Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yarn Diet and Cold Sheep Progress

Eolia woven scarf - 182 yards (yarn not included in original inventory)
Holden Shawlette - 378 yards
Pygora Pretty Thing - 152 yards (hand spun yarn)
Starting total: 108,649 yards
Starting total for April: 109,598 yards
Yardage purchased:  0

Yardage received as gift:  0
Yardage destashed:  0 
Yardage used in finished projects: 378 
Ending total for April:  109,220 yards

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hamburger Buns - The French Way

I had posted about my attempt to make pain au lait here.  Well, since I still had another recipe's worth of bread flour, I decided to make another batch with fennel seeds for hamburger buns to go with the burger patties from The Donald's Mar-a-Lago resort.

The dinner rolls were quite tasty and the only thing that I would change would be how to roll them up.  For the dinner rolls, I folded the dough in half and then on itself and turning and repeating.  The inside of the roll had definite fold marks which broke apart in easy chunks.

I got a great rise out of this dough - I'm hoping that means I'm getting better at baking bread.
I decided to roll the dough for these buns instead and then twist for a design.

Here are the finished buns.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mystery KAL Swatch

Tiziana sent the swatch for the mystery KAL to everyone who has so far signed up.  Remember, if you want in on the fun, you still have time to sign up here.

I bundled up the 12 yards of leftover yarn discussed here thinking it would be plenty of yarn for the swatch.  Well was I ever wrong.  The swatch pattern is a 34 row chart plus the bind on and bind off rows and my little 12 yard skein only lasted until row 14.

I then wound the full skein and started to use that to finish the swatch.

Here it is washed and blocked.  I'm thinking now nupps aren't as evil as I imagined!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pain au Lait

French Milk Bread is the translation.  I decided to try my hand at bread making by hand and this is the second recipe I tried.
I bought a kitchen scale for making bread as the ingredients are usually weighed.  This one I got through and is totally smooth which makes it really easy to clean and has multiple measurements.

16 ounces of water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast or 2.5 teaspoons of instant yeast
8 ounces of milk
3 ounces of butter (not melted)
1.25 ounces of sugar
2 pounds and 8 ounces of bread flour
1.5 tablespoons of salt
1 egg for egg wash

Warm water and milk to 90 degrees.  I use a water bath.
Place water, milk, and yeast with a little bit of sugar in a bowl and mix until yeast is dissolved.

Place yeast mixture in mixing bowl (I used the big KitchenAid Mixer) and add the remaining ingredients.  Mix on speed 1 for 2 minutes and then speed 2 for 4 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and resilient. You can see that the ingredients mix up together with no residue on the side of the bowl.
Rise for 45 minutes to an hour.  I used the wrapper of the butter to grease the bowl.  See homemade proofing oven discussed here.
Degas (punching down) and knead/fold (bringing each side up and folding with your hand).

Portion into rolls:
     2 ounces = average dinner roll
     3 ounces = large dinner roll
     4 ounces = hamburger bun

Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and proof until each roll looks like it has taken a breath and held it.  Each roll should have a marshmallow like texture.

Egg wash with 1 whole egg beaten up well.
Bake at 350-375 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
You can freeze these rolls after baking or freeze the dough before the first rise. If freezing dough, place in an oiled bag and leave a little air pocket.  Tie up or zip the bag and place in freezer.  When defrosting, take out of freezer and place in the refrigerator.  Take out the refrigerator and bring to room temperature and continue with the proofing.  For frozen rolls, thaw at room temperature in a few hours and then refresh in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.

You can add seeds such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, or millet in 1 tablespoon increments and place in the mix with the flour.  You can also sprinkle some seeds on top of the rolls after the egg wash.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Neat Desk and Receipts

I have always been pretty organized about my stuff especially the paper monster that seems to get out of control every so often.  I have been trying very hard to lessen the amount of paper that I have to file and maintain.

I have a monthly file folder system that I use to store any financial transactions I make and try to shred the monthly receipts and such each month but I have been falling so behind.

I saw an advertisement about Neat Receipts, which is includes a scanner and software to be used to organize your important papers - I have in the past just scanned the document and created folders for each month and then have had to go back to search each month for the item I needed to retrieve.

I just started using this system and it seems to work fairly well.  I purchased the slim scanner on a discount and have found that some of the thermal receipts don't scan at all and I'm concerned that it would be a useless exercise if I need to retrieve something in the future.

I will need to spend some time working on the system and I really like the organization of everything especially if I can only keep up with the documents coming in the door.  I may even be able to get rid of the big file cabinets and have more room for crafty things.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

I had read a review on this book by Jamie Ford that sounded very intriguing.  I checked it out from the local library and just finished reading it.

The story centers on a Chinese man named Henry Lee and travels from the present day back 40 years to when Japanese americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps. 

The setting is in Seattle with local destinations.  It is about friendship, love, devotion, loyalty, and redemption.  It highlights what the definition of being an American is.

It was a very easy read and takes you back to a shameful time in American history but told through people instead of events.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mystery KAL Yarn

I spun up 2 ounces of the merino/silk fiber discussed here for the Mystery KAL.

I'm happy to see that I can spin a consistent lace weight yarn of 16 wraps per inch.  The yarn is very balanced, soft and light.

I ended up with 260 yards for the majority of the yarn with the left over singles on the remaining bobbin plied on itself yielding 12 yards.  
This small piece will be used for the swatch which should come out at the end of next week.
At this yardage, I should need a little more than 6 ounces of fiber.

Friday, April 22, 2011

62 Bundles of Silk

I had purchased 3 skeins of Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple yarn in a parchment color way at Maryland Sheep and Wool last year.  It was a total luxury of pure silk and I was excited to have it in my stash.  I even had a plan to make Sahara adding a skein of Tilli Tomas Rock Star yarn which is pink and tan with beads.

I then proceeded to go on vacation and the silk yarn came to its ultimate demise. You can read about it here.

After seeing this, I relegated all the yarn into a plastic bag and it sat in the corner of the closet as it just made me sad and angry.

I rearranged the closet recently and I determined I needed to decide what to do with this expensive yarn so I took one of the skeins and tried to unravel it.

Of the 260 yards, I ended up with 62 little bundles of silk and some extra pieces not long enough to bundle.
I need to unravel the other two skeins and I think that it is a lost cause to try to knit with the yarn.  I will have to weave with it as weft since every piece is on average too short.  Maybe one of the skeins can salvage enough length for warp.

One down - two more to go.....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pygora Pretty Thing

As discussed here, I spun up 2 ounces of pygora fiber.  I cast about looking for a pattern to knit something to test my skin reaction to this fiber.

I ended up going with the Pretty Thing by the Yarn Harlot.
It was a pretty fast knit and the finished object has a nice halo.  I have 32 yards of this yarn left over and it is soft and green.

Not the ultimate test of itchiness.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When I bought my new television, it came with access to the internet through my also new DVD player.  One evening I wanted to watch some streaming Netflix programs, but I could not access their website.

I then surfed around the menu and saw something called vudu.  When I clicked on it, I discovered that it is a streaming movie site and I signed up for free and was given a voucher for $5.99 towards my first movie.

I just watched a movie using this voucher.  I ended up seeing the last Harry Potter movie.  There are three different streams for the film and I tried the top of the line hdx but it seems my internet connection is lacking in speed and size.  I ended up watching the hd version which was perfectly acceptable.

I'm not sure that I will continue with a paid service since I already subscribe to Netflix, but it was very nice to be able to watch high definition movies on demand.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Mystery KAL

Tiziana has announced a new knit-a-long to start on May 7.  The clues so far are:
"We will make a shawl worked from neck down with about 720-760m / 787-831yds of a fingering yarn and needles size 4.00mm ( or size to obtain gauge).
It is fun and not difficult to knit, it has a “more than half circle shape” for a better fit. 
It features lace pattern on both right and wrong side rows, nupps and Estonian stars … but not all of the them at the same time!"
The start date is May 6 with 5 clues.  If you want to participate, you will need to sign up by May 5 either through Ravelry or her yahoo group.
I highly recommend her patterns and the best part is that the patterns are free and if she stays true to form, the clues are small enough for one to finish before the next clue comes out.
I was planning on finding some commercial yarn in my stash to use, but after thinking about it some more, I have some time between now and the first clue to spin some yarn.
I organized my fiber stash and found some Louet merino/silk yarn in a lovely green color that I purchased at the Riverside weaving festival that I'm going to spin for this KAL.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I received 2 ounces of green pygora from my friends Fluffysgarden and Juliblue that they obtained from last years Black Sheep Gathering.

Pygora is from a pygora goat which is described as "A Pygora goat is a breed purposely bred and then registered in Oregon by Katherine Jorgensen. She wanted an animal, which would produce fine fiber for hand spinning. She bred the Pygmy, a goat with short, soft down to the Angora, a goat with long silky fleece. The Pygora Breeders Association was formed in 1987. Since then, the Pygora has increased in number and popularity."

The fiber came from Peppermint Pastures Pygora Goats distributed by Paradise Fibers.  The little bag contained a little vial of peppermint scent.

It took a little while, but I finally got a chance to spin this fiber in anticipation of this years Black Sheep Gathering.

The fiber is very soft, but there is quite a bit of vegetable matter and quite a few nepps or slubs.  The single has quite a few spots of bumpiness.  It is listed as fiber type B so maybe there is a higher grade fiber.
I was able to spin 184 yards of a 2 ply lace weight yarn with a wraps per inch (wpi) of 16.  The yarn did bloom a bit and has a slight halo after washing.  I spent some time picking out the vegetable matter and the nepps have evened out a bit.
Now to knit up something quick for around my neck to see if I have a reaction to the goat hair as I do with mohair.  If no reaction, then I might want to buy some more of this fiber as it is very soft and fluffy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Crafty Update

I have been crafting - spinning, knitting, and sewing even though it seems that all I have been doing is eating.

I recently finished the Holden Shawlette which was a knit-a-long with the Stash and Burn podcast.  There are prizes if you are able to finish your shawl and post pictures by the end of April.

I made mine from some stash yarn - Pagewood Farm sock yarn in the color way Bird of Paradise that I bought from the Shepherdess a few years back.  It is 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon.
The knitting was fairly easy and it was also very easy to not pay close enough attention that my stitch count was off and I had to rip back quite a few rows.  The pattern is very simply and the finished shawl elegant.
I used up 378 yards of stash yarn so I'm making progress on my cold sheep goal.  I also have been spinning and have updated my blog to include yards spun as it is a new feature from the knitmeter.

I have also been sewing my quilt blocks for my asian themed quilt I bought at the Ontario quilt show.  There is just not enough time in the day to craft when you work more than full time.

Friday, April 15, 2011


My best friend Val will be moving to Colorado to be closer to her family which makes me very sad.  She recently went to visit her family and stopped by the Gabriel Foundation to check out their operation in hopes of placing her bird Sydney there for the remainder of his life.  He is citron crested cockatoo and is fairly young and will most likely outlive her.

She received great news when she came home that they have accepted Sydney into their flock and he will be moving sometime in the summer.

Val brought me back some souvenirs when she came home and one is a very cute sheep made from roving.  He can be hung as an ornament.
She also got me a few swatches of fabric and a very cool pin wrangler with a super strong magnet in the shape of a dog.  Very cute and useful.
I'm definitely going to miss being able to hop over to her house for some sewing, watching criminal minds, and eating.  I plan to visit her in Colorado a few times a year - definitely not in winter and hopefully be able to go to the Estes Park Fiber Festival.  They also have great yarn stores there - you can check out the places I visited the last time I was there.

Val has started a blog to document her move and she already bought a house there which looks cute and already has a designated craft room.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Garlic Naan

Ever since I had naan, I have been in search of a recipe that would do justice to those served in a restaurant.  I even tried the Trader Joe version discussed here.

I think I have found the recipe.  I recently took a cooking class at Great News with chef Colette Christian.  Her recipe of garlic naan used a food processor which I thought was genius.  She also provided information on how to build your own proofing oven for rising dough.


5 ounces of milk warmed to 90 to 100 degrees (I used lactose free milk)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
5 ounces plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt)
1 egg
16 ounces all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 cloves of garlic minced


Mix milk, yeast, and some of the sugar in a mixing cup and let stand while gathering other ingredients.

In food processor with plastic blade, add flour, salt, sugar, garlic, yogurt, egg, oil, and milk/yeast mixture.  Blend until the dough comes together.

Place dough in a oiled bowl and proof for between an hour to an hour and a half.
Here is the home proofing oven - 1 storage ziploc bag and a cup or two of boiling water.
After proofing - dough should double in size, divide dough into 4 ounce portions and roll into loose balls and rest for 10 minutes covered.
Roll dough out into a 10" circle on a lightly floured counter.

Preheat large nonstick pan and cook naan on both sides until golden brown in color.
Place naan on half sheet pans lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes.
You can freeze the naan after wrapping in plastic bags once cooled.  Naan thaws quickly and can be refreshed in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

I took a few pieces to supper club and the overall consensus was very favorable.  I'm going to make more of these and place them in the freezer for those days I have a craving.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Supper club was hosted by Amy this month and we celebrated Passover with the following menu:

A traditional brisket and a creative new haroset cake are part of this menu we hope you enjoy during Passover.

Amy made the brisket which was delicious.
With gravy and root vegetables.
I handled the potato dish which was surprisingly moist with no liquids.
Kim rounded everything out with dessert.  She made a gluten free dessert - not following the recipe and also a chocolate beet cake.  I thought both were very good.  I could not taste the beets.  You can check out Kim's desserts at her blog.
Janet was unable to make it since she was sick but we had a great meal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where's the Beef

Another work trip took me back through Los Angeles on the way home.  The only problem was that I hit town at afternoon rush hour and the weather had been totally crappy on the drive.  I called up my brother to see what was up for dinner and was informed that dinner was to be at Lawry's at 7:00 pm.

I have been told that I dined at this restaurant when I was under 5.  My dad had gotten a letter from the owner entitling him to a free dinner.  My parents had just taken me to Disneyland - probably the first trip of many in my childhood.  I'm sure at that time, it was a very fancy restaurant requiring formal wear.  Can you just imagine the three of us all disheveled from a day at the happiest place on earth showing up for dinner?  My mother stated she felt totally out of place, but the dinner was great.

So I crashed my brother's dinner party of 6 and had a great time hanging with his friends and enjoying a fine dinner.

The restaurant has home fried potato chips and meatballs for appetizers for FREE!  You order a drink - well one of us did, and the rest of us chowed down on chips and balls.  You really can fill up just eating the appetizers.

We then headed for the dining room and the waitresses were dressed in vintage uniforms which were awesome and there is a meat carver with a rolling cart with a huge hunk of meat.  He also had a really shiny medal...
This is the California cut.  It comes with mash potatoes and yorkshire pudding.  I have never had yorkshire pudding and it was fluffy but very rich.  I'm told you are to use it to sop up the au jus.
This is the Lawry's cut.
There were some other items on the menu.  My brother had some fish, but the theme of the place was prime rib.

There is some kind of club card and discounts offered to keep you going and the place was packed for a thursday night.

After dinner, I had to get back on the road to head home and it started raining pretty hard when I hit Orange County.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Let the Dogs Out?

This past week, we had dog visitors.  It was scheduled as an introduction because my brother decided to go on a vacation at the end of the year and wants his dogs to come stay with me while he is gone.

That would be four dogs in the house for over a week.  The plan was to introduce them and then maybe have another session before the vacation.

My boy dog, Bailey, is a big fraidy cat.  He has some fear aggression issues and does not really like other dogs so much.  Once he gets to know the other dogs, he seems fine and remembers that they are friends.

My girl dog, Pepper, has reached the age where she doesn't really care about anything as long as she has her food and her bed.  I think she naps most of the day away.

Sophie and Bubby are relatively young - about a year old.  Sophie is a standard poodle and Bubby is a bichon frise.  After the first few days where Bailey was doing his avoidance, there was running and playing and it seemed as everyone is now part of the same pack.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spinning on a Lego Charkha

When I was a kid, Legos were a great toy for building and imagination.  We had some family friends that owned a ton of sets and I remember evenings when my parents played mah jong while us kids would build entire communities out of Lego.

My brother had a bunch of sets but we could never interchange the pieces as each set built one or two items and had to be maintained.  I have a lot of good memories of time spent especially on rainy days building space stations, fire stations, police stations, etc.

Those Lego sets stayed at my parent's house for quite a long time and I believe they were all finally gifted to the children of my brother's best friend.  Last year, all of us went to Legoland and while most of the entertainment was geared toward really young children, the display area where you could see recreations of Obama's inauguration, the New York central station, and Las Vegas skyline were awesome. 

I have been on a cotton spinning kick for a little while and just found this great video of a charkha made out of Lego.  It is ingenious!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eolia Woven Scarf

I finished weaving the scarf I warped on the Eolia Loom that I discussed here.

It was a really fast and easy weave but the ending scarf is pretty short.  I definitely need another set of extension bars to increase the length.  I sent an e-mail to the company selling the loom in Australia, but have not heard anything in return.

I had to repair part of the weave since one of the warp threads broke - I suspect there was a knot that came undone there.  I also used the sewing machine to hem the ends since the fringe was kind of strange and at different lengths.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bookmark Update

I posted about these double heddle bookmarks here.  After the post, the bookmarks languished because I just didn't like that bobble effect happening on the first bookmark.  So the loom was in the corner for quite a while.

I recently decided that I just could not let this stand so I un-wove the first bookmark and re-wove the bookmark.  It definitely looks so much better.
However, when I advanced the warp, one of the warp ends (the last one) broke.  It was just too fiddly to try to retie this warp so the rest of the bookmarks will have one less warp thread.
The weaving is a bit fiddly and I needed to pull taut the weft each time to avoid the bulge on each edge.  I'm not sure if the problem is the yarn or my warping technique.

Here are the finished bookmarks after hemming on the sewing machine.
Now I need to decide if I want to warp the other kit and finish the projects or return the extra heddle to Jan and call it done.