Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Decision

In Monday's installment of Loomy Tunes, I asked our readers what I should do about a threading error five inches from the right side, with the five errant threads over on the left side.  After reading all the answers and pondering a bit more on my part, I chose to cut the woven bit off, add heddles and hang the threads off the back.

Whoever invented replacement heddles is a genius.  I prefer the flat ones that just snap on, but they're $3.50 each, while the ones that have to be untwisted a bit, then twisted back on are $4.50 for ten.   I didn't have enough flat ones, so combined them to fix the five missing threads.

I did use Theresa's idea about winding the threads on and in empty cones, but you see there was a lone missed thread, too, hanging out by itself.  And do you spy the two threads just hanging down?  I saw some droopy threads and, to find out where they were from, I pulled on them.  They came out of wherever they had been threaded, and I couldn't track down their heddles or their space in the reed!
I guess 773 threads is just too much for me to keep track of!

 But this afternoon, in spite of my rampant ADD, I did manage to get some woven.  I also noticed two tabby threads together, meaning at least one of those dangling threads had a home, but Dear Readers, I simply don't care!  These are baby blankets, and if the mothers or babies notice the errors, well, more power to them!  I think the pattern is absolutely gorgeous, and I am weaving onward!  I love the way the white shines in the pattern above the natural warp.   The pattern is a bit long, but no problem, so far, and the missing thread isn't showing up in the pattern.  I hope it doesn't when I add the dyed blue yarn in the next repeat, but if it does, it will officially become a Design Feature.
  I'm home from work today because the lovely Arabella Louise has been limping on her left front paw for too long now.  I took her to the vet who told me there's nothing visibly wrong with it, and it must be a sprain that hasn't been able to heal.  She suggested letting Bella rest for the next 10-14 days:  no ball playing, no running in the park, no herding the cats!  Bell's on pain medication, spending most of the afternoon so far behind me on a rug, snoozing.  Right now, she and Weftie are passed out on cat beds behind my chair.  As soon as I log off the computer, Bella will jump up, because she recognizes the sequence of clicks when I log off.  Who needs a dog who knows over 1014 nouns?  My dog's computer literate!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mom's Shed Raising

Yesterday, Mom and I were supposed to get her shed and assemble it before we warped one of her looms.  At about 10, she called me from my neighborhood Home Depot, where she'd bought the shed last week.  She'd tried to get them to put the shed in her car, but it was too big.  She tried to rent a truck, but didn't have her proof of insurance with her.  I drove up there with Bella and rented the truck.  The inside was vinyl upholstery and rubber floor mats, so I brought Bella's blanket along and we all drove to Mom's.  Right by UT Med Center, Bella leaned over Mom and threw up.  All over her.  Not on the mats, blanket or seat.  
  So, we got to Mom's, Mom changed, I cleaned the cab of the truck up, and we unloaded the shed from the box.  There were no instructions, and it wasn't the shed we thought she'd bought.  We drove the truck back and told them this information, minus the barfing, and they told us, no, it's the right shed, it doesn't need any screws or bolts and here are the instructions, all 24 pages of them.  
  We got back to her house and the parts didn't "snap together like a big Lego set," as they'd said several times.  In fact, there were screw holes all over the place, obvious holes obviously meant for screws.
  We went on line, to the Rubbermaid website and pulled up the instructions, which bore very little resemblance to the ones they'd given us at Home Depot.  And what's that in the list of what's included?  24 screws?  4 bolts?  many washers?  Hmmmm...  I called Home Depot and asked what was up, and they assured me that they were out of that shed, hadn't had any in months, and that we couldn't have possibly bought one there.
  Eventually, after they put the phone down, without benefit of the Hold button so I could hear them talking amongst themselves, they realized Mom HAD actually bought the shed, and they would get the screws, etc. out to her a.s.a.p., and we could put the shed together then.
  The black warp for the Snail's Trail mug rugs is already wound, by Mom.  A bamboo warp is wound, by me, and both should go on her looms this week, or possibly by the weekend.  The shed will lie in a pile until the screws show up, hopefully the right ones!  And hopefully, no one will steal the pile of plastic parts!
Mom's shed, not raised.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

May I Have S'More?

  Now, dear Reader, you know I didn't want to make the s'more this week.  I wanted to mull it over one more weekend, make it Monday and put the cookbook to bed, once and for all.  My boss, dear Chef Josh Feathers doesn't read my blog.  He really doesn't care what I had planned for Monday.  He knew the deadline for recipes is Tuesday, and he wanted them all done.  So, this morning he called me and asked when I'd be bringing the S'More over for him to taste.  Sigh...
  So, here it is, and here is his right hand getting ready to help him enjoy some more s'more.  One thing I really like about Josh is that, while he's criticizing my desserts, he's trying to figure out how to lick the plate without ever actually picking it up and licking it.  This time he had to show restraint because we wanted someone else's opinion and I only brought one plate, but he liked it fine, had a couple of suggestions, and the recipe is recorded.  Now, I can relax all weekend and not spend one more second on how to put together graham cracker, marshmallow and milk chocolate.

 Then, it was on to other things.  Here are some preserved lemons, which actually won't be technically preserved for three more weeks.  It's simply lemon quarters, salt, spices and lemon juice.  We couldn't figure out how to seal a regular canning jar that would pass FDA regulations, so we put it in the jars we use for peanut butter and sealed it with the induction sealer.  You know when you open a jar of peanut butter and it has the inner seal?  It actually comes inside the outer lid, and there's a machine that heats the seal without heating the outer lid, making the seal melt enough to keep it air tight.  I've never made preserved lemons, never used them in cooking, either, and I'm curious about how they'll taste in three weeks.  I'll let you know!

And now that I can let you know, here are the two scarves I made for the Tuesday Weavers' challenge.  Carl received the left one, and I gave the right one to Mom.  I beaded the fringes with some lime green beads, my first twisted-and-beaded fringes.  I really liked this warp, and thoroughly enjoyed weaving with the bamboo.  There'll be a lot more of that coming up, since this weekend, I'll finish threading the baby blankets.  
  Tomorrow, it's back to lemon marmalade.  And then a busy weekend, which I'll be sure to blog about later!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

p2tog tbl

 If you think I had my fingers on the wrong keys on my keyboard, you're not a knitter.  My question is:  Who thought up the evil p2tog tbl, and why?  I'm knitting a pair of socks for my mom because she bought this beautiful yarn and these yummy wooden dpn's to make herself a pair of socks and had nothing but frustration with it.  It's a kind of mohair blend, tends to split a lot and is hard on older eyes to see clearly.  The needles, beautiful as they are, are also hard to deal with, due to the size. I started a pair of low socks in a rib that had yarn over, k2tog, and it was fine, but it twisted around the sock in a weird way.  I started to turn the heel, realized I didn't like the twist and frogged the whole thing.  This beautiful yarn deserves a beautiful treatment, but what?  Sunday afternoon, we were sitting, knitting, and Mom mentioned that she liked the rib where the knit stitches are twisted around each other.  I like it, too, and thought, hmmmm...  that'd make these socks better.

And then, going through my pile of knitting magazines still in the bathroom from my yarn-assignment weekend, I saw this lace pattern from a cardigan in the Fall 2010 Vogue Knitting.  It's a leaf, and it's 16 stitches, perfect for the 64 stitches I have for the sock.  Frog, frog, frog (poor beautiful yarn!  third time frogged!), cast on a fresh 64 stitches, twist rib for an inch and start the pattern.  What's that very first stitch?  p2tog tbl?  What the heck is that?  Ow!  That hurts!  Ow!  You have to turn the knitting completely around, poke the needle through the second-to-next stitch, then through the next stitch, twist the knitting back to the front, loop the yarn over, slide the needle in, hope you don't split the very-splittable yarn and pull it through.  My poor, abused hands!
  Well, that evil p2tog tbl is only for half the leaf, and I'm on my way up the second half, so no more p2tog tbl for the next 8 or so rows, but I dread their return!  I really wonder what difference it makes in the pattern, though?  Would the same effect result from a plain old slip1 tbl, k1, psso?  I'll have to try that on a swatch sometime and see.
  LouAnn took my picture with my fiery warp Saturday and sent me the photo.  The colors didn't come out quite the way I envisioned, but I confess that I love it!  I only wish the coppery color was more prominent on the far end, but that's a lesson for next time:  always make more color than you think you'll need, not less or as much.  

And maybe this photo is a page from "you had to be there," but I just had to share the intensity of the colors, hanging all together.  Maybe one day I'll become jaded about the magic of dyeing, but it isn't going to happen soon.
  The photos of the Lemon Meringue Pie and the Lavender-Fromage Blanc Cheesecake (I wonder why I always capitalize dessert names?) didn't get sent to me, so you will simply have to visualize them.  They were delicious, beautiful and are long gone!  The only dessert I have left to test is the gol darn S'More.  I've over-thought that stupid dessert until I simply cannot make it!  It's going to have to be made by next week, and I will take pictures, but until then, I don't want to even TALK about it!  What the heck is the "Ultimate S'More?"  A friend who's grammatically finicky said, "So, it's supposed to be the last  s'more you ever eat?"  Good point.  Maybe it'd be wrong to make it, then.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Testing, testing, 123

Recipe testing was in full swing today.  I made carrot cake late last week, and today I grilled it, made brown butter bourbon ice cream and brown butter bourbon caramel to go along with it, and brought it to the Barn for everyone to taste.  Too much fat in the ice cream was the consensus, which is easy to remedy, but everything else was yummy.
  Then, it was on to banana pudding with peanut butter cookies, classic Southern with an Elvis twist.  The picture would have been much better shot eye-level with the glass, because I lined banana slices up against the side, but I'd say it doesn't look bad as it is.  It tasted amazing!
  I started the almond torte that will be topped with Lavender-Sheep's Cheese Cheesecake, but ran out of time.  It's not just the baking and cooking that takes time.  It probably takes me longer to type the recipes and then answer the cookbook writer's questions about each one than the actual production.  It's fun, though, and a nice break.
  Melanie's working on lemon marmalade and mushroom ketchup this week while I test recipes.  The hotel is pretty empty, as it is every January, so guests are not knocking on the windows the way they do other months.  We've settled in to a nice, slow rhythm, which will be shot all to bits next week when the 3000 pounds of peanuts arrive.  Woo-hoo!  2800 more jars of peanut butter!
  The warps and skeins of weft are all wound, washed and dried for tomorrow's Tuesday Weaver/Clinch Valley Guild meeting!  I had to shut them up in the loominaria to keep small paws out of them, and they are ready to go, unmolested.  I'll be baking some bread for the potluck, and am excited to see everyone.  I wonder what colors I'll use?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Winter Vacation

Weftie's new favorite hang out while I'm weaving.

Four 9 yard warps of 120 ends, in natural bamboo
I've had the last four days off, and it has been so restful, but so productive.  It would be so nice to show you what I've done, but the gift exchange has once again been postponed, this time until Saturday.  I spent all day Sunday weaving, all day Monday... um... I can't tell you what I was doing on Monday; it'd give away part of the gift I'm exchanging.  Yesterday, I wound warps for Saturday's dying event for both the Tuesday Weavers and the Clinch Valley Guild.  I also wound the warp for the baby blankets that will go on the loom as soon as I finish up the warp from the exchange.  I wound too much warp for two six-foot long scarves, about 4-5 feet too much, so I'm weaving the rest of that off, though I'm not sure what to do with it.  
  Today has been cold, cloudy, intermittently snowy and occasionally sunny.  It made everyone a little sleepy.

 Everyone but Leo, who decided it would be fun to get into one of the yarn boxes I emptied in a spurt of reorganization I had last night.

Friday, January 7, 2011


 We are starting a new cookbook at the farm, featuring all the stuff that comes out of the garden and out of the Larder.  I am testing all the dessert recipes, and set aside the next couple of weeks to do it.  This past weekend, while accidentally buying yarn--I really only wanted a tapestry needle--I saw this tape measure.  I'd seen it before in magazines, and there it was, in real life at the check out counter, set there for suckers like me.  It sets the tone for the week to come.

The first recipe was cranberry-walnut crisp with bleu cheese.  The crisp was good, gluten-free, tangy and warm.  The bleu cheese was voted off the island.  Adam makes the best bleu cheese in the world, but it doesn't go with this dessert.

  Next came Sam's vision of a big slab of red velvet cake, like the ones he had as a kid.  This one's filled with strawberry mousse and frosted with cream cheese.  I think the strawberry flavor needs some pumping up, so I think I'll put strawberry jam on each layer before the mousse.  But this one was pretty good as it was.

Today dawned gray, cold and a promise of snow that never materialized.  I kept the gray at bay by making lots of pie.  First came winter jam tarts with almond crust and creme fraiche.  I made them in tartlet form and turnover form.  The tartlet form won the audience approval.

Then, it was coconut cream pie.  I made a custard yesterday with coconut milk, and it smelled like a wet dog.  No idea why, but then I looked at an old, very successful recipe that called for Coco Lopez, made it, fell in love and made the pie.  The crust has macadamia nuts in it, and instead of making whipped cream for the top, I used the egg whites left from the custard to make a meringue.

And then it was time for the peanut butter pie.  I used our peanut butter in the custard, freshly made graham crackers for the crust and topped the whipped cream with peanut brittle I made.  Needs more peanut brittle in the final version, but Jeff didn't think so.

Unfortunately, I can't make these things without tasting them, and I don't mean once.  We all felt a bit woozy at the end of the day, and could probably stand a few days without tasting more recipes.
  I have a long weekend, starting tomorrow night, and that means no sweets, but a lot of weaving.  I won't be able to post photos until after the Tuesday Weavers' party on Tuesday, but check Loomy Tunes for any breaking fiber news from me on Monday!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Avoiding the Draft?

In my post yesterday on A Sweet Thread, I mentioned that I always have to draft my patterns to see where the threading and treadling occur in Davison's patterns.  I have to do a draw down draft for every weaving project I do, or I'm not able to visualize it on the loom.  I still make mistakes, like not noticing the dip in the dogwood flower petals to the left, but I was successful with the Antique Rose pattern below.
  I know there are a lot of new weavers in the Tuesday Weavers' group, and I'd like to encourage all of them to take Carol's class on drafting patterns.  It has helped me immensely, and has spared me much frustration.  It's also saved a lot of time and yarn.  I think that one day, when I'm feeling very brave, I'll even be able to use the technique to make my own weaving patterns!

  Now that I'm able to attend next week's party, I'm working hard on the embroidery floss scarf challenge, and I tell you, it's hard not to spill the beans here!  It is so much fun!  Hem stitching with those fine threads, not so much fun, but the scarf is coming out perfectly scrumptious.  I'm so glad it's only a week away!
  I need to get back to it, though.  I spent the entire morning in search of a tapestry needle, and now need to go apply it.
  Have a fabulous week, and see you all next Tuesday!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Well, this was quite possibly the quickest weaving job I've ever done!  On Loomy Tunes, I called it "Instant Gratification," but I had no idea.  Each mug rug was a new color combination, and a new way of treadling the design.  Each one, from start to finish, took maybe 20 minutes, including hemstitching.  And my favorite part of this project is that every single element was free!  I found the warp in a desk drawer at work, the wefts were all leftovers on bobbins I'd been collecting, and it was even woven in my "free" time!
  I have to wonder if anyone else has trouble figuring out where the treadling and threading begin and end in Davison's book?  I always have to draw a draft of the pattern, and even then, I'm frequently confused.  If you look closely at the design, you might notice that my dogwood petals don't face the correct way.  I mistook where the pattern began and used the wrong petal in the top.  I still like the design, but it's really not the way dogwood petals arrange themselves on the flower!  For those of you in the mug rug challenge, I'm revealing the mug rugs, but not the mug, so you won't be able to tell which mug rug will be in the exchange! 
  Now, it's on to the embroidery floss scarf challenge.  The pattern is drafted, the thread count is set and I'm ready to wind.  It's supposed to be cool and sunny today, so the yard might get some attention, but most of the day, I plan to be in the studio.  I'll also be baking bread and making my first-ever pot of black eyed peas.  Got my rice, got my greens, gonna have good luck and prosperity all year!  I wish the same for you!