On to the interview today...... which of course brings me joy! From the popular podcast “Socks in the City” (I just love that name, it makes me laugh everytime!) comes Carrie Barraco! This popular podcast hosts show notes, and Carrie also has an etsy shop. As a working woman, a wife, a mother and an avid knitter, I know you will enjoy getting to know her a bit better!
(KC) Carrie, talk to me about the holiday season. With small children in the house I know it is busy and lots of fun!
(CB) Overall I really like the holiday season. We celebrate a lot of them—usually it begins with my birthday on Dec 18, and then my immediate family celebrates the Winter Solstice—usually that's on the 21st, Christmas Eve with my father's side, Christmas Day with my mother's side and then we see my in-laws around New Year's. We live far away from our family and loved ones, but this is an opportunity to see everyone. It's fun now to show off Roman and how big he's getting, plus he's so social that he makes everyone happy. It also helps that I am an early gift shopper—not an all-year-round shopper, but finished by Thanksgiving.
(KC) I know that there are a lot of Blitters out there that still have a lot left on their lists so you can do the happy dance about being DONE! And by Thanksgiving? Good on ya!
(CB) If you had to choose just one wonderful gift that you received in the past year, what would you tell us?
(CB) My greatest gift of 2007? Well, there are really so many! This is the year I started the Socks in the City podcast, and that's been so wonderful to connect with all these sock knitters all over the world! Sometimes it's hard to keep up, but I'm planning on sticking to it. I also get so much from the kids I work with (I do Child-Centered Play Therapy with Elementary-aged children), and every session (well, nearly every one!) really is a gift. Plus, Roman is happy and healthy and social, DH got a new job that gives him more days off to be with us, Dad's helping us fix up the house...I could really go on and on...
(KC) I bet you are a holiday gift knitter, are you?
(CB) I am totally a holiday knitter!
(KC) Not only are you an early shopper but also a gift knitter! Wow! What are you gifting?
(CB) Every year I do something for everyone, but really only the closest family and friends get projects, and they are small. I suppose I would do a big project if someone really wanted it, but really the holiday knitting is for me more than it is for them, so, small projects that feel good to me fit the bill. I also try to make them useful and they are truly appreciated. Just last month, my Dad brought out his Fuzzy Feet from last year to show my grandmother. My brother wore a hole in his Fuzzy Feet by March, so he got a pair of Fiber Trends Felted Clogs for his birthday in April. This years projects vary a bit. DH is getting the Felted Clogs, my best friend a crocheted shawl from Teva Durham (totally insane project--and a challenge, but a relatively quick challenge--more a mental crunch than a time crunch. I've already given my daughter her chunky (Colinette Point Five) hat and mittens, and a toque to her boyfriend. My brother's girlfriend is getting a Caloriemetry, and the big obsession has been felted mittens. I used the Charitable Crafters pattern for chunky weight (it's written for lopi, but I used a bunch of different yarns), and my Mom is getting a pair with Disco fun fur cuff, my Dad a simple stripe (ran out of the original yarn), and my brother is getting a flip-top adaptation (also with supplementary stripes).
(KC) That is quite the extensive list!!! I think I’ll just slink off to my corner with my parade of hats!
(KC) It’s crunch time----- what ideas or tips do you have for knitters and crocheters who need a bit of help in the time management department??
(CB) My best tip for holiday knitting is to keep it small and bulky. Brian's hat will be in (stashed) Colinette Point Five, and all those mittens were written for Lopi. Sweaters are out of the question (at least without a lot of notice...), and socks are of course my love, but I only like knitting them for me... I hate to give them up! I use every available second. Waiting in line at the post office, red lights (don't tell anyone), DH drives everywhere so I can knit. I knit between clients, and on my breaks. I knit in the evenings and weekends. Basically, any time I can eek out is fair game. I might also recommend making a chart of what you need to do, and mini-deadlines along the way. That's how I got through grad school.
(KC) I do love an organized knitter! The knitting at red lights kind of scares me though! Ha!
(KC) Everyone knows that a favorite question for me to ask this season has been what your pick would be for a favorite knitter! Something splurgey and something with a smaller budget.
(CB) Ooooh! A very special knitting gift for a dear friend... It sort of depends on what kind of knitter they are. My first instinct is the Knit Picks Harmonies full set—and if cost is no object, then all the other sizes to round out the collection. Those are sooo pretty! I wouldn't think of one for myself, but for the right recipient, a Jordana Paige knitting bag. On a smaller budget, I would probably make a little sock knitting bag, tuck in a set of Knit Picks DPNs and dye up some sock yarn. Even if you bought everything new and did it up nicely, $5 for high-quality quilter's cotton fat quarters, $5 for needles, and under $10 for sock yarn blanks. And you could do it for less, too.
(KC) Fabulous ideas! I especially love the idea of the ‘smaller budget’ gift that you make yourself. That would be really great!
(KC) You know I can bend Santa’s ear for you…………… what would you like me to casually mention you’re looking for on Christmas Day?
(CB) Since you're such a close, personal friend of Santa, I might ask for, uh, the Harmonies set. Or maybe the DPN set. Or some hard-to-get indie sock yarn....Wollmeise! Oh, wait, I know! A ticket to Sea Socks '08. Yes, that's it ;)
(KC) All of those would be pretty great to receive, wouldn’t they? A trip to Sea Socks ’08? Yes indeedy!!!!!
(KC) Carrie, you have a lot of listeners to “Socks in the City”, many fans from all over the world---- that is pretty cool, yes? You have a nice ranking on the iTunes listing!
(CB) Thank you so much for your kind words and it is a little stunning to me to think of having “fans!” It makes me think of back in grad school—5 years ago I was finishing and one of the exercises I lead in Career Counseling was to visualize yourself in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, etc. to elicit a vision for one's future. I'm not sure which “year” it was at, but I want to be on Oprah—sometimes it feels like that!
(KC) What gave you the push to start “Socks in the City”?
(CB) What made me start? DH had bought a podcasting kit to start his own—it had a mike, a mixer, software, etc. Since he already had the stuff and knew how to use it, and I was listening to every podcast I could, and I was really getting into socks (thanks, L&V!!), and mentioned it a few times. I had the concept to focus on sock knitting, since it's a niche that no one was doing in a dedicated way, but as we know lots of knitters are passionate about their socks. We settled on a name, and bought service from Libsyn, I thought up a few shows and the rest is history. It can be hard to keep up momentum and a flow from show to show. I try to take it easy, and keep it casual and fun. If I polished it up and made it all pretty and fancy, I wouldn't get to do it, or at least far less often. Really, all people's comments and emails keep me motivated, and I really like to reply to everyone, but Blogger doesn't let me know how to find you , so that stinks.
(KC) I agree! I do wish that Blogger had better commenting!
(CB) And, I don't think I would keep up with it if it weren't for people listening. I really don't trust Libsyn's stats, but as of today there have been over 50,000 downloads! It averages around 2500-3000 per show by the time it's been up awhile. That's insane! We are a bunch of obsessed people, don't you think? All this, and the show is always a good excuse, I mean, reason to buy sock yarn.
(KC) A lot of fans, I told you! Yes, we are obsessed people, and not just sock knitters—although I do think they march to their own drummer! I think today’s knitter are super obsessed! We know what we like, we know how to find just the perfect thing and we know how that thing should be priced!
(KC) You know I have to ask, and I’m sure that everyone wants to know, are you exclusively a sock knitter?
(CB) I do knit things other than socks! I probably knit sweaters most often (I just got the Fleece Artist Garter Stitch Jacket kit—I HAD TO HAVE IT after the Yarn Harlot blogged about it), but also hats. I also did a bunch of dishcloths when Mason-Dixon Knitting came out, several scarves and toys. I really like a very quick project for that easy satisfaction. What was it that I just did? Now I can't even remember....it was that quick.
(KC) I’m laughing, you know we can all appreciate forgetting! AND that wonderful thing that happens when we read about a great project on a blog or hear about it on a podcast. The “that knitter has it and I want it now” thing!
(KC) One of my favorite things about your podcast is that you do such a great job of critiquing sock yarn, and different patterns, designers and projects. Do you have any one that is a favorite? I know that is a terribly unfair question!
(CB) Choosing a favorite yarn or designer is of course impossible. As far as yarns, I really love the ones that have unique “stamp” on them—where you KNOW who dyed it. Rachel at Dyeabolical is like this, the Wollmeise, Pigeon Roof Studios, Sundara, Twisted Fiber Arts, Brooke at White Willow. As I write this, I really CAN'T choose a favorite, but these are certainly ones I admire. I could add another hundred; I really could. Pattern designers-- I love Norah Gaughan and wish she'd do some socks. Cat Bordhi without question, and Cookie A.
(KC) Great list! And y’know………….. Norah is wrapping up Knitting Contrisstmas!!!!!! J
(KC) Are you a knitter who cooks? Any fave recipes that are so standout that you would like to pass them along?
(CB) I have two recipes to share—one is just a tip that my Mom's famous apple pie is actually straight from the checked Betty Crocker cookbook.
(CB) The second is my memory of a beloved cranberry sauce. Put equal parts fresh cranberries and sugar together in a pan and cook down until it's a nice consistency. You could also add some cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or whatever you like. Before serving, stir in brandy. It originally came from Emeril, but I can't find it anymore.
(KC) Now I’m hungry!
(KC) I’d love to pass along any special greetings to your fans old and new Carrie, do you have any?
(CB) I think if I were to send out holiday greetings to everyone it would be in the form of a traditional Irish blessing:
May the stash rise to meet you,
May the sweater be always at your back,
May the wool feel warm upon your feet,
The rains fall soft upon your sheep and,
Until we meet again,
May the Knitting Gods hold you in the palms of Their hands.
(CB) At least, I think it went like that.... ;)
(KC) When everything has been opened, your friends and family are nicely tucked into their knitted finery and the holidays are over— what’s up for Carrie?
(CB) When the holidays are over, what will I be doing? Sitting on the couch knitting of course!
(KC) Get Knittin’ girl! And thanks a lot for a great interview. I look forward to many more episodes of “Socks in the City”!
My partner arrived yesterday afternoon just before we walked out the door to collect my son---- with a cup of peppermint mocha espresso from Park Avenue Coffee AND a pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. Divine. Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis EVENT----- and heck, no calories there. It is completely fabulous. I can feel my butt getting larger just thinking about it---- ack! The very best news of all is that they mail order these incredible babies all over the world! If Oprah is allowed to have Favorite Things, lambchop this is one of mine! Dale and his crew have them in 64 flavors-----SIXTY FOUR FLAVORS of Gooey Butter Cake------wow. Pop right over there and have Dale send you one too, you'll thank me-- really you will. Tell Dale that I said you simply had to!
From Wikipedia (how did we live without Wikipedia anyway?) comes their definition of GBC, "Gooey Butter Cake is a type of cake traditionally made in the U.S. city of St. Louis, MO, with a bottom layer of a buttery yellow cake and a top layer of either egg, and cream, or butter and sugar. It is generally served as a type of coffee cake and not as a dessert cake."
Actually, GBC is an anytime cake and it makes a fine dessert cake! I have to leave you with a recipe, it is that good and dammit I have to get fat alone!!!! This recipe for Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (which can’t possibly be as good as mine from Park Avenue Coffee but there you have it) makes you just want to go make it. So do. Please. Or order one from Dale at Park Avenue, just get to one!
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
*Recipe from Paula Deen (who does seem quite adept with butter!)Off the topic of food, at least momentarily---- and definitely about love--- my son is home and it is great to have him here! The dogs adore having someone elses' lap to sit on! He did bring bagels from NYC and I'm off to make coffee and enjoy one!