Saturday, August 24, 2013


This has also inspired a quilt...





7 Days Until Departure--:-(

Today we go to San Vito to a high school reunion lunch for Mr. R. Of course they picked a fish restaurant. Even though I like fish, it is different here and the first year I came we were also taken to a fish restaurant in Vasto and there was nothing on the menu that appealed to me. So to spare the cost of paying for a meal that I will not eat and the boredom of sitting at the table, I will say hello and go for a pizza, roam, draw, and knit, and say goodbye. Sounds like a decent day.

The baby booties are pictured. This is a really cute, and quick pattern. "Baby Booties to Knit in the Portuguese Style," by Andrea Wong. It is a free Interweave Press pattern, a reprint from Piecework magazine. I think you can get 2 pairs from one ball. I think it would look better made from a solid color, but I could not find a solid yarn in the correct weight here. I am in Italy, but in the rural areas where a limited selection of yarn is available in stores that also sell groceries, or lingerie. If I do find a yarn store it is nothing like the States. Perhaps Milan or Rome have the nice yarn stores I have seen pictured on the internet and in magazines. Also, the women here either know how to knit, but have not done so in years, or their mothers did it and they are in awe. It is not nearly as popular as it is at home.

Also, the "Piper's Journey," by Quince & Company was completed with Paton's Kroy sock yarn. After it was blocked--without pins, as none were to be found--it was soft and had a wonderful drape. The recipient was very excited. She is always cold and I hope she will get a lot of warmth and pleasure from it.

We are back from San Vito. Really a pretty spot--picture post card perfect from a distance, but totally junky from close up. We viewed the menu and decided that I would probably be happier dinning elsewhere. WRONG! I missed what seemed to be a really nice meal. I did not even see all of the courses, but the sword fish and calamari looked great! It was a 5 hour lunch! I never could have sat there the whole time, so even though my meal of chitarrina con scampi (pasta with a red sauce, and what look like crawfish and a couple of claws in my dish was not very good, it was for the best. I took a walk and chose probably the worst restaurant for me (I thought since it was crowded it might be good). After I had some really great gelato and espresso, which made up for the mediocre meal.

In the gelataria I heard someone speaking English. F this and F that with a thick accent, so I asked if he was from New York. Yes, a Mets fan! He also realized I heard and understood all of his personal business and apologized for the profanity. Not many English speaking folks in these parts, let alone Americans, so I really did not care--it was good to hear English. You never know who can understand you, and who can't...

Then I headed back to the restaurant and sat facing the Adriatic Sea drawing and knitting. We did bring home a kitty bag for the pregnant daughter of Orsetto, Orsina. Why she is pregnant so late in the season I do not know, but I worry for her. She is eating well now, but who knows what will be. Her father was quite special. She is only just now letting Mr. R pet her. We would be able to set up a little nursery area for her in the "chicken coup" but whether she would find it and use it is another unknown.

It is very sad how many cats and dogs roam around here without owners. It is something I do not like about the lifestyle. Some people keep pets and also feed the homeless, but most have a mentality that the strays can fend for themselves. Not true, there are too many competing for the same food.

Anyway, some photos of my day. I love the one with the green weeds, white stones and blue sea. I think a quilt of those colors has been inspired by this day.

Baci e abbracci from Italia!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 13 & 14


Day 13 & 14

The last few days have been taken up with many dinners and lunches. The food is always wonderful and abundant. Did I tell you that Mr. R tried to pass off duck as chicken? Yeah, like I wouldn't figure that one out.

Today I tried a few new foods. I usually take a taste off of Mr. R's plate and if I like it take a serving. Today I had a particularly good Salami--the dried kind called salsicciotto. The host popped one with a piece of cheese into my bag as we were leaving. That is coming home with me.

I have been working on my quilt. At first when I could not seem to get the hand quilting down I thought I cannot believe I brought this thing with me only to carry it right back, but after trying time and time again, I got it! I am using green perle cotton, number 8, to quilt it with a big needle and I am quite pleased with the result. There are many imperfections, but I don't mind. I do mind the back having two wrinkles, especially after 5 hours of hand basting, but I can live with it. I think it happens during the placement of the frame or if my fingers or watch band get caught in a basting thread and pull it. So now I am more careful. I purchased the green perle cotton here, and will buy 2-3 more balls to be sure I have enough. I have to find somewhere that sells it in the States, other than through mail order, which I find difficult to match to the right color--although I purchased the green without the quilt, so maybe it is not that hard.

I finished Piper's Journey and will block it for a gift to someone here. I have to find some pins. I have started a pair of simple socks--I chickened out of the toe up socks, and the Flower Basket Shawl from an old Interweave Knits magazine, Evelyn Clark.

I also knitted a cute pair of baby booties I will share.

baci e abbracci

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Friday, August 16, 2013

the first part of the post below... still having issues posting

Day 5 & 6

Day 5 was quiet, a trip to the bank to exchange currency, the purchase of some yarn and number 8 colored perle cotton at the bottega across from the bank (which was super expensive) and dinner at cugini Emilio and Marta's summer home. I love the food when we are invited out, but prefer eating at home as it is easier to exercise portion control.

Today, day 6, was a holiday. It is Ferragosto which is traditional say when all businesses close for two weeks for vacation. Mr. R's family hosts a picnic not too far from the house. Of course an Italian picnic is not sandwiches and cole slaw, but pasta with wild asparagus (young and sweet) or tomatoes, tomato salad with cucumber and celery leaves, bread, and grilled lamb (which is also young here). Top that off with watermelon, plums, figs, and peaches from attendees' trees, crostate from one of the best bakers in town, and espresso served in tiny plastic cups. It is amazing what these people can do with a building that houses a fire place and sink, without running water.

Day 5 & 6

Mr. R works hard all day helping to set up the picnic with the other able-bodied men, while the women prepare the food. Not being able to take direction in Italian I have only been able to clear the table at the end. This year, however, some health issues that I thought I tackled in Philadelphia reared their ugly head here so I took this year off. It is a long day in a fly and mosquito ridden area and I just was not up to it. I joined the group for the crostate at Mr. R's insistence, bringing my own milk and coffee. First, no milk is served with coffee after noon and second the coffee is served after the sweets. To me there is nothing more satisfying or comforting that cake and coffee.
Since Mr. R was out all day, I was my own woman. I prepared my coffee and a simple tomato sauce with an egg dropped into the sauce to have for dinner with bread. I don't normally make dinner here or in Philly, but here it is a propane stove so I was especially pleased with myself. And my sauce came out very good, except I should have used the non-stick pan rather than the ceramic pot as the egg stuck to the bottom and evaporated some of my sauce.
I got a little knitting in, but no quilting. Half the day I fought falling back to sleep. Now Mr. R is asleep on the chair in the kitchen and it is not yet 9:00 p.m. I am wide awake for a change! We are not as young as we used to be...
Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 4

I woke up late this morning, but decided to walk into town anyway. I need to get rid of my pasty, white American look so off I went into almost high noon Mediterranean sun. It is down hill going into town and of course up hill coming back when I am already tired. I am not only pasty white, but out of shape. I saw many people on the way and I they greet me as if they have not seen me in a year, but the way they greet Mr. R who grew up here. It is quite endearing and it makes me feel good.

Walking here is of course wonderful. The view is stupendous and today was very clear so the mountains were particularly beautiful on the way into town. It is so disappointing though that the ground is littered with so much trash. I expected more from the people who live on the land, but they are also human and I should not expect more from the Italians than the Americans, who for the most part are the same.

The stray animals here also upset me. The two "Mortadella Dogs" are now one. The mother lost her son who was her sole companion and now is alone in the field everyday. She dug herself a "bowl" in the ground to sleep in day and night. We give her mortadella and I can tell others feed her too. Orsetto is gone. I assume dead. His daughter is here and is pregnant or has worms. She is so small it is hard to tell. Mr. R cooks for her and we bought some cat food. She also had 1/2 of my Angus steak from our big dinner in Guardiagrele, which included wonderful handmade pasta with either saffron (we are in the capital of saffron production here) and butter (Mr. R) and mine which was handmade pasta from farro and a sugo simplece di pomodoro. The cherry tomatoes tasted like fruit. The desserts were wonderful as well. We do not eat out so I believe the 64 euros was the most we have either paid for a meal by ourselves. It was a treat, and I was very happy to share with Orsina (the cat).

Everyone who received a handmade gift this year seemed to be really grateful and happy to receive it. One person in particular, who asked for socks last year, and started the idea of making many of the gifts we gave this year, was very excited. Only one person who is too self-absorbed to consider the work that went into the gift seemed ungrateful, but maybe he is just low key and I misunderstood. Eh! Whatever, I expected that from him.

Today for lunch Mr. R made sugo simplece di pomodoro with pasta and we had homemade white wine that his friend made last year, with gassosa (a 7-Up type drink). Mr. R calls it "poor man's" Champaign. I like it! Even though I still have to wash the dishes I could just fall asleep at this moment.

After my failed attempt at hand quilting and a nap, we set off for Penadoma for the best tarallucci al vino in the area. We usually go to this "forno" (bakery) on the last day we are here to purchase about 60 cookies to take home, but the cookies from Rocca were so awful and the bakery that has the second best cookies was closed yesterday, Monday, and did not post a sign, which annoyed Mr. R enough to not do business with them, at least this week, that we took the ride. Heaven in a shell of crispy, flakey dough covered with sugar... Heaven is a filling of grapes, wine, crushed walnuts and cocoa that tastes nothing like those ingredients. We bought enough tarallucci and other sweets to be happy for at least a week or more.

Tonight we had another simple dinner of a freshly made vegetable stew and bread, cheese and honey. The region is known for many things including potatoes, which were the base of the stew. In fact, per capita, Roccascalegna is the highest producer of honey in Italy.

I will get some gelatti at the snack bar later and then knit and read for a while. Also, I have to watch the hand quilting videos again when I have access to WIFI as I am doing something wrong. I am not able to bend the needle back to bring it back up through the fabric. It may be the extra layer of muslin foundation for the strip quilting.

Anyway, baci e abbracci.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Via Roma,Roccascalegna,Italy

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 3: Today we returned the rental car to Pescara, a beach town about 1 hour away from Roccascalegna. After the return of the car, which was true Italian style: no inspection of the vehicle or amount of diesel fuel and no receipt (strange for a country that is receipt-happy) we boarded a bus which is also on the honor system as you validate your own ticket, but no one checks it. We are a little worried about the car as they can really pin any existing scratch on us and say we did not return the car with a full tank, but what can you do. They took a 1,000 euro deposit when we took the car and will refund what remains after the rental.

The bus ride into the city from the Pescara Airport was an adventure. Mr. R and I were not sitting together and a man tried to engage me. Mr. R got his Italian up and made sure the man knew I was not alone. Since I am quite pale-faced and definitely look and sound different than everyone else I think I was a target, but maybe we are too distrustful. I do get a lot of curiosity stares every year as not many Americans come to these parts of Italy.

After walking around Pescara for a couple of hours we came across a fabric store--yeah! Well the bolts were piled on top of each other in a way that you could not see all of the fabric. I found a printed linen--nothing fabulous, but pretty and asked the price. 75 euro a meter!!! A meter, remember is less than a yard and without the currency conversion that is astronomical, but in dollars--$94 for less than a yard of fabric! Are they insane? I was ready to go after that, but Mr. R purchased a 1/4 meter of something that was 36 euro a meter for a bow tie.

Then I wandered into a yarn and notions shop and purchased a ball of crochet cotton #12 for hand basting quilts. Nothing I could not get at home, but whatever.

Then the train to Fossacesia where we were picked up and taken to our uncle and aunts for lunch and to pick up the motorcycle/scooter for the rest of the trip.

The highlight of my day was a simple dinner of pizza mola (a bread that hasn't risen very high that has a film of olive oil and lots of air bubbles inside) with asiago cheese and local honey. I have never had honey and cheese before and it is very good. It was suggested by a local store owner who speaks enough English to convince me to try it. His sister-in-law is the beekeeper and the honey is excellent. We carried it home one year and the pretty jar that the store owner gave us as a gift broke in the suitcase. Since then I have only carried back one jar of honey for my boss, but it is always a risk as you cannot put it in the carry-on.

Tonight is a festival of some sort with music and dancing.

Baci e abbracci

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Until the Fall

 My new quilt top. 

I took a class on string quilt making two years ago and got tired of making the blocks, so I set it aside and finally finished it. It will be hand quilted.

Hand basting.

Feather & Fan scarf made from Koigu

Hitchhiker made from Patons Kroy 

From the Ann Budd "Sock Knitting Master Class" Anne Hanson's pattern

From the Ann Budd "Knitting Socks" book

Same pattern as above, Lion Brand Sock-Ease

Same pattern, Patons Kroy

The Purl Bee "Thank You" hat from Plymouth Galway or Encore

The backside

Last looks before the quilts and I part 

Baci abbracci