The Happy Camper (in a figurative way, of course) :-)

What have I been up to, you ask? or do you dare? this may be a long post, my friends . . . so read at your convenience, of course . . .

First, the weather has warmed up to between -6 and +3 over the past few days, so that’s cause for rejoicing right there; not for anyone trying to drive here, though. The main streets are cleared, but they have only just begun on the residential streets. I saw that Boomdeeadda got stuck already and is ‘all over winter’ already! This is why I’ve always loved a good truck. My last one was a late 70s Ford Ranger extended cab. this is not mine, but it’s the same model. Mine had a white half-camper ‘hood’ on the back, but no door to lock up with.

My truck 001 If I ever have the opportunity, I’ll buy two just like this and use one for parts.

IMG_4314[1] I had one of the pears in a bag with an orange. When I took it out, it had this charming ‘Cyclops’ face, thanks to the blossom end of the orange changing homes. I thought it was cute next to the banana . . .

IMG_4315[1]

Remember we bought a 40 lb box of D’Anjou pears (and one each of MacIntosh and Gala apples!)? Well, here’s what I was up to this afternoon:

IMG_4331[2] This is what my Mum made for us every summmer when I was in my teens. She calls it ‘Pear Mousse’; I have no idea if it’s out there under any other name. Sometimes it was supper, along with bread and butter; sometimes it was dessert. It’s a good snack or breakfast, too. This is in no way vegan, but I’m sure my vegan friends out there will figure out a proper recipe . . .

In my large old pot, I put a couple of cups of water. Then I thinly peeled, quartered and cored a bunch of pears, then cut them into chunks. I had a bit of lemon juice in the water so the pears wouldn’t brown too much; it takes a while to thinly peel that many pears! I had my iPhone plugged in and was using its iPod function to play some of my favourite music to keep me company.

I brought the whole thing to a boil, turned down the heat and let it simmer away for a while (20 minutes or so?? I wasn’t timing; I just went by “is it cooked yet?’). Then I put about a half cup of cornstarch in our glass bowl, mixed it well with about the same amount of sugar (mostly to help the cornstarch blend with the milk more easily); then I slowly added a can of evaporated milk, stirring well all the time. I should have stirred a bit more and added the milk a bit more slowly; there were a few teeny grains of cornstarch that didn’t blend in, but that’s life; irritating grains in even the loveliest of meals. just remember, that’s how we get pearls! (well, not from the Pear Mousse, silly, pearls come from irritating grains of sand that find their way to the oyster. It seemed like a good analogy at the time, though . . .)

I turned up the heat under the pears again ’til they were bubbling a bit, then added the cornstarch/sugar/milk mixture slowly, stirring all the while with a long-handled wooden spoon. A pinch of nutmeg went in about now. (Other flavours are good in this, too; I just normally make it the way Mum always has. I love this with finely chopped candied ginger, too.) I continued to stir until the mixture thickened, turned down the heat to a slow simmer, then, when it was done (no ‘raw’ taste of cornstarch), turned off the heat entirely, but left the pot on the burner.

Off to do a little FeedReading. Not enough, but at least some . . .
IMG_4334[1]IMG_4331[2]

Back to the kitchen to put some of the still hot Mousee into my favourite cup and to toast an English muffin in the toaster oven. Lightly buttered, then the halves went onto my favourite matching plate and the ‘supper’ was taken to Mum’s bedroom so I could continue reading and responding to comments while I ate.

IMG_4336[1] and a lighter photo:

IMG_4335[1]

Later this evening, or more likely tomorrow morning, this is what awaits me:
IMG_4333[1]
I’ll be washing, quartering, coring, cutting into chunks and popping these Macs into the slow cooker, along with some Galas that are still hiding in their box, thinking they have escaped the fate of their cousins . . .

I’ve been saving best for last, though!! And this is really why I’m a happy camper:
IMG_4295[1] Again, I’m not sure if you can tell what I’m doing here, but I’m using a needle and thread to stitch up and then down on a row of stitches beside the centre row of one of the armhole steeks. Then I will stitch up and down again on the row on the other side of the centres. OK, done! And now . . . (drumrolls and quickened heartbeats) . . .
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Eureka!! It works!!! I know the instructions all say it works, but still . . . Here’s the opening (notice it’s not unravelling into bits of yarn? Now I’m happy!)
IMG_4297[1]

And next . . .
IMG_4301[1] 160 stitches have been picked up around the opening. These are the beginning of one sleeve. And that’s not all . . .
IMG_4310[1] If you look closely here, you can just see my needle. I have finished stitching up and then down again on both sides of the centre row of the front opening steek. I was hoping to cut it open so I could try on the cardi and see when to quit with the sleeves (no, I’m not there yet; just thinking ahead, as usual) πŸ˜‰ But, I can’t cut it open. Why not? ‘Cause I haven’t yet picked up the stitches from the provisional cast-on at the bottom and knitted whatever I’m going to knit to finish off the lower edge. I may do a couple of motifs to bring down some of the lovely colours I used on the upper portion. Then I will need to do some ribbing, or maybe a fancy edge (I love fancy edges!) or maybe just a border to match the collar. We’ll see. In the meantime, I will simply have to hold it up and look in a mirror. Or maybe lay it out on top of one of my favourite long-sleeved T-shirts or fleece jackets to make sure the sleeves don’t come down to my ankles . . .

Back to what’s actually been done this week . . .
IMG_4316[1] This is the other armscye being cut open. Never mind the drumrolls and drama, woman, get on with it! And I did!!
And then picked up another set of 160 stitches!
IMG_4317[1] By the way, one thing was so serendipitous: As I was knitting the body, once I’d begun the armscye steeks, I added a six stitch checkerboard pattern along the edge of each armscye. After I cut the openings, I decided I didn’t much care for how they looked; colour changes had played havoc in places with the pattern and I didn’t have the patience to do duplicate stitch over the weird ones to make them work. So when I picked up those sets of 160 stitches, I did it on the body side of the checkers and let that bit fall to the inside, later to be tacked down as a sort of facing. If I think it’s too bulky, I may even thread-stitch next to them and cut them off! (see how bold I’ve become with those scissors?? LOL) Anyway, what has happened is that the cut edges have rolled behind the knitting and the checkerboard has automatically rolled to the inside of the cardi, so there are no rough, ‘cut’ edges to be seen!! Cool how that works, eh?, especially when I really don’t know what I’m doing and sort of make things up as I go along . . .

I had completed the first two sets of motifs on one sleeve when it occured to me that I have never liked doing something twice, which is why I prefer to knit socks, cardi fronts, sleeves, etc., two at a time. Luckily, when I went for groceries on Monday, I also went to the hated landfill store (my name for it, as that’s mostly what is sold there. My not-so-humble opinion, sorry if it offends anyone) and purchased more (yes, more!) knitting needles. Lucky for me they had some in the size I wanted. I also found some smaller size circulars for my latest project. Hang on, it’s coming. First things first, you know! So I have been catching up on sleeve number two:
IMG_4327[1] It may be hard to see in this picture, but the sleeve on the left side is where I started out and the one on the right side is the second one. Here’s a closer look:
IMG_4330[1]

Someone was out having fun this past weekend . . .
IMG_4322[1] A close-u[ of these wingless ‘snow angels’ (see, someone was listening . . .):
IMG_4321[1]

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the artist Maxfield Parrish here before, but he’s one of my favourites. His use of colour (and the process by which he achieved it) still leaves me breathless . . . Every morning and every evening there are a few moments when the sky turns a shade that I can only call “Maxfield Parrish blue”. One of the recent evenings, I caught this through the half-closed drapes at my Aunty’s:
IMG_4302[1]

And, as promised, a sneak peek at my latest project (yes, I know! I can’t help it, ok?) LOL
IMG_4337[1] Know what that is? It’s the brim for a Fair Isle tam to match the cardi. Doubt I’ll wear it in public (it is a ‘barn cardi, after all), but it will be handy if I need to cover my head and go for groceries.
I found the free pattern on Knitting Daily and now I have created my own Excel spreadsheet template for the crown, so if any of you fibre freaks out there want to try designing your own, it’s now super-easy!! I can email you the template and you can play away to your heart’s delight. I created three patterns this morning, just playing around with the idea (and that’s after I created the template). Let me know.

I nearly forgot: I also picked up one of these (and should have bought two or three). When I went back, the others were all gone. 😦

IMG_4343[1]
Isn’t he cute? I’ve only ever had the red painted wooden spool knitters. But I fell in love (again!)

Have fun in your gardens or snow piles, my friends. Hugs to you all. ~ Linne

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17 thoughts on “The Happy Camper (in a figurative way, of course) :-)

  1. Linne, I LOVE the colour of your knit – simply wonderful! I would love to try the pear mousse it looks delicious and the pictures of the snow are so uplifting. Thank you for posting them πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the compliment, P. The mousse is delicious. I like it with a bit of ginger marmalade, too. Or chopped candied ginger cooked with it. I wonder how date paste would work, if you don’t eat sugar.

    • I’d be happy to send you some snow πŸ˜‰

      We’ve had more, then it warmed up and we had freezing rain; enough to make walking dangerous and cause lots of car crashes. In a couple of days we’ll be back to -20C with windchill, plus more snow. And it’s not even winter (officially) yet! I’m hoping for a long and early spring. I have to go out for groceries in the next day or so and am hoping the ice is well covered with snow when I do. So, as I said: anyone want some snow?? πŸ˜‰

  2. Trucks, pears, apples, knitting, snow — I love your pictures and life description, Linne, and how you do it all with an iPod and computer screen (including Excel knitting spreadsheets, for gods sake!) fastened to your hip! You should be a character in a novel…which brings me to how much I’m enjoying The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay, thanks to your recommend. Keith is reading it, too. No snow here, yet. Stay warm! πŸ™‚

    • Excel knitting templates are SO easy! I had seen them recommended in several places, so gave it a try. (Excel spreadsheets are an entirely different dragon!) I’ve used Excel a bit, but never put in the time to use it well (doubt I’ll ever master it . . . am interested, but would have few uses for it. There are templates for knitting pattern design out there, but Mum’s printer is jammed just now and I can’t find my computer tools (rarely used, so likely in storage); we’ll wait for my techie sister (they’re all very techie except me) to drop by. In the meantime, this gave me a solution; on the site I referenced she said that for Fair Isle designing the squares don’t have to be exactly the right rectangular shape, so I guesstimated, then froze the cell size. Truly, I don’t know all that much, but I’m generally good at figuring things out . . . a good thing for any penniless hippie, eh?

      I’m glad you enjoy those bits of my life story; I love reading yours, too.

      Mostly I’m glad you are enjoying the book. I finished a few days ago and will see what’s in the library when I go next. I’m re-reading what are left of my favourites while they are still available; when the world goes digital, I’ll be able to ‘see’ those stories in my mind’s eye . . . I’d give nearly anything for a photographic memory . . . I miss my old favourites so, SO much . . .

  3. I agree with Wendy…when I take scissors to something its toast! Love the pear pudding and will be making something similar with some pears that are threatening to go over to the dark side in my fruit bowl. I am in awe of your knitting ability. That cardy looks amazing! I know you say “its easy” but it aint and you should just bask in the glory of your accomplisments when you have a talent at something. I can’t knit a row without most of my tension being out so would NEVER try something that difficult but hats off to you girl, you are doing it! Oh for an adventurous spirit and chanelling it where you can to arrive at something wonderful πŸ™‚

    • πŸ˜‰ Now I’m really looking forward to taking the scissors to a piece of stranded knitting done in real wool! But it was very anxious-making the first time . . . all that ‘but . . . what IF?’ I was so glad to see it worked and not have to share a photo of a raggedy pile of unravelling yarn . . . I figure that yes, all those women have done it for years, but I’m using acrylic and besides, I can usually figure out a way to bollix things up . . .

      Let me know if you come up with a good pear recipe, eh? You could use one of your tasty milks; would arrowroot work instead of cornflour? Or is cornflour ok for vegans? Mum has used white flour, but the cornflour has a smoother texture (except mine; I didn’t blend the sugar in well enough . . . but it tastes good anyway!

      I admit, tension is easy for a very laid-back (lazy) hippie like me. Other than that, I think most things are easy to understand if we have a good teacher; but we need to be passionate enough to put in the practise time. Sort of like music. There *are* geniuses in every field, but I’m not one of them. Most people won’t spot my mistakes; a good knitter or designer will, though, and I’m never wearing that cardi on Fair Isle . . .

      It’s funny, you know, I have a weird mix of heavy-duty fears and adventurous spirit . . . hence the number of odd adventures in my life. When I was free-lancing at desk-top publishing, my business card had this quote on it (from Julia Cameron’s workbook, “The Artist’s Way”):

      “jump . . . and the net will appear”

      I have done this often; the net does appear, but each time is just as scary as the first . . . and still I jump . . . πŸ˜‰

      • I am not a jumper…jumping makes me twitch (and I was never able to get off the ground before thanks to a sturdy constitution πŸ˜‰ ) so I like to feel my way into the ether with one hand over my eyes and the other one question for scary things, that way I only lose one hand to the ether if worse comes to worse πŸ˜‰

  4. Jeepers! That’s a brave thing to do, take scissors to your knitting!! You pulled it off though, I jusy couldn’t try that “thing” you did lol.
    Your pear mousse looks interesting. I like the photo your did of supper in front of your computer Linne, it looks really cosy πŸ™‚

    • Well, it was scary, Wendy! But everything I read said it works, and it did. My main concern was that this is acrylic yarn with none of the ‘stickiness’ of wool. On Fair Isle, this type of knitting is done with wool, and a finer spun yarn than mine. It’s one reason my cardi is knitting up so quickly; less than two months since I began (30 Sept). I’m aiming to be done by the end of the year, although with all those ends to weave in, I may need January, too. It’s fun, though, and I’m happier when my hands are busy (if I’m not reading) πŸ˜‰

      I think that even for plain knitting, I’d do a cardi this way from now on; it’s just faster to knit in the round. Try it in a circular swatch and I bet you’ll be hooked! They say with the finer wool, often the knitters don’t even stabilize before cutting; the wool ‘sticks’ together and doesn’t unravel. I made sure I didn’t miss a single stitch when I was sewing up and down, which is why I think it worked so well.

      The designing is a huge interest for me; I’ve always loved it. I’ve designed and knit one Cowichan sweater (cardi); I’d like the wool Fair Isle style cardi to be all my own, personal, motifs. I love symbols, too . . .

      The mousse was very tasty, thank you, but I think it could be made more healthily. I like cooking the old foods the old way just for the connection to my Mum and in some cases my foremothers, too. But most of my adult life I’ve tried to adapt things for health or just didn’t eat them (much) πŸ˜‰

      I think it’s a bad habit, eating in front of the computer, but eating mindfully is hard for me. I don’t like eating alone, so I read books, play computer games or else dip into my FeedReader.

      It IS cosy, though . . .

      • You must have great focus and presence of mind but I think when we have chosen something we have a passion for that comes easy. I used to knit antique style miniature dolls clothes (layettes, shawls etc) but it is something I haven’t done for 8 years or so. They were intricate and beautiful but it’s not something I just feel like doing now.

        Sometimes we just have to have our comfort foods I think πŸ™‚

        No, I don’t like eating alone either, I usually eat my lunch over the computer πŸ™‚ It looked a very cosy photo for some reason.

      • I wish I had great focus; my mind is always busy, so even with details to help centre it, I find my thoughts just buzzing off in all directions . . . then I unpick . . . sometimes I decide I can live with the mistake, though. πŸ˜‰

        I love people’s miniature work, though I haven’t done more than a couple of things. Wee dolls and teddies, that sort. If you have photos, I’d love to see what you did. Did you have patterns?

        My interests move, too. Sometimes I return to them later, othertimes I just keep going and new things come along to occupy me.

        Yes, comfort food . . . sigh . . . didn’t matter when my life was very active, but now . . . I did something about it today, as a start. Not telling yet . . . saving it for the next post. ;-}

        I like Mum’s bedroom (where her computer is). She eats at her table in the kitchen, but there’s only room for one. She likes being on her own most of the time; when we moved from her house it was the first time she’d lived alone, ever. But for now having me here means I can help with my Aunty, so we have both adapted a bit.

        All too soon I’ll be on my own, but I’m in no hurry.

      • Hi Linne. No, I have no photos of my miniature work. I took pictures to sell them online but never kept any which was silly.

        Yeah, I tend to be a bit like that, just move on to something different which can be all sorts…I become obsessed with things then get bored a year or two later πŸ™‚

        Nothing wrong with comfort food, those older recipes we have that just turn to because they are so familiar…best sort of food πŸ™‚

      • Sorry you don’t have photos, Wendy, but I know how it is; when I was young and penniless, I rarely had a camera. I have a box of undeveloped, exposed film still, but have no idea how good it is anymore. I go through stages of obsession, but often come back to them after a while away. I wish I had more time . . . too many obsessions waiting to be contracted . . . πŸ˜‰

        I think, with all the emphasis on gourmet, chef-style foods these days, my farm-wife type of cooking seems pretty uninspired. I appreciate the other, but will never take the time to do it for myself . . . maybe for a special meal someday. There are things to make, and, always, books to read. And now there is Pinterest (which I have been staying away from for some time now, for a reason!) and blogging . . . oh, well, as Narf77 says, “whatchagonnado, eh?”

        I have changed some of the old comfort foods so they are more nutritious, and I’ve also become attached to some new comfort foods, too. Now to learn to be comforted in other ways . . . creativity is very good for that, I find. Go sit in your garden in the shade for me, will you? Please? We are now in the midst of a long, steady snowstorm. Again, very pretty, but I’ll have to go out in it tomorrow, I think . . . You know, in spite of my whinging on and rebelling about putting on and off countless layers, I actually rather enjoy it once I’m out there; then I whinge some more once I’m back inside, leaving muddy puddles in the tiny entry. πŸ˜‰ and driving my Mum crazy with my constant looking outside and commenting . . . she’s much more of a stoic than I will ever be . . .

      • My cooking is pretty basic too Linne – good food, done well but done easy πŸ™‚ Though I like fancy meals I would never bother cooking them.

        I whinged yesterday about the heat so if it’s hot again today I will think of you and not whinge lol

        I love Pinterest myself Linne, lots of wonderful ideas and eye candy!

      • Yes, Wendy, for an entire fancy meal I’d rather go out. I don’t have the skills (or the desire to put in the time to master them). I had the film “Julia & Julia” from the library a while back, though, and I could see the appeal. πŸ˜‰

        I’m behind on comments again, but last week we had a couple of days that went to -40C and colder (with the windchill) and several days in the -30s, too. I think I only went out once. Days like that, I miss a woodstove and fireplace. There’s a tv channel that has a fireplace crackling merrily away, but we don’t bother with it. Without the scents (and the smoke and ashes πŸ˜‰ ) it’s not the same and somehow makes me miss the real thing more.

        It’s sort of funny how I whinge about the cold AND the heat! Too many years living on the temperate coast, I think.

        Pinterest, yes . . . I avoid it much of the time . . . my path has a lot of potholes as it is, if you know what I mean. πŸ˜‰

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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