Lots to tell

I’m getting two posts in this month as planned, so how can there be so much to share in just the past 2 weeks? I don’t know, but fair warning – plenty of pix and detail in this one, so get yourself your beverage of choice before proceeding.

I’ll start with a shot of my first spring flowers. This is my tiny scilla. Taken on March 17, they had poked their purple heads above the mulch but hadn’t yet opened their petals.

scilla on March 17

Ok, we’ll start some detail here. Trust me when I tell you that I have lots more detail than I’m including; let me know if you need more to guide you in your own kitchen.

I’ve baked bread off and on for 40+ years. (Doesn’t that make me feel old?!) For the past 5-6 years I’ve really gotten into making sourdough breads. Easy peasy. BUT. I have a dear friend who has been on a serious gluten-free diet for years. And she drools over my sourdoughs. I’ll be visiting her in April, and wanted to make her a birthday gift of GF sourdough bread. Could I do it?

I did some online reading. Started making a GF sourdough starter from scratch. Decided to follow a recipe that used a well-known 1-to-1 flour mixture that included xanthum gum, as the source seemed quite reliable. It was just okay after 14 days, but thought I’d better try making a loaf of bread. It was a complete fail. The starter and the bread added to the compost bin.

Did a lot more reading, and decided to start again, this time using a mixture of sorghum flour and quinoa flour, no one’s mix of anything, no gum or other things. The starter was working well, so on day 11 I made a loaf of bread using a recipe from the same source.

It sure didn’t rise much, but the taste was good, although you can see a bit of gumminess near the bottom crust. Labeled and froze the loaf to take with me on the visit.

GF sourdough #1 & #2

I kept feeding the starter and a few days later I tried again with the same recipe. I forgot to take a photo of 2nd loaf, but the rise was unfortunately similar, as was the taste, but no gumminess. Sliced, labeled and froze it.

I put the starter in the frig for a few days while I did yet more online research. Got the starter back out, did some more feeding, and followed a different recipe from the same source – I came to trust Georgia. This loaf was a bit higher, lots more air holes, and better taste and consistency that loaves 1 & 2. Sliced & froze it.

GF sourdough #3

Kept feeding the starter and the next day went back to a well-known flour mixture recipe. Again, not impressed with the results. Still, I sliced & froze it; she can always decide to use it to make croutons or stuffing or something.

GF sourdough #4

Everything I’ve read has told me that the starter is better after a month. So it’s back in my frig. I plan to make a loaf a week until I leave home in mid-April, probably using the recipe for loaf #3, to see if there’s a notable difference in my results.

I may also try to make her a GF (non-sourdough) baguette, as Georgia’s recipe sounds simple enough…at least as GF bread goes.

I’ll close the GF bread discussion here by telling you 2 things:
—I’m quite sure my friend will be impressed with all the bread, as she told me she and another friend tried making GF bread and were very careful to follow a recipe exactly and it turned out like garbage – went into her compost.
—the process to make GF sourdough is just that – a process. MUCH more involved than regular sourdough.

Just for a visual break, here’s my hellebore, getting ready to open its flower heads on March 21.

hellebore, March 21

Out of the kitchen and into the studio. I made my March bead bags. Someone in my BuyNothing group gave me a big bag of fabric with lots of kid-friendly prints.
March bead bags

I also got the March hugs woven and gifted. The warp was a variety of cottons (with the variegated & textured bit a rayon-cotton blend). For the first one I used a purple 20/2 bamboo in a plain weave. I liked the way the colors played together.

purple March hug

I wove the second with an 8/2 burgundy tencel, using a straight twill. It also turned out nicely.

In my never-ending quest to use up my stash, I picked out a 5/2 chartreuse-y cotton. Honestly, I thought I’d probably have to scrap this yarn after its audition on the warp, but no. The green of the chartreuse totally faded, and it gave the whole hug a golden glow that pleased me more than I expected.

golden March hug

Meanwhile, I applied for another good one-day, indoor show to be held in late April. Or thought I did. Apparently something technical went wrong and my app didn’t go through, but I didn’t notice that. After the fact, I am glad it didn’t; the universe looked out for me on that and took away some unneeded anxiety.

So now I wanted to get another towel warp on the loom. I scrolled through a lot of pix of things others had woven and settled on one that spoke to me. I modified the threading from 4 to 8 shafts, expanded some parts, and wound my threads. With all the color changes, this wasn’t a fast as my usual winding, but I really liked it. All 8/2 cotton, sett at my typical 24 ends per inch.

2 bouts wound for Spring Flowers towels

Got the warp on the loom, thread it, spread it out, and started weaving. Uh oh. After weaving probably 10″ I noticed that in one of the cream sections I’d inadvertently threaded 4 ends on harness 2 instead of harness 1. So I made string heddles, hung replacement warp ends, and laboriously needle wove those threads correctly. I knew I wouldn’t want to do that needle weaving any more after all the towels were woven and off the loom, so just bit the bullet and did it right then.

repair heddles and needle weaving

Ok, finally I was back on a roll. Until I wasn’t. Just a few inches later.

broken apron strings

If you look carefully at the prior photo, you’ll see that my apron strings are, um, not strong. I thought they could make it till the end of this warp and I’d replace them at that time. WRONG!!

Geez! Would I be able to replace the apron string at this stage of the game without having to cut off that warp and retie? Would I be able to get consistent tension? I didn’t know, but I figured it made sense to try with the warp in place. I could always cut it off & retie it later if needed.

Spring Flowers towels

I was so pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t really much of a challenge at all to get the new (much stronger) apron string in place and have consistent tension.

I’m not happy with that left selvedge, and have again tied repair heddles and tried 2 different harnesses in an attempt to smooth that out, with *some* success. So far I’ve woven 2 with that cream weft, 2 with a 10/2 celery weft, and am now working an 8/2 light blue. Not sure if I’ll weave 2 of the blue, try another color, or return to the cream. Or the celery. So many options.

As soon as I’m done with this warp I will replace the apron ties on the back harness, as they are probably the same weak string as the front was.

In closing, here are my first daffodils to open, which they did on March 22. I have several hundred plain yellow daffodils around my foundation, planted by the prior owner. They all open early and draw lots of comments from all the neighborhood walkers.

first daffodils open, March 22

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