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I realized I never really blogged much about Tour de Fleece beyond the initial Shetland/Tencel batts and possibly my Charlotte’s Web plan but here it goes.

Initial goal: Spin 4oz of the Sporfarm black Shetland/Tencel batts on the new very fast flyer I bought at BSG. Aim for a laceweight. Completed batts on Day 5.

Adjusted goal: Handpaint and spin 20 oz of Merino/Bamboo in a 2ply fingering weight yarn so Pam can knit me a Charlotte’s Web Shawl.

I forgot to spin on Day 7 (mostly because I didn’t get home till 11.30pm that night and by then I was exhausted). Then I forgot to take my rest days so I decided that if I counted Day 7 as a rest day that meant I needed to also rest on the last day in order to make up for the official rest days. That means I have spun for 21 out of the last 23 days. Boy am I tired πŸ™‚

Β 

Final Tour de Fleece stats:

Β 

3 7/8oz Sporfarm Black Shetland/Tencel (2:1) 2 ply 319 yards. 17 wpi

3 5/8 oz Dragonfibers Secret Garden Merino Bamboo. 2 ply 340 yards. 18 wpiΒ 

3 3/4 oz Dragonfibers Free Range Merino Bamboo. 2 ply 348 yards. 19 wpi

4 oz Dragonfibers Masquerade Merino Bamboo. 2 ply 331 yards. 19 wpi

3 7/8 oz Dragonfibers Blackberry Truffle Merino Bamboo. 2 ply 330 yards. 18 wpi

The 4oz Dragonfibers Lagoon Merino/Bamboo roving never got spun up. So close!

20oz in 21 days. 1668 yards. Not too shabby at all.

Several weeks ago I pulled a cookbook off my bookshelf and started flipping through the pages. I suddenly had the urge to buy a pound of organic grapes because I started to feel a long forgotten urge again.

The cookbook? Breads from the La Brea Bakery.

It isn’t my favorite bread book by any means (very few can beat the Bread Baker’s Apprentice IMO) but what I love the most about this book is the starter it uses. It isn’t an easy starter to use, in fact there are 4-5 very intense days of feeding it 3 times a day. There is a lot of baby starter that gets poured down the sink during that time but oh man is it worth it.

The La Brea starter only requires 3 things, water, flour and organic grapes. Yup the whole thing is made by using the natural yeasts on the skins of grapes, there isn’t a speck of commercial yeast nor any use of added sugar. It’s all about the grapes and the flour. I love that.

I won’t kid you, it was a little hard to get going but once those yeasty beasties got going boy did things get fun.

Mmm bubbling batter πŸ™‚

I got home from work and decided that was a good time to try out my first loaf. I needed to know if my starter was a keeper so I set about making the Country White Bread.

Doesn’t look like much does it?Β 

One of the joys of the recipe I chose was the overnight rest in the fridge, not only does it make bread taste so much better when the dough is slowed down so the flavors can develop but it is great at making bread baking fit into most schedules. I got up this morning and shortly before heading out to run some errands I pulled out the chilled and formed loaf so it could finish proofing.

Now does this look good or what? Check out the blisters on the crust. Just what I was looking for.

Not only does it look wonderful but it tastes pretty damn good too. I have a feeling this might become a weekly loaf for me, as long as I feed my starter on Thursday night before going to bed I can have a fresh loaf of bread for Saturday lunch (or dinner).

I’ve already started thinking of how good this will taste with some garlic and rosemary mixed into the dough, or maybe a pesto or sundried tomato variation.

I know it is just a simple loaf of bread but it reminds me of how much I enjoy cooking and baking. I had forgotten how much I liked baking bread and it’s a welcome change of pace from the non-stop spinning I’ve been doing for Tour de Fleece. I’ve always loved to cook but when it’s just for one person you tend to think of simple easy dishes rather than making elaborate meals.

Now that I have my Full Circle Farm CSA box coming every week I’ve started thinking more about planning good meals around what gets delivered rather than cooking dinner because I need to eat. One day I’d like to have people over for dinner again, I used to do it a long time ago and it’s something I truly miss. I love to cook and having friends to share it with makes it all that more enjoyable.

I will never become a master chef and I don’t hold any illusions about being the best cook in the world. I know my cakes aren’t perfect and my piping skills are intermediate at best but one of the things I love about cooking is that your practicing is almost always edible.Β 

I went to culinary school because I had a passion for baking and it feels wonderful to reintroduce it into my life. I’m filled with a new excitement and thrill that has really been missing in my life these last few years. All in all I’m happy πŸ™‚

I had such great plans of taking pictures of every single day for Tour de Fleece. It would have made such a cool collage. As you can probably guess I sort of forgot. Oops.

First I forgot to take a picture of the black Shetland/Tencel batts I bought from Sporfarm at BSG. Lovely batts btw. I only paid $8.50 for 4oz and it was 1/3 white tencel. Very nice to spin.

There you have it. Day 1 through Day 5. 4oz of 2ply fingering weight yarn. 330yards and 17wpi.

The downside to completing this project so quickly is that TdF is only 5 days old at this point. Thankfully I had a little bit of fiber lying around. A little brainstorming action and a quick text msg to Pam and TdF project #2 was in the works.

20 oz of Dragonfibers Merino/Bamboo dyed in Secret Garden, Free Range, Oceanic, Masquerade and Blackberry Truffle. These were all dyed up on Day 4 since I knew I was nearing the end of the shetland. The colors are a little muted due to the bamboo content and I’ve got my fingers crossed that they will actually look good together.

What is the plan for all that fiber?

Well a while back Pam made the big mistake of agreeing to knit me a Charlotte’s Web shawl as long as I provided the yarn. I promptly skeined up some superwash merino/bamboo sock yarn in the required amounts. The yarn is still sitting undyed in the closet. So I have a new plan. I’ve got more than enough fiber to spin a decent 2ply sockweight yarn and with a challenge like TdF I have the motivation to actually get it done.

With less than 18 days left in the challenge it means I won’t have time to slack off but since this is coinciding with the completion of a large wholesale order for Dragonfibers the timing works out pretty well.

I’m seriously wondering if there is a way to attach a pedometer to the wheel so see how much I’m treadling πŸ™‚

Sadly I don’t have any exciting knitting progress to show off. I could take another picture of the Garter Blankie but somehow blogging about another 3-4 inches of garter stitch doesn’t seem very interesting.

However July 5th marked the beginning of Tour de Fleece. I had planned on washing and spinning my Finn fleece that I bought at OFFF last year but scheduling got in the way of that notion. I decided to go with a ‘learn to use my new flyer’ approach and attempt true laceweight.

tdf day 1

Day 1. 2oz of my Black Shetland and Tencel batts that I got at BSG. Unfortunately I didn’t quite realize that spinning 2oz on the VFF would go that quickly so I only have 2oz left before I can ply. I somehow doubt this will keep me busy for the entire Tour de France. However this is probably not quite laceweight so I will try and try again πŸ™‚

In other news….I finally got to meet Cristi!!!

I also forgot to take a picture of us but hopefully the ones she got turned out well so I have photographic proof that I met her.

She managed to escape her sisters for a few hours and joined the informal Saturday knitting group that hangs out at VY&T. Hopefully she had fun πŸ™‚

The one downside to meeting Cristi? She showed me her latest crochet market bag and pointed out that VY&T carried the bamboo crochet needles that she swears by. Couple that with my compulsive shopping of kitchen cotton at a recent Joanns sale and you can see where this is going.

crochet cotton

I think I started on this around 7pm (a girl’s got to eat first you know) and before I knew it I looked at the clock and realized it was 1.30am. I did take a break or two at some point during that marathon crochet session because I got it into my head that 10pm on a Saturday night was a completely reasonable time to clean out your fridge of old leftovers. Oh and I decided to make more jam, Plum Rhubarb this time (earlier in the day I made Peach Cherry).

I had maybe 1 more round of mesh to crochet before making the handle before I finally called it a night. So after sleeping in till 9am (yes that is sleeping in for me) I tackled the rest of the bag.

bag

I had forgotten how fast crochet can be, especially when most of the bag is made up of a nice airy mesh. The only mods I made was adding an extra round of double crochet to the bottom and only making about 17 rounds of the mesh before starting the handles. Β It was super easy, I will definitely be making more and the chances are each one might be a little different.Β 

The one hiccup in making the market bag? I had to look up all the crochet terms. The problem is I learned to crochet using British names so I found myself looking up what a half double crochet and double crochet were. The latter is what I learned as treble crochet. I think I might need to get myself a crochet stitch guide that uses US terms because the only one I have access to is my Mom’s and that is a mid 70’s British publication.

Today will hopefully be a busy dye-filled day for me, I still have dreams of rearranging my living room but last night while I happily crocheted I realized that I needed a new cable if I wanted to move my tv. The house cleaning/rearranging may need to wait a bit.

Flickr Photos

Dragonfibers

On the needles

February Fitted Pullover

Sapphire Waves of Grain

On the Bedside Table

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (ok not really since I can't find the book anymore)

on the wheel

Absolutely Nothing.

Stashdown 2009

January 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 233 Total Weight:33.13lbs Total Miles: 27

February 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 213 Total Weight:30.09lbs Total Miles: 26

March 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 218 Total Weight:31.95lbs Total Miles: 27

April 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 217 Total Weight:31.45lbs Total Miles: 26.5

May 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 229 Total Weight: 33.8 Total Miles: 28.4

June 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 210 Total Weight: 31.9 Total Miles: 27.7

July 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 201 Total Weight: 30.5 Total Miles: 26.5

August 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 228 Total Weight: 34.0 Total Miles: 28.8

October 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 254 Total Weight: 38.2 Total Miles: 31.8

November1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 224 Total Weight: 34.9 Total Miles: 29.9

December 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 206 Total Weight: 31.9 Total Miles: 27.1

KAL

World Bread Day '07

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