Monday, September 16, 2013

Recipe for Deliciousness

It’s been a week since I returned from the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I had a wonderful time.

It’s a great event for fiber shopping. I got lots of wool, but I also got other fibers: silk, yak, angora, and some lovely kid mohair. Mmmmmm….

I always enjoy teaching at WSWF. It’s a very well organized event, and the folks there are so enthusiastic!

This year, food was high on my list of delights. One night I went out to dinner and had a beef brisket sandwich with BBQ sauce. Quite good.

On the last day of the festival, I tried a lamb brat. Wow! I think it was the best brat I’ve ever had. I can hardly wait to attend next year so I can have another. Maybe two.

Interestingly, lamb recipes were a major topic of chat in some of my workshops. I mentioned to the students that I’d be taking home some ground lamb from Carol and Paul Wagner (Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill) . And I also mentioned that I planned to make lamb meatballs. One workshop participant suggested I post my recipe on my blog. Good idea!

(I know some readers might find the idea of eating lamb to be off putting. For those of you who eat meat but avoid lamb, just remember that when the lambs go to market in the fall they are no longer babies; they’re teenagers.)

Amy’s Lamb Meatballs

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
½ c. apple cider
2 lb ground lamb
½ - 1 c. fresh bread crumbs
¼ c. plain yogurt
2 eggs
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2-3 tsp lemon zest (I used all the zest from 1 lemon)
Lots of fresh ground black pepper
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp cumin
1 ¼ tsp coriander
½ tsp fennel seed
¼ tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbs. Tahini

Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until tender. Add cider and cook until most of fluid is gone. Let cool.

Mix well all of the rest of the ingredients (except olive oil) plus the cooled onion mixture.

Shape into approximately 1” meatballs (relatively small). Add some olive oil to a large fry pan. Cook the meatballs over medium heat until done, turning them frequently. I like to cook them until they are browned a bit.

When I remove them from the pan, I put them on a paper towel-covered plate to soak up excess grease.

Here’s how I serve them: in a pita bread sandwich with cucumbers, tomatoes, and yogurt. Oh so very good!

Note that the amount of each ingredient is pretty flexible. The only ingredient I personally would be wary of increasing is the cinnamon.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let's Dance the Last Dance

Two weeks ago, Amy Clarke Moore, editor of Spin-Off magazine, announced that this year’s SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat)  will be the last SOAR.

So, in my mind I’ve been boogie-ing to the Donna Summer 1978 disco classic, “Last Dance”

Last dance, last chance for love
Yes, it's my last chance
For romance tonight
. . .

So let's dance, the last dance
Let's dance, the last dance
Let's dance, this last dance tonight

Last year I was a first-time mentor at SOAR. And they invited me back for this year. I’m quite thrilled!

For the three-day workshop, I’m teaching Spinning With Millspun Yarns. I’ve spent a good amount of the last few months playing with re-spinning yarns and combining re-spun yarns with fiber. This exploration has really struck a creative nerve which has got me quite psyched.

Here’s a picture of some of my yarn samples for this workshop:

And here is a picture of some scarves that I knitted from energized re-spun yarns.

There are still spots available in this workshop. Care to join me?

I’m also teaching two half-day workshops:  Mechanics of Your Wheel and Spinning With Silk Hankies.

One very nice thing about SOAR this year is that it is close: it’s being held at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois, close to Chicago. It’s about a 6-hour drive from my house.

Dates for SOAR workshops are October 21-26, 2013. In addition to the workshops, there is a fabulous hall of vendors, a fashion show, and ample time to commune with fiber and fiber folks.

Are you interested in a last chance for this fiber love? Then join us!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Getting Ready for Wisconsin

I’m ramping up for the Wisconsin Sheep &Wool Festival (September 6-8). I have only a couple more days to get ready. My notes are prepared, but not copied yet. I still need to gather samples and supplies.

I’ll be taking some of my favorite knits as samples. On Friday morning I’m teaching I Heart Duplicate Stitch.

I really do “heart” duplicate stitch. One of the first times I used it was on a sweater I knitted long ago: a very sweet Pam Allen design in an old isse of VogueKnitting, Spring/Summer 1995. I was smitten when I saw a cute, short cardigan with cherries all over it.

By the way, I live in the Cherry Capital of the World. The Grand Traverse region produces more tart cherries than anywhere else.

So, I had to have the sweater. My dilemma: it was designed to be knitted using intarsia techniques. Now, I can do it, but I don’t like it. Instead, I decided to duplicate stitch all the cherries. I’m so very glad I did that because in the process I learned to love duplicate stitch.

Here’s a close up:

I’ve got several other wonderful knitted examples of my use of duplicate stitch. I’ve also got examples of when I didn’t use duplicate stitch and I wish I had. Lots to look at and think about.

Friday afternoon’s class is Spinning Marl Yarns. I know there are many spinners out there who try to avoid “barber pole” looking yarns. I’ll admit that the skeins of yarn may not look exciting, but I really like how such yarns knit up: all speckled and natural. I’ll be taking several sample skeins to show folks, and I’ll be taking one shawl that I created a couple years back, “3 X 3 = 10”. I spun ten 3-ply yarns, using 3 different colors. Here’s a picture of the shawl, modeled by Vivenne K. I wrote an article about it for Spin-Off (Fall, 2011). You can find the pattern in the article.

On Saturday, I’m teaching Shaping With Stitch Patterns. I’ve really got to come up with a better title for this workshop. It’s mostly an exploration of how different knit stitch patterns behave. Some pull in, some pull up, some curl, some bias, some are stiff, some are stretchy. And you can use these different characteristics to help shape your knitted garments. I’m taking several sweaters and dozens of swatches as examples/samples.

On Sunday, I’ve got Blending Colors at the Wheel. I’m taking a jacket/sweater that I designed some years back. The sweater now belongs to my friend Sylvia VM, but she lets me borrow it. Here she is wearing it. The pattern is called “Right Side Up?” because it can also be worn upside down.

And I’m taking a shawl that I designed long ago. The shawl now belongs to my friend Becky McD who also lets me borrow frequently. Here’s a picture of the shawl as modeled by Gladys Strong, who passed away earlier this year.

The festival takes workshop registrations up to the day workshops are taught. Not only are there wonderful workshops, but the festival is an awesome event for all things sheepy.