Saturday, January 09, 2010

not just knitting

At the risk of turning this into a food blog, I've been cooking. Nothing new there ... usually there is home made muesli, some sort of baking in the lunch box, and dinner is scratch cooked more than half the time, with veggies. But some times the cooking is significant, I mastered Tarte Tatin, not that I've abandoned my fibre loves, I'm trying to master woolen spinning long-draw from rolags (two things to master there long draw and the making rolags), and yes, I'm still knitting those two projects, the Socktober Mystery sock from 2008 and the Whisper cardigan.

Tarte Tatin, one of those things that looks impressive, looks delicious, and looks tricky to make. Two things happened recently that spurred me on to attempt a Tarte Tatin, first in one of those ubiquitous master chef competitions on tv the professional wanna be top chefs had to demonstrate their skill by making Tarte Tatin. Three of the four chefs failed miserably, and as the two chef-judges critiqued their efforts, I learned that a good Tarte Tatin needs to have the pastry properly cooked so it was light and flaky or crumbly. I also learned that the pastry needed to be tucked in around the apples so it formed a wee lip or ridge that would hold in the apple and caramel. In a recent fibre swap I was sent a French cookbook, which has been sitting in the living room, and has inspiring photos and recipes, including one for Tarte Tatin ... I realized it only had a few ingredients - and seemed straightforward. Well its not, my first try was over caramelized and over sweet and toffee like - honestly we had to smash it with our dessert forks to eat it. This was try number two - much much better. I shouldn't really admit that there have been three made (two successful) since the last post .... but there have. I also found inspiration and advice on youtube, I shouldn't be surprised I know and love the food of one of the chefs responsible ... and know his students are well trained so can turn out great nosh. This week I've mastered Tarte Tatin! Go on, invite me for a pot-luck or bring-a-plate, I'm anxious to show off.

I am feeling a little overrun by spinning stash ..... there is so much lovely fibre in my house that I want to spin. I'm trying to clear what is on the wheels, and today spent some time with this green fibre, making rolags. Again you-tube provided a good tutorial, although I'm not quite as proficient with the hand carders as the expert on the video. I had 130g of this fibre, corridale with a small mix of possum, and divided it into 3 equal bumps. I spun the first as worsted, short draw, but it didn't go well, the fibre wasn't really ready for worsted, and I lost the end on the bobbin and couldn't find it. That is when in spinning the singles snap and the end buries it self deep in the singles already coiled around the bobbin - I had to cut what I had spun from the bobbin and start again. It happens ... unfortunately, not often, but it happens. I decided that since I was battling worsted ... trying woolen couldn't hurt. So I made the 2nd bump of fibre into rolags spun.

It worked, the fibre pulls out easily, but does produce a single with character, lots of tufts of possum and slubs ... thats ok. Over the last year I've learned that quite bumpy yarn can ply and then knit into quite acceptable things. I'm enjoying the long draw, its working! Again you tube provided a little more visual 'how-to' that added to the information in the spinning books I have. I do need to say in New Zealand short forward or backward worsted draw spinning seems to be the norm, I've seen one or two spinning from the fold ... but only 2 very short demonstrations of long draw but spinners who made it clear they were not long-draw experts.

My current sock grows ..... I'm giving it most of my knit time, for this sock is more interesting than the 'other' project. The second heel is turned and the gusset whittling away .... shouldn't be long now.

And Whisper lingers, at 4.5". The pattern calls for 8", and I was avoiding measuring it, as I mentioned last time, as soon as one measured the knitting, especially stocking stitch knit flat .. the progress immediately slows. There is a mathematical truth to that. I'm not sure that expert mathematicians have devoted any study on the phenomena but I truly believe there is a dimensional distortion in both time and space that shimmers and folds time once a knitter measures their progress against the goal. The distortion then means knitters need to expend more time and effort to knit to a determined length than would usually be the case.

Take care, Bear returns to work tomorrow, while I stay home with the cubs for another 2 weeks ... I suspect there will be more domestic things, knitting, spinning, sewing, backing, gardening ... I may as well enjoy my leisure while I can.

na Stella


Knitting Linguist said...

Ooh, that tarte tatin looks absolutely wonderful! I'm very impressed, and would invite you over first thing, except I think the drive would be difficult at best ;) The spinning is also quite lovely. I have been itching to work on my long draw, but this alpaca top that's waiting for me is probably not the place to start. Soon...

Milly said...

I'm simply awed by your cooking skills and the spinning looks good. I spend my day spinning as well and had a similar mishap with some Southdown Babydoll, but all is well now.

I love the green, it is very pretty.

Lindsay said...

Cute socks.

You are so right! As soon as you start to measure stockinette... you can say goodbye to speedy results.