Spinning again

I find that I do a lot more spinning in warm weather. I know that’s the way it worked, like, yore (since you’d shear the sheep in the spring and spin it all up to make the next winter’s woolies), but it still feels like right to my post-industrial little heart.

I finished a batch of black and white tweed alpaca/silk that’s probably sportweight overall. I have more than 1400 yards of it, which is enough for just about anything, I’d say. I’d love to make a Still Light Tunic with it, but I’d have to rejigger the pattern; it’s written for fingering-weight yarn.

My current project is about 7 ounces of merino/tencel that looks like hematite. I’ve had it for more than 10 years, probably closer to 15 really, and was expecting it to be pretty unpleasant to spin. It’s not bad, actually, especially after all that slippery alpaca. I have a couple of other smallish amounts (under a pound) of fiber that I think would look nice with it, so I think I’m going to spin up all of the singles and then decide if I want to ply for an ombre effect. I don’t know if I’ll manage to clear out the fiber stash before fall, but I’m putting a pretty good dent in it.

Watermelon rind pickles

I’ve been eating a lot of watermelon this summer. It’s never really blown my skirt up in years past, but for some reason I just can’t get enough of it now. Cold, sweet, juicy watermelon is exactly what I want on these hot, sticky days.

Going through a watermelon a week or so piles up a lot of rind and I figured I’d try my hand at pickling it. I’d had watermelon rind pickles before and though they look more or less like squares of snot, I really like the sweet-spicy tang of them and the odd, gelatinous-crisp texture. I’ve been using this recipe from Epicurious, though I’ll probably try a few others and see if the technique or proportions are any different. It takes a few days to make a batch, but it’s all pretty hands off.

For what it’s worth, a roll of painter’s tape and a Sharpie are two of the most useful tools in my kitchen, a tip I think I picked up from an interview with one of the kitchen guys at Per Se. They cut the edge of the tape very precisely to 90-degree angles and had rules about where on the container the tape had to be placed, but I have my limits.

Begone, Laura Ashley walls!

When we moved into this apartment at the end of February, there were a number of projects I wanted to tackle. Some of them, like painting over the cheap fake wood paneling in the office/guest room or cleaning decades’  worth of gunk off the exhaust hood, we did right away. The latter was a multi-hour job involving me, a bottle of ammonia, and a sacrificial sponge. I didn’t even realize when I started that the hood was actually metal — it just looked like a sticky dark brown. Actually, I just realized that I have a lousy picture of it on my phone:

The brighter part on the front is reflecting the light, the rest of it is still coated with grease. It was spectacularly disgusting. But it’s done now.

Something else that’s done now? This wallpaper is gone:

Aside from being a bit of pattern overload when you walked into the kitchen (seriously, who thought sprightly florals were a good match for that warm-toned Mediterranean tile floor?), the wallpaper was yellowed, soaked with grease over the stove and in a couple of  places someone had clearly just cut a piece off the roll they had at the back of the closet and pasted it over a hole or dirty spot. Aside from not matching the pattern at all, the newer bits were bright white and  just highlighted how grimy the rest of it was.

We got the paper off the long wall (to the left out of the frame in the photo above) before our housewarming party in early April (or, more specifically, Rob and his mother took the paper off one day while I was at work), and since then we’ve sort of thought of ourselves as being in the middle of this project. But a couple of weeks ago, I realized that we had pretty much abandoned the effort and it was time to knock it out. So, we spent a couple of hours on Saturday scoring the paper and using some vile blue goop that loosened the adhesive and let us just peel the paper off, revealing nice plain wall everywhere except over the sink and cabinets, where the walls seem to be made of cardboard. It seems like a less than ideal thing to make walls out of, but that’s why I’m happy to be a renter. [shrug] I smoothed out the nail holes and dents with joint compound and once we find the sandpaper I know is around here somewhere, we’ll be able to sand those spots and slap some paint up.

Some color would be nice, but I know we have a gallon of white semi-gloss already. Plus, I can’t think of anything that would look good with both the cream/terracotta tile and the minty green hallway [why?!?!?]  that butts up against it. White walls, some artwork, and a new curtain for the glass door should do the trick. That muslin piece of crap is both too long and not wide enough.