This weekend, we hauled the brewing equipment out and made beer.

Before moving to California, brewing was a monthly (minimum) exercise with a very dear friend. I have wonderful memories of sitting on the porch, in all weather (even in the snow), with our cauldron of malty goodness bubbling away while talking about, well, everything. I've not found a new brew-buddy out here; and Chris and I brew together (he's good for the heavy lifting), but I still miss Andy on brew day.

Anyway, yesterday's beer was dead simple.

Grain Bill:

7# 2-row klages malt
1# malted wheat
1# Vienna malt

Strike with ~13qts of water at 165F, aiming for a mash temperature of 150F. We used about 12 quarts and hit 152F. Perfect. Skipped the protein rest 'cause it was all in the Gott cooler and I just couldn't be bothered.

Let rest until conversion is complete. We went hiking for an hour. :-)

Add about 3gal of sparge water at 180F to get the mash up to 170F. Sparge until liquor is at 1.008. We netted out about 6.5 gallons.

Add 1 oz Hallertau (~4.8AAU) at 0 mins, 1/2 oz Saaz and 1/4 oz Fuggles at 30 mins, another 1/4 oz Fuggles at 40 mins, another 1/4 oz Saaz plus 2T rehydrated Irish Moss at 55 mins.

After 60 mins, chill to ~80F and siphon into a 7g carboy. Add White Labs Kolsch yeast, slap on the air lock and Bob's yer Uncle.

Original Gravity: 1.050
Original Volume: ~6gal

Not bad at all. BTW, it's already delicious.

I'll take two.

Must. Make. This.

I'm going to go sit in the corner and be very, very good. Hopefully this will show up.

Little things

For me, the little things in life are important. I tend to get so busy that I don't always do the "normal stuff" like cleaning, vacuuming or folding the laundry. And, in life's silly ways, neglecting the "normal stuff" can lead to neglecting the big stuff.

Suffice to say that last year was not my finest. I'd say it was a continuation of quite a few years of not paying enough attention to the world around me and really losing track of what was important. I came within an inch of being single again - after nearly 20 years together - and boy was that horrible.

Where am I going with this? Well, in "happier days", Chris was pretty good at letting me know he was thinking about me by sending me flowers. It didn't happen regularly - but he always managed to figure out when I was feeling sad, or missing him, or just totally overwhelmed by life. A lovely bouquet would show up at work, on the table at home - and even once in China! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that touches me so.

Anyway, when we were having "trouble", I actually noticed that the flowers didn't happen anymore. We'd argue. We'd pick on each other. I'd cry. While I didn't "expect" them per se, I did notice that he didn't seem to think about it anymore.

Fast forward to today. I was away again last week and came home on Saturday morning. He's been working his tail off to get the race car up and running again for a track day tomorrow and he and his partner ran into all sorts of problems. Knowing I'd be all foggy and tired, I sent him off to work on the car. Turned out that they had more problems and "one day" became "all weekend". Plus, tonight he's off to head up to the race track. Yeah, I was a little sad about it but I didn't want to prevent him from getting his stuff done. It's not every weekend, he really loves doing it, and it needs to happen.

He noticed.

I really do love that man.

Bathtub Rings

In yesterday's post, I threatened to wash a fleece. Now, I should admit that I'm one of those people that likes (needs) procrastination. I like to hem, haw, deliberate, do thought experiments and generally delay actually *doing* something until I feel like I can be successful. It's definitely overkill in terms of angst and nervousness, but the net result is that I do eventually conquer my fears and just "try".

After putting up that post yesterday, I was absolutely GRIPPED by the idea of washing the fleece. I thought about it ALL DAY. Finally, after I'd finished up my work for the day, I picked up a few necessities at the store (drying rack, laundry bags) and just, well, tucked in.

I turned up the water heater (involved disassembling the darned thing), shook/picked over the fleece and just, well, washed it. Two soapy dunks, two rinsy dunks, some dangerous whirling of the bagged fleece in the driveway and it was over. Pretty anti-climactic, actually.

As of last night, it was taking up all three tiers of the drying rack in the living room. It's not felted. It's pretty clean (compared to the state it was in yesterday). I think I'll do this again.

(will add pix when I get them off the camera)

Tomorrow is Spinners' Day at the Farm up in the North Bay. Looking forward to sun, wool and pot-luck!

Tour de Fleece - Part Deux!

Last year I wasn't a spinner. Feels pretty wierd to say that given how much I've taken to this fabulous craft. I've always loved fiber and needle arts but spinning has unlocked a whole new measure of creativity. All that being said, I have a special place in my heart for this event 'cause it's what forced me to get off my butt and start spinning.

I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I signed up for SOAR without knowing a thing about spinning. Once signed up, I bought a wheel and then got outed by the Harlot (scroll down to the 05-July post) when I committed to making a skein of yarn during the tour. Just one skein. The rest is history.

Anyway, I'm committed to participating in the Tour de Fleece again this year and this past week has been all about setting my goal(s). My fiber stash is starting to get a little silly and that means I need to get spinning so that I can buy more (natch). Plus, with the addition of my new and loverly loom (LOOOOOM!), I've got new and amazing ways to burn through all the lovely yarn I'll be making.

So, I'm currently thinking about a few things:

1. Spindle spin just a little bit, every work day, over lunch. I'm not a "confident" spindler and that's just lack of practice. I've got time at lunch to do this, so I'm gonna. If I'm in a meeting, the spindle goes to. Phoey.

2. Spin for a sweater. I've got plenty of fiber to make an absolutely lovely version of Wisteria and it'll also be a challenge to spin something larger than sport weight. I can do this - I just KNOW it.

3. Spin a fleece. I've got two - one from a friend down the road (can't believe it's been a year) and one lovely one from Windswept Farms in Michigan. They're both small, but it would also allow me to finally get over my fear of doing this. It's *gotta* be ok for me to wash some wool, darn it!

So, I'm mostly set, I think. It's all doable in the grand scheme of things, provided I do some planning. It's off to China again next week, so I'll have some time to plot/scheme on what gets done and when - and I can try washing the fleece when I get back.

Oh, and I've also got this idea about dying up some roving and spinning that, but maybe that's for next year.

Thoughts? Anyone? Is this thing on?



After a week's worth of waiting (I can't believe how spoiled I've been by USPS!) my wonderful new loom finally arrived. It actually showed up this past Friday, but I didn't do a thing with it until Sunday. First, I needed to finish up spinning last month's Spunky Club fiber and then we had a small task to accomplish at a semi-local winery.

So, Sunday morning finally came along and I just had to dive in and get started. I followed the excellent advice of my Spunky and Weaver friends on Ravelry and used Tofutsies as the warp (96", 10epi, 11" on the loom) with the intent of using it as the weft as well. Nice, balanced weave - that's the ticket.

I started warping at around 10a on Sunday. By the time I had to leave for Book Club at 3p, this is the result:

Amazing, isn't it? Like LIGHTNING this stuff is. I kept going and going on Sunday night, then again yesterday. I ran out of the Tofutsies about 2/3 of the way through but I couldn't bear cutting it off and wasting all that weft. So, I dug into my old crochet cotton stash and found a nice ball of ecru cotton. I grabbed that, along with my pickup stick and kept going. And going. And GOING! Then, around 9p last night, I finished. Gave it a quick soak and popped it in the dryer (!!!!!) with the rest of the laundry. A quick press and tying up the ends and voila:

Can you believe it? Isn't it FABULOUS! Wow. WOW. WOW!! I'm totally in love. The cotton is an excellent foil for the Tofutsies and the more-open weave gives it a somewhat similar drape. It softened up so wonderfully in the wash that it's like silk against my skin. Oh, here are a few more:

So there you go. The loom's folded up and stowed under the couch (Chris appreciates this added bonus) but it's likely coming out again tonight. I have this idea for another scarf, but this time I'll be doing some color changes in the weft ... assuming I can figure that out.

Yep, I'm hooked. Absolutely. LOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!

(oh, and who else is up for the Tour de Fleece?)