Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Canning Tomatoes and some Blues

What a fabulous weekend! 

I attended another canning workshop in Lovettesville.   This month's focus was on tomatoes:  making tomato sauce, making salsa, and making tomato jam.  This session, just like the last one, was taught by canner extraordinaire, Stephanie!!

Here, you can see the "snacks" that we got to try as well - some Tomato Jam, Bourbon Fig Jam, some pickles, and some fruit butters.  

Due to time constraints, the Tomato Sauce was pre-prepared.   We all worked together to finish both the Salsa and Tomato Jam.   I even got to take home some goodies!   The short jar is 4 oz. of Tomato Jam (boy is that good!).   Then, from left to right - Tomato Sauce and 3 jars of Salsa. 

There may be another workshop in September....I've got my fingers crossed!

We ended the week at Whole Foods listening to a favorite two-man band - Swamp Candy.   The weather was beautiful and the music was awesome!   They play at the Fairfax Whole Foods frequently, so keep an eye on the schedule....they may be back sooner than you think!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lancaster Spinners and Weavers Retreat

This year's retreat was at a different venue - the Holiday Inn in Morgantown, PA.  It was a fun filled relaxing weekend.   The rooms were great!   There were lots of food choices in the surrounding town as well as in the hotel itself, but I decided to eat at the motel...more time for spinning and knitting!   The food was OK...and if you weren't hungry, you could choose appetizers......or if very hungry, a full meal - a nice variety of options and prices.   Both nights I had leftovers that covered me for lunch the next day.   The breakfast buffet was very nice....a nice variety of food - and my personal favorite, the omelette station.   (I did feel a bit sorry for the chef both days as I love jalepenos....and had double portions in my omelette.)

Lots of chatting, spinning, and knitting - lots of old friends and some new ones as well.   Cyndy was there...I hadn't seen her for eons(right).    I roomed with my friend Audrey - what a fun time we had!   We stayed up way too late and chatted away like a couple of teenagers!   

The room was big and had plenty of lighting.   There was shopping all around the perimeter....which was great.   Nothing like awesome fibers to entice and inspire or unique hand crafted necklaces and decorated boxes...

I loved the Bauer Family Farm booth.....Linda, along with one of her friends offered lots of interesting fibers....AND a fiber club.   (Of course, I joined!   The fibers are fabulous!)   PLUS.....one of her friends tubes up beads to complement the colors of the wool.

Oh, yeah....I fell off the wagon big time and purchased several braids of luscious color....as well as the coordinating beads!


Of course, I purchase from each vendor....so many interesting things!  Roving and cashmere!

I believe this is my most unusual purchase...a 3-D paper necklace hand crafted by Elizabeth.   I love it!

In addition to the shopping, we had some demos....on how to do things,  how NOT to do things, and how it "takes a village" to make one small skein of art yarn!   LOL!

How to make rolags - loading up the blending board.....then rolling the fiber onto the dowels...and finally, the rolags.

How NOT to use an electronic spinner...There was lots of giggling ...sometimes, electronic spinners just don't behave....and it tries to take up ALL your precious roving at once.  Audrey and the rest of us got quite a giggle out of this! 

Believe it or not, but sometimes, it takes a village....just to make some "art yarn"......



I started and finished spinning some gorgeous Alpaca.....I love the contrast of the very light green, aqua bits, and very dark. 


...and started on my first batch of the Fiber Club Yarn....

And I even found time to work a bit more on my socks!

Many thanks to Ann who did a fabulous job organizing!   She's the best!    Oh....and check out the lovely sweater she's wearing!   It MUST make it!   It's absolutely stunning.   It's from Vogue 2010...or thereabouts.   I must find that pattern!!!!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Garden Goodies

I have really been enjoying my garden this year....as well as the local CSA from Potomac Vegetable Farm.   Every few days now, I'm getting a basket of goodies from my garden....just like this.   Pesticide free....chemical free.....just marigolds as a natural pest deterrent.   What I don't grow, I get from PVF, the Purcellville Farmer's Market or the Lovettsville Farm Market.

Another thing I tried was making Cinnamon Ornaments using a dough made of just applesauce, cinnamon, and a tiny bit of glue.    You roll out the dough and cut out shapes using cookie cutters.  They're then baked for a short while in the oven....and then set out to dry for several days.  

Once they were dry, I painted them with glitter paint and added some stick-on "rhinestones".   They smell wonderful!   I think I'll make more of these for Christmas. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tour de Fleece....and a Bit of Knitting....and Canning

This past month I did a lot of spinning as part of the team "Peace and Solitude" in the Ravelry Tour de Fleece.   I already posted progress on the Cormo-Silk at the beginning of the month.   As the month progressed, I also spun some grey Jacob, some pink Alpaca, and some purple Alpaca.  All were done two-ply and are relatively thin - about a sport-weight yarn. Total yards spun was a bit over 2,424 yards - some singles are still on a bobbin and on a drop spindle, so I was unable to measure them.

 Here's a photo of all my finished skeins together - including the white Cormo-Silk from earlier this month....both the singles and the plied.

Additionally, I finished the "Everyday Wrap" that I started last month.   I love how it turned out....and the color is fabulous!  (Yeah, I know....it matches the sample at Nature's Yarns.    What can I say?   I saw it there, fell in love with it, and had to make one for myself!)

I also made some Salsa Verde out of tomatillos.  I'd never bought or made anything using tomatillos in the past.   This was a lot of fun and went very quickly.   I cut each tomatillo in half and then roasted them in the over before putting them in the food processor.   It goes great on eggs and on tortilla chips.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dyeing with Wine

I tried something new this week....at least, new to me.  I tried dyeing yarn with wine.   I had some old wine that I was going to dump out, but I decided to try dyeing with it instead.  I'd heard that you could dye with yarn, so I figured, why not give it a try!

I started with some Patons Wool in natural.  I wound it into a skein and tied it to keep it from tangling.   I then soaked it in water with a bit of vinegar to prep it.

In the crockpot, I put 3 bottles of wine....one of Cabernet Savignon and two of Merlot.   They were starting to turn, so they were a bit brownish, but still maintained a lot of the purple color.  (The DEFINITELY were no good for drinking!)  I heated the wine on high to prepare it for the yarn.


I then added the yarn, leaving the crock pot on high for about an hour and then turned it down to low for another couple of additional hours.

I rinsed it well and found that instead of a purple or pink, it dyed the yarn in a nice tan...with a slight dusty pink hue.   I like the color it produced, but it definitely wasn't the color I was expecting!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Knitting Progress and Other Assorted Things

I have done a bit of knitting this month.   I had a lot of fun making this little Tea Cozy.   I used the "Teapot Cosy" by Alexis Layton for the simple cozy.   I decided to embellish it with some crocheted flowers.

When not knitting, I'm still making delicious salads and other accompaniments from my weekly CSA pickup as things I've picked up at the farmer's markets. This was the appetizer salad we had with dinner this evening. I had to buy the avocados at a grocery store, but everything else here is fresh and local!  I made the pesto myself last week from as many local ingredients as possible - basil, garlic, and hand grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  The "half-sour" at the top of the plate was my first attempt at making refrigerator pickles.

Ah...and I can't resist including another beautiful sunrise from last Friday morning...I love how you can see the mountains in the background.   It's so calming!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Canning - Salsa, Relish, and Dill Pickles

What a fabulous and busy weekend!   Saturday started with a nice breakfast of all local foods....except for the bread.   Eggs from a local farm, potatoes, onions and peppers from the farm stand about 1.5 miles from my house, and hand crafted sage sausage from "Lothar's Gourmet Sausages"!

Next, I made Salad Shirazi - a nice refreshing Persian salad of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh mint, and lime juice.   Very delicious and refreshing on a hot day!

I bought a big box of tomatoes at the local Farmer's Market with grand ideas of making salsa.   I realized that I hadn't canned for over 20 years....and I had only done it twice - once to make strawberry jam and once to make pickled green tomatoes.    I was going to have to read up on how to do it again!   I also realized that I definitely needed some cilantro and onions....and headed off to Potomac Vegetable Farm....our local farm stand.

While perusing the onions, green peppers, and other goodies, I overheard someone saying she was picking up some ingredients that she needed for teaching a canning class that afternoon.  Of course, my little ears perked up....and I asked about the class.   It was going to be held at the next town over in about an hour and a half.   What perfect timing!     (This relieved the stress of not remembering how to can!  Talk about perfect timing!)

The demo/class was fabulous!  They had the zucchini and yellow squash  for summer squash relish pretty much prepared.  The instructors demo'd how to do it and let us each take a turn retrieving a sterilized jar and filling it with goodies....following all the tips they provided.     I got the take home two jars of the delicious relish.  (We tasted the left-overs while we were there.)

They also taught us how to make refrigerator dill pickles.  I made a jar while I was there....and came home and made two more quarts and a pint!  

 I guess I went a bit crazy with the salsa.....I made nine 8 oz. jars of salsa on Sunday....plus a pint and a half to "eat right away". - which was gone in no time!

Then Monday, after work, I came home and made ten more 8 oz jars!    I'm very pleased with my first attempts at making salsa - it was delicious!   And now, I have several jars to keep me going through the fall and winter.

Prepping the tomatoes.

Gathering the rest and chopping.

The final result....10 more jars of salsa!