Sunday, 19 February 2012

Messing About

I couldn't really go off quilting in the workshop all during half term; instead, I tackled long the overdue chore of clearing out the summerhouse. It had not been touched since last summer so I had to deal with deflated airbeds, two drum kits, dried up pots of glue& paint, cat biscuits and feathers. This led to a thorough airing of the garden yurt and a bonfire. I still need to get rid of a stack of 5+ year old editions of Country Living Magazine, a hostess trolley and two outdoor cane chairs that the crows have robbed of stuffing. It would be great to decorate the summerhouse just like a page from a magazine but I would have to get rid of everything else first and I quite like some of my odd collections of other people's junk. I really ought to sort out that 1950's kitchen cupboard that I rescued for restoration...

There was a knock on the door early one morning and a small incognito Ninja delivered a heart shaped cake to Freya as a Valentine Day treat. This was quite thrilling and we all enjoyed the scrumptious red velvet chocolate cake with yummy icing. There was actually rather a lot of cake in my house this week as I finally made the German apple cake that I had been nurturing from a sourdough starter mix for 10 days. It was also delicious so there was no effort made to diet!

I wish I had a scullery in which to do all of my concocting, brewing and preserving. I have been culturing two more German cake mixtures but one met an untimely end and was discovered to have exploded all over the kitchen. I cannot say whether Blue Cat knocked it off or whether it spontaneously combusted but its pottery bowl was smashed to pieces. The gooey mixture that was as sticky as condensed milk was spread across the floor and dripping down the side of the cupboard.

I was persuaded to attend a WRI meeting to listen to a talk and slideshow given by a friend who lived in Singapore for a while. Somehow I allowed myself to be volunteered for a quiz team. I had not been listening attentively to the arrangements so I was aghast to discover that it would not be held in a pub and there would be no chips. In the end it was surprisingly fun – there were around 20 other teams whose members were considerably senior to ours and we managed to finish fourth thanks to our combination of general knowledge and remembering snippets of useless information. There may not have been chips but the sausage rolls and Viennese fingers at half time were excellent.

We finally had a light sprinkling of snow so I could attempt some snow dyeing. I scrabbled around scooping up a few bucketfuls and dribbled some strong solutions of procion dye onto the flannel sheets that had been treated with soda ash. It was quite exciting waiting to see what would happen. The steady thaw seemed ideal but I realised after a while that the dye was not penetrating into the middle part of the sheets and I didn't want large white areas. I don't think the snow was the right sort to give the crystalline effect. I turned them over and pushed the colourful slush back into the creases. The colours seemed very bright but after they had been rinsed much of this was lost so I am glad that I prepared strong dyes. They are nowhere near as intense as my Hungarian dyes so I am already wondering whether they would work better, applied directly to the snow as powder with salt.  The trouble with snow is that it is cold and it has been hot water that has set my dyes so successfully in the past. I am keen to experiment again but perhaps I will have to wait a bit longer for the right kind of snow!

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