Whew – what a day. We’re still knee deep in Sale Orders, but we’re working as fast as we can. That’s why the blog is going up a little later in the day (and why I haven’t gotten to emails yet today.) We’re hoping that all Sale Orders will be out tomorrow (you all really know how to shop a sale!) because of course there is other fun stuff happening this week – like Sock Club and Malabrigo Lace and Malabrigo Sock going up. So keep an eye on “What’s New” tomorrow or Wednesday.
Today in the Limelight we have Theresa in Italy (many of you know her from her Loopy Legend colorway and from reading her blog comments. I keep threatening to deliver her orders to her in person. Wouldn’t that be fun?)
Loopy: Hi Theresa! You’re one of our original Loopy Legends, so we’re glad to have you in the Limelight today. Your colorway is called “Theresa’s Italian Vineyards” in honor of you living in Italy. How long have you lived there and how did that come about?
Theresa: Hi Loopy, thank you for having me! I’ve been living in Italy for nearly 18 years. I met my husband while working at a university as a secretary for a research group of professors and grad students—he was one of the students—and he swept me off my feet and brought me here. We live in northern Italy near the city of Piacenza (which you’ll find on the map about halfway between Milan and Parma) in an area of rolling hills that’s well-known in Italy for wine production, so the choice of name for the colorway was very appropriate!
Loopy: Do you get back to the US very often? (Like maybe next spring for the Spring Fling??)
Theresa: Not as often as I’d like—we usually make it every other year for the Christmas holidays. (I’d love to be there next spring for the Fling but I’m still working on that!)
Loopy: Let us know who needs convincing in your family, to make sure you can come next spring. Are there things you miss about living in the US? And things you’d miss if you no longer lived in Italy?
Theresa: I miss my family and friends above all, but I also miss minor things like window screens, air conditioning, carpeted floors, and tumble dryers. In the beginning I was terribly homesick for American food like peanut butter (in the old days anyone who wanted to come over for a visit was asked to smuggle a jar of peanut butter in their luggage!) but now the big supermarkets carry that and lots more. I’ve learned to be patient and wait for new ideas and products to “cross the pond.” On the other hand, if I didn’t live in Italy, I definitely would miss the local wine and seasonal foods—right now it’s time for fresh porcini mushrooms, for example I’d miss the Italian custom of bumping into an acquaintance in the main square and popping into the nearest bar for an espresso and a chat. I’d miss the art that you find everywhere, even in the strangest places, like frescoed ceilings in the main post office in town. And I’ve made friends here whom I’d miss very much.
Loopy: It’s interesting to hear about the differences – both positive and negative – in terms of what you miss. The espresso chat sounds like a great idea. And there is definitely no art in our post office. One thing that is the same here and there is knitting. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Theresa: When I was about 7 years old, my grandma sat me down and taught me. She used to knit constantly–in front of the TV nearly every evening, as I recall—and she made me some beautiful sweaters when I was a little girl. Years later I found out that it was my mom who had taught my grandma to knit, which was hard to believe because my mom isn’t particularly crafty (she’d much rather play with food—she’s a fantastic cook), but it definitely “took” with my grandma and me, and also with my youngest sister, who crochets. There have been long stretches when I didn’t knit, but I always come back to it. It’s just so much fun to play with yarn!
Loopy: We ought to take a poll sometime to see how many people learned to knit from their grandmothers. (Or grandfathers?) Do you have a favorite item to knit
Theresa: Right now I’d have to say socks—I love knitting socks—but I’ve got a few scarves on the needles, too. Fingerless mitts are also fun.
Loopy: What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Theresa: A lace scarf in mohair yarn. The pattern called for mohair, so I got mohair. I’d never worked with mohair before AND it was my first lace project. It wasn’t a difficult pattern, but I had trouble counting my stitches, I kept missing yarn overs—you name it, I did it. That was the project that taught me the value of stitch markers! I’ve done other projects since then that were technically more advanced, but this was the one that nearly did me in.
Loopy: Well thank goodness you didn’t give up completely, or we might never have met you. Tell us about your family – and are they supportive of your knitting hobby?
Theresa: My husband teaches engineering at a local university and our two sons both attend the “scientific” high school (over here you decide which subjects you want to study and choose your high school accordingly). We live just outside a small village and share the house with a huge but very gentle dog. All the guys are avid snorkelers and sailors when they can get near the water—the reason why we go to Sicily for summer vacations. My older son also rides, and the younger one plays rugby. (As for my knitting hobby, I’d have to say the most supportive one is the dog. Everyone else complains about yarn and projects all over the house!)
Loopy: It sounds like you have a very good dog and a very active family. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Theresa: Reading, crocheting, and cooking (especially baking).
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Theresa: Since normally I’m home during the day, a day off for me would mean getting out of the house. I’d snag some prime knitting time in the morning after everyone else had left for school, then I’d meet some of my friends for a day trip to a big city (Milan or Parma) for lunch out, a visit to a museum, and maybe a little shopping along the way. In the evening I’d rejoin my family and we’d go out to our favorite pizzeria.
Loopy: I’ll bet you have good pizza over there. Do you have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share with us?
Theresa: This is what my husband used to cook for me when we lived in the States—the most exotic ingredient is the pasta! Yet it tastes very much like what you’d be served if you were to order this dish in Italy. Italian recipes are very flexible when it comes to measurements (some would say “vague”) so feel free to adjust according to taste and/or what you’ve got in the cupboard!
Pasta All Amatriciana, American Style
1 package bacon
olive oil (about 1/4 cup or as needed)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large can tomatoes or tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound Italian pasta (spaghetti is good but anything is fine)
grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese to serve
hot chili pepper flakes (optional)
1. Take the bacon out of the package and while it’s still in a “slab” cut it crosswise with a knife into roughly 1-inch squares. (They will separate out in cooking.) Put the slab into a large, deep frying pan (a wok is perfect) and cook over medium-high heat just until most of the fat has melted out. Drain bacon pieces; reserve bacon fat for another use.
2. Wipe out the pan with paper towels, add the olive oil and onions, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and golden. Add the tomatoes (if they are whole, break them up a little bit) and the bacon pieces. Cook until sauce has thickened (maybe half an hour—it should be gloppy, not runny). Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
3. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain, and mix with sauce. Serve with grated cheese (and hot pepper flakes if desired).
Loopy: YUM! I think there will be a lot of people making that recipe soon. It sounds delicious! Anything else you’d like to add?
Theresa: I’m so glad to have found The Loopy Ewe. Besides being my favorite on-line yarn shop, it’s great fun and I’ve “met” some wonderful people—Sheri, her family, and the Elves are the best. Someday I’ll see you all in person!
Loopy: We’re holding you to that!