Spindle: Pink Sea Jasper

Spindle: 1.0 oz Pink Sea Sediment Jasper Stone Top Whorl Drop Spindle

Pink Sea Jasper
Whorl | Pink sea sediment jasper stone; 50mm diameter
Shaft | Carved hardwood
Total weight | 1 oz
Total length (including hook) | 9 3/4 inches
From | Tina’s Angoras

Ain’t this gorgeous? 🙂

When I first saw this on sale, I fell in love with it instantly. It reminded me of Eva and how much she loves pink. When it arrived, I couldn’t help but marvel at the flow of the colour, the intertwining veins…a flawless beauty!

Spindle: 1.0 oz Pink Sea Sediment Jasper Stone Top Whorl Drop Spindle

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Spin spin spin!

WIP: Dyeing4Colour in Scottish Heather

Of lately, the only craft I have been busy exploring is the one in front of my spinning wheel.

Yes, I caught the spinning bug…and a bad one as well. On top of this braid that I’m working on, I have some Wensleydale on the side that I am spinning up with my Paua spindle. I don’t think I can ever tire of spinning. With each wheel rotation, each spin, the colour changes and shifts, and depending on how the fibers have been dyed up, these changes can be dramatic or subtle. The possibilities are endless with spinning. You can draft a fiber in such a way that you end up with a gradient plied yarn or you can spin it with minimal drafting and ply it to give you a candy cane, colourful yarn.

My once little bag of handspun yarn is now fast growing, and to make matters fun (and challenging), I decided to join a little group on Ravelry called the “13 in 2013” which is this – spin 13 pounds of fiber this year! I’ve already done nearly one pound so far and this will be great in helping me to bust my fiber stash. Trouble is…what do I do with all that handspun yarn? I could use some of it but I reckon, if there is a demand, I’ll put some of it on sale. At least it’ll get some use instead of sitting pretty in my cupboard.

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Sugar Pie

Sugar Pie

Ply | Single
Yardage | 952 m
WPI | Laceweight
Fibre | 50/30/20 Alpaca Merino Silk from Squoosh in Sugar Pie
Tool | Serenity Wheel [5.5:1]

I bought this fiber sometime in 2008 and had spun up some of it using a spindle. After a while, with all the moving, packing and unpacking, it was forgotten and stayed hidden away in my stash. While clearing out my yarn & fiber armoire a few weeks back, I came across it and decided to spin it up again. I tried with a spindle but after years of spinning with a wheel, I didn’t really seem to have the patience for spindle spinning. I should still get back to it since it’s a really lovely art and I don’t want my spindles to sit around gathering dust.

I wanted to keep this as a single ply yarn so I went back to spinning with a low ratio but with still zero to little tension. I tried putting in some band tension but that result into a too low spin which then lead to my singles breaking. Due to this practice, I had to discard a good amount of singles AND fiber. Once everything was spun up, I finished it with a hot water bath to felt it a little and lots of twacking in my bath tub to distribute the spin so that the resulting yarn is smoother but still strong enough to be used for lacework.

There is a certain halo to the yarn thanks to the alpaca fiber and the shine is just amazing. I must say that this is a gorgeous blend to work with. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of this blend in my stash – I have a lot of superwash and superwash blends (for sock purpose) – but I am going to consider stocking up on this blend in the future!

Sugar Pie

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Bitter orange marmalade

Marmalade 2013: The finished product

I have been toying with the idea of making my own marmalade after tasting some at my mother-in-law’s place. Since my mum was still around and could help out with the prep work or with the kids, I thought why not churn some out. A quick search online didn’t yield much promise as a lot of recipes out there incorporate water into their jams whereas I prefer my jams to be just made up of fruit, sugar and gelling agent (pectin).

While grocery shopping for ingredients for the reunion dinner, I decided to see if I could find some bitter oranges, also known as Selville oranges, and came across a rather decent looking batch over at our usual grocery spot (Grand Frais). I bought nearly 2 kg of oranges. Then over the weekend, I approached my step-father-in-law (the one who makes most of the jam at my mother-in-law’s place) and asked him for a recipe. His proved to be quite simple and straightforward. When my sister-in-law showed up with a bag of juicing oranges, I decided to add those into the mix.

Marmalade 2013: Bitter/Selville oranges Marmalade 2013: Peeled oranges Marmalade 2013: Peel pieces Marmalade 2013: Pulp from juicing oranges

I must admit one thing – making marmalade is a lot of work, especially the prepping part. Removing and finely slicing the peel, boiling the peel until it’s soft, peeling off the pith, getting rid of the seeds and then slicing or getting out of the flesh while retaining the juice… It took us about 1 to 1.5 hours to get about 1.4 kg of pulp and juice. On hindsight, I should have measured the peel before cooking in – something I’ll have to do next time.

Marmalade 2013: Boiling peel strips Marmalade 2013: Cooking down the marmalade Marmalade 2013: An additional boost Marmalade 2013: Getting the marmalade to setting point

Then there is the cooking. I mixed the amount of jamming sugar and regular sugar which resulted in me having to cook my jam for longer than called for if I were to use cooking sugar. It took me about 30 minutes to get it to the desired consistency – I like my jams to be thick instead of runny. A thick consistency will help prevent the marmalade from dripping off toasts!

The finished product is very tangy, yet full of that lovely orange taste and smell. The extra boost in the form of Cointreau – orange liquor – which I added in during the cooking process is very subtle. The jam gives a slightly bitter after-taste which is normal if you’re using bitter oranges as your base. I put aside some in a ramekin as I didn’t have any small jars left but no worries, this will go down well for breakfast tomorrow (hm, I wonder how good are those coffee pots from cw-usa…).

Bitter orange marmalade

Ingredients

Approx 2 kg bitter oranges
8-10 medium sized juicing oranges
6 tbsp Cointreau
300 gms brown sugar
300 gms white sugar
950 gms gelling sugar

Method

  1. Prep the jars by washing them (jar and lid) in boiling hot water. Set aside to dry.
  2. Wash the oranges well before drying them. Using a peeler, removing the zest from the bitter oranges. Take care not to cut too deep or remove the pith as well.
  3. Once all of zest has been removed, thinly sliced them into strips and place them in a pot. Add in enough water to cover the orange strips and cook over high heat until they reach a boil. Turn down the fire and simmer the mixture for at least 20-25 minutes. Remove the water and repeat the process again. When the peel has been cooked for the 2nd time, drain and set aside.
  4. Remove the pith & seeds from the bitter oranges while retaining the flesh and pulp. For the juicing oranges, only the pulp is required so slice the orange into half and proceed to remove the pulp. Some chunks of pulp or orange flesh is fine.
  5. Once ready, pour the orange pulp and juice into a pot before adding in the sugar and Cointreau. Cook over high heat until it boils and then turn down to a medium fire. Add in the zest and cook until you reach the right consistency.
  6. When ready, fill the jars to the maximum level, cover and tighten the lid. Once all the jars have been filled, wipe the outside clean and label them. Set aside to cool before storing them in a dark and dry place. If done well, jam should be able to keep for over a year.
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Knit: Chilli Red Hot!

Chilli Red Hot

Chilli Red Hot!
Pattern | Cloche Divine by Meghan Jones
Yarn | Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted in Amoroso
Needles | 5 mm circulars

After a few incidents of misplacing my beret or either spending quite some time searching for it, I decided to knit up another hat. I fell in love with the overall look of a cloche – don’t ask why – and decided that I’d brave the waters and try something different. Winter must have left an impact because I chose the brightest yarn I have in my stash – a nice chilli red – for this hat. At least it will add some colour to my wardrobe! Tehehehe.

I made the brim wider by about one to one and a half inches, and knitted the entire hat (after the brim) in the round. It is quite a fast knit; it took me about two to three days to finish the hat (I knit only when the kids nap or at night). While the overall result is fine and I do like how it looks, I think I need something sturdier with the same shape and a slightly wider brim. I reckon a plain stitched cloche that is felted would do just fine. It is just a matter of finding the right colour and yarn for it.

Guess it’s time to dig into my stash…or add to it! Kekekeke.

Ravelry Project Page Ravelry info available here.

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Firestar

firestar-fin-b

Ply | Three
Yardage | 431.2 m
WPI | Fingering
Fibre | Simple Scarves Superwash Merino in Firestar
Tool | Serenity Wheel [10:1]

I started spinning this right after plying up my previous handspun. I was in the momentum and groove, and didn’t want to lose the drive. Since I still had some stock leftover from my yarn store, I decided to destash those first. The braid didn’t look very promising in terms of colours (hence it being a leftover from the store) but when I dyed it, I had a certain way of spinning and plying it in mind. I wanted to achieve a heathered look with “candy-cane” stripes on the singles.

The finished yarn came out as I had imagined it to be; it was still a joy to watch the colours unfold as I spun the singles and then again as I plied them. I made these into fingering weight yarn – the resulting colour and fiber type would make for a pair of lovely socks or a smallish knitted outfit for the kids.

And as you can guess, to maintain the spin momentum, I have started work on another braid of fibre! Tehehehehe.

firestar-fin-a

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Morrocco

morrocco_fin-a_medium

Ply | Two
Yardage | 871.7 m
WPI | Laceweight
Fibre | Pigeonroof Studios Merino/Soysilk Roving in Morrocco
Tool | Serenity Wheel [14:1]

Part of this year’s crafty resolution is to break into my fibre stash and churn out some two-ply laceweight yarn. I usually spin up fingering weight yarn that is navajo-plied (three-ply) so this is considered something semi-new for me.

For those who are spin-challenged, yarn is commonly can be made up of a few strands called ply/plies. Singles – one strand – are lovely to knit with but if you ply a few strengths together, you give yarn an added strength and structure. Navajo plying is a kind of technique whereby you retain the colour blocks in the fiber but because the resulting yarn is made up of a single strand, any breakage along either one strand can lead to the entire yarn unravelling. Still, people like to work with this technique because of how you can hold on to a colour sequence. Regular plying – putting two to three different strands together – often results in colour sequences in the original fiber being broken up. It’s nice for achieving an overall heathered look in a knitted project but unless you plan things properly, this technique doesn’t really give you a nice colour block you would want when, say, knitting self-striping socks.

I choose this particular colourway to churn out two-ply laceweight because of the nearly semi-solid shades. The resulting yarn looks pretty and quite uniformed in terms of colours. Plying this took quite a while as I was working with about 4.2 oz of yarn and very thin singles. I had to ply nearly 1700 meters of yarn and therefore broke the plying sessions into two – took me two nights (about six to eight hours in total) to finish this!

The singles were a little challenging at first as I am used to spinning yarn at a 10:1 ratio. Spinning at 14:1 with no tension required some focus, especially when drafting the fiber! There were a few instances where the fiber just flew out of my hands!!!! I guess it is good that I actually set this as one of my resolutions for this year – practice makes perfect! Now to head back to surfing the Net for my assignments – I need to find vehicle lifts (don’t ask).

morrocco_fin_medium

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