About Me

My photo
Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Harvest dinner of baked pork chops with sauerkraut and apples

On the weekend I bought fresh from the field rutabaga and carrots from Westisle Farm and my neighbours have been loading us with apples. Dinner tonight included those lovely fresh things. I made up the recipe myself, so am very proud. My husband said it was delicious.

Wonderful Pork Chops with Sauerkraut and Apples
I browned three large pork chops in a heavy cast iron pan. Meanwhile, I rinsed a jar of sauerkraut and peeled, cored and sliced 4 apples, and sliced an onion. I soaked a clay baker in water for 10 minutes. Then I put the sauerkraut into the clay baker, and placed the browned pork chops on top and added salt and pepper. I browned the onions and apples in the frying pan, then sloshed in some white wine to deglaze and poured all that over the pork chops. Put the (also soaked) lid on top of the clay baker, and into a 325F oven for 1 1/2 hours.

This is what is left in the dish after dinner for two, so lots of nice leftovers for tomorrow.
Harvest Vegetables with Butter and Nutmeg
I peeled and cubed a medium rutabaga, two large carrots, and a large Gravenstein apple. Boiled for 15 minutes, drained and dried over low heat. Large knob of butter, salt and pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg, than a coarse mashing, leaving large recognizable chunks of veggie. So good!

Sorry, dark kitchen and blurry picture. This is also after dinner, so leftovers await.

Megan's quilt in progress

Our god daughter Megan (one of two as she has a twin sister Caitlin) was married in early September in Boston to Dim.  I am working on a quilt for her, and designed it in the Modern Quilt style, with lots of white background and saturated colours. Here it is in progress.
Hem stitching the binding.

The border triangles.

Some machine quilting done.
Here is the quilt, with only the borders quilted and the binding not yet hemmed.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pasta Casserole - Best Ever and Mutsu Apple Pie

Easy, quick and so delicious. And it will feed us for at least two more meals. The perfect casserole.
How I made it:
I had about 1/4 cup of leftover chicken fat and olive oil that I had skimmed off the drippings from a roast chicken last week. Next time, not having that, I will use 1/4 cup olive oil to sauté a chopped onion.
I added 3 minced cloves of garlic, and a large can of diced tomatoes. Then a small acorn squash -seeded, peeled and diced- and salt and pepper and dried basil.
While that was simmering I boiled 4 dry cups of rigatoni for 10 minutes. I put the cooked pasta into the sauce, dumped in a whole bunch of crumbled feta cheese, then put it into a large shallow baking dish.
Baked in a 350F oven for 30 minutes, and voila!
It was fairly salty because of the feta, but I like that.

Here is the sauce simmering. The squash shows green near the rind. I bought it this afternoon from Gary Piercy at the Westisle Farm Produce Shack and it is so fresh and delicious. The seeds had not formed inside the squash.

Deep dish apple pie made from Mutsu apples from my neighbour.

Advent Calendar

I have made this quilted advent calendar for my grandchildren, using this pattern from Sew Mama Sew by Ohfransson.
I was in Vancouver on the weekend, and I made a wonderful trip to Dressew (and Opus Art Supplies and Atex Fabric Liquidators) on West Hastings Street where I picked up all sorts of fun things to put in the pockets as gifts.

The completed quilted advent calendar without any gifts in the pockets.

Each number was traced onto interfacing, cut out, stitched on with two rounds of satin stitching, then highlighted with gold metallic stitching in the centre of the number. It was a lot of work, especially with little circles as in the 8's. It took me two half days to do the numbers, definitely the most time consuming part of the project. If I do it again, I will use stick on numbers, or beads or buttons - all of which I got from Dressew last Friday.

The red fabric is the square behind the pocket. Each printed fabric piece is lined to make the pocket, then sashing is added. Very ingenious pattern.

I used a Christmas fabric for the backing, and put rod pockets at the top corners as indicated in the pattern. I also added two loops of my own at the top, to help with hanging.

Bundle of blue hats

I am heading to Las Vegas this coming weekend for a biennial reunion with four high school friends. The four are all turning 60, and I am the fifth youngster at 59 years. So what to make/take to mark the significant event? Why a knitted hat of course! What else would you want in Las Vegas to keep you warm while wearing a strapless dress and high heels (except that several of us have bunions, and loose upper arms - may have to rethink the outfit to accompany the hat . . . ).

Also I just upgraded to an IPhone 4, which means that I can theoretically more easily take a photo of myself modelling a hat, hmmmm. Note the googly eyes as I attempt to peer up into the phone.

Anyway, I knit a whole bundle of hats, so there will be lots to choose from. 

Creative Thread Conspiracy Weekend

The Denman Island Creative Threads Conspiracy weekend was very successful. I had seven in my sock knitting class and twoin my hand quilting class. Anna Heywood-Jones taught a workshop on natural plant dyeing that I attended over two mornings.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Knitted Japanese Hat

I love, love Japanese design and I buy Japanese crochet, knitting and quilting books whenever I get a chance. When I go to San Francisco to see my sister-in-law I always visit the Kinokuniya bookstore on Webster Street and Geary Boulevard. The books are in Japanese, with sometimes very minimal English, but are just wonderful for their patterns and techniques. There is a Japanese Knitting and Crochet Forum on Ravelry for all of us who share this enthusiasm.
I found this book in the Book-Off Japanese book store in Paris - there are Book-Off stores in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, and formerly in Vancouver but that sadly closed this summer (2012) because of rising rents.
I knit the hat on the back cover, see below. It was such fun to knit and turned out great. It fits wonderfully. I used hand-spun wool that my neighbour Barbara Pryl gave me this summer.
The schematics in Japanese patterns are excellent, and measurements are in numerals in centimetres. For the rest of the detail, I used Interpreting Japanese Knitting Patterns, and The Basics of Japanese Knitting: Japanese-English Knitting Dictionary. I found this to be a great brain stretching exercise and proof that being 59 does not mean that you cannot learn anything new :-)

Front cover of the book.

Back cover of the book and illustration of the hat that I  knitted.

The pattern that I used, with my pencilled notations where I translated the Japanese characters.

The hat from the top. The colour is misrepresented in this photo, as the yarn is actually brown.

The hat brim. This is slightly better for the colour, but is still over-exposed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Harvest Time

 Since the deer ate all of the tomato plants from the front garden and the Douglas Fir tree roots have invaded the protected raised beds and made them un- gardenable hence no plantings, and because we were away while the Reliance grape ripened so that the birds got all of those sweet seedless grapes - this is the sum extent of our autumn harvest. Here we have a few Concord grapes and a small crop of apples from the earlier ripening apple tree that we call Tree No. 1.

I picked the fruit yesterday afternoon, and this morning I made grape jelly and apple sauce. Just 5 jars in all, but it will be enough for us to enjoy.

Ribbons of Rosebuds Socks

I am still knitting up my stash of sock yarns from Sock Summit 2011 in Portland last summer. This pair of socks is Handmaiden Yarn Casbah sock yarn. Specs for this lovely yarn: 81% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon, 9% Cashmere; 325metres length in a 115 gram hank. Recommended needle 3 mm, but I would find this would make too loose a fabric for socks.
I knit my socks on 5 double pointed HiyaHiya steel 2.5mm needles. I love these double points, and find that I never use my old aluminum ones any more, as they are too slow and flexible. The stiff smooth steel needles are fast and very responsive. Sounds like I am talking about a car :-)I originally was carrying on with my project to knit all of the socks in Cookie A.'s book Knit. Sock. Love. This was meant to be Mona, but I found that the variegated yarn and the lace pattern was too busy. I was in Paris at the time that I decided to frog back to the twisted rib, so I knit some plain stocking stitch, decided that I needed some kind of pattern, and improvised my own. I am quite proud of it, and I call it "Ribbon of Rosebuds". As Elizabeth Zimmerman says in Knitting Without Tears (the very best knitting book ever!) everything in knitting has been done before sometime, somewhere in the past 5000+ years of knitting history, so in her words, I "unvented" rather than invented this pattern. But it still came out of my own head.I posted the pattern to Ravelry yesterday, and overnight had more than 50 downloads. Now let us see if anyone actually knits the socks. Here is the link to the pattern, and pictures.

The socks in action.
This picture better reflects the dark rich ruby colour of the yarn.
These top down socks are knit with a classic heel flap, which fits very nicely.
Here is my unvented Ribbon of Rosebuds pattern stitch.
The triangular toe is decreased in 3 places on every row to 3 stitches, and then drawn together to finish. This is the top instep triangle. Unfortunately in ends in a nipple which may disappear with wear, but is initially unattractive.
Another view of the tip of the toe, topside.
The toe from the bottom, with the decreases centred underneath the toe.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken Soup From Scratch

Funnily enough, I have never made chicken soup from scratch before. We got back home yesterday from our wonderful London/Paris/Arras/East Dean vacation and both of us are suffering from bad colds. I actually managed to get two colds consecutively during our three week vacation - sheesh!
In any case, chicken soup seemed to be on order. I bought a whole chicken (actually two as they were on sale, and put one in the freezer) when we picked up groceries on the drive home. Today I checked out Mark Bitman's How to Cook Everything, and it was easy peasy. I made a few changes, because that always happens, to whit:

My Variation on Mark Bitman's Chicken Soup
About 4 pm I put the whole chicken in my biggest pot, which is not actually a stock pot, so I could not use as much water as Bitman recommends, which I think is a good thing. He said 14 cups but I could only get 11 cups into the pot. I added a coarsely chopped onion and ditto 2 carrots. I did not have any celery so used 1 teaspoon of celery seed instead. As indicated, I added 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 a bay leaf,  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and several sprigs of cilantro instead of the recommended parsley, 'cause that was what I had. Then I brazenly added 4 peppercorns and all the water the pot would hold, and we were away! Brought it all to a boil, covered the pot, and let it very slowly simmer until 5:30. I pulled the chicken out, and took off the meat which I put in reserve in a bowl on the counter. I tipped all the bones and skin and gunk back into the stock pot and boiled that slowly until 6 pm.  Then while listening to the CBC radio news, I first strained the stock through a colander, and then again through a cheese cloth lined sieve so the stock did not have strange floating bits in it. I wiped out the pot to remove the scum line, then put the stock back in and brought it to a rolling boil. I tipped in a whole 340 gram pack of Catelli fine noodles and let it boil with the lid off for about 10 minutes. I added the coarsely chopped chicken, some chopped cilantro leaves, about 1/2 teaspoon more salt and 1/2 teaspoon curry powder. All to the boil again, then time to serve.
Wonderful!! The real thing!! I should have been making this for years!! We both feel better now, and there is enough soup left for about 4 more servings, so I suppose you could say that this recipe serves 6.