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consider me sheepish

Looky what I got . . .

It's wool, glorious wool!  Romney wool to be exact.  It's beautiful and buttery; pity about it's name though. Anyway, I was lucky to score 2 lbs. of this lovely fleece from my spinning teacher.  She bought the full fleece for a class that she's teaching, and she didn't need it all, so she sold me a portion.  Which is freaking awesome!  I didn't have to invest a lot of money, plus it's a much more manageable size.  It's perfect!  Seriously, where the hell would I store 7 lbs. of wool away from the cat beast?

Anyway, I get to go from raw fleece to knitted piece, and I love it!  I sense some dyeing experiments in the near future.

I also have to point out that my spinning teacher has got some serious connections, because this wool is immaculately clean.  Like, this sheep might have OCD, it's so clean.

Oooh, lanolin feet!


to do - canning - check

Last weekend hubby, Mr. baby, and I went strawberry picking.  After perusing the rows and rows of fruit, I decided that we needed to find the juiciest, ruby-reddist, and most delicious berry in the patch.  And in our attempt to find the juiciest, ruby-reddist, and most delicious berry in the patch we ended up picking over 4 lbs.  4 lbs.  For 3 people, 1 of whom is tiny.

Whoops.  Well, needless to say, I had to come up with some berry magic.  ASAP.  After making a strawberry rhubarb pie (umm, yum!!!), a significant amount of strawberries remained.  Seemed inevitable--canning was my new destiny.  And strawberry jam was my maiden voyage.

So while making the jam (a modified version of Betty Crocker's recipe, which is at the bottom of this post), I began the canning preparations--boiling tongs; sterilizing a place to put jars (a cookie sheet and cooling rack); boiling the canning supplies, sterilizing the jars and lids.  I felt like a witch in front of her bubbling cauldrons.  Must be sweaty being a witch.

Anyway, gotta say, it's not the most interesting activity in the world--lots of boiling and waiting, waiting and boiling.  However at the end of the process after hearing all those jar lids pop with the sound of a successful seal, I was hooked.  So satisfying.  Definitely worth trying.  My only complaint is that I didn't do enough.

And for those of you who are interested here's the approximate jam recipe (though I notoriously don't measure, so hopefully it comes out the same).  Made enough to fill five 4 oz. jars, which isn't much at all.  Good if you don't want to invest a lot of time canning or eating jam.  Bad if you become addicted.

Surplus Strawberry Jam

3 - 4 cups of strawberries, after being chopped into small pieces
1.5 cups of sugar
juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Simmer over medium to medium high heat for around 30 mins.  It should reduce and become dark red.  If canning, make sure the jam is hot when you put it in the jars.


Have an extra hour and a half?  Then you should watch the season 2 finale of the Masterpiece Sherlock series.

Watch Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Yeah, just found out that you can watch all the full episodes of Sherlock online.  Guess who's not sleeping tonight . . .


my booty (not literally)

Got a chance to go thrifting with Mr. today.  Didn't do too badly . . .

Found a craft bag from the 60s (definitely smells like the 60s); wooden hangers; a neato, silver tri-bowl; bee pants for Mr.; and a wooden box that seems like it will be useful for organization.  The best picks are by far the bag and the tri-bowl--even the lady at the thrift store mumbled something about how she hadn't seen the bag.  Too bad, it's mine, lady!!

Looks like the bag is a small wastepaper basket with some fabric and handles sewn to the top.  This bag has seen better days--looks like it has been smushed for a few years.  Hmm, I wonder how to bend caning back into shape.

And the bowl.  Actually, I should say bowl-bowl-bowl.  What's the fate of this fine vessel, you ask?  Fancy craft room storage, I reply.


there's more than one way to spin a yak

Last night it took me a while to fall asleep, so I flipped through the channels and landed on an interesting documentary on PBS called Summer Pasture.

It's about a nomadic family in Tibet who has to reconcile their lifestyle with the rapid modernization of the world.  It's great; you should watch it.  Anyway, there was a small part of the film that showed Yama, the matriarch, and Locho, the patriarch, spinning yak fiber into rope.  And holy guacamole, it was fascinating!  I'm not even sure how it worked, but it seemed like a two-person, sideways drop spindle.  The spindle was situated on top of a tall pole and a strap was attached to the spindle.  Locho would intermittently pull up and down on the strap to rotate the spindle, then Yama would draft and spin the fiber.  She pulled that stuff for what seemed to be yards and yards long.  And after all the fiber was spun they used their whole bodies to keep the tension as they wound up the rope.  It was really cool.  There's a pic of part of the process on the Summer Pasture photo page.

Of course, I think this is what was going on.  I'm not totally sure.  Tried to google the process and apparently you can't find the schematics to a nomadic-Tibetan, yak rope maker.  Damn it!!  Regardless, I was mesmerized.  Made me want to spin outside.  With a yak.

Until that moment comes, I've been enjoying spinning on my Ashford.  Just finished some alpaca and merino blend yarn made from North Star Alpacas fiber which my loving husband so wonderfully bought for me.  Oh softness, how I love thee!


can you say gratuitous?

It's leap day, ergo I have to post something so that the date stamp will read 02.29 . . . So enjoy this picture!

I think he's looking at my post and thinking, "Really?"


new year, new skill

So the year is not exactly "new" any more. And the skill I'm learning--it's actually ancient. But I digress . . . I'm spinning! Not just with excitement but also with wool! For my birthday my super, kick-ass mother-in-law bestowed upon me her spinning wheel (an Ashford Traditional, which was stained and assembled by my father-in-law for those of you interested). It's awesome. What's even better is that I can use it! My wonderful and amazing hubby got me spinning lessons. And thank god, because upon first sitting I was mystified. There are bands and tensions and flyers and bobbins and maidens (love that . . .) and tons of other things that I didn't know anything about. Although much of the mystery still remains, I've been able to create yarn on it, and that's all I can ask for. It's all I've ever wanted. Hmm, when did this turn into a melodrama?

Here is my first handspun yarn!

Next step: figure out a better way to hang up the skeins to set.

Also: put stuff away in the bathtub when taking pictures to post on blog.

On a completely unrelated note: I had a baby, hence my blogging hiatus.

Related to the note above: He's the sweetest, smartest, and cutest baby in the world.