Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rowan Colourscapes Chunky

While looking for something entirely different, I found a scarf I had started almost 2 years ago. I have no idea why I had set it aside. It was 95 % done and was turning out just great. Why it got lost in the bottom of a knitting bag, I don't know. Maybe I had been distracted by a Fleece Artist order. I decided to just finish it off but I couldn't find the pattern. The pattern, Cora, was a free download on the Rowan website ( I logged on to download a fresh copy.

Cora is knit in Rowan Colourscapes, a chunky, self striping yarn which is available in a beautiful rainbow of colours.
Cora was knit in colourway Spring #442

Looking around on the Rowan website I noticed a few new FREE patterns for the Colourscapes

KEW, above, is knit in a new colourway for this season, Jungle #447,

Jungle #447

Some of my other favourites
Candy #443

Autumn #438

Ghost #435

Rowan has two books dedicated to Colourscapes. The original is called COLOURSCAPES CHUNKY COLLECTION

COLOURSCAPES FOLK, the second collection of designs, includes several patterns for men.

Lily knit in Cherry #431 is from the Colourscape Folk collection.

Cherry #431

Camelford is another FREE PATTERN from the website knit in Moody Blues below.

Moody Blues #444


Done in colour Heath #432

Treat yourself to some Rowan Colourscapes, colours by Kaffe Fassett. There are so many colours and designs to choose from, you are sure to find a project you like.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Serenity Knits 5th Annual Christmas Open House

Open House Recipes
Serenity Knits celebrated its Fifth Annual Christmas Open House this past Saturday, November 20th. All the treats were well received but we had repeated recipe requests for three in particular. So here they are!!

Karen’s Chocolate Christmas Cake
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 250 g pkg Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup candied cherries, cut into quarters
1 cup candied mixed fruit
1 tsp almond extract

Melt chocolate chips in microwave oven (medium setting, stirring often) or in top of double boiler over hot water. Add softened cream cheese, stirring until well blended and no visible streaks of cream cheese remain. Stir in candied fruit, cherries and almond extract. Add marshmallows last, stirring gently. Press batter (thick) into a waxed paper lined loaf (approximately 4 x 8 inch) pan or 8 x 8 inch cake pan (if you prefer squares). Chill well before slicing into slices or squares. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Leslie's Cheese Dip
1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
2 cups Hellmans Mayo (full fat, not lite & only Hellmans)
Mix well. Place in oven proof container. Bake at 350 until top is brown.
Serve with crackers or bread.
Note: This dip can be made in advance, stored in frig and reheated by stove or microwave to serve.

Sugar Plums
From “Victorian Christmas Crafts”by Barbara Bruno
Sugar Plums are an ancient treat probably originating in the Middle East where whole figs were transformed into the original glace fruit by long and repeated simmering in sugary syrup. Victorians, always ready to guild the lily, added nuts, orange rind, a variety of dried fruits and brandy, to create the “Sugar Plum visions dancing in heads” in the Victorian Christmas poem, the Night Before Christmas.
3 pounds of dried mixed figs, dates, raisins & currants
1 ½ pounds of blanched almonds
½ pound unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
½ pound of crystallized ginger
finely grated rind of 2 oranges
2-3 tbsps brandy (or orange juice if you prefer)
white granulated sugar
Finely chop and mix all ingredients except brandy and sugar. Use a food processor or grinder because you want the ingredients to be well chopped/ground. Add 2-3 tablespoons of brandy to help make the mixture stick together. If you would prefer not to use brandy, use the juice of one of the oranges instead. Mix WELL. Form the mixture by hand into small balls, approximately a tablespoon at a time. Roll them in sugar.
Store the Sugar Plums in a covered container. It is best to let them meld for a few days but they can be served right away. They will keep for several weeks in a covered container.

2010 - This year I added about 1/2 cup of dried cranberries to the fruit and 2 or 3 tablespoons of Gran Marnier instead of orange juice or brandy.

We are glad you enjoyed our Christmas treats and are pleased to share these recipes with you.

Congratulations to Our Door Prize Winners
Sock Blockers - Audrey Cawthry
Kaffe Knits Again - Margaret McDonald
Woodsmoke Woolworks Kit - Hien Le
Weekend Knits - Lori Rawling
Sheep Accessory Bag - Joan Meggit
Gabriela's Vest Kit - Mary Grace Fong

Beth & Karen

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Few of My Favourite Things Part 1

This will be the first of a few blog entries about something special happening next year. Something I am very excited about. Some of you will probably figure out where I’m going with this. If at the end of this blog, it is still all a mystery, stay posted. More will follow and all will be revealed at the end.

1. New Brunswick Indian Summer
No one will ever be able to accuse me of being impartial when it comes to New Brunswick. I was born and grew up in Fredericton, have oodles of family still living there and continue to visit regularly. Check out my blog dated July 15, 2010 on my most recent visit home. New Brunswick’s nick name is “The Picture Province”. It is beautiful everywhere, any time of year. New Brunswick is crisscrossed with rivers and streams too numerous to count - the Saint John River Valley is beautiful beyond description, the Mirimichi is heaven on earth for salmon fisherman. It is dotted with hundreds of lakes - my favourite of course Grand Lake (see my blog Butterflies and Other Bugs dated May 3, 2010 ). Bays and Straits off the Atlantic Ocean surround over half the province - Bay of Fundy and the smaller Passamaquoddy Bay to the south and southeast are scenic, popular tourist locations. New Brunswick does not have any true mountains (although a few big hills try to trick skiers by calling themselves mountains), just lots and lots of big rolling hills. Most of New Brunswick is heavily forested with a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. Spring and summer, the forests are a beautiful thick lush green. The rivers, streams and lakes are a clear, unpoluted blue. The ocean is mesmerizing. The foliage season in New Brunswick has to be seen to be believed. There are not enough superlatives to describe the beauty of the fall scenery. Clear blue waters and foilage colours, in particular the maples which turn every shade of the yellow, orange, red portion of the colour wheel. Consider yourself very lucky if you have had the opportunity to experience a New Brunswick Indian Summer, that last hurrah of warm weather in late September, early October, just before the snow starts to fly .

Click on the icon in the middle of this screen for just a few breathtaking pictures of New Brunswick in autumn.
If you would like to explore New Brunswick a bit, use this link to the New Brunswick Tourism Website
2. St. Andrews by-the Sea

New Brunswick is a pretty small province. Nothing is more than a couple of hours away. Any event, or location you might wish to attend or visit, can pretty well be a day trip. Other than visiting my relatives who live all over southern New Brunswick, the only village I have visited and stayed for several days at a time is St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea. It is very inviting and just seems to insist you stay for a few days to experience the full affect. It is a very old community. The earliest settlers (other than Canada's First Nations) were United Empire Loyalists. It is located in the far south west corner of New Brunswick on the Pasamoquody Bay, a smaller bay off the Atlantic, adjacent to the Bay of Fundy. It has all the beauty and charm one would expect of a small coastal village. It is a popular tourist location in the summer. I love the older central core of the village - lovely heritage type homes that all have little English gardens and look like they were just painted last week. I won’t attempt to list them all here, but for the size of it, St. Andrews has a lot to offer in terms of interesting shopping, history, restaurants and inns, outdoor and nature experiences. If you travel to New Brunswick, don’t by-pass St. Andrews just because it appears to be pretty small (it is), because it has a lot to offer.

The "castle" in behind with the red roof is the Algonquin Hotel. More on that later.

Main Street St. Andrews

Cottage Craft Yarns, established in 1915. It is located on the waterfront, adjacent to the piers.

St. Andrews is home to a large Marine Biology facility. Visitors can arrange to go whale watching on the Bay of Fundy right up til mid October.
For a small village there are several restaurants, inns and tea rooms to enjoy.

The following link will connect you with a tourism site with detailed information on all that St. Andrews has to offer.
3. The Algonquin Hotel

Sometimes when you are travelling, at the end of the day, you just want a clean, comfortable place to get a good night’s sleep. Other times, part of the joy of the trip is the “experience of where you stay”. Given the opportunity, everyone should treat themselves to the experience of a Hotel like the Algonquin. The Fairmont Algonquin is a Tudor style, resort hotel located in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada's first seaside resort town. (Notice a connection developing here?!) It was built in 1889. The impressive four-storey, half-timbered structure with its castle-like facade has 80 guest rooms, each with its own fireplace and water closet. It officially opened in June 1889. It has been open continuously ever since.

For more on all that the Algonquin has to offer, follow the link below.
These have been just a few of my favourite things. More clues to the SPECIAL SOMETHING HAPPENING NEXT YEAR will follow soon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pictures from Scotland

We have just arrived at Glasgow Airport. If you think I look tired, you are correct. Gabriela managed to sleep but not me. Three buses, and an unwelcome tour of the University of Stirling Campus (No one seemed totally sure where we were supposed to register), we arrived for the first event, the "Clapotea Party" where we met Jennie from South Africa.

No one else was drinking tea, so I decided to take advantage of my first opportunity to try some Scottish beer.
There is a large loch right in the middle of the campus. It is rather long and sprawling but not very wide at any point. This bridge across the loch was our most direct route from our dormitory to the cafeteria and class rooms.

The grey building in the upper left corner was our dormitory. The loch was home to a large flock of swans, several ducks and some other rather odd looking birds Gabriela and I could not identify. We were told that all swans in the United Kingdom belong to the Queen and as such are protected.

At one end the loch narrows to just a few meters......
and then opens into an area bursting with beautiful water lilies. The swans seemed to prefer the more open areas of the loch, but the ducks seemed happiest among the lilies.
Remember, all this beautiful scenery is not a park. This is right in the center campus of one of the largest universities in Scotland

At the bottom left you can see just a bit of the lily pond. The hills in the background surrounded about two thirds of the campus.

We walked this path several times a day. It led from our dormitory, to the bridge. The whole campus was incredibly clean and free of litter. It was a pleasure to roam.

Every where you went there were herds(I don't remember the correct term for a collective of rabbits) of the most adorable little brown bunnies. We found one little black guy who was always on the same grassy hill every time we passed by.
I will forever think of Scotland whenever I see a rabbit.

Our first class was knitting side to side with a delightful young Irish woman, Carol Feller. That is Carol in the green.
Carol's website, Stolen Stitches, if you would like to see more of her designs.
You can also view many of her designs on Ravelry.
Our class project was her Raspberry Layers Vest seen below, being modelled by Carol.

Gabriela has turned this vest and its short row shaping techniques into a class for the fall.

Coincidentally, Carol is also the designer for Karen's Leitmotif Cardigan KAL. Details of the KAL are on our website under classes.Leitmotif also involves side to side knitting. It is knit from the center back. A very ingenious short row shaping produces a beautiful seamless sleeve shoulder.

There are still a few spaces left in this free KAL with Karen.

On Wednesday I attended a class on Cowichan Style knitting. Cowichan knits are the designs made famous by the West Coast Canadian First Nations Salish who reside in the Cowichan Valley area of British Columbia. In addition to teaching and designing, the instructor Jon Dunn, also dyes. He is well know for his "Sushi Sock Rolls". I picked up this earthy brown/green colourway and I am still looking for the perfect project. Jon's sushi rolls have very, very long colour repeats, sort of like Zauberball yarns but producing even wider stripes.
Jon's website.
He is also on Ravelry as Easyknitter.

Friday for me was one of the highlights of the whole week. We were in a class with the Jared Flood, knitting his beautiful Girasole, which is Italian for sunflower. As soon as she got home, Gabriela grabbed a bag of a deep green shade of Rowan Tweed and started knitting. Look for Girasole among her fall classes. Cascade 220 would be an excellent choice for this project. But if you want to treat it like the heirloom it will become, try the Rowan Tweed DK. It will require 15 balls which would normally cost $165. We have decided to offer students in the Girasole class a special price of $125. We have correct amounts in several colours.

Jared's website if you care to see more of Girasole.

Believe it or not, Gabriela and I passed up one of the PUB nights for a walk around the far end of the loch.

We sat in the last rays of the sun watching the silly swans playing and we think, fighting.

They would glide along and then all of a sudden totally tip upside down, head deep in the water feeding on something.

They were not at all afraid. The darker ones in the back were the younger swans. Again my memory fails me for the correct name for baby swans, I think it is something like signets?

The William Wallace (remember Braveheart) memorial is on the grounds of the University of Sterling.

Gabriela walked the 264 steps to get these pictures for you from the top. That is the city of Stirling of in the distance.

The hills...... no need to guess why the phrase highlands is so often associated with Scotland.

One evening several of us piled on a bus for a 45 minute drive to Loch Katrine. It is only a few kilometers away but the road was very narrow, hilly and winding, so slow speeds was the only way to go. I was happy to hear from our driver, Lennox, that he had been driving "coach" in these hills for 36 years.

Jennie and I waiting for our turn to go out on the boat.

We chatted with designers Annie Modesitt (in the red resting her head on Jennie's shoulder) and Norah Gaughan. It was another one of the highlights of the week to meet Norah, the shorter lady with dark hair and glasses.

Gabriela and Fiona discussed favourite hair colours. Her hair now has purple highlights, but for her recent wedding, Fiona had teal highlights to match her dress.
The boat arrives.
Lady of the Lake is one of only 2 motorized boats allowed on Loch Katrine. The loch is the main water source for Stirling and Glasgow. Lady of the Lake and her sister boat or powered by fuel made from recycled cooking oils. Any fuel residue or leakage is therefore nontoxic and biodegradable. The only other boats allowed on the loch are canoes, paddle boats and sail boats.
Again, the hills. Breathtaking. The corner of an island which shows up in the bottom left corner was of interest to me. My McElman ancestors were driven from Scotland during the Highland Clearances. They escaped to Ireland. Two brothers eventually came to North America, one to Massachusetts and the other to New Brunswick. There are very few McElmans in North America but I am told we can all trace our ancestors back to these two brothers. Our guide on the Lady of the Lake told us this island was often used as a hiding place during the Clearances. I might have gazed upon the very spot which was the start of my family's journey to Canada.

Three-quarters of the loch was surronded by steep hills.

Sunset on Loch Katrine.

Pictures courtesy of Gabriela (She has about 750 more if you want to see them)