Saturday, February 27, 2010

winter dye party pt. 10

Dandelion Dyes!

Seattle has seen some beautiful, sunny weather for February.
There were dandelions everywhere!
I really wanted to collect them for eating, but typically found them a little too close to roads and pollution (on my way to and from work).
So, I used them for dying.
If you look closely at a dandelion plant, there are 3 main colors: yellow petals, green leaves, and red/purple streaks at the base of leaves and stems.
I read online that technically you should be able to capture that red/purple color as dye.
I set up 2 dye baths: one with the yellow petals, and one with as many red/purple parts of the plant as I could manage.
I used alum and cream of tartar as mordants.
Here are my (surprising) results:

The dark color on left is from the yellow petals and the yellow dye is from the red parts of the plant. And I didn't mix them up!
(I suspect you need tin as mordant to obtain the red/purple, but i have deemed it too toxic a substance for my household).

Here is an update on Copper Penny Blue dyebath.
It's still going strong. Every few days I put in some more yarn for between 2-24 hours. In this photo, the light blue is from about 2 hours and the darker hues about 4. The green is from mushroom-dyed yellow yarn that I over-dyed with copper penny blue...I like it a lot!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Stinging Nettles and Morels

Stinging Nettles and Morels, yay!

I made a foraged foods dinner last night that was SO tasty.
The morel mushrooms are from last May/June that we parboiled and froze.
I sauteed some onions in butter, added the frozen morels, cooked for a while, then poured in cream and some parsley.
The nettles are dried ones from Utah (I have yet to find a secret nettle patch near Seattle...)
I used Cream of Nettle Soup from Langdon Cook of Fat of The Land. I made a 1/3 recipe because I only had 1 potato.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

vintage patterns

"The Call of the Sea"

I first learned to knit when I was in kindergarten; I was 5 years old.
My grandma Nancy taught me at her house in Central California. I probably begged her to teach me because I was always wanting to sew and knit and craft things.
Here's a memory from about that same age: I remember staying home with my dad while my mom went to a church Relief Society sewing night. I was determined to learn to sew even if I wasn't old enough for Relief Society. In reality, I probably cared more about sewing than any of the ladies that met that night! Even though I didn't know what I was doing, I was going to take matters into my own sweaty little hands that night; I needed to learn to sew. I went to my mom's hand painted sewing box to see what I could find. After threading a needle (perhaps for the first time, I'm not sure) with black thread, I looked for something to sew. I couldn't find any fabric so I settled for paper; computer paper-the old kind with the perforated edges you tear off (edges which, conveniently, could be used later for even more crafting). I hand sewed lines down the paper with varying stitch lengths and was pleased I could sew like the best of them. I triumphantly showed off my work to Dad and then to Mom when she came home. I have no idea what SHE sewed that night, but I made some crucial first steps in what I knew would be my favorite past-time.
Back to knitting-
My first project was a "doll blanket;" a rectangle in garter stitch. I went to a big store with Grandma Nancy and bought cheap, acrylic yarn in variegated pastel colors and straight, single point metal knitting needles; they were silver and were size 6, I remember because I still have them.
Grandma Nancy taught a knitting lesson at her round table at the window in her kitchen. I can see her now telling me over and over how to work the stitches, carefully watching me try, and congratulating me as necessary. Despite knitting being only variations and combinations of two stitches, I know now that it can be difficult to teach to beginners. They main problem is learning to hold the needles and handle the yarn with correct tension, not completing the stitches themselves.
With guidance, I knit several inches of this doll blanket before our vacation to Grandma's house ended. Back at home, I continued as best I could but soon the blankie was a mess of skipped stitches, dropped stitches, too few stitches, and too many stitches all together for a little girl to figure out.
Several trips to Grandma Nancy's house later...I was in 6th grade when, while rummaging through her sewing room, I found old - vintage - knitting and crochet pamphlets. I loved thrifted and vintage clothes, dreamed of living in the 60's and wearing wool suits, poufy hair do's, and slingback kitten heel shoes, and I still hadn't technically learned to knit or crochet. At least I hadn't retained that first lesson, so I gave myself another by following the pictures in these magazines.
I save everything so of course I still have them, here they are:

I thought (and still do) that these handcraft magazines were so cool. I could not believe they were from as early as 1936 and only cost 10 cents, etc. I loved looking at the patterns, and found what "they" thought fashionable sometimes cool and sometimes hilarious.
Here are a few examples:

This one says: "Isn't this a lovely way to look at night?"

This one's called "double date" ecause it's a matching hat and bag:

So, that's how I learned to knit, crochet, embroider, and this will be how I learn to tat (tatt?) as well :)

So...all this was preparation for what I really wanted to show you, though I enjoyed reminiscing and locating those ancient pattern pamphlets.
I found that two ladies (Jane Waller and Susan Crawford) have produced a new kitting book of vintage patterns! It can be bought at knit on the net, but you really have to go here to see the photos! Please, please go see them!
"Have You Made a Jumper Yet?"

So, they picked through old women's magazines and craft pamphlets to knit up the best designs, modified the patterns where necessary to fit modern women's bodies, AND THEN...had an awesome photoshoot with the clothes.
"Such Flattering Puff Sleves"

Why didn't I think of that?!?!
"Fair Isle Yoke"

And the best part is they named the patterns after a funny line in the descriptions.
"This one for Parties"

oh! It's too much! It goes on an on...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vancouver 2010

Yes, we made a day trip to Vancouver to check out the Olympics!

It was great. The city was beautiful, clean, had free transportation, and was crowded in a good way. At night people were out walking around, stores were open late, all the restaurants had TV's showing the games, and there was free hot chocolate everywhere. It made me wish North American cities were more crowded all the time.

We left Redmond at 4:45 AM and crossed the US/Canadian border at 6:30 AM.
We parked at a park and ride in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver and took the light rail into downtown.
Here were are on the light rail:

On the way, we talked to someone who recommended we check the downtown UBC bookstore for extra tickets sold at face value. We were in line at 7:30 AM and got tickets for the women's hockey playoff between China and Switzerland. Wahoo! :)

Nothing was open, since it was still early, so we went to the Granville Island Market. We found it to be much better than Pike's Market and wanted to eat ALL the food.

They even had mangosteen and longan (above).

Then we walked through Chinatown,

and finally came upon some Olympic Festivities

free Canadian candy
(I LOVE wine gums, and Mr. Big is Adam's new favorite candy bar...I think we ate 4!)

and Tim Horton's, a donut/fires/coffee/hamburger place. Here is Adam with the TimBits (donut holes)

and The Royal Canadian Mint

and we found the Olympic Cauldron

Then made our way to UBC for the Women's Hockey game!

Allez Suisse!
And they won the match.
Then we rode the bus back downtown and found a tasty place called Fritz' European Fry House to order my first Poutine:

Fries, cheese curds, and gravy...yum yum tasty yum!
Then we walked around watching the Men's Speed Skating on TV screens in alley ways and got free hot chocolate at Fancouver.

The day went perfectly, we had the best time running all over Vancouver together. However...on our way to leave we found a long line and unfortunately asked what it was for. It was a free Broken Social Scene concert, Adam's favorite band.

He was heart broken. We were there and could easily have waited in line, we just had not idea it was going on :(

Saturday, February 20, 2010

les jeuxes!

Hello! It's Adam guest blogging live from the Olympic games. Tess and I are here at the women's hockey playoffs China vs. Switzerland. Of course as you would imagine I root for Democratic states, so the Swiss it is!

I will try and post a photo soon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The letter T is for Tess

T his "T" is from Jessica Hische. She posts free illustrated letters every day.
Here are few good T's:
# T

actually, just one other good T. Her other letters are better, check them out!
Alos, they would look better without the border, but I like the border on my photos, so I'm leaving it.

Monday, February 15, 2010


We started some kombucha at the UW farm.

It's a fermented tea. The basic instructions are: brew tea, add a lot of sugar, and lay on a round "pancake" that is a culture of both yeast and bacteria.
In two weeks it produces a sour, vinegar-y tea to drink. I happen to like it a lot, but many people don't care for kombucha.
In Russia, kombucha is revered as a folk health remedy. Many "health nuts" grow it here in the US and there are several brands of kombucha for sale in stores.
Some people (including the beloved Paul Stamets), however, do NOT like kombucha and feel it is unsafe and unwise to brew your own since a bowl covered with muslin is not much by way of sterile environment.
I used to make my own for a few months back in 2006, so I am happy to be making it again with the Farm!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

culture update

Culture update:

(I could NOT get the picture straight)
2 bags lost due to mold!
How?! I autoclaved them! Turns out mold grew only on the larger bags, so they must not have sterilized all the way through. I will not fill the bags as full next time.

on a positive note:

Other bags looking great.
See the mycelium growing thick and healthy?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Tonight was the culminating feast of the last 4 days of yeast bubbling, spice grinding kitchen prep.
Homemade Ethiopian Feast!

Adam and I have had Ethiopian/Eritrean food several times here in Seattle and we love it.
I recently came across a vegetarian recipe website that had a section on Ethiopian food. The recipes worked great and everything was delicious. It totally tasted like what we have had in restaurants.
So, there are two main spicing ingredients to prepare: Niter Kebbeh (spiced butter) and Berbere (spice mix). These you can use in many recipes.
Making Niter Kebbeh (spiced butter)

Strained Niter Kebbeh (spice butter) ready to use

The Injera is a sourdough "crepe" used as a plate and you can dip and wrap pieces of the injera around bits of stew when eating with your hands. Don't forget to begin making this at least 3 days before you want to eat it :)
Basically, I made everything on that Ethiopian page (above link). To have more variety, I made the Yemiser W'et (lentil stew) less spicy than the Yetakelt W'et (veggie stew) by omitting the extra paprika and cumin.
After making these recipes, I feel like I could easily incorporate the spiced butter or spice mix into other homemade meals to make the tastiest food :)
I love Ethiopian food!
Also, when I cooked the injera, I saved about 1/2 cup to start another batch. We can't wait for it to get ready!

Monday, February 1, 2010

tiny cute thing

Can you guess what this tiny cute thing is going to be...?

Here's a hint: