To Stripe or Not To Stripe

That is the question!

Odori - Bulky 40% Silk, 25% Wool, 25% Angora
Odori – Bulky 40% Silk, 25% Wool, 25% Angora

In my experience, Noro Yarns makes the answer easy.

Retro - Aran 64% Wool, 24% Silk, 12% Angora
Retro – Aran 64% Wool, 24% Silk, 12% Angora

Mr. Eisaku Noro is the artist and innovator behind the fabulous Noro Yarn line.

Hitsuji - Bulky 100% Wool
Hitsuji – Bulky 100% Wool

He was born near Yoshino-Kumano National Park and has applied his sensitivities of the natural world he enjoyed there to the selection of natural materials which make up the yarn as well as the spinning process itself, which honors the unique qualities of the wool.

Nadeshiko - Super Bulky 40% Angora, 39% Wool, 21% Silk
Nadeshiko – Super Bulky 40% Angora, 39% Wool, 21% Silk

The yarns are dyed using rich, vibrant colors with a depth that mirrors the natural world combined with the artistry of art, music and dance.

Silk Garden - Aran 45% Silk, 45% Mohair, 10% Wool
Silk Garden – Aran 45% Silk, 45% Mohair, 10% Wool

Noro is truly a world-class yarn as it comes from the finest natural materials in the world.

Kureyon - Worsted 100% Wool
Kureyon – Worsted 100% Wool

Standard wool from England
Falkland wool from the Falkland Islands
Polworth wool from Adelaide, Australia
Kid mohair from Camdeboo, South Africa
Patagonia wool from Patagonia, Argentina
Alpaca from Peru
Cotton from California, USA
Ganpi (plant fiber) from Japan
Silk from China, Brazil, Vietnam, Japan and Uzbek
Cashmere from China, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Kyrgyz
Camel from China
Angora goats from China

My favorite new yarn is Noro’s Silk Garden Solo.  I was thrilled to find it at Black Sheep LYS in Encinitas, California

Noro Silk Garden Solo - 45% silk, 45% mohair, 10% wool
Noro Silk Garden Solo – 45% silk, 45% mohair, 10% wool

Do not be deceived!  Solo is not a solid color.  This chocolate colorway has the look of a color found only in nature, with subtle hues of rich brown and occasional flecks of dark blue.  When I decided to write the pattern for my Ralph Lauren inspired Pierre’s Fringe Wrap, I knew  this yarn would give the garment the drape and substance I was looking for.


Teewinot Bulky Cable hat knit in Noro Nadeshiko
Teewinot Bulky Cable hat knit in Noro Nadeshiko

It is a true pleasure to knit with these beautiful yarns that have traveled the globe before they reach my own wayfaring fingers.

Do you love to knit with Noro?


Foodies in O’ahu

While in O’ahu, my daughter Megan and I had a great time sampling some yummy menu items from restaurants on the North Shore.

Sunrise on the North Shore
Sunrise on the North Shore

Our first stop was Fiji Market & Curry Shop.

Fiji-Thai Cuisine
Fiji-Thai Cuisine

We found this down-home island market and restaurant just behind a gas station off the main road in La’ie.

The Samosas were among the best I’ve ever tasted and the Dahl, a pea-based soup, was for sure the best I’ve ever had. It was perfectly seasoned with cumin and mustard seeds and had just the right creamy consistency.

My hubby is an Indian food aficionado, so I will try to recreate at least those samosas for his birthday. Stay tuned in August (maybe September) for that attempt!

Also in La’ie, we enjoyed breakfast at Tita’s Grill.

"Ah You Hungry"
“Ah You Hungry”

We were warned by our vacationing neighbors that the portions were large.  The sign should have confirmed that for me…but, no.  I insisted that I was hungry and declined Megan’s offer to split an order of French Toast.  I mean, it was only $4.95.  How big could it possibly be?

When our order came up, I immediately gave mine to a local.

He ate all the French toast plus his own giant order of Spam and eggs!
He ate all the French Toast plus his own giant order of Spam and Eggs!

I was determined to eat at least one  humongous slice,  but was stuffed after only a half.  I mean those bad boys were LARGE!

Megan attempting the impossible
Megan attempting the impossible

In Haleiwa, we enjoyed a Tofu Pad Thai dish at the Souvaly Thai Mobile.

When we were there it was packed!

The atmosphere was heavenly with plenty of large, clean picnic tables under a canopy of twinkling white lights. The pad Thai did not disappoint. It was delicious with thin rice noodles and a sweet red curry.

After Meg’s surf lesson, she asked her instructor for a healthy lunch recommendation. He told us about The Beet Box Cafe right there in Haleiwa.

We split the most delicious Portobello Burger I’ve ever tasted. The surprising and yummy part of the burger was the sunflower sprouts. I had planned to recreate this recipe for today’s post, but the sunflower sprouts are taking longer than I thought.

Can't wait until they're ready!
Eight days old…Can’t wait until they’re ready!

I will be making this for my family as soon as my little sprout garden decides to produce.  Roasted portobello, grilled zucchini and hand-leafed lettuce topped with garlic aioli and crunchy, nutty sunflower sprouts served on a whole grain bun sounds like the perfect summer dinner to me!

Once I resigned myself to the slow growth of my sprouts, I decided instead to make a dish I didn’t get a chance to try during our short stay…Coconut Banana Pancakes with Coconut Maple Syrup. Since my mom is gluten-intolerant and is currently visiting our home, I’ll be sharing our gluten-free version.

Good for you foods
Good for you foods

Coconut Banana Pancakes with Coconut Maple Syrup
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
unsweetened flaked coconut
Sliced bananas
1 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup pure maple syrup

Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Coconut flour may be lumpy, use a whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and oil.
With your whisk, stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until smooth.

Ladle approximately 1/4 cup pancake batter onto hot griddle prepared with cooking spray or oil.  Flip when bubbly and edges are slightly browned. Top with sliced bananas, shredded coconut and coconut syrup.

Coconut Maple Syrup (thanks, Mother, for this recipe)
Combine coconut milk and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Cook on low until steaming.

Ono!  The Hawaiian word for delicious
Ono! The Hawaiian word for delicious

The Boyz gave it a 5 star rating. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Bon Appetite!

Over the Rainbow

Last week I went back to the Rainbow State with my Meggie-pie for a mother-daughter island dream trip come true. We enjoyed the ocean, relaxing on the beach and great restaurants (not necessarily in that order). We made a cute little bungalow in La’ie our home base and explored the island from there.

Surfer Girl
Surfer Girl, Haleiwa
Cattle Egret - they were everywhere on O'ahu
Cattle Egret – they were everywhere on O’ahu
Inside the USS Arizona Memoria
Inside the USS Arizona Memorial
Beautiful Canopies
Beautiful Canopies
Gorgeous beaches everywhere
Beach Girl, La’ie

After only two visits I’ve concluded that the happiest, most relaxed people on earth live on the beautiful island of O’ahu.

Shaka Sign
Shaka Sign

And of all the happy, relaxed people on O’ahu, the most relaxed were at Aloha Yarn in Kanoehe.

The nicest people on earth
The nicest people on earth

The owner, Nanea Kuaiwa is seated on the right.  Her given name means “peace” in Hawaiian.  It seems she was fated to own a knit shop.

Nanea has beautiful samples everywhere.  Why didn’t I take more photos?

I should have taken more photos. The whole shop was tastefully done with artful displays of beautiful yarn.
I should have taken more photos. The whole shop was tastefully done with artful displays of beautiful yarn.

My favorite was a beautiful lace shawl pattern from Knitting Daily.   Instead of the recommended yarn, Nanea used Araucanía yarn called Ruca.

Kailua Beach State Park
Kailua Beach State Park

This yarn is incredibly soft with a silk-like sheen made from sugar cane.  I was tickled pink to purchase sugar cane yarn in Hawaii!

Unfortunately, this yarn is discontinued.  Luckily Nanea had four skeins left in this color, which is the perfect color for my mom.

About 1/5 completed
About 1/5 completed

I got quite a bit done on the plane ride home, enough to know how much I’ll love knitting the rest this summer.

Maybe I’ll have it done by Christmas.

Have you visited Aloha Yarns? I’d love to hear about it!

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I’d never been to Dallas (the city), but I have great memories of Dallas (the TV show) as a teenager. JR Ewing, his family and their crazy exploits were a weekly part of my teenage years.

Who Shot JR?
Who Shot JR?

I flew in for a family function and had a little time to do some sightseeing, so I drove over to Trip Advisor’s #1 attraction in Dallas, the Dallas Arboretum. I wandered around for a couple of hours, enjoying the many varieties of heat and humidity loving plants.

My favorite flowering tree, the beautiful magnolia
My favorite flowering tree, the majestic magnolia

image image Seeking relief from the 100 degree weather, I decided to tour the estate home of oil tycoon, Everette DeGolyer.

The DeGoyler’s donated estate makes up most of the acreage of the Arboretum
View of White Rock Lake
walled garden behind the DeGoyler home

I loved seeing so many girls being photographed in their quinceañera dresses.

Peacock with fanned flowerbed tail

After the Arboretum, I managed a little time to visit a darling, fun LYS in North Dallas, Yarn and Stitches. A cute group of women were chatting and knitting away and they were all ready to help me when I walked in (although I’m pretty sure they didn’t all work there). image I went straight for the Juniper Moon Yarn and picked Herriot, 100% Baby Alpaca, which is a light worsted weight. image The owner, Hope Logan helped me find a darling pattern for some fingerless gloves. Unfortunately, this pattern was sold through Etsy and (no surprise here) I couldn’t figure out how to download it once I got to my hotel room. I did, however, find another equally cute pattern on Ravelry using the same worsted weight yarn. imageI love it!

I don’t know if I’ll be back in Dallas again, but if I am I hope I have a little more time to sit and knit with these fun ladies. Yarn and Stitches was everything I love in a yarn shop. Happy people chatting and knitting and LOTS of beautiful yarn. image I’m sure there would have been a lot less drama at the Ewing Ranch if they had raised sheep instead of longhorns. Just imagine those Ewing women sitting around the Big House spinning and knitting and see if it doesn’t make you smile.

First Fiber Fair

My good friend Karen took me to my first fiber fair a few weeks ago and I fell in love with yarn all over again. The Snake River Fiber Fair is located in Idaho Falls, Idaho

The Snake River

and sponsored by the Weaving, Spinning & Fiber Arts Guild of Idaho Falls. I had a great time talking to local fiber enthusiasts. Now keep in mind when you live out west “local” means your state as well as any state that touches your state and sometimes even a state that touches a state that touches your state.

Everything in green is local (except California)
Everything in green is local (except California)

There were spinners,

Eric Hanson of Butte Shadows Alpacas


Carolyn Greenwood of Greenwood Fibers
Carolyn Greenwood of Greenwood Fibers

alpaca and sheep breeders

Cheryl Smith of Paintbrush Alpacas
Cheryl Smith of Paintbrush Alpacas

knitters, crocheters, weavers and a couple of button makers thrown in the mix.

My first pick was Paintbrush Alpacas. Before the Snake River Fiber Fair I thought baby alpaca was actually from baby alpacas. Turns out, this is not usually the case. Royal baby alpaca is the softest, finest grade with baby alpaca coming in at a close second.

Ron and Cheryl Smith have several adult alpacas that consistently produce royal baby and baby alpaca grade wool. I asked Cheryl what made her decide to raise alpacas. She looked at me like I was crazy, “Are you kidding?  Have you ever been around alpacas?” I guess that answer speaks for itself. This one certainly looks adorable.

darling hair-do
darling hair-do

The two skeins I purchased are natural colors, spun from fibers donated by Rembrandt image Vincent Van Gogh and Picasso image These pics are the actual yarn labels. It’s an episode of Portlandia come true!

I decided to knit the light sport weight Van Gogh, Picasso and Rembrandt yarn with this classic fair isle pattern from Country Weekend Socks by Madeline Weston.

work in progress

The pattern calls for four colors, but I’m happy with the look of just two.  My hands are in cozy alpaca heaven when I’m kitting these socks.

My second pick was a skein of 75% superwash wool/25% nylon hand painted sock yarn in my favorite blues and greens from Greenwood Fiberworks. P1030022 Carolyn Greenwood lives in Genola, Utah where she hand paints her beautiful yarns that she imports from the United Kingdom. You can find her yarn and patterns in her etsy shop.  What a wonderful eye for colors! P1030011 I choose this free, easy pattern from ravelry for these socks.

first Wildflower sock completed
first Wildflower sock completed

Feel free to comment with your fiber fair experiences!

Sweet Home Alabama

In my recent blog about our family trip to Hawaii, I mentioned my mom went along with us and shared her phenomenal cooking skills. Since we had our hungry, growing boys with us, we decided to budget our cash for activities and cook all our meals. With the exception of the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center (excellent),

Mother and Sweet Baby James
Mother and Sweet Baby James at the luau

we did just that. Or should I say, Mom did just that.

My mother is a bona fide southern cook. Born and bred in Alabama, she learned to cook from her mother

My Nannie, age 85
My Nannie, age 85

who learned it from her mother

Rosa Kitchens age 92
Grandma Kitchens age 92

…you get the picture.

Lake Guntersville, Alabama
Lake Guntersville, Alabama the Beautiful

Today I’m gonna share my mother’s recipe for Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches.

You may or may not know that being a bona fide southern cook means being flexible, so when my mother decided that jarred roasted red peppers tastes better than jarred pimentos, that was the end of that.  And that’s why there’s no actual pimentos in my mother’s Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches. With that being said, I’ll add one caveat…this ooey, gooey, melted mess of deliciousness is NOT a diet food, y’all!

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich - Yum!
Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich – Yum!

2 1/2 C shredded cheese (Cheddar, Montery Jack,  and/or Pepper Jack)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
jarred roasted red and/or yellow peppers drained and coarsely chopped
Dash of cayenne pepper

Mix your favorite combination of shredded cheese with the softened cream cheese.  You can do this in your mixer with your paddle attachment or with a food processor.

cheddar, pepper jack and cream cheese
colby-cheddar, pepper jack and cream cheese

Add as many peppers as you please.

chopped peppers from a 12 oz jar
I doubled the recipe and chopped peppers from a 12 oz jar

Add mayo until it’s as creamy as you like it.

one heaping spoonful was plenty for me
one heaping spoonful was plenty for me

Add the smallest pinch of cayenne pepper for a little extra bite and stir.  Brush your favorite bread with olive oil or melted butter, fill with yummy Pimento Cheese Spread and grill in a hot skillet.

Any leftover spread is great to use with celery or crackers as a dip

Pimento Cheese with a little bit of healthy
Pimento Cheese with a little bit of healthy

or as a substitute for the cheese in your next cheeseburger.

I clearly need to work on my food photography skills!
I clearly need to work on my food photography skills

Bon Appetit!

I Wanna Go Back

Mark and I were able to take our teens to O’ahu, Hawaii for spring break this year and my mom decided to tag along. We had a wonderful time. We rented a 50’s era, three bedroom house right on the north shore in beautiful Laie.

The little beach by our house
The little beach by our house

We saw whales, sunrises and sunsets.

Watching whales greet the day in Laie
Watching whales greet the day in Laie

We toured the Pearl Harbor Monument (fabulous!)

Pearl Harbor Memorial
The Boyz at the Tree of Life Monument at Pearl Harbor

We visited the Polynesian Cultural Center (amazing!)

Sweet Baby James enjoying the canoe ride

We walked around the historic Laie Mormon Temple (stunning!)

Laie Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
A cloudy Sunday

We enjoyed breath-taking world class beaches.

Kailua Beach, O'ahu
Kailua Beach, O’ahu

We had sand between our toes, in the house and in the rental car, and believe it or not, we trailed it onto the plane ride home.

My husband needed to go to Honolulu one morning to pick up a new computer cord (he’s always working) so I went along for the ride with the understanding that we would stop by a yarn store on the way home. (He maintains we made the trip to buy yarn and stopped at the computer store on the way…details, details.)

I decided on YarnStory located at 1411 South King Street, #201 in Honolulu because it was the only one open on Tuesdays. The owner was pleasant and although her yarn selection was small,  she did carry some nice brands and some very nice locally dyed yarn. I decided on two skeins for two different projects.

I love the color of this Bamboo Pop yarn, aptly named Ocean.

50% cotton, 50% bamboo

My shopping goal was to find a yarn to suit the Wave Lace Scarf from Vogue’s 2014 Spring/Summer edition. When I got home, I did a swatch with the Bamboo Pop and decided to go up a needle size for better drape. It’s in my projects as a WIP and will be a nice summer knit.

Wave Lace from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2014
Wave Lace from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2014

I also purchased a skein of Malabrego’s Sock in Carabeño

Malabrigo Sock Carabeño
Malabrigo Sock Carabeño

and found this easy, fun-to-knit free pattern on Ravelry for my mom as a thank you for coming with us and for her role as head cook. I made quick work of it and mailed it for Mother’s Day. Here’s a pic of my beautiful friend Emily who was gracious enough to model the scarf for me.

Emily wearing Wave scarf
Emily wearing Wave scarf – not sure the ends were supposed to curl up like that, but it looked pretty so I left it

All in all it was a great trip with great people.  Bonus…I ended up with some great yarn!

Have you visited O’ahu or YarnStory?  Make sure and comment with your experiences.


Travel Tales of a Nightly Knitter