Hello! The blog is on hold while I move house. Please keep your fingers crossed for an easy transition!
Early in my Singapore adventure, a cab driver described the country this way: “Singapore - no natural resources, no natural disasters.” He’s not wrong.
Because there is very, very little domestic agriculture, almost everything is imported, which brings us to these tiny and battered but delicious apricots from Turkey. When you can’t get your hands on fresh and local, you make do.
I’ve been making mesophilic yogurt, which is easier than falling off a log. Vilii (from Finland) and Caspian Sea yogurt are strains of good bacteria which turn milk into yogurt at room temperature - no fuss, no muss, no yogurt maker required. My tiny people are not yet totally sold on the natural sourness of the yogurt, so I made a batch of apricot freezer jam to use as a topping.
Spoiler alert: failure! The Turkish apricots are apparently less juicy than their North American cousins. There wasn’t enough liquid to dissolve the sugar, the jam did not set, and it was full of undissolved sugar crystals. I dumped all the jars back into a bowl, added four cups of peach mash, and re-jarred it. Not perfect, but it works for yogurt.
This beauty spent an entire morning in the tree outside my office. He or she is about the size of a red-tailed hawk, and made me very glad I’m not a small mammal or tiny bird.
One of the ironies of running a yarn business is you tend to not have time or energy for your own knitting. Earlier this summer in what can only be described as a foolhardy move on my part, I suggested to my knitting group that we do a sweater KAL. Any sweater you want, just done by the time everybody’s back from summer travel, so sometime in September.
I then proceeded to angst about pattern and yarn choices because I’m a picky knitter. After about 8 weeks of false starts and more angst, I picked my yarn and my pattern: my own Helix Superwash in Dendrobium, and Louisa Harding Orielle in Fondant that I over-dyed to a pale violet. Here’s the “before” swatch:
Here’s the “after” combo:
September is not happening, but I’m hoping for a late October finish. Wish me luck!
These are the husks of the durian fruit. Durians can be huge, and they are the deadliest fruit on the planet - they have a tendency to fall from great leafy heights and kill the people they land on. They’re smelly enough to be banned on public transit here ($500 fine), creating a small-but-thriving durian delivery service industry.
My twins have started preschool (Gah!), and needed bags for their water bottles, extra clothes, etc. I made a pair of box bags using the same method I use for my knitting project bags. I was hoping to post a link to TrulyMyrtle’s excellent tutorial for how to make these bags, but her domain seems to not be working at the moment.
Anyway, box bags are a bit fiddly to sew, but so worth it. Mine are two layers of canvas, and I wish I’d added interfacing. Within 24 hours of finishing, the lighter bag had had a serious run-in with a marker without a cap, and it’s looking a little… let’s go with wabi-sabi.
There will eventually be a second round of these. The twins love hauling them around, so I’d like to make them shorter so they don’t drag on the ground quite so much, and I’m thinking an oil cloth exterior will be more marker-resistant than canvas.
Another gigantic tropical insect for you! These guys are about the size of an adult finger with gorgeous yellow and black stripes.
My rug project is not going as planned. Since it seems like you can’t swing a cat without bumping into someone’s curated list of everything that’s going perfectly, I thought I’d share the current state of this project that can be most charitably described as “on hold.”
My patching fabrics were all dyed and ready to go. I thought I could just take the backing off the rug and put the new fabric underneath the holes, stitch around the holes, and boom - done. No such luck.
After getting the cheap, nasty black polyester backing off, there was very bad news: each individual piece of the rug is underlined with more of the aforementioned nasty cheap fabric, and it’s sewn in to every seam. Oh, and the seams have all been topstitched. There’s no good way to get it out without seam ripping everything, and probably making a huge hash of the rug in the process.
I’m considering patching over the top of the holes, but I’m not sure how it’s going to look. The disappointment about this not being the quick and easy project I thought it was going to be has taken the wind out of my sails.
Luckily I have Vesper to keep the fabric company while I mull it over.
Finally! This gorgeous fellow is a carpenter bee. I have been trying to photograph one for months. As soon as I get my camera ready, zoom - gone. They’re surprisingly fast flyers for their size - which is mammoth. Their bodies are about the size of my thumb from the knuckle to the fingertip, and their wings are beautifully iridescent.
This is my kitchen rug. I bought it at Apa Ini in Portland sometime in the early 2000s. It’s an assortment of old rugs re-sewn into a patchwork, and it’s brought color and verve to more kitchens than I care to count in my many, many, many moves.
The poor thing has seen better days. I was contemplating replacing it, but realized that I think I can patch it. I’ve dyed up a bunch of rug wool from the Pendleton Wool Mill Outlet (also in Portland), and the dye gods definitely smiled upon me - the colors came out very, very close to the original.
Now to figure out the patching.
Exhibit A: A bird at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, helpfully identified on an interpretive plaque as a Red Jungle Fowl.
Exhibit B: A kampong chicken seen while walking my dog.
So what’s the difference?
Kampong chickens are village chickens (“kampong” means village). They’re free ranging, free foraging local birds found throughout Malaysia, Indonesia, and occasionally Singapore. A bit of quick research reveals that kampong chickens are a the result of random cross-breeding between red jungle fowl and exotic chicken breeds introduced in the 1700s.
Approved by Rufus.
A few months back, a team of landscapers was trimming back the bamboo outside my home. They cut down some huge pieces which I was eyeing as they lay in the driveway. One of the landscapers noticed my interest, and asked if I wanted some. It was a win-win - I got bamboo for a project; he got a smaller pile of stuff to haul away.
I ended up with 5 pieces well over 2 m long (probably around 8 ft). After it had aged in our entryway for a few months (read: until I got around to it), I sanded it down, cleaned it off, and drilled holes through the pieces. I ran parachute cord through the holes, sewed a cover, and voila - play tent!
It’s a great rainy day space, and I hope it will be a fun place to read books someday.
I wish my camera could accurately capture the color of these flowers. They are so blue the camera thinks they’re purple!
A member of the pea family, the petals have such an intense color that they’re used to color rice and even ice cream a dreamy blue-purple.
Gradients are all I want to dye this week! Here are a few beauties from a recent dye run.
Spotted this quite large and very cool moth while walking Zissou (my dog). He or she is without a doubt the biggest moth I’ve ever seen.
A quick research dive into the habits of this species uncovered that they eat highly toxic oleander leaves as caterpillars, and prefer to feed on the nectar of fragrant flowers like jasmine and honeysuckle as adults.
Indie dyers sometimes end up with skeins from the same dye lot that can look like they’re not even from the same county.
I bought a sweater quantity from another dyer whose work I adore, so I’m not going to say who she is, because the yarn did not match AT ALL. If it didn’t make me feel so smug about my own relentless color matching, I would have requested a replacement or refund. Instead, I over-dyed it.
This was the before photo. Only one skein had the little pops of brilliant lemon yellow that got me excited about this colorway in the first place.
I over-dyed it to even out the color, add more yellow, and bump up the anemic weak tea color that wanted so badly to be deep gold. I am now super stoked to knit it. Thinking about knitting Confetti but without the stripes.
Easy there, big fella.
Spotted this guy or gal at the Botanic Gardens, digging through the leaf litter and eating earthworms.
Monitor lizards are big. This one was about 4 feet long. They’re in the same genus as Komodo dragons, and are named for their mildly terrifying habit of standing up on their hind legs to take a look around if they’re concerned.
Luckily for me, this one was mostly concerned with his or her lunch.
My scrappy weaving project continues. I think I have about 4 yards of warp left, and I’m moving into the blue-green end of the spectrum. Really hoping this project comes together!
Nope, it’s not a chameleon.
Even though they change colors and have eyes that swivel around, these lizards are not true chameleons, despite that being their common name here.
They seem to be everywhere right now. Sunning themselves, doing yoga on fences. It’s a good season to be a lizard.
You know that area of your house that has a door you can close where you can hide mess and clutter from family and guests? You know how that room fills up with stuff?
I finally tackled mine, and it was so much less of a nuisance than I thought it was going to be!
Getting the donations donated and finding places for what was left let me create a cozy little corner for my spinning wheel, and we have been getting re-acquainted after a long and painful separation.
The wheel has been waiting patiently for me to get my spinning mojo back for almost three years. It’s been an embarrassingly long time, and I am so happy to be spinning again.