Monday, March 31, 2008

Finished Objects

I finished weaving my lap robe on Saturday and twisted fringe while watching NCAA basketball. It's actually pretty easy to twist fringe and watch TV at the same time. I washed and steamed it last night after I got home from work. The fringe is crazy long because Kiernan likes to fiddle with it while watching a movie. We're going to have the kids this weekend.

It took me nearly half a year to spin, dye and weave this, but then I have to stop and realize that my lap robes are starting to pile up like my unworn sweaters. The next thing I weave needs to have one shuttle. I read Laura Frey say that you get your selvedges when you get your rhythm. It's hard to get a rhythm with log cabin. I found some 8/2 cotton upstairs and have reading about Leigh's Ms and Os. I think I'll give that a try.

I followed Mike Avery's advice on feeding my sourdough starter, and as result, my bread is better than it has ever been. I told Mim that I like'd some of her Shetland in colors that I don't have when I have enough bread credits to do the fiber exchange. I love what Leigh is doing with all her colors of Shetland, but I don't want a sweater. I've started spinning Shetland for my next lap robe and would like to incorporate some of Mim's fleece. That's as far as the plan goes for now.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Multimedia message

I just ran over to Mim's to take her a loaf of bread. Look what she just got! Click for big~

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I finished Jerry's hat and dropped it off to him on my way home from work last week. I wanted him to have it while it's still cold. When I measured his head it was 24" which is huge. I was worried that it would be too small, so at about half way I looked in Charlene Schurch's book to see how she recommends measuring the head. You're supposed include the ears. Now I was really worried, but I didn't need to be. It fit perfectly and he was thrilled. It's from our Shetlands.

I also finished two more bags and have now used up the last of my bits and pieces of yarns. I was able to use up six bits in the left bag! I've done a lot of dyeing so am starting bags with the new colors. I need to get an inventory before I can push them.

I'm still having a hard time managing my pictures with Vista and couldn't find this for my Easter sweater post. I wanted to show how great Schaeffer's Elaine looks in reverse stockinette. My LYS doesn't carry this so I'll be ordering some as soon as I hear if we're going to have a niece or nephew in the fall. For now, I'm going to knit and watch NCAA and hope UCLA wins the whole enchilada.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Sweater

Easter sweater knitted from Schaefer's Elaine yarn. It's a wonderful thick and thin yarn and the one skein makes one child's sweater. This is my second and not my last baby sweater from this yarn.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Lion of March

This is a lenticular cloud, so called because of it's lens shape. It's an indication of high winds aloft, so while the morning weather is warm and still, it means weather is coming. I remember when I took geography that the textbook pictures of these clouds were taken right here on the high desert side of the Eastern Sierra.

And sure enough, this is the morning one day later. March appears to have come in like a lion and is going out like a lion. We were lucky on Sunday. Easter couldn't have been any nicer. The grandkids - five of them! - were able to hunt eggs outside. DS and I sat on the deck to visit and got a little sunburned, in March!

I'm half way done with the weaving on this lap blanket. I didn't trust my measurements after seeing how much yarn I was going through for the warp, and reduced the width by 4" - now it seems that my measurements were correct and I'll have leftover yarn. I'm just a little mad at me. The black is natural colored Corriedale and the gray is rainbow dyed gray Targhee/Corriedale. I have one more bump of the gray, which is all that's left of a 6 pound fleece. I'm going to spin it up, just so I can have the satisfaction of actually using an entire fleece. I hope to finish the weaving this weekend.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter in March

Easter Eve and a full moon on the rise. I'm hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival in my head.

Easter morning and a full sun on the rise. I walked the dogs before church this morning - 29 degrees it was. They didn't seem to notice, but I certainly did.

New growth - yippee. We're starting to see native grasses sprouting at the roots of the dormant sage and rabbit brush. I'm reminded of my friend Nancy from high school. She loved to say "Spring has sprung, the grass is riz - I wonder where ol' Sharon is." And indeed, spring has sprung. It's 61 degrees outside at noon right now and a perfect day to celebrate Easter. Celebrate away!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sour Dough Starter Woes

My sourdough starter died. I was having so much fun baking bread and now nothing. It died a pathetic putrid death. I phished one night to see if I could determine what I had done wrong. I mean, obviously the problem is me and what's the point of getting more starter if I don't know how I killed the last. My friend who had given it to me in the first place had also killed hers. Sylvia offered to send me some of hers, and I also found the Friends of Carl, who for the price of a SASE will send you Carl's starter. It had been in his family for 150 years, dating back to 1847 and the Oregon Trail, and though he died in 2000, his friends want to keep the culture alive. Though both were tempting, I ultimately resorted to starting my own.

My parents lived in Fairbanks when I was born and I got my first sourdough recipe from my mother's cookbook, Out of Alaska's Kitchens. The recipe for making your own starter is 2 cups of both flour and warm water, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon yeast. I started it yesterday and it's already bubbling like crazy. I need to stir it several times a day, so starting it on this three-day weekend is perfect timing. It's supposed to be ready for baking in four days.

In my phishing, I came across Sourdough Home and was pleased to find a comprehensive source of information. I had no idea that sourdough has such a large cult following. I still couldn't determine what my error was so decided, what the heck, and emailed the site owner. He replied with all kinds of information. I keep hearing and reading on blogs about people killing their starter, so the rest of this post is his information. BTW, I had killed mine by not putting in the refrigerator- now I know.
Mike Avery's Advice:

As to starter, if it's at room temperature, it really needs to be fed twice a day. If it is fed less, it will suffer a slow decline and a possible lingering death.

Each feeding should be enough to double it's size. I like to discard all but 1/2 cup, stir in 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour. By weight, that's about 1 part of flour to 1 part of water. By volume it's about 3 parts flour to 2 parts water. If I have a weak or wounded starter, I feed it 3 times a day, and each feeding is enough to triple the starter's size. I feel a starter is fairly healthy when it will double in size between feedings.

Back in the days of ore, the goldrush guys and gals used to bake every day and their starters were happy. Now, we don't bake every day. It helps to have 20 miners to bake for if you're going to bake every day.

So, what do we do with our starters? I refrigerate mine. Sadly, refrigeration doesn't preserve a starter, it just slows it's death. So, once a month or so, I take a tablespoon of starter out of the fridge, feed it 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup of flour. 12 hours later, another 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour. After that, I discard 1/2 of the starter and repeat the feedings. Usually in a day or two, the starter is happy again. At that point, I discard the starter in the fridge (or use it to make pancakes, muffins or pizza shells) and put the freshly fed starter in the fridge.

When I'm ready to bake, I pretty much follow the feeding instructions above, start with a tablespoon, feed 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour, 12 hours later another 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup of flour, 12 hours later 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour, 12 hours later 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 cups of flour until the starter is lively and there is enough of it to make the bread I want to bake.

Some people think I over emphasize feeding the starter and keeping it healthy, but from the letters I've received over the years I am convinced that most people's starter is on the edge of death, so I try to insure their starters will be happy and healthy.

Thanks Mike for taking the time to help a total stranger.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Academic .Ag. Libraries

I stopped by the Life and Health Science Library last time I was on campus. This is posted in the window of the front door. I'm told that all the Ag libraries are required to post it. Doncha wonder what the story is behind this requirement??

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Finished Object

I finally finished something. This is Blue Sky cotton and I bought it from Amy to knit two baby sweaters. It wasn't what I wanted after all, the baby sweaters were knit from Knit Picks cotton and have long since been gifted. After I got over buyer's remorse, I decided to buy another skein and make a jeans sweater. The extra skein was enough for the sweater but not enough for the neck ribbing, so I bought yet another very expensive skein. I woke up Friday morning and surprised myself by realizing that I did have enough to make one row of single crochet. I think it worked out perfectly. I made the pattern up on Sweater Wizard.

This is my leftover yarn. I could have crocheted another round, had I been so inclined. But I wanted to wear it to town and I only had time for one round. I returned the extra skein, showed off my sweater and now have store credit at Jimmy Beans. It's already burning a hole in my pocket.

I dropped an ice cube on the kitchen floor today, so I tossed it in the pets' water bowl, as much for my amusement as for Charlie's. He was lounging on the counter and was overtaken by curiosity, as I suspected he would be.

He batted it around a couple times, and then was done. His amuse-
ment was over, but mine continues.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Yet more

Does this winter never stop?! I notice the grasses are beginning to green. How pathetic is this- I'm planning to catch shots of our grass. No bulbs are sprouting here. Some kind of munchie has caught the attention of the cotton tails. Every night this week I've scared them off when I drive into the yard.
The storm appears to be passing but we're going to have weather all weekend according to NOAA. I wish they would lie. We were in town today and had lunch with DS2. His portfolio has been accepted by the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I sent him some shots of his ceramics we have and he ended up sending all the samples that he was allowed. They said it was one of the most diverse portfolios they have received. It kinda takes the sting out of winter.

I finished a sweater this morning and wore it to town today. I am so taken by Matty's acceptance that I can't bring myself to tout my own work today - tomorrow.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Catching Purple

I had dyed a number of things purple last year, but I think it became personal with this bag which I've carried since last fall. Then it moved on when I purchased the purple boiled wool clogs. Mind you, I do not own purple clothing - yet. In fact, I don't tend to wear much color of any sort.
I have been using a couple of purple pens at work but didn't realize how far the infection had gone until my wrist rest arrived this week. I was the only one who had ordered one in purple. I'm getting nervous. Purple people tend to be passionate about their color. I hope this isn't a leftover effect from the virus I had in November. I hope I didn't catch purple.
Driving home from work, it's yet another storm moving in. I can hardly see the Sierras. By the time I got home it was pouring rain. At least the snow has melted. I think we are going to have a bumper crop of wild flowers this spring.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Multimedia message

Taken with my phone on my way to pick up Mim for the guild meeting.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Long Valley Creek

While this looks like a lake reflecting the Sierra Nevadas, it's actually Long Valley Creek in , wait for it, Long Valley, California. I know there are a lot of Long Valleys, but this one runs from the Nevada state line all the way up to Honey Lake. It is a long valley.
There are at least a half dozen dams in this area - beaver?? They cause the creek to slow down and widen, so it's at this point I see a variety of passing birds - a wetlands hotel of sorts. If you look carefully, you can see a pair of Canadian geese near the bottom on the right. This is where they have chosen to raise their little family this year.
The Southern Pacific Railroad passes through here on it's way from Winnemucca to Portola and on clear days we can hear that lonesome whistle and the thrumming of the diesel engines all the way to our house, in spite of the mountain between us.
The snow is melting and there is a lot of water flowing right now. This morning I saw a small herd of about a dozen pronghorn antelope that had just crossed the creek and were on the outside bank. They are absolutely lovely to see and dangerous to watch at 70 mph.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Three Bags Full

Yes sir, yes sir - there are in deed three, actually four fleeces, with the black one on the top right. That's from George who thinks he's a llama, so he feeds right below them and is a complete VM sponge.
Poor skinny sheep. Their coats were huge, but they actually only weight about a hundred pounds. Devon had them sheared before we got home from work yesterday and left the invoice taped to the front door.
While it appears that Charlie is sunning himself, he's pouting.

He was actually snoopervizing, which included a firm paw on my hand and an occasional claw. I told him to "stop" - a word is knows and hates to acknowledge. He finally turned his back to me, but I didn't take that picture. I mean, who hasn't see a sulking cat.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Like a Lion

I took this picture yesterday so I could reference the size of Mickey's fleece. His fleece was awarded reserve grant champion at the state fair a couple of years ago and I wanted a record since he's getting sheared tomorrow.

Last night the wind blew so hard that I got up at one point to make sure the French doors were locked because they were rattling. It blew so hard that the animal shed was moved 1 1/2 feet north, as the picture shows. Son Josh built it five years ago and it hasn't moved since, until last night. The verdict is in - March came in like a lion.
This is so pretty. It's from Mim and is the last of my dyed rovings. Becky thinks she'll be down in a couple of weeks to pick up a wether from Mim, and we're planning to make color if that happens. In the meantime, I'm back to spinning white.