Tuesday, November 24, 2009

roving and spinning

I placed an order for roving from Wearmoa at Etsy. It came in the mail yesterday. It is all so beautiful. I will blogs had a feature for feeling textures. I ordered some Alpaca, Superfine Merino, a Yak/Silk Blend and Alpaca locks.
Here are a couple of photos...

I also took a picture of the wool that I have got from our new Angora, Phina when I comb her. I will not be able to get a full harvest for about two more months. I still think this is a lot of wool from only two days.

Naturally, I had to get my drop spindle out and start playing with some of the wool. Here is the start of my very first spinning project.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

My parents are coming over for Thanksgiving this year. It is not a huge gathering, but it is the first time I have hosted Thanksgiving in several years.
I have found that organizing and planning the meal is much easier and less expensive this year than it was when I hosted the holiday in the early years of our marriage.
I realised that the key is proven, established recipes and raising our own turkey.
This year, when I planned the menu, I singled out dishes that I don't really like or lack a passion for preparing and asked my mother to bring them.
This left us with the
Turkey (defrosting will go into a brine Wednesday night)
Stuffing (I need to bake a stuffing bread tommorow)
Cranberry Relish (need to search the internet for something quick and easy, but bought a huge bag of cranberries at Costco and froze them)
Sourdough bread
Cranberry Apricot Bread
Garlic Mashed Potatos
Pumpkin Pie

I have a recipe in a cookbook called Fix, Freeze and Feast that prepares four trays of garlic mashed potatos. David and and I made these yesterday afternoon and put them in the freezer. We just have to grab one tray out Wednesday morning to defrost and we still have three trays waiting to get eaten later.

I will share some of my recipes this week. I will start with Garlic Mashed Potatos

10 pounds russet potatoes- peeled and cut into large chunks (we never peel and they are still great, we just wash)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, cut into quarters
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
four 8 inch square baking dishes
plastic wrap
aluminum foil

1. put potatoes in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until they break apart easily with a fork, 9-12 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
3 Drain potatoes and return them to the pot. Add garlic with oil, cream cheese, salt and pepper; mash potatoes. Stir in chicken broth. Divide potatoes evenly among the baking dishes. Wrap each dish entirely in plastic wrap and cover with foil.
4. Label and freeze

To cook one side dish

1. Thaw one side dish in the refridgerator or bake straight from the freezer.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
3. Remove plastic wrap and foil from baking dish and replace the foil. Bake for one hour if frozen, 30 minutes if thawed or until potatoes are hot all the way through.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

a bunny and a dream come true

I have wanted an angora rabbit since I first learned they existed when I was a child. I had a couple pet rabbits growing up and enjoyed them, but always dreamed of getting an angora. I also loved nothing more than a sweater, hat or scarf made from angora.
Last spring I went to a 4-H event and saw some angoras there. I was just learning to knit at the time and I got the idea that I would like to learn to spin. I looked up some information on angoras and found that professional breeders charge quite a bit. I put the dream on the back burner and thought that maybe I could find someone in 4-H who might breed them and sell them for less. I figured, I would have to wait a year or two.
Yesturday, a message arrived from one of the Yahoo groups I subscribe to and a woman had some angora rabbits, she wanted to give them away free to someone learning to spin or a family with young kids. We qualify in both catagories, so I sent her an e-mail. Today after church we drove up to Vancouver to pick this cutie up.
She has to be combed often and I can add her fur to roving that I spin now and in about two months, she her fur will be long enough to using for spinning on its own.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

a home-made drop spindle and dying yarn

I want to start spinning my own wool. I bought a drop spindle from Craigslist a few weeks ago and ordered roving from a vendor on Etsy this week. I checked out a book about spinning from the library and one of the first things I learned was that it is easy and cheap to make a drop spindle at home. You need:
a cd
a dowel about 3/8"
a plastic washer

David put it together. The only tool he used was his swiss army knife. I will try spinning with it when my roving arrives and report back.

I also tried dying yarn with Kool Aid last week. I took two skeins and dyed them with four colors. Big mistake for a first time. It was so raveled up. It took me a couple days to get it un-raveled and rolled.
To dye with Kool Aid
tie the yarn in a couple of places. If you tie it tight, you will have white spots where under that yarn.
Place the yarn in a bowl of cold and let it sit for about 30 minutes. (this step really confused our kitten. He saw string, which he loves and water, which he hates. He finally just drank a bit of the water)
Stir together the kool aide, 1/2 cup cold water for ea 2 oz of yarn, and 1/4 cup vinegar for each 2 oz of yarn in a pot large enough to hold both liquid and yarn without crowding.
Bring mixture to a low simmer and simmer for 15-30 minutes. When the water is clear all the color has been absorbed. Cool to room temperature.
To rinse, fill a large bowl with room temp water, add the room-temp yarn and very gently squeeze the yarn. Repeat with fresh water until the water stays clear.
Hang the yarn to dry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

first pair of socks complete

I finished my first pair of socks the weekend. I used Just Yer Basic Sock Pattern. These socks do not really resemble the pattern since I made so many first time errors. It is a great pattern with simple accesible directions. I used Red Heart and Sole Yarn. The yarn pictured when you go to the link is the same color I used, Green Envy. I love this yarn because it gave the socks a Fair Isle look without needing the skills. I am almost finished with the first sock of my second pair and have discovered some second pair of sock errors. Nothing some time with a crochet hook or yarn needle can't fix.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pain Ordinaire

My sons are huge baguette fans. They love it when we go to the farmer's market and bring one home with our fresh produce. I have been looking for a good reciepe for a french style baguette. Today I was looking through my copy of The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger and a recipe for Pain Ordinaire or French Bread was the second recipe in the book. It is a basic recipe, the ingredients are very inexpensive. I doubt the recipe cost me a dollar. It was very easy to make and the results are incredible.
I tried something new with this recipe that I had also read in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I sprayed the heating element in the oven with water when I put the bread in the oven. This is to create a crisp crust. Now I know the French secret.


Welcome to my new blog! I have decided that over the next year, I will try not to make new purchases, but instead try to make items myself, pick things up second-hand or repurpose old items. I decided to blog about this journey.
I have a freshly completed project start out with. I started taking ballet again about a year and a half ago. When the cold weather came, I realized I needed leg warmers. I don't really like the warmers they sell at dance stores. They usually only come in black and pink and often use synthetic fiber. I had a pair of purple leg warmers in junior high and I wished I could click my heels together, go back in time and retieve them. I also started learning how to knit last spring. Since I don't have access to a time machine, I decided that knitting leg warmers would be the next best thing. My friend Denise is teaching a couple friend and I how to knit socks. This gave me all the skills I needed for leg warmers. I chose Stroll Tweek Sock Yarn from www.knitpicks.com
to make them. I used size 6 circular needles to knit them. I am a tight (kind of an understatement) knitter, so I often have to go up a size or two when I knit. I did 20 rows of ribbing (two knit, two purl), 66 rows of plain knitting and then another 20 rows of ribbing. To get the number of stitches for casting on, measure your calf, knit a swatch and gauge it. Multiply your gauge per inch with the diameter of the calf.