Tuesday, June 28, 2011

4th of July Alpaca Style

Well what can I say? I was cleaning the photography studio (which I now have taken over with fiber) and my drum carder kept calling me. So I dropped the vacuum and carded up these three batts on my Louet Jr. Actually I started one of batts in April as a Phat Fiber template but ended up not using it and went with another color combination for my Phattie samples. I diverge..as I was rummaging around in my fiber stash I found the template. I thought "hum This will make a fantastic 4th of July themed yarn. So there you go, I carded up 3 mini batts. I am going to spin these but am waiting for Tour de Fleece with Team of Wonder

So what is in these batts? Dyed blue alpaca, white alpaca, cream alpaca, natural fawn alpaca (there is a theme here) silk noil in red, white and blue, banana silk in white, and red angelina. Pretty fantastic blend!

I am thinking that I will spin these batts as a single thick/thin yarn. I have been practicing my technique. I will post a photo when I am finished.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Making Strawberry Jam for Miriam

What tastes better than fresh strawberries? My 12 year old and a friend picked a load of the beautiful red jewels yesterday. I took 4 quarts and made strawberry jam. Today I will make strawberry syrup and strawberry shortcake. The rest will be cut up and frozen. And we will set aside a bowl filled with some fresh ones for Miriam to eat.
This is Miriam.

The jam turned out fantastic. Not too sweet. I actually was concerned because the recipe called for 7 cups of sugar. I actually followed the jam directions (I tend not to follow directions) and the end result is sweet but not an overload of sickly sugariness. I got the recipe from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt. It is one of the best canning books I have used.

Strawberry Jam

Use strawberries the same day you pick them. Wash just before using. Chop the berries, then lightly crush them in small batches. Just crush the berries enough to release the juice.

Makes @ 9 half pint jars

4 cups hulled/crushed ripe strawberries (@2 quarts whole berries)
2 Tbls strained fresh lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin

In an 8-quart pan, combine the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Cover and let stand for 2 hours.

Remove the cover. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture utnil the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.
To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool 5 minutes or so to distribute the fruit. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200F (93C) water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Felted balls- trial and error

I know I have posted a blog on this topic before. However after a long time of messing around with doing it totally by hand I decided to use my washing machine. I always needle felt the balls.
I use fiber off the licker on my drum carder or roving from bits and pieces that I have around the house. I have been needle felting the ball first and then wet felting them in the sink. Finally I decided to throw a bunch in a laundry bag and into the washing machine. Oddly enough just as soon as I did an article came out in the latest Spin Off Magazine about making fiber balls and spinning them into a skein of yarn. Actually the same day I received my magazine I had just finished felting my first set of balls. They did get a tiny bit flattened and look more like stones than balls. I prefer the stone look.

I still have 2 big mesh bags to felt. I will probably end up with almost a pound. I usually felt about 7 or so ounces before I attend a fiber festival. They sell really fast and look fantastic in my wicker bowl. It is an easy project to do. The balls can be used for interior decorating, jewelry, or fiber arts.