Category Archives: Tools


My friend Kathy told me about something called Farm Box last year and I was intrigued. Canmore-based Farm Box is modelled after a basic CSA (community supported agriculture) program in which we (consumers) buy shares of growers’ harvests at the beginning of the season and receive our shares at our local farmers’ markets at harvest time. Farm Box represents a number of producers and the best thing about the shares (in my opinion) is that we don’t know what we’re getting until just before market day.  There’s something different every week.

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This week’s Farm Box offered us the chance to buy a case lot of Roma tomatoes, pickling cucumbers or peaches. I went in for the tomatoes and they’ve taken over my life for the past 2 days. I’ve still got a few pounds to process but truly, one can not live by tomatoes alone!

I turned this


into 6 pints of tomato sauce, ready to add a fresh spark to dull, cold winter evening meals.

Another couple of pounds of tomatoes went towards this.


Gazpacho shot, anyone?

There are still enough tomatoes left for some salsa and some freezer-bound tomato soup.  Tomorrow is another day.

Beautiful small beets went towards a fully-stuffed pint of pickled beets (one of BB’s favourites) and zucchini turned into zucchini-chocolate chip mini loaves.


All of this cooking, freezing and processing leads me to naming my favourite kitchen gadget/tool of the week.


A food mill. In this case, the OXO Good Grips Food Mill. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and has 3 discs for your choice of fine, medium or coarse processing. It saved me a lot of time and clean-up, especially when it came to making the tomato sauce.  I’ve wanted a food mill for years and just wish I’d gotten it sooner.

That extra time allowed me to start a new needle-and-string project.


More on that later, as well as some new, and local, yarn (!)


Thou Shawl Not Knit

Something happened yesterday and I didn’t finish my shawl in time for the end of MadMay 2012.   I didn’t drop a stitch but I think I knit more together than I was supposed to.  All I know is that I was short a couple (a few?) stitches on a 12-stitch repeat.  I looked at it over and over again, from different directions, in different light and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I’d done wrong.  And no, I wasn’t using a lifeline.  Why would I need a lifeline?  I was only working on some 240 stitches (and more with each row).  I finally realized that tears were only blurring my vision, making it harder to see where the yarn had turned on me. It happens, you know.  You’re knitting along without a care in the world and bang, the yarn has decided to do something else.  Something that has nothing to do with your shawl/sock/scarf.

The only thing left to do was tink (for those who don’t know, “tink” is “knit” spelled backwards and it means to unknit – one stitch at a time).  I had to go back 156 stitches one way, and then 156 again the other way.  Halfway through, I hit a wall.  I couldn’t look at another stitch.  Could not.  I got in the car and drove to Canmore.  You’re thinking I went to Knit and Caboodle  for yarn therapy or a shoulder to cry on, but that wasn’t it.   I needed something from Kitchen Boutique, something I’ve had my eye on since I started working there.

Epicurean Pizza Cutter

A pizza cutter.

Yes, I have one of those rotary ones and it works just fine at cutting.  But I got tired of having the pizza slip around the cutting board.  I don’t have that problem anymore.  While I was at it, I bought a cook-it-yourself fresh pizza too.  Time saved cooking dinner was used on the shawl.  It was a good call.

I had every intention of picking up the shawl this morning but then this appeared.

It’s not what you think.  It’s all very innocent, really.  I got to thinking about Ravelympics 2012.  Ravelympics is a Ravelry group whose antics projects coincide with the Summer Olympics.  The idea is to challenge ourselves with new techniques or project types and start and finish one or more of these projects during the Olympics. I’m really counting on the “finish” part this time, but my record has recently been sullied.

I’m on a team (Team SYR2) and have been trying to decide what events I want to participate in and what patterns I want to use.  You know I love knitting socks but I always start them from the cuff down.  I’ve been meaning to try toe-up for some time, but I’ve managed to find an excuse not to at every turn.  I’ve decided that will be my Ravelympics challenge.

Sifting through patterns on Ravelry led me to a tutorial for Judy’s Magic Cast-on.  I was sitting there, assorted knitting needles next to me, as well as a couple of skeins of yarn, so what the heck.  It took a couple of tries but I think I got the hang of it.  Figured while I was at it, I may as well find out what my gauge is with this yarn that I have plans for (Noro Taiyo Sock – plans are a secret for now).  See.  Totally innocent.

Now back to my shawl.

PS  I lost a little time this morning after someone (I won’t mention any names, Tricia) led me to a link for “The Sock Report”, a new emag dedicated to sock yarn.  You can ooh and aah over it here.  It’s gorgeous.  You’ll love it.  You can thank me (and Tricia) later.

All Wound Up

Here it is, middle of the week, Hump day.  And from the top of that hump, here’s what I see.  Berry Patch Socks – – in progress.  Cardigan – – in progress, though kinda snoozin’ now since it’s been untouched in the knitting bag for a couple of weeks.  Mid-month dishcloth KAL is on the needles at Day 2 (yesterday was Day 6).  Still need to vacuum and finish with laundry.  BB comes home in 6 or 7 hours.  Sigh.  Think I need a kick-start before the day is done.

That Palindrome scarf  in the hateful yarn?  I’ve pulled it back to a 5″ length (from 8″) and cast it off to try washing it once or twice and see how it reacts.  I’m not going to make the scarf though; not in the Bernat Alpaca.  I considered a fleece-lined neck warmer instead but am now thinking lined mittens.  Will probably use a fleece liner rather than a knitted one, for speed’s sake if nothing else.  I might need those mittens sooner than I’d planned.

As a treat to myself last night, I gathered the supplies for the Tilta Swift, as mentioned earlier. 

Then I put it all together, as per the directions on the website.  The empty dishwasher detergent container replaced a cardboard box, the pasta was a stabilizer and I used 4 extra clothespins.



To the uninitiated, I’m sure this looks weird, but to any knitter with a hank of yarn, this looks COOL!

Once it was together I couldn’t be bothered finding the “perfect” place to set up the ball winder; I was in the kitchen and so was everything else.  Naturally, there was no “perfect” place – until I removed a drawer.  Game on!



Unfortunately I can’t load the video I took of the swift and ball winder in action.  Will try to get it up and running soon – it’s very cool.


A few minutes of work and my 3 hanks of Berroco Softwist now look like this



That swift is the most brilliant thing I’ve seen in ages.  And I’m tickled every time I watch it do its thing – ’cause I made it!





The Supreme Irony


 You’ve probably seen this before, on TV or in your local Home Hardware store.  The Benchmark® Safe-Cut™ Dual Blade Package Opener! I’ve wanted one since I saw the first commercial for it.  Not as enticing as anything the Canadian Tire guy used to flog, but it seems useful.  It seems especially useful when you don’t have one and you’re trying to open one of those stupid packages without cutting off your hand – or at least a finger.

There’s only one problem with it.

It comes packaged like this:



“This is the last package you will struggle to open”

  Very funny.