matcha baking

doing some matcha baking: marbled cake from this neat blog. it was tasty, but i think next time i'll substitute ground flax for one egg to obtain a moister cake. i didn't have a small enough cake pan, so i used a parchment lined bread pan (which was too big, still). perhaps i should pick up smaller bakeware next time i come across it. i always find them adorable, but never think i'll have a reason to use them.


i work in downtown savannah, ga; and it often seems i mostly drive in, and drive home, never really looking at the city at all. today i happened to have my camera with me and took some photos on my way to spinning after lunch.

i realized it had been years since i had taken photos of this city, getting jaded by the things that happen. sometimes it takes looking at a place through a lens to get the feel for it again.


the rumpelstiltskin condition

some of my recent drop spinning. the larger skein is paco-vicuna cria, a breed of alpaca. it is so very soft, a warm cream with a tiny bit of tawny variation (which was easier to see as a single). it spun up fairly well, with some nubby spots where i hadn't combed it well enough. i had gotten 1 oz of raw fleece, and after removing the guard hairs and vegetable matter it came to about .9 oz, 165 yds plied. the name of this alpaca is vesper. though the undercoat is a nice warm cream, the guard hairs were a reddish blonde, so it made it easy to pick them out.

the other skein is a three-ply pakucho color grown cotton, with two strands of rich cinnamon chocolate and one strand moka chocolate. this is my first three ply, mostly because these were two left over balls of singles and i had more of one than the other so i figured the best use of them was to triple ply. i haven't boiled it in baking soda water yet, so the colors aren't as deep as they can be.

i still have no clue what i'm going to use all this yarn for. for now, i'm just happy spinning it.


work in progress

i've begun weaving again, first time this year. i mentioned this earlier, but after a slow take-off, i'm finally making some progress. something to do with 460 warp threads and only 400 heddles. so very, very thankful i realized it before i threaded too many of them, only a couple of centimeters. at 10 threads a centimeter.

i dug up the metal heddles that came with it and added some more to the harnesses. there's an easy way to do this and a hard way that only looks easy. after trying the latter, i recognized the sanity in doing it the correct way. the harnesses come out smoothly enough, even with the high castle tray which is on my loom (schacht thought of everything when they designed these things-the tray bottom pops out to create an opening to slide the harnesses through!).

this is the first weaving i've tackled with so many threads. you don't realize it until you have to go back and fix an error, be it threading, reed sleying, or confusion about the pattern. which brings us to todays happy fun! the piece is weaving with the lights and darks inverted, and i thought there was a typo in the book i got the pattern from, and spent a bit of time trying to figure it out, first by unweaving, then reweaving, then unweaving, then graphing, and eventually realizing i was looking at the back of the piece on the loom, and not the front of the piece as was photoed in the book. i think. blah.

i'm laying all the blame due to being rusty. i only wove five pieces last year, and those in the early half, and they were fairly easy patterns. all in all, though, i didn't have any threading errors once everything was tensioned properly, and that's a lovely moment!


scones on a sunday

scones are scrumptious. i have a recipe from years ago which i cut out of a newspaper during this time of year. sometimes i make spooned scones, but mostly, they're these wonky triangles. i've found that the rind of kumquats and blood oranges make it nicely tart and tangy.

what's lovely about having a basic recipe is that you can add different types of flavoring; citrus, cranberries, dried cherries, lavender, chocolate. for the ones i made the other night, i used blood orange and paired them with blueberry jam and whipped cream.

basic scone recipe: 

1 cup pastry flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces
grated rind of 1 small orange or several kumquats
1 egg
1/2 cup milk with squirt of lime juice

(preheat oven to 400 degrees)

in a bowl, combine dry ingredients. using pastry cutter, cut in butter until crumbly. mix in rind. add egg and soured milk, stir until moistened. transfer dough onto lightly floured surface, knead 10-12 strokes, ending with a flattened ball. either cut into 6 wedges or spoon onto parchment lined tray. paint milk on tops, and sprinkle with sugar. bake 10-12 minutes. let cool on rack. serve with devonshire cream and blueberry jam. 


guanaco challenge

the other day i decided to give myself a handspun challenge; finely spin up guanaco, wild cousin of the llama. last year i got ahold of .5 oz of rich copper guanaco fiber. from my reading the deep color leads me to believe they came from an older animal; which you could never tell as the fibers are incredible soft and feel like the finest cashmere.

it wasn't necessary to card the fiber, just spin off of a fluffy handful. it was very easy to get a smooth and even strand. because of the inherent structure of the fiber it is very warm and i had to squash my desire to make a fluffy, slubby yarn, as it would have done a disservice to the fibers' nature. apparently, the warmer the fiber, the finer it needs to be spun; qiviut, bison, cashmere, vicuna, and guanaco falling into this category. as these fibers are also a bit pricey, you could spin a lot of yardage keeping this in mind. the half ounce spun up to about 172 yards which i then plied together, giving me 86 yds two-ply laceweight yarn. i haven't a clue as to what i'll make with it, so for now it stays in my spinning basket along with the bison and qiviut i'd already spun up.


tactile things

i've been spinning some samples of various fibers; seeing how they twist, if they're springy, shiny, fluffy, soft. it's been fun! in the photo below i've sampled (from left to right): bison, qiviut, peruvian color grown cotton, alpaca, cashmere/tussah/mink, red eri silk, paco-vicuna, bombyx silk. the softest to still-soft-but-not-as would go; paco-vicuna, bison, cashmere/tussah/mink, alpaca, cotton, bombyx silk, red eri silk, qiviut (it had a lot of guard hairs).

i would love to get my hand on more bison and paco-vicuna, that stuff is so very, very soft. i don't know what it is with the soft factor, because i love fabric with a bit of stiffness such as linen, and sericin silks, but when spinning i adore fiber which is like petting a baby animal. i turn into a drooling homer simpson gazing at donuts...