August 2005

For the first time since the practice roving that came with my first spindle, I’ve used up a whole batch of roving. I stayed home sick today, and I finished off the wool-mohair that I bought from Three Waters Farm at Maryland when I couldn’t sleep.

how I prep my singles for plying

about 120 yards

on the niddy-noddy

Unsurprisingly, the most accurate color is in the top picture, which was taken in full sun.


In response to Jen‘s questions:

Overall, I enjoyed the Eat Local Challenge. It was good to make myself eat fresh produce and, you know, have to actually wash and chop the veggies. With the exemptions I gave myself, it wasn’t terribly difficult. I still have a lot of food (grains, frozen stuff, etc.) in my pantry and freezer from before August started… And I really love the presence of a farmers’ market across the street from my house.

The thing I’m most looking forward to tomorrow is letting myself buy some decent cheddar. The local dairy people who used to come to my local market haven’t been there this year, and chevre, while tasty, doesn’t quite work for cheese toast.

Fun new products? Well….I tried the local chevre, which is tasty, and the local tofu, which is excellent. I haven’t actually gone out of my way to find new sources of local foods, what with the easy accessibility of more than enough food and the fact that I don’t have a car or a bike (for going to slightly-farther-away farmers’ markets).

The challenge has changed my eating habits in the direction of “what I like to do when I take time to cook real food”, which I’d like to continue. I won’t be teaching this semester, so I’d like to think I’ll still have time to cook for as long as there’s local produce. I’ll probably do the challenge again next year, assuming I hear about it again, although I’d like to think that there won’t be much to challenge from by then.

This has been a relatively good week for cooking, with two different things cooked and another thing prepared without cooking. (Sad, isn’t it?) Anyway, I made some rice noodles and peanut sauce with squash and peppers on Tuesday, and I’ve still got some left. On Friday, I used the rest of the package of rice noodles with squash, eggplant, half a pepper, and some frozen (shelled) edamame, in my generic Southeast Asian sauce. Quite tasty, as it turned out, and then we made cinnamon-allspice ice cream. Mmmmm….

Yesterday morning, I made my weekly trip to the local farmers’ market, and I bought something from every stall except for the guy with flowers. I now have corn, hot peppers, an eggplant, summer squash, tomatillos, wax beans, mottled red-and-green peppers, chevre, ginger gold apples, blackberries, and banana bread. And “seven grain” bread that’s really five-grain-and-two-seed bread, sunflower seeds and buckwheat not being grains. I’m thinking either apple crisp with blackberry ice cream or apple-blackberry crisp with just some of the existing cinnamon ice cream, and something vaguely Mexican for the tomatillos. Maybe a black bean soup? We shall see.

Apologies to those of you hoping for fiber content; the flower basket shawl and second wildfoote sock have both grown a bit, but they’re not worth new pictures. I spent yesterday helping friends move, and I was too tired to knit or spin when I got home. I did have energy to stop at the co-op yesterday, though, and I special-ordered a few things, including a bunch of big glass jars for dry-goods storage. I hope they come in soon!

I took a couple of hours off yesterday afternoon to go downtown and run some errands. It’s been beautiful this week (if all of summer were like this, I’d like summer), so it was great to get outside for a while. My first stop (and, really, the only purchase worth a photo) was on Fabric Row, where I was intending to buy some quilting cotton for a dpn case. None of the cottons called out to me, so I wound up with this:

dupioni silk, with different-colored warp and weft. mmmm…

When I got back to lab, I found out that a few other people were planning to go to a free concert of bluegrassy music in Rittenhouse Square and decided to join them. It turned out to not really be bluegrass, but it was okay folk-rock. At least, if one of the singers had cut out the screaming (kinda like he’d really wanted to be in a metal band) and the occasionally singing flat. Dissonance that doesn’t sound intentional just isn’t fun to listen to. But, hey, it was free. And a lovely evening to hang out in the park with friendly coworkers.

cement columns are not only good seats but also good tripods

And here we have a bonus cat picture, because Mel is cute.

did I hear a bird outside the window?

So, despite the fact that I didn’t get home ’til 10 last night, I couldn’t wait any longer to wind off and set the twist on the fresh batch of two-ply. It wound up being about 64 yards, and it’s a lot heavier than the first skein (on the heavy side of fingering to maybe even sport, rather than lace-to-fingering). When I took these pictures this morning, it was early enough that there was only a little slice of sunlight in my living room–a rarity for me.

pretty well balanced, no?

kinda like a waterfall

all nicely twisted

So, I’ve been trying to figure out why the mohair-wool from this blob seems so nice when it’s on the spindle and then gets lots of wonky-looking kinked bits once I’ve set the twist. Any ideas from you veteran spinners?

Yup. I’m good at getting to bed early. Sure am. Hey, I’m leaving this as a two-ply on the spindle instead of winding it onto the niddy-noddy and setting the twist…


Those are the flavors of berry in the jam I made last night. It was my first attempt at jamming by myself (i.e., not in my dad’s kitchen, with his supplies and assistance), and it went quite nicely. Really, the hard part was acquiring such things as tongs, pectin, and canning jars, none of which are available at my local farmers’ market. (The pectin did turn out to be from my co-op, though, and I figured it was a fair exception to the local-only rule.) I also got a nice reminder of how long it really takes to boil a huge pot of water…

So, the jam. I used about 3.5 cups of blueberries and two cups of blackberries (each measured by the cardboard pint containers from the farmers’ market, so really approximate), about 2t powdered pectin, and about 2.5 c sugar. And then I added a slosh of key lime juice, probably about a tablespoon. Judging by the taste and gelledness of what was stuck to the wooden spoon, I think it came out pretty well…I love the fudgeability of cooking.

4.75 cups of jam

Mel gets curious

methinks the pectin worked nicely

One thing that’s amusing me about the size of this batch of jam is that all of the jars are assigned to recipients already. The not-really-full one, of course, is mine.

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