December 31, 2010
Posted by Wanda J under Spinning
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A New Year’s Eve party is happening at our church only 4 blocks away. This is the first year in many that I’m not up there making music, putting puzzles together, talking, eating and laughing with friends. Emotions and obligations try to tug me up the hill but I resist, preferring instead to write a final post for 2010, a year of not posting as much as I had wanted. I’m not in the mood for noise and being “on” with a large group of people of all ages. Besides, there were two projects I had wanted to finish this evening. One has been accomplished, and the Cat’s Paw scarf is very close but it’s completion will wait until tomorrow; I’m very tired and will head for bed as soon as I’ve updated. (Depending on how noisy it is – already people are shooting firecrackers and guns. Yep, we live in an area with avid hunters.)
The Kid Mohair/Alpaca spinning is finished!
2 balls of 100+ grams Picperfic’s Kid Mohair singles spun on a Jenkins Jay and a Jenkins Aegean spindle
Combined with one single of Alpaca spun on my Louet Victoria. ( I was chomping at the bit to get the alpaca spun so I could ply them.)
I’d been warned to spin the alpaca as loosely as possible, a new challenge which took some practice but overall I was happy with the look and feel, other than that it was thicker than the mohair singles. Until. It keep drifting apart as I plyed it with a Mohair single. Undaunted I ran the alpaca through the Victoria again adding a bit more twist.
Wanting one large skein of yarn I used my Navajo spindle for plying. After plying a few grams I was dismayed to see that the alpaca was overwhelming the mohair. Gritting my teeth at the thought of losing half the yardage by three-plying I sampled away and found that 3 ply was the way to go. Gamely I uniformly wound the three singles together into a big ball with my nostepinne, moved the ball onto a simple plying board, for ease of off-winding, and began plying Wednesday evening.
Tonight the plying was finished and the yarn measured on a niddy-noddy.
Total yardage, before setting twist, is approximately 330. After it’s washed and dried I will weigh it for final results.
I’d originally split the Kid Mohair roving in half along the width hoping to spin it evenly even that the colors would match up in the end two-ply results. But there were such beautiful color changes that I didn’t want to risk them muddying in the plying process if my spinning wasn’t uniform enough to keep the colors in each single together. In order to preserve the colors it was suggested to instead ply them as one single against one grey alpaca single. Which would have worked if I’d spun the alpaca as thin or thinner than the mohair but in spinning it looser it was bigger. Winding the three together into the ball revealed that I could have 2-plyed the two mohair singles together for the colors did come out very evenly in the end. By the time I’d realized the colors were matching very nicely throughout I didn’t have the heart to unwind the big ball and start that process again.
The good news is there’s approximately 65 grams / 2 ounces of alpaca singles left over for something else.
Yesterday Ed and I went up to Portland to buy wood then over to the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet store in SE Portland/Milwaukee to buy a new blanket for our bed as our anniversary gift. In the five years since I’d been there the store moved from the basement upstairs into what used to house the Portland mill & weaving room for their fabrics. We were told the looms were all moved to their weaving mill in Washington when the constant motion from the looms was destroying the structural integrity of the old building. (Blankets and rugs are still woven in Pendleton, OR). It’s been refurbished into a bright, welcoming store with a museum tucked into a back room. Ed and I spent well over an hour looking at blankets, fondling fabrics on bolts and hanging from huge rollers, and looking at the tapestry collection in the museum. I longingly looked over the cones of weaving yarns and managed to put blinders on when walking past the large bins of selvage pieces but came away determined to weave a chunk of what I have before buying anymore.
Fueled with enthusiasm from wool fumes I came home and set about calculating, measuring and sleying the reed with warp for 3 throw rugs. It feels so good to once again have a work in progress on the loom. Just in time to start the new year.
It was a beautiful gift to see this as we drove home from our daughter’s at noon on Christmas Day, Mt Hood:
Today Valerie wrote of letting her stash be sufficient for her fiber needs in this coming year with the word sufficient as a key word. It is a very good word! One my mother loved, and lived by. Her favorite verse that she clung to in hard and uncertain times was “My grace is sufficient for you…” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (New Testament) closely followed by “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency is everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 Isn’t that a lovely assurance to carry into this New Year!
December 23, 2010
Posted by Wanda J under Baking
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With only one day to finish Christmas preparations, a day to turn the mind to the reality of the birth of Jesus Christ, I don’t expect anyone to stir up a batch of these cookies tomorrow. The great thing about these cookie is they are perfect year round. These were the stand-by cookies that Ed’s grandmother baked for her family.
Ed’s mom, one of the oldest of 13 children, was born in an Iowa farm community at the beginning of the Great Depression. Her father was killed when she was 13. Her mom had no more skills than other ordinary housewives of that time who had only a basic education and no means of a steady income. Times were still very tough and for a year or two some of the younger kids were farmed out to various families in the community until Edith was able to find a means to support her family. But through it all her humor, strength, endurance and love stayed intact. She never remarried and as an older woman lived with one grown child after another, staying a year or two at the most then moving to the next. She always kept a crock full of these cookies for her children. Sour cream and eggs are cheap when living on a farm so these were about the only cookies she ever made. Ed’s mom in turn brought her three kids up on these cookies and by the time I came to know him, Ed’s dad almost always had a couple of these cookies during both his morning and afternoon breaks. He will be a recipient of a box of them (fresh ones!) when his birthday rolls around in a couple of weeks.
Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shortening (half butter is okay but these hold better with some type of shortening – I used a cup of solid Organic Coconut Oil for this batch – yummy!)
2 Cups Sugar (I use 1/4 cup less)
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Enough flour to make a stiff dough, usually about 5 cups depending on the flour, plus extra for dusting the pastry cloth or rolling surface.
Sugar and nutmeg (optional)
Ed’s mom just dumped all the ingredients into one bowl and mixed them together by hand. I prefer to beat the more conventional method:
Place first 3 ingredients in mixer to incorporate as much air as possible, add eggs and beat some more. (4-H cooking tip learned ages ago that may be useful to someone reading this: To measure ingredients such as shortening or peanut butter, fill a 2-cup glass measuring cup with water the same amount as the shortening, ex., 1 c shortening fill the glass with 1 C of water then spoon in the shortening until the water level reaches the 2 C mark, pour off the water and dump the shortening in the bowl.
Stir the Baking Powder, Soda and Salt into 2 cups of the flour and blend into the creamed mixture. After it is well blended add the rest of the flour, a cup at a time blending each before adding the next. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a day.
Heat oven to 350
Working in small batches, roll dough on a well floored surface dusting the top as needed with more floor to thickness desired. Our family likes these cookies to be on the thin side, crisp but with a bit of chew, not so thin that they’re brittle. I have a friend who loves them rolled thick and still almost white from the oven so they stay soft. I can get over 110 cookies from one batch when rolling thin, 80-90 when rolled thicker.
Sprinkle sugar & nutmeg over the rolled dough before cutting. (Often I will omit the nutmeg, or use cinnamon for variety.) Ed’s mom and grandmother used to place an empty evaporated milk can, with the paper removed, on top of a hot burner for a few minutes then pry off the bottom; it makes the perfect size of cookie.
These will take 8 – 12 minutes to bake depending on the thickness. Ed and his dad like the cookies just done with a pale golden, I like mine golden brown with the edges almost overdone.
Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are most excellent with milk!
December 22, 2010
After spending close to two hours weighing and writing on spindles I took a mini vacation and spent the rest of the day making Ed’s grandmother’s Sour Cream Sugar cookies and his mom’s divinity. Playing in the kitchen was a good stress reliever, even better are the tasty results to share with family and friends. The old recipe uses 5 cups of flour so there are plenty of cookies for everyone.
Instead of the traditional frosting decorations I used a decorating recipe from King Arthur’s cook book.
2 egg yolks, 1 teas water and food coloring painted on with a paint brush. The only one I could quickly find was a cheap brush that was in a child’s watercolor set. These were done as fast as possible to get them in the oven and out in time to cool before tucking in a box and sending off to Idaho this afternoon in hopes they arrive on Friday.
My elementary ways with paint and brush produced nothing fancy but it was a most enjoyable outlet. Somewhere around 3rd grade I became keenly aware that there’s a disconnect between what I picture in my mind and what my hand can produce. Long have I longed to be able to capture people, animals, things, beauty… with pencils or paint. We lived next door to an art instructor at the local state university at our last house in Portland. He firmly believed that everyone has the ability to draw well, that the most wretched of students left his class at the end of the semester well on the way to a decent ability to draw. That was the year I learned to weave and had no additional time to take a formal art class.
Monday mail contained a most delightful surprise. An unexpected box containing a lovely hand-sketched card and a hand-whittled-from-an-alder-branch support spindle.
Ed admired both the card and the spindle then handed them over to me. I’ve done a bit of support spinning using a Tabachek Russian and a small handy sized Bristlecone one but hadn’t seriously spent the time needed to really get the feel for it. I love the rustic beauty and the feel of this spindle, plus there was some fiber included. How could I resist?
I still have a long ways to go before I can claim ease and proficiency but it is an interesting way of spinning, plus it’s forcing me to be more mindful of drafting. The past two evenings I’ve stayed up way beyond my bedtime playing this this Scanlon spindle. Thanks Janet! We are touched and feel very blessed! Please take a look at Janet’s great bag designs! They’re quick projects and a great way to use your handspun yarns.
After 6 weeks of pushing hard (excepting the Black Butte Ranch break) Ed has basically gotten caught up with most of the individual orders and has started pushing to make headway on the neglected store orders. But periodically he gets a bad allergic reaction to some woods, ebony most notably but this time he’s not sure what triggered the symptoms which starts out sort of like the flu but then he breaks out in hives and gets quite congested. Whatever it is it usually takes 10 days to run the course with the 4-6th days the most miserable. Sometimes he’s able to continue working through it but he decided to work only partial days yesterday and today. He plans to spend the next couple of days making a batch of hairpin lace looms.
Last post I mentioned meeting up with a customer from Canada. Meet Allison! Check out the sweater she made. The pattern had stockinette sleeves but Allison carried the cable motif in the body to the lower arms making it uniquely hers.
It was so fun to finally meet her and hang out the better part of 2 hours. Part of it standing outside under the store awning after the yarn shop closed at 4. My huge regret is in not thinking clearly (I blame the cluster headache that had been pounding all day) I so wish I’d thought to find a phone and give Ed a call to ask him to join us at the Thai Dish which was only a few doors down the block. But somehow, with the darkness gathering it seemed time for her to drive back to her husband and relatives.
I would have loved to spend a lot more time getting to know Allison. Next time we’ll plan to eat Thai food and maybe hike at Silver Falls Park!
I’ve been working on a Cat’s Paw scarf since Black Butte. It’s an easy pattern that I’ve enjoyed working on here and there but for some reason there have been numerous errors necessitating innumerable tinking. With all the knitting it should have been done 2 weeks ago. I took it to the yarn shop to meet Allison. Everyone there agreed that the most recent error, which had gone unnoticed until I picked it up to tuck in my bag, should be left and made into a design element. What do you think?Disregarding their empathetic advice I frogged back to the beginning of the wayward part (no need to tink that many rows!) and set about correctly knitting on the knit side, purling on the purl. And I still like knitting this scarf! Pattern: Northern Lace Cat’s Paw Scarf by Elizabeth Lovick 2006. Her notes tell that Cat’s Paw is an old Shetland pattern. Yarn: My 3-ply handspun from the Schoppel Wolle roving Mandy gave me for Christmas last year. (picture of it while still in the spinning stage on the May ’10 post) Size US10 / 6mm needles
I’m happy to report that the scarf has progress far beyond that point is well down the last half.
And last, but certainly not least, I leave you with a picture of Ed and grandson.
December 16, 2010
Taking a break from knitting and spinning this evening to post a bit. What a full past month plus it has been! Evenings and spare moments have been spent working on Christmas gifts. The first week of December we joined our son and family for a few days at a vacation house he was able to secure through his work at Black Butte Ranch on the East side of the Cascade Mountains. Our daughter and her family, plus Ed’s dad and wife also joined us for a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration. It was one of those mixed blessing times: wonderful to have a breather during a very season and to spend a couple days with family but we’ve been stepping double-time since to get items made and sent before Christmas.
Son and family arrived at the rental the day before and had scouted out the territory finding, to the kids’ great delight, scores of rabbit tracks dotting the snow. Shortly after we arrived I took the children for another walk but the day was somewhat warmer and the tracks weren’t as sharp. Still, we had lots of fun chasing down rabbit trails.
Wesley was more enamored with this treeI made Wesley and Faith each a pair of socks and knitted/felted clogs, the latter turned out too big. We had so much dark weather before we left home it was impossible to get a picture that shows the true colors – they’re brighter in life. Both of the kids were too antsy when they tried them on to get good pictures. I also bought other yarns with the intention of making clogs for Aurora’s two daughters Autumn and Abigail in the near future, and eventually socks for them also.
Wesley’ socks Faith’s socks
(Ed is wsearing clogs which I bought at OFFF – someday I may be clever enough to make such a fancy pair)
When Faith and Wesley were visiting us in August I laid out these six skeins of yarn from Drachenwolle – gifted to us by a wonderful German friend, Juergen, via his friend Christine who is the dyer. Juergen is a sock knitter extraordinaire as well as a fantastic spinner – and told the kids to each pick a skein for me to knit them a pair of socks.
Faith immediately picked up the one on the far right while Wesley zoomed in on the one right next to it! They both were in an orange stage of life. I feel so richly blessed with these yarns! I haven’t yet decided what to make though the other day I was fondling them all and dreaming of socks, scarves and shawls.
By bedtime they were tired out and quite happy to listen to Aurora read a bedtime story. (Oldest daughter, Autumn wasn’t able to take time away from school due to mid-terms. In fourth grade! Disappointing though we’ll have our Christmas together at the proper time.)
Another busy day ahead tomorrow and I need to tuck into bed too. Have more pictures and stories to share from Black Butte, as well as telling about a wonderful visit with a spindle customer from Canada! Stay tuned