Bright

This past Tuesday, I was blessed by an unusual day. The boys were done with school early and I had some time on my hands, so I did something I had been wanting to do for awhile. I reskeined some balls of yarn that has been sitting in my stash for quite awhile.

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Then, I made kool-aid, but without sugar. And we did not drink it.

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Instead, I put the yarn in it and dyed it. I have only ever done two kinds of dyeing, indigo (which you can read about here) and kool aid. I like kool aid because it doesn’t require any chemicals and is not toxic, unless you have one of those food dye allergies, but in this case it isn’t ingested, so it might be ok. Plus, there is a nice fruity aroma.

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The dyeing process is pretty simple. You can do it in the microwave or a pot.

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I did both because I had a lot of skeins and different colors I wanted to do. For the microwave, I used glass bowls that would not stain.

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You know when the dyeing is all done because the water turns clear because the yarn has absorbed all the color. It’s like a magic trick that never gets old.

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The downside to kool aid is its limited palette of bright colors, but it is a fun way to dabble in the world of dyeing without investing too much.

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I was going for a rainbow of colors, but did not have any green, so I will have to do that another day. At the moment, I have no immediate plans for the yarn. Perhaps the boys will want to do something with it. If you want to try your hand at kool aid dyeing, I used this guide to help me. It certainly brightened up my day.

August

The last couple of weeks have been such a mish mash of stuff that I think I am just going to have to go random with this post.

Firstly, we went away to Michigan for a week. While we were there, I got to go to the Michigan Fiber Festival. It was great fun and the highlight was meeting up with Ravelry friends.

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I was able to buy some yarn (surprise!). My new favorite find is Lost City Knits, which is where the two blue skeins are from. It’s a super soft merino fingering and really lovely to knit with. Their colors were nice and there was a lot more I was tempted to buy. I have a feeling I will be trying some more of their yarn lines in the near future. When I got it home, I wound up the lighter skein and started knitting with it, but I made a big mistake and had to rip it out.

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Secondly, did you know there are wineries in Michigan? I did some wine tasting. It was fun and yummy, especially the sparkling cherry wine made from 100% Michigan cherry juice.

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Thirdly, I got a fair bit of knitting done while we were gone. I knit all of this while waiting at various doctor’s appointments with my Dad. It will eventually be a Tea Leaves Cardigan.

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At night, I worked on the blue yarn (that I ripped out so I can’t show you) and this lovely cashmere shawl. It’s not circular as it appears here, but I am on the short rows in the middle, so it will be awhile before I can stretch it out and show you the length of it.

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Lastly, I am getting ready to cast on Oatmeal Stout with these yarns. You know that fall is coming when I start knitting sweaters and mittens again.

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Yes, the summer is over here. We have started school in earnest, which means less unstructured time, but generally a higher level of productivity, not to mention a lot less bickering because they have work that needs to get done. So do I, actually. I’d like to get that cowl cast on today. Hope your August has treated you well!

Peachy

After last week’s blueberry sadness, I convinced the family to go peach picking over the weekend even though I knew I would not have much time to process them.

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We got four half bushels of peaches, which is roughly 180 peaches. I know. We meant to only pick two baskets, but that just took about five minutes with all four of us picking. It’s a lot of peaches, but everyone loves having these peaches in the winter when summer seems like another world away. So, we put other things off and buckled down with our peaches this week.

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Have you ever had a peach fresh off of a tree? It is a sublime eating experience. This year, since we went a week or two earlier than usual, the peaches were smaller than softball sized, but still delicious. And beautiful.

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The boys were a huge help this year with the processing. Look how big they are getting!

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With their help, we put up 16 quarts of peaches. If you look carefully, you’ll see one quart that’s leftover from last year. It’s a sorry sight. Over the year they slowly turned brown, but despite appearances, they tasted fine. This year, I added a teaspoon of lemon juice to each jar before processing, which I hope will keep them from getting that color. I’ll report back to you next year and let you know if it helped. For the peaches, I used a recipe from Food in Jars. The only changes I made were quartering the peaches, which helped us fit more in each jar and only adding one tablespoon of bourbon to each jar.

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We also made 6 quarts of dried peaches, a batch of peach butter, and a batch of strawberry peach jam. I think we are all set now for peaches in the winter. Yay! I feel so much better about winter this week than I did last week. Believe it or not, all of that took care of all but about a dozen peaches. They will become a cobbler tonight or tomorrow, I think. Happy summer, everyone!

A Little Blue

Blueberry season this year has been a little sad for us. We have been quite busy and the one time we were able to make it to a farm to pick blueberries, they were not ripe yet. Picture four very disappointed people wandering around a field of blueberry bushes with hardly any berries worth picking. It was so sad that I did not even take a photo. We came away with just 2 pounds of berries and they were really tart, so only really good for baking. This was doubly disappointing to us because all the cherries in our area were decimated by a late spring frost, so we had none of those as well. There will be no jam gifts this year as I am hoarding every jar of jam I have from last year to get us through this winter.

So, we have been making do with store bought berries, which have been pretty ok. My favorite thing to do so far this summer for a really quick and easy dessert is to take a pound of berries along with a handful of apricots or a couple of nectarines and cut them all up. Put them in a dish with some sugar, just how much depends on how sweet your fruit tastes. Anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. Sometimes, I throw in some lemon juice or zest and once I added some maple syrup. Anything that sounds good to you will probably be good. If you don’t want it to be runny, add a tablespoon of cornstarch.

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Bake this at 425 degrees for 20 minutes until it starts to get bubbly. Then, I put some frozen unbaked biscuits on top. Whenever I make biscuits, I always make enough to freeze some. You can even find frozen biscuits in some grocery store freezer departments now. Bake these for another 18-20 minutes and then remove to cool slightly.

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Serve with a little ice cream. This dish takes about five minutes to prep (assuming you have frozen biscuit dough handy), and 40 minutes to bake. It can be done at the same time as dinner prep if you are pressed and then it will be ready for you after you are finished eating. It is scrumptious with a little ice cream.

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This dish has consoled us a little over our loss of blueberries this year, but it is momentary. I know come winter, we will be longing for blueberry jam, blueberry syrup, blueberry pancakes, and even blueberry pie. Right now, though, we have moved on to peach and apricot season and I am determined not to miss these. I may even have to delay the full school schedule until we can get some put up or jammed for this winter.

Secrets Revealed

Today I can finally show you two projects that I have been working secretly on for the last couple of months. First is a sweater that I made as a birthday present for a dear friend.

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The husband is about the same size as our friend and kindly assented to trying it on. It fit so well that I was a little worried he would not take it off!

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Fortunately, it fit our friend well, too. The pattern is Brownstone by Brooklyn Tweed and is such a classic pattern that I really think anyone would look good in one of these. Even the husband, who rarely wears sweaters and tends towards lighter layers in general, made some noises about how nice this chunky sweater was to wear. The sweater was knit in one piece form the bottom up and fairly easy to follow. I would recommend it for sure. You can see my ravelry notes about it here.

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Next, I can finally reveal another test knit for Thea of Baby Cocktails. Her new pattern, Amaro, has just been released. This is the one I have been knitting with the Shalimar Breathless yarn, which is just heavenly. The silk and cashmere content really make this sweater comfy to wear next to your skin.

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This one is also knit in one piece from the bottom up and with a fun saddle shoulder that gets shaped as you knit. That part was really fun to work on. I love how I always learn something new when working on a Baby Cocktails pattern.

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I think the styling of this sweater is especially nice. It can be dressed up or down and has a nice relaxed fit. Already, I am thinking about the next Baby Cocktails sweater that I want to knit. I have one sleeve of Bailey’s Irish Cream done, but I am not entirely happy with the fit of it, so may rip it out and do it over. I also want to do Rolling Rock because it looks a great sweater for early fall.

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Right now, I am still trying to focus on socks. I have one more single sock done. If I put it with the other blue one I finished a couple of weeks ago, I would have a pair. Unfortunately they do not match. Second Sock Syndrome is something I suffer from dreadfully, which is why I am planning to cast on a pink sock later today. Anyone have a cure for SSS?

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