Have Ewe Any Wool?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, it's just DH and me, so I'm taking my time with the festivities (aka cooking). I'm having a very productive, yet very relaxing day. No time constraints...no place I have to be, just DH and me. I started the morning by knitting a bit on my Jawoll Magic sock.

I took a break to make the fresh cranberry relish - a personal and family favorite. I just love the tart and refreshing flavors that the relish imparts. That didn't take long, even though I do it the "old fashioned way" - with the hand-cranked grinder rather than the food processor. I like the irregularity I get with the relish when done using the meat grinder.

I then went back to knitting the sock. I'm close to halfway done with the foot. Once it's done, I'll have to start on the second sock in both the Zino and the Jawoll. That's the only problem with my "yarn experiment" - I'll have 2 socks completed, but they're NOT a pair. I feel like this makes me twice as likely to face "second sock syndrome" - LOL!

I don't think I have to totally complete the sock to finalize my analysis of the Jawoll Magic vs. Plymouth Zino. The Jawoll Magic yarn is DEFINITELY the same yarn as the Plymouth Zino...just as I suspected. I tried to start both socks at the same point in the color flow, but I didn't quite make it. I've placed the two socks side by side where the colors match - you can definitely see that the color changes are identical - further proving that the yarn came from the same mill and was distributed to two different yarn companies. (My lack of success at starting the Jawoll sock in the same place as I did the Zino will present a challenge to me when I go to make the second sock of each pair. I'll have to be VERY careful to ensure that the two socks start at the same spot in the color flow! Wish me luck!)

I think it's rather funny that a set of consumer reviews of the two yarns differ. One of them was totally panned (Plymouth) while the other (Jawoll) was reviewed as an OK yarn...but they're the SAME!!! I'm convinced that some folks rate quality by the label and/or cost - if it costs more, then it MUST be the better yarn. Yeah. Right. In this case, the yarns are truly the same...but the price differs by a full four dollars!

After knitting for a while, I started our breakfast...more of a brunch than a breakfast. I served two courses. The first was a fruit bowl of raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries accompanied by a buttered slice of cranberry orange bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. This was followed by a slice of whole wheat toast, some homemade sausage from the Norway store (I brought it back from Illinois earlier this year), an omelet full of mushrooms, green onions, lots of arugula, and baby Swiss - topped with some black bean salsa and accompanied by slices of fresh avocado.

I relaxed with a cup of tea and chatted with DH for a while before I decided to get started on my pies. This year, I decided that I'd make the pumpkin pies from scratch. It's a lot of work, but definitely worth it. I had a bit of a time trying to cut into both pumpkins. After about 5 minutes with a very sharp serrated knife, I hadn't made much progress - I barely broke the skin of the first pumpkin. I started to worry about slipping and cutting myself...and then spending the better part of Thanksgiving at the ER. There's got to be a better way!

I told DH I needed a saw - not the typical food prep implement, but definitely necessary! He went to the garage, got the hack saw and I washed it up to prep it for "pie use". Even with the hack saw, it took a while to get into both pumpkins. (NOTE: The saw was NEVER used to saw metal, so I determined that it was safe for food after a good cleaning.)

After steaming the pumpkins for about 45 minutes, I scooped out the halves and continued working on the pies. I was struck by how rigid the pumpkin skins were - even after all that steaming. I think they would make great bowls once they're dried out - they reminded me of "gourd bowls". Hmmm....perhaps I'll have to consider "Pumpkin bowls" as a new craft to try at some point.

I somehow messed up the crust on one of the pies when I attempted to add the protective aluminum foil around the edges to prevent burning. Oh, well...it will still taste the same! The pies are very dark because I LOVE cinnamon, cloves, and allspice...and I doubled the amounts or each for the pies.

I've finally put the turkey in the oven, so now I'm sitting back and relaxing for a few hours. Perhaps I'll finish the sock while the turkey is cooking?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Smithsonian Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at the Museum of Natural History

What a fabulous evening! Several of us from Nature's Yarns went downtown DC for a reception at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to view and celebrate the Coral Reef that was built from crocheted hyperbolic pieces created about 800 fiber artists - including me. Nature's Yarns was one of the local yarn shops that held workshops and displayed the locally created pieces of the reef before delivering them to the Smithsonian to be fashioned into the display.

Jennifer (left) kept us all informed of the progress of the reef and sent us all periodic updates. She even came for one of the workshops at Nature's Yarns! Someone made here the vest she's wearing...and we've now been challenged to add to it with crocheted bits of coral reef.

All the colors and shapes are amazing! They did a fabulous job of constructing the final display - it's awesome!

The colors are so vibrant - and I love how they grouped similar colors together throughout the display.

Be sure to double click on the photos for a closer view - the detail is phenomenal!

The variety of shapes and colors is breathtaking. This display is definitely a "must see"!

All of us that contributed are listed by name on one of the information boards describing the various displays. (Double click on the photo for a closer view.)

(Double click on the photos to enlarge for reading)

I made 7 or 8 pieces total for the reef and I actually found two of them! Who'd have thought that I would have anything on display at the Smithsonian? Especially something crocheted since I barely crochet! It's unbelievable - yet another "bucket list" item, eh?

The very, very top of the toxic or dieing reef has my creation made out of crocheting looped strips fashioned from the plastic grocery bags that were crocheted into a hyperbolic plane, shaped like brain coral, then cinched with the plastic straps that hold 6-packs of soda together and edged with a reddish eyelash yarn. (Double click on the photo on the for a closer view - my piece is circled in green at the top) The photo on the right is a closeup view of the top of the reef - mine it the topmost coral with the reddish eyelash yarn at the edges.

Another piece I made is in the top center of the arch. It's turquoise bulky acrylic edges with a ribbon yarn that has teal, purple, and metallic gold. I had made both a momma and a baby one out of that, so both may actually be there. (Double click on the photo for a closer view - my piece is circled in green.)

There were also various smaller reefs shipped in from other countries on display as well. They were all so beautiful that I had to take photos of them as well.

I think the most fascinating was the beaded reef examples - they're just stunning! The time and patience that went into each and every one of these was just astounding. The results are well worth it - these pieces are gorgeous! (Be sure to double click on the photos to see the exquisite detail of the beaded pieces.)

The reef will be on display through in April 24, 2011. Then, it will be dismantled and parts of it will travel to other museums and schools. You can read more about the hyperbolic coral reef here: Hyperbolic Coral Reef.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knitting Progress

The Jawoll Magic sock is coming along. I've completed about 3 inches of the cuff of the first sock. It's already looking suspiciously like the Plymouth Zino yarn as far as color pattern. Additionally, the yarn behaves just like the Zino - it's relatively soft and it's easy to grab only part of the stitch rather than all the fibers associated with the stitch. Very annoying!

I do like the way the colors morph into more subtle stripes rather than the "bite your eyes out" stripes that some striped yarns are prone to doing. These socks will be great under jeans or dress pans and will definitely keep my feet warm. Again, like the Plymouth Zino yarn, I don't think it will be overly durable because it's spun very lightly and is ultra-soft.

I also completed a secret knit - nothing fancy, but it's part of a Christmas surprise, so I can't reveal anything about it yet. I can't even divulge the color as that might give it away! I'm about to start on another "super secret" Christmas surprise. Wish me luck!

The weather is starting to "crisp up" and feel more fall-like. One of my favorite trees is still holding onto it's leaves and seems to get prettier every day. About half of the trees in my neighborhood are devoid of leaves, the those remaining are bursting with color.

Some of the leaves in are absolutely HUGE!!!! Check out the size of this leaf compared to my shoe. Unbelievable!

I love the smell of the drying leaves in the air...it's invigorating! (I just try not to think about the fact that winter is just around the corner...). The crisp air and leaves make for beautiful skies full of various clouds and very vibrant blues.

Of course, along with the fall weather are some fall staples...like squash and fresh brussels sprouts. This year, as an added treat for myself, I purchased my sprouts on the stalk. I thought they looked pretty cool - I had no idea they grew on a stalk until earlier this year. Once off the stalk, I was surprised to see how many sprouts I actually had! Mmmmmm! (My sisters and I always loved our "baby cabbages" when we were growing up. DH definitely does NOT share my love of sprouts.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Norwegian Christmas Bazaar

Once again, I helped out at the Norwegian Christmas Bazaar. It always helps me get into the holiday spirit...and I love all the festive Norwegian goodies, sweaters, and gift ware.

Many of the folks wore their bunads - oh, how I wish I had one of my own! They look so beautiful! My friend, Melanie, and the lady from the NY Norwegian Church, graciously posed for me.

Once again, I saw a little Norwegian cutie. This guy is wearing the sweater and matching hat that his dear grandma hand knit for him. How cool is that? I think it's adorable! What a lucky little guy.

One of my personal favorites at the bazaar is the lovely Rosemaling that Christina (right) always has on display. She's an extremely gifted rosemaler and is well know for her beautiful work. I feel very fortunate to know her...and to have the opportunity to purchase some of her gorgeous pieces!

The photo on the left shows all the steps that go into completing a plate - I love how she's divided it up into the 12 steps so the process can be viewed "as is". This process produces the lovely items you see here.

I love all the gnomes and little Nordic trolls that the Norwegian Church had for sale. And of course, all the Norwegian goodies - including the incredible jams!

Of course, no Norwegian event is complete without eating something...like the heart waffles - one of my favorites - complete with raspberry jam from Norway. Ellen (left) is very busy as on of the "waffle chefs".

Oh....and then there are the Norwegian sweaters that I absolutely LOVE! I'm getting another one for Christmas this year! Wahoo! It's a blue and white one - I can't wait! DH is SUCH a sweetie!

I definitely need to get busy and knit up a pair of Norwegian mittens to go along with my sweater. I'm leaning toward Beth Brown-Reinsel's pattern, Norwegian Mittens. I think they'd be a beautiful addition to my sweaters. Or perhaps I should go for a solid colored Twined Mittens (though, those tend to be Swedish rather than Norwegian).