Olio – 9/28/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

About mid week, I realized that one of my interchangeable needle tips being used to knit the Hitchhiker scarf, my car project, not only wouldn’t stay tightened, but when an attempt to tighten was made it would just keep turning. I switched the tip from the other end to see if it was the cable which would have been an easy fix as there are extras, but no, the tip itself was stripped. I felt like something was wrong when I first started using it, but went into denial mode until it became a problem. My supplier for the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz needles is a small online shop out of Burlington, NC, Knit Bin. She is quick in processing orders and answering questions. I contacted her, reminded her that I had just purchased them in May and ask about Knitter’s Pride warranty. She contacted them, they didn’t want the flawed one back, she mailed me a new tip on Thursday and I got it on Friday. Such great service, so that project is back in my bag when I am the passenger in the car.

Because that project was stalled, I worked on the Free Your Fade from Andrea Mowry that I started with the Only the Finest yarn I bought at Black Mountain in late August.

It is the 4 mini skeins and the full skein wound in the center of this photo. I began it with the gray, moved to the darker blue gray, and I’m now on the variegated one tucked under the reddish roving on the right. Next will be the lavender, and finally the Merlot color to end the knit. You can see the gray, the blue gray, and the start of the fade into the variegated in the picture below. This is going to be a very generous shawl/scarf just for me this time.

There has been little spinning done this week, a bit of white Cormo on a Turkish spindle, but nothing to show off.

It has been hot and extremely dry this week. We have walked our usual 2.25 to 2.5 miles almost every day, usually after dinner as the sun is low and the temperature falling. Today they called for 40% scattered showers and for a change, we were in the path. We had a light shower followed a couple hours later by a good hard rain that lasted maybe half an hour. It won’t break the drought, but it did cool off the day from near 90 to 79 and settled the dust, maybe reduced the fire risk a little.

I have been an avid reader all my life. Hubby is too, as are two of our children, and all of the reading age grandchildren. Being a reader is relaxing and can take you to places you’ve never been. Years ago, someone from the knit group or spinning group mentioned the Louise Penney series set is a small (not real) village in Quebec with the main character holding various roles during the series, mostly as an officer of some level in the provincial police. I tired of the series and quit reading them for a couple of years, then picked up another more recent one where he was in charge of a school. A good friend is a fan of the books and suggested I read the two that follow that one. Being out of anything at home, I looked at the electronic selection from our library and found the next in the series. The author is excellent in descriptions.

I grew up being served “Shepherd’s Pie” and later preparing the same for my family. The version didn’t differ much from Girl Scout Stew, a mix of ground beef, canned or frozen mixed vegetables, but the pie topped with a ring of mashed potatoes (they were usually instant when I was a kid.)

Bear with me, here. In the book above, the Bistro in the village was preparing “Shepherd’s Pie,” the description different from what I grew up with, but described so vividly that I could practically smell and taste it. The one in the book was savory with ground beef, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and herbed gravy, topped with mashed potatoes in which Gruyere cheese had been melted. I had decided that it was too tempting not to try. I envisioned aromatic herbs such as Rosemary and Thyme. This morning I thawed a pound of ground beef from the Farmers Market and purchased Yukon gold potatoes and mushrooms while there today. I had what I needed to make it. Then I read a blog post on corn bread, Northern vs Southern style, why sugar was added to the recipe; with and without flour in the batter. I make excellent corn bread, it has to be made in the 8″ cast iron skillet. Well, now I wanted corn bread too. Mind you, there are only two of us in this household at this point, but left over pan toasted cornbread is delicious. For dinner tonight, I made the Shepherd’s Pie per the book description, ground beef with onions and garlic, gravy rich with rosemary and thyme, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, but I didn’t have Gruyere, however I did have a delicious cheese from the Farmers Market, so I added chunks of it to the hot potatoes and mashed it in with the butter and milk, topped the casserole and baked. Of course I mixed up corn bread while it was baking and upped the oven temperature, added the hot skillet of batter and finished baking them both.

Peas cooked as a vegetable and oh boy am I full. I will never make Shepherd’s Pie the “old” way again. This is savory and delicious. Reading can be dangerous and delicious.

Now we need to go walk it off before it gets dark.

Olio-9/4/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Some weeks are spent in the kitchen, others doing fibery crafts.

About a week ago, I left for a fiber retreat in the south west part of the North Carolina mountains. The venue was delightful, as was the company of the friends that gathered. It began a week that has been devoted to fibery crafts. For the retreat, I had packed plenty of fiber to keep me busy spinning, but half way through the first day, I got bored with the natural colors that I generally spin and indulged in a grab bag of sunshine yellow and heirloom tomato red Romney wool. The idea was to work a gradient beginning with the yellow, but as I pulled it out of the bag, I realized that though they looked lovely together in the bag, they would not gradient, so the slightly more than 3 ounces was spun separately and it plyed up finer than I had hoped for as I wanted to weave a shawl with the 8 ounce grab bag. Once home Sunday afternoon, I began on the red using a long draw technique and got 4.9 ounces of yarn heavy enough to weave, but not enough yardage.

At the retreat, we do door prizes and have a dirty Santa exchange and in the exchange, I got a 4ish ounce bag of Pohlworth that I realized was very compatible with the Romney.

It was spun yesterday, plyed this morning and though I haven’t measured it off the bobbin yet, it is 4.2 ounces or similar weight long draw spun yarn.

This day is too hot to garden or cook anything more than a stir fry this evening, so the morning was spent playing with other fibers as well. The last of the Santa Cruz wool was washed and rinsed for a 4th time and set to dry on the deck. It is so full of vegetable matter, mostly feed or weed seed that I may never get it prepped to spin.

Before I left for the retreat, I realized that a lovely little Jacob raw fleece that I had improperly stored had several moths in it. Hoping to save it, I put it in a black garbage bag and threw it in the deep freezer. This morning, I removed it and hung the black bag in my closed car. It is supposed to get up into the 90’s today which in the superheated car should kill off any eggs that may have been layed. The freezer should have killed any moths and larva. After it has had a couple of days in the car, I will open it and examine it for damage and wash it if I caught it in time to save it.

Though today is stifling hot, there are signs of autumn, some of the early changing trees and scrub coloring, the Autumn Joy turning pink.

At the retreat, I took a class in Rigid Heddle weaving. It is not new to me, but looked like fun. The instructor had prewarped the looms with white cotton and I grabbed a skein of Aran weight Acrylic to use as my weft. We made two mug rugs in class and after. I failed to leave enough space between my two to get good fringe, so did rough easy to remove knots until I got home. Last night I sat and hem stitched the edges after removing my temporary knots, and evened the fringe on them.

A gal never has too many spindles so about 10 days ago, I ordered a Jeri Brock Turkish spindle. It came today and is cute with it’s laser cut out. It is a bit stockier and more substantial than my Jenkins and looks like because the shaft is heavier, it might be better to carry in my bag with a bit of fiber to spin and save the more delicate Jenkins for home or when it can be securely packed in the middle of a suitcase along with my Snyder turk that I use for plying. When traveling not to a retreat or demonstrating event, I always have a spindle or two so I can still spin.

My Facebook memory of today was jars and jars of tomato sauce canned and cooling on the counter. Not this year, the tomatoes failed early and the bed sits idle. I’m still toying with buying a 25 pound box when the weather cools again and getting at least a pot of spaghetti sauce cooked down. The cost is about the same as buying the Organic store brand at the local grocer, but then I would have to “doctor” it up. Indecision.

Olio – 8/15/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Woven trapezoid is off the loom, by daylight I saw a flaw that I will need to address. It needed an over weave to fix it and blocking but I think turned into an interesting piece. The third photo is by natural daylight and the colors show better.

The first harvest of grapes were juiced, and jelled. The second harvest is underway over the next few days. The results were so delicious that more is going to be made, then the remaining grapes left for the local wildlife that also enjoy the spoils of the garden and orchard.

Some years the garden overwhelms with tomatoes and there are no cucumbers except those purchased at the Farmers’ Market. Some years the tomatillos don’t grow or seedlings can’t be found. This year, the tomatoes are the scarce commodity in our garden, the plants never looked very healthy, the fruit output poor. Tomatoes can be purchased by the box at a local organic practices farm for $1/pound, but I’m not sure that economically it is worth the purchase. There are 21 pints of tomatoes canned, 9 half pints of pizza sauce, and I am still gathering a few tomatoes each day or two and freezing them to make another batch of some sort of tomato product; pizza sauce, tomatoes with hot peppers, or spaghetti sauce.

The fruit trees weren’t hit this year with a bloom frost and the fruit is too plentiful. The peach trees had fruit for the first time and every peach had worm damage and didn’t ripen. The Asian Pears are so heavy with fruit that several branches broke, I should have thinned the fruit. Lesson learned. Today I cut out the broken branches and picked some of the pears to hopefully prevent further damage. The apple trees look like they have a fair amount of fruit too, but the deer have eaten all that they can reach. It is going to take a ladder to get what is left unless I can reach it from the tractor seat.

We started our orchard with 3 peach trees. When I started raising chickens, I deliberately put the run around one of the trees for shade and put rocks around the trunk so they wouldn’t damage the roots. That tree did not survive the chickens scratching and possibly the hot fertilizer they produce. The largest tree got out of control and I cut it back severely a couple of years ago and have tried to keep it properly pruned since. It had the most, largest but most damaged fruit this year. The third tree near it produced some small hard peaches, but looks like it isn’t going to survive.

Winter before last I took a pruning class, but maybe I need a class on how to raise fruit organically so that the fruit is usable, or accept that I will have pears and apples only. My little fig is growing, but there won’t be fruit from it this year and the 3 year old plum keeps getting the new growth nipped by the deer, so I guess it needs a fence.

Another round of garden harvest will happen this evening and if I get enough additional Tomatillos, another batch of Tomatillo simmer sauce with jalapenos will be made in the morning.