The State of the… Spinning

Time for some short and sweet round-up posts. Plus, the Tour de Fleece (France!) starts today, so perhaps I’ll try and see how many race days I can post…

Under those circumstances, it seems only fit to start with the spinning. As of this morning, both wheels were naked – I finished winding off this little lot last night:

That’s about 1700m of singles wool/viscose blend, and just over 300g; the fibre is from Hilltop Cloud, via a Ravelry destash. It’s destined for weaving; I think the slubs will make it a challenging warp, but I’m going to try anyway. I think the weft will be burnt orange; it will be a surprisingly colourful fabric (for me), but you’ve got to break out of the usual patterns once in a while, no?

Next up: enough fuzzy grey yarn to knit a skirt. It’s already carded, and the sample is spun and knitted:

So, then, to the wheel! (This is my new garden chair, apparently good for spinning, but the test had to be done indoors, because… rain…)

Salad (sort of) Lyonnaise

A one-pan warm/room temp salad using allotment gleanings. Ingredients list roughly what I used, but essentially it was ‘what I picked/had on hand’.

Also, does anyone have an official name for the ‘fried and folded’ egg? Does this technique have a name? Eggs over easy? Low temp ‘fry’ in a non-stick pan, minimal oil so no crunchy bits, fold the thin bits of the white in and flip it over part way through, so the white ends up cooked through and the yolk still runny. It ends up being a bit like a poached egg, but with much less water…

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (in this case a heading type, a bit like a cross between little gem and iceberg), 180g
  • Garlic scapes, 20g
  • Mange tout, 20g
  • Olive oil, 2 tsp
  • Bacon, 2 rashers, chopped
  • Egg
  • Bread – in this case, sourdough w/grains, about 110g, crusts cut off and cubed for croutons, the rest of the slices served with
  • Butter

Assembly:

  • Fry bacon in about 1tsp oil until crisp; drain and set aside (keeping oil in pan)
  • Add another tsp of oil to the pan and fry croutons. Set aside.
  • Lightly saute the scapes and mange tout, and the lettuce if you like it charred/wilted (I do)
  • Fry-and-fold one egg.
  • Assemble prepared ingredients other than the egg on plate; top with egg.
  • Butter the rest of the bread and serve alongside.

Basic Kimchi Recipe (or: why I’m posting recipes)

I make (and eat) a lot of kimchi, certainly by British standards. I almost always have a jar in the fridge; I have it as part of my breakfast most days, and at dinner probably a couple of times a week. It’s incredibly convenient; it’s pre-seasoned, pre-chopped veggies just ready to add to your stir-fry/eggs/rice/noodles.

Kimchi, ready to go (photobombed by sourdough…)

For years, I’ve used this recipehttps://www.chowhound.com/recipes/easy-napa-cabbage-kimchi-kimchee-29505 as my go-to (with mods; described below), and recently was horrified to discover that the whole of Chowhound had suddenly shut down while I wasn’t looking…

Fortunately, I found it replicated here, along with a bunch of other recipes that I haven’t tried yet. (Might; might not). But that’s the point at which I realised I really want to start recording, rather than just bookmarking, the recipes I make on a regular basis. I’m a little anxious that I shouldn’t be posting other people’s recipes, whole and verbatim, in my own blog, and I haven’t quite figured out what to do about that yet. In this case, I feel OK about it, as the original source is no longer available…

The original recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1 2-pound Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces daikon radishes, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces using all parts
  • 1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger from about a 2-ounce piece
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (from 6 to 8 medium cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons minced Korean salted shrimp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover (about 12 cups), making sure the cabbage is submerged (it’s OK if a few leaves break the surface). Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • Place a colander in the sink, drain the cabbage, and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until evenly combined and the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture. Pack the mixture tightly into a clean 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar with a tightfitting lid and seal the jar. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (the mixture may bubble). Open the jar to let the gases escape, then reseal and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating (kimchi is best after fermenting about 1 week). Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Instructions
  1. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover (about 12 cups), making sure the cabbage is submerged (it’s OK if a few leaves break the surface). Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Place a colander in the sink, drain the cabbage, and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until evenly combined and the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture. Pack the mixture tightly into a clean 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar with a tightfitting lid and seal the jar. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (the mixture may bubble). Open the jar to let the gases escape, then reseal and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating (kimchi is best after fermenting about 1 week). Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

My tweaks:

  • I don’t add the fishy ingredients. I know that’s heresy to some, but though I’m not a vegetarian myself, I do feed vegetarians on occasion. I am happy to add fish sauce/shrimp paste while cooking if I want it in the finished dish
  • I don’t add the sugar, either. I’ve tried it with and without, and haven’t found much difference.
  • I usually use carrot instead of daikon. The co-op has carrots.

I’ve made this with all sorts of greens. Kale works well! Savoy cabbage is a bit too tough. You can even use lettuce (but it’s a bit limp).

Summary: ferment stuff! Make tasty foods! (They say it’s also very good for you…)

Recipe Recommendation: Double Chocolate Banana Bread (Smitten Kitchen)

The first(?) in a series of posts that hopefully mean I won’t lose my favourite recipes (and can close some of the 50+ tabs in my phone’s browser)…

I think of this as more of a ‘cake’ than a bread. I think the only way you could possibly call it ’banana bread’ is if you think that there is no such thing as banana cake.

It’s full of chocolate chips and cocoa, moist and very dark. It makes great muffin or cupcake sized individual cakes too. If you’re not into very dark chocolate, you might want to cut back a little on the cocoa. Walnuts make a nice addition; if you’re going for a ‘dessert’ vibe instead of a snack with tea, consider serving it warm, with cream or ice cream…

The State of the Allotment

There has been much allotmenteering in the last two years. I started off with a mini-plot – 5m x 5m. I outgrew that in the first year, and traded in for a ‘half’ plot – 5m x 25m. I’ve been digging and planting, digging and planting, and it is starting to look productive (if not weed-free; I am going to be dealing with bindweed, perennial thistles, and horsetails for the forseeable future):

The ‘old’ part

And this spring, I’ve managed to acquire the other half of the same plot! It hasn’t been cultivated much for the last two years, so I am going to be digging again… Here it was just before handover; the bag is mine, and marks the boundary:

The ‘new’ part (before handover)

It’s hard to see the far end, but the white blob is on the next patch, over the path.

My ‘new’ part was strimmed and rotavated (rotivated? rotovated?) before I took it over. I still need to dig out a lot of perennial roots and rocks, and the soil on both the new and old parts needs some serious amendment and improvement.

It’s come on quite a bit already; the old part is significantly more planted, and I’m diggin the new. I’ve put two mini polytunnels in for tomatoes and chillies. I lost all my tomato plants to blight last year, and keeping the rain off should, hopefully, help with that. The polytunnels have guy ropes and I have pegged the base frames to the ground. I still visited three times in one (windy) day last week to make sure they were still there!

One polytunnel viewed from a second under construction

In the near future:

  • I absolutely need to lay in irrigation, or at the very least, water barrels with a hose and pump. Watering this lot by hand is not a realistic option!
  • A fruit cage (already bought – needs erecting)
  • Perennial plants. Asparagus! Artichokes!
  • Enough space to try growing some dye plants! (food gets priority).
  • Experiments! How much land would I need to grow (e.g.) all my wheat for the year? (I’m not going to try that, but I can maybe grow a small patch and extrapolate…)

Notes from Fibre East (things I enjoyed but did not buy)

  • Lovely yarn bowls at Emily Cross Ceramics. I have a yarn bowl that I never use (actually, it stores spindles), but these are beautiful. I particularly loved the glazes, and the bowls with feet; they look medieval to me.
  • Beautiful – really beautiful – yarns at Riverknits. Rich, dark, expressive solids/nearly-solids. Possibly my favourite eye-candy of the show.
  • Felted art from Beverly Neeves. I actually already have a postcard-sized picture of hers (and must hang it sometime), but there was a larger format work that I might yet contact her to see if I can purchase it.
  • A whole shelf of batts that looked like copper-laced nebulae from Spin City.
  • The blanket display at Janie Crow. Rarely does crochet look quite this awesome. There will be some of this in my future; there just has to be.

Stealth reboot

After multiple years of attempting to stash down, and condense storage, and be ‘good’, and (recently) a Tour de Fleece project with fleece that I should have had the good sense to throw out years ago, I decided it was time for a little stash enhancement.

Collected purchases from Fibre East. Mostly fibre, plus one cone of yarn
Stashing up!

Turns out that Fibre East is actually a pretty cool place to do that.

One fleece, 600+g of broken tops (John Arbon), 700+g of lovely stripy top (also John Arbon – their measures are generous), a cone of yarn for an ongoing weaving project, and (coming in the post someday soon), 5 skeins of Noro Kureyon.

Why in the post? Because there wasn’t any to buy at the show. And it was on the shopping list. (I’ve restarted my Lizard Ridge blanket project from 2008 (Ravelry link), and it’s feeling very fun right now)

More details of the new fibre stash on Ravelry, or additional pictures below.

Hobbies or habits?

Some bug got into my head this last weekend, and I’ve started moving stuff, organizing stuff, getting to the bottom of bags and boxes that have filled up with the detritus of life, or moving, or plain old boredom.  Throwing out pieces of mail that travelled to and from work with me for months “because I really ought to do something about that/ring that guy/cancel that subscription”.  I’ve been clearing the floor in my overstuffed studio, moving the desk out, making space to walk around in.  Trying to find a place for everything, and put everything in its place.

And it occurred to me that over say the last five years, I think I have spent more time buying fabric, moving fabric, organizing fabric and figuring out how to store it than I’ve spent sewing.  So is sewing a hobby for me?  Or do I just have a fabric habit?

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to spend any more time at the remnants bin in John Lewis.  That goes double for linen.  Triple for *green* linen.

And one other truth: If I’m going to start weaving more, I need to start sewing again.

Yarnscape’s Last Stand

In two weeks’ time I will be preparing for the second day of trading at Textiles in Focus – the first place Yarnscape ever had a trading stall, and quite possibly the last.

Yarnscape's first stand
Yarnscape’s first stand

(Five years ago!  Wow, how things have changed.  And how they have not, too)

At the end of last year, I started dyeing for sale again – and quickly stopped.  I’ve realised that it’s not something that’s compatible with having a full-time job and also pursuing fibre-y things for fun.  There are only so many hours in the day, after all!

I’m definitely looking forwards to my stall at TiF – it’s a local venue, and one of my favourites.  But I’m really, really nervous about getting ready.  I never had the sense to make a checklist for this stuff when I was doing it regularly, so I’m just going to have to hope I don’t forget anything! It’s been over 2.5 years since I had a stall, and though I know I’ll enjoy it when I’m there, I’m feeling slightly sick/anxious at the ‘preparation’ part.  I’ve moved house three times since that very wet weekend at Fibre East; what if I can’t find everything?  What if I forget some important stuff?!

Which is why I’m going to get as much as possible done today!  Wish me luck; local folks, I hope like anything to see you there.

 

A belated “Happy Hallowe’en”

In 2011, I started my first yarn and fibre club; the Wheel of the Year club. There were eight installments, corresponding to the solstices and equinoxes, plus the ‘cross-quarter’ festivals which sit between them, and I offered sock, lace or fibre options for subscribers.  The first installment was for Samhain (Hallowe’en):

card

I kept yarn or fibre, sometimes both, for myself from every club installment, and I’ve been playing with the idea of ‘following’ my own club over the next 12 months or so, even if I am three years late!

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Nothing if not ambitious, I designed my first gradient colourway for this installment: “into the dark” – based on the seasonal slide from sunlight to darkness, and also the truly *amazing* berry colours that were around that year.

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I kept the prototype sock yarn (Footsie!) and 100g of fibre (Corriedale wool; a lovely, easy spin).  I designed some long socks to show off the full length of the colour shift – but never wrote up the pattern:

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I do rather love them; the leg shaping is incorporated into the lace pattern, and I should probably work on getting it out there sometime.

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I also spun up the fibre pretty much straight away – roughly Aran-weight, chain plied to maintain the gradient.  But knitting myself a beanie somehow had to wait until this year.

2014-10-15 08.09.13

I increased too far the first time round, and ended up with more of a plate than a hat…

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But after a month or so in time-out, I pulled back and re-knit in just a couple of days.  Just long enough to cover my ears, and no binding or riding up.  If I can find a yarn that works well instead of my hand-spun, I’ll have to write this one up, too.