Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Little Spinning Project: Conclusion

I finally got over the trauma of cutting my knitting and got around to finishing my little spinning project this week. I knitted the button band onto my cowl, steamed it, and sewed on some buttons. I'm pretty pleased with the results, though I'm not sure how much wear this will really get.

With the 'warm' skein all used up, I turned my attention to its 'cool' partner. I found it difficult to choose a project for this skein, so I ended up making a small bag in simple seed stitch. Lining it and adding a ribbon closure went a long way towards adding interest in the final product.

Perhaps what I am most happy with is how the striping came out. Though not apparent when wound into skeins, the two skeins were constructed with complementary striping patterns. Laying the final projects next to each other, they look like half siblings as opposed to twins. Each is unique but similar themes are found.

Overall, I would say that I am mildly happy the final products, but am very happy with how the things progressed as a whole. I really tried to be guided by the fiber and let it be an organic process, which is not the typical way that I approach my knitting. However, this intuitive process of turning the roving into yarn into knitting was really rewarding and something I am sure to do again!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taste Test: Cranberry Cordial and Vanilla Liqueur

A few months ago, I posted about making some homemade cordials. At the time, I put together a quart-sized batch of both cranberry cordial and vanilla liqueur, which I set in the cupboard to steep for a while. Cordials, like wine, need time for the flavors to develop and mellow, and I have been waiting patiently for this process to occur. It's been two months, so I think I can at least sneak a taste test.

The cranberry cordial is the most forward of the two, from its vivid red color to its tart cranberry taste. While it is pleasant to drink, I'm going to wait another month to see if it mellows out a bit more. The vanilla liqueur, on the other hand, is sweet and smooth which just a hint of color from the vanilla beans. The beans give this such a great aroma that I loved drinking it straight, but I'm sure that it is equally tasty with a mixer. Between the two, the vanilla is the clear winner. I liked it so much that I'm going to share the recipe with you!

Vanilla Liqueur
Adapted from Cordials from Your Kitchen

1.5 cups sugar*
1 cup water
2 whole vanilla beans
approx. 2 cups inexpensive, but clean tasting Vodka (I used Svedka)

Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar dissolves completely, take the pan off the heat, allowing the syrup to cool. Pour it into a clean, one-quart Mason jar, add in the vanilla beans, and fill to the top with Vodka. Put the lid on the jar and a store in cool, dark place for at least one month.

*Using the full 1.5 cups of sugar gives a fairly sweet liqueur. If I make this again, I will cut this down to 1 cup.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Most Random Thing In Madison

I have hardly knit a stitch this week. My in-laws were in town from Wednesday to Sunday, and we spent the weekend touring Madison and partaking in its culinary delights--fried cheese curds and beer. I hope that this week brings lots of vegetables, in addition to lots of knitting, because I certainly need both!

In the meantime, I have some crazy carpet to show you:

This is the carpet from the Monona Terrace (Madison's convention center), which I toured this weekend with the in-laws. While I believe that there is some unspoken rule that all convention centers must have ugly carpeting, most do not have ugly carpeting designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I think that it would be pretty cool to have a print of this on the wall, but definitely not a whole roll of it on the floor.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just A Little Cut

I have moved on to the knitting portion of my little spinning project and I think that I am having delusions of grandeur during this stage. I decided to knit a cowl with the 'warm' skein, using a ball of cream-colored wool to supplement the small amount of handspun. Instead of knitting a simple cowl, however, I chose to knit jogless stripes in the round and then steek it in order to add a button band.

At the time, it seemed like a great idea, but now that I put a big cut into my knitting, I think that I may be crazy.