Sunday, 11 January 2015

Thanksgiving Hat


This past October, we celebrated Thanksgiving up-island with friends visiting the island from the mainland.  The long weekend felt special because it was my first free weekend since Labour Day, as I had been spending weekends working through an awesome Yoga Teacher Training program at Moksana.  So, working full-time during the week and studying full-time on weekends meant there was little time left for knitting.  I couldn't wait to have a weekend off and start a new project!

I received a skein of "Jean Jacket" Amber Label Tanis Fiber Arts in late September as part of the Year in Colour Club 2014.  It was quickly hidden and I didn't even *dare* look at it until the Thanksgiving weekend because I knew it would prove to be too great a distraction from work and studies.  Good thing I waited to use this skein because the digital version of Shannon Cook's hat pattern "Schwimmen" was finally released the day before our 3hr drive up-island on that Thanksgiving weekend (for non-knitters, a long drive usually = knitting time).  I had seen a sneak-preview of the collection but thought it was being released at a later date.  Couldn't wait for the paperback version of this pattern so downloaded the pattern at home minutes before our long drive.

The weekend turned out to be a rainy one, so we mostly read, played games, and I knitted, of course.  This hat proved to be a very quick knit and was done by Monday.  It feels super light & soft.  I'm usually partial to fingering-weight hats for our mild Westcoast climate, but this DK yarn/design combo is very comfortable.
One last picture of this Thanksgiving Hat sitting atop the underside of Tippy, my Dad's row-boat.
Project notes



Sunday, 4 January 2015

Papaya Shawl


Back in July 2013 I received this gorgeous skein of "Paprika" yarn as part of the Tanis Fiber Arts 2013 Year in Colour Club.  As soon as I opened the package, a flurry of ideas buzzed through my head.  The Red Label was so soft and the colour so rich and vibrant that this skein had a life of its own and needed to go into production right away.

I had been eyeing this project.  I liked the airy, spring lightness produced by the lace pattern within the body of the shawl.  However, since the weight and yardage of my skein were much less than the pattern, I decided to make my own design.  That way I could also incorporate a few baubles, a recent obsession.   After testing a gazillion top-down baubles & vines constructions, I finally settled on a simple 3 baubles pattern.


This became shawl #2 for my Mom.  She looks awesome in orange and I knew she would love it.  I hope she doesn't tire of shawls because they are so fun to knit!


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Cakes o'plenty!


Someone received a ball-winder as an excellent gift this season!  Thanks J. you're the best!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Strathcona hiking



After many years of planning, E. and friends are on a multi-day hike to the Forbidden Plateau area of Strathcona Park.  For my eastern family & friends, this is no regular walk in the park.  They are hiking in pristine alpine wilderness terrain, far away from roads, dwellings, and cell connections.

The group departed from Paradise Meadows at Mount Washington on Friday around lunchtime.  Their first day was a 5hr, mostly uphill-hike to the base camp Circlet Lake.  After a cold night in a tent, yesterday they hiked to Mount Jutland then back to base camp for dinner & sleeping.  Other day hikes from Circlet Lake might include Mount Albert Edward or Mount Castlecrag.

On Friday, J. & I drove the group up and proceeded on our own alpine day-hike in Strathcona Park.  We started from the Paradise Meadows parking lot and took the western trail to Kwai Lake, then looped back by Croteau & Battleship Lakes.  


Unfortunately, our hike was overcast and wet so we were unable to see the mountain views.  If we return one day, we might be surprised with views of snow-covered alpine peaks.  Ours was a wet 5hr, 15km alpine hike (read:  muddy up & down).  We had planned on picnicking but decided to just keep going because it was so wet.  Despite the rain we were still greeted with amazing alpine beauty.  Here are some pics of what we saw:
Ruffed Grouse?
J. by the ranger station near Kwai Lake
Alpine Meadow
Nothing beats fresh alpine air & meadows.  Rain or shine, I look forward to my summertime alpine hikes every year!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Westcoast Spring


Fresh air
     blue ocean
          unpredictable weather
                no cell or internet, it could only mean ... a day trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island!



Aah, the beach ... 



 Interesting finds
                                                       
                                                     New gumboots

And above all, the promise of Spring to come!

Monday, 11 February 2013

On My Needles - a sweater ... finally!

Socks & gloves are practically all I've knitted in the past few years.  Funny, because I used to think that they were so complicated.  As a teenager I knit many sweaters and even a long jacket.  Some were colour work, others cables.  I probably stopped knitting sweaters because wool is expensive and you need a lot of it to make a sweater, sweaters are difficult to fit, and take a long time to make.

Despite these major drawbacks, after a multi-year sweater-knitting hiatus, I started a new sweater project right after Christmas.  The pattern is called I heart Aran by Tanis Lavallée.  I'm also using Tanis' Green Label in Chris Grey , purchased on Etsy before Christmas.  At purchase time this shade was a One-Of-A-Kind colour, but has since been added to the regular colourways.  I love this colour because it's so shiny.


Unlike earlier sweater creations which followed patterns to the letter, I have changed a few sizings in this one to hopefully make it fit perfectly.  So far the front, back, and most of one arm are done.  Although the cable pattern looks complex, it was easy to remember. Ploughing through cables again was very satisfying.

Confession time - I have never blocked a sweater.  I will have to research whether to block it prior to piecing it together, or afterwards.

Here's the sweater so far:

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Bread recipes


This month marks the one-year anniversary of taking a breakmaking class.  In the past year I have made over 100 loaves of many different shapes & sizes.  While there have been 1 or 2 bread-fails, the rest have been tasty, if not spectacular!
bread fail
The failures were oddly exciting because I learned from experimentation what to do & not do again.  A big part of the successes have been using a journal .  

Having the right tools also helps: 
- 2 cast iron dutch ovens with lids  (iron gets nice & hot)
- digital scale (the key to a successful breadmaking experience)
- "Red Star" dry yeast
- coarse sea salt
- homeground whole wheat kernels (ground in Vita-Mix)
- Levain (starter)
Here are the 2 bread recipes I learned, reprinted with permission from chef Brad Williams (flour ratios my own).  Each recipe makes 2 loaves:

No-Knead Bread
350g white flour
150g whole grain flour (or whole wheat)
5g yeast
10g salt
350g water

1.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until no lumps remain.  
2.  Cover with a tea towel & let rest for 12 hours on the counter, or 24 hours in the fridge.  
3.  Heat oven to 475 degrees F, warming the Dutch oven inside the oven.  
4.  Knead dough lifting right edge onto left edge & rotating bowl a quarter turn.  Repeat 3 times.  
5.  Remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface while oven warms (at least 30 min).  
6.  In a 2nd bowl with clear water, rinse off bits of wet dough stuck to your hands.  You don't want this dough to go down the drain.  In the bowl of water the dough will sink to the bottom so it's easy then to put in the garbage.
7.  When oven is at 475, remove the empty Dutch oven & coat bottom lightly with flour.  
8.  Drop dough inside the Dutch oven, replace lid & bake in oven for 40 minutes.   Lower temperature to 450 after a few minutes.
9.  The bread is ready when e the kitchen smells like fresh bread and you can knock on the bread top.  Remove bread from Dutch oven & cool on countertop.  Resist the temptation to cut the bread while warm.  It is still cooking at this point & will sag without reaching its full bread-awesomeness potential.

Levain Bread
Same ingredients as above, add 250g of Levain.  Get some from a friend, store, bakery.  There are also some recipes on the Internet on how to start some.

This bread is more work but more moist so well worth the effort.  
1.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until no lumps remain.  
2.  For the next 2 hrs, roughly every 15 minutes, knead dough lifting right edge onto left edge & rotating bowl a quarter turn.  Repeat 3 times.  After every kneading, in a 2nd bowl with clear water, rinse off bits of wet dough stuck to your hands.  
3.  Then let dough rise for an hour.  A few times I've forgotten about it then went for a hike and it still worked out fabulously.  It's only bread so it's very forgiving.  
4.  After the hour, heat oven to 475 degrees F, warming the empty Dutch oven inside oven. 
5.  Remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface while oven warms (at least 30 min).  
6.  When oven is at 475, remove Dutch oven & coat bottom lightly with flour. 
7.  Drop dough inside the Dutch oven, replace lid & bake in oven for 40 minutes.   Lower temperature to 450 after a few minutes.
8.  Remove bread from oven & Dutch oven, & let cool on countertop.
9.  The bread is ready when e the kitchen smells like fresh bread and you can knock on the bread top.  Remove bread from Dutch oven & cool on countertop.  Resist the temptation to cut the bread while warm.  It is still cooking at this point & will sag without reaching its full bread-awesomeness potential.

Lessons learned:
- Remove bread from the oven after cook time.  Like a failed soufflé, the steaming-hot bread will collapse if left in the container when cooling.
- Wait until the oven is at the correct temperature before putting the bread in.  If the Dutch oven is not hot enough the dough will really stick to the bottom.  The bread itself will not cook properly either.

I hope these instructions make sense.