Posts Tagged ‘natural dyeing’

In the Kitchen

This past week I’ve spent a bit more time in the kitchen and 4 more recipes from Simply in Season got cooked.  It seems like I’m averaging about 2 meals a week that feature recipes from Simply in Season.  I could probably cook more often, but I think we’d end up wasting some food.  The recipes are generally written to serve 6 and, since there’s only 2 of us, there are plenty of leftovers.  By this evening, I’ll have added 2 more recipes, Turkey Barley Soup (currently bubbling away in the crock pot) and Southwestern Potatoes (gotta use up more of those potatoes!).  So, recipes last week included:

Apple Rice Stuffing:  I made this to go along side a roasted whole chicken.  The rice is cooked with apple juice and then added to onion, celery, apples, walnuts, a bit of brown sugar, and some herbs to taste and cooked in a pan.  Then you have the choice of either cooking it in the chicken or separately in a casserole dish.  I chose to cook it separately since I was roasting the chicken in the crock pot.  This was a pretty tasty stuffing, sweet from the apples and brown sugar, but savory from the herbs, and the walnuts added a nice crunch.

Wild Rice Vegetable Bake and Pork Apricot Skillet:  The Wild Rice Vegetable Bake was okay.  It included wild rice and barley plus lots of vegetables.   The rice was pre-cooked a bit and the barley probably could have stood with some pre-cooking as well.  The vegetables included parsnips, winter squash (I used acorn squash), and sweet potatoes.  I’m not a huge fan of parsnips and, if I was rushed for time, I’d probably leave out the squash since it’s a bit harder to handle and harder to peel.  I did enjoy the flavor of the squash though.  So, overall, I’d say this recipe was just okay.  The Pork Apricot Skillet, on the other hand, was pretty good.  It’s a really simple recipe with just pork, onion, and dried apricots.  The flavors go well together and I love apricots!  I’ll be making this one again.

And, finally, I also made some more granola, the Mostly Oats Granola.  This is a typical granola but had a few ingredients that I’ve never put in granola before, including raw sunflower seeds and vanilla.  It’s not a very sweet granola (no added brown sugar and not as much honey as other recipes) but it has a touch of sweetness and the sunflower seeds add a new flavor.  Impression:  It’s an okay granola, but I have other recipes I like better.

I’m hoping that I’ll have time this afternoon to also make a dessert.  I have some peach slices thawing in the refrigerator from last summer and there’s a Whole Wheat Peach Kuchen recipe that looks pretty yummy.

In the Craft Room

I’ve been spinning a lot lately.  Now that the Ravelympics are over, I can get back to spinning up my fiber club installments from Crown Mountain Farms.  I’ve finished up February’s Finn fiber in Shiva/Shakti and will begin spinning up March’s installment next.   March’s fiber is Shetland Top in the colorway Bannockburn, gorgeous greens and yellows, very spring-like.  The Shiva/Shakti yarn is a 3-ply fingering weight that I’m planning to knit up into socks.  I think I’ll spin the Bannockburn into a 2-ply fingering weight and, if I get enough yardage, maybe make shawlette.  It’s kind of bright, but a shawlette in spring greens might be just the thing to wear on a coolish spring day.

Other spinning as been for the fleece study.  So far, I’ve spun up the Polwarth, the Shetland, and I have singles for the Finn that need to be plied.  The fleece study group is meeting on Wednesday and I’m hoping I’ll get maybe one more sample carded and spun up by then.  Pictures of those samples later.

In knitting news, I’m working on a new sweater!  I’ve joined a knit-a-long for one of the podcasts I listen to (Knitmore Girls) and will be knitting the Mondo Cable Pulli by Bonne Marie Burns of Chic KnitsI’m knitting it out of Malabrigo in the Marron Oscuro colorway.  The photo was taken outside on my porch (we have sun today!) and, at least on my screen, appears to be true to its color.

Other projects on the needles include a pair of socks (of course) and the Evenstar Mystery Shawl.  I’m still working on clue number 2 of the shawl and the third clue was released this weekend.  Guess I’d better hurry up on that.  It is lace though, so it requires total quiet and a lot of concentration.  That’s going to be harder and harder to come by as the weather gets more spring-like.

In the Dye Pot

The dyeing for the spinning guild’s dye exchange is finally done!  The fiber that I dyed up last week ended up felting horribly, so I had to buy another pound of fiber and dye it this weekend.  I was super cautious this time about not agitating the fiber and didn’t add as much dye to the dye pot so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time rinsing.  The newly dyed fiber came out beautifully!  What a relief!  Here’s a picture of the fiber I dyed with the Earthues Logwood Purple extract.  A picture of the fiber I dyed this weekend will have to wait as it is still down in the basement drying.  All that’s left to do for the dye exchange is to divide the fiber into 1-ounce bundles and wrap the labels around them.  Then, on Wednesday evening, I’ll hand out all the fiber I’ve dyed up and come home with 2 pounds of new fiber dyed by other guild members.  I can’t wait to see all the colors they came up with!


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In The Kitchen

Yay!  Three more recipes accomplished in my attempt to cook my way through Simply in Season!  They were all done yesterday, March 7, 2010.  Now, usually I avoid cooking on Sundays since it is Sunday and the last day of the weekend, which is when I spend time with The Husband.  However, I just wasn’t in the mood to eat restaurant food, we had finished up all of last week’s leftovers, and we had just spent around $180 on groceries (which The Husband was not particularly pleased about), so venturing into the kitchen to make a nice healthy supper seemed liked a good idea.

The first recipe I made was Potato Soup.  I decided on this recipe for two reasons:  1)  how hard could soup be?  and 2) an accidental over-abundance of potatoes.  I don’t know how I ended up with 2 bags of potatoes, but I did, and these were from the last time we bought groceries!  Note to self:  Do not buy groceries until you have checked to make sure that you don’t already have what’s on the grocery list!  I used up one bag of potatoes on the Potato Soup, so there’s one bag of potatoes gone.  Luckily, these were thin-skinned potatoes, so I didn’t have much peeling to do (I decided to peel 2-3 of the potatoes that had started turning a bit green).  However, there was a lot of potato dicing!  The soup also included a bit of celery (I used up the leftover celery from last week) and carrots.  The broth was frozen leftover homemade chicken broth from a chicken I cooked a couple of months ago.  It was then enhanced with 2 cups of milk and some flour to make a cream broth.  The Husband tends to like having meat with his meals, so I also added some cooked ham that we had bought at Whole Foods.  Add some salt and pepper and you’ve got a very yummy potato soup! 

Beside the soup, you can see the results of the second recipe, Peanut Apple Salad.  Now, this recipe took a wee bit of trust.  =)  The apples, celery, raisins, peanuts and coconut were all fine additions, it was the dressing that had me tempted to ignore the instructions in the recipe.  The dressing was made from peanut butter, sugar, milk, and mayo!  I was fine right until the addition of mayo.  However, when I started this little adventure I had decided to follow the recipes and then, if I didn’t like the results, I could change it the next time I made the recipe.  So, in went the mayo.  I must say, the dressing was good!  You couldn’t even really taste the mayo in there.  It was about the consistency and flavor of a peanut dipping sauce you might get at a Thai restaurant.  Yum!

The last recipe I made from Simply in Season yesterday was the Chunky Crunchy Granola from the All Seasons section of the cookbook.  This granola has some milk and flour added to the usual ingredients of granola (plus brown sugar) to make it chunky.  It also has cinnamon and ground ginger added!  It smelled and tasted like the oatmeal crumb topping you might put on a cobbler.  For the fruit and nuts, I added raisins, dried apricots, and slivered almonds, but you could add anything you have on hand.

I have one more addition to my kitchen experiments this week:  Yogurt!  Now, I listen to Meghan’s StitchIt Podcast (see links) and this week Meghan’s Favorite Thing was homemade yogurt.  I swear, that girl has a talent for convincing people to try new things!  She is so enthusiastic and describes things in such a way that you’re convinced you have to go try whatever it is immediately.  =)  So, I now own a yogurt maker!  LOL!  After quite a bit of research, we went to our local kitchen store and bought a Waring Pro yogurt machine and I made yogurt Saturday overnight.  This first picture is what it looked like while it was incubating.  The jars you see beside it are the jars that came with the yogurt maker.  They’re made of plastic and I wasn’t 100% sure about using them in the yogurt maker (because of leaching), so I used some glass jelly jars I had instead.  I think next time I’ll just make it in a large bowl and then scoop the yogurt into the plastic jars for storage.  Anyway, here is the finished yogurt Sunday morning.  I had some for a snack on Sunday afternoon with honey drizzled over it and had it again for breakfast today with the granola.  The flavor is wonderful!  The consistency is a bit thinner than I was aiming for, but still perfectly fine.  It’s made with organic 2% milk and organic yogurt, so I can eat it and feel really good about getting all the benefits of eating yogurt.

In The Dye Pot

I’ve also been dyeing this week.  The spinning guild dye exchange is coming up this month and so it’s time to dye up 2 pounds of fiber using natural dye materials.  I decided to go with Earthues dye extracts in Madder and Logwood Purple.  The pictures are of the wool in the dye pot.  I’ll have pictures of the dried wool later.  The process wasn’t too bad.  The only trouble I had was getting the water temperature up to 200 degrees without making the water boil.  I figured it was our elevation and emails from the spinning guild forum confirmed that others were having the same problem and were just getting it as hot as they could without letting the water boil.  After I had mordanted and dyed the wool, the next part was giving it a quick wash and rinse.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so.  The rinsing took forever!  I don’t think I got the water to run entirely clear with the purple wool and I ended up enlisting The Husband’s help for the red wool.  The red wool probably took at least an hour to rinse clear.  I’m not sure if this is just the nature of the dye product or if I somehow grossly over-estimated the amount of dye I would need for the amount of wool I had.  I followed the directions from the Earthues instruction book, but who knows.

Next on the agenda for the dye exchange, making up labels for each 1-ounce sample explaining what type of wool, what type of dye, what dye method, etc.  I might also need to do some carding of the wool since the wool fibers got really disorganized with all that rinsing.

Out To The Garden

Just a brief note about garden plans.  I had The Husband go through the seed packages we bought so we could plan when to start planting.  It sounds like the Daikon radishes should go out this week some time.  There are a few others that can be planted indoors as well.  Time to find planting containers (old take-out containers, flower pots, egg cartons, etc.) and decide what planting medium I want to use to plant the seeds in.  I’ll probably just end up grabbing a bag of soil from a local store.  The more difficult question will be where to put the seeds so the cats will stay out of them!  =)

And, finally, I thought I’d share what my garden looked like this past Friday morning. It’s that raised square area towards the middle.  (Ignore the recycling container that was left out on the patio after it was scoured out.)  The square is one of the raised beds.  There is another one off to the right a bit.  This year we’ll be using those two beds plus creating a garden down on the lower level of our yard as well.  Here’s another picture out towards the front yard.  Doesn’t look much like gardening weather, does it.  Luckily, today it is sunny and nearly 50 degrees.  You just never know out here in The Valley.  Of course, I just checked our forecast and it looks like we’re due for more snow tomorrow night.  Spring gardening plans will have to wait a little bit longer.

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I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that there’s only a week left in January 2010.  I don’t know about you, but January zipped by for me.  Good grief, before you know it, it will be time time to start putting seeds out in the garden and I’m nowhere near ready for that yet.  I haven’t even ordered any seed catalogs.  I might have to skip those this year.  I did, however, get my new worm house.  (grin)

Gusanito Worm Composter

This year we are going to try worm composting.  I had thought to try building our own worm house, but then The Husband surprised me with one of these Gusanito Worm Composters from Wormswrangler.com for Christmas.  So, we now have the house, the coconut coir (fibrous coconut husk which holds water so the worms stay moist), and dirt.  Next, we order the worms!  We’ll be ordering Red Wrigglers from somewhere in Utah so they will hopefully be used to our cold weather.  Of course, until it warms up a bit, the worms will be staying in the house in a spare bathroom in the basement.  As soon as it’s warm enough, they’ll go outside in some nice shady spot close to the door, convenient for disposal of kitchen scraps.


I’ve finished up the first installment of the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club.  It’s even plied!

AwakeningsThis picture doesn’t really give an accurate portrayal of the yarn.  In the picture it looks very pastel-ish.  In reality, there are spots in the yarn that area really quite vibrant with reds, brilliant greens, and deep purples.  I’ll try to skein up the yarn later today and see if I can get some pictures that better display the gorgeous dyeing job Klaus did.

Next on the wheel, well, I’m not sure.  I’m planning on spinning for the Ravelympics and I’m not sure I have time to get another project done before February 12th.  I’m hoping I can get another sock yarn finished so I can practice for the Ravelympics, but I don’t want to do much spinning and end up with sore hands.  Here’s the fiber I’m planning on spinning for the Ravelympics.

The fiber is from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep to Shoe kit and it is just lovely!  I can’t wait to get started spinning!

Dyeing Experiments

I finished up the dyeing experiments last week.  I was working with a couple of different dye materials for a presentation I was giving to my spinning guild on natural dyeing.  The last experiment involved dyeing with cochineal bugs.  Yep, bugs!  Shiver.  First I ground up an ounce of the bugs (which I bought while I was at SOAR from A Verb for Keeping Warm).  Then I placed the ground cochineal in a non-bleached coffee filter and tied it up in a pouch with undyed organic cotton twine.  I simmer this in a liter of water for about 20 minutes, added another 2 liters of water and some pre-soaked fiber and slowly brought the temperature up to a simmer over an hour.  I then simmered the fiber for an hour and let it sit overnight to cool.  I was able to dye several ounces of fiber from this one ounce of cochineal.  I didn’t use a mordant for the fiber an got a lovely lilac color.  I also overdyed a bit of fiber that I had tried dyeing with the elderberry and had added some alum as a mordant to see if that changed the way the elderberry solution was absorbed.  In the picture below, you can see both the fibers; the one without any mordant (lilac) and the one pre-dyed in elderberry with mordant (red).

Again, this isn’t the best picture as the pinkish fiber should really be a more lilac color.  Anyway, I have several ounces now of fiber in this color and will probably try to spin it up for a pair of socks or possibly some bunny slippers.  =)  So, my experimenting in natural dyeing is nearly done.  The only thing left to do for this year’s Fiber Exchange is to buy my 2 pounds of fiber and dye it.  So far, the plan is to buy some Earthues dye extract in logwood purple for the dyeing, but all those other colors are pretty tempting!

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It’s been a busy week this week and I’ve finally got a free afternoon to do a quick dye project.  My spinning guild has a dye exchange once a year in February and this year’s theme is natural/garden/kitchen dyeing.  Last year I tried a project I had seen on Ravelry where fiber was dyed with black beans.  I then knitted the dyed fiber up into this hat:

I brought the hat to a guild meeting and was rewarded with oohs and aahs, and an invitation to explain the dye process for the next year’s (that’d be this year now) dye exchange.  Now, if I just talked about the black bean dye project, that would take about 2 minutes.  So, I decided I should have more information to talk about and now have about 5 examples to share.  Sigh.   Anyway, I spent this afternoon prepping the fiber and mordanting it with vinegar and then preparing the dye by smashing dried and frozen elderberries (at least they looked as if they had been dried and frozen, although there was a bit of moisture content still in the berries) and then simmering them for an hour and then adding the fiber for another hour.   Here’s the fiber so far:

The fiber will sit in the dye pot overnight yet and then I’ll give it a rinse with some vinegar water and see how it turns out.

I’ve also been knitting socks this week.  I completed a pair of handspun socks out of BFL.  The fiber was dyed by Meghan from the StitchIt Podcast and is called Clematis.  Isn’t it a gorgeous purple color?

After finishing the Clematis socks, I started on some plain vanilla socks out of TOFUtsies.  The first sock is finished and I’m working on the gusset on the second sock.

The label says that the color is a limited edition Power Stripes.

So, lots of sock knitting getting done, which is a good thing because the 2010 Ravelympics are coming up and I need to get stuff off the needles so my needles are free for whatever events I’m competing in.  I’m on two teams, Team Sasquatch (a combination of podcasts:  Stitch It, The Knitmore Girls, The High Fiber Diet, and KIPing it Real) and the Manic Purl team.  The events list hasn’t been posted yet, but so far I’m thinking of competing in a spin to knit event (probable fiber to sock) and a project event.  I was thinking I would just do something easy like socks or mittens.  But then last night I was struck by the crazy idea that I might just be able to make a sweater in 2 weeks.  Nuts, right?!  Still, they suggest picking something that is a bit of challenge for you and this would definitely challenge me.  I’ve got the pattern picked out from the Custom Knits book by Wendy Bernard.  The sweater is Slinky Ribs.  It’s a short-sleeve sweater, but I think I’ll probably lengthen the sleeves to three-quarters length.  I’ve got some yarn picked out in a natural gray color from Marr Haven Wool Farm, just have to put in my order.  Woohoo!

Speaking of spinning, I’ve got the first month’s fiber from the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club.  It is a Falkland wool in a new colorway called Awakenings.  At first I didn’t like how it was spinning up as the colors were blending in what I thought was a weird way.  I decided to put it aside until the next day.  The next afternoon I started spinning again and it looked much better.  Must have been a matter of expectations.  I thought the colors wouldn’t look good if they blended, but after deciding to give it a try, it actually looks really good.  Of course, I still have to finish spinning the singles and ply it.  We’ll see how it looks plied up.

And finally, here’s what I’ve made in my kitchen this week.  I’ve made roasted Moroccan chicken, recipe made up on the spot including tomatoes, garbanzo beans, chicken (of course), salt, pepper, cinnamon, and dried apricots.  I had planned to eat this over rice, but then noticed a spaghetti squash that needed to be eaten and decided that was close enough and probably better for us.  Last night I made a sauerkraut sausage soup with onions, mushrooms, dill weed, left over turkey and turkey stock from Christmas, carrots, celery, cream of mushroom soup, etc.  Very yummy.  I’ve also made fresh bread in the bread machine twice this week (one currently baking) and made chocolate chip cookies and a coconut cranberry granola (photos below).

Whew, I’ve been busier than I thought!  Time to go rest for a bit and enjoy some leftover sauerkraut sausage soup!

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