10) Looking towards summer

I might not be able to knit right now, but I can certainly plan.

Inspiration indeed.  Polly drew my attention to this brochure from Schachenmaryr.  They're a German company, and this brochure has a country/folky theme, and though there are a couple of real 'miss' designs for me, there are quite a few hits, too.  For example:

HIT:
M5415

HIT:
M5414

MISS:
M5427

DOUBLE HIT:
M5420 

Errr, MISS:
M5410-11

And so on.  There are some really nice socks in the pamphlet; lots of texture, lots of detail!  No variegated or complicated yarns for these, please; just natural colours, possibly a bit of tweediness, exactly as they are photographed here.

Really, there was nothing I could do but buy the booklet, even if it is all in German.

Nom!  I don't know why, but those contrast cuffs are really doing it for me:
M5418

There's something engagingly hobbit-like about the whole shoot, don't you think?

9) Catch up: the Rampton scarf

OK, blogging about my wrist is getting realllly dull, I know, so I'll leave it be for now.  In lieu of actual new content, I'll have to make do with a catch-up post or two.  This one concerns itself with the scarf I knitted for the Rampton Spinners' year-long swap project.  I originally blogged about it in November, when I was having difficulty coming up with a stitch pattern that did this short-repeat, high contrast yarn justice.  Here's what I came up with, all prettily packaged for giving:

Dsc03606

In the end, I just cast on the long ridge, and alternated five rows of stockinette stitch with five rows of reverse stockinette.  Unwrapped, it looks a bit like this:

DSC03602

Or this:

DSC03603 

Incidentally, that's Untithey that I'm wearing behind the scarf…

Of course, when they got my scarf, they immediately stripped the packaging off to display on a hanging stand.  Siiigh.  Here's the full collection, in all their glory.  Given the amount of trading around that happened, there was some amazing creativity involved in the creation of these scarves.

Dsc03607

I think my favourite two scarves in the entire exchange were the golden one at top left, and the moss green one second from the right in the middle row.  The one I took home is the red and blue one fourth from left in the top row.

Dsc03608

More colours, more lovely designs – and a lone woven scarf!  Actually, there were two woven scarves in all – the rest were knit.

Dsc03609

…and the rest of them.  This year, for Rampton spinners, I have been presented with:

DSC03675

More later.

8) Upgrade

DSC03683

This *is* getting better, I promise.  It's just taking its time.  This brace is doing a much better job, but is much more irritating.  I need to wear a glove under it, to protect my skin.

Also, I cannot knit, spin, crochet, type with any speed or accuracy, brush my teeth normally, hold a knife or write with a pen.

It is driving me nucking futz.  But it will get better.

Brewing log

Brupak’s “Almondbury Old” ale, 40 pint kit
Additional ingredients: 1kg Ritchie’s glucose powder
Start date: 18/01/2009
Time to pitch: c. 2 hours
Pitch temperature: 20 degrees C
Starting gravity:      1.044
Gravity, 21/01/09:  1.016
Gravity, 23/01/09:  1.012
Gravity, 24/01/09:  1.011, as far as I can tell
Gravity, 26/01/09:  1.010
Gravity, 27/01/09:  1.010
Bottling date:  28/01/09
Total volume:  40 pints

Samson’s “Newkie Brown” beer, 40 pint kit
Additional ingredients: 1kg Ritchie’s glucose powder
Start date: 18/01/2009
Time to pitch: c. 2 hours
Pitch temperature: 20 degrees C
Starting gravity:      1.044
Gravity, 21/01/09:  1.016
Gravity, 23/01/09:  1.012
Gravity, 24/01/09:  1.011, as far as I can tell
Gravity, 26/01/09:  1.010
Gravity, 27/01/09:  1.010
Bottling date:  28/01/09
Total volume:  40 pints

Sheraton’s “Rich red” wine, 1 gallon kit
Additional ingredients: 800g sugar
Start date: 01/02/2009
Time to pitch: < 2 hours
Pitch temperature: 22 degrees C
Starting gravity:          1.090
Final gravity (15/02):  0.994
Bottling date:  25/02/09, I think.  Into a wine box!
Total volume: not measured
First taste: 14/03/09. Light, fruity and very sweet. Acidic smell, pale colour. No off flavours or contaminated notes; generally pleasant though not to all tastes due to the sweetness!

Munton’s “Pilsner” beer, 40 pint kit
Additional ingredients: None
Start date: 01/03/2009
Time to pitch: c. 2 hours
Pitch temperature: 24 degrees C
Starting gravity:      1.044
Racked into secondary fermenter:  08/03/2009
Gravity, 08/03/09:  1.020 (I think!)
Gravity, 12/03/09:  1.015
Gravity, 24/03/09:  1.013
Bottling date:  25/04/09
Total volume: 39 pints

Beaverdale “Cabernet Sauvignon” wine, 1 gallon kit
Additional ingredients: None
Start date: 04/03/2009
Pitch temperature: 22 degrees C
Starting gravity:      1.080
Gravity, 27/03/09:  0.995  – Stabilised
Bottling date:  18/04/09
Total volume: 6 bottles

Sheraton’s “Best Bitter”, 40 pint kit
Additional ingredients: Beer enhancer
Start date: 25/04/2009
Pitch temperature: 24 degrees C
Starting gravity:      1.044
Gravity, 25/04/2009:  1.018
Gravity, 02/05/2009:  1.015
Gravity, 07/05/2009:  1.014
Gravity, 17/05/2009:  1.013
Bottling date:
Total volume:

Dandelion wine
recipe here.
Start date: 25/04/2009
Into demijohn: 25/04/2009
Demijohn gravity:     1.100  
Gravity 
Bottling date: 
Total volume: 

Burton Bridge “Summer Ale”, 40 pint kit
Additional ingredients: Spraymalt, I think
Start date: c.15/06/2009
Starting gravity:      1.039
Bottling gravity:       1.014
Total volume:           39 pints

Brewferm “Abdij”, 19 pint kit
Additional ingredients: Dark spraymalt
Start date: c.15/06/2009
Starting gravity:      1.072
Bottling gravity:       1.030 (keg)
                               1.014 (bottles)
Total volume:  18.5 pints

Brupaks “Scammonden dark”, 40 pint kit
Additional ingredients: Spraymalt, I think
Start date: 23/08/2009
Pitch temperature: 24 degrees C
Starting gravity:         1.039
Gravity, 08/09/2009:  1.014
Bottling gravity:          1.014
Total volume:    39 pints

Elderberry wine
recipe here.
Start date: 31/08/04/2009
Yeast pitched: c.04/09/2009
Into demijohn: 13/09/09
Demijohn gravity: Not recorded
First racking: 04/10/09
Gravity:  0.997
Bottling date: 
Total volume: 


6) What’s brewing?

We all know I need a new hobby like I need, well, a hole in the head, but I seem to have acquired one anyway.

Back in November sometime, I bought a beginner's brewing kit from the friendly and helpful people at Art of Brewing.  Along with two kits for beer – a traditional Old Ale, and a Belgian Trappist style beer, which will hopefully be something like Leffe Brune.  For those that haven't had the pleasure, this is to bitter what port is to red wine. Strong, sweet, heavy.  Yum!

So I started with the old ale.  My plan, at the time, was to get the thing fermenting (5-7 days), bottle it, let it rest at room temperature for a week or two, then condition it in the garage for another fortnight and have it ready to drink for our first Christmas at home.

For a start, this caused raised eyebrows amongst those I know who already brew.  Apparently, anything that says "Ready to drink in four weeks" or the like is to be taken with a generous pinch of salt.  And probably a shot of tequila and a slice of lime, too.  The longer it's left to condition, the better, is the general opinion.  Well, OK.  We could always crack a bottle open at Christmas anyway, and leave the rest to get juuust right for later.

Secondly, what project ever goes to plan round here?  Testing of the brew after seven days showed it had hardly fermented at all.  Uh-oh.  Well, we aren't famous for leaving our heating on loads around here, and the kitchen (where fermentation was supposed to be taking place) seemed to have gotten a bit nippy, and the whole damn lot went to sleep.

Another order to AoB got me a submersible heating element with a thermostat in it and a couple of spare lids for the fermenting tub, because now I was going to have to cut a hole in the lid I already had, which could so easily go horribly wrong…  It didn't, thanks to J and the Dremel, and after much finicking around, we got the fermentation to start up again, albeit slowly.

We bottled the stuff 5 weeks to the day after I started it fermenting.  It tasted OK, as far as we could tell, and it's been in a box in my studio ever since.  It's supposed to be 'room temperature' there; probably the less said the better, though.  It goes to the garage this weekend, and in a fortnight or two we can taste it.  If I'm very, very restrained, I'll wait till my birthday.

What I failed to mention in all this, of course, is that I panicked and bought another two beer kits in the meantime.  If this brew failed, I wasn't going to risk my lovely Trappist style, premium kit until I'd gotten one to work!!  And, of course, it was actually cheaper to buy two spare kits instead of one; that pushed me over into the 'free postage' category, you see.

Knitters: is this sounding at all familiar?

I have had to promise J, in front of witnesses, that I will *not*, under any circumstances, be starting a brewing stash!

But I am tempted to diversify into wine.

5) Not so much.

All kinds of progress have been slow over here, this week.  Last week, I had another coldy lurgy and spent two and a half days at home when I would normally have been at work, mostly on the sofa with my beloved laptop.  I reckon that's why this is now necessary:

DSC03676

I don't like using a mouse when on the sofa, and using the trackpad requires me to reach down onto my lap, then bend my wrist back.  Combine that with wiggling your hand from side to side, and, well, it seems to be Not Good.  Hardly surprising, really, but Not Good nonetheless.

Knitting makes it hurt.  Using a mouse makes it hurt.  Heck, typing without support makes it hurt, and even with support I have to be careful to reach by moving my arm, not stretching with my fingers.  Even spinning makes it hurt.  (I know!  How??)

Just to be clear, it doesn't hurt *badly*, but one of my greatest fears is losing or compromising the use of my hands.  So I'm being as careful as possible.

So, knitting daily?  Not so much.