Monday, April 30, 2007
Stephanie has brought these vetiver filled fiber balls to my attention and wondered if I had any hints for making them with leftover yarn. Well, yes and no.
Vetiver is an Asian grass mostly used for perfume. It's a major ingredient in many fragrances. The ones one that website look like their wrapped in cotton thread. I don't really know how to make those.
But there is a way to make wool felted balls that look like those. All you need is some fleece or roving, wool yarn leftovers, an old cheapo pantyhose, some warm water and soap.
Take the fleece and pull it into bits. Take a few pieces into your palm and start layering, one fleece layer onto another into a ball of fleece. Throw that into the toe of the pantyhose. Tie a knot so it's secure and does have any room to move about.
Repeat with the rest of the fleece. You'll end up with a pantyhose garland ;)
You can add bits of leftover yarn into the outer layers as a bit of decoration or not. It's up to you.
Toss it into a pillowcase. Tie up the top of the pillowcase. Toss the whole kit and kaboodle into the washing machine with hottest water and shortest cycle.
Then toss it into the dryer. Once dry, cut them out of the pantyhose.
The only thing you have to worry about is make sure you're using feltable fleece and roving. There are some sheeps' wool that don't fleece very well. You can buy dyed and undyed fleece from craft stores, LYS or call up your local sheep farmer.
Also, from what I hear and have read, stick with the cheapo saggy pantyhose. The fancy schmancy ones have something in them that somehow impedes the whole felting process.
You can use felted balls for kitty toys, pincushions, for decoration or make little ones by hand and string them together to make a necklace or bracelet. You can make a kitty toy that will drive everybody crazy by sticking a bell inside a lacerated tennis ball and felting the outside of the ball. Felting can be done in a sink of warm soapy water. Just simply rub and squeeze it until the wool starts felting.
Friday, April 27, 2007
When the latest pet food recall was making the airwaves, your so-called experts and corporate mouthpieces went out of their way to assure the public that it toxic chemicals that were killing our pets was not in any danger of getting into the human food supply.
Right. Sure. Whatever you say, Bucko.
Then how come 6,000 hogs in the US are being quarantined after eating the contaminated pet food. How come pigs are being fed cat food to begin with?
More importantly, according to Associated Press, "U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials said that meat from 345 hogs that ate tainted feed has already entered the U.S. food supply".
Now they're saying that the same contaminated pet food has been fed to factory farmed poultry. Yep, they feed dog food to chickens and chickens to humans. That means you're basically eating dog food in the form of factory farmed chicken meat. If you're lucky...
So, Dear Corporate Bigwibs, any more BS you want to feed the public???? What sort of faux food nightmare did you want to serve us for dessert?
Like we need another reason to support local meat producers instead of the corporate factory farms.
BTW, China is still denying that their products had anything to do with all these dead pets even though it just banned melamine, one of the contaminants, from it's food products. Kinda makes you wonder what else is lurking behind that 'Made in China' label.
To all pet owners, there is an expanding list of pet foods that have been recalled that now include dry foods, which up until recently has been deemed free of this contamination. Here's the cat food list and the dog food list.
Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Congratulations to John Bishop of Bishop's restaurant fame in Vancouver for winning Vancouver Magazine's first Green Giant award. John has been at the cutting edge of forging relationships between farmers and restaurants in Vancouver. For those that are interested in some luscious local food porn, check out his new book: Fresh: Seasonal Recipes Made with Local Foods.
In my college days I would scrimp and save, brown bagging lunches and stretching out leftovers so I could splurge once in a while on a meal at one of Vancouver's fine restaurants. I'd rather spend money on eating out once every couple of months and have really amazing food than to go out each week for 'meh' food. Bishops was one of those places that I would save up for. Every once in a while, I'd be able to convince a fellow budding foodiphile to join me but more often than not, I would be dining alone. I would simply saunter through the meal, enjoying every morsel of food, every drop of sauce in my own company. It would be at restaurants of Bishop's caliber where a lone female diner like moi would be given the room and time to enjoy a meal without being made to feel like a pariah. The food would inspire me for weeks of experimenting in the kitchen and learning all I could about cooking and local food.
Looking back, those local and seasonal salad days were an amazing foundation for my 100 mile diet journey :)
For those in the Capital Region, there's an important food and water event running from today through the weekend. Here's the announcement that I received from the Slow Food movement folks.
If you have an interest in food policy within the CRD, please try to attend the following conference which will take place on Saturday, April 28. In addition to Sinclair Philip’s brief presentation on some positions taken by Slow Food regionally, nationally or internationally, there will be a number of other members from Slow Food Vancouver Island who will be taking part in the discussion.
This is an all day event. The discussion on food and water issues will take place from 11:15 to 1:00 pm. Please come and make your own recommendations. Slow Food would really like to see all those with an interest in influencing CRD and regional municipal policies attend.
COMMON VISION, COMMON ACTION: Shaping Municipal Policy in the CRD
Saturday, April 28, 2007
University of Victoria
David Strong Building
Sonya Chandler, City of Victoria Councillor
Zeb King, District of Central Saanich Councillor
Jane Sterk, Township of Esquimalt Councillor
Linda Geggie, Lifecycles and CRFAIR
Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Research Institute
Dr. Sinclair Philip, Sooke Harbour House and Slow Food Canada
Jane Worton, Community-Based Researcher
Workshops & Plenary Discussions
Land Use and Transportation
Food Security and Water
Social Policy and Democratic Governance
Join us for this one-day conference to begin developing a common vision for the Capital Regional District, as a framework for common action. Environmental issues like climate change and social issues like homelessness can be tackled by citizens and elected officials. Let's work together!
Bring a bag lunch. Childcare and transit passes available.
Organised by the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG)
Supported by CUPE Island WaterWatch, IslandTransformations.Org, the Council of Canadians, Kairos, Wise DemocracyVictoria, the University of Victoria School of Social Work, and the Values-Based Business Network.
|Introduction and opening remarks by municipal politicians|
|Workshops – presentations by speakers, then facilitated discussion on issues|
|Closing Plenary – 5 minutes each to report back from workshops (speakers only) then plenary|
A discussion of our industrialised food system to follow this visually stunning and thought provoking film.
April 26th & 27th
Robin Tunnicliffe, Local Organic Farmer
Richard Bocking, Filmmaker, Author, and Agricultural Economist
April 27th only
Abra Brynne, BC Food Systems Network
Derek Masselink, Agricultural Planner & Agroecologist
April 26th and 27th, 7 pm.
Human and Social Development Bldg Room A240, Uvic
Tickets: $5-10 sliding scale. Available at VIPIRG or at the door.
Presented by CRFAIR, VIPIRG, FoodRoots Distributors Co-operative, and Lifecycles
To register or for more informmation on either event, contact VIPIRG at 250.721.8629 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Island grown free ranged chicken, local onions and BC mushrooms sautéed and deglazed with a glassful of Cherry Point’s Coastal white wine. I finished it the sauce off with a pat or 2 of butter. The veggies are collard greens from Nanoose Edibles and were simple steamed with drizzled with some Marley Farms kiwi vinegar. Talk about 100 Mile Diet heaven!
Usually I would leave the chicken breast in one piece but DH’s left arm is in a sling due to his surgical overhaul. He looks like one part hunky husband and one part gimped T-Rex. LOL! Obviously he can’t use a knife and fork so everything has to be cooked bite-size so he shovel it all into his mouth with one utensil.
I’ve been scheming and dreaming a local wine and cheese tasting evening with my tribe of 100 Milers to celebrate spring and all the wonderful island grown vinos and artisan cheeses. As mentioned before, most island grown wines can be found at independent liquor stores and the gov’t stores do carry 1 or 2 of them. I was poking about a local wine store and struck up a conversation with the clerk, who was an local wine fan. I was informed that many of the vineyards on the mainland are bringing in red wine from as far as Chile to blend into their red wines. YIKES! It’s one of those dark secrets of the wine trade. Not all that Okanogan wine is actually from the Okanogan. Together, the wine clerk and I a bit of research and found that most of the local island wineries are truly locally grown wine. Yippee! Bring on the Bete Noire!
After my mini-wine lesson, I popped by a local yarn store for a mid-afternoon pick me up ;) and ran into my latest knitting apprentice. My apprentice has only been knitting for a month but what a month it has been! From the moment the needles were passed into her hands, it’s been full speed ahead.
Like most knitters, I have the honor of being a doorway to the wide world of knitting for non-knitters. Some just poke their heads in. Others take in a few steps, admire the view and find a nice comfortable spot to chill out or wander along the nicely patterned pathways. Every once in a while, I find someone that wants to explore the backcountry of this whole wide world.
I don’t refer to myself as a knitting teacher but more as a knitting guide. Where would you like to go today? The lovely province of Fair Isle? Perhaps a visit to lacework? How about a little bit of intarsia? It’s a nice day for some cabling.
Everyone learns and travel through this world of knits their own particular way. Some are comfortable and happy following patterns and I’m happy to show them any new techniques that come that way. Some just want to knit scarves and their lucky family and friends will have nice and toasty necks. For some, the quiet, meditative unbroken line of stockinette in the round is a perfect way to relax at the end of the day. I have a couple of knitting apprentices that are happy to experiment on their own terms.
The odd thing I’ve noticed is that despite how good they become, they seem to build a mental block about certain techniques. Some are fine playing around with stitch patterns, experimenting with knit and purl variations but are overwhelmed by the idea of cabling. Others are Aran phenoms but think lace is way beyond their capabilities. Many don’t dare venture beyond the printed page and some can’t fathom the idea of altering a pattern to fit their own bodies. Some (the smart ones) stay far away from doing intarsia.
Take it one stitch at a time, I say. It’s the only way to knit an elephant…or afghan…or…you get the picture.Once in an indigo moon, I find someone who is eager to learn it all and experiment and be led by imagination and intuition. Such a person is my new apprentice. Who's piping in the ‘Emperor’s Theme’ from Star Wars???
Over a cup of tea taught her how to do short rows, mitering and other shaping techniques. You could almost hear the gears in her head turning as she took this new info and imagined all the spiffy ways to apply it. I can’t wait to see the wonderful knitting that will bloom from this new seed!
Samples of shaping experiments
For the baking part of the day, I made up a small peach galette. It was pretty easy peasy with a homemade pastry dough I found in the freezer and island grown peaches that I had canned from last summer. A sprinkle of island grown hazelnuts and a 30 minute spin in a 350F oven. A really long 30 minutes. Plus another super long 10 minutes to let the darn thing cool down enough so it would only scorch the roof of our mouths but wouldn’t burn it so bad that strips of skin would peel off.
Yes, it was absolutely divine. It’s during these younger months of the year that have me grateful that I spent the time last summer canning and preserving summer and fall’s bounty. Talk about a lesson in delayed gratification :p
The pastry dough is I used is Fast and Dirty pie dough recipe. I used sifted organic flour from True Grains, island butter and a touch of fair trade cane sugar. A bit of cold water and viola, you have a quick pastry dough. It’s a great pastry dough and it keeps for a few days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. It’s a brilliant thing to have around for those times that you want a little something special or just because it’s so good to eat!
Have a great day!
Friday, April 20, 2007
I finally finished my Broken Brocade sweater!!!Yippee!!. The last leg of seaming and blocking was a much larger task than I had anticipated but then again, seaming and blocking are always hard for me.
The Broken Brocade sweater is my attempt at being clever. First and foremost, I wanted a lighter sweater for the spring. Of course, I'm not just going to knit a sweater simply for the sake of knitting a sweater. Heavens no. That would be just to logical. If I just wanted a sweater, I could just pop over to Value Village and pick up a sweater, But quite frankly, I don't really need a sweater. I needed an outlet for my fashionista id.
So began the journey now known as the Broken Brocade sweater. The Broken Brocade is my Contradiction Chic twist on historical fashion. It's inspired by Elizabethan styles and, of course, my secret love for brocade. I however don't own a stitch of it for clothing or decorating. When I do get a chance to try on something with brocade, I end up looking, well, stuffy and I feel like Mozart in drag. So that's how Broken Brocade began.
With a simple idea to design and knit a brocade sweater. I plotted out a couple different brocade patterns in the next couple of days. All was well until one night, I was smacked with a bad case of insomnia. My brain just wouldn't shut off and next thing you know, my simply brocade sweater became a sardonic commentary on Elizabethan sumpturary laws.
Somewhere between 3 am and dawn, my sleep hungry brain figured I needed to make a statement about the Elizabethan fashion. Queen Elizabeth I in 1576 decreed a series of laws that stated what colours, fabrics and even embellishments people of different titles and classes were allowed to wear. Similar laws were passed in other times and places. These laws were used as a way to control social behaviour and to reinforce class structures. Breaking these laws could mean facing a steep fine, loss of property or title or even execution. Pretty freaking severe, IMHO. Could you imagine losing your head over a slip of silk?
I have a fascination with clothing and identity and how fashion is used to shape a society in present day society as well as historically. The clothing laws are a fascination, ok, occasional obsession of mine. Nowadays, the idea of being punished for wearing a certain colour or fabric is unimaginable which is what makes these laws so interesting. Supposedly women even pushed their husbands to pursue higher social rankings just so they could wear tinselled satin.
So firstly, I had to design a sweater silhouette that would carry a whift of Elizabethan fashion. The silhouettes of that era were very geometrical with emphasis on a tiny little waist. I mimiced the triangular silhouette with a some shaping and ribbing and a wide, open collar.
One word about the collar, I had initially knitted a off the shoulder collar with a linen stitch border but upon trying the finished torso, I found it a bit too sloppy for what I had intended. Unfortunately, I had knitting the torso from the top down and so instead of painstakingly picking away at stitches, I simply threw in a lifeline and cut off the top band of the collar. I threw it back onto my needles and knitted up a new collar. Actually I knitted up 5 incarnations of collars before I was happy with it. I wanted something that would echo the drama of the collars at that time. I wanted a bit of height to the collar but I didn't want ruffles. I think the final collar carries a nice balance of drama and whimsy. It also echoes the poised and drama of Elizabethan gowns. Ack, so much stuffed into a collar! Oy!
My main tool of subverting Elizabethan sumptuary laws was with material choice and colours. I wanted to bring together royalty, upper and and lower classes into one. Firstly, I chose wool since it was one of the few materials lower class women were allowed to wear. I choose Louet Gems superfine merino wool, a superwash fingerling weight yarn and Lorna Laces sportweight yarn.
For the main colour, I chose the closest I could find to a Tyrian purple. Tyrian purple is a purple-red dye that orginiates from the city of Tyre and is madeby squishing up a bunch of sea snails. However, only one drop of dye comes from each snail, making for a very costly and stinky endevour. The resulting dye was a rich, deep colour that didn't fade, making it the darling of the upper class fashionistas. Queen Elizabeth I made it law that only royalty would be allowed to wear purple.
The secondary colour I chose was white, partly because it would provide a nice background for the purple. However it also was subject to Elizabeth's laws. White was a difficult colour to get and one that suggested that you had servants to do you work for you so you wouldn't get your white's dirty. I brought in a blues, greens and browns into the background to break up the white. These colours were of assigned to a range of class standings below nobility and royalty and are a metaphor for the lower classes breaking through the upper standings. (I'm such a geeky proletariat)
With a lower class material, colours of royalty, upper and lower class all mingling together in one garment, what would Queen Lizzy say?
Anyways, here's my fashion spread for the Broken Brocade sweater. I'm going to get a glass of wine. A really big glass of wine ;)
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Also during this last visit, I got a chance to roam about Victoria while DH was cloistered in his video game cocoon. I got to wander for hours poking about down Victoria’s meandering streets and made a few local food discoveries. Just a 20 minute walk from where we were staying is Aubergine, a small grocery store that stocks produce from Saanich and a wide range of local dairy and meats. Even this early in spring, they already had a good selection of fresh vegetables. They’re located on Cadboro Bay Rd and Estevan. In another wandering spree in the Oak Bay neighbourhood, I discovered the Village Butcher, a full-service butcher shop, specializing in free-range, ethically raised products and local meats. They’re located at 2250 Oak Bay Ave, across the street from Ottavio deli and bakery. Speaking of Ottavio , they offer a great range of local cheeses and other local products.
EAT magazine’s recent issue is all about eating green and there’s plenty of info about eating locally. The magazine & its archives are available online once you register. There’s articles about how to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly, a 100 mile menu, the Green Table project and the usual toothsome articles about local good eats and drinks.
I also found a delightful knitting circle, a quiver of new kayaking and climbing friends, a great secret spot for fiddlehead picking and an awesome used bookstore. What a full week! Who would have thought that playing Florence Nightmaregale to my Frankenhusband would be so enterprising?
ETA- Mike, if I told you my secret fiddlehead picking spot, it wouldn't be a secret, eh? Actually, I have no idea how the streets in Victoria work. It's as if someone took a perfectly gridded city, threw in a gigantic civic planning fork into the center and twirled the streets like spaghetti. So all I can really tell you is that the fiddlehead spot is two corkscrew turns off Cadboro Bay Rd, a sharp left to a 5 way stop (yep, you heard me). Take the 3rd prong down to the end of a dead end street, follow a small overgrown footpath down a slope, around the corner to a small wooded area overrun with ferns. Make sure they're from Ostrich ferns and not in an area that would be sprayed with chemicals. Some ferns are poisonous, so be careful you know your ferns. There was a fiddlehead food scare in the 90s.
Or you could just head down to your local farm mart, farmers market or even grocery store and pick some up there. Look for firm green, tightly coiled fiddleheads. They can be blanched and frozen if you manage to get yourself a huge haul.
Have a great day!
Friday, April 13, 2007
I barely managed make my work deadlines this week but it’s done and I have the rest of the weekend to recoup. No deadlines, no housework, no social obligations for this kid. DH is safely sequestered away in a video game coccoon. Just a weekend for myself to recharge my batteries.
It’s a sloppy, chilly Friday the 13th. Here’s how it looks outside my window:
I’m spending the rest of the afternoon here.
Looking out at this lovely tree.
Working on this.
It’s the sleeve design I’ve decided on for the 'Broken Brocade sweater.' It took a couple of different tries but I think this pattern will look best. It provides a nice, elegant pattern without taking away from the torso or adding too much ‘noise’ to the overall piece.
It’s also an easy peasy pattern that lets my tired brain coast for a few hours.
A couple links of local sausages cut up into bite sized pieces.
The last spoonfuls of orzo with stinging nettle and locally grown pesto.
The vegetable dregs of a moose pot roast. Local veggies, of course.
A bunch of organic collard greens from Nanoose Edibles farm. $2.50 for a huge bunch! Wheee!
Tah-dah!!! Soup du leftovers ;)
I have a pot of it to feed me for a few days. It’s just the sort of soup for early spring to help recharge my body and spirit.
I've received a really cool invite for a spinning and knitting evening at a nearby town. I might make a weekend out of it!
Have a great weekend everyone!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Bottle of Merridale Scrumpy Cider…Check
Buffalo pepperoni from Island Bison…Check
Half-finished sleeve for Broken Brocade sweater…check
New episode of 'House'…check
Great! Let’s get the party started!
Let me explain. I didn't mean to konk on you House. I'm sure were your usual dry,wry genius of a medical jedi self and had dry, wry, emotionally detatched zingers going off every which direction and you were working your little British butt like mad to win more awards and the hearts of dry, wry loving gals.
You see, it’s been an eventful week. Like someone stuffed a dayplanner into a corset sort of thing. So eventful that I haven’t had much sleep. I’m ping-ponging back and forth between Nanaimo and Victoria, where DH is resting up post-op. I’m scrambling to not get too behind in work. In between all that, my sis and her new fancy man came for a visit over the Chocolate Bunny Poo Weekend. And there's this lovely sweater that needs sleeves but can't decide what sleeves it needs so I must knit up a bunch of sample sleeves so I can finally finish this sweater and have something to wear other than my potato sack. Eek!! Deadlines for my next article are looming overhead, blocking out the sun! Run! Save yourselves!
Though a perfectly good episode of House was sacrificed, I’m glad I got the extra rest. I’m ready to get back into the swing of it all.
Thanks to everyone for sent their well wishes and good energy. DH is healing up fine now. He’s had a copious hours of Civilization IV, lots of chocolate bunny ears (they really ought to just make the ears, I mean who bothers eating the rest of the chocolate bunny?), the odd pain pellet and way too much beer.
I’ve still have a bit more ping-ponging up and down the island for the next while. I’ll keep you posted of all the Spring local food happenings. Until then, go pick up a copy of ‘100 Mile Diet’ by the original 100 Milers, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I finally got to sit down and knit for a while yesterday while waiting for the DH’s shoulder to get overhauled. I’m near the end of the body of my ‘Broken Brocade’ sweater. I’m not sure what to do for the sleeves. I’m thinking a moderate dolman. The Rococco diva in me wants puffy sleeves trimmed in velvet and lace. I picked up a set of #0 Addi Turbos to do this up and it seems to be going a bit smoother. It definitely makes a difference for smaller needles. I don’t know if I would break the bank for anything larger than a #4. But then again, I’m knitting a bloody sweater for a full grown me in #0. I’m not the sharpest or smoothest needle in the knitting bag :p
I finally managed to get to take some photos of me in my latest round of knitting projects, at least the ones that I got to keep for myself. I never seem to have a camera around when I’m wearing my FO and I feel kinda goofy playing supermodel. So here’s some of the stuff I’ve knitted up this past winter with moi doing my best Zoolander. ( I had to edit out my face, my Blue Steel is so powerful that it would have taken away from my FO)
The Midsummer Night's Dream sweater. It's basic design is Knitty.com's Tubey Sweater. Then I have a few too many glasses of red wine....
Zee back of the MSND sweater. The middle panel isn't perfect but I don't have to look at it :P
Zee sleeve detail. I feel like Puck in this sweater!
The Arachne capelet.
I worked in some tailored shoulder shaping. Not evident here but it does sit nicely on my shoulders ;) The spider is BW's Spider design.
Zee back. The lace is a couple of Barbara Walker patterns. It's supposed to resemble wolfbane leaves. I said 'supposed' to, not that it actually does...
The Honeymoon sweater!!! I've been living in this sweater ever since I've finished it. It's so much fun to wear! I still haven't found the perfect button. It's out there somewhere...
Da back of da sweater. I love Noro! Thank goodness I held onto all those Noro leftovers over the years. I knew they'd come in handy!
With DH’s arm out of service for the next several months, we spent this last week stuffing in as much climbing and outdoor fun as possible. Thank goodness I finally got a slow cooker. We’ve been living off of slow cooker dishes for the last week. We get to go off and play in the mountains and come home to a wonderful, hot dinner. Why didn’t I think of this before???
One more snow day!
Here’s a buffalo stew with Pete’s homemade noodles. I just browned the meat, cut up a bunch of local veggies and threw it into the slow cooker with some broth and some leftover Phillips Black Toque Dark Ale that had gone flat. About 20 minutes before serving, I dumped in the leftover noodles. So good. So easy.
Pete and Nat made one more pass through town on their way to a kayaking adventure in Clayquot Sound. They dropped off a couple of bags of stinging nettle that they had gathered. Such lovely muggles!
Nettles are out in force right now. Be careful, they do have a sting to them. Boil them for at least 10 minutes to neutralize the toxins. Use them as you would spinach. They also can be dried and made into a tea.
Gotta go. I’ve got my sister and her fancy man dropping for a visit this evening so I’d better get home and rustle up some dinner. I wonder if those UVic bunnies would be in a stew?
Have a great bunny zombie messiah weekend!Happy Eating & Knitting!