24) Sourdough Sunday: flat topped

After the last exploding loaf, I decided to try introducing a
little more consistency into the flour and water quantites, by
following a standard recipe and subtracting my 'feeding' flour and
water from those, rather than just eyeballing the whole thing.  I also
wanted a single-risen loaf instead of my 'thrice-risen' version

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Hmm. 

Feeding:

  • Thursday evening: 0.5 cups of flour and 0.5 cups water.
  • Friday morning: 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.
  • Friday evening: 0.5 cups flour and 0.5 cups water.

The recipe:

I made the dough on Saturday morning (not forgetting to keep back my mini-starter; I'm sure I will one day, though!).  The dough was made from:

  • all but 1 tbsp starter;
  • 1.5 cups flour;
  • no additional water;
  • 1.5 tsp salt;
  • 1.5 tsp sugar.

Part way through kneading in the machine, it looked too wet, so I added an extra half cup of flour.  It still seemed wet-ish, but I didn't want to mess too much with my 'approved' recipe so, in the interest of experimentation, I let it be.

I expected it to rise all day, but after only a few hours, it was clear it wouldn't need to.  So I shortened the wait time, and let it bake.  The top, which was nice and rounded, had started to 'drop' a mere 10 minutes after the bake started.  This either means the dough was too wet, or it had over-risen (which can be caused by the dough being too wet, and therefore not sufficiently structural).  As might be expected, the crumb is very open:

DSC04644

This loaf tastes very, very good, though.  It's not notably sour, and it has that delicious crumpet-like flavour going on that I noticed in the exploding loaf.

Next time: a bit more flour?  A second knead??

23) February round-up, March goals

February isn't quite over yet, but I thought I'd start the roundup anyway.  I'm just in that sort of mood!  It's been a changeable kind of day, with spells of blue sky, sunshine and mild, spring-like air, but now the sun is fading and it's tipping down with rain.  A grey and reflective kind of moment.

So, how did I do against my February goals?

1) Keep up the momentum for Yarnscape/Textiles In Focus.
Yes!  TIF was last weekend, and I had a *wonderful* time.  Re-entry back into the day job has been hard.  Very hard.

2) *Finish my Moor sweater!
So close.  **So** close.  So close, in fact, that it might yet happen before the end of the month, and it's not really worth including as a March goal.  I have steeked it, and knit the first armhole band, so there's just one more armhole, the neck band, stitching down the facings and a good blocking to go.  Hmm.  Maybe not the end of the month, then.

3) *Make significant progress on the maze scarf
No.  Not one pick, not at all.  Depressingly, that's exactly what I wrote last month.

4) *Ply up the Sweet Georgia Shetland
Yes!  I have 650 metres of two-ply laceweight yarn, wpi yet to be determined.  It's probably some of the finest and most consistent spinning I've done to dat, and I'm pleased.

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5) Sample fleece for a 'sleeves in your pi' cardigan (Rav link).

In progress.  I'm playing with sampling some Manx Loaghtan fleece I was gifted last year, in the grease:

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  I've managed to get a rather lumpy three ply of the right weight, but I'm not sure if it's the sort of yarn I really want to be spinning, or if I enjoy the process, so still ongoing.

6) *Plan my veg garden for the year;
Yes!  As ever, I'm probably over-optimistic, but seeds have been surveyed and top-ups ordered.  We're very close to planting time again now, albeit only the indoors bit.

7) Start cultivating my Pilates habit again
Not 100% success with this; I think I've managed six practises in the month, or 1.5 per week.  There's time to fit in a couple more, which would boost the weekly average to 2, but that seems like cheating somehow.  More to do here.

Okay!  So, I have three solid 'yes' votes, out of seven, and a couple of 'partials'.  Again, this list has kept me moving forwards on a range of projects, rather than letting everything else stagnate in favour of only one tight focus.  Also again, I've vastly over-estimated what I can actually achieve in a month.  So, what's
coming up for March??

  1. Launch an online shop for Yarnscape.
  2. Finish J's quilt.  I made the top for him almost two years ago, and he's been bugging me and bugging me about it this winter.
  3. **Make significant progress on the maze scarf;
  4. Experiment with knitting socks on my knitting machine.
  5. EITHER: make significant progress on the spinning for the 'sleeves in your pi' cardigan (Rav link),
    OR: decide I don't want to do this project, and pick/start another.
  6. Get the veg beds organised and fed/mulched as needed.
  7. Continue cultivating my exercise habit.  This time round, this includes running, walking and yoga as well as Pilates.  I'd like to be exercising 4-5 days per week, including longer dog walks.

There's also some brewing that needs attention, etc. etc.  It's no wonder I don't ever seem to make progress against the eternal list of projects; it takes me so long to do anything!!

22) My first cotton!

…meanwhile, I've been bunking off at my desk and spinning cotton.  I'm lucky, my employers *expect* quirky, and as long as the work gets done, and is high quality, no-one minds.

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This is about 12.5 m of 2-ply cotton, the first I've ever spun.  It seems to be rather over-plied, as you can see by the twistiness of the tiny wee skein, but then, most of the singles have been sitting on the spindle since well before Christmas.  Singles (at least, wool ones) tend to 'set' a bit if they're left too long, which can make getting a balanced ply a bit of a guessing game if you don't have a sample card (which I don't, for this).  I dunno if cotton does this, but I suspect it does, so we'll see what happens after finishing, eh?

The spindle (which I adore) and the cotton itself were gifted to me by the talented and generous SarahW.  I have more cotton, of different types, to play with, too, so watch this space for more.

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I'm pleased with the fineness and the relative evenness of the yarn, given that it's my first time with this fibre.  Only trouble is, this is supposed to fill in those irritating bits of desk-time when I'm waiting for my computer to finish Some Complex Task, and now, all I want to do is spin more cotton…

21) Absenteeism

…just popping my head in to say I'm still here, just feeling rather quiet!  I had an absolute *blast* at Textiles in Focus last weekend, but I'm not a natural extrovert.  I love the company of other people, and all that enthusiasm, but after three solid days of it…  well, I just feel like curling up alone for a bit!

I've been working on my Sweet Georgia shetland roving, and it's all plied – yayy!!!  I'm just about to wind off the remainder and see how much I have, in total.  Then it's wash and whack, and it'll be ready to cast on for Scotch Thistle, whenever Moor is done.

Other than that, I have emails to answer, work to do, accounts to see to.  And mostly, what I want to do is snooze.  Normal service will resume shortly…

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20) Really?! Only two entries?!

Oh, now, come on, knitters!

Maybe I should have known better than to launch a competition the same day that the Ravelympics began.  Maybe I shouldn't have been quite so stringent in my requirements.  But only two people have pattern suggestions for my poor, lonely two-ply?  Two entries, in a competition with two prizes??

Yeesh.  Well, I said Saturday evening, and I can't really extend the deadline after the fact, so…

  • Mary gets the 'fave suggestion' prize for getting me to think seriously about rectangle shawls.
  • And my Random Number Generator (ahem) says that Toni is the other lucky winner.  Toni, I'm so sorry.  I know you're trying to reduce your stash.  😉

I'll be in touch with both of you.

At this point, I should probably also say that I'm not going with *any* of the competition entry suggestions.  I *am*, however going rectangular (hence Mary's win of the first prize).  I think – for now – that I will be knitting the Scotch Thistle Lace Stole, from Heartstrings Fiber Arts (Ravelry link). 

Please do check out the links to the pattern; I'd love to post photos, but obviously, I can't because I don't have the copyright!

I hadn't even heard of this pattern before now, but lots of elements 'click' for me.  It's a simple, yet varied and elegant, pattern, with the kind of directionality I was looking for.  The colours of the yarn have a certain 'heath and moorland' type quality to them.  And there is a nice resonance, in my mind at least, that comes from pairing Shetland yarn with a pattern called 'Scotch Thistle'.  I think we have a winner.

Textiles in Focus: teh awesumz

Today has been such a long day.  Twelve hours ago, I was panicking madly, because my (usually very staid and dependable) wallet had gone missing.  That’s bank cards, credit card, driver’s licence, RAC card, about 50 quid and sundry loyalty cards and other personal items. Vanished.

Twelve hours ago, I was an hour behind schedule.  Half an hour after that, I had found my wallet, told J he could return to work (because he was en route home to look for it himself, bless him), and had actually made it to Textiles in Focus, where I had planned to arrive a full 90 minutes earlier.  I was still pricing goods after the doors opened, but to make up for it, I’d made my first sale before the doors actually opened, so it all balances out.

I have one photo:

Yarnscape's first stand
Yarnscape’s first stand

Though I know others took some more!  I look kinda dazed, don’t I?  And not just because of the vent grill sticking out of my head. This was taken around mid-afternoon (thank you, Scarlet!) and by that time, I was feeling the hit of the adrenaline, the conversation, the mad fibre-frenzies that happen between and before class sessions…  It was awesome!!  I never feel so alive as when I get to spend a day around other fibre-folk, chatting and listening, inspiring and being inspired.  Sharing knowledge.

Oh!  And I almost sold out of drop spindles, so I’ve spent the evening making a few more.  Batts and roving are also disappearing fast (I guess that we have both spinners and felters attending, so the market for them is doubled!).  I will try and make up some more batts for tomorrow and Sunday, but when the roving’s gone it’s gone…  At least for this show!

But now, I’m gonna finish my glass of wine and head to bed.  Because tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.  (Except, I hope, the bit with the wallet).  Sleep well!

Set-up day

No desk for me today – it’s set-up day for Textiles In Focus!!  None of my photos capture the joy I feel in this stall, not the ones of the sign (painted this morning, no less):

Nor those featuring the yummy display stands I just *had* to have:

Nor those featuring the ‘blue’ section:

But this is all because I am still a totally lame photographer.  I am so, so happy with the way this stall looks; I just wish I could capture it in all its glory for those of you who can’t make it to the venue!

I’m still slightly worried I won’t have enough stock for three days, though.

So near!

Tomorrow is setup day for Textiles In Focus, and I am so near to ready.  Not so near that I can take the night off, of course; all my roving braids still need to be labelled:

Gorgeous, aren’t they??  Unfortunately, I still haven’t decided on the best way to label these puppies, so it might not be a quick job.

I decided only to create small braids for this fair; 50 g each.  I wanted lots and lots of variety on the stall, and I believe that felters will outnumber spinners by a significant proportion, so: small pieces, many colours. I hope the decision doesn’t come back to bite me!

All About the Labels

I finally finished dyeing and re-winding all my yarns and fibres for Textiles In Focus over the weekend, so now it’s all about the labelling:

 

I’m really, really pleased with how my labels have turned out.  Somehow, packaging up and labelling everything makes it feel as if it’s all coming together, and transforms all these ‘bits and pieces’ that I’ve been staring at over the last two months into ‘real products’.  It’s completely magic!

I’m not normally a ‘sparkly’ person, but I’m *so* in love with my sparkly batts:

Producing these is just so much fun!  Oh – and can you stand the cute??

These are little 3 g bundles of silk hankies.  Three grams of silk can go a seriously long way, in case you were wondering…

19) Sourdough Sunday: The day the bread exploded

DSC04593

This is my *least* successful sourdough to date, though I'm still eating it with gusto!

I attempted to adjust my timing from the thrice-risen loaf so that baking could happen after the first 'rise'.  I'm hoping that this might reduce the sour flavour (less fermentation time), which might make the stuff more palatable to J.  I'm also expecting that it will affect the texture, too, though I'm not sure quite what I expect in that department.

This time, though, I messed up:

  • The dough was noticeably wetter than last time.  I added more flour, but I think it was a case of 'too little, too late'.
  • I forgot the sugar.
  • I forgot the salt.
  • I still didn't get the timing right, and had to knock it back before bed.

It was just one of those evenings – I'd intended to make bread the evening before, but I didn't, and then I was rushing around like a headless chicken, so I just went for it, and … well.

I don't really think the bread 'exploded', by the way.  There wasn't enough mess in the bread maker for that.  I *do* think that it over-rose the bucket and started to drip over the sides, which caused the bubble which is the top of the loaf to burst and collapse…  This is what it looked like when it was still in the bucket:

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Taste wise, it's a bit dull and flat (surprise!  No salt or sugar!).  The texture is much more open than previous loaves, which is also probably due to the lack of salt and the extra moisture:

DSC04594

It still feels very moist, too.  (Apart from the crispy stuff on the top, which the dogs think I made especially for them!)  And although the bubbles in the crumb are large, the bread between them is dense and somewhat rubbery.  If I had to pick a word to describe this bread, it would be 'clammy'.  Appealing, no?

In mitigation, I have to say it's not bad toasted, though it really needs butter (salted butter!).  Actually, in this form, it really reminds me of crumpets!

Next time:

  • Remember all the ingredients.
  • Measure all the flour for a standard loaf in advance, then use some of that to feed/build the starter.