just carding away

I have spent a lot of time this week preparing fiber.  The fleece i washed?  I am carding and spinning it.  I am actually working on a bit of a few, some from Taos, some from North Carolina.  I am finding that changing which fleece I am working with lets me stay a little bit more focused.

Though, I think I would just like very large mugs of tea and quiet.  One of my co-workers today told me work gets in the way of my life.  Miss L is right!  Life is always interesting.

More carding and spinning going on tonight.  With tea and a bit of quilting going on.  I am seriously thinking of putting the soundtrack to 180 Degrees South on and just being mellow to it.  Boys are off on motorbikes and supposedly bringing me back a half a macaroon.  My bet is that it will be in little bits when it gets here!  

Tea.  Fabric.  Fiber.  Maybe I will even leave the house for an onion and the purchase of makings for adult beverages.  I would actually bet against that currently!



Before we went off to SAFF, I got the quilt I am working on pinned for quilting.  I made a pot of tea.  Put a movie on since I did not have a Small Mister to help me.  And pinned.

I actually needed something like this today and did not have it.  A task that had a definite beginning and end.  No dithering people who could not decide on action around me.  I patience level for dithering this week is nil.  Right up there for my patience with whining.  This is the behavior at work.  I feel like I accomplish more pining a quilt or spinning.  Much spinning has gone on but it does feel a bit neverending at this point.  Neverending story involving fiber.  It does make me smile.


pumpkin chocolate babka

It is that season where there are many recipes that use pumpkin.  I like pumpkin but it is even extreme for me.  Irvin over at Eat the Love had a really cool idea of a pumpkin chocolate monkey bread.  His is more a traditional monkey bread compared to mine. 

I have been thinking about my monkey bread and have been pondering how do I keep more of the filling in the bread when I transfer it to the pan.  Then I saw a couple of recipes for babka.  Roll.  Cut.  Twist.  Transfer.  I decided to experiment with Irvin's recipe.  I know I like chocolate and pumpkin together.  Add more pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. 

Bottom line.  Life is good.  This recipe actually got requested by one of the people I took a bit share to.  Even though I have carded wool, worked on a quilt, and started bread, today's recipe is the pumpkin chocolate babka to fulfill that promise.

pumpkin chocolate babka

Note:  To use active dry yeast instead of sourdough, you will need to dissolve two teaspoons of yeast into warm water and use this mixture instead of the replenished sourdough.  Based on Irivin's Pumpkin Chocolate Monkey bread from Eat the Love

sourdough starter

3/4 cup water

1 cup flour

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree - not pie filling

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

about 7 cups flour

2 teaspoons salt 

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup room temperature butter

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

3/4 cup butter

enough extra brown sugar to make 1 cup

an extra 1 teaspoon cinnamon if wish

The night before, or if you have a very cold house like mine, a day before, mix the starter with the 3/4 cup water and 1 cup flour.  Mix well.  Cover and let sit until bubbly.  When bubbly, remove a couple tablespoons to use as your yeasty beasties for next time.

In the remaining starter, mix in the pumpkin, milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla.  Mix in two cups of flour.  It should be the consistency of pancake batter.  Cover and let sit until bubbly.  This could take two hours, or in my house twelve.  Very cold house.

When the batter is bubbly, mix in the salt and the rest of the flour to about 6 1/2 to 6 3/4 cups.  The dough is going to be very soft.  Divide the dough in two.

Sprinkle a clean working surface with flour.  Take half the dough and knead until smooth and less sticky.  It is going to be very soft.  Put in a bowl.

Dump the 1/4 cup cocoa on the counter.  Take the second half of dough and knead in the cocoa.  Your are mixing in the cocoa and kneading the bread smooth at the same time.  Happy yeastie beasties!  A little extra flour is okay as you knead.  Put in a bowl and cover. 

Let rise until double.

In a small bowl, mix the two cups brown sugar with the two tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.

Butter two loaf pans.

Roll out one of the doughs until it about 1/4 inch thick and rectangular.  Dust heavily with flour and put aside.  Do the same with the other dough.  The two rectangles should be similar in size.

Lay out one rectangle.  Sprinkle with about half the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.  It was closer to a third of the brown sugar mixture.

Lay the other rectangle of dough on top of the first.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.  I had about a half a cup to three quarter cup leftover.

Roll the dough up.  Roll from the side that is about two loaf pans long. 

Cut the roll in half so there are two rolls about the size of a loaf pan.  Cut the roll down the length so the brown sugar mixture can be seen.

Put the cut edge up and twist two halves together.  Place in a loaf pan.

Do the same to the other two halves.  Cover and let rise until double.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a saucepan, melt the 3/4 cup butter.  Add whatever leftover brown sugar mixture there is plus enough more brown sugar to make 1 cup.  Add an extra teaspoon or two of cinnamon if you wish.  Let boil a bit so the brown sugar dissolves in the butter.  Pour half on one loaf, half on the other.

Bake for one hour is using full size loaf pans. 

This is what it looks like without extra carmel drizzled on top of it.

This is what it looks like with extra carmel.

Both are utterly decadent.  It is all gone.  I need to make more.  I might not share this time . . .


SAFF 2014

We went off to SAFF this last weekend.  And, the klutz that I am, I fell off my bicycle on the way to work the morning we left.  The fall turned into a dive since I really did not wish to be tangled in my bicycle and preferred to land on grass then cement.  I reinjured my ribs and sternum that I injured in a skating accident years ago.  My whole torso and right shoulder are still hurting.  But I did not push my shoulder out again.  That is something!  Fifteen hours of driving on way is interesting when you really do not wish to sit up straight.

I forgot the camera to take pictures of North Carolina and SAFF.  I can say that being able to get out of Texas and enjoy the beauty of autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains is very special.  Having the chance to go to SAFF as well is just another caveat.  See all those bags?  Sheep and alpaca fiber!  I am trying out different breeds to see what I like so we may have an idea of what we would like to care for some day. 

SAFF actually has a few animals.  My Beloved fell for this sweet little Icelandic ewe who was for sale.  I kept telling him that sheep were herd animals and we would need at least three.  Our Texas yard is not big enough for three sheep even though he would be more then willing to take the sheep for walks around the neighborhood. 

I told this tale to our neighbors.  Our neighbor J tried to figure out how you would get a sheep from North Carolina to Houston in a Subaru.  There was no question about the sheep, just logistics.  Our neighbors rock!  I did have a co-worker mention that the sheep could be a gateway animal so there would be much more livestock in my life! 

I do have a strange reality.

One of my favorite growers and dyers was there.  Since so much of the other fiber needs cleaning I started here with my carding.

And the spinning has started.

I am actually working on a sweater for the Small Mister.  I was trying to get it done for his birthday in November but I am using the last bits of yarn.  The problem is I think I am not going to have enough.  Some of this spinning is going to go straight into that sweater.  Since it is stripes, some of the other spinning I have been doing is going into that as well.  That is what you will get when you start making all your own yarn.

Maybe I can get a few more friends to go with me in 2015 or 2016.  Not just the instigator.  But my Beloved is plotting the making of a metal spinning wheel.  He was thinking about maybe using some motobike parts.  He has some of the other boys plotting with him so I will have to see what comes out of the shop.


while I was making the quilt back

I made myself a couple of wool dresses.  I wanted a black dress with sleeves and found a lovely wool. When I cut it out, I found I actually had enough fabric for two.  I have been wanting some sheath dresses again so that is what I am going to make with the extra. 

I did the horrible thing of going to the fabric store to buy zippers and found more fabric.  I did buy more black wool.  Two different bits which will probably make four dresses.  For some odd reason I was really drawn to the laces and I do not know why.  I really do not wear lace.  Spilling tea on a lace dress?  Not good. It does not mean I cannot admire.

I find I can make five nine squares for each dress with sleeves I make.  Is that not a funny statistic?  I also have taken to putting tags in everything.  I am the crazy lady who goes camping with a backpack full of dresses.  When you are getting dressed in the dark, a tag makes a huge difference!

Just simple A-line dresses but I get such compliments on them.  They are so comfortable and easy.

The wools I picked up are so soft and have some weight.  If the weather stays cool and the office stays as cold as it has been, I will like these very much all winter.  I may have store them for summer.  May not if I wear them only at the office.  I so rarely do that.

Off adventuring again this weekend.  Mountains and fiber.  Such a good combination.  I may or may not be here tomorrow.