Monday, September 22, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

this and that

Adjusting to changes in routine and a busier schedule in general has been keeping me from the blog for longer than I intended. I can't guarantee that this will get better very soon, but I am still here. Still knitting, reading, visiting the farmer's market on Saturdays, cooking and baking, and very much enjoying the early autumn. This is, by far, my most favorite time of the year. I don't even know how to explain how much joy a single red leaf brings me. And that particular sharpness and slant to the sunlight! I think I love it even more because I know how quickly it passes. By November we'll be into our long, gray and rainy season, so this special six weeks must be fully savored while it lasts.

Look what I found at the farmer's market last weekend! A precious half-pint of wild huckleberries, hand gathered and carefully washed and packaged. I grew up picking huckleberries in the mountains of Idaho, something I get to do so rarely now that seeing these made me so happy and excited. We used half of them for huckleberry pancakes. The rest need to be eaten tonight. With such a tiny amount I'm not sure what to do with them. Maybe just enjoy them all on their own. (No, they are not blueberries and do not taste like blueberries. They're impossible to explain.)

Look what else - a finished pair of socks! I knit the first sock last winter and finally finished the pair a few days ago. They are just plain toe up socks. I use the general directions written by Ann Budd in the Summer 2007 Interweave Knits, with an Eastern cast on, short row heel, and sewn bind off (except I use a knit front and back (kfb) increase for the toe instead of m1 just because it's easier for me and I think it looks fine). The yarn is Socks that Rock Lightweight in Carbon or Carbon Dating (label says one thing, website says the other). This is almost the last of my variegated sock yarn, thank goodness. It always looks pretty in the skein, but I've discovered that I dislike the finished product. Semi-solids for me, thanks. The minor pooling that went on in this pair is enough to drive me batty.

And finally, look at this. This is what happens when a nearly-three-year-old is left unattended with a box of Crayolas. I got home from work the other day to find my laptop had been newly decorated with cerulean lightning. Mina was stealthy, apparently - Jamie didn't even notice she had done it. Fortunately baby oil and q-tips cleaned it right off, and left my computer smelling oddly powder-fresh.

I am very close to completing the knitting on my Cowl Pullover, and I still need to do minor surgery to correct Snow White's length. New sweaters coming soon!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

destash, with a purpose

So the more I've thought about this over the past few weeks, the more determined I am. I need to buy a loom. I guess "need" isn't really the right word. Yeah, I really, really want a loom. I've chosen which one, I've figured out where to get it, I just need to find the money. Fortunately for me, rigid heddle looms aren't all that expensive. You can see my LYS's prices for my loom of choice right here. Even so, I can't justify the purchase just out of the blue. Nor does my LYS want a pile of my stuff in trade. I'll be heading out to the used book and clothing consignment shops tomorrow. Hopefully the proceeds from that adventure combined with my little destash sale will yield enough for that 32" Harp.

One offering has already been claimed via my Ravelry sale/trade page. Here are a few other choice items:

Claudia Handpainted Fingering, 2 skeins, Sharks colorway. $20

Colinette Jitterbug, 1 skein Fruit Coulis, $20

Noro Hana Silk, 3 skeins, $32

Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool Quarters, 1 skein Steelhead, $15

The above prices all include first class shipping within the US. I'll mail to other countries but may need to charge additional shipping. There are several more things up for grabs on my Ravelry destash page (the STR is spoken for and just pending payment). Thanks for looking!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


More time lately has been spent buried in piles of books than in knitting, but I wanted to pop in and say hello. I'm still putting a few rows in here and there on my sweaters and socks and other things, but nothing is getting finished very quickly unless it's a book. And even with books, I've started far more than I've finished in the last few weeks. Some reading has been for pleasure, some has been academic. I'm not prepared to write about any of it today, I'm just here to say hi and share some jam.

We have an Italian plum tree in our yard and millions of blackberries taking over our neighborhood. I happened to see the little boxes of fruit pectin on the store shelf when I was looking for sugar not long ago, and decided I needed to try making jam. All the recipes for freezer jam I found online used so much sugar I couldn't bring myself to try them. We usually buy fruit spreads with no sweeteners added, and I wanted to make something similar. So I bought the Ball brand No Sugar Needed pectin and decided to experiment. The recipes included in the box didn't have directions for plums or blackberries, so I decided to treat the blackberries like raspberries and the plums like peaches. To combine the two I had to sort of combine the recipes. It all worked out though, so I'll share what I did.

Blackberry Plum Freezer Jam

The following amounts made seven half-pint jars of freezer jam. The blackberries are so small and sour this year that I didn't end up with sugarless jam, but my recipe uses significantly less sugar than anything I found online (and no artificial sweeteners).

  • 3 cups prepared fruit - I used half blackberries and half plums, approximately
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened fruit juice - I used pomegranate cherry because Jamie drank all the apple juice and that's what was in the freezer
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (because the box recipes said 1 Tbsp for peaches and none for raspberries, so I went with half)
  • 2 cups sugar, because my fruit was sour. With the no sugar needed pectin, you can choose 0 to 3 cups. Most traditional recipes use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to fruit; newer ones use 1:1. I wanted even less than that.
Prepare your fruit. I chopped the plums into fine pieces and squished them slightly with a potato masher to bring out the juice (Italian plums are dry). In a separate bowl, I mashed the blackberries and then stirred everything together. Dissolve the pectin in the fruit and lemon juices, then bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. When it comes to a full rolling boil, boil for one minute stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Immediately stir in the prepared fruit. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir to dissolve. Ladle into prepared jars, and put in the refrigerator to set. Once set, transfer to the freezer (within 24 hours). My jam set almost immediately, so the jars went into the freezer the same night - except for one, to eat right away.

It's hard to see the beautiful, clear purple in this photo. It was getting dark, but I wanted a picture before they went into the freezer. I tried the warm jam right away, and it's good! Even my husband, who has zero love for plums, thought it was "fine". Now I'm wondering what to do with the rest of the plums. And I'm also wondering whether apple butter can be frozen like jam. Anyone know?