Waves Cardigan with 3 skeins

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on the bed

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Superwash Merino/Silk Fingering 2 ply 50/50 378 yards – 115 grams, beautiful sheen

Here is a top down pullover knit size 36 with 2.5 skeins of Merino Silk

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Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon Sock 3 ply, 80/10/10 378 yards, 115grams…so luxurious!

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Superwash Merino Lace 2 ply 990 yards – 115grams

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Superwash Merino Singles Lace 412 yards – 57 grams a lace weight treat. 3 skeins will make a featherweight cardigan.

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Merino/Nylon Sock 3 ply 420 yards – 115 grams. Perfect for socks, but I made a Paulie cardigan with three and a half skeins!

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I apologize for the terrible picture, and the messy studio in the background.

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Beautiful Blue Faced Leicester Yarn 2 ply, 378 yards, 115 grams. This has a beautiful sheen, and dyes up like a watercolour!

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Superwash Merino Singles Worsted.220 yards – 115 grams.  A thick and thin yarn that’s lofty and so soft.

That’s it for now. Got to get to the studio and dye more yarn.

Happy Stash Building!

More retreat treats

I had a great time at our little retreat. Everyone laughed a lot, they were pretty game to sleep with strangers (some rooms had 6 beds) but earplugs helped.  As to actual knitting and dyeing, we split the class up on Saturday, so half dyed yarn and half worked on double knitting. And then we switched it up in the afternoon. This worked well as everyone was able to get individual attention. Here are a few more pictures from the retreat.

Knitters concentrating on their double knitting:

Close-up of some double knitting, you can see a few errant bars across the stitches but those were soon fixed. Everyone did a great job!

Kathryn‘s beautiful yarn, and Francine‘s beautiful shawl pins (and stitch markers) for sale:

And thematic cookies for everyone, made by my baker-daughter (who I may have mentioned in this blog, once or twice, or maybe three times, but whose counting.)

Lastly, Henry bids you adieu (with a little blue and green double knitting poking out from behind him), and says, thanks for the yarn, baby, just try to take it away, come on, try.