75) 102 great days

Do you know the saying, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck"?  It featured heavily in a book I used to read as a child, and it's stuck with me ever since.

On Friday, I found a penny.  On Saturday, I found a penny.

On Sunday, I found a pound coin.  Wow.  102 days of great luck?  102 awesome days.  I did the maths, and that takes me right through into the new year.

I'm not generally superstitious, but I love the idea of 102 great days.  Somehow, it's impossible to imagine that many great days in a row; but at the same time, it's a lot more concrete than, for example, "may you have great fortune for all the days of your life".  I'm carrying the pound coin round with me now, and just thinking about it never fails to make me smile.  Yesterday was definitely more awesome, just for the sake of owning it.

Talismoney.  Hee.

74) Again with the blending! Also, comments.

Remember the grey?  It's happened again:


But more colourful.

Inspiration for this year's Rampton challenge has finally struck.  We're supposed to be blending this little lot:


Then creating a bag out of it.  And we're supposed to be finished by November.

The inspiration has really been a long time coming.  Last year, I b!tched that I don't really *do* scarves.  Well, I don't really do bags, either.  And the colours??  Ewwww.  OK, I know we're supposed to be blending them, and colour blending is some serious magic, but… not inspiring.

Recently, though, I've been seeing a lot of colour gamps around.  Well, heyyy…

So, the plan is: blend fibre into rainbow hues.  Weave colour-gamp yardage (hence extending the colour blending theme further). Make bag.

This rocks, because weaving is faster than knitting, and I'm seriously late starting.  Also rockin' the show is my drum carder, because it's a heck of a lot faster than hand carders.  A heck of a lot faster.  And it still took me upwards of four hours to card up this lot.

Still, though, it's magic, right? (confession time: the yellowest yellow is a cheat, from another pack, and I haven't used the white at all).


Oh – and Typepad fixed the comment issue!!  It's not back as it was, but it's workable.  I believe TheNorma is almost singlehandedly to blame responsible.  Yayyyy TheNorma!

73) Fibre Clubs

As I may have mentioned, I joined SweetGeorgia's fibre club fairly recently, and received my first 'installment' two weeks ago.  I decided to spin it according to the suggestion on the packet – a fractal two-ply – and finished the first half, spun as long, slow colour sections, at Rampton, last Saturday…


…then came home and spun up the second half, into shorter, choppier colour changes on the same day.


Plying, however, had to wait until Tuesday, and winding till Wednesday…


…but I still think this is some kind of record for me.  Ten days from the fibre hitting the house to finished yarn!

I have about 190m of somewhat-chunky two ply, though I do want to wash it and see how it settles after that treatment.  I really do like the way the colours have mixed and blended, and the shine on this stuff is luscious.  That'll be the silk and bamboo, then.

My original plan for this yarn was fingerless mitts/gauntlets, but I'm not really sure it'll stand up to the rigours of hand-wear for long.  It has relatively little bounce and I don't think it'll be very abrasion resistant.  Someone at Rampton was trying to persuade me to leave it as singles, and use it for a shawl.  I resisted like crazy, because I already had A Plan, godsdammit, and because I'd already put way-y-y too much twist into the singles for them ever to be stable anyway.  Mind you, I kinda wish I'd thought of that beforehand.

But that's OK, because….


I now have the first delivery from my *other* fibre club, Grafton Fibers!  More on this later, hopefully, but I'm thinking low-twist, softly fulled singles from *this* batt.  And a shawl.

72) Changing it up

TypePad, apparently, is changing.

There is an all-new TypePad interface, which I am currently using to compose this entry.  There are elements of this I definitely like, and elements which, well, I may not.

There has also been a major change to the comments, which I do not like.  Instead of being sent by private email, any replies I make to my comments are now posted direct to the blog comments – and not sent to the original commenter at all.  I could rant about this for a long time, but Norma has already said it better than I ever could.  I may have found a workaround, but I don't think I like that, either.

In a strange, ironic twist, I actually moved to TypePad because I hated not being able to reply to comments on Blogger.

Even more ironically, the word "TypePad" is not recognised by TypePad's spell checking mechanism.

71) The joy of crab apples

Today, the crab apple tree in our garden was severely pruned.

This tree has, forever, looked like a leggy sapling.  It's only when you get close to it that you realise that 90% of the fruit it bears is waaaayyy out of reach.

This tree crops fairly heavily every year, but because the fruit is unpickable, it drops onto the flower beds and the lawn, bruises, rots and gets eaten by dogs, who end up with a bad stomach.  So, we've decided to cut it down to a third of its original height – at precisely the time it is full of fruit.  Which we can now pick off the cut branches – yayy!!!


This is six pounds of crab apples, washed and draining.  They're now in the freezer, where they are waiting their opportunity to turn into wine just as soon as the elderberries are out of the primary fermentation bucket.

Another three pounds have been stewed to mush, which will be strained and turned into jelly some time in the next week or so.  I think a third of them will become plain crabapple jelly, a third will become elderberry-crabapple, and the rest will become chili-crabapple.  Hopefully.

I love having a garden.

70) Planning the weekend

11am on a Friday morning, and thoughts turn to the weekend ahead…

I have been in nearly-permanent catchup mode since starting my new job (which is going GREAT, btw), and now I'm in serious danger of planning far too much to fit into a mere two days.

Saturday is spinning day; the whole day (well, from 10 till 4, anyway) spent spinning in great company, in Rampton village.  I received the most **glorious** fibre in the post last Saturday, and despite my resolution to get my lace flyer attached to the Ashford for my next bout of spinning, I think I need to tackle this stuff first.  I treated myself to three months' membership of the SweetGeorgia fibre club, and this is the first installment:


It's 50% merino/25% silk/25% bamboo, in fantastically autumnal colours, and I couldn't be more delighted with it.  I think I'm going to spin it fractally, and aim for a bouncy, squishy 2-ply to make fingerless gloves or mitts with.  For me.

I need to attend to the brewing, too; I currently have ale for Christmas 2010 (yes, really!) in two demijohns which needs racking off and/or bottling; wine for my Dad's Christmas present in a primary fermenter, which needs racking off; dandelion wine which probably needs bottling but is currently sitting in a plastic bottle (eww!) in the garage; a kit which was started two weeks ago sitting in a primary fermenter, and which needs checking on if nothing else; and last Monday I picked and washed three pounds of elderberries (from the volunteer tree in our garden!) and mashed them and a pound of sultanas and two pounds of sugar in boiling water.  The yeast for that little lot arrived yesterday, and needs adding.

Then, there's one Pilsner-style kit and the ingredients for my first non-kit beer brew sitting in the kitchen.  Along with a new primary fermenter and my very shiny new mash/boiler tun which arrived yesterday.  Oh – and the crabapples are ripe.  I would love to make wine, and jelly if there's enough fruit, from those, but experience suggests that they bruise easily, and go soft even faster than pears, not to mention being a perfect breeding ground for fruit flies if you give them even the slightest excuse.

I have handspun wool singles sitting in Kilner jars, slowly turning yellow under the influence of elder leaves, and a loom which needs renovating so I can weave the yellow yarn on it.  I have a whole business plan, drawn up in June, which has been roundly ignored ever since I interviewed for this job.

So.  This evening, I plan to check the veg garden for stuff that needs picking, start the elderberry wine, make a cake for tomorrow, possibly blend some fibre, pack for tomorrow's spinning day, cook and eat dinner, and (if I have my sensible head on), catch up with the ironing.

Katarina is still unfinished, and likely to remain so for the weekend; two evenings of concerted knitting effort have resulted in a garter-stitch band that is roughly two inches deep.  I need it to be over twice that, and then I need to finish seaming the sleeves, and, ideally, re-block before she's really finished.  Even if I stay up all night, I'm unlikely to have a wearable garment by tomorrow, and much as I would love to wear it to Rampton tomorrow, it's really not that important.

69) Katarina – sneak peeks

Katarina is a simple-but-elegant cardigan by Coco Knits.



Her construction is somewhat unusual.  The back and the fronts are knitted as usual, though the fronts are very narrow:


The sleeves are worked from a provisional cast-on above the deep cuff, then, after the sweater is assembled thus far, the cuff is worked downwards after the sweater is partially assembled:


Finally, a deep collar and the rest of the fronts are knit on to the mostly-assembled sweater:


This is taking a while – one inch of ribbing, then five of garter stitch, all the way up the front of the sweater, round the neck, and back down the other side – and, in the meantime, it mostly looks like a blob.  I was really, really hoping to finish this in time to wear it on Saturday, at the next Rampton spinners meeting, but I don't think it's going to happen.

Elderberry wine (recipe in progress)

1500g elderberries
450g sultanas
1000g white sugar
1 tsp citric acid
4.5 litres boiling water

Strip the berries from their stems using a fork.  Eject spiders, earwigs and other wrigglers from the fruit bowl.
Chop sultanas roughly (I used a food processor)
Add to bucket with acid, sugar and sultanas.
Add boiling water and mash.  I used a potato masher
Crush and add Campden tablet, cover, and leave to cool.

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