Sunday, November 21, 2010

End of the Season

I have been a bad blogger of late. I have had lots to post about, but haven't taken the time to do so.
I have, in the last few weeks, done the following:

1) successfully hunted for chanterelle mushrooms
2) gone to see Benjamin Bagby's "Beowulf"
3) made a duct tape bodyform of my own torso
4) inventoried a large chunk of my knitting projects

...and much more!

I finally decided I needed to share something, so I am sharing this:

Meet Henny Penny. She is a Shakefork Farm free range chicken, all dressed and ready for roasting. I am smelling her roast even as I compose this post. Henny is lying on a bed of purple sunchokes that were first tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. She is stuffed with chestnut dressing--my variation on the dressing from the 1975 edition of "The Joy of Cooking".

Chestnut Dressing:

1 lb chestnuts, peeled and chopped
1 cup dry bread cubes
2/3 cup chopped celery
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
chopped giblets
chicken stock
salt pepper
olive oil

Saute giblets, celery and onion in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add chestnuts and bread cubes, and toss to coat. Add poultry seasoning, white wine and stock to moisten. Add yogurt and parsley and mix well. Add a lump of butter (about 2 tbsp) and mix well. This will make the dressing taste richer. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stuff your birdie!

Henny is all golden and tasty and resting prior to carvage. Free range goodness! YUM!!

And for dessert: late season watermelon with lime and a sprinkling of paprika. Refreshing!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rainy Day Blues

It's drippy today. The rains have come early to HumCo this year and that has left me a little grumpy, especially since the weather was wet through June this year. The upshot? We had no Summer on the North Coast.

Add a migraine onto today and I am in the dumps a bit, bored with Facebook, but too fractured to do something useful like housework or knitting or dyeing. I am in the mood to blog though, since it has been 6 weeks since my last post. I don't have much useful to say at the moment, but I have a queue of things coming up.

The first is the upcoming Franklin Habit workshop at Northcoast Knittery. Franklin will be the first bona fide knitterati I have ever met. I have known some fine knitters in my time, but mostly they were "just regular folks" in that they didn't publish, blog or otherwise exist within radar range. I am taking a photography workshop from Mr. Habit with the hope that I can beef up my skills in photographing my own projects for display. Like most famous knitters, Franklin's fame comes in the rarefied small world atmosphere of the knitting world and therefore he has a "day job", so to speak. I am very excited about the workshop, let me tell you! It is going to be a good time. I even bought one of Franklin's books so I can get a signature. I usually confine my autograph seeking to Chris Isaak (I have his signature on 4 CD's, a t-shirt and a ticket stub), but I figure this is a fun opportunity.

Also waiting to be implemented, I finally got a decent bagful of wolf lichen to dye some yarn with. My recent moth problems forced me to organize my stash, and now I know where my dyeable yarn is. The sample from this lichen I saw at last Winter's local Mushroom Fair were a cool lime green, even with varying mordants. I saw thee samples and recognized the lichen right away. It is rampant growing in the Sierra Nevada and California Cascade mountains, usually at higher altitudes. A recent trip to Lassen National Park allowed me to gather a good amount (not IN the park, mind you. I don't think that's legal) near the house I was staying at and at a convenient rest area. I have subsequently learned, however, that wolf lichen is poisonous in quantity, so I will definitely use gloves and caution. I gathered it with bare hands, but if I do so again, I will bring gloves.

I have a lot of other things to dye with as well, when I finally get my act together: re alder bark, dock root an avocado skins. Our buddleia bloomed early and weirdly, so I missed that this year. It is a medium purple and should yield yellows and/or greens. Next year I'll be ready.

My knitting is going forward slowly. I have more UFO's than I can count and they keep piling up. I knit to a stuck point and move on to something easier without finishing the preceding project. Bad me, but it's a hard habit to break. Still, I need to finish something an on that not, I'll close out this post. Ciao!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dirty Laundry

This post is particularly painful to make, in light of my recent posts about stashcavation. It's scary and a bit embarrassing; this admission is the fiberista equivalent of admitting you have head lice. I found moths in my closet Friday. Yep. Moths. I am not sure how long they have been there, and it started a frantic decloseting Saturday. (the delay caused by unbreakable plans that kept me busy until about 3 PM.) In between times I was frantically reading about clothes moths and figuring out what I needed to do. The bottom line? They are easy to deal with and yet persistent which will make for hawk-like vigilance from here on out. I have had more than 20 blithe moth-free years, but no more. Things need to be cleaned, properly stored and also taken out and aired regularly. Ugh.

Then again, maybe this is a GOOD thing. I need to get back in touch with what I own--I am a hoarder. Not just yarn, but vintage cashmere sweaters, vintage coats and nice clothes. It's time to address those beloved items that might not fit anymore or that I don't love so much as I thought I did. Time to go bye-bye!

In the mean time, I have yanked all my woolens out of the closet and am trying to find creative ways to clean, remove any possible eggs, prep and store. What I have found so far:

1) Moth larvae prefer soiled garments, so clean items are less vulnerable.
2) 120 degrees for 30 minutes will kill larvae and eggs.
3) Freezing items for 72 hours or more and then slowly thawing will kill larvae and eggs.
4) larvae and eggs are relative easy to dislodge by brushing or shaking the garment.
5) Moths don't like light.
6) Egg laden female moths crawl onto garments, rather than flying.
7) Larvae can live for quite a while, to you have to be patient and vigilant.
8) Just cleaning the garments is not enough. You also need to clean the storage area--wash the wood, vacuum, get all dust up and discard the vacuum cleaner bag. My mom had a trick when I was a kid using a vacuum on pests; she would spray Raid into the vacuum so it was sucked up in the bag. This kills the critters without putting pesticide on every surface. I plan to do this, since I am also rather nervous about overuse of bug spray.
9) dry cleaning will kill larvae and eggs. Obviously, dry cleaning yarn is out of the question. In fact, I ruled dry cleaning out because A) I have enough stuff to deal with that it would be PROHIBITIVELY expensive, and B) I am more an more iffy about the chemicals used for dry cleaning, so I use the process sparingly. I tend to clean my garments by had unless they need strain treatment. So not really an option for me except for maybe suits or coats.

I only have a tiny freezer in my garage and the one above my fridge, so freezer space is limited, so that is not such a useful option. We need to buy a freezer, but don't currently have garage space, so I will need to make some room. I will put some yarn there, since balls and skeins are tuckable.

Sweaters can be washed, so I have shaken out and inspected one batch, let it sit in our greenhouse porch in the sun for a day (at 95-100 degrees) and the first batch of 6-7 sweaters in soaking in Eucalan in the washing machine right now. I plan an hour soak.

I looked into dryer temperatures and found out that the average household dryer on high blows out air at about 175oC or 347oF. It's not that the dryer is AT that temp, but the ambient temperature would be well above 120oF. This is great for washing collateral, washables, but iffy for woolens.

Still, I did try an experiment. I had some yarn stash in this closet as well, and it was my more precious yarn. (Silly me, thinking it would be safer in the closet!). The yarn in question was some balls of Noro Kureyon. I slipped off the ball bands and put them dry in a garment bag and tumbled them for an hour. Not for the faint of heart, let me tell you! The yarn fared way better than I thought. maybe a teeny bit felty, but there was almost no lint in the trap. In the first batch, several balls unwound quite a bit, and it took HOURS to untangle them, but I secured the second batch better and it came out fine. I am now quite confident that I can pack the yarn away critter free. The balls are currently in ziplocks and I taped the ball bands with color and lot number on the outside, in case those weren't totally clean, although I looked them over. It's a scary option, but doable.

If only I had warmer or a cabinet that was at 120oF, I could avoid all this...WAIT! Perhaps I do! It is Summer, and although I am on the foggy coast, the last 2 days have been sunny. The Summertime warning for pets and children in closed cars are everywhere, so why not cook my yarn and woolens! last I checked, the car temp was 105oF, and I have two bins of woolies baking in the back seat. It's easy and worth a try, I say. Cook you nasty moths!! I definitely suggest this as an option to those in warm climes with the same problems.

Nevertheless, this is going to be a big job. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


My yarn stash is a common blog topic for me. I boast about, rant about, wonder at and despair over my stash at regular intervals. The "my stash is so big I have too more yarn than I can knit before I die" lament is a subject many fiber fiends talk about. We discuss it amongst ourselves at gatherings on a regular basis; if you were a non-knitting fly on the wall at any knitting group, you would hear this for yourself. Now, I use the word "lament" earlier with a very large grain of salt. I (and most knitters) may lament about stash, but we are also proud of our cache of fiber. If you have been stashing long enough, there are yarn gems in there that make other knitters drool. I have several.

When eBay was more a big garage sale than a retail outlet, I went through a Noro phase and acquired several bags of various gorgeous Noro yarns that are now unavailable. I also have the original Alice Starmore yarns to knit up several older designs that would make Starmore aficionados swoon. I have a stash of Berroco Europa colors that I scoped for for cheap prices, a mound of Annabel Fox cotton chenille, loads of angora yarn (mostly ACA supreme and Anny Blatt) and various other goodies too numerous to mention. I glaze over at the thought...

...then I trip over another falling bag of yarn leaping out of a closet and curse a blue streak.

Thus I have coined a new fiber word: "STASHCAVATION", aka stash-excavation. It means what it sounds like; you peel away layers of your stash as they surface. There are things in my stash I KNOW I want to knit and soon, but I can't find them. I have the pattern, but can't knid the yarn or needles. I have all but a couple balls of yarn, but no budget at the moment to buy more. I have yarn and needles, but no pattern. On and on--you get my drift. I have turned my attention with some real seriousness to the various UFO's and those projects that I have all the parts for. I have made to-do lists in the past, which I now consider useless because I can't find parts to go forward with the various projects on them.

I have finished a shawl that now needs blocking (and I can't find my blocking boards). Another shawl is almost done. I have started a purse, because I have all the parts. I Actually finished the back for the Jiada sweater I have posted about here in the past. Even with that, I now think I need another couple of balls of main color yarn, that I need to mail order. Still, I am making forward progress. Finished pieces that need to be blocked sewn or felted are going on another pile separate from virgin stash.

Then again, my dyed stash is growing, too...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

UFO's and a Long Awaited Post

Well, maybe not such a long awaited post. My tiny handful of followers has likely given up on me. I have spent a goodly chunk of blogging time on Facebook, of late, rather than collecting myself to post here, which takes more thought and more work. Lazy lazy lazy.

I have not been idle, either. Last weekend, P and I accompanied a colleague to the newly dubbed "secret spot" to hunt for abalone. Actually J dove and P and I tidepooled, beach combed and shouted encouragement. J got a big'un--9.75 inches and split it with us. We also gathered mussels and that Sunday, ate a feast of mussel chowder and lightly cooked abalone, which was simply pounded, sliced thin and cooked in puro olive oil for about 30 seconds a side. It was perfect!

I have also been dyeing: saffron, mustard flowers, camellia blossoms, walnut husks and pieris flowers, all to interesting effect. I have full intentions of posting pictures, but I fall so far behind that catching up becomes too cumbersome to contemplate. I have accumulated dyestuffs, but have lost some things as well because I didn't get to them in time. I am mordanting yarn as I type this to make ready for the onions skins, dock root, red alder bark, avocado skins and eucalyptus leaves that are waiting. There are more things, as well, but they have slipped my mind.

Then there is the knitting: I have been excavating my stash and trying to finish projects since work has been slow to utter tedium. (make hay, etc. We can get busy in a heartbeat there.) This year so far, I have finished 2 pairs of socks (my first), done most of a scarf and most of a shawl. I have also started pulling out UFO's, with despair. Many require presence of mind to get going and large uninterrupted chunks of time have been few lately. I have things I WANT to work on, but I can't find some major component or other, so I am doing what I can with what I have. It's a bit of an unsatisfying way to craft, but I keep hoping I will find things as I go along and catch up.

This is a sad little post, in a way--rather as fragmented as my activities right now--fitting things here and there--but it's whaat I can handle as I peel away the layers, so to speak.

Alum water is to mordant!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's About Time!!

OK. I have not posted since October. Shame on me!! It's not like I haven't had things to post about--September trip to Washington and Oregon, yet more dyeing, knitting, Christmas, growing my first mushroom kit, another trip to Oregon (can we all say "Voodoo Doughnut"?)--the list goes on.

Why the silence? Sheepishly, I have to admit the main culprit (since I am feeling like passing the buck) is Facebook. Yep, I am hooked. Farmville, Mafia Wars and best of all reconnecting with friends and family. Still, it has taken much time away from other things, such as this sad, lonely little blog.

I hope to post some more in the near future. I should have some indoor time since outdoors, things are supposed to look like this for the next two weeks:

We are already making up for rainfall, weather wise, and are above seasonal normal. This should keep me more house bound and therefore in a line for posting. Also, Mafia Wars is finally starting to get a bit boring...

Some dye pics to post soon include lichen, marigolds, eucalyptus leaves, and YUMMY chocolate brown from walnut hulls, so stay tuned!