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…)

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…)

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…)

Starting afresh

It’s the winter solstice today – and (just in case you hadn’t already heard), the day on which that famous Mayan calendar predicted that the world would end.

I love the solstices – all the points of the year, in fact, but the winter solstice is a real pausing-point for me.  We’re just a few days before Christmas: lots of people are seeing a slow-down at work as projects are wrapped up, either done or ready for a bit of hibernation, and some children are off school already. That, along with the festive atmosphere of the whole country, makes it feel like everyone really is taking a moment for a rest and a deep breath, before we set off into the new year.

Of course, most people think of the new year as starting on January 1 – so these few days, 11 of them, can be a sort of gap.  I think it was a Mary Poppins story that said the old year ends on the first stroke of midnight; the new year begins on the last.  In between, there was the Crack, I think: a very magical time.

Well, I’m going to use the time between the solstice and the calendar new year as my own magical time of ‘between’.  If I want to start the year with a clean slate, it is up to me to get it good and clean.  The last year has most definitely been one of upheaval: I have a new house (starting to feel like a home, even if I am renting), a new job, a new family situation.  I’m not going to say anythign crazy like, “All WIPs will be done by the first of Jan!”, but I really would like a plan by then.  A sense of foundations under me, ducks in a row, and a clear way forwards.

There will, of course, be lots of other stuff going on in this time: family, food, celebrations, gatherings, walks, and general joyfulness.  Good!  There’s nothing like a bit of sound and light to get the spiritual cobwebs blown away.  But there are some preparations to be made, too, and some inward-looking time to be spent, in more than a few areas:

  • Self-care.  How am I going to make sure I get the exercise, nutrition and rest I need to continue healing from this monstrous disease of CFS/ME and be the best person I can be?
  • Home life.  How long do I continue renting?  How do I make my place, wherever it is, feel as homely as possible, and as supportive as it can be?  And what about gardeing, particularly with reference to sustainability and a general wish to be as self-sufficient as I sensibly can?
  • Fibre stuff.  What about the state of the stash?  What do I want to achieve, and to learn in the coming months?
  • What about Yarnscape?  I’ve already cancelled (or just not booked) the shows that are early next year; what about the others?  Could I do them?  Do I want to??

Anyway, have a wonderful solstice, however you mark it, a fantastic festive season, and a joyous beginning to the new year!

Hacked!!

This has not been a fun week at Yarnscape.  Last Friday, I got a note telling me my lovely site had been suspended for hosting a phishing scam.  Turns out, I’d been hacked, and various malicious scripts were making themselves at home on my servers…

I think we’re mostly sorted now.  Some comments are missing.  Some post metadata.  The logo.  Please let me know if you find any broken links, missing images or the like – this will, I think, be an ongoing process..

Wolfram

I’ve finally finished something!

This is the cowl I mentioned swatching for way back here, and the stitch pattern I talked about here.  Those playing along at home might like to know that it’s also the yarn I blogged here, which was spun from fibre I bought at Rampton’s Christmas Party, last December.  Slightly shamefully, these blocking photos were taken mid-March, which means it’s taken almost three weeks for me to graft the ends closed.

I have to say, I’m delighted with the way the stitch pattern has worked up; I love the contrast between the knit and purl shapes, and the fact that the fabric is *completely* reversible.  Want a close-up?

Also, the waving lines of eyelets provide fold lines so that the fabric collapses into warm folds around your neck.  Snuggly!

I don’t have any proper FO pics yet – but here’s a teaser:

(Oh- and the name of the post?  The cowl just seems to have named itself Wolfram.  Not sure why, but it seems to be sticking…)

Start of the spinning year

When I started writing this post – last Thursday – I had not yet spun one jot so far this year.  I know- I’m a lazy spinner.  Roc day was almost a week gone already…  That evening, I sat down to reacquaint myself with the project on the wheel (Shipwreck, part 2), and spin for the first time this year.

I managed to spin up a fair amount of corriedale roving (colour: Ominous, my own dyework), for the second ply of the second half of the Shipwreck Shawl (make sense? Suffice it to say that the singles spinning is more than 3/4 done, and the plying half done…

 

That’s not the only spinning related news I have for you, though.  Anyone who is already a reader of Knit! magazine (the one that used to be Yarn Forward) will know that the last few issues have featured spinning-related articles.  And the most recent issue (Issue 45) features spindle spinning – and ME!

There are two articles in there: one is about the history and background of spindle spinning, the other is about me and my spinning.  Both are written by Camilla Hair, who interviewed me for the articles back in November, I think.

 

My hand-woven, spindle spun silk shawl gets a mention – and a rather pretty photograph – too!  It’s an amazing buzz to see yourself – and your projects! – in print in this way.  I’m not sure I’ve come down from cloud 9 yet…

Saturday Giveaway: 6 months free in the Wheel of the Year club

 

OK!  Entries are now closed for this week.  Thanks for the absolutely storming response: 54 entries!  Please come back tomorrow night for the announcement of the winner.

xx

OK…  You might have guessed that I’m just a wee bit excited about my upcoming club.  That’s the official ad banner up there, by the way – my first ever Ravelry advert!  You might see it on the forums over there, if you hang around in the right places…  I’m so ridiculously proud of it: J and I collaborated over cider the other evening, and this is what we came up with.

Anyway! This week’s Saturday Giveaway is extra-special.  I’m giving away six month’s membership to the club to one extremely lucky person.  The winner will get to choose whether they want to receive sock yarn, lace yarn or spinning fibre.  If you’ve already purchased a place, I will refund you the six month membership amount – or you can belong to two club options, if you prefer.  If you want to extend your six months to a full year, I will send you a specially amended PayPal invoice for the difference.

As per usual, entries for this competition will close on Tuesday (September 27th) at noon, GMT.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday evening.

The year turns on…

…and I’m running a brand-new club!

Today, at 09:04 UTC marks the autumn equinox (in the Northern hemisphere) – the point where the earth’s axis leans neither towards nor away from the sun, and the day when day and night are the same length.  I love the ‘changing’ seasons – spring and autumn – perhaps the best, with their promise of new things to come.  And at no time are our days changing faster than around the equinoxes.

In the northern hemisphere, our days are rapidly shortening as we slide further and further towards winter again.  We feel the promise of crisp mornings, chilly fingers soothed by a mug of coffee, apples, baking and – joy! – woolly sweaters.

In the southern hemisphere, the earth will be wakening, sap will be rising, the planting itch will have gardeners barely able to sit still.  After months of layering up clothes and always knowing where your gloves are, thousands of people will be tempted to take off a layer just a little too soon, to feel the sun on their backs even though the air is still fresh with the last breath of winter.

It has been a year of change for me already.  I’ve left my safe, predictable desk job to dye yarns and fibres full-time.  And now, I’m launching my first club – the Wheel of the Year club, celebrating the magic and excitement of our shifting seasons in fibre-y form.  I’m offering it in three flavours – spinning fibre, sock yarn or lace yarn.  It will run for a full year (a six-month option is available, too), starting at the end of October, and will include eight (or four) wonderful, seasonally inspired, hand-dyed deliveries.  The deliveries will be sent out around the equinoxes, the solstices, and the dates in between: more details are on the FAQ page.

It probably goes without saying that I am very, very excited about this new adventure, and I hope to see a few of my bloggy friends there, making the journey with me.

For now – enjoy these equinoctical days!