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Jam! April 16, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in food.
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7 comments

I was out with Jenn the other night (nothing exciting, just talk and Starbucks as it’s the only non-bar place other than Denny’s that’s open late) and afterward she was headed to Wal-Fart so I went with her (the other non-bar place open late). How pathetic that we can only get together in the evenings after our kids are in bed. Anyway.

Strawberry Jam

At Wal-Fart they were selling strawberries for $1 a pound and had about a zillion of them. I thought for sure there must be something wrong with them but they were US-grown and there was a staffer there who told us they had just ordered way too many so were trying to get rid of them before they went bad, hence the great price. So, I ended up buying a whole bunch as we eat a lot of strawberries (like, three pounds in two days isn’t uncommon) and I have a neat upcycling idea for the plastic boxes they come in. I decided I would try my hand at making jam since I had never done it before.

Here are the fruits of my labor, so to speak:

Strawberry Jam

I started out small with just four pounds of berries, and tried out a no-pectin recipe. I plan to do another batch with pectin to see which I prefer. Anyway, it was a little time consuming getting the whole jar sterilization process down but overall fun and delicious. I even got to try out the food mill attachment I bought (refurbished, so it was cheaper) for my KitchenAid mixer, and it was awesome! I’m glad I wore a red sweatshirt because I learned that pushing too enthusiastically with the food pushing stick makes liquified strawberry shoot out. I like my jam to spread evenly.

Lesson learned: Four pounds of strawberries may not look like all that much while floating in the sink, but once you get into cutting off the stems and those little hard seedy bits at the bottom you realize it’s actually quite more than you expected. I think I’m going to invest in one of those rubber mats for standing in front of the sink.

In the end, though? So totally worth it.

Strawberry Jam

Yum!

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Fiber News April 16, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, dyeing, Etsy, spinning.
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2 comments

I traded a Ravelry friend, Jesh, who has a super cool Etsy shop for one of her drop spindles. I traded her moneys and some merino/seacell fiber I dyed to her specs:

For Jesh

For Jesh

The spindle she made for me is so pretty and she included a little sample of baby camel fiber. Wow, that stuff is so very soft and spins like a dream! I don’t really use a drop spindle all that often but I love her stuff. I figure it’ll be a good thing to have for times I can’t use my wheel.

Here it is:

In other news I’ve been working on some new fiber, this is superwash Blue Faced Leicester from Frog Hair Fibers:

Fiber

This is next in line once I’m done with that, also from the same seller, superwash merino:

Fiber

And just because shots of Lego Darth Vader and fiber arts amuses me, I give you Darth Crafty:

Darth Crafty

More stuffs. April 3, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, Etsy, spinning.
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Okay, I did more spinning. I’m so excited! I haven’t done this much spinning in ages. I feel like I’m going through phases – dyeing to knitting to spinning and back again. Well, that’s fine, I can’t concentrate on more than one thing at a time anyway. What I REALLY need to do is finish listing the stuff on Etsy that’s just sitting in a bin doing nothing. It’s all tagged and ready to go, I just need to take the time to list it. Sigh.

Anyway, anyway. Here are two more skeins I finished up – the BFL that was on the bobbin for about a million years, and the easter-egg dyed that I got from that Ravelry friend. Please excuse my poor worn out fugly tablecloth.

worsted to chunky weight 2-ply
100% merino wool | hand wash
228 yards
(No name yet)

Merino two-ply yarn

Merino two-ply yarn

Merino two-ply yarn

This was the roving I got from that friend on Ravelry, one of her first dyeing experiments. I really love the colors and this is super lofty and warm. This is another skein of “spin fast and less exact” in an attempt to pry the anal retentive spinner’s stick out of my own ass. I do like it a lot, just counting the strands I could feel how cozy it was due to not being plied to death. I think I might keep this one to make something for Mim. The skein is huge!

fingering to sport weight Navajo-plied
100% superwash Blue Faced Leicester | machine/hand wash
210 yards
(No name yet)

Superwash BFL Yarn

Superwash BFL Yarn

Superwash BFL Yarn

The BFL skein is really more green than blue, but Joy expressed lust for it so she gets first dibs on it if she wants it. It looks a little kinky in that first photo and it is – it Navajo plied a bit stiffer than I was anticipating as the roving was very soft – too soft, almost. I’m coming to find that I prefer to spin rougher fibers, I’m not as much a fan of the soft-soft-soft stuff. I may have plied this a bit too aggressively as the single ply was nearly falling apart in my hands in a couple of places. Very delicate. In any case it’s been washed and thwacked and at second glance I think the soak helped relax it a lot, so we’ll see what it does once it’s dry.