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Pesto time

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Midsummer has arrived, and I’m harvesting tons of basil from the garden, which means lots of pesto! We’ve planned to do a bunch and freeze it, but none of it has actually made it to the freezer yet because we’ve been eating it so quickly – on pasta, of course, but also on sandwiches, pizzas, french fries. We’ve mostly been having walnut pesto, because pine nuts are so expensive here, but maybe we’ll splurge and do a batch with them.

I wish it were possible to can pesto in a water bath canner – we’ll end up freezing ours, because I don’t have a pressure canner, but I hate to use up freezer space. I know we’ll want the space later in the year, especially as the holidays approach (we always spread our holiday baking out and freeze everything to try to cut down on the Christmas madness). Any tips on the best way to compactly freeze and store pesto? Cubes are convenient because they’re easy to portion but they take up so much space. I’d love not to have to use ziplock bags too if possible.

Any of you also enjoying pesto as midsummer approaches? Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

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Lately

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Lately, I’ve been…

Knitting :: The very beginnings of a new shawl design, in a new yarn base I’m testing out for Agrestal. This yarn is so squishy and warm – it’s a softspun single ply sportweight and I’m already dreaming of so many projects for it. These colours were dyed using various combinations of marigold, chestnut, cream of tartar, and iron.
(Rav link)

Reading :: I just picked up another Agatha Christie from the library, though I haven’t had the chance to start it yet. This one should be fun – it’s a collection of short stories from the Miss Marple series.

Watching :: The Bridge on Netflix. It’s a Swedish / Danish crime drama and it’s so well done – the atmosphere created by the filming style and the acting is just superb. The plot is really captivating too. This is in Swedish with subtitles.

Listening :: To a bunch of podcasts, as usual. Invisibilia is back, and it’s wonderful and thought provoking as always. I also started listening to More Perfect, which is about cases from the US Supreme Court. I know next to nothing about American law, but this has been absolutely fascinating. It’s done by the same folks who do WNYC’s Radiolab, so production and research quality is excellent.

What have you been knitting and reading this week?

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn-Along this morning.

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Owl Stuffy for L

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I realized just a few days ago that one of my favourite kiddos was going to be in Canada for a couple of days, so I immediately set to work on a handknit present for her. L is big enough now that she really interacts with the world around her, so I thought it was time for her to get a special stuffed toy. She’s absolutely enamoured by owls right now – I was around when H and D were speaking to her on skype a few weeks ago, and D had painted a few owl pictures for her, and she loved them.

I couldn’t find an owl pattern I really liked, so I ended up using one from Ravelry as a base and changing it as I went. This pattern is a very minimalist pattern, so I’d only recommend it if you’re an experienced (or adventurous) knitter and don’t mind fudging with a few things to make it work. I also omitted the legs and added wings, which I just made up as I went along – I posted some rough notes on my Ravelry project page if you’d like to use them too. Overall I think the owl turned out really cute, and it’s super squishy and huggable, which is what I really wanted in a toy for an almost-two year old. The yarn is MacAuslands 2 ply, and the eyes, nose, and wings were leftovers of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and SMC Northern Worsted.

This project was also my first for the Canadian KAL, which is being hosted by Meredith over at Wool Gathering. The knitalong is for all things Canadian – yarn, designers, theme, etc. There are lots of great prizes (including a skein I donated from Agrestal!). It’s mainly being run through the WG Ravelry group, so check it out and join us! I have a super exciting Canadian project that I’ve been planning for forever that I’m going to be casting on soon.

(Rav link)

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Summer in contrasts

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Such is summer in the city… a study in contrasts. A quiet, rainy Canada Day at home, making pasta salad and peach pie, followed by a whirlwind of fireworks, house guests, neighbourhood wandering, and the pride parade. What fun. The pie was the first I’ve made this year with summer fruit and it was so good. The peaches were fine in terms of flavour (later peaches will be better, when they’re in season in Niagara), but they were still lovely and juicy. Strawberries are at the very end of their season here, so I’m hoping to make a strawberry rhubarb pie this coming weekend.

I am actually crossing my fingers for more rain this weekend – there’s lots I’d like to do outdoors, but it has been so hot and humid this week. We’ve been averaging around 35-40C with humidity. I don’t often wish for air conditioning, but keeping our apartment cool has proven to be particularly difficult lately. Some cool rain with a breeze would certainly do the trick.

What are your plans for this weekend? Has it been this hot where you are?

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Bon Echo

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As I mentioned on Wednesday, I spent last weekend camping at Bon Echo Provincial Park with my family. We had a great time and the weather was absolutely beautiful, warm and sunny, except one stormy night and one chillier day. We spent lots of time at the lake and the beaches around the park, and rented canoes and kayaks one day, which was really easy and lots of fun. We stayed at the Hardwood Hills site, which is the most remote car camping site at Bon Echo. It was very pretty, and the sites were large and private, but it was also very buggy – deerflies and horseflies during the day, and loads of mosquitos at night, especially after the rain. Given how far the site is from the rest of the park (a 5-10 minute drive, not really walkable), I probably wouldn’t stay there with family again, though I might consider it with friends in the spring or the fall when the bugs would be better. It’s definitely the most secluded camping area – we were the only ones on our loop the second half of the trip, although most sites were occupied Friday – Sunday.

We preferred the south beach to the main beach. It’s mostly grass, not sand, but I’m not a big fan of sand anyhow and it was much quieter than the main beach. All of the beaches are on Mazinaw lake, and they’re sandy-bottomed and very gradual depth, perfect for swimming. My favourite part of the trip was our morning paddle out to the rock cliffs to see the petroglyphs and to the cliff top trail, which leads up one of the rock faces to a couple of beautiful lookouts. I managed to knit almost an entire sock, and finished a novel, which is a pretty good indication that I relaxed a bit and enjoyed myself!

The only real disappointment was the lack of update on the Parks Ontario website about the fire ban in the area of Bon Echo. It still hadn’t been updated upon our return, even though the ban had been going on for over a week, and it was really disappointing to have planned our meals around a fire and to have purchased firewood, only to find out about the ban upon arriving. The lack of smoke also didn’t help with the aforementioned bugs.

I hope you have all had a wonderful long weekend!

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Lately, camping edition

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I was camping at Bon Echo this weekend (more pictures to come), and while I was there, I was…

Knitting :: A pair of plain striped socks using Knit Picks Essentials, purchased from a local Raveler during a destash last year. No pattern, just top down with a heel flap, 72 stitches around on US 0 needles. These are my first socks on 0s, as per Nika‘s suggestion, and I really like how the fabric is turning out – it’s not too stiff, but I think the density will add some durability.
(Rav link)

Reading :: I finished all of A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams, which I really enjoyed. It was a perfect beach and camping read, very summery, but it actually had content and a pretty engaging plot, which I sometimes find “beach reads” are lacking. I loved the historical setting as well, and the seaside sounded just dreamy.

What have you all been knitting and reading this week?

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn Along (congrats, Ginny, on your baby girl – she’s beautiful!).

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Lately

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Knitting :: My sunrise cardi, which I’ve almost finished! I just have one of the sleeve edgings and the collar left. The pattern is from Swoon Maine, which is such a beautiful book, and the yarn is Knit Picks palette.
(Rav link)

Reading :: An Agatha Christie, always a perfect summer mystery – Peril at End House. I’ve also just started A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams, because I needed a hardcover book to read on transit on my way to work… rush hour is just too crazy for paperbacks.

What have you been knitting and reading this week?

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn-Along.

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Summertime, slowly.

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A few reminders from the last while that beauty is there, even if you have to look a bit harder for it.

Wishing you a wonderful end to your week!

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Tea mouse.

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A few months ago, the lovely Sarah asked if I wanted to try out her Tea Mouse pattern… since it’s so cute, I had to agree! I was originally planning to keep this tea mouse but now that she’s finished, I have a few people in mind for whom she would make an excellent gift. All the more reason to make another for myself.

I always find toys a bit challenging as detailed seaming and embroidery is not my forte. I always end up staring at the faces of stuffed toys for far too long, debating moving the nose up a smidge or making the eyes a bit bigger. After a couple of attempts, I think I’m pleased with this mouse’s face. I went quite simple, and I think it allows the ears to really be the feature of the face.

I loved choosing fabric for the mouse – you only need a tiny bit, so it’s a perfect use for fabric scraps. I spent awhile sitting comparing different blue floral fabrics, and I’m pleased with the one I settled on. It compliments the yarn colour well and has a small enough print that it isn’t lost on the tiny shapes.

You can see all of the details about my tea mouse on my Ravelry page, and you can find the pattern on Sarah’s page here.

Sarah has kindly offered to give away a copy of the tea mouse pattern to one of you! If you’d like to be entered, please leave a comment below telling me what colour you’d make your tea mouse, and what kind of tea you’d drink while stitching up this quick project! Entries will close at midnight EST on Sunday – please make sure you leave a way to contact you (e-mail, Ravelry, etc.) so I can get in touch if you are the lucky winner.

Linking up with Yarn Along and KCCO.

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Very Late Socks.

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These might be the latest Christmas gift I’ve ever given… I actually finished them back in February, but between my schedule and J’s schedule, we haven’t seen each other that much, and I wanted to make sure I got pictures of them before giving them to him. Oh well – he has them now! The pattern is Petty Harbour by Rayna Curtis, and it’s definitely one I’ll be using again. It’s simple yet striking, and the stitch pattern is really easy to memorize and keep track of. The pattern also has lots of sizes, which I find really helpful when making socks as a gift. The yarn I used was a coned yarn from an LYS (Romni), who gets it from a mill – so it’s not branded. It’s an 80% wool, 20% nylon blend. This yarn will be great for making lots of socks, but it’s only 2 ply, and really a light fingering weight. I will definitely be using smaller needles and possibly doubling the yarn on the next pair I make, as I have lots of this yarn left in this blue and a forest green.

(Rav link)

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

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