7.17.17

These wonderful summer days are speeding too quickly along. During the past couple of years I’ve realized how passionately I love the summertime.

The warmth of the days followed by cool nights.
(On the whole the temps drop down into the 50sF with a few exceptions.)

Fresh air blowing in the windows.
Simple clothing with only an occasional light layering against the early morning cool.
An empty woodbox and a cold wood stove requiring no tending.

The sensual perfume of the short-lived catalpa blossoms that saturated the block for the past two weeks.

Fresh food from the garden, berries bushes and fruit trees. Almost every day since July 1st we’ve had a tomato from one of the plants in our garden.

Picking blueberries with daughter and granddaughter.
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Simple foods. Raw, salads, stir-fries. An occasional session at the grill.

Sitting at the little red table in the back yard for an hour or two in the late afternoon studying, spinning, writing or working on a pattern.

Watching finches, chickadees, jays, sparrows, doves, hummingbirds and squirrels flitting around the feeders only yards away.

The long days of golden sunlight are noticeably shortening. Only three weeks ago the light lingered until 10pm, now deep dusk cloaks the scenery before 9:30.

Tomorrow our granddaughter will spend the day with us. We’ll go to the creek to play in the water and look for round, flat rocks to bring home and paint.

Knowing Papa, we’ll stroll over to the food cart mid-afternoon for thick, real ice cream milkshakes.

We want to make the most of the day with our little granddaughter. Explore, splash in water, create memories.

These languid, busy summer days are melting too quickly. I want to absorb each one slowly, fully.

A Sweater for Gus

So much for posting often in May. Here it is the last day in May but the first post.

Tomorrow is our grandson, Gus’s 9th birthday. He’s such a terrific, sweet kid that I really wanted to give him a knitted sweater – one he requested months ago. Remember the the EZ Child’s Surprise Jacket I posted about began for him in January? It didn’t happen.

Twelve inches along, just past a section of an elaborate designed striping with alternating colors in a pattern – not easy in garter – I finally admitted the orange and blue strips looked wrong for this sweater. It was ripped back to remove those colors, only 3″ from the beginning. Doggedly knitting it up to the point where the arms and shoulders are complete and it’s time to dive down the long stretch of garter stitching back and forth, I could no longer ignore the niggling feeling that it just wasn’t right. I have no idea what caused the disenchantment with the sweater, I really wanted to keep going so it’d be finished and mailed to him before winter was over. Instead it went into a long time-out.

Before heading to a Pastor’s Retreat at the coast in April I pulled the sweater out of the bag, took one look and stuffed it back in. Combing through boys’ cardigans in Ravelry I found a pattern, (petit) Marcel by Emilie Luis that I thought Gus would like, printed it out, grabbed a couple balls of the yarn and packed them for knitting time during the retreat.

The back and fronts are finished (clever design!) I’m only now working on the first arm but once again have had to do lots of tinking for various fiddly reasons.

I’m hopeful that once I’ve figured out how to neatly pick up the stitches and do the German Short Rows for the sleeve cap the rest of that sleeve and the next one will go relatively quick, then only the button band/ collar will be left to do.

The poor boy will outgrow the sweater before he’s even had a chance to wear it. Please tell me that a size 10 sweater will fit a 9 year old next winter!

Once again I can’t leave well enough alone with a pattern. Since Gus requested green and yellow I decided to put in some color work in this sweater. The ribbing at the bottom as well as the broken rib at the top are green knit, yellow purl.

Working on the broken rib on a shoulder.The bottom ribbing shows in the background below.
Gus should like this green and yellow sweater, someday in the not too distant future.

I hope your projects are working up much quicker than mine do!

Hiking at Silver Falls

DSC05523-001Throughout April thoughts of blogging would cross my mind but by evening either I was knitting or spinning (usually some of each) with little desire to be staring at a screen. I even started working on some photos shortly after hiking at Silver Falls State Park; editing them and uploading them in readiness to blog before getting sidetracked and forgetting all about them until this evening.

Looking back I’m struck by all the goodness that April held, despite the exceedingly many days of rain. Towards the end of March a friend, Rose, who works in Slovakia emailed to let me know she was coming to Oregon, would I be able to walk the loop at Silver Falls  April 3rd. Knowing how wet some of the sections of those trails can be, especially going behind the falls I told her I’d pray for clear weather.

While there were downpours the week leading up to the hike we had two days of no rain and the morning dawned sunny. What a blessing! A Slovak friend, Ren,  accompanied Rose in order to practice English and see this part of America. Two other friends of Rose who live relatively close by, joined the hiking party.DSC05523-001
Can you make out the specks in the center of the picture on the backside of the falls? They are people on the trail that passes behind South Falls.

I was surprised at this chunky, sturdy fence. For many decades there had only been a small metal handrail between the trail and edge, a thin barrier that made parents fervently grasp their children’s hands. DSC05529
The path is now narrower but significantly safer.
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Looking back from the other side.
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Looking back up the trail.
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Instead of walking the big loop we ended up taking one of the shorter loops of just under three miles. Wildflowers, moss draped branches and the rushing creek caused us to stop numerous times to marvel at all the beauty we were walking through.
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I should return mid-summer to snack on the fruit of this blossom,
salmon berries.
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Down, down switchback steps to Lower South Falls.
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We’ve had 148 days of rain since Oct 1st, which was evident in the thick moss and fast flowing water. This past February was the wettest on record for Salem, dating back into the 1800’s, with March close behind, and it looks like April will also finish in a top position for rainfall amounts. Crazy wet!

The sun shining through the trees felt like grace.
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Looking across the canyon at the steps we’d just descended.
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Going down meant going back up, and up the other side.
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Near the top Rose took a break to hug a tree, after all, she is a native Oregonian!
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Crossing the tiny Frenchie Creek Falls plummeting 48 feet — which only runs during wet seasons — presented a perfect photo-op for the bit of spinning I managed while on the trail.
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Back at the top of South Falls for one last look.
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What a wonderful, refreshing day! I hadn’t realized how much I’d needed to take a walk in the woods, along a creek, with friends.

By the end of the day, this is how I felt:
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Ebo didn’t seem to mind dangling off the chair.

3.14.17 Sourdough cake, no Pi

I wonder if there is a sourdough pie recipe that I could make on Pi day next year? By then I may well be long past this sourdough madness phase. Yes, we have sourdough!

A day or two after my last post I saw an elderly widower neighbor at the community center who I’d heard makes terrific sourdough biscuits so I asked him for some tips. His face lit up as he launched into a detailed explanation on making a starter and the ingredients for his biscuits. He tore off a piece of paper and with a stubby pencil pulled from a shirt pocket (My dad always carried a pencil in his shirt pocket too.) jotted down the threads of his recipe. Once home I muddled through his spare writing then stirred up another ceramic bowl of milk and flour, this time with a smidgeon of honey. I covered it with a scrap of woven cotton cloth left over from a shirt and set it on the back of the stove for a couple of days then added more flour and milk to the bubbly mass to sit another three days. That evening someone knocked at the door just as Ed and I were finishing supper. The neighbor, Elvin, held out a lidded container, a copied pamphlet of sourdough recipes and his handwritten recipe for his sourdough biscuits. He had no idea how old his starter was — he and his wife had used it for years.

Plenty of food from supper was still on the table so we invited him to eat. For the next couple of hours we had a delightful talk as he told about sourdough, cooking, and growing vegetables. He’d grown up on the farm, only a couple of miles from here, which his grandfather had homesteaded in the 1800’s. He’s filled with lots of stories, local information, lore and legends.

As we visited I measured out enough starter to let sit overnight, eager to try his starter and recipe.

Delicious!!!

I’ve made three more batches of biscuits, and another attempt at bread. This time the bread was a bit more successful, thanks to Jocelyn‘s comment about not adding too much flour but it’s still not the lofty bread I hope to make sometime soon. Making biscuits has helped to get a feel for just how wet the dough can be / should be in order for the feeding frenzy to happen in the dough and the bubbles to form.

Two batches of starter reside in the fridge; the one Elvin brought over and the one I’d started from scratch from Elvin’s instructions. They both smell wonderfully tangy sweet. Elvin’s has a deeper, more intense tang but considering my starter is less than a month old it’s coming along nicely. I’ve been alternating between them so they’re both being used and refreshed.
Melt in the mouth tasty.

Early this morning as I was setting out the starter for biscuits to have with our soup supper I remembered seeing a Sourdough Chocolate Cake recipe. Since Tuesday is cake baking day and I’d already planned to make a chocolate cake I hunted up the recipe (King Arthur’s baking book) then measured out the half the amount needed from each jar of starter, added more flour and milk into the starter jars and set them on the counter along with the two bowls of dough; one for tonight’s biscuits, one for the cake.

The cake rose beautifully in the oven. It’s been very tempting to nibble at a corner but I’ll wait until morning when it’s frosted. A small corner might be missing when Ed takes it to the Wednesday supper crew. I hope it tastes as good as it smelled when cooking!

Why yes, I have been spinning. Next post…

PS Sorry for my lapse in replying to comments. I’ve had a heck of a time disciplining myself to replying even though I have the best of intentions and I love reading all your comments! I’ll try to do better.

Challenges

Sourdough bread is baking in the oven. This time I hope it’s a success. I tried making sourdough a year ago. It baked into a tasty failure. I’d used a powdered sourdough starter with a recipe that looked promising. Sadly, the bread did not rise in the oven. Instead it stayed a low lump becoming an extremely dense, chewy bread.

This time around I’m trying a recipe from a bread book that’s supposedly an authentic San Francisco sourdough recipe. It calls for making the starter the old fashioned way by putting some milk, water and flour into a bowl which sat at the back of the stove for 2 days  “capturing” the wild yeast in the air. The adventure started it last Wednesday morning with periodic additions of water and flour. The dough smelled wonderfully fragrant by yesterday morning and the scent of the baking bread right now is tantalizing.

February has been the wettest month on record in this area of Oregon. Perfect weather for soups and homemade bread. Other places have had record snowfall, fortunately we’re only about 300 feet above sea level so we only dealt with snow off and on from mid-December until the 2nd week of January. More days of snow than normal, which Ed and I enjoyed. We’re fortunate to work from home. Church was canceled on January 8th after I checked the hill to the church assessing the situation. Frozen rain early that morning on top of the layer of snow still on the ground and roads coated everything with ice.

The Surprise Jacket isn’t much larger than in the last post. It was bigger until I saw a major error way down about 4 inches from the cast on row. It sat in time-out for a couple weeks and now sees only sporadic action as spinning has taken precedence.

I joined the Jenkins YarnTools Ravelry group in the February Challenge. What a great challenge for it forced me out of my comfort zone for spinning.
The challenge was to select a mixture of 10 or more colors and/or fibers totaling 50 grams, blend & spin. Stash busting opportunity! The ten colors were from various rovings plus light grey angora, dark grey alpaca, a light brown/grey romney/cotton blend, and white BFL/silk. Working with so many colors was definitely not a direction I’d normally choose.

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Hoping to avoid a muddy looking yarn each of the above segments of colors/roving/wools were divided into 4 equal piles which were then arranged into two groups destined for the 2 singles.

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I started off using hand carders during the monthly spinning group,
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but it didn’t take long to realize a more time efficient method was required.

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Off and on through the years I’ve tackled batts and rolags but always return to spinning from combed top. I love how smooth fibers slip through my fingers. Dealing with slubs and odd bits doesn’t feel right, no matter how I try drawing the fibers into the twist.

Despite not enjoying the feel of the fibers or the way I needed to be more careful to spin such variety as smoothly and evenly as possible, I was happily surprised with the colors of the singles.
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In the end I’m very pleased with the yarn and am glad that I took on the challenge.
50 grams, approximately 82 yards.
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The bread is out of the oven and has cooled off enough to eat. It’s still more dense and chewy than I’d hoped, though not as bad as last year’s attempt, and it is delicious. I need to figure out what needs to be done to make it lighter, more airy.

January spinning and knitting

A short post tonight. I’m determined to post every month this year. Here it is almost 10 pm the last day of January and only the first post of 2017.

Life is full. Life is good. Fiber stuff keeps happening, as does sending out spindles, preaching, and sundry miscellaneous stuff. December was filled with unexpected happenings and January started off that way. I’m grateful that it’s settling back into a more typical rhythm.

Fiber recap of January
A four ounce braid from Mosaic Moon, colorway “The 4th Doctor” turned into approximately 176 yards of 2-ply squishiness. Not sure yet what it will become.dsc05200Wool fiber and yarns tend to call out the hunter in Ebo. He can’t seem to help but want to attack good fiber. I have to guard it like a sheepdog when Ebo’s around.

Another braid of Alpaca/Silk from Upstream Alpaca has been spun into 750+ yards of singles. This skein has gone into the bin with the other skeins of alpaca singles that will eventually be woven into material.

dsc05206Last weekend I had to attend some church related meetings for several hours Friday evening and all day Saturday. It was a perfect time to start a new knitting project that would be fairly mindless with its rows of garter stitch. A Surprise Jacket for my grandson who sweetly asked me to make him a new one as he’d outgrown the one I made for him two years ago.
He asked it to be made with green and yellow because “I like the Oregon Ducks.”
“But don’t you like the Boise Broncos anymore, Wesley?” I asked since last year they were his favorite team.
“Yes, I like the Broncos, but I like the Ducks too. So you can make it with blue and orange too.”
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