Saturday, January 30, 2010


Whipping the top off and getting a good smell... Perfect Yogurt!

The only problem is, it's a little runny. This problem can be fixed by adding some powdered milk.. but I'm going to fix it the same way I made cream cheese. Just take away a bit of the whey.

Same layering of cheesecloth, and inverted the entire jar over a rack, with a bowl to catch the whey that drips out.

I really didn't think this experiment worked.. Thank the gods!

Sour milk and yogurt.. Is there really a difference?

My yogurt experiments continue. After a very successful cream cheese making, I decided to try my hand at making my own yogurt again.

Making cream cheese is actually so simple. I simply grabbed a square of layered cheesecloth, thick enough that I could barely see my hand through it. I lined a bowl with this, and scooped a small container of balkan yogurt into it. I pulled the corners up so the yogurt was contained into a ball, and clipped it with a bag clip suspended over a coffee cup.

8 hours later, all the whey has dripped out of the yogurt and left behind cream cheese! Hurrah!

The cheese is a bit sharper tasting then regular cream cheese, but I'm pretty sure that's because mine has no added sugars or preservatives. I mixed in a little dill and garlic, and it tastes amazing on bagels.

The next frontier: Yogurt!

I have tried this experiment many, many times. Every time, the yogurt just doesn't really do much. It floats on top of the milk and begs me to end its life. So, I try again.

I took a bag of whole milk, heated it over medium heat until my thermometer (stolen from work) registered 100 degrees F. My mother recommends 185 for next time. Food for thought. Once I reached 100, I plopped my little cup of yogurt into the bottom of a mason jar, and poured the milk over it. Mix it up, pop it into the oven with the light on, a sort of incubator.

8 hours later, and I'm pretty sure my live cultures are flipping me the finger, if they had any. The milk hasn't done much, so I'm going to let it sit longer. Apparently my friend used to let hers sit for days... Not sure about that one.

Well... It's thickened, but I'm not sure if it's spoiled or if it's yogurt. I'll convince my boyfriend to taste it, and then I'll let you know. Over out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Exhausted with things.

This morning I had a fight with my boyfriend. It was over how much stuff we're trying to fit into our one bedroom apartment. We have too much furniture, namely a couch I would like to get rid off. And too much stuff, piled on a table near what is supposed to be a work area for my jewelry.

I'm really tired trying to deal with the mess in my apartment, and I've been taking steps to try to reduce it. I've been keeping the kitchen as clean as possible, as well as the kitty litter. But.. I don't think I can do it all on my own, and I'm getting so tired of it.

I left this morning angry, crying, and without saying goodbye. I came home to an empty house, made myself dinner, and a really simple bread pudding. I have a tiny little crock dish I baked it in, using day old homemade bread. It was a depressing meal.

And my cat is in heat, for the 2nd time in about 3 weeks. I'm so tired of it. I hate how much she sprays.


Last night I baked bread again. I used my standard recipe, flour, honey, salt, yeast.. And I couldn't help but be amazed again with how magical it all is.

I poured about a pint of tepid water and blended it up with some local honey I'd purchased at the end of summer from a friend. About 24g of yeast went in on top of that, and I remembered I was bothered at how the yeast all clumped up together and refused to separate. I shrugged, and left it alone on the counter to measure out my kilo of flour.

It's amazing what a bit of warm water, honey and yeast can produce. The water fairly boils with the activity of the yeast, and a gorgeous yeasty smell akin to a pint of beer drifts into my kitchen. By the time I'm done with my flour, the yeast has puffed up on the surface of the water nearly a half inch thick, and growing.

I stir this all down into the water, add it gradually to about half of my flour, and just have at it. The smell is incredible, fresh yeast and flour making a gorgeous heady bouquet that quickly fills my kitchen. The dough comes together beautifully, and within 15 minutes is rising away happily in my slightly heated oven.

I remember being startled when I opened the oven door about 40 minutes later, the dough had amazingly tripled in size and was giving off hints of the amazing smells that would pour forth during the baking. It beats down quite quickly, and I seperate it into two sections to let it rise just once more.

How amazing is it, that just a little bit of yeast can provide this much growth? It's amazing to me that it's so simple to have this pleasure right here, in my very own kitchen for mere pennies.

I see students all over the city buying into the vegetarian diet, buying massive heads of broccoli and bok choy, off red tomatoes and crisp baby peas. All remarkably out of season and a mere shadow of the true flavor of produce fresh from the garden. They buy expensive, whole grain, omega added loaves of bread to bring home. Yet none of them know how this food is really supposed to taste, how amazing it is to know that the food you're eating started out so simple, and with the simplest ingredients. None of them are feeling the satisfaction of knowing that the food they're eating was created with their own hands.

I can't wait until the day I can provide entirely for myself, off my little piece of land somewhere, and teach my kids the pleasures of planting the seed, tending for the plant, and eating the final bounty exactly when it's meant to be eaten, at the height of ripeness and flavor, in season and straight from the ground before them.

The things I would do with just a little slice of land!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Moving on.

Turns out, the sock I knit was too short for James. In fact, it barely reached my calf. Fit my feet amazingly though.

So I'm going to make another one of these, but I'm going to keep it for myself.

The sock that I'm working on for James, I'm doing in a completely different way. I'm knitting from the toe up.

Recap from last post:

Using Judy's Magic Cast On, I cast on 24 stitches, which is half of the required stitches for the main part of the foot. Using one circular needle and two DPNs, I increase 4 stitches every other row, just after the first stitch on each needle, and before the last stitch on each needle. I do this until I reach 48. My 5x1 rib is on the circular needle, which has 24 stitches. I work stockinette stitch on the other 24 stitches, which are divided evenly on the two DPNs.

I count my circular needle as Needle 1, and my DPNs as needles 2 and 3.

I worked this 5x1 rib and stockinette until I'm about 3 inches short of the required foot length. As James foot is 9.5 inches, I was supposed to take the pattern to 6.5. I accidently took it to 7.5.

At this point I start increasing for the gusset. My original pattern has the stitch count before the gusset as 64, so I'm going to increase to this number. To do this, I make 2 increases every other round. Knit needle 1 in pattern, K1 M1, knit all on needle two. Knit all stitches on needle three to the last stitch, M1 K1. Round two, knit all stitches as presented.

I then reach 64 stitches, and run into an issue. My pattern book of choice doesn't really give much help with regards to different gauges. After doing a little bit of digging, I realized that I needed to turn the heel by working short rows IGNORING the gusset stitches.

So to turn the heel, I worked it as follows:
Row 1: Knit stitches as presented on needle 1. Needles 2 and 3 have 20 stitches each. K30, kf&b, k1, w&t.
Row 2: P22, pf&b, p1, w&t
Row 3: K20, kf&b, k1, w&t
Row 4: P18, pf&b, p1, w&t
Row 5: K16, kf&b, k1, w&t
Row 6: P14, pf&b, p1, w&t
Row 7: K12, kf&b, k1, w&t
Row 8: P10, pf*b, p1, w&t

Knit to the end of needle 3, and Knit all stitches as presented on needle 1.

Now my heel is turned, even though I had to drastically fudge the recipe. Now I have to make the heel flap! I realized that in making the heel flap, I have to work short rows on the middle stitches, gradually incorperating the gusset stitches with ssk and k2tog stitches.

Row 1: Knit all stitches on needle 2, and knit stitches on needle 3 until 16 stitches remain. Ssk, turn.
Row 2: Sl1, purl all stitches on needle 3, and purl stitches on needle 2 until 16 stitches remain. P2tog, turn.
Row 3: *S1, k1*, repeat from * until you reach the point in the work where you turned the work. Ssk, turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until all the gusset stiches have been worked. You end with a purl row. Divide these stitches onto your two needles again. When I ended the purl row, I had 56 stitches. According to the pattern I was modifying, I needed 48. To get this number, I knitted *k2, ssk* until I reached the end of needle 2, and then *k2tog, K2* till I reached the end of needle 3.

And there I am! I'm ready to start working on the 5x1 rib up the calf. I still have to figure out where I'm doing my increases, but at least I've decifered the pattern this far. I'll make James try on the foot when I get home, and then I'll start the calf.

Phew! 2 hours of fudging different knitting patterns until I figured out the basic theory behind turning a heel. Everything works around the gusset stitches, just remember to work my short rows INSIDE them, not with them. This is going to be helpful for later patterns!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Knitting frusterations...

I've finished the first of the kilt hose pair. Unfortunatly, it comes up slightly short on my leg. Hopefully, my boyfriend is stubbier then me, and the kilt hose will fit him. Worst case... Looks like I'm unraveling a sock. A very. Long. Sock.

Just in case, I've started a second sock from the toe, heading up the leg. It's going to require a lot of improvising though.. I used Judy's Magic Cast on, slightly improved, to cast on 24 stitches. I increased every other row until I hit 48 stitches, which is the number of stitches required to case the foot in the original pattern. Right now, I'm doing the 5x1 rib on the top of the foot with one needle, while the two other needles are in stockinette stitch to form the bottom of the foot. Once James gets home and tries on the first sock, I'll know whether or not I should continue.

My only problem with changing the pattern to a toe-up improvisation is that I'm not sure when I should do the increases to form the calf. I could guesstimate the length, using the completed kilt hose as a guide. However, the original kilt hose could be inaccurate.. Given that I'm unsure it will even fit.

So, I'm a little upset. I really don't want to unravel this sock all the way to the leg, but that will be my only option if it doesn't fit him. Obviously, this is really not what I want to do, but I don't really see any other option. I'm really frustrated, and quite frankly disappointed that I wasn't more careful. I'm in school right now to become a goldsmith. Yet, here I am messing up measurements in my knitting. Is this not what I'm supposed to be learning to prevent?

Measure first, knit second?

I'm just angry right now, and I really hope the worst doesn't come to it. I don't know what I would do with myself if it doesn't work out. I'll just have to wait until James gets home and tries it on. We'll go from there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Confusion sets in..

I knew this sock was too easy. First little issue was when I was knitting the heel flap. By doing all the decreases, I wind up a stitch short. Hence, ignored a decrease. Wound up with a hole after turning the heel and picking up stitches to form said heel.

I can deal, I can deal, keep knitting.

Repeat decrease rounds 7 times to bring stitch count down to 48. Problem. Need 8 decreases to do that. WTF is going on. I need 48 stitches, just do the 8 decreases.

We'll see how this ends up tomorrow. If these don't fit him, I'm wearing them myself.


Turns out lately I've been busier then I thought possible. With school ending for the semester, I had to finish all of my projects to get them ready to hand in. I had three projects left, plus an in class practical exam. I organized my time, and figured I wouldn't have an issue getting everything finished.

Turns out, I ended up in the hospital for two days with appendicitis, and on medication for a week after that. During that time, I physically had no energy what-so-ever. Meaning I didn't work on any projects, except for my in class practical exam. Meaning that I had to ask my teachers for an extension for my projects, to which they generously offered the last day of school. I spend the second-last day of school working frantically for 8 hours in the studio. But I pulled it off! I managed to finish all of my projects, a feat that a lot of other students weren't able to do, but I was! Hooray!

I've also managed to do quite a bit of knitting in the past couple of weeks. Right now I'm working on a pair of kilt hose, using a really good pattern I found off knitty. The only issue I have with the pattern is that errata is available on ravelry, but still hasn't changed the available pattern.

I ran into a couple of problems while I was working on these. My first problem that wasn't simply difficulty with the pattern, was that when I turned the cuff inside out to knit the leg, I realized I was one stitch short in the round. To solve this, I just added a stitch to the end of the round. Knitting commenced. This kilt hose uses a number of decreases along the calf to for the sock, which makes for a really nice dagger style look.

Unfortunatly, my decreases didn't seem to quite line up properly, so I fudged quite a bit to make the lines even during this stage. I only decreased 15 times, where the pattern says 17. But when I do my own count, I should have done 18 decreases. I haven't heard anyone else have this problem, so I'll assume it was my own inexperience. I'm working on the heel flap of these kilt hose now, and I can't wait to see if they fit him or not! I've also recently bought a new book, Sock knitting from the Toe up. I can't wait to give this book a whirl, the patterns and concept look so amazing. So.. That's my life in a nutshell. Tomorrow I start school again, an 8 am class for metal casting. I'll take pictures, and we'll see how well it goes. <3