A crafty update!

Spinning up some Harvest II

On a whim, I thought I’d do a round-up on my crafty WIPs (Work-In-Progress) and what-nots…

Knitting
Pablo Dark Spring and Boyfriend Socks are still on the darn DPNs. I didn’t get to do as much knitting as I would have liked during the vacation because I sprained my pinkie during a hiking trip the weekend before – lets just say that I’m glad my behind which has a bit of fat (and muscle) is really great as a cushion.

Then there are the shawls – I ought to block Rosier de Angelique which is more like a triangular scarf and continue on with an olive green version of Swallowtail.

Weaving
So far, it’s just Venetian Harlequin at work; that’s the beauty of having just one loom and two shuttles. You can’t really “cast on” any projects until you finish the one on the loom. Still, I’ve been stocking up for a series of weaves that I have in mind. I just hope I can keep up the pace!

Spinning
When the Paua shell spindle arrived, I thought I could resist starting a new batch of fibre. It would appear that I have underestimated myself. Now I have 75 gms of Lime Spring and at least over 3/4 of Harvest II to finish up spinning.

Do you think we’d ever get more than 24 hours in a day?

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A colourful weave…

Venetian Harlequin in the making

Venetian Harlequin
Warp & weft yarn | Lorna Laces in Irving Park, Bergere de France Barroise (20318), Bergere de France Barroise (20260), and Bergere de France Bergerama (21186)
Reed | 7.5 dpi
Ends | 96 ends

Inspired by a similar piece on Flickr and after digging around the stash to see if I could come up with anything nice, I decided to christen the next project after elaborately painted Venetian masks.

This is my first extremely colourful weave and so far, I’m liking how it turns out. I don’t have four shuttles, just two, so I’ll have to make do with snipping and winding for every 16 (1.25″) rows. Still, I like my progress so far.

I might try this with different colour combinations – blue is awfully tempting at this point but I have just two hands and a loom so patience is warranted.

In the meantime, it’s back to the weave, some movies and the usual cooking. On a completely different note, I wish the rental agency would remodel our kitchen. It’s getting a bit tad crowded and I’d prefer bigger kitchen sinks – yes, plural is intentional.

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Vert est jeune

Vert est jeune

Vert est jeune
Length | slight over 66?
Width | 11.5?
Fringe | 9? double knotted

This was another quick weave despite me putting down the loom for nearly 10 days due to the holidays. It was a first, experimenting with the thin creamy stripes and I’m glad it turned out quite well really.

Anyway, I opted again for the double knotted fringe – yes, I love double knots (but maybe it’s also because this is one of the few “pretty” ways of ending a scarf that I know of). I ought to look around for more ideas for finishing though.

The double knotted fringe again!

The soft variegated colours of the cotton yarn gives this a very spring, lime, fresh feel and I enjoy the feel of the difference in the texture of both the cotton and acrylic-based yarn. Despite my initial thoughts about it, I was surprised by the overall weight – this proves to be heavier than the first scarf I weaved. Perhaps it’s the thickness and make of the yarn that changed everything.

While I was in France, I had the chance to browse through Grandmaman‘s old tissage books. Published in the late 50s, it’s meant more for table looms but I loved looking at the patterns and came away, utterly mad over stripes, chevrons, diamonds and checkered patterns.

I have something in mind for the next few projects, which requires a little digging around the stash – yes, I’ll be putting those leftovers to good use! Yes, there just might be more to come!

Creamy stripes against variegated cotton

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Paua shell spindle

Paua shell spindle from BGD

Just as Nil and I were getting ready to leave for France two Fridays ago, my spindle from BGD arrived all nicely packaged. I never managed to open it until yesterday. It came unassembled – the whorl is removable, which is great – and putting it together is easy work.

The shell is amazingly gorgeous; the dark blue and turquoise swirls are simply mesmerising! I haven’t really started spinning with this yet, so I can’t say for sure if it spins long but I do know that it’s awfully light – it’s at least double the weight of my other spindle, The Baa Spindle. What I do know is that it’ll be great for spinning those laceweight singles!

Now only if I can finish up this weaving AND knitting…

Paua shell spindle
Bottom Whorl | Paua shell, 2 inches
Shaft | hardwood, carved top
Total weight | 0.5 oz
Total length (including hook) | 10 inches
Cost | USD24
From | Butterfly Girl Designs

On the side, at least all this is better than writing about acne experts; am seriously getting tired of these assignments. Gimmesomethinginteresting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The shell

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Jam galore!

Jammy fruits!

Summer is more than just great weather, sun, sand and surf for Nil’s family. It’s the time when we get together and do a few things as a family; one of which is making jam from scratch with just a copper pot, ladle & spoon plus a few empty jars.

Grandmaman‘s home during the summer is in a little hamlet just about one and half hours from Lyon city called Mazelgirard. It’s farmland country here and homes are at least 100 years old. There are not many young families; people mostly come here during the summer because Lyon city itself is blistering hot and Mazelgirard is way cooler. After all, it is at least 1000 metres above sea level and yes, it’s even cooler than Neuchâtel.

Here in her garden, she has what Nil affectionately calls “the family trees” – scores of winding bushes of raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. And just off the beaten path are wild blueberries waiting to be plucked. The golden rule to how much jam one person gets is basically very simple – if you harvest it, you’ll get some. With the family trees, Grandmaman is pretty much relaxed about who gets how many bottles; she adopts the “if you helped cook it, you get some”.

This year, pickings for blackcurrants in the garden are pretty slim, so Nil – blackcurrants are his favourite – decided to head out to the local Saturday market in search of some good old cassis just so he can have his yearly supply of blackcurrant jam. Prior to that, we decided to throw caution to the wind and get some apricots – no one really likes apricot jam in the family but since it was my first time, they thought it’d be nice for me to try my hand at making some jam. Needless to say, the rest is history.

Mashing up some blackcurrants Mashed redcurrants & raspberry Blackcurrants with sugar Apricot + sugar = jam in the making

Jam making is a simple yet complex affair. The recipe is short and sweet but the process leading up to the bottling itself can be quite tedious. Depending on what exactly you’re making, it can range from a simple thing as washing and cutting, to mashing and filtering. After which, the rules are easy to follow – don’t let it burn, keep it boiling, fill it to the top (less air is better), bottle and cap it immediately. If done and stored well, jam can keep up to a year. Nil’s family usually stores their jars in the basement but basically anywhere cool and dark is fine. Once opened though, jam must be kept in the fridge.

Apricot/Blueberry jam
To make 12 jars (medium to large)

Ingredients

Nearly 4 kg of extremely ripe apricots/ripe berries
Equal amount of sugar

Method

  1. Wash, halve and remove the apricot pits. Place the fruit in a large copper pot. If there is juice, use it as well.
  2. Add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Set aside for at least 12 hours.
  3. Cook on a medium fire and stir occasionally to avoid burning the sugar.
  4. In the meantime, wash the jars and cap with soap and hot water. This is an important step. Hot water and soap kills off bacteria and sterilizes jar which is crucial in ensuring the lifespan of the jam.
  5. Once it starts to bubble, stir constantly. When the mixture has thicken*, remove from the heat and bottle immediately. Remember to fill the jar to its maximum capacity as the less air there is, the less chances of contamination.
  6. Tighten the cap – as the jam cools, it’ll create a vacuum space between the surface of the jam and the cap.
  7. Remove any traces of jam from the outside of the jar and keep in a cool place.

* To test this, drip a drop of jam onto a saucer/plate. If it congeals, the jam is ready for bottling.

Freshly bottled jam!

Redcurrant/Raspberry/Blackcurrant jam
To make 10 jars (medium to large)

Ingredients

Nearly 3 kg of ripe berries
Equal amount of sugar

Method

  1. Mash the berries with a grinder and discard the pulp. Pour into a copper pot and add the sugar. Mix well.
  2. Cook on a medium fire and stir occasionally to avoid burning the sugar.
  3. In the meantime, wash the jars and cap with soap and hot water. This is an important step. Hot water and soap kills off bacteria and sterilizes jar which is crucial in ensuring the lifespan of the jam.
  4. Once it starts to bubble, stir constantly. When the mixture has thicken*, remove from the heat and bottle immediately. Remember to fill the jar to its maximum capacity as the less air there is, the less chances of contamination.
  5. Tighten the cap – as the jam cools, it’ll create a vacuum space between the surface of the jam and the cap.
  6. Remove any traces of jam from the outside of the jar and keep in a cool place.

* To test this, drip a drop of jam onto a saucer/plate. If it congeals, the jam is ready for bottling.

After it’s cool, the jam can be eaten with breads, plain yoghurt or fresh cheese or made into jam tartelettes and used as muffin fillings. Right now, I’m looking at around 10 jars of four types of jam…and if all goes well, I just might churn out a jam tartelette this week! 😆

Apricot & blackcurrant jam with fresh cottage cheese

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Away.

Just a friendly reminder that I’ll be off for the week – there is a wedding and some berries calling out to me in France. Keeping your fingers crossed; I may have heaps of pics in the waiting when I get back.

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Roast stuffed pepper

Roast stuffed peppers

Okay, I’ll admit, it isn’t much to look at…for starters, the peppers Nil bought were H.U.G.E. So it didn’t help that I ran out of stuffing halfway. Upon baking, I realized that they really didn’t look all that pleasant or appetizing – something that needs to be worked on. Or maybe it’s just meant to look that bad.

Taste-wise, it was actually pretty yummy, especially the red peppers. The tuna, mushroom and onion added a slight balance to the sweet peppery feel. I’m pretty tempted to churn out the same again but with tomatoes just to see what the taste is like. Anyway, you can use meat, rice and just about anything for a stuffing. I choose tuna, onion and mushroom because I didn’t want to have to precook them and well, it’s time to clear out the pantry. 🙂

All in all, a pretty quick dish with little preparation time and healthy too (if you get low-fat cheese instead…)!

Roast stuffed pepper with cheese

Ingredients

Six medium-sized peppers/capsicum
1 can of flaked tuna in brine
1 onion
7 dried chinese mushrooms (shitake mushrooms)
Pizza cheese mix
Parmesan
Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Soften the dried chinese mushrooms in hot water and drain/squeeze out the water before finely dicing them. If you like, you can substitute with fresh shitake mushrooms.
  2. Finely dice the onion and add into the mushrooms before tossing in the tuna (drain the brine first).
  3. Add some salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Prepare the capsicum by slicing off the tops and deseeding them. The tops can be chopped finely and added to the tuna mix.
  5. Add about two heaped tablespoons of pizza cheese mix to the tuna mix and stir well before stuffing each pepper.
  6. Sprinkle some pizza cheese and parmesan on the top and bake at 200 C until the cheese is golden brown.
  7. Serve fresh from the oven as is or as a side dish.
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The second weave

Vert est jeune in the making! The shine on the loom

Vert est jeune
Warp yarn | Schachenmayr nomotta Bravo Baby in 120 (Baby Vanille) & Maxima in 1614 (Light Cream)
Weft yarn | Schachenmayr nomotta Catania Color in 76 (Plantage) & Bravo Baby in 120 (Baby Vanille)
Reed | 7.5 dpi
Ends | 96 ends

Fresh on the loom now is Vert est jeune (Green is young) – a play of some sorts on the words “est” and “jeune”; mispronounce both and you get “et” (and) and “jaune” (yellow)… Okay, so it’s a pretty lame attempt at being funny/smart. Never mind that.

This time, I’m working with a slight striping pattern for the warp and will be planning on incorporating it into the weft as well. The fibres in use are not wool but acrylic and cotton, which gives the scarf a softer feel and slight sheen to its surface.

I’m hoping it’ll turn out just the way I imagine it to be. 🙂

In the mean time, it’s back to more weaving and figuring out some mortgage quotes online (it’s an assignment).

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