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Saturday, October 8, 2016

October Already

Where on earth does the time go? I can't believe I haven't posted anything since July!

It's been a very busy few months ~ I went away on holiday to Sydney, came home for a week then off to Dunedin for a visit. In between I've been working, knitting a wee bit and gardening (lots to do outside the garden is looking a little jungle-esque right now).

Sadly I haven't managed to get any spinning done for a long time but I did get some good news, I entered an item in the National Alpaca Exhibition and found out today that I won an award! It was the natural circular lace cardigan that I entered into the Creative Fibre National Exhibition last year. I went down to see the exhibition after work today, there was some absolutely stunning work on display.

This was my home grown alpaca from my wee boy Saturn that I washed and hand combed, then spun into a 2 ply lace weight yarn. I then knitted the lace patterned circular cardigan.

Here's a view of the back of the cardigan:

And a close up of the samples I submitted along with my rosette:

I put a lot of work into this garment and it's nice to finally get the recognition for that ~ I'm feeling a little bit pleased with myself today!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Swedish Tea Ring

After all the fibre stuff over the last few weeks  I thought it was about time that I had a change and baked something ~ so here's a very easy Swedish Tea Ring. This is quite a versatile recipe, you can use any filling you want, the possibilities are endless, in this one I used raisins, craisins and chopped glace cherries. Another version I make is lemon curd & sultanas, I've also made it (on request) with nutella and chocolate chips as the filling. The dough recipe is easy and gives a light, soft, sweet dough.

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
500g strong white flour
1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
7g salt
40g caster sugar
230ml milk
2 large eggs

For the filling:
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
100g dried fruit, raisins, craisins etc

1 Rub the butter into the flour, rubbing it in with your fingertips until integrated.

2 Add the yeast, stir, then add the salt and sugar. Heat the milk very gently until luke-warm, whisk in the eggs, and pour this into the dry mixture. No point messing around with a spatula here just use your hands to mix the dough so that it comes together in the bowl.
3 Tip the dough on to a clean work surface and knead well, for about 10 mins, or put it in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead for 5 mins.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes then roll it out quite thinly into a rectangle. Brush over the melted butter, sprinkle over the brown sugar and cinnamon, then the dried fruits and finally roll it up nice and tight, swiss roll style. Curve it into a ring and tuck one of the ends inside the other pinching it together as best you can. Place it on a baking tray lined with non stick paper. Make slashes all around the outside using either a very sharp knife or a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors.

Cover with oiled cling wrap and leave it to rise in a warm place or about an hour. It will looked puffed up and the slits you cut will have opened up considerably.
Heat the oven to 200 deg C. Bake the ring for about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Decorate it with a simple water icing if desired.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tour de Fleece Diary Collage

Here's my last post on the Tour de Fleece, my diary collage:

Tour de Fleece Days 17 ~ Finish Line

I found myself constantly running out of dry combed fibre for the last few days and felt as if I didn't make much progress. I didn't post any pics or updates because it all looked the same, brown, more brown, yes I'm over the brown lol. But, I'm happy with what I have achieved in the last 22 days:

I started with a 2.8 kg NZ Half Bred Brown/grey fleece. All the fleece was washed during the tour. 
All the fleece has now been combed. 

From this fleece I spun 5622 mtrs of singles which made 1029g, 1874 mtrs of ‘N’ ply yarn so far. I still have 372 g of combed fibre to spin. 

I then dyed some white half bred fleece, from this I spun 787 mtrs of singles which were ‘N’ plied to give me a total of 262 mtrs of finished yarn in 3 different colours. I also dyed a further batch of the white in plums/purples and have only combed part of it so far and spun 1 nest.
To sum up my achievements during Tour de Fleece: 
I washed and combed a lot of fluff, spun 6409 mtrs of singles and have 2136 mtrs of finished 3 ply yarn. 
On challenge days I spun some hand combed polwarth into very fine singles (probably about 30g so far which I haven’t calculated into my singles amount), then made a DIY spindle and managed to spin some yarn on it. 

Things I would do differently next tour: try to be more organised and have my fleece washed and dried before the start, I kept running out of dry/combed fibre and found myself waiting for fleece to dry many times (it’s Winter here). If I had done this I think I would have finished the whole fleece. But, in saying that I’m extremely happy in what I have done, it's far more than I would have achieved had I not participated in le Tour de Fleece. 

I have this basket which is 372 g of combed fibre left to spin, I'm going to work on that over the next few days and hope to get it finished. I'm estimating it will make another 680 mtrs of yarn so I will have more than enough to knit a sweater. Then the hardest part ~ deciding what I'm actually going to knit!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tour de Fleece Day 16

Day 16, I 'N' plied another bobbin for 442 mtrs of finished yarn:

I calculated what I have achieved since the start of Tour de Fleece 16 days ago:

I started with a 2.8 kg fleece.

979g of fibre hand combed
5460 mtrs singles spun
which gave me 1820 mtrs 'N' ply yarn
Yarn finished so far weighs 979g

I have another 192g combed fibre waiting to be spun
I just washed another 400g of fleece which will be combed once dry
I have 500g fleece left to wash/comb/spin

There's still 6 days of Le Tour to go, maybe I will get this fleece finished after all!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tour de Fleece Day 15 ~

Day 15 was a challenge day. My challenge (as a non-spindle spinner) was to make a D.I.Y. spindle and spin some yarn on it:

Challenge successfully completed..........It's amazing what you can do with an old cd, a bit of dowel, a tiny hook and a rubber grommet!

Sunday, July 17, 2016