Archive for the ‘Today’s Log’ Category

My first sock!

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Yesterday went by in a trance of sock-weight yarn. I finished my first sock ever, a little sockette, and was almost done with the other sock by the end of the day. It’s all i did, selecting “next episode” of the streaming Highlander over and over while Christine was at her mandolin lesson and at her tutoring. Too late, as Christine was just finishing up her warm up and tuning to leave, did i realize i could have gone with her to her lesson. At that point, i didn’t realize i was going to crochet all day.

My First Sock

I weighed my sockette and the remaining yarn and found i will get *almost* a pair out of the light fingering weight ball (230 yards/50 grams/1.76 ounces = 130 ypo). I have two skeins of this inherited yarn. I can stretch the self striping yarn if i do heels and toes out of some solid sock-weight yarn.

One of the lessons about yarn craft that surprised me is the design importance of the weight and behavior of the yarn itself. It’s obvious once you think about it, but the incredible variation in material still surprises me. Each step introduces a different behavior: the source fiber, the spinning, the plying. It drives me mildly nuts that there isn’t a very standardized yarn description. The fiber content is usually pretty clear. The weight of the yarn can be deduced, the ply is some times reported. There is a metric, wraps per inch, that would give the sense of bulk of the yarn, but that’s rarely reported. One could have a loosely spun and tightly spun yarn which has the same yardage per ounce.

Then there are often a knitters gauge reported (n stitches per some swatch size on some sort of needle) which is maddening: i don’t knit, and even if i did, stitch per inch can be so variable. I suppose this is an attempt to get at wpi — but why not just report wpi?

Why do i care? Well, i’d like to buy some heel and toe yarn, now that i’ve determined i can do this sock thing. Heel and toe yarn could be neutral, and the pretty pretty hand dyed sock yarns make the visible bits. So i begin shopping: it turns out the yarn i have is a little lighter than your average sock weight (130 yards per oz compared to 106 yards per oz). EBay has destashed sock yarn available: what’s a fair price?

Well, first i have to find what i’d be likely to buy at retail. It seems Knit Picks carries a light fingering weight at roughly $2 per oz in a good blend.

A regular sockweight yarn, undyed, at Dharma would be $2.43/oz.

I’m tempted by a silk noil sock yarn at Dharma because i could dye it myself with the fiber reactive dyes i like. It would be unsuitable, i believe, for heels and toes. Noil is a short fiber, and i suspect it would wear poorly on the heels.

I did read about a luxury sock yarn Lang Jawoll, that comes with “a bonus spool of matching reinforcement yarn to carry along when knitting the toes & heels, the parts that get the most wear.” I wonder about adding plain nylon threads to carry along in toes and heels. It seems like a straightforward solution.

What i’d like to figure out is how to cover the bottom of the sock with something like hemp to make slippers with a rugged base but soft and pretty top. I suppose i could just sew a hemp sole to a sock. The silk noil yarn could make the top and foot facing sole. And there’s the fun of uppers for the mohops (although i’ve bought silk ribbon from Dharma with the intention of using that for mohop uppers.

To Dye For 2010: Back on the wagon

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I am clearly wanting to “do it right” this year, compared to last year’s impulsive dive into dying. I’m not sure why, but i’ve put more deliberation into this than…. Well, i’m not sure what, when measuring duration of planning to duration of actual work. Beam time on the Michigan State cyclotron is about the only thing that comes to mind.

I’m calculating how much dye i need. I’m deploying all the blanks into target containers. I’ve documented the techniques i want to try. Am i killing all sense of serendipity, spontaneity? Am i scared of the dye?

Not sure. Tomorrow morning will tell!


So i tried making the dyes just at dusk, and i must say, i feel like i am missing dye. I seemed to just barely have 3 tbsp of purple dye, and that’s what i put in the 2c container
for the purple; i only made one red cup and one brown cup. I feel like i must have a unit wrong somewhere, but all the checking i’ve validates the concentration recipe.

Plans — from before the dye limits were observed — after the cut. (more…)

Dye kit (and a day’s adventures)

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

This weekend i pulled out my kit to see what was needed (trays for tray dying) and what i had misplaced. I don’t think i’ve technically misplaced my respirator, but it’s not in the dye kit. I expect it’s in the closet.

Over the past few weeks i’ve tied my shiburi/tie-die patterns in the rayon dresses and have been winding up skeins of crochet yarn on my experimental swift.

I hesitated this weekend to mix the dyes: it’s a very demanding week coming up and i don’t quite think i can be sure i can dye next Saturday as well. I need to make some decisions about dye intensities, quantities, and recipes, and i think i’m about ready to go.

IMG_0560Nightgown Tie patternNightgown Tie pattern
Old jeans dyebath layoutNightgown Tie pattern die lay-outNightgown Tie pattern die lay-out
Ad Hoc Yarn SwiftAd Hoc Yarn SwiftAd Hoc Yarn Swift

I did get a pleasant bit of cooking in. I’m glad i hadn’t yet cooked the baby artichokes i received in my organic box on Wednesday, because it wasn’t until yesterday morning that this recipe for a artichoke and orange salad with mint and saffron showed up in my reading list. I didn’t want to wait until i had slivered almonds and the right olives, so i made it anyway. I was in the mood for a warm dish, and couldn’t bear the thought of just draining off the saffron infused water the artichokes had been cooked in, so i added a bit of corn starch to thicken it and poured the warm dish over rice. Delicious.

IMG_0509Artichokes with Saffron and Oranges

After the cut, the dye kit inventory.

Looking for inspiration

Monday, April 5th, 2010


Originally uploaded by y.sabur.

I did dye some t-shirts last year using a pleated tray fold with the dye poured on top. The resist worked in a lovely way, producing the expected idea of stripes. Looking at this piece from Flickr, though, i find myself thinking of breaking up the stripes by clamping a physical resist over the pleats in a sort of “smocking” fashion. The alternate clamping would be an additional resist, so the stripes would be broken up into blocks.

Just a thought….

Coconut and Shaker Lemon Pie

Saturday, March 27th, 2010


Our adventure begins with Meyer Lemons, which are divine, sweeter than. I had made Ohio Shaker Lemon pie several times after moving to California, but not in recent memory. I recall making a delicate pie crust, with decorative lemons encrusted with large grain sugar, but i can’t seem to find the photo.

The colleague who brought the lemons to the office is no longer with the company. My lemon tree has brought forth lemons, but never quite enough that i wanted to surrender them to pie. And now i’m not eating pie crusts. Lemons

But a member of our meeting brought lemons from their tree, just as i bought a few (and soon our tree will have some fully ripe). I’ve an abundance of lemons: i must make the pie! I started the lemons macerating on Friday.

For a crust, i found this coconut flake crust. When it came time to make the crust, i found i didn’t have the two cups of coconut, just one. I added 2/3 cup glutinous rice flour and 1/3 cup coconut flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil spread, and some dribbles of soy milk. I used the pastry cutter to mix in the spread until it was crumbly, and then added enough soy milk to make the dough ball up. I pressed most of the mixture in a greased glass pie pan, reserving about half a cup. I baked the crust ten minutes at 350° F.

I filled the crust with the lemon-egg mix soon after taking it from the oven and crumbled the rest of the coconut mix on top, gently floating it on the egg-lemon mix, then baked as directed — 450&deg then 375°. did need to put foil on the top to protect the crust from over browning.

Shaker Lemon PieShaker Lemon Pie

It turned out quite well. It’s an intense pie, with the lemon rind tasting like sunshine, and the lemon curd filling rich and flavorful. The coconut crust is a little tough, but not crumbly. I think a little less rice flour or perhaps regular instead of glutinous rice flour might have made a slightly more tender crust.

OMG – I love Lightroom (after)

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

OMG – I love Lightroom (after)

Originally uploaded by Elaine with Grey Cats.

Christine gave me the most incredible light meter as a Yule gift as well as a longed for monopod. The monopod was something that is nigh a necessity: i’ve used my cheap tripod as a walking stick, but continually forget its use as something i can leave a camera on and walk away from. It’s necessary to steady my hand even with the light little digital camera.

The light meter was amazing: an elegant and well crafted analog device that felt wonderful in my hand. My brain, however, was unsure when and where i would use such a device. Both cameras have digital metering that have not caused me any problems, although i fondly remember using the one i inherited from my father (i have no idea where it is now).

A gentle questioning followed: i determined that the price paid for the meter was too high to have the meter just as a novelty analog device. An exchange seemed the right way to go.

I didn’t have anything in mind that i wanted: more time to deal with the backlog of images would be my main wish. I figured a new lens would be fun though, and a lensbaby for the Maxxum 5 seemed just right. (Oh, when i said Maxxum 5 to the sales dude, he responded, “Now that’s old!” — No it’s not! The Minolta i got (used) when i was in high school: that was old. The Maxxum has auto focus for crying out loud! *cough*)

I did look at the Keeble & Shuchat Photography website to see what they had: Lensbabies would be available and in the right price range. Thought about an IR shutter trigger and flashes, but that would just be excess gadgetry. The software seemed all for Nikons.

When we got to Keeble & Shuchat Photography, though, they had Lightroom. There! That! So Christine managed the exchange, noting that she’d thought about Lightroom but, well — and i am hard to shop for, i admit.

I’ve installed and fiddled with one photo, recalling Joe Decker’s ease at managing the tool. It is so much more … well designed … to use. And, in the end, i think this is the gift of more time to work with the photos i do take.

Next stop: Lightroom Video Tutorials

Experimental Swift and Rake

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

While i have convinced myself that the half ounce of alpaca (tightly wound into a classic cat toy ball) is all i need to make my current project, the question of swifts and ball winders has stayed with me.

On Sunday i stopped at the hardware store to pick up Escutcheon pins ($1.79 for 1.5 oz). These were sharp enough to insert into a bit of balsa wood by hand at quarter inch intervals. I experimented with an e-wrap cast-on using #10 crochet thread. I now have an experiential understanding of the warnings about tension: getting the tension loose enough that one can move all the loops is a challenge when using thread. I’ll try some light yarn next. (If any alpaca is left over, that might be suitably springy, too.)

While at the hardware store, the issue of the swift and my more concrete need for an efficient way to create skeins for dyeing was in mind. It turns out that one can buy the ball bearing case for a lazy susan. I have the Shepherd Hardware Products Lazy Susan [product 9547 4" diameter, 100 mm ball bearings, 300 lb load, $4.49].

To make a swift (which turns as one pulls the yarn off) i just need four of the 6-32×2″ machine screws (I’d have called it a bolt), but a fifth for the center will allow me to install a crank (rigged out of a sixth bolt). (15 bolts: $2.04; 3 sets of six nits at $0.54 each.) The cross bars for the first draft of the swift are yardsticks ($0.99 each). The wood is soft enough that i was able to make the bolt holes with an awl. This is a sign that the yardsticks may not be durable. However, it remains to be seen if they are good enough for casual work.

My plan is to make four “C” shaped hooks from two wire hangers, and then use binder clips to hold those to the yardsticks. Figuring out the circumference of skeins should be a pleasant bit of geometry.

This leaves the challenge of *mounting* the lazy susan base. At the moment, it’s duct taped on two corners to a microphone stand. This is probably less durable than the yardsticks. I want to see if a standard broom handle fits in the mike holder: if so, wood screws into the mike holder and the mike holder on the stand might be satisfactory (although the mike holders were probably not designed to hold something undergoing torque.

While in the hardware store i bought two 2″ spring clamps ($2.99). I imagined extending the lazy susan base and clamping that to a table or chair back, but once home the thought of duct taping the thing to a five gallon cubic water bottle came to mind: for safety’s sake we should have water bottles around at all times, and the temporary solution is all i need. I suspect that people with wall space and workshops could mount the thing onto walls or tables for a permanent solution. Christine just happens to have two mike stands on which i stub my toe occasionally. The audio recording job she got them for never repeated, so she’ll let me use one. (Who knows, that might just be enough for someone to enquire after her recording skills again.)

I’m just left with the challenge of making a crank. The balsa i have was too fragile and did not survive the awl-piercing. A third hanger might provide another rigged solution. The next step, when i next have time, is to experiment with a mike-stand mount.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Olive Oil Bread

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Once upon a time i tried the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I made the half batch and it pushed the lid off the container the dough rose in. [Typo fixed]

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Today, i tried making the half batch of the olive oil gluten free bread.

Olive Oil Bread & CrackersOlive Oil Bread & CrackersOlive Oil Bread & CrackersOlive Oil Bread & CrackersOlive Oil Bread & Crackers

It did not rise nearly as much as the basic recipe of the previous book, although it did develop nice structure. I’m not sure if this is due to the coolness of my kitchen. If anything the dough was far too wet. That too is a bit of a mystery. The crackers, which are divine, took over twenty minutes to begin to turn golden. The bread is cooked but very moist.

I rolled my crackers out between sheets of waxed paper: the dough still needs lots of starch to keep it from sticking (another sign of the too wet dough?) . One set of crackers was made with cornmeal left over from the bread. This turned out wonderfully! Both sets of crackers had olive oil on both sides.

I still have a bit of dough left over and will try to let it come to room temperature in a warmer room and hopefully it will rise a good bit more before baking.

I wonder if replacing the soy flour with the chickpea flour could make such a difference?

Savory chickpea flatbread

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This flatbread is like a farinata or cecina (Italian terms) Socca French. It’s inspired by a tortilla had by a NYTimes food blogger in Madrid, Spain. Mark Bittman’s recipe is for a thin pancake batter. I didn’t really note the *thin* when i was fixing mine, and made a thicker flatbread. All in all, fine with me.

1 c garbazo bean flour
a couple tablespoons of potato flakes [inauthentic addition]
salt, to taste but more than you might think
pepper, lots
1/2 tsp baking powder [NYTimes writer says makes it easier to flip]

1 c water (more or less)

mix in bowl then chop and add

1/2 c chopped savory addition
1/3 c chopped sweet onion
1/4 c chopped herbs

I used cooked and frozen Northern shrimp (believing those to be more environmentally friendly than the other options in the frozen section at my grocer). I can imagine mushrooms being divine in this, and would lean towards stronger flavored fish and shellfish personally. Smoked oysters, yum.

Fry up as you would pancakes or latkes , in olive oil (ideally) or other oil.

Surveying the chickpea breads on wikipedia, pepper seems to be a common ingredient, and the strong black pepper really did seem to be a good match for the chickpeas. The onion, cooked only briefly, seems like it should be sweeter than not.

The chickpeas do have a strong flavor and i have a harder time imagining this working with a sweet addition. Onions and apples, perhaps? Raisins and apples?

Oh, Christine suggests just making stuffing in a different shape: onion and celery, raisins and shredded carrots, chopped sage with cranberry sauce on the side. That may just be our Christmas main course.

The protein content of the chickpeas is pretty high, and i feel quite satisfied by my half of this recipe. It served as lunch for the two of us. I don’t know that i’d make it into four servings except as an appetizer. I can imagine that making them very small, around a whole cooked bay shrimp, with a tiny garnish of sour cream, could make a delightful appetizer.

Rice … something …: Experiment 3

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

This was a learning experience. I definitely had mochiko flour (Blue Star brand from Koda Farms). The 1:1 water to flour ratio was repeated, with autumnal seasonings of molasses, ginger, and clove. I ended up heating it in the microwave longer, but interrupted more often to stir. This never reached the firm fimo consistency but was extremely sticky. Rolling between rice flour dusted wax paper was a failure — it stuck to the paper. I ended up just dusting a large gob with rice flour and putting in the 450° oven for 20 min. The surface ballooned with the heat, and i hoped i was getting a bubble filled interior. Instead, it was one massive air bubble with most of the dough remaining soft and chewy.

Other than the crusty dome being over-baked, it tasted good. If i could control the dough better — cookie sized spoonfuls perhaps? well dusted with rice flour? — i could imagine making crispy exterior chewy interior rice cookies.

More experimentation needed.

The Mochi recipes from Koda Farms sound like they would be soft and chewy. Perhaps sometime for a potluck.

Apparently the Japanese crackers (okaki) can be made by frying the mochi. See here.

This recipe [2 c rice flour to 6 tbsp butter, 12 oz cheddar cheese, and 3 egg yolks (plus ~2 tbsp water and seasonings)] treats the flour as flour, none of the hydration steps.