Saturday, July 20, 2013

Preserving the Past (and a few strawberries)

A few days ago, I put up a double batch of strawberry-pineapple jam while my mind took a walk down memory lane.  

My first memory of making jam goes back to when I was a very young girl, perhaps only five or six years old.  The setting was my grandmother's kitchen and the cast of characters included  Memere (my grandmother), my mom, my aunts Jeannette and Theresa, and myself.  

The kitchen was definitely a "women's place" in my family in those days, and at last I was to be part of that special group.  My job was to wash the fruit and hull the strawberries, as I was too young to be involved with the boiling water bath or the melted paraffin wax.  No matter:  I was now part of the "in crowd" as far as I was concerned.  And it felt just fine!

Through the years, we would continue to make the delicious jam as soon as the fresh strawberries adorned the shelves at Antoinette's small fruit stand.  The glasses would be washed, the strawberries prepared, sugar added, and the magic would take place.  As time went on, I was trusted with more dangerous work and became more a part of the conversations.  Sometimes, it would be just me and Mom making the jam at our home and that also felt just fine.

As a young mother, my family moved to Georgia and I met my best friend, Maria Elena.  Before long we were putting up peach preserves at her house and making strawberry-pineapple jam at mine.  Sure enough, her daughters Colleen and Maria Elena were involved, and sometimes we had the wonderful help and company of Maria Elena's mother from Chile, Abuelita.

I was all by myself this week as I made my first batch of jam in years, and probably my first solo batch ever.  But, my mind and heart enjoyed the company of so many special women in my life.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Four Pieces of Wood

Generally, I follow the same route on my morning walk which means that I pass these trees several times a week. They're by the side of the road, not hidden in any way, but I had never noticed them until about a week ago and then only because my grandson, Austin, pointed them out to me.  He  told me there was an old ladder there - and, sure enough, there is.  Well, really only four pieces of wood, but arranged so they could be a ladder. 

A few days later, my husband and I were driving Austin and his sister, Ruby, home.  As we approached the trees, Austin called out for Grandpa to stop the car to see the ladder.  Then our grandson told us a delightful story of how a fox had built a tree house up above but that both the fox and the tree house were now long gone, with just the ladder as a reminder of the fox's fun there.

I wish I could think as a five-year-old...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Block of the Month in Czarist Russia?

One of our many ports of call was St. Petersburg, Russia.  As we toured the Hermitage, Peterhof, and the Yusupov Palace, I was probably the only person taking more pictures of the flooring than many of the other amazing architectural wonders and works of art.  But I kept wondering, did Catherine the Great belong to a Block of the Month Club?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In Touch with the Past

When we arrived in Aarhus, Denmark, we were greeted by this charming young woman with information and an invitation to visit Den Gamle By.  We'd already chosen this outdoor museum as our destination for Aarhus, so we didn't need to be sold on the idea, but noticing the beautiful shawl, Nancy and I had many questions about the possibility of finding some yarn there.  The young lady had knitted this traditional shawl herself and assured us we wouldn't be disappointed.  We weren't!

I was able to purchase a kit for this traditional tie shawl at the museum store.  The directions were all in Danish, but included an email address to get the "recipe" in English!  They sent it along with good wishes for my shawl knitting.

Here are a few pics of the sights at Den Gamle By that concerned fiber processing and sales in the past.  Hope you enjoy them!

This flight of stairs led to the looms above.  I don't want to hear any more complaints about my stairs at the shop!

Finally, my favorite picture from Den Gamle By ...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On the Sea Again

European additions to my stash
My husband Bob, sister-in-law Nancy, and I recently returned from a fantastic "trip of a lifetime."  We crossed the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Cobh, County Cork, Ireland.  From there we had stops in England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Russia, finally flying home from Vienna, Austria.

Nancy and I decided to give the "Knitters and Natters" group on board ship a try and were the first to show up at the appointed spot, 30 minutes early.  Though they were an interesting group of women, Nancy and I both agreed the amount of "nattering" wasn't conducive to too much knitting.  In fact, we both ended up frogging our work from that meeting.  Several of us were a little horrified when one woman told us she hadn't brought her knitting because the yarn would take up too much space in her luggage!  We were ten days at sea before our first stop - I can think of any number of items that would be ditched before my yarn and needles!

Of course, my search for local yarn shops and locally produced yarn continued on this trip.  We made a return visit to Vivi's Trading Company in Kinsale, Ireland and picked up a couple of skeins of "Soft Donegal" and had the chance to see how Vivi's has grown in its first year and as you can see, it's doing well!

Inside Vivi's Trading Co.

My favorite stop on the cruise was in Tallinn, Estonia.  Right on the dock are a set of shops that give a taste of what a tourist may want to bring home.  At my first stop, I met and chatted with the owner and knitter, Mary Ann, a delightful woman.

Mary Ann in her shop at the Tallinn Dock

Most of the knitted goods available in Tallinn are machine knitted and extremely well done. At the end of the day, I returned to Mary Ann's shop to purchase one of her beautiful sweaters for myself and a couple of Christmas gifts.  From the dock, we headed to Lower Old Town where, in the shade of the town wall, knitters set up stands to sell the products of their hands and machines.

Such a treat to be able to meet the women who have created such lovely items.  They know the worth of their products, set a very fair price, and don't bargain!  My kind of women!

While in Tallinn, I was able to find the colorful ball of yarn on top of the pile in the picture at the top of this post.  It apparently is a popular colorway as it can be seen in most of the shops.

From inside Kalliver, a "linen" shop in Lower Old Town Tallinn 
Next up - Den Gamle By, Aarhus, Denmark!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Two Years Later

Anniversary roses from my brother, Austin.  Every woman should be so lucky as to have a brother like him!
Just after I'd set out lemonade and cookies as a little opening celebration (grand doesn't really apply here) on June 1, 2011, I opened the door to The Quilted Purl.  Then I stood around somewhat nervously, waiting.  For those of you who've never been in the shop, you enter a small vestibule then climb 20 stairs, when you are already at an elevation of 8519 ft.  For the first few weeks it was a bit unsettling to me when I could hear people before I saw them, or worse yet, when I didn't hear them and they just quietly appeared upstairs in the shop.

Vestibule and 16 of the 20 steps 

My first customer that day was a woman who'd just flown in from Chicago that morning and suffered from COPD.  By the time she made it up the stairs, her breathing was so labored I thought I'd be greeting the Clear Creek Rescue folks any minute.  Fortunately, I'd placed a rocking chair at the top of the stairs and quickly had her sit and catch her breath while enjoying the lemonade and some water.  She recovered, and made the first purchase at The Quilted Purl.  There are now two rocking chairs there, emergency water, and a bowl of chocolates.  I call it my "recovery station" and it gets a great deal of use.

The Quilted Purl Recovery Station

Over the past two years, I've had the opportunity to meet people from all seven continents and from all walks of life.  Many of those who make it up the stairs have a story to tell.  The two antique sewing machines I have (thank you Linda and Karen) seem to evoke the past for most visitors to the shop.  As a former history teacher, this delights me.  So many folks have fond memories of a mother, grandmother, aunt, great-grandmother, or some other loved one knitting or quilting.  That they want, or even need, to tell me their memory honors me.   It never fails to amaze me how wonderful most people are and how fortunate I am to meet them.

So, year three for The Quilted Purl begins.  Many thanks to all who have supported and encouraged me over the past two years, especially my husband, Bob.

What's new at The Quilted Purl?  How about these beautiful skeins of Mountain Colors Twizzle in their 5 new colorways!  Come by, climb the 20 stairs, rest for a few minutes, have a chocolate, and then tell me your story!

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Open Road

I love my work!  What fun to be able to knit, quilt, listen to music, watch the happenings at Library Park, and meet the delightful and interesting folks who add an extra 20 steps to our already high elevation of 8519 feet and make it up to The Quilted Purl.  Pamela and Kirk Rasch are two such people.  

It was a quiet morning on Wednesday when Pamela and Kirk came by hoping to repair a broken chaps belt.  My sewing machines aren't industrial strength, but with a little thread, needle, and thimble, all was well in no time.  In our short visit, I learned that Kirk and Pamela were taking a break from Kirk's work on the plains of Colorado for a little anniversary trip on their motorcycles.  

Happy Anniversary Pamela and Kirk!  Hope to see you at The Quilted Purl again sometime and safe travels!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

From East to West...

I'm pleased to announce that The Quilted Purl now carries six lines of yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery, the only shop in Colorado to do so, I believe.  The Green Mountain Spinnery story is as interesting as their yarn is beautiful.  Click on the link to read about their cooperative and be sure to take the virtual tour of their operation.  As a former history teacher, I'm especially impressed with the fact that they're still using a machine built in 1896!  Fantastic!

I'm very excited to be able to support American producers of wool and manufacturers of yarn and to offer it to my customers.  Check out the new yarns here or better yet, come by to see and touch them in person!

Alpaca Elegance
50% New England Alpaca 50% Fine Wool DK weight

Sylvan Spirit
50% Fine Wool/50% TENCEL Lyocell combine to make a soft yarn with a satiny sheen. DK weight

New Mexico Organic
100% Fine Wool grown in New Mexico & Certified Organic by the NM Organic Commondity Commission. Processing Certified Organic by Vermont Organic Farmers  DK weight

Mountain Mohair
30% Yearling Mohair and 70% Wool Worsted Weight

Cotton Comfort
80% Fine Wool/20% Organic Cotton combines the pure softness of organic cotton with the
elasticity and delicacy of fine wool.      DK weight

And Finally...Yarn Over

Yarn Over Red
Carded wool & mohair left from a range of Spinnery dye lots is blended to create "once only" muted colors.
Heavy worsted weight

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


On January 1, 2013, I didn't know how to knit socks and if you've been following this blog, you know that I didn't much care.  However, I'd decided to expand my knitting horizons and socks were at the top of the list.
Mountain Colors Crazyfoot

As of April 1st, I'm working on my ninth pair of socks, making my way through the yarns in the shop to determine which work well for sock knitting.  Since it's important for me to be able to make recommendations, 8 of the 9 pairs of socks have been for me so I can judge the comfort, fit, and washability.  I really do have the perfect job, don't I?  The 9th pair went to my son for his birthday with washing instructions and the warning that failure to follow them will result in socks for his wife!
Lonesome Stone Alpaca Tracks

So, the results... haven't found a yarn in the shop yet that I don't love for socks!  An unexpected result: sock knitting can be fattening!  I didn't really think of quilting as an athletic activity, but there is a fair amount of jumping up and down from the sewing machine to the cutting table or ironing board.  Sitting for eight hours a day knitting socks doesn't burn calories, so I'm back to quilting during the day and knitting at night.  Be forewarned ~ your fingers moving as you knit do not burn many calories!
Universal Yarns Instant Print
Mountain Colors Bearfoot
Mountain Colors 4/8s Wool
Mountain Colors Twizzle

I'd like to take credit for the "Sockupied," but I'm not that clever.  Interested in some knitting patterns for socks?  Follow this link: "Sockupied".
Lonesome Stone Mountain Feat