Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Double double toil and trouble

For those on dial up, just skip this post. I've got a giant pile of pictures, including my cauldron (evil cackle).

I had sushi today, and it was divine. I need to have sushi way more often. It is a luxury that isn't that expensive. I shared 2 California rolls, and one I love Tuna roll with a friend. And for 11 bucks apiece, I think I can afford to do that more often. I had wanted sushi since August, I should have just bit the bullet and had it sooner.

In other news I had a baking experiment this weekend. I have a 5 lb bag of Rye flour in my freezer, from when I tried to make real German pumpernickel bread. (Never again). I was looking for an American style recipe, and I came across a blog I had heard about but hadn't visited before (smittenkitchen). Well I saw the pumpernickel recipe, but below it was a link to what she thought was way better, Russian Black Bread.

I immediately wanted to make it. So out came the rye flour, out came the yeast, and I pulled out all of the ingredients I had on hand, which was about half. I substituted oatmeal for bran, skipped the espresso powder, subbed in onion for shallots, skipped the caraway and fennel seeds. For the recipe see here. I will make more, and I will include all of the ingredients next time. I was just in a rush to get started, and bread only really needs 3 ingredients, water yeast and flour. Everything else just makes it better.

I had fun playing with my food. I had the dear sweet loveable one take a picture of me tossing the bread ball around it the kitchen. It was very solid. Perhaps that isn't the best state for yeast bread, but that is what I had.
And then I wrapped it all up and tried to let it rise. It did not rise much, hence the very compact loaves. I think I need to replace my yeast. It said it was expired, and now I believe it.

I threw one loaf in the freezer, and other one I had with eggs as toast, and just smothered in butter. It was worth the effort for sure. So that is cauldron item number 1.

Cauldron item number 2 has to do with knitting, more specifically dyeing yarn.

So I have a theory about knitting. If something doesn't fit right, it isn't going to get worn, and all that work to make it is wasted. SO, if you aren't using something, even if it took 5 weeks to make, making it over again will result in something you will actually like, and wear and use, and it is worth the time to remake it.

The first item I frogged was a pair of mittens I made with a merino alpaca blend. I have a really awesome pair of mittens. I will drive across town to retrieve them immediately if I drop one. They are made from old sweaters, and lined with cashmere. They kept my hands warm when I biked outside when it was -6 F outside. The mittens I knit, while nice, are completely outclassed. So I ripped them apart. I don't know what I will do with the yarn. Probably a cowl or hats.

The next item on the chopping block was a sweater. I know, swatches are your friend. Wash your swatch, dry your swatch, measure twice, cut once. I live life dangerously.

Back when I was happy about the sweater, shortly after finishing
I originally bought the yarn when I was severely bored waiting for my equation solver to spit out an answer last year. First I searched and searched for a cabled cardigan pattern. And then I started scoping out yarns I could use for it. And then I went to the web site, and compared all the colors, and visited a few others before settling on the dark turquoise colorway of Drops Karisma.

Sorry, my sad face doesn't look very sad.

I really wanted something more blue, but the turquoise was cheaper, and I was in a thrifty mood that day.

To make a long story short, it grew.

My hands are fully extended in that picture. And the sweater was not very flattering anymore. I spilled coffee on it last month, so I brought it home to wash it. That night I washed my socks. I didn't bother washing it until I ran out of clean socks again, a month later. This met my qualification for not wanting to wear something because it wasn't fitting right. It was barely dry, and I knew I had to rip it all out.

I felt sick to my stomach once I started, but I got over it and got into a ripping grove. The seams were the hardest part to get, and since this was in 5 pieces, there were many seams to rip, and woven in ends to find, and tangles to handle. But I managed to get it into a ball, tying in strands of yarn as I went. Then since the sweater was a little damp I turned the ball into a skein by winding it onto the kitchen table. The dear sweet lovable one helped me out with that one.

I tied it in a few places, and I had to take a picture of 1.) a sweater's worth of yarn in one place, and 2.) the cocker spaniel effect of frogged yarn. It only took a trip to the sink to get the yarn to straighten out. I then soaked it in vinegar and water overnight. Because frogging an entire sweater was not enough. I needed to over dye the dull dark turquoise color too. So while the yarn was soaking I tried to figure out how to dye all that freaking yarn.

I tried the crock pot method first, however the crock pot was not big enough to hold 500g of worsted weight yarn, so I switched to the stove, and the biggest pot in the cupboard, and got it up to 170 degrees way faster. I mixed the food coloring with vinegar, and dumped it in. And the yarn soaked it up instantly, which meant I went though a few iterations until I ran out of blue. I sort of wanted to try other colors, but I didn't want muddy colors, so I held off. I left the yarn to simmer, and hover around 210 degrees for an hour, pulled it out of the pot, and let it cool until the next night.

I dried the yarn by using the final spin on the washing machine, and this was the result.

 It was hard to get a good picture of the color. It was definitely more blue, see the pic with undyed yarn laying across the dyed yarn. But it was not very even, as shown in the pic on the bottom right. I have heard that dyeing at home is not very consistent, but I guess I needed to try it to believe it.

At this point, any normal person would have stopped, but I was not satisfied. So I went off to the store. Much to my chagrin, they sell larger bottles of red yellow green and black dye, but not blue. So I bought 2 more 4 packs. I also bought a tube of blue gel, since it sounds like the food safe yarn dyers of the world like that sort of stuff. I didn't use the gel.

The dear sweet lovable one pointed out that we have a huge pot, which is actually the pot for his pressure canner. So I dumped in 4 cups of vinegar, water to cover the yarn, and stirred in one container of blue into a separate cup of vinegar.

This time I brought the yarn up to 180, lifted the yarn out before dumping in the dye/vinegar mixture, then put the yarn back in. It instantly soaked in, so I took the other container of blue, along with half a cup of vinegar, stirred it in, lifted the yarn. dumped the dye, put the yarn back in, then got it up to 210, and let it simmer for an hour. I checked it, there was still a little unabsorbed dye, so I left it go for another 20. It didn't look any different. I figured a light blue was ok.
And then I had a hot steaming pile of yarn :D
Isn't that a gorgeous color? I think it is so cool that I could take a picture of a hot steaming pile of yarn.
 I tried to take a comparison picture without the flash, but the colors were all screwed up. Obviously you can tell that the yarn is much darker than it used to be, and hopefully that darkness is just blueness. However, the drama continues, because rinsing is not getting the yarn to stop bleeding.
What went wrong? I added more vinegar, nearly boiled for an hour, but still it looked like a pale blue as above. The sage knitter advice was to leave it in the dye pot overnight. Apparently on top of needing a ton of acid, blue can't be rushed.

Frankly I am tired with fiddling with it. It looks pretty, so what if it bleeds a little. It's not like I am washing it with anything other than itself in the sink.

Take care guys,

Molly : )

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