Archive for September, 2011

Blueberry melomel

I ended up with five bottles. Technically, I ended up with 4 3/4 bottles and a large mess on the floor. I haven’t mastered the art of transferring the siphon hose from one bottle to the other without spillage, yet. I have topped up the 5th bottle with filtered water (it’s the one with the Trius chardonnay label). I’ll be interested to see what that does to the flavour, compared to the others. I tasted a bit of the lees and it is quite tart, with definite blueberry flavours. My daughter, who had been very good about helping me bottle, was thought it was foul, but she doesn’t like alcohol at all. Now it will go down to the basement to sit for a year.


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This weekend I was given a large bag of walnuts. From a quick read at http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/blackwalnutdye.html, I have enough walnuts for five gallons of dye. I have started hulling them, but without gloves it is messy (even using a plastic bag to protect my hands). I have done the first 15 walnuts and set the rest out to dry. I’ll keep working at them over the next few days.

I did several hours of drop spinning this weekend, and ended up with two nice skeins of plied wool. I talked with someone else who spinning dyed wool and she said she hadn’t had major problems with felting, so perhaps I will try dyeing some of my unspun wool, to compare with what I get using skeins. If nothing else, this would allow me to clear bags of prepared dye baths out of my freezer. Another friend admired my soapstone spindle whorl, so now I know what to do with another chunk of soapstone; that will only leave five more spindles to make up and give away….

Late last week, my friend the jeweller told me that I have more than enough work to do cleaning up one brooch and getting it cast before November 12. I have pondered her advice all weekend and decided she is right. I will aim to have one completed brooch, one mould as near to finished as I can make it, and one repaired mould for comparison purposes.

In other news, I am half-way through another netted vegetable bag; I had fun teaching my friend Sarah how to do net on the weekend. I also decided that one of my fleeces was too disgusting to do anything with and threw it in the trash this morning. I still have at least three fleeces to deal with, plus a huge amount of prepared wool and yarn, so I’m reasonably certain I will be able to complete 50 things towards my challenge.

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Not all at once! But I did want to report on a moderately productive weekend.

Last night I continued cleaning up my brooches. The first mold needed adjustments to the bow. I also removed a lot more wax from the second mold. It is about triple the required thickness now. My next step on the first mold is to file everything as smooth as possible before carving the design. I will continue cutting away wax on the second mold. I also want to try mending the broken molds, just to see how that will work.

I spent part of this afternoon drop spinning with my norse soapstone spindle. This is a reproduction and I love the weight of it. I find I can get a nice fine thread with little effort.

This evening I racked my blueberry melomel. It needs to sit for another 10 days. The instructions aren’t clear about whether it is to sit for 10 days and then cleared, or whether I should add a clearing agent now and let it sit for 10 days. I’ll ponder overnight and re-read the instructions tomorrow.

I’m finishing up the sour pickles. After three weeks in brine and then three weeks in vinegar and spices, they are definitely tangy! I have ended up with five quarts, though there wasn’t quite enough of the spiced vinegar that the pickles have been soaking in, so one jar had to be topped up with plain pickling vinegar. Unlike fresh pickles, the trimmed ends of these pickles look a bit discoloured. It doesn’t affect the flavour, but I can see why canning became an attractive alternative (in addition to the reduced likelihood of food poisoning).

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The tent got completed about 2 hours before I had to leave for the weekend. It rained. I stayed dry. It needs some adjustments, but overall I am very pleased.

It turns out that the draping method used for sewing doesn’t work quite so well for framing tents. Also, measuring tents when they are laying flat doesn’t always give perfectly accurate results. I need to trim off about 6″ on one side and at the back or front. I may fiddle with my peg holes a bit too, as the wood swelled in the rain and made it difficult to disassemble (keeping in mind the trade-off between too loose to be sturdy and too tight to take apart). I was given some twill tape so I can tie the tent to the frame next time; it’s one of the things I didn’t get a chance to deal with. I will also sew a strip of canvas all around the bottom to further limit rain coming in under the edge of the tent. That strip can be tucked underneath the frame. The only downside of my lovely new tent is the realization that I don’t have a good space to store all those 10′ long pieces of wood.

My other projects for the weekend involved netting. I had brought along my fishing net but it was too rainy to string out, so instead I made a vegetable bag.

I also taught my daughter’s friend to net, so she has started another bag I intend to give away as a gift.

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Retrofitting the tent

Buying a tent and building a frame seemed like a good idea at the time. It would be a really good idea for people who have the ability to think in 3D (and some design sense). It was a moderately good idea for me (largely because it is really good quality canvas and I don’t have to sew it). It would be a better idea if I had not left the tent to age, like fine wine, for three years. It would be a brilliant idea if I had purchased all the wood more than 24 hours before heading out to the camping event where I need to use it (my son is out buying the last two pieces as I type this). It would be outstanding if I had somehow managed to get the thing assembled before my son got home from work and had the opportunity to laugh at me for procrastinating – it’s his downfall and I am constantly lecturing him about the dangers of leaving things until the last minute.

I have the thing more than half completed. The remaining pieces should be relatively simple to assemble as I simply need to copy pieces that have already been cut to size. It will be fine, really – there are hundreds of minutes until I need to pack the car…

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