Stash enhancements 2013: Part I

Fiber stashing 2013: Part I

(Pictures above are taken from the store.)

It looks like I’m well into my stash enhancements for the year and it’s just January!

The recent shipping increase for international purchases from the US have put a damper on my stashing. It will now cost USD11 for a a 4 oz braid of fiber instead of USD5-6. Increments are still relatively low so it’s the first braid that will be hefty…unless I’m buying more – at least two braids instead of just one like before. I’m planning to reserve my purchases from the US for special colorways and fiber blends from my favourite sellers. I am also scouting for fiber sellers based in Europe to save on the shipping – so far, I have a few and am “trialling” one of them out (top & bottom left). Can’t wait to receive the braids and spin them up!

In the meantime, I’ve also started stashing up on Wollmeise yarns again but this time, I’m aiming for just semisolids instead of variegated colourways. It appears to be less hectic stocking up on WM yarns since the updates are very regular now – twice a week. My last purchase saw me getting three skeins of the 80/20 blend in Aquarius (turquoise blue), Pistache (green) and Himbeere (raspberry red/pink) and the We’re Different standard semisolid set in the 100% wool blend. As you can see in the picture below, they sent over a pastel pink shade (I think it’s Babe) and a soft brown (Feldmaus). I reckon the pastel pink will make for a nice flowery lace shawl so that’s definitely earmarked for prototype knits.

Yarn stashing 2013: Part 1

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2013 resolutions in detail

Wow, can you believe that it’s already close to the end of January 2013? It seemed as if it was December 2012 was just yesterday!

Earlier in January, I came up with a list of resolutions for the year. Now I don’t usually make them because I always have problems keeping to them but I decided, why not try and give myself a couple of goals? I made the list more specific by breaking them down according to certain aspects of my life.

I’ll probably print out this list and place it somewhere visible to remind me of it…like the bathroom, kitchen (fridge) and our bedroom. Oh, the list will be subject to change (additions mostly…).

Family

  • Spent 15-30 minutes during the week homeschooling Eva (phonics, writing, etc).
  • Spent 15-30 minutes during the week working on creative playtime with Noah
  • Watch a movie or a show with the hubs once a week.

Personal

  • Exercise minimum four times a week for at least 15-20 minutes.
  • Minimize snacking to fresh fruit once every two to three days.
  • Read at least 3-5 French fiction novels

Interest: Cooking

  • Bake or cook at least 1 new dish every month- New dishes should include macaroons, xiao long bon (Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings).
  • Cookbook enhancement: Max 1 purchase every 4 months
  • Minimize snacking to fresh fruit once every two to three days.

Craft: Knitting

  • Finish at least 12 projects, out of which 4 must be for the kids, 2 for adults (sweaters or cardigan) and 2 pairs of sock. The rest can be anything.
  • Design and publish minimum 4 patterns – shawl or socks.
  • Stash enhancement: Max 1 purchase every two months

Craft: Spinning

  • Spin up at least 8 oz (2 bumps of fiber) of laceweight yarn
  • Spin up at least 8 oz (2 bumps of fiber) of fingering weight yarn
  • Stash enhancement: Max 12 oz

Craft: Sewing

  • Finish Eva & Noah’s quilt with batting
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Knit: Twisty!

Twisty!

Twisty!
Pattern | Twisted Tweed Socks by Schrodinger
Yarn | JulieSpins Merino 370 in Seurat
Needles | 2.75 mm circulars

My first FO for 2013! This is definitely a good start considering that I used to stall a lot on my knitting projects especially with my socks.

I am still on the quest to find the right fit for myself but it looks like I’ve got the hubby’s size down to pat. This pair was made about four stitches short of his first sock so that gives me some room for modification of a pattern – I have to cast on anywhere from 76 to 80 stitches to get the right fit. I ditched the other heel I had been working on in the previous sock – heel flap – and stuck to a short-row heel instead. I do love the look of a heel flap so I reckon I’ll be attempting that for my next sock – for myself. It’s too risky to attempt anything new for gift socks. Instead, gift socks would be made up of a simple and forgiving stitch pattern plus short-row heels which have more stretch to it.

The pattern I picked is suitable for variegated yarn as it breaks up the colour patches and minimises the probability of pooling. Despite the designer’s comment about it not being stretchy, this sock IS definitely stretchy – just ignore the initial “baggy”ness in the foot as you’re working on it. I opted for a regular toe which looks better on the hubby but if you’re knitting this for yourself, a round toe shape will be more flattering.

All in all, I’m pleased with this. My next project is one of my own designs but I plan to work on a pair of socks for myself – am determined to find the right fit! Tehehehe.

Ravelry Project Page Ravelry info available here.

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Review: Joyoung DJ13B-D08D

Joyoung DJ13B-D08D

Earlier in December, I decided to take the plunge and buy a soymilk maker. Making soymilk for soybean custard was tiring work – two hours for 1.5 liters of soymilk was just crazy! So after searching around the Internet for deals and prices, I decided to get one from a Chinese seller via Ebay. It wasn’t as cheap as the prices on Taobao (Chinese version of Ebay) but after considering that the sellers usually only ship to Asia and that my parents would have to send it over to me, I decided that buying it myself was cheaper. All in all, I paid under USD150 for the machine and international shipping. It arrived just after Christmas – pretty fast considering that the seller told me that it could possibly take over four weeks. Perhaps the festive season had something to do with it.

The panel in Chinese

The machine arrived rather well-packaged and everything was in good shape. The only downside was that the power supply was more for a Chinese outlet but it’s not a big deal. As long as the voltage is 220V, I can always plug the machine into any power outlet by using one of my adapters. While the machine comes with manuals and such, they are pretty useless to me since I don’t read Chinese. So I had one of my friends translate the panel. The machine comes with the following functions: quick wash, five grain, dry bean, soaked bean, green bean, jam and fruit/vegetable juice. It is just a matter of pressing the function of your choice and then the “start” button.

Using this was easy. The machine comes with two cups – one large for fluids and one smaller one for measuring out beans and such. One cup will give you about 90 gms of soybeans. I measured out two cups of beans and soaked them overnight. After a quick rinse, they went into the machine before I poured in cold water until the level reached 1.3L. The machine doesn’t run if you put in less than 900 ml of water or if you put over 1.3L – a failsafe, I reckon. I chose the “Dry Bean” function as I read that it gives a richer texture and more flavourful taste to the milk. It took about 20 minutes – I wasn’t really timing myself. All I know is that I started the machine before Noah’s bath and it was beeping (when it was done) just as I was finishing up with Noah in the bathroom. In terms of noise, this isn’t a very noisy machine – except when it’s grinding, which only happens a few times. Above is a video I took during the grinding process – do ignore the clicking sound in the background (it’s from my heater, I think).

Straining the finished soymilk

I didn’t use the strainer that was provided – it was too small and I wanted to strain the milk directly into a pot. I was pleasantly surprised at how fine the okara (pulp) was. My previous DIY attempts didn’t even yield okara that was this fine. While the milk looked watery compared to what I got previously (DIY version), it had a lovely rich texture. Straining this took a short time because of the fine consistency of the pulp. I had to do it twice though as the first time – with the metal strainer – didn’t allow me to fully get all out the milk from the pulp. You could drink this soymilk as it is at this stage (strained) but I was using mine to make tau foo fah so I had to boil the milk with some pandan (screwpine) leaves. The picture below is the okara before I strained it a second time. I might dry it out in the oven tomorrow to turn it into soybean meal.

The resulting pulp (okara)

All in all, I’m ultra happy with my purchase! I even joked with my mum about making tau foo fah tomorrow again…that’s how fast and easy it took. Tehehehehe. I’m looking forward to trying out other recipes like almond and buckwheat milk and the jam function – that looks quite interesting. Hm.

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