Thursday, 2 February 2017

Putting the Novel Down, finally -

Purple superwash Merino
All that dark, grey, miserable, wet, foggy weather was making me lethargic.  Instead of doing all sorts of cool things, I ended curling up with my favourite blankie, reading and drinking gallons of herbal tea (mainly peppermint yum!).    I'd put some commercially dyed merino on the Minstrel wheel but it just wouldn't spin itself.  Finally I got off my duff and began spinning.    I started off doing a very careful short forward draw, keeping it all consistent and lovely.  Then I realized that I'd be spinning this into July, to have enough for my samples, so I switched to the long draw.   It's going much faster, although not quite so consistent.  At least it feels like I'm getting somewhere when I spin for an hour or more.   I'm hoping that I'll have enough of this yarn to weave sett samples with.

white flowered Japanese Indigo seeds
I ordered some Persicaria tintoria or Japanese Indigo seed.   This is the white flowered variety.  (The pink flowered type is really pretty).  I've started a small batch early, in hopes of planting it a) in a planter and b) planting it early enough for it to go to seed, even if I have to drag it inside for a while in the autumn.  I looked for a heating pad, to help germination, but it seems a little early as I was lucky to find the little peat moss cells for planting, let alone any other garden supplies.  I'll start more seed in March, to plant in the garden.

bottles sitting on the hearth for carbonation
This morning I bottled up 2.5 gallons of amber ale.   I coudn't get into the kitchen yesterday because hubby was painting an area which needed to be finished before he installs the sink (fingers crossed for this weekend).   I filled 10, 500 ml bottles - the plastic ones.  I have to admit that I totally forgot about  underestimated the effect of the overwhelming scent of the beer, before 8 am. Yuk!

Mid afternoon, I mixed up more sanitizing solution and bottled up the cider.  There was only about 3.5 L in the carboy, so it seemed like a huge mess and effort for such a small amount.   I had 5 small bottles and 2.5 , 500 ml bottles.   The half bottle became a tester and it was pretty good.  It's cloudy though, despite letting it crash on the rather cold sun porch for a while.   I used a siphon and bottling wand to fill these bottles and that sure was an exercise in futility.   I wasn't tall enough to prime the siphon and make sure the bottling wand was securely in a bottle.  The siphon kept losing it's prime, so I needed help to do the job, which kept the mess on the floor to a minimum but the frustration level quite high.   I'm considering a bottling bucket for next time.  Using the capper was fun though ;)
Apple Cherry Cider, Day 1

Speaking of next time, because I had the sanitizing solution made and all the equipment out, plus the ingredients, I made up a batch of Unicorn Blood (apple cherry cider) based on a recipe found on the Home Brew Forums.  The batch is just over 12.5 L, because I'm not sure if the carboy I want to use for a secondary fermenter, is in Imperial or U.S. gallons.    It's sitting the the back room, which is quite cool.  I've read in a few places, that low temperature, slow ferments, help in keeping the flavours of the fruit.    Right now the room is just under 14 C, since 55 F is the temperature called for, I'm hoping I'm in the ballpark.

I have the ingredients for a 3.25 gallon batch of amber ale, but I only have a 2 gallon fermenter, so until I get another, or the cider is done, I'll have to wait.   I suppose I could use this time for weaving .....

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