Thursday, October 30, 2008

I have of late...

Don't worry, I haven't lost all my mirth (unlike my good friend Hamlet). In fact, the house has been haunted by the smell of wet wool... and wet alpaca, which is less romantic, since to me it smells like wet dog. But I digress.

I finally finished the last of my Romney yarn - the finest I've spun yet. Don't get too excited lace spinners... it's hardly even sport.

romney 2 ply

It did not come out quite as planned. I started with a little under 4 oz of Romney and wanted to spin it at a lace weight. I spun up two bobbins and plied them together. And when I say plied, I mean I REALLY added some twist. Even after the initial wash, whack, and dry the yarn had some kinks. Though they seem to have settled out now.

So all that resulted in the skein of yarn to the left. Which came out to 200 yards - exactly half of the yardage I needed for my shawl. All was not lost though. I had more fiber, sort of. You see when I fell in love with the fiber originally, I realized that I probably didn't have enough, and I requested more from the lovely local lady at the farmer's market. So theoretically my second batch probably even came from the same one sheep. However, there was a marked difference in the quality of the second batch. It was much rougher. So either it was from a different year, or the first 4oz bump I got had a proportionally greater selection of the soft areas of the fleece.

Hope springs eternal though, so off I went to spin some more. The second 4oz yielded 230 yards. Not surprisingly, over the months I slowly gave into the temptation to spin thinner even though I used my cue card fairly regularly. I'm also wondering if my failure to ply the second skein as severely could have resulted in more yardage. The more the yarn is twisting around itself, the thicker it gets. Anyway: skein one, positively plump. Skein two, relaxed.

Finally, the second skein is really *just* at touch lighter in color. Interesting that that wasn't apparent to the eye until the twist was added, but is is discernible now. Although the overall color itself is hard to pin down. The brownness/greyness of this fiber has a certain phantasmagorical property. The camera doesn't ever see quite what the eye sees...

So, once again, another project where half the fun has been learning from the unexpected. I'm thinking I might try the shawl anyway alternating between the two skeins for a more rustic feel, but right now I'm distracted by a project that has previously fallen under a blog jinx.

this is my knitting on photoshop

Do you think a photo was permissible, or are the sleeves now in big trouble?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blood Oranges

blood orange

I peeled my orange / That was so bright against / The gray of December / That, from some distance, / Someone might have thought / I was making fire in my hands. "Oranges" by Gary Soto

These were originally purchased for a photography experiment. I wanted to catch some of those vibrant autumnal colors that I so love - the deep purple of Italian prunes especially. Well, as you can guess (from the lack of plum photos), that my fruit photography has a ways to go. But these oranges were fated to be something special. I recently had the opportunity to borrow Apples for Jam from my local library, and in a fit of recipe testing (come on, admit it, you get carried away too sometimes don't you?) these were the only oranges I had on hand for orange glazed chicken. Ripe blood oranges have a surprisingly light and floral taste that mellows with cooking, but still adds an elusive sweetness to the final dish. These particular oranges were also highly pigmented and yielded a beautiful purple juice. So, with my plethora of alterations to the original recipe I give you...

Blood Orange Glazed Chicken

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (about 2 small oranges)
¾ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ Tablespoon soy sauce
1 ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons wildflower honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest of one small lemon
2 chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 325. Put the sugar, orange juice, tomato sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water, honey and lemon juice in a pan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Put the chicken in a roasting pan and pour the sauce over. Bake for 1 hour, turning and basting. Near the end of the cooking time, turn the oven to broil to help reduce the sauce and glaze the chicken. Turn and baste frequently, being careful not to let your supper burn. Right before serving, grate lemon zest onto chicken.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just a thought

I love this skirt. I wonder if there is any way to use a drum carder to blend up some color transitions like that.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's a grey day here...

The rainy season is starting up. Fortunately, I fiber to play with.


This first photo is a Gotland roving that I purchased from Crown Mountain Farms last year.
There isn't quite enough fiber for the project I am envisioning, so I've been looking for something just as special that would compliment it.


This year at OFFF there was a stall with some gorgeous raw Gotland fleeces for sale. Had I not been on a budget, I might have given in. As it is, I am sorry enough that I had ditched my camera by that point... those perfect ringlets of wool were lovely. However, I did manage to score some pin drafted Gotland fiber that has lots of lamb's fleece in it.


For comparison, here they are together. Quite a contrast in feel... the roving is dense, lustrous, and a bit more course... while the pin drafted fibers are soft, airy, and even show a bit of curl.

next hat?
(Cotswold curls/Gotland roving)

Together with the Cotswold curls from the stash I think these would make a great hat. And if, for some reason, I should get bored, I have some alpaca to play with too...


Oh, dear... I do get stuck in color ruts...