Have Ewe Any Wool?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tour de Fleece....and a Bit of Knitting....and Canning

This past month I did a lot of spinning as part of the team "Peace and Solitude" in the Ravelry Tour de Fleece.   I already posted progress on the Cormo-Silk at the beginning of the month.   As the month progressed, I also spun some grey Jacob, some pink Alpaca, and some purple Alpaca.  All were done two-ply and are relatively thin - about a sport-weight yarn. Total yards spun was a bit over 2,424 yards - some singles are still on a bobbin and on a drop spindle, so I was unable to measure them.

 Here's a photo of all my finished skeins together - including the white Cormo-Silk from earlier this month....both the singles and the plied.

Additionally, I finished the "Everyday Wrap" that I started last month.   I love how it turned out....and the color is fabulous!  (Yeah, I know....it matches the sample at Nature's Yarns.    What can I say?   I saw it there, fell in love with it, and had to make one for myself!)

I also made some Salsa Verde out of tomatillos.  I'd never bought or made anything using tomatillos in the past.   This was a lot of fun and went very quickly.   I cut each tomatillo in half and then roasted them in the over before putting them in the food processor.   It goes great on eggs and on tortilla chips.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dyeing with Wine

I tried something new this week....at least, new to me.  I tried dyeing yarn with wine.   I had some old wine that I was going to dump out, but I decided to try dyeing with it instead.  I'd heard that you could dye with yarn, so I figured, why not give it a try!

I started with some Patons Wool in natural.  I wound it into a skein and tied it to keep it from tangling.   I then soaked it in water with a bit of vinegar to prep it.

In the crockpot, I put 3 bottles of wine....one of Cabernet Savignon and two of Merlot.   They were starting to turn, so they were a bit brownish, but still maintained a lot of the purple color.  (The DEFINITELY were no good for drinking!)  I heated the wine on high to prepare it for the yarn.


I then added the yarn, leaving the crock pot on high for about an hour and then turned it down to low for another couple of additional hours.

I rinsed it well and found that instead of a purple or pink, it dyed the yarn in a nice tan...with a slight dusty pink hue.   I like the color it produced, but it definitely wasn't the color I was expecting!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Knitting Progress and Other Assorted Things

I have done a bit of knitting this month.   I had a lot of fun making this little Tea Cozy.   I used the "Teapot Cosy" by Alexis Layton for the simple cozy.   I decided to embellish it with some crocheted flowers.

When not knitting, I'm still making delicious salads and other accompaniments from my weekly CSA pickup as things I've picked up at the farmer's markets. This was the appetizer salad we had with dinner this evening. I had to buy the avocados at a grocery store, but everything else here is fresh and local!  I made the pesto myself last week from as many local ingredients as possible - basil, garlic, and hand grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  The "half-sour" at the top of the plate was my first attempt at making refrigerator pickles.

Ah...and I can't resist including another beautiful sunrise from last Friday morning...I love how you can see the mountains in the background.   It's so calming!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Canning - Salsa, Relish, and Dill Pickles

What a fabulous and busy weekend!   Saturday started with a nice breakfast of all local foods....except for the bread.   Eggs from a local farm, potatoes, onions and peppers from the farm stand about 1.5 miles from my house, and hand crafted sage sausage from "Lothar's Gourmet Sausages"!

Next, I made Salad Shirazi - a nice refreshing Persian salad of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh mint, and lime juice.   Very delicious and refreshing on a hot day!

I bought a big box of tomatoes at the local Farmer's Market with grand ideas of making salsa.   I realized that I hadn't canned for over 20 years....and I had only done it twice - once to make strawberry jam and once to make pickled green tomatoes.    I was going to have to read up on how to do it again!   I also realized that I definitely needed some cilantro and onions....and headed off to Potomac Vegetable Farm....our local farm stand.

While perusing the onions, green peppers, and other goodies, I overheard someone saying she was picking up some ingredients that she needed for teaching a canning class that afternoon.  Of course, my little ears perked up....and I asked about the class.   It was going to be held at the next town over in about an hour and a half.   What perfect timing!     (This relieved the stress of not remembering how to can!  Talk about perfect timing!)

The demo/class was fabulous!  They had the zucchini and yellow squash  for summer squash relish pretty much prepared.  The instructors demo'd how to do it and let us each take a turn retrieving a sterilized jar and filling it with goodies....following all the tips they provided.     I got the take home two jars of the delicious relish.  (We tasted the left-overs while we were there.)

They also taught us how to make refrigerator dill pickles.  I made a jar while I was there....and came home and made two more quarts and a pint!  

 I guess I went a bit crazy with the salsa.....I made nine 8 oz. jars of salsa on Sunday....plus a pint and a half to "eat right away". - which was gone in no time!

Then Monday, after work, I came home and made ten more 8 oz jars!    I'm very pleased with my first attempts at making salsa - it was delicious!   And now, I have several jars to keep me going through the fall and winter.

Prepping the tomatoes.

Gathering the rest and chopping.

The final result....10 more jars of salsa!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Country Life....

I just love the view I wake up to every day...so peaceful....so beautiful.   Every sunrise is magnificent!

This photo above shows the view from my deck at 5:28 am on Tuesday July 1st....one of the benefits of a long commute is getting up early enough to enjoy a beautiful sunrise nearly every day.

I love the mountains in the background...and the patterns the clouds make in the sky.

And the bounty from my garden....fresh blueberries......mid June to early July...

 and raspberries.....late June to mid July.

It doesn't get any better than this!

Lisa....Designer Extraordinaire!

And the birthday celebration continues.....

Lisa designed and sewed this awesome needle case for my birthday.  It's beautifully made and the fabric is gorgeous!   

I need to find more of my needles so I can properly "show off" the needle case and fill in the empty slots!  The majority of the needles I can find  are happily “pre-occupied” in my various WIPs.  I know I have a bin of my spare needles, somewhere!   I knew where they were at the old house, but I haven’t uncovered their hiding place here!  Just one more hazard of moving!


Anyhow, there are graduated slots for my DPNs (left)….and a flap to cover them and keep them safe (right).

And another set of graduated slots for my 9-14” needles….and a flap to cover them as well.
 Then, you just roll it shut and tie it as shown in the first picture.   It’s absolutely gorgeous!   

I have another one in purple brocade that she made me a few years ago from a pattern, but this one was totally her own design.   I feel extremely spoiled ….. Lisa has made me two fabulous needle cases…and she has yet to make one for herself!  (I had purchased a pattern a while back to make these but after looking at it, realized it was a bit complex and opted NOT to make one!   Lisa is fearless…like I mentioned, she made my first one from a pattern…. but this one, she designed herself. 

Thanks Lisa! 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Tour de Fleece

The "Tour de Fleece" began on Saturday.   I had already spun up a bobbin of my the Cormo Silk roving that I bought from Kate of Reflections at Roclans at the end of last.   The roving is incredible to spin....it's absolutely gorgeous!

On the Fourth of July, I spun most of the second bobbin while enjoying the unseasonably temperate weather we had!  It was GORGEOUS outside!   There was a fabulous breeze.  DH spent the evening in the hammock...and I spun.   We just had to re-arrange our positions when the fireworks began.   We had front row seats without going anywhere as some of my neighbors shot off their own fireworks!  I finished spinning the second bobbin as I watched.  I believe this was the best 4th of July EVER!!!!

I started plying late Friday and finished very early Sunday morning.   I love how this turned out!

The resulting skein was 446 yards in length....and weighed in at 4.6 ounces!

The full skein.....and a close up.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Christmas in July....as well as an Extended Birthday Celebration!

Wow!   I got a “treasure chest” of goodies from my friend Elizabeth (she shares my love of purple, just in case you didn’t pick up on that – LOL!)  These goodies were my presents for both Christmas and my birthday.  Yes….it's literally Christmas in July.  Some years we actually manage to get together within a month of Christmas.   This year, it took just over 6 months!   And in the meantime, we both had birthdays as well!

Anyhow, I received a bunch of wonderful gifts....

  • A great tote bag (aka “treasure chest”) for transporting my numerous WIPS – in purple of course....with stripes and polka-dots!  The bag has some great outside pockets for organizing things!  (She hid all the other goodies inside the bag!)
  • Sheepie Jams (so comfy!)
  • Sheepie socks
  • 2 containers for reigning in my stitch-markers and other crafting goodies so they don’t get lost in the bottom of my bag.
  • Purple wool/silk/Mohair fiber for spinning…..the Mohair is from a named goat – Snapdragon.  How cool is that!
  • A rigid heddle book (always helpful to have a good reference book!)
  • Some purple sock yarn 
  • Some cool pom-pom yarn to make a funky scarf

I guess I’d better get busy – I’ve got LOTS of projects to work on! 

Thanks Elizabeth!

(Now if I can only find the box with her Christmas and Birthday…..it’s somewhere buried in all the craft bins and boxes from the move.   I don’t think I’ll ever get out from under all of the unpacking I have yet to do!)