Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Robert Burns Day!

Robert Burns
born January 25, 1759
died July 1796

In Scotland and all around the world, folk celebrate the birthday of Scotland's most famous poet, each year on the anniversary of his birth. How many poets or writers are celebrated in this way? The Peoria Scottish American Society added a few extra touches to the event this year, which took place last Saturday evening. They had a imitation tiered birthday cake with a banner that said 250 years at the top. Sorry I didn't get a photo of that. They had real cake too, although the pipers were too busy to eat any. We also received laminated souvenier bookmarks in our programs. I really like mine and I stole my husband's.

Do you want a translation of the menu? Haggis is a mixture of oats, entrails, and spices. Bridies=meat pies, Tatties= mashed potatoes, Bashed Neeps=mashed turnips or rutabaga, garden peas, etc. Our plates were brought out with all the above mentioned delicacies except for the haggis, which was served separately. I'm not a haggis lover but my husband ate his share. They said it was particularly good this year.

At the beginning of a Burns Supper, the haggis, which at this point looks like a cross between a giant sausage and a mound of brown jello, is carried in ceremoniously while a piper plays. Patrick played "Leaving Port Askaig" while Kevin, our new Pipe Major, carried the quivering mass on a platter. When they reach the head table. someone recites "Address to a Haggis", written by Rabbie Burns, who else? We all echo, "To The Haggis!", they throw back a shot or two of whiskey, and then the piper and carrier of the haggis march out. I don't know of any other food that gets this special treatment and if it weren't for Robert Burns' poem, you would probably never see anything remotely like this happening with haggis. In fact, nobody would probably eat it although it is still eaten in Scotland.

After eating as fast as we can the pipers go into the back room to tune the pipes. Meanwhile, I believe some singing and dancing is going on out front. There is a Toast to the Laddies and a Toast to the Lassies. The pipers come out and play The Grand March which seems to go on for a very long time. That is followed by a walz.

The Immortal Memory is a speech on the life of Robert Burns. This year the talk was particularly interesting because they enhanced it with a power point presentation and bits of his poetry were read.
During one of our breaks I met blogger Mrs. Aych--in the bathroom! She recognized me from my photo on the blog and she knew I played in this band.

Later we came out to play some sets of tunes alternating with the dancers, performing the Highland Fling, Broad Sword, Hornpipe, and other traditional dances.

I always have to get a photo of my favorite wee one in his kilt. This is Heather and her little guy.

The evening ends with everyone holding hands and singing the most famous Burns tune of all, Auld Lang Syne. (Remember it is Syne with an "S", not Zine with a Z.)

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

So Happy Robert Burns Day, wherever you are!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Trio of Hats

I made an assortment of hats for various family members for Christmas. I used Jared Flood's Turn A Square as a springboard, although I made a few changes. The first hat was a bit too roomy for my son so it now belongs to me. It is perfect because the long border comes out over my face and shields me from the wind during my walks.

Hat #1 Noro and Cascade stripes
Hat #2 Pure Nori
Hat #3 Noro and Cascade

For hats #1 and #2 I used a k1 p1 ribbing until I started the decreasing.

I'm having trouble with the labels today on Blogger. I can't put in the word "hats". Each time I try to do that, it automatically uses one of my other labels with "hats" in it. Grrrrrrr.

These hats are keeping noggins warm in our family.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Posing with Noro--a Scarf

I jumped on the Noro bandwagon to make this scarf for my son. Knitting a scarf can be tedious but the changing colors of the Noro Kureyon kept my interest the whole way. Love that stuff. I cast on 30 stitches for this one and it took a little over 1 skein of each colorway. Notes are on Ravelry.

When Nils opened the package he put the scarf around his neck and spontaneously struck some "model poses"--all in jest, of course. We were all laughing so hard but he kept a poker face. I can't imagine how I got a photo without shaking the camera.

This photo with him running his hand through his hair was the funniest one. And then staring into space with that pensive look. Not only is he a wonderful son, but he has a great sense of humor, too.

Thanks for your kind comments on my previous two posts! It's so fun to get your messages.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Holiday in Stitches

Over the next several days I'm going to share holiday photos related to knitting. Pete's gray sweater is an Elizabeth Zimmermann Saddle Shoulder. I incorporated a Fisherman pattern from Gladys Thompson--one of the Scottish Fleet and some others. I don't remember which at the moment. I actually lengthened the yoke of the sweater quite a bit after this photo was taken. It is a fairly close-fitting sweater and the yoke did seem quite short. At first Pete thought it was fine but after wearing it for a day or two he asked that I fixed it. Fortunately I found the yarn (Cascade Greenland) in the same dyelot from Purlescense in CA. Two or three days after the yarn arrived in the mail I had it redone since I just had to knit from the armholes up.

I wrote about Torben's Guernsey a few months ago. It's been marinating here for a while, just waiting for snow and cold, which we definitely had at Christmas.

I got a kick out of the way our 27 year old wrapped his gifts.
I'm including this photo for no particular reason except that I enjoy watching the three of them together. Since they live in different parts of the country we don't get to be together that often. Due to travel complications we only spent about 10 hours all together in the same place over the holidays, but it was GOOD!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Lace Shawl for Betty

It's been over a month since I've written and I've completed quite a few knitting projects. My computer was so cranky and slow. We finally got some software that took all the evil bugs out. I'm still getting some weird messages occasionally (runtime error, etc) but overall it is running well.

My latest finished project is Wool Peddler's Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's book Folk Shawls. I absolutely love this pattern. There was just enough garter stitch to get me into a trance and then when I grew tired of it, it was time for lace. I bought the yarn when my LYS had a sale in December: buy one skein and get the second one at half price. It is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and I'm totally spoiled now. I splurged on this project because it is a gift for a friend, a P.E.O. sister, whose husband died at the end of December. They had a difficult fight with cancer. She already received a prayer shawl from our group, Knit One Pray Too, but I wanted to make her something special that she can actually wear. (The prayer shawls we make are more like afghans.) The yarn is total luxury and I am praying that she will feel comforted as she puts it over her shoulders. It is the softest shawl I've ever made.

The only change I made is on the edging. I made the YO two stitches in from the edge instead of one stitch. This worked better with the way I do my edge which I explained in a previous post. I actually had 1/3 of the shawl completed and frogged it in order to neaten up the edge. I'm really glad I did because it still took less than two weeks to make, even with that re-start.

Lace usually improves after blocking but I really like the 3-dimensional quality of the unblocked lace pattern in this shawl. I especially like the undulating edge where the garter stitch and lace meet.

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