Category: Features (page 1 of 78)

Probably something you would like… UPDATED with a new link!

I have to start off by saying this is NOT a sponsored post. As you all know, I am always sharing little things that I find and love here on the blog, and this is another one of those. In this case, I fell in love with a product and I contacted the company to see if they would be willing to hook you guys up with a deal, but I’m not getting paid for posting this or even getting a discount for myself. I would never cheapen PSYWL by turning it into a paid sponsorship type thing, just so you know.

Have you heard about Blue Apron?  Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t either.  And then suddenly all of my friends were talking about it on Facebook.

Basically, Blue Apron is a food prep/delivery service. Each week, subscribers receive a box with the prepped ingredients for three meals along with recipes for preparing them. When I first heard about it, I thought it would probably be a good thing for people who don’t cook much, but I am a culinary school grad and it just seemed kind of…silly.

But then my friend Kate sent me a coupon code for a free box so I decided to try it. I mean, $60 worth of free food was nothing to sneeze at, right?

Blue Apron product shot 1

Our first box came three weeks ago. Right from the start, it’s hard not to be impressed. The packaging is thoughtful and effective. Everything was well insulated and each ingredient is carefully packaged and labeled. The produce included in each box has been top notch– there hasn’t been one ingredient that I would’t  have selected myself if I were at the farmer’s market.

When I say everything you need for each recipe is included, I mean EVERYTHING. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of butter, you get a tablespoon of butter. The only thing I’ve ever run across that wasn’t included was salt for salting something to taste, and I think once we had to use our own tablespoon of olive oil. Otherwise, if you need it, it’s in the box

Blue Apron Ingredient

Here are the actual ingredients for our first three meals. I will say, if I have anything negative to say about Blue Apron, it’s the fact that all that packaging makes me feel guilty. I’m not sure how else they could do it though, so I don’t have a solution.

Now, about the recipes. I am a bit of a food snob. It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, but I would rather have an apple and a nice piece of cheese for dinner than eat something bad or even just okay. I can honestly say that we haven’t had a dud yet in the 9 meals we have prepared from Blue Apron. I can also honestly say that a few of the meals have really surprised me by putting together flavor combos that I wouldn’t have thought of. We all tend to get in our little cooking ruts and it’s nice to have someone else come up with the ideas for a change.

Now, I can’t personally attest to the quality of the recipes because (and this is the biggest surprise of this whole experience) Mike has completely taken over our Blue Apron boxes. He has cooked every single meal since we got them.

I think this is the beauty of the Blue Apron service. Mike likes cooking but doesn’t have a lot of time for meal planning or grocery shopping. With Blue Apron, He gets to concentrate on the part of cooking that he likes– the cooking.  Mike says the recipes are all clear and easy to follow, even with minimal experience. And since everything he has made has been delicious and technically well prepared, I’m inclined to believe him.

Here are the meals we’ve had so far: (Sorry I didn’t take more pics! I wasn’t planning to blog about this in the beginning and also, I was hungry.)

Pan-roasted Salmon Ramen (this one was great!)

Pork chops

Center-cut Pork Chops with Beet, Heirloom Carrots and Hazelnut Salad (an example of flavors I wouldn’t have put together but it was my favorite so far.)

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Kumquat Relish & Freekeh Salad (I had never even HEARD of freekeh before)

Bouillabaisse-Style Fish Stew (this was amazing!)

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Maple-Glazed Carrots (Gabbi’s favorite so far)

Blue Apron BoxSteak & Miso-Roasted Vegetable Salad

Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwiches with Butter Lettuce & Apple Salad (very good, especially the salad dressing)

Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie with Cremini Mushrooms & Purple Tops Turnips (this one is on deck for tonight)

So you are probably asking yourself, how expensive is this box of wonderment? Honestly, it’s not that expensive. We get the two-person box with three meals per week. It works out to a little under $60 (including delivery), or $10 per serving. Now that may sound like a lot, but we realized quickly that the convenience of having everything we needed on hand and not running to the grocery store for ingredients (and ending up spending a minimum of $50/trip) and not eating out cause neither of us has through about dinner means we are actually saving money with Blue Apron. (I may be a food snob but I am also cheap. Trust me, it’s a good deal.)

We are also eating healthier (each menu is between 500-700 calories per person) and throwing away way less food.

We are also now positively evangelical about Blue Apron, as you can see. Which is why I emailed the company and told them that I have a little yarn company and a little blog, and would they like to offer our readers a special deal?

They were just lovely about it and said yes. My first 50 readers to try Blue Apron will get two free meals with their first Blue Apron box. You have to follow this link to get the Juniper Moon Farm deal, though.  ****

Bleu Apron Discount

When you click the link, it will take you to the page screen-shot-ed above. Click on the orange “redeem offer” button to get the discount. (If you have trouble, let me know!)

So give it a whirl. And let me know how it works for you. If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them in the comments, but you can find tons of info on the Blue Apron FAQs as well.

**** We have a new working link, y’all!

Our favorite PITA dinner

It has been a million years since I’ve written a blog post! I would like to say I feel bad about this, but the truth is, I just haven’t had the motivation– or the energy– for doing much but the bare minimum lately. My pregnancy is going fantastically and I have nothing to complain about besides the fact that I’m just tired by the time I finish all the stuff that I have to get done in a day.

Blogging isn’t the only thing in my life that has suffered, though. I have done so little cooking in the last six months that its shameful! We’ve resorted to scrambled eggs for dinner more times than I can count, along with baked potatoes (yes, just baked potatoes by themselves), rotisserie chickens and a whole lot of take-out food. On the rare occasions when I’m home alone for dinner, I can’t even muster that level of cooking- tea and toast are good enough for just me!

So on Sunday, when Mike asked me to make his very favorite dinner, I didn’t have a whole lot of excuses for saying no. In addition to the fact that I’ve been phoning it in for months, Mike has filled the gap in innumerable ways every day, taking over chores that were previously mine and making sure I get plenty of rest. Since he had spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on the nursery (mudding and sanding the walls, painting, putting together furniture, hanging window treatments, building a bookcase, etc.) I figured dinner was the least I could do.

I feel a little bit guilty that I’m sharing this recipe with you all, because the results are delicious and it’s sure to become a favorite with the people you feed. Those people will want you to put this into your regular rotation of meals and the truth is, it’s a total pain in the ass to make. One hundred and ten percent worth all the effort, time in the kitchen and dirty dishes, but a PITA, nevertheless.

Roasted Vegetables with Couscous and Goat Cheese

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Roasted Vegetables with Couscous and Goat Cheese! (This recipe actually originated with Erin, JMF’s very first employee and one of my dearest friends. I will never forgive her for introducing me to it.)

I know what you are thinking. It doesn’t sound like such a big deal to roast some veggies and throw them on top of couscous. But the key to making this amazing dish is in the details, y’all.

Much like my famous Terribly Inconvenient Granola recipe, the key to Roasted Vegetable with Couscous and Goat Cheese is cooking each individual ingredient separately to it’s individual peak of perfection, and then combining them all at the end.

Other than the fact that it takes a lot of time to chop and cook each individual vegetable, leaving your kitchen looking like it’s been pillaged by huns (huns with a deep appreciation of olive oil) it’s a cinch to pull off.

Start by deciding which vegetables you want to include. I like to  do a minimum of eight and I switch some of them up depending on my mood and what’s in season. You can use pretty much anything but I highly recommend including parsnips, mushrooms of some sort, whole heads of garlic and grape tomatoes.  Caramelized onions are a must. This particular day, I added carrots, tiny potatoes, shallots, sweet potatoes  to the mix.

When you are grocery shopping for this dinner, you will need to keep telling yourself that you need more vegetables than you think. People tend to eat a lot more of vegetarian dishes than the do when their is a slab of meat involved. I once served enormous quantities of this dish to a big party at my farm house. I bought a minimum of five pounds of each vegetable, thinking it would be awesome to have leftover the next day to put in omelets. In reality, there wasn’t enough food and I ended up with nothing on my plate but couscous and an onion. For reals. Buy more than you think you need.

When you get home from the market, preheat your oven to 450 degrees immediately. All the veggies will be cooked at the same temperature but for different lengths of time. If you have two oven, thank your lucky stars for all the good fortune you have and preheat them both. I only have one oven but I use my toaster oven as a second.

You are going to need a large bowl, olive or avocado oil, kosher salt and just about every cookie sheet, roasting pan and pyrex dish you own.

Chop each individual vegetable type, keeping in mind that your goal is to create smallish pieces that will cook at the same rate.

With carrots, I cut them in half length-wise and them split the thicker top halves in half again. Same with parsnips. I cheated and bought the cubed sweet potatoes that my grocery stores has in the produce section, which saves a ton of time. I washed and halved crimini mushrooms, trimming just a tiny bit off the stems.

The tiny potatoes I leave whole. Same with the grape tomatoes. After you chop all the carrots, throw them in the large bowl, drizzle them with oil and sprinkle with salt and give them a good toss. (Tongs are great for this.)

When everything is evenly coated, throw them onto a pan and pop them into the oven.  Try not to over crowd your pans, as that will lead to steaming which is not what you want here at all. Steamed vegetables are very hard to get a good brown roast on, so give your veggies some elbow room. Then tackle the parsnips the same way.

For the tiny potatoes, I boil them in salted water until tender before roasting them because otherwise they take forever. Actually, this is why I usually just leave them out.

Keep working through the vegetables, saving the sweet potatoes for last if you are using them. I cook everything for this dish with only oil and salt, with the exception of the sweet potatoes. They also get a half a teaspoon of so of cumin powder thrown in. (By saving them for last, you won’t have to wash your bowl in between the other veggies.) Also, if the sweet potatoes are nicely cubed, they will have one of the shortest cooking time.

With shallots and garlic, leave them whole and unpeeled. Throw them in the bowl with oil and then place them in a baking dish and cover with foil tightly. Into the oven they go.

One absolute essential to making this dish work is caramelized onions. If you are going to leave them out, you may as well skip the whole dish. To caramelize the onions, peel a couple of large onions and cut them in half along the hemisphere (not the equator!) keeping the stem intact. Slice the onion thinly and uniformly into half circles.  Place the onions in a sauté pan over medium heat with a couple teaspoons of oil and cook them slowly until they are brown to dark brown in color. You can’t rush caramelizing onions, but it’s going to take you a while to roast all those veggies, so no worries.

As the vegetables cook on their individual pans, check them from time to time for doneness but try not to open the oven doors too much, as it will slow everything down. You will know they are done when they are nicely burnished and fork-tender. Stuff is going to be coming out of the oven at different times and your faster cooking veggies will have to wait on the slower ones. Don’t fret about that.

When it looks like most of the vegetables are nearing completion, and your caramelized onions are finished, it’s time to start the couscous. Like with the vegetables, make more couscous than you think you’ll need. I usually make two cups of dry couscous for a couple of people and count on having leftovers.

When the couscous is done, fluff it with a fork and then spoon it into the center of a platter. (After going to all this trouble, you really want the wow factor of a platter.) Surround the couscous with various veggies in discrete piles so that your diners can pick and chose what they want. On top of the steaming couscous, place an ample dollop of goat cheese (or Boursin cheese, which takes this dish into the sublime) and scatter everything with the caramelized onions. Encourage your guests to take a big spoonful of the cheese, along with their couscous and vegetables, and to squeeze to some of the roasted garlic onto their plates. (You should probably have more cheese on the table, as people always ask for more.

Voila! You have made an amazingly delicious dinner in only 150 simple steps! Sure it took you three hours to roast all those vegetable but it really is totally worth it.

Some other vegetables I like to use in this dish are:

-roasted asparagus (trim the ends only and roast briefly)

-cubed butternut squash

-pan-charred green beans

-zucchini, slice long and roasted or grilled

- red bell peppers, cut into small strips.

You can use just about anything that will hold up to a hot oven. I’d love to hear what your favorite combos are.

P.S. You deserve a medal for wading through that wall of text. Give yourself an extra piece of dessert tonight.

Probably something you would like…

10 Tips to Start Living in the Present

10 Toxic People You Shouldn’t Bring With You Into The New Year

A-frozen-lighthouse-near-Lake-Michigan.-The-30-Most-Amazing-Photos-Of-Frozen-Things-In-Honor-Of-The-Coldest-Morning-Of-The-21st-Century

A-frozen-kind-of-depressed-statue.-The-30-Most-Amazing-Photos-Of-Frozen-Things-In-Honor-Of-The-Coldest-Morning-Of-The-21st-Century

The 30 Most Amazing Photos Of Frozen Things You’ll Ever See Actually, there are about 6 or 7 that are amazing, some that are pretty good and a couple that leave you wondering why anyone would publish them, but the ones that are amazing are worth going to see.

This is the trailer for “Addicted to Sheep”, a feature length documentary that I want to see.

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Magical Russian Fairy Tale Photographs. These really know me out!

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Special Delivery: Rare Set Of Elephant Twins Born In South Africa

Best Wedding Photo of 2014

25 Must-See Wedding Photos From 2014. These are all pretty amazing.

What’s making you happy this week?

Probably something you would like…

I don’t know about you, but the last couple of weeks have been emotionally exhausting. I am in dire need of reminding that the world is a wonderful, magical place. Here are a few of the things that are making me happy this week:

 

The Man Who Quit Money: An Interview with Daniel Suelo. Interesting read.

Dishwasher Cooking

Dishwasher Cooking is apparently a thing.

Abandoned Textile Mill

A colourful past: Haunting images of abandoned textile mill show wool still on the looms and stacks of yarn on shelves. Amazing pics.

Van Gogh Inspired Solar Bike Path

Solar-powered Glowing Bike Path in the Netherlands Inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Is there anything making you smile this week? Please share with us here.

A quilt for the baby

I am blessed with a man who is willing to try anything and is good at just about everything he tries. As far as Mike is concerned, so long as there are Youtube videos, her can probably figure it out.

So it was no surprise that when he started sewing clothes for my step-daughter Gabbi last year, he was a much better sewist than I am right out of the box. (His attention to detail is and patience are a lot greater than mine as well.) This week, he decided he wants to make a quilt for our baby’s nursery and this is the one he selected:

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I’m super excited, because I love this quilt and it fits in perfectly with out son-to-be’s room, but there is no way I could possibly have the patience to cut out all those fiddly coast lines! Lucky for me, I don’t have to.

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Mike did task me with picking out the fabric I wanted for the continents. It was much more difficult to put seven prints together than I thought it would be, though. I originally tried using fabrics that sort of represented each continent (i.e. stars/stripes on North America, bold pinks and reds for Asia) but it the fabrics were fighting with each other and it looked too noisy.

 I’ve pulled together five options from our own fabric stash and the local fabric shop. I like them all in different ways but I would love to hear what you think.

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First up is dots of different sizes and colors.

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Next, the blues.

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This one is all bold prints. mostly from the latest Denyse Schmidt collection.

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This is an even bolder collection that I put together from what we have on hand, but it needs to be filled out more.

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Finally, the plaids. I love the gentle colors in this grouping but I think it is too pale to go with the rest of his nursery.

Keep in mind that the water background will be either white or a pale, pale blue.

Help me out, readers! Which collection do you like best with the pattern? Or should I scrap these and start over?

 

Modern Country Knits is Here!

Modern Country Knits

It’s hard to believe it’s really here! Putting together and publishing a book seems to take forever until you are holding a copy in your hands. Then it all seems to have happened at lightening speed. I shot most to the images for this book in January/February, practically yesterday.

The real star of this book, though, are the designs. We hired some amazing designers to give us their take on Modern County knits and they really delivered. I’m posting some of my favorite images below but honestly? Every pattern is the book is something I would want to make and wear. In fact, I insisted on it, because no one wants to buy a book with one or two great patterns in it.

(I’m putting in links to Ravelry so you can heart and queue your faves!)

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This is the Pella Pullover by Carolyn Noyes. It’s knit in Findley DK ( a Merino/silk blend, so it’s warm as the dickens, but light.)

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This sleepy lamb was so comfortable in Shay’s arms that she couldn’t keep her eyes open.

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I adore the mini cables in the Paducah Pullover by Bonnie Franz.

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The Cloud croft Pullover by Galina Carroll wins the prize for “garment everyone on the shoot wanted to swipe”. It’s made with Herriot Great, our 100% baby alpaca bulky yarn, so it knits up fast.

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The Mattatuck Tee by Tabetha Hedrick. I’ve worked with Tabetha a lot and she always brings something so fresh to her designs. (In case you’re wondering, we took about 400 shots to get the horse to cooperate. He was our only diva model.)

Mattatuck Tee

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County Line Vest by Theresa Schabes. Knitted plaid, y’all. It’s so cool.

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The River Falls Cardigan by Susan Adkins is so delicate and feminine. It’s made with Zooey ( a cotton/linen blend) so this model is freezing in this pic!

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Decorah Cardigan by Zahra Jade Knott. This card uses Findley and Findley DK. Again, warm but light.

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Maryville Cardigan by Lois S. Young is a super fun Fair Isle.

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In addition to the new patterns, we’ve included 10 of Juniper Moon Farm’s most popular patterns that are no longer available in booklets. And the most popular of all is Darlington Dress (formerly called Hattie) by Caroline Fryar. My friend Caro Sheridan took this picture and it’s everything knitwear photography should be.

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Abilene Stole by Yoko Hatta is a work of art.

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The Williston Hat by Nadia Elgawarsha. Not only is the hat super cute, it was so much fun shooting our model Maddie with Cini, our beloved Maremma.

This is just a taste of what’s in the book, believe it or not. You can see all the projects in the book right here.

And, if you live in Pennsylvania, you can get your very own signed copy of Modern Country Knits and see all of these gorgeous garments in person this weekend! I’m doing two book signing at two wonderful local yarn store.

  • I will be at KNIT in Newtown, PA on November 22, starting at 10 a.m., signing books and showing off the trunk show. This is a little GEM of a shop, and the women who run the place are amazingly helpful. KNIT is located at 10 S. State Street in Newtown PA in Bucks County. For more details, give them a call at (267) 685-0794
  • Sunday, November 23 I will be hosted  by Purls of Wisdom in Phoenixville, PA from 4-6 p.m.  This event is being held off-site at the Kimberton Inn, and you must get a ticket in advance by calling 610 933 5010. They are also doing a small dinner with me after the main event that should be really fun! Details on the Purls of Wisdom site. 

Stranded Colorwork Sourcebook Winner!

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Oh my goodness! I completely forgot to pick a winner in our book giveaway! In my defense, Mike worked from home yesterday and today is a holiday, so he’s home again, and it just felt like one extended weekend around here. I am so sorry.

 

The winner, chosen at random, is…

 

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Carolyn, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I will get this out ASAP.

And to the 109 people who didn’t win, please do add this lovely book to your holiday wish list. It really is a treasure and there is simply nothing like it on the market today.

The Cure for What Ails You

With cold season upon us, I thought it was a good time to re-post this recipe. Enjoy!

A few months ago, my friend Jerry told me that he always keeps a jar of his special cold remedy on hand- honey with lemons and ginger- so when he gets sick he can stir it into tea or hot water. I had an abundance of honey on hand from our own hives, so I decided to give it a try. I had no idea I would be needing it so soon!

Honey Ginger Lemon

Jerry was a little sketchy with the details, so I just sliced up one Meyer lemon (that’s what I had on hand; a regular lemon will work just fine) and a small knob of ginger, about the size of my thumb. You can use less ginger if you aren’t a fan. Put the lemon and ginger in a jar and cover with honey.

Cold Relief

I keep mine in the refrigerator and it seems to get better the longer you infuse it. I don’t know that it’s actually making my cold better but adding a dollop to my hot tea is certainly making my throat feel better! I call it Wonder Honey!

Wouldn’t it be lovely to keep a few small jars of Wonder Honey on hand to gift to friends with colds?

The Gnocchi Update

** Susan here! A few weeks ago we posted about the dogs of Juniper Moon Farm and several of you asked for a Gnocchi update. I am pleased as punch to let my (other) friend Amy bring you up to speed on his adventures.  (Other) Amy lives in the same town as the farm with her husband (other) Paul. We met them when Amy came to Shepherding Camp a few years ago. They are just lovely and perhaps the only people I would have even considered allowing to adopt sweet Gnocchi.**

 

 

Remember that sweet little dumpling of a puppy who was the runt of Lucy’s litter?

 

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Well, Gnocchi’s all grown up now and guarding a flock of his own.

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In August we were so fortunate to adopt Gnocchi for a livestock guardian dog at our little farm. It only took a Ziploc full of cheese, ½ lb of sliced ham, and 2 fresh eggs to bribe Gnocchi to get in the back of my Subaru to ride from Juniper Moon Farm to his new home 20 minutes away at Sweet Gum Farm. That, and a lot of TLC and patience from me, Amy Karasz and her daughters Oona and Neve. Leashes and cars were new to Gnocchi, but he was such a good sport. He settled right in and now watches over 3 wool sheep, 3 dairy goats, and 7 chickens.

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Gnocchi spends his days lounging in the grass or the barn with the sheep and goats. He greets me every morning and evening with the most adorable bouncing happy-dance. He is super snuggly and eager for a scratch behind the ears. Whenever I pet one of the sheep or goats, I can almost guarantee he’ll insert his head between them and my hand to get attention for himself. But if he hears one leaf rustling in the woods, he’s off– always on duty! At night he patrols the pasture, and I’m reassured when I hear his deep WOOF in the darkness.   I’m thankful he didn’t inherit his mother’s wanderlust. He’s never once tried to go over the fence.

 

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Gnocchi also gets along well with our other two dogs, Gus and Maggie. Gus is a border collie, and as you’d expect, too obsessed with fetching and herding to pay much attention to anything else. But Gnocchi’s especially enchanted with Maggie, a 7 year old mutt. He would sniff her butt all day if he could. I guess he likes older women.

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I adore this big white teddy bear of a dog. And I sleep easier at night knowing he’s out there watching over our livestock.

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Happy Wovember, Everyone!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the greatest month of the year- WOVEMBER! Wovember is the project of one of my very favorite people, a friend that I haven’t met in person yet, Felicity Ford.

Here is how Wovember is described by it’s creator:

“The idea is to show our collective appreciation of WOOL by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and celebrating WOOL and its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. We hope that through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of WHAT MAKES WOOL DIFFERENT, and jointly create a force for WOOL APPRECIATION strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed.”

As knitters and sheep enthusiast, you will undoubtably want to visit the Wovember website every day this month for amazing photography and thoughtful, well-researched articles about  sheep, knitting traditions, cottage wool industries and so much more.  Where most of what you can find on the internet barely skims the surface, the folks at Wovember dig deep into their subject matter and what they publish is one a whole other level of wool scholarship.

This Wovember is an extra special one for Felicity because it also marks the publication of her book, KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook.

 

Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford

Can I tell you a secret? I have been agonizing over how I could possibly write a review of this book that would begin to do it justice. I feared that my writing skills weren’t up to the task because this book is important. It’s also lovely and sublime and everything I hoped it would be. I caused myself all manner of anxiety over writing about it because it is a book that is worthy of more than the few cursory sentences that my pregnancy-addled brain can manage this week.

Well, lucky for all of us, the amazing Ms Ysolda Teague has written a review of Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook that is worthy of Felicity’s book. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and pop over to Ysolda’s blog to read it. (You should be reading Ysolda’s blog on the regular anyhow. She is one of the smartest young women I’ve ever met and I admire the hell out of her. I have also had the pleasure of watching her knit– it was like watching a master paint a portrait.)

Then come back here because, in addition to my own copy of Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, I ordered a copy to give away to one of you.

To put your name in the hat, just leave a comment on this blog post between now and Friday morning at 10 a.m. EST. One will will be chosen at random and I will announce the lucky duck here on Friday.

If you cannot wait to get your hands on a copy of Stranded Colourwork or you just aren’t feeling lucky, please do order a copy for yourself. Don’t be put off by the fact that it ships from the U.K.– mine arrived in just a couple of days.

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