Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slow Cloth gets a boost!

A picture of my copy.
Slow Cloth has received a big boost in Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius' new book The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, More than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn, published by Storey, the publisher who brings us all the books about raising sheep and other animals.  Deb Robson is more familiar to fiberfolk as former editor of Spin-Off, but to those of us stuck in apartments and suburban track housing who dream of hilly green fields populated with sheep, Carol Ekarius is familiar to us for her Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep. Together, these knowledgeable veterans are a powerhouse and the book they wrote together more than delivers.

Fiber folk: put this book on your holiday wish list or just call up your independent book seller or yarn store and see if they have it in.  I found mine at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, New York, where I was for the last holiday, and where I often am as that's where I'm from. This is prime sheep country and some of my favorite fleece is produced there (but I may be a little biased!)

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is not only filled with lovely fibery pictures of sheep and fleece but lots of information that is well-written and enjoyable to read.  This book can feed your fiber longings for a long, long time and will definitely be my go-to book for information on numerous breeds of sheep and other fiber critters after I've read it cover to cover. This is the book for fiberfolk everywhere, who like foodies and their heritage tomatoes, want fabulous heritage fleece to spin and knit or weave with joy.

I hope this book helps bring an end to the current fascination with those over-processed rovings from overseas  (and worse superwash) and open greater interest in local, sustainably grown, uncovered fleece.  Maybe we'll be seeing more painted roving that come from local sheep and local small mills.  That's what I'll be looking for. Maybe more people will embrace Slow Cloth as a way of life.   

Just to mention, I was in Battenkill Books with my sister-in-law to pick up a copy of Jenna Woginrich's book Barnheart.  Jenna has a farm down the road and not only raises Scottish Blackface sheep, chickens and other critters but has a day-job and is a prolific author.  I didn't reserve a copy, but I know I'll be back there to pick up a book--but I think I'll ask my own local bookstore to get me a copy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Get pie with a little help from a friend

I had a little help with my pumpkin pie.

Pie crust and I haven't gotten along for several years. I blame it on incessant dieting. Somewhere during a “low-fat” binge I lost my knack for making a decent pie crust. I tried to regain it but ended out wasting a lot of otherwise good ingredients. So here I am running to the Pillsbury Dough Boy for help! He's a friendly and helpful little guy, providing pie crusts ready to unroll onto the pie plate.

The rest of the pumpkin pie was made the old fashioned way with real pumpkin cut up and roasted in the oven in a pan of water until softened. I went newfangled again when I scooped the pumpkin out of the skin and put it in the food processor. It didn't blend so I added three eggs to puree it. Then I made my pie. Here is the recipe for extra spicy pumpkin pie:

3 cups (about) of pumpkin puree
3 extra large free range eggs
1 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tsp of ginger
¾ tsp of cloves
2 tsp of cinnamon.
Blend until smooth and pour into a pie crust of your choosing.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set.

This tastes really good. I usually don't like pumpkin pie because it seems bland, but this one has a lot of zing. Okay, I should mention I don't measure my spices all that often, so some pies have more zing than others. You may also notice I gave up on that low fat thing.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Microwave popcorn with a twist

This corn on the cob was popped in the microwave.
What was I thinking?  All these years I've been buying microwave popcorn and it never occurred to me that all I had to do was throw a handful of corn kernels into a paper bag, crumple it closed and zap it for about 2 minutes, depending, and voila! microwave popcorn.  Consumer robot that I am, I thought I had to buy it in a special bag with great fake butter flavor and too much salt.  For the past 20 years I've paid a premium for a very inexpensive product.  If I add to that all the broken popcorn makers, for the times I decided to save money, and then remove the cost of plain popcorn and some paper bags, then it's downright embarrassing how much money I've wasted. If I spent about $100 a year on microwave popcorn (not impossible considering all the single serving bags I've squandered money on during my many "diets". ) That would be $2,000 just enough to get that LeClerc Compact loom I've been thinking of.  It is amazing how dependent I can be on gimmicks.

Those ears of dark red corn were grown by the Maple Park farmers at my farmer's market. You put an ear in a paper bag and nuke it for about 2 minutes (you know the drill about waiting and listening to make sure it is popped).  Most of the corn popped right off the cob, but some of it stayed on creating "corn-on-the-cob popcorn" which you have to eat that way.  The popcorn was delicious--so fresh and flavorful it didn't need butter or salt or whatever that fake slimy stuff is that lines the bottom of microwave popcorn bags.

Color choices for placemats.
I'm also planning placemats for my fine china.  The pattern we purchased is a little whimsical, and it complements the antique china the dish is sitting on.  The two different china's work together quite nicely and now I would like to make some nice placemats to go with them. The dishes have a strong spring/summer theme. I have some cotton/linen yarn in a bright green, and some viscose bamboo in glowing gold.  With a green warp and gold weft and a nice pattern, I could have something interesting for the table.  And the bamboo is handspun, making it that much more special. What do you think?  I'm looking forward to working on this on the big loom once the rugs are done. Soon, I hope.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When alpaca looks like broccoli

Freshly picked green-dyed alpaca.
Weekends just aren't long enough.  Someone should find a way to cram some extra time in--it doesn't have to be a whole day.  An extra morning would do.  My weekend started with the farmers market--well actually, it started with me drinking coffee and doodling with this blog page.  I came home from the farmers market loaded down with a half bushel each of broccoli, spinach and peppers and spent hours getting them ready for the freezer.  That's a lot of broccoli, so when I look at that alpaca picture, it looks to me just like broccoli.

Today, my whole day was spent out in the garden "putting it to bed" for the winter.  That's another reason the green alpaca looks like broccoli to me.  We went through lots of  plants picking off the last of the peppers and the last of the beans, getting it all ready. Ted dragged home 25 bags of topsoil--we are creating raised beds--but we still have a ways to go.  By spring we should have more compost to fill it in. With all that, I didn't get to my weaving.

No time for weaving this weekend.

I did redo this blog page and added a bunch of tabs.  This includes some of the articles I've written about spinning and carding from my old website.  I'm migrating everything over to this site.  I know it may be a little cheesy, but I added a donation button too. I mean you never know when some millionaire happens upon this site in a generous mood--like maybe Melinda Gates will decide to take up spinning and find my site when looking for tips.  Of course, the donations are not tax-deductible but they will go to furthering the Craftsteading cause. I plan to investigate and write more tips and ideas for people interested in fiber pursuits and provide them in this blog and on this page.

If you hit the "Craftsteading" Tab, you will find a definition of what Craftsteading is.  I would like my readers to leave comments on that page and tell me about how they Craftstead.  I would love to feature my reader's work--talk about some of the beautiful things you are all making!  So please leave a comment!