Yeah, well…

I can learn new things, I know this for a fact. Why, just recently I learned a little more html, I learned a new recipe, and I learned to play a new song on the piano. Heck, I learn things every day. I stuff new things into my mind all the time, working toward experiencing new things and growing as a person.
Why then does there appear to be some things that I just can’t learn? I mean, I learn them, I even learn them the hard way, in ways that involve pain, frustration and curse words, but then a little while later the memory of having learned that seeps away and I am as an empty vessel….ready to make the same stupid, stupid mistake again.
I started knitting the cardie (from the pattern that took hours to work out) and something started bothering me. A little voice in the back of my head kept saying “Didn’t we learn something about this?” Nah, I think. What could there be? I keep knitting but the satisfaction level doesn’t pick up. I decide that it must be the stitch I’m using, rip back, alter the pattern and try again. I repeat this several times (over several hours) and finally, I learn something, a flash of knowledge sweeps over me and in that moment of inspiration I realize what the problem is…It’s not me, it’s not the stitch, it’s not the pattern.
It’s the yarn. I dislike cotton and I hate cotton for Arans. It doesn’t give, it makes lame looking stitches it’s heavy and it hurts my hands. I have officially abandoned ship.
toad
I have learned this before. There has been other baby stuff, several tanks, and one nightmarish descent into hades where I knit Lene a cabled berber cotton sweater that I hope she treasures. There was even The Bird Jacket, which was such a powerful teaching tool that I still feel a little queasy when I think of it. Matter of fact, just after I knit that I lost most of the vision in my right eye. I don’t think that it damaged my vision, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the optic nerve in that eye had committed suicide trying to get away from the horror. I’m going to the yarn shop today and I will get myself some lovely soft wool and knit some little hats out of this yarn (or burn it to complete ash under a full moon while dancing a dance to release me from the cycle of perpetual cotton punishment). If y’all see me picking up yarn like this again, for the love of sheep….stop me.
The antidote?
alpacascarf
Yum. It’s the alpaca from Aubergine, and it’s perfect and beautiful and not cotton. It’s going to be a scarfy-wrappy sort of elegant thing. I’m going to knit two ends like this, then some sort of centre lace part, then graft them together. It should be fairly straightforward to work out, assuming that there is nothing the planet would like to teach me about alpaca.
cherries
This is my front yard tree, anybody want to teach me something about sour cherries? Like, what you do with 10 million of them?

31 thoughts on “Yeah, well…

  1. You send morgen and I the sour cherries and we make pie and turnovers and a clafouti. Are they sour because they aren’t ripe or sour because they are simply not sweet cherries.
    Sour cherries are for baking – they are the absolute best for baking.
    All the alpaca will tell you is that it is going to STRETCH and be heavy.

  2. Yes, it will stretch. But it will be warm and stretchy! When working with it’s sister skein, I actually held it double to give it a little more “Hrmph!” *Note the stiff upper lip*
    The only thing I can tell you about sour cherries is don’t eat them. They are sour. And, if you live in a city (as do I), be careful about eating anything you plant in your soil. DC has more lead (from lead paint) in it’s soil, and well, what is apparently more lead than is healthy in it’s water, that I know better. A friend of mine grew squash in his backyard one year and upon eating them, he said they literally tasted like garbage.
    Bon Appetit!

  3. My MIL picks hers and makes nice with the neighbors by extending open invitations to harvest around the neighborhood. Then she mixes up a bunch of cherry pie filling and freezes it in Zip Loc bags so whenever she needs a homemade pie, she can pull out a 1 pie portion and think of her trees.

  4. I have just finished the sour cherry pie story ad nauseum. You will need a cherry pitter to save your sanity. I have the pitter, you have the cherries…seems to me there is a deal to be made here.

  5. Whatever you do, pick them before they all drop to the ground, or your shoes and floors and carpets will be pinkish FOREVER. Hey, maybe sour cherries would make a fab organic yarn dye, so that something else can be pinkish forever!

  6. Yarn Hades: I’m still trying to get over a bad (*shudder*) episode with cotton chenille. I empathize.
    Cherries: You become the Yarn Harlot Tartlet Queen 😉

  7. Oh, Steph, you should post the Bird Jacket story!
    (It was brilliant, for those of you who haven’t gone digging through the KnitList archives for Steph’s hysterically funny posts.)
    Just think, Steph, you could do “Best of Harlot” with those old posts, and get a few days off from blogging while providing much amusement for readers out here in blogland.

  8. Those cherries look like montmorency pie cherries to me. (Look at the flesh — if it’s sort of amber-brown… if the juice is clearish… those be pie cherries, matey!) If this is the case, you’re in luck. Excellent eating awaits you.
    Things you can do with montmorency pie cherries:
    1. Make cherry pie. Certainly you know how to make this. If, on the off chance that you do not know how to make this, refer to handy (illustrated) website directions with ingredient list: http://www.bedford.net/teep/pies.htm
    A woman who can freestyle her way to the Swatch-o-snowdrops can certainly master pie crust if she hasn’t already. I have faith.
    2. Add sugar, almond extract, cornstarch, make topping for home-made cheesecake. I’m certain you have a springform pan and three, four hours of your time available, right? Email me for the recipe if you need one. It’s quite good and only moderately painful.
    3. Add sugar, cornstarch, make topping for crepes or blintzes. Quite nummy.
    4. Make cherry preserves and can them. (No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I DO own a pressure canner and a nice selection of pint jars, canning utensils, and the guide my state’s extension service puts out.)
    5. Make cherry crisp. (Like apple crisp only with no cinnamon, added almond extract, more sugar, and some extra cornstarch for thickening.)
    This is quite good with vanilla ice cream.
    Sour pie cherries are really quite tasty and have better cherry flavor than sweet cherries. It is a sin and a shame that most modern people have never eaten a real cherry pie made with real cherries instead of that canned crud.

  9. Yes, make a pie and use a cherry pitter thingie. Only eat them straight if you love to suck on lemons, ’cause it’s pretty much the same thing. But the pie was perfect, tart, and good.

  10. I feel that someone must say something in the defense of cotton. I love cotton. Okay, it’s a filthy bitch to knit with but I love to wear it so much that I live with that, and suck up the sore hands; I knit more cotton than any other fibre. Isn’t an acrylic tank icky hot?
    You’re definitely not alone in the bullish refusal to learn department. After fourteen years of using the long-tail cast on for almost every project, I still can’t estimate accurately how much of a tail I need. In fact I ran out of tail starting something this morning.
    I canned two bushels of cherries once, without a pitter. Never, never do that. And in my experience, unless you can the cherries with booze, you’ll probably get more use out of a freezer full of pie than a pantry of cherries in syrup.

  11. As everyone has already said: these make great pie cherries. You don’t need a pitter, though. We harvest gallons of sour cherries every year and pit them all in one mad orgy of cherry pits, and here’s what we use: take a paperclip (small or large both work) and unfold it once so that it’s in an “s” shape. Find a wine cork (with hours of pitting ahead of you, you may want to open a bottle of wine). Take the small end of the small paperclip or the large end of the large paperclip, and use packing or duct tape to affix it firmly to the side of the wine cork. Now you have a handle (the cork) and a pitter (the free end of the paper clip). Hold the cherry in your non-dominant hand, and plunge the paperclip into the center, pulling the pit out.
    I swear to you, it works better and is less tiring on the hands than a “real” cherry pitter… and depending on how many bottles you open, you can make as many as you want.
    Be warned, though – cherry juice stains, particularly your fingertips. To avoid having dark fingertips for the next few days, rub a little butter into them before you start pitting – it won’t hurt the cherries, and makes an excellent barrier to the juice.

  12. Pit. Freeze. Pie.
    Oh, for a cherry tree of my own. I have to go to the pick-your-own place for mine.
    One of those U-shaped hairpins (the heavier sort) works just as well as a paper clip, BTW. Something tells me you might have some hairpins around.

  13. Tons of ideas for cherries as we had them in our yards for years.
    Sour Cherry Turnovers
    Cherry pie
    Cherry ice cream
    Frozen cherry smoothies (free the cherries instead of adding ice)
    SOur cherry & pineapple cake
    DUmp cake with sour cherries in a sugar sauce
    If any of these sound good to you just email me have tons of recipes
    Love your snse of humor on your blog. If you can’t laugh at yourself then who can u laugh at
    Mel

  14. OK Steph, you have obviously not *really* learned what you need to from cotton…. mainly: What is it about cotton that draws you to it even though you hate to knit with it?
    Is it that it is washable? Or lightweight? What is so great that you lose all memory of the tortuous process through which it puts you?
    You need to figure out why you have to keep learning this lesson, and then you can stop the vicious cycle. Maybe what you really need is a decent superwash wool. Or a cotton [gasp!] acrylic blend that will be light but not so damnably heavy and prone-to-losing-its-shapeish…?
    In any case, I think (like you mentioned), if it was an all the way learned lesson, you would remember it like you do all of the other millions of things you remember in a day.
    And I haven’t the foggiest idea about the cherries. 🙂

  15. When I was growing up it was a garter from a retired garter belt that was called into service to pit cherries. (You know, the clip thingy?) I don’t know if you have one of those lying around, but maybe that’s where being a harlot comes in handy …
    I think it’s most important that you so quickly grasped the only important knitting concept: it’s okay to change your mind about a project, and there is no shame attached to frogging something and reassigning the yarn.

  16. The cherries you could always send to me!! Your tree looks much more mature than mine, although I will have a small crop, it will in no way match yours! So many possibilities… Now you will have to start staying awake for 60 hour stretches to deal with the kids, spinning, knitting, designing, and of course there are those beautiful cherries!!! GOOD LUCK, oh great harlot!

  17. Sour Cherries? Wow! For years, I thought I didn’t like them. Then I made some jam last year (just a little, two pints), this year I made a pie and I’m in love. LOVE. You can prep the pie filling and freeze it if you don’t have time to actually do more than that now. Jam is good, I don’t process it, just stick it in the freezer. Amazing stuff. Have fun!! Yum!

  18. If you do make and freeze pie filling, try this idea I heard about recently (which I haven’t tried yet): put the filling in freezer bags, then get the pie plate you’ll want to make the pie in later, and *put the freezer bag in the pie plate*, so that the filling takes the shape of the pie plate.
    Later, when you want to make a pie, you make a crust, and then just pop the filling-sicle into the crust, and you don’t have to wait for it to thaw before you bake it. Voila!
    NB: this is not my brilliant idea; I think I read it in Fine Cooking.
    Good luck!

  19. As for the alpaca all you need to learn is soft, warm, drapey. Heavy? no way. Stretchy? a bit if knit loosely. I have several alpaca sweaters and socks and they hold their shape very well.

  20. pitting cherries might be a good project for the girls and they could throw the pits at the fleece stealing squirrel. Serving three porposes — get the cherries pitted, keep the girls busy, and let the squirrel know where you stand
    j

  21. This is probably more of historical interest than practical application, but if you happened to have a surplus of currents as well, the combination makes superb jelly. I fear Granny took the recipe with her to her grave, but she had almost limitless amounts of this in her larder. I suspect she canned as much in her retirement years as when she was raising 5 kids.

  22. Those cherries look like the ones of my childhood – tart, juicy, delicious, and the BEST for baking and jam. I’ll bet you could also dry them and use in any recipe that features dried cranberries. Some people may think they are too tart to eat, but I used to sit up in the tree gorging myself in season. Enjoy.

  23. I seem to have amnesia when it comes to cotton yarn myself. My excuse is that I live in the southern US where wool is only useful for about 30 days out of the year. The crisp, cool look of mercerized cotton calls to me every time. Unfortunately, I can’t even knit a small cotton hat without my hands. Crocheting with cotton doesn’t bother me at all, but I never seem to remember that.

  24. Hmm… cotton yarn never bothered me. But all I knit with it were dish cloths. Maybe using larger needles than necessary would work?
    Cherries –> wine!

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