February 24, 2018
I found sausage casings in the grocery store of all places. They are salted and in a little plastic salad takeout type container. I wanted to only soak half of them, but they were actually knotted up in the container. I was worried both about ripping them, and how to store the ones I had separated but was not using. I ended up soaking all of them. I know now that since the sausage casings are heavily salted, I can just pack them and the salt back into the container and store in the fridge for several months more. Luckily, they still had some this week, so I purchased another packet of them for future use. These things are fairly difficult to source in this area.
I was soaking them because I'd found pork loin on sale and turned one of those huge slabs of meat into sausages. Next time I'd use more fat, but although a bit dry they are tasty. I was playing around with fat content because I really am not fond of those really fatty, drippy 50% fat sausages. I'd read you could go as low as 20% fat, but I don't think I had quite that much in this batch. They were awfully good with gravy though. I'd purchased a sausage stuffer attachment for the stand mixer at a ridiculous price, but there were only 2 of them in the store and I'd never seen them before. It was worth every penny of that ridiculous price as I was able to grind, mix and stuff the sausage casings by myself. It was a bit fussy and for sure, would have been easier to do with 2 people, but wasn't necessary.
February 17, 2018
I dug up a pattern for a sontag from Peterson's magazine - 1861, spring issue I think. It is different that most of the one's I've seen which are from a Godey's Ladies book pattern. I'd popped out to get the yarn for the Peterson's pattern but it wasn't on sale and was $8 a skein, and I'd need about 4 or 5 of them. I decided to spin the yarn instead, which will mean that the project won't be done when I wanted it to, but I'll use up stash fibre. As this sontag will likely brush my neck, I decided on some Merino Top and Alpaca locks. I have some lovely brown Alpaca in the same staple length of the Merino, but I didn't have enough brown Merino to be certain of having adequate yardage once spun. The white Alpaca locks are short. They are about 2 - 2 1/2 inches long. They hand card nicely enough but I ran both through the drum carder, sandwiching the Alpaca between layers of Merino. This worked a treat and I have been carding up lovely, fluffy batts. I'm using a ratio of 60% Merino to 40% Alpaca.
I got Alpaca from a fundraiser held for a member of the Edmonton Guild who had lost all her fibre equipment during the massive floods a few years ago. They had Alpaca fleeces, mostly shorter length fibres for a $20 donation. I was happy to donate and now I'm happy that I'm actually using the fleece. I'll have to wash the yarn after it's spun as the Alpaca is definitely not clean.
The superwash merino rolags are spun and plied. It's a pretty yarn, soft, squishy and colourful. I've no idea what I'll do with it but at least it's done.