Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hidden Gussets, Hidden Thorns

Blueberry season has finally come to an end. I'm sure you're all sick to death of pictures from our local blueberry patch. I promise no more. Well, at least not until next year. Now we're in the thick of blackberry season.

I have mixed feelings about these berries. How can something that tastes so good be so wicked to pick? Plus I've noticed that not all blackberry patches are created equally. Some have yummy berries, and others have bitter things that are reminiscent of a nasty medicine I had to take for tonsillitis when I was a child. There's a patch along the highway right by where we live, but they are awful things. This deer doesn't seem to think so though. He was standing there munching away when I drove to town this morning.


Yesterday I drove to Ladner, a small community just outside Vancouver, to visit my friend Ellen. On our list of things to do was to go pick blackberries at a local park. This sounded like a good idea. After all, Ellen knew the berries there were tasty. And the price was right, since they were free for the taking. Plus the setting was very pretty. It reminds me a bit of Scotland.


Ellen, being an experienced blackberry picker, wore a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. I, being a rookie, had on shorts. Not a good idea. For every berry I picked Ellen must have picked ten. This was partly due to the fact that no matter how careful I tried to be, hidden thorns would attack me. (If you don't think it's possible for thorns to attack, I say you've never been to a blackberry patch!)


The other reason Ellen outpicked me (spell check is stroking out over this word, but I'm sticking with it) is because I quickly discovered it was more fun to take pictures than to pick.


The main lesson I learned picking blackberries was the larger bucket of picked berries will inevitably be the one that gets knocked over. An extension of this lesson was discovering that in spite of the strength of the thorny branches they come from, blackberries are actually quite fragile and will not withstand the trauma of being dumped all over the floor of one's vehicle.

Also on the agenda for my visit was to give Ellen her birthday present. Ellen is a knitter, and we usually end up exchanging yarn or fibre. But this time I decided to actually make her something. I know how much I appreciate getting handknit items, as it's something that doesn't happen very often when you happen to be a knitter yourself.

When the latest issue of Knitty came out I knew right away I would be knitting the Hidden Gusset mitts.


I've never knit a "travelling pattern" before, and found I really enjoyed it.


These fingerless mitts should be perfect for the cool autumn days that are just around the corner.


Hopefully they make up for the bucket of spilled berries, too!

40 comments:

  1. Interesting juxtaposition--the hidden gussets. I'm not sure if juxtaposition is used correctly, but I like the word, so I'm sticking with it. I sampled some blackberries yesterday at our local organic market. They were so bitter I drew attention to myself with my reaction. Personally, I think it was as bad as getting pricked by their stickers! But they sure do photograph pretty.

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    1. The blackberries you tried might not have been ripe. I would encourage you to give them a second chance. If you can find some that are properly ripened you'll know why. They are heavenly!

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  2. I keep looking out for blackberries spots but can't seem to find them, you sound like a pro at picking them. Cute mits.

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    1. In a way you are quite lucky you can't find any spots, Greenthumb. Here in the southwest corner of British Columbia they are an invasive species and are everywhere. They crowd out native plants like the salmonberry. The berries are good, but that flavour comes at the expense of other plants.

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  3. Its worth a few pricks just to get the berries, will you be making jam?

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    1. Yes, I'm going to make jam, Sue, but I'll be going to the thornless blackberry u-pick for the rest of my berries. I'm a wimp. I would rather pay than get scratched. Ha!

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  4. I was picking blackberries last week-end as well. A coat hanger as a hook makes the work easier for us shorter pickers... Blueberry season is still at the farm, so I may go add a couple more bags worth if I can get there in the next couple of weeks.
    Love those mitts (speaking of blueberry) and must go check out the Knitty!

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    1. The coat hanger is a great idea! I'm surprised your blueberry farm is still going. The farm here has lots of berries on the bushes (it was a bumper crop), but they have started to lose their flavour. The owners told me that happens with blueberries late in the season.

      The mitts are super fun to make, and fairly quick too. I have also just finished a pair of the Serpentine Mitts that you blogged about awhile ago, but haven't posted about them yet because they are for another friend's birthday at the end of the month. It was a great pattern too, but I made a couple stupid mistakes I had to fix.

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  5. I really like the fingerless mittens. I'm into knitting them too, no fiddlely fingers to contend with and they're great to wear too.
    Enjoyed reading about your blackberry picking adventure!

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    1. Yes, not having to work with the fingers makes it so much faster to knit. One of the nice things about this pattern though is there is an option to knit them with the fingers (short, not full length). It's surprising how nice and warm fingerless mitts keep your hands, isn't it? They are perfect for fall and spring!

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  6. I have been lucky with blackberries this week, I intend to make jam. Those mitts are a delight and a beautiful colour.

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    1. Yummy! Blackberry jam is on my "to make" list for next week. I'm getting the blackberries from the local u-pick though. They have thornless blackberries, which sounds like a brilliant idea to me, even if I have to pay. :-)

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  7. Very impressed with your knitting- the mitts look fabulous. In the UK there are 68 different species of blackberry, all flowering and fruiting at different times, which would explain the variation in taste- I'm sure you must have a similar variety of species there too.

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    1. I had no idea there are so many species of blackberries in the UK! I'm not sure if ours are as numerous here in British Columbia. Are your blackberries native? They were introduced here, and have become a real menace. They take over native plants and are considered an invasive species.

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  8. It's just about blackberry season here too, blackberry and apple pie's are just around the corner!

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    1. That sounds delicious! I've never had a blackberry and apple pie. :-)

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  9. When you go blackberrying take an old fashioned walking stick with a hooked handle and then use the hook to grab the canes and pull them towards you, you can pick off the berries without getting attacked by the rest of the brambles! You are so right about the fullest container being the one that gets tipped up, so annoying! Oh, your fingerless gloves would be great for picking blackberries too! xx

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    1. That's a great idea, Amy! Kate above made a similar suggestion, only with a coat hanger instead of a walking stick. I would never have worn the mitts picking blackberries. They would have been shredded by the time I was finished, not to mention a much deeper shade of blue! :-)

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  10. It is an amazing blackberry year in Scotland! Wherever I go, there seem to be thorny bushes with juicy temptations. I have yet to go and pick some. My freezer is full to the top with redcurrants and I need to make space for the blackberries before I got out foraging. Love your mittens! I am not sure what a travelling pattern is but I'll pop over to Knitty and find out. x

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    1. Could you make a currant/blackberry jam? I wonder if the two flavours would be a good mix. ?? I think a travelling pattern is one that keeps moving across the work. With these mitts you start out with just twisted rib, but the stocking stitch gradually takes over. They are a lot of fun to make!

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  11. Hi Kristie. I'm amazed by the quantities of fruit that you pick. I always gather brambles but have been surprised to find whole classes of students who have never done this ever. Where I am is still a major fruit-growing region -Tiptree and its jams is just down the road.

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    1. I like to have a well stocked freezer for the winter, so it is my stomach that motivates me! That's kind of sad that there are whole classes of children who have never picked berries. Are you able to take them out to pick? I imagine they would find it a great experience.

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  12. Ok, so maybe we need to rethink your Blackberry Roles. My idea: Ellen supplies the pie ingredients with her mad picking skillz, you dye her yarn with your smashed and medicinal specimens harvested from said vehicle floor!

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    1. Ha! I like your idea, but alas, the smashed berries have been scraped off the floor of my car and thrown in the garbage. :-)

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  13. I love blackberries, blackberry jam blackberry pie and blackberry and apple pie is the best! We both grew up at the Coast and remember those nasty thorns too well. Looked like you came third in a cat fight. I love your mitts and am going to check out the pattern . It is interesting all the different ways different stitches can do so many things. I love the yarn you used, such a nice blue. It's always so great to get knitted gifts from a knitter,. We appreciate it more!

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    1. I think the thorns here on the coast are worse than other places I've encountered blackberries, but maybe that's just my imagination. I highly recommend the Hidden Gusset pattern - it was lots of fun, and the finished mitts fit great!

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  14. Beautiful mitts for your fired, I bet she loved them. And yum, I love blackberries but I bet they are a bear to pick. Is your car a mess?
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. I think she really liked them, and I'm sure they will be worn often this fall. Surprisingly, the car is fine. They were just on the floor, and I cleaned them up the minute we got home, so no damage was done. It was probably helpful that the carpet in the Tucson is a very dark grey colour and not white though! :-)

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  15. Those mitts are beautiful, Kristie! I love the twisty effect. I'm sorry about the berries. Do you know I've only ever picked strawberries, and that only once or twice. I'd love to try again, but blackberries do look a little evil. I hope you were able to eat a few good ones while you did all that serious work. :)

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    1. If you go berry picking Jennifer I suggest picking anything BUT blackberries. :-)

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  16. We'd planned to go blackberry picking today but it rained, hard, so we'll try again tomorrow. I plan to make jelly not jam, straining out all those pips makes for a sweeter preserve I find.

    Gorgeous mitts, lucky friend.

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    1. I understand cancelling the blackberry picking due to the rain. It's miserable enough picking the things, without getting wet at the same time. Jelly sounds delicious!

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  17. Beautiful mitts! Sorry to hear that the blackberry picking wasn't not overly successful, I hope your car is ok!

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    1. The car is fine, Sarah. Thankfully they fell just on the floor, and it's a very dark coloured carpet so no harm done to anything but the berries themselves!

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  18. I pop by your blog and I'm reminded that I'm still avoiding sewing all the knitted pieces of a sweater together. If only I was better at that part of the project. Maybe it's not as bad as blackberry picking!

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    1. Sewing knitted pieces together might not be as bad as picking blackberries, but it is a close second. Have you seen the new Craftsy class on finishing knitted garments? It looks promising. Of course, it would be even better if it actually did the finishing for us, rather than showing us how to do it ourselves. :-)

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  19. Hi Kristie, I'm very interested in all things Berry related so post away till your heart is content! Love your Mitts, they're a nice length on the wrist x

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  20. Its so nice to knit something for a fellow knitter. As knitters, people tend to think that if we want something we'll make it ourselves, but who better to truly love and appreciate something that is made just for us.

    Knitting in Pearls

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  21. I'd forgotten about the thorns--it's been a long time since I picked blackberries. I wouldn't have been properly attired either. Ellen might not know how to dress to walk through a field of wheat. :) My wife buys blackberries from her dad's neighbor. Because she loves them so much (and I don't like dealing with the seeds), I let her have them all. I did taste one this year. It was very tart. I hope the berries didn't leave any stains.

    September is next week. You've knit a pair of mits (which are lovely). Summer is fading fast.

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  22. We've come home to an amazing crop of blackberries, Kristie, so I'll be out to pick them as soon as the rain stops.They'll go well with the apples we've just brought back from our trees in Normandy. Those mitts look fantastic and I can see why you plan to knit a pair for yourself too.

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