Saturday, September 30, 2017

Goodies from OFFF

The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF) happened last weekend.  This is a festival that has been around since 1997, and despite living in the Pacific Northwest for nearly all that time, I've never attended.  But now I have!

I wasn't going to go, since the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival (CGFF) happens next month and you would think that one huge fiber festival a year would be enough (hahahaha!).  But as it happened, Wanda and Ed Jenkins of Turkish spindle fame (Kuchulu!) made an announcement about their product line in the week prior to the festival that made it imperative that I attend OFFF.  They do not vend at CGFF, you see.

There are going to be a lot of pictures in this post.

Here's all of what I got:

2017 OFFF purchases

A bunch of pretty fiber, a skein of yarn, a really cool sheepy tote bag, and... yeah, some spindles.  You see, Ed Jenkins has added a new size to their line of spindles.

This... this was the reason I went to the festival.

My 3 gram Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle and 1 gram of merino wool, partially spun

The bigger spindle is my 11 gram verawood Kuchulu. Up until this weekend, the Kuchulu model was so tiny, so small.  It has now been eclipsed.

The new tiny one is named the Bee Hummingbird after the world's smallest bird.  My spindle has ebony arms and a walnut shaft.  It weighs 3 grams.

THREE GRAMS!  It's so incredibly tiny and cute. 

They have only made a small number of these spindles so far- as you can imagine, they are quite technically difficult to make.  They are small and fragile and hard to hold onto during the fabrication, especially sanding.  Rather than having a giant stampede at the beginning of the festival, as rabid spinners from all over the Pacific Northwest descended on their booth in a ravening horde, they decided to hold drawings throughout the weekend to choose who could buy one.  Two names every hour, so we just had to take our chance with everyone else.  It was frustrating not to be able to just walk up and buy one, but I guess I see their point.

Luckily, on the fifth drawing of the day, we were at their booth and Ed let Emma be the name draw-er.  Amazingly, she drew her own name! I swear she wasn't looking and it wasn't rigged!

Happy happy joy!  We have a Bee Hummingbird!  So even though theoretically it was in her name... I paid for it, and I'm the one who likes to spin fine, and so I'm claiming it.  If she wants to use it she can learn to spin fine.

Since there was no guarantee that one of our names would be drawn, I was also forced to buy another Kuchulu when we were first there.  Oh, and also a Spindlewood spindle since they were also at the festival. It's not my fault, they're just so pretty.

new spindles!

These are a 25.5 gram amboyna burl Square Midi by Spindlewood, a 10 gram lilac Kuchulu by Jenkins, and a 3 gram ebony Bee Hummingbird by Jenkins.  The wood on the Kuchulu has actual purple streaks in it.  Drooooool. 

new spindles!

Of course I had to start spinning on the Bee right away.  I pulled off a tuft of the merino braid I got at the festival and started spinning in the car on the way back to Anne's house (Anne was driving).  I had finished about one gram by that evening.

My 3 gram Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle and 1 gram of merino wool

This spindle spins FINE.  I let the end of the singles ply back on itself to see what I was getting, and the piece trailing over the quarter is that 2-ply yarn.  Tiny singles.  Cobweb 2-ply.

After I got home, I spun another gram onto the spindle.  More than about 2 grams would, I think, make this spindle too heavy to spin a microscopically fine singles.  Here's the Bee with 2 grams of fiber. 

Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle

top view
Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle

bottom view
Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle

I just can't stand how cute and perfect this spindle is.

Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle

Over the next couple days I spun another 2 grams of fiber into two more turtles.

Singles all spun!

I finished the singles on Thursday night, and couldn't wait to start plying.  I first wound the paired singles into a plying ball (the core was a convenient cat toy I found next to my chair).  I was nervous about the turtles tangling, collapsing, or going out of control while winding, but I unwound them from the outside and it went very well.  Winding the ball took an hour.

Winding the plying ball!

I should have stopped there since it was getting late and I had to go to work the next day.  But I couldn't wait to start plying on the new lilac Kuchulu.  It felt enormous after the Bee.  This is after an hour of plying, and I couldn't really tell any difference in the amount of singles on the plying ball.


I should have stopped there, since it was getting very late and I had to go to work the next day, but I couldn't. I had to keep going, and it took a total of three hours to ply the four grams.

Plying done!

Then the plying was done.  I should have stopped there and gone to bed, since it was now very, very late and I had to go to work the next day, but I couldn't. I had to know how much yardage I had.

I transferred the yarn to my skein winder and counted the wraps.  That all took another 45 minutes.  But finally, I knew how much I spun!

Ta Daaa! This is 4.84 grams of merino 2-ply yarn, measuring 183 yards.  Spun on the Bee, plied on the Kuchulu.  

First yarn on the Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle: 4.84 grams, 183 yards, merino wool, spun on the Bee, plied on a Kuchulu

This is the finest yarn I have ever spun.  I'm so proud of myself.  I love this tiny spindle.

First yarn on the Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle: 4.84 grams, 183 yards, merino wool, spun on the Bee, plied on a Kuchulu

To end this long post, here's (almost) my whole spindle flock.  One is missing because I can't find it.  It's in a project bag upstairs somewhere, but I couldn't immediately put my hands on it tonight.

My flock of spindles (one missing)

Back to front for the Turkish spindles, then left to right, these are:

27g (0.95 oz) Jenkins Yarn Tools, Turkish Delight, beeswing narra arms, maple shaft (2012)
11 g (0.38 oz) Jenkins Yarn Tools, Kuchulu, verawood arms, walnut shaft (2011)
12g (0.42 oz) Jenkins Yarn Tools, Kuchulu, snakewood arms and shaft (2013)
8g (0.28 oz) Jenkins Yarn Tools, Kuchulu, olivewood arms, maple shaft (2012)
3g (0.10 oz) Jenkins Yarn Tools, Bee Hummingbird, ebony arms and walnut shaft (2017)
10g (0.35 oz) Jenkins Yarn Tools, Kuchulu, lilac arms, walnut shaft (2017)
8 g (0.28 oz) Cascade Spindle Co., Tiger, zebrawood whorl, mahogany shaft (2008)
21g (0.75 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Mini, cocobolo whorl, ebony shaft (2009)
20g (0.70 oz) Spindlewood Co. Square Standard, birdseye maple whorl and shaft (2011)
23g (0.81 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Mini, amboyna burl whorl, cocobolo shaft (2015)
20g (0.70 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Mini, thuja burl whorl, flamewood shaft (2013)
23g (0.75 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Midi, myrtlewood whorl and shaft (2016)
21g (0.75 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Mini, tulipwood whorl and shaft (2016)
25.5g (0.90 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Midi, amboyna burl whorl, mahogany shaft (2017)

not pictured is:
15g (0.53 oz) Spindlewood Co. Square Mini Featherweight, flamewood whorl and shaft (2012)

That's a lot of spindles.  However, I use them all and investing in art and the artists who make it is never a bad idea.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Angraecum didieri

I have had another special orchid blooming this month, and it's another first-bloomer for me.  This is Angraecum didieri, native to Madagascar.  I got this about three years ago, as a small seedling.

I got a second terrarium last spring because I had several orchids, mostly Angraecoids like this one, that were not doing well at all.  My climate is just not humid enough for them, and they were showing severe stress from their roots drying out so fast and often.

Angraecum didieri in bud

Having them in the enclosed area helped a lot, and when I added an automatic misting system in mid-July, they all exploded with new roots and leaves.  All the side root branches in that picture above have grown in the two and a half months since the mister was added.

I noticed the bud developing around the middle of September and was so excited!

Angraecum didieri in bud

New buds are always exciting, and even more so when it's a species I haven't bloomed before.

Angraecum didieri in bud

This species is in the same group as the Aerangis punctata, Aerangis fastuosa, Aerangis citrata, and Aerangis mystacidii that I have shown on here before.  In general, this group has white star-shaped flowers with a long nectar spur that are large for the size of the plant, and most are fragrant at night to attract moths, their pollinators.

This one is no exception.  It opened on September 25.

Angraecum didieri

The plant is about six inches from leaf tip to leaf tip, the bloom is two inches across, and the nectar spur is six inches long.

Angraecum didieri

It is powerfully fragrant starting at about 7:00 at night, and smells of Stargazer lilies and gardenia.  It's a similar fragrance to A. mystacidii but a little less rich and honeyed, and not musky like A. fastuosa.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Storing the bounty

Despite not having a veggie garden this year, I have been putting up food.  We very much enjoy eating from the canning pantry downstairs.

Nothing exemplifies this more than peaches.  There are few desserts Emma likes more than canned peaches, and opening a home-canned jar in January can't be beat.  So last weekend when we got home from the fiber festival I canned the two boxes I bought the week before, about 50 pounds of Elberta peaches.  Yum and double yum.

50 pounds of peaches

I have also made two small batches of pickles.  These are cukes from Anne's garden, after she decided that the approximately 40 quarts (I think?) of pickles she made this year was enough and she couldn't face making any more.

Rather than making regular vinegar pickles this time around, I decided to copy Anne and make lacto-fermented ones.  My mom used to occasionally make these in a big crock, but not having enough cukes to fill the crock, I opted for jars like Anne.

It's just cucumbers, a salt brine, and whatever spices you want.  The first batch I made according to Anne's favorite recipe (Mrs. Neusihin's recipe of Pacific Northwest fame), with garlic, dill, dry mustard, pickling spice, a grape leaf, a chunk of fresh horseradish and a hot pepper.  For the second batch I left out the horseradish and hot pepper, because I don't like spicy and I was scared.  I tried Anne's pickles when I was there a few weeks ago, and liked them, but still... horseradish and hot pepper...

So you put everything in a jar, lid it loosely, and leave it on the counter.  Then a couple times a day you tighten the lids and give the jars a shake, then re-loosen the lids to let the fermentation gasses escape.

When they start, the liquid is clear and the cucumbers are bright green. This is the second batch on Day 1.

Lacto-fermented pickles, day 1

Over the course of a week or so, the beneficial bacteria grows in the brine and makes it cloudy, while the cucumbers turn into pickles and become pickle-green.  When they are to your desired sourness, you tighten the lids and they are done.  I put mine in the fridge, which stops the fermentation.  This is what the first batch looked like at the end of Day 6.

Lacto-fermented pickles done on Day 6.

For the best flavor, it's good to let them ripen for at least 4 to 6 weeks before eating.  That means our first batch will be ready to eat at the end of October.  They smell fantastic, and we're having a hard time waiting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Catch up

So apparently my blogging mojo left me after I got back from vacation at the end of August.  Now here it is the end of September and I've hardly posted at all this month.  Post-vacation re-entry to normal life is always rough, but this time seemed especially hard.  I just feel wrung out.

I have been taking some pictures of  pretty things in the garden as they show up, meaning all the while to post them but never seeming to get around to it.  (I've gotta get me one of those "Round Tuits"...)

So here's a big old catch up post of pretty things that have bloomed in the past couple months.

Stargazer lilies starting to open:
Stargazer lilies

Rudbeckias, 'Denver Daisy' and Indian Summer':
Rudbeckia - Denver Daisy and Indian Summer

Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy':
Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy'

Stargazer lilies in full glory a couple of days later:
stargazers in full bloom

Volunteer marigolds in one of the half barrels:
volunteer marigolds

Another new hibiscus flower every couple days all through July and August:

Our first potato harvest, from our potato tower.  We got 5.3 pounds of potatoes from 1 pound of seed potatoes.  Not bad for such a hot summer:
2017 harvest: 5.3 lb of potatoes from 1 lb of seed potatoes.

A hybrid Rudbeckia:

I don't know what the hybrid name on this one is, but it has enormous flowers.

Another hybrid Rudbeckia:

A canna lily:
Canna lily

Volunteer petunias in one of my amaryllis pots.  I've never bought pink petunias.
Volunteer petunias

Gaillardia on the left and Rudbeckias on the right:
Gaillardia and Rudbeckia

The half barrels at the beginning of September:
The barrels



Cucamelons setting fruit, finally.  This is the first time in three years of trying that we've gotten actual cucamelons.  I think my summer just doesn't stay hot enough for long enough for these to do well.  They are the cutest little things, though!  They look like grape-sized watermelons, and taste like tart cucumbers.  Very fun and tasty.  I've read that you can bring the tuberous roots inside and store them like dahlias, to get a jump start on growing next year, rather than starting from seed every year.  I'll be trying that, since we got really good growth this time around.  They are in the farthest barrel in the picture above, climbing up the trellis on the garage.

Echeveria 'Blue Heron,' with big spikes of pretty red flowers:
Echeveria Blue Heron

A bee on 'Autumn Joy' sedum, taken today.  She was a little chilly and sluggish, but determined to get these flowers.
Bee on Autumn Joy sedum

Shasta daisy 'Crazy Daisy'.  I love this goofy frenetic flower.  I had one of these more than a decade ago at my house in Friday Harbor, but it didn't survive the move to Oregon.  I was glad to find another one this year in the dead plant aisle at Home Depot.  It has recovered well.
Shasta daisy 'Crazy Daisy'

Whew.  So that's what has been going on in my garden.  I didn't do much in the way of veggies this year, but the tomatoes in pots on the deck have produced a little, I had volunteer open pollinated self seeded Sungold-ish cherry tomatoes in the garden bed where they were last year, and some peppers that I rescued from the dead plant aisle.

I do like the flowers.  My plants make me smile every day when I get home from work, walk from my car to the back door, and see them all blooming on the deck.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hoya flowers!

Last summer I got a couple hoya plants from Home Depot, just 'cause.  Just 'cause they're pretty and I like plants and they make pretty flowers and stop rolling your eyes Emma it's my house and I can have as many plants as I want.

Ahem, anyway.  So one of the hoya plants that I got was Hoya carnosa compacta, commonly called the Indian rope vine or wax plant.  I had it inside all winter and it didn't do much (conditions in my house in the winter are not exactly the tropical jungle conditions of its forbears' native southeast Asia and India), but when I put it outside this summer it really took off.

I was watering the deck plants when we got back from vacation on August 22, and what did I see?! Buds!

Hoya buds!

An itty bitty little group of buds on a peduncle (flower spur)!  I've never bloomed a hoya before, and I was so excited that I ran for the camera.  As I was taking the picture, I saw this!

Hoya buds!

Another peduncle!  With lots of buds!!

I was so excited.  By August 30, the bigger cluster looked like this.  Well defined now, and looking like they are ready to pop any moment.

Hoya buds getting bigger!

And then... and then... on September 5, they opened!

Hoya carnosa compacta

The bigger cluster, anyway.  The smaller bunch still hasn't opened.  You can see why it's called Indian rope vine- the leaves are so crinkled and close to the stem that it doesn't look very leafy.

Hoya carnosa compacta blooms!

The clusters can form a nearly complete sphere of flowers.

Hoya carnosa compacta blooms!

The flowers are so pretty.  They are waxy and substantial, but the surface is covered with little hairs that make them look like velvet.

Hoya carnosa compacta

They are also scented, though I don't find the fragrance of this species particularly pleasant.  It's somewhat reminiscent of chocolate, but just a bit off.  Sort of musky chocolate, and a bit cloying.

I'm so thrilled that one of my hoyas bloomed.