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Monthly Archives: April 2014

I recently finished my first shawl of the year.

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I’m not exactly sure what is happening so far in 2014 (I think it’s called the spinning wheel), but I am surprised that it took me so long to cast on a shawl. I think I had forgotten that I love to knit lace, how just arranging well planned holes and twisted stitches transforms yarn into something so amazing. And how the spaghetti that comes off the knitting needles just metamorphosizes into glory once it is blocked.

For me, there is nothing that flies off the needles faster than a well designed shawl.

So, when I cast on Jared Flood’s Sempervivum shawl in a wondrous grey yarn from Hedgehog Fibres, a score of an experimental shade that was in the dyer’s personal stash, I could not put the needles down.

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And, as a bonus, this shawl is knit from the bottom up, which means that, the most stitches you’ll have on the needles is at cast on!

I am always careful about using variegated yarns on lace, as not to detract from the lace motif. However, I think this yarn worked out pretty well. No striping, no pooling… just hints of blues, greens, rusts in a wash of grey.

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I have been wearing this shawl nonstop. And yes, I’ve cast on another shawl!

I love wearing socks that are knit out of handspun yarn.

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(These are a pair knit out of Pigeonroof Studio merino/nylon in “Mystere”, n-plied.)

This creates a little bit of an issue — I have to spin the yarn, and then I have to knit the socks. And, as someone who is very hard on socks (for some reason, within the last month or so I have basically walked out of multiple pairs of hand knit socks — we are not talking small holes here, these are just heels that completely gave out!), the thought of walking through a pair of handspun, hand knit socks is very tough.

Yes, of course I can be vigilant about darning my socks…. and I think I will, once I learn how. (Note to self: Research different methods of sock darning.)

I decided to see if I can make a sock yarn that would withstand my tough wear. I had some Coopworth fiber from Shepherd’s Hey Farm (Hannah), and I had some Polwarth fiber from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. What if I ply 2 singles spun out of the polwarth with 1 single of the coopworth? Would the single ply of the long wool fiber make an other wise soft yarn stronger? Would it make the overall yarn very “wooly” or would the polwarth make the yarn softer?

I spun both fibers with more twist than I would normally spin these fibers with. I also plied with pretty high twist — to balance the yarn and because I thought this would make for a harder-wearing yarn. This was a little bit tricky, because the polwarth and coopworth were spun with different amounts of twist…but the resulting yarn ended up being balanced, and I thought, looked pretty.

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The grey is the coopworth, undyed, and the blues to yellow is the BMFA polwarth. I was excited to see how this yarn would knit up. And I had just the pattern for it. Cookie A. Sock Club‘s February 2014 pattern called Possibly Maybe.

I skeined the yarn and set off on knitting the socks.

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I cranked away. I had 330 yards of this yarn, and since most of my socks were 300-320 yards… I thought that I had spun enough yarn.

However….

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Oops!

So.. the solution here? I had a few people weigh in. “NEON PINK”!!! Someone said. (I almost did it, too!) “Try to match one of the colors so it will not be so noticeable.” “It won’t show because you can keep your foot in your shoe…”

I decided, since I had a little bit of the polwarth singles left over, that I would ply that with something (unfortunately, I was out of the coopworth fiber!) to make the Toe Yarn.

Luckily, in the fall, I had spun some Wensleydale that had been dyed navy blue. the single was a little bit thicker than the ply of the Coopworth, but I thought that since Wensleydale is a long wool breed, that this would be close enough for the socks.

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The yarn felt similar, but clearly, it was a lot more blue-dominant than the original yarn.

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…But, the socks are done. The yarn, knit up, feels like wool hiking socks. I think that is what I will be using them for. Let the wearing phase of the experimentation begin! I will report back.

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When I was growing up, I remember going through a magazine with Mom and picking out a lemon dessert. The dessert is called “Lemon Souffle”. I still have a copy of the magazine cutout (now digitally permanent!) and I have decided to give it a go. The spring weather we are finally getting here in NYC is making me want to eat this dessert.

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Remembering the dessert and looking at the recipe, I don’t think I would call this a soufflé. We ate it chilled, so there is a layer of a cake, almost like a sponge on top, and a layer of lemon custard on the bottom. Not the puffy, hold your breath, airy dessert that I would characterize as a classic French soufflé.

I went hunting around my cook books, wondering whether this is a uniquely Japanese dessert…or whether it is called something else in the US. And there it was, in the very first cookbook I ever purchased….The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The ratios are slightly different, but the description sounds exactly the same.  In this country, it’s called Lemon Pudding.

Here it is:

Lemon Pudding/Lemon “Souffle”
(adapted from Mom’s old magazine article, above, and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

Ingredients:

40g butter, at room temperature
140g sugar (separated into 100g and 40g – 40g to be used for whipping the meringue)
3 eggs, separated
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 lemon
30g flour (I used cake flour)
200cc milk
confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F; boil a kettle of water (for the water bath)

In a medium bowl, with a wooden spoon, beat butter. add 100g of sugar, a little at a time. When all of the sugar has been incorporated into the butter, add egg yolk, one at a time mixing well to blend after adding each yolk. The mixture at this point should be egg yolk yellow and starting to get fluffy.

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Add the lemon zest, and add the lemon juice a little at a time, beating well to incorporate. If you add the lemon juice all at once, this mixture may separate. (The mixture will look a little curdled. Do not worry!)

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Add the flour, and then the milk, adding a little at a time and making sure to incorporate.

Beat egg whites until they are foamy. Add the 40g of sugar a little at a time, beating all the while, until stiff peaks form.

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Mix 1/4 of the egg whites and mix into the egg yolk mixture, when that is fully incorporated, add the remainder of the egg whites, and fold it gently but quickly until no white streaks are visible.

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The original recipe has you bake this in a buttered and floured sponge form, I am baking it in a pie dish since that is what my Mom did.

Place the filled pan into a larger pan, fill the outside pan with the hot water until the water is 1/2 way up the pie dish.

Bake 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool and serve either tepid or cold. Mom always refrigerated it and we had it cold. Fannie Farmer wants you to eat it with heavy cream…I am totally happy with it plain!

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I don’t know if you can see it, but see, there’s a cake layer on top and a custard/pudding layer on the bottom!

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Enjoy!

I have been working on a secret project. It’s really pretty.

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It is a project though, that requires that the sleeves are knit onto the body after the body has been completely knit. I hate having a big pile of knitting on my lap, turning the whole thing as I knit the sleeves in the round.

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My solution? Sticking the whole thing in a bag. (Oooo I cut it off. It’s a Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue canvas back pack. A PERFECT large knitting project bag, with a big pocket on the outside. )

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This way, the mass of knitted fabric is not hanging out on your lap — which may be a good thing in the dead of winter — but not so much as it starts warming up. And, with the fabric more contained, it is a lot easier to turn the bag as the sleeve is knit. 🙂

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Knit on!