Yesterday was set-up day for Textiles in Focus.  I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of this box with Wensleydale roving on top:

The day was not enhanced by my car emitting a loud twanging noise from the suspension, as it spontaneously gave itself a council-estate ‘sports lowering’.  Yep – one of the coil springs broke…

The Porridge Ritual

This time of year, I mostly eat porridge for breakfast. I like it savoury, with salt rather than sugar, and I make it with water, quite thick, then top it with liquid.  For quite a few years, I topped it with soy milk.  I think this habit started because I used to eat breakfast at work, and if I kept my own milk in the work fridge it would be ‘borrowed’ – but no-one ever borrowed soy!

This year, I’ve started topping the porridge with my own, home-made yoghurt.  A little odd, perhaps, but it doesn’t have that slightly objectionable sweetness that warmed-through milk has, and it’s not made in a factory with imported soy beans, like soy milk is.  And the taste (and creamy texture!) has definitely grown on me.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that the dogs approve.  They’re not allowed to beg whilst we’re eating, but they do get to clean our plates when we’re done.   (It’s good pack-reinforcement, and acts as a really awesome pre-wash for the dishwasher.)  The waiting for the porridge-bowl is always particularly keen.

The trouble is that Kita, smart cookie that she is, wants more than her fair share.  It starts out fair and equitable, for all of about five nanoseconds:

Then she gets strategic:

The little monster has worked out that if she eats from his side of the plate first, he can’t reach her side.  (Look at that tongue trying to make it to the food!)  Having displaced Woody from his side of the plate, she can work her way back to her side, leaving only the cleaned sections behind for poor Woods.

Inevitably, he gives up and leaves her to her ill-gotten gains.

I think her eyes glow red because she’s devil-spawn,  how about you?

I make it with water, quite thick, then top it with liquidI make it with water, quite thick, then top it with liquid

What dining table?

…it’s a rewinding station!

It’s also kinda out of focus, and has that nasty yellow cast that seems to plague my iPhone camera under artificial light.  The neatly wound skeins are a new yarn for this year; ‘Lissom’, a merino-tencel laceweight that has a beautiful lustre, and takes colour in a most magical way:

Bottom left, you can see some skeins of ‘Dance’ waiting to be rewound and made pretty.  Dance is another new yarn; a BFL/silk sock-weight yarn.  Apparently, I’m all about the shiny right now:

Since the new year, I’ve also been experimenting a lot with more saturated colours.  This is not to say that I’m abandoning my subtle tones, but it’s fun to change things up a bit, too!  I’ve also been playing in the red end of the spectrum a lot, which has been fun because my dye set doesn’t include anything I consider a ‘true red’.  Nothing’s quite so fluorescent as the iPhone flash makes this appear though (and it’s even more yellow!  How come?!):

There’s been some fibre-dyeing, too, but that photo came out so yellow it’s pretty pointless showing you.

Oh!  And I’ve been making toy wheel spindles for my spindling class, too.  As well as the regular size ones, I’ve made some super-lights (not for class).  These little babies weight about 10g.  For an idea of scale, the yarn this one is snuggling into is Dance (again).  That’s sock weight (aka ‘skinny’):

Cute, huh?

My Etsy shop is now ‘on vacation’, and will be so for at least a week.  Hopefully, I’ll get photographing the new stuff *properly* as soon as the show is over, so I can share it with you guys who can’t make it to Cottenham this weekend.  😉

One last thing (I think): J says I should ‘live tweet’ the show.  I might.  If I do, you can follow along by following @yarnscape on Twitter.


It’s that time again.  If you have been planning to buy anything from my Etsy shop, you may want to do it soon, as I will be closing it for a week or two, starting Sunday night.  (After which, it will be back, bigger and better than ever before, assuming I can get some photographs taken.)

Next Friday, Textiles In Focus kicks off for three days of woolly fun and fibre-based mayhem.  Just like last year, I’m selling my own hand-dyed yarns and fibres – and I’m also teaching for the first time.

As if that wasn’t enough, there will also be a spin-and-knit-in area next to my stall, in a space that was desolate and unused last year; I’m sort of ‘curating’ it.

Of course, nothing is really ready; I have a whole bunch of new yarns for this year, and I haven’t done the label design yet.  The pile of yarns waiting to be rewound, post-dyeing,  is bigger than my dog.  The course is ready to be taught, except for the fact that I haven’t finished the handout, and I need to assemble the student materials packs.  And a few more sample pieces would not go amiss, bien sur.  Batts!!  I really, really need to card batts.

Printing.  There is so much printing to be done.  (Note to self: don’t leave it till the last minute.  Your printer will break down, or run out of ink, and it will be very stressful.)

This afternoon, I had a mini-breakdown, thinking there was no way that I could get it all done in time.  After a couple of hours of wandering around feeling morose and angst-ridden, I realised something pretty awesome: I have taken on quite a few insanely large projects in my time, from 18th century dresses onwards.  And though most of those have not ended up perfect, and although the occasional all-nighter may have occurred on the way, each and every one of those has ended up working out ok.

So I’m drinking a beer and writing a blog post.  But no photographs: they take too long.  Later, patient readers!  Now, I should go design labels…

Or a little sooner…

I estimated ‘end of February’ for my 2 ply alpaca/BFL.  Turns out that ‘mid February’ would have been more accurate:

~250 m 2-ply yarn

And in fact, it’s only taken me this long because it’s been sitting around waiting for wet finishing for at least ten days.

I finished half the singles on February first; the other half February 2nd.  I plied on the third, and skeined it off.  Then I got lazy. (Clearly I was more in need of comfort spinning than I thought, being off work sick.)

So many of you responded to the idea of comfort spinning!  I love to spin for 15 minutes in the morning, before my day gets started.  I use it as a kind of meditation, allowing my thoughts to bubble and organise themselves whilst my body is still waking up.  What is it, I wonder, that makes spinning so perfectly suited to this?

Things I might have too much of

I spent an hour or so tidying/organising the shed today.  In the process, I discovered a possible overabundance of:

  • raw sheep’s fleece;
  • raw alpaca fibre;
  • empty beer bottles;
  • seeds.

All the above usually fit into the general category of, “Can one ever really have too much?”, but I’m starting to think that the answer can legitimately be, “Yes, for a given amount of storage space.”

There is, of course, a simple answer for the beer bottles: Brew More Beer.  And there’s also a good reason for the seeds.  When Geodyne returned to the antipodes, she left me a huge selection of seeds to add to my own.  I think I now have more than 15 varieties of tomato seed to hand, at least 20 varieties of sweet and/or hot peppers, 5 or more varieties of spinach, and I didn’t even count the number of turnips, radishes, oriental greens or squashes.  And at least seeds don’t take up much storage space.

The fibre, though, may be starting to become a problem.  I bought about 13 alpaca blankets last year.  Yes, really.  Though I’m hoping that some of that fibre will be processed and available for sale later this year.

As for the sheep’s fleece, that’s all supposed to be for me.  I’ve taken to naming the fleeces, for ease of reference, and so far I have:

Eight – possibly nine – of them, plus a few bits and that are elsewhere in the house.  Given that I’ve not yet managed to process a whole fleece myself, there may be a lack-of-reality issue around here somewhere.

(Though I did chuck a bag labelled, “Burwash, legs, felted” onto the compost heap today.  Really.  Why was I keeping that?)

Strike two

OK, this has been bugging me.

I have a favourite soup.  It’s Norma’s Carrot, Parsnip and Ginger un-recipe.  (Which is surprising, because parsnips are one of the few things I don’t much like, and carrots aren’t a real winner in my book, either.  But this soup is good.)

Except I made a batch a few months ago, and it was bad.  I mean, BAD.  It was so bad, and so surprising, that I almost felt like I’d been hit in the face. 100% unlike its normal self, it was very bitter and metallic and it left a very strange, almost tingly sensation in my mouth.  I decided that some of the ingredients must have been past their best, chalked it up as a sacrifice to the kitchen gods, and threw the lot out.

And last week, it happened again.  This time, it wasn’t quite so overwhelmingly dreadful, but still bad enough to throw away.  I can barely remember throwing any other food away because it was unpleasant.  But this recipe?  Twice in a row??

So, my questions are these:  Has anyone else had any similar experiences?  Does anyone have any idea why it might have happened?  Do ‘old’ carrot and/or parsnips have a tendency to taste this way?  A google search threw up a page which suggested that onions and parsnips may combine to taste bitter if the onions are undercooked, but I sorta doubt that this was the problem.  EDIT: I add neither Grand Marnier nor orange juice to mine; not my fave flavours in savoury dishes.  So it’s not the orange component that’s a culprit.

Any ideas?  Or will broccoli, blue cheese and potato be my new fave recipe?

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