I realized this morning that I didn't have anything for a post, mostly because the entire fiber world seemed taken up by a certain wedding in Britain that I didn't care about particularly. Fortunately I remembered a Twitter series by Fashion historian Kate Strasdin that was interesting. It was a fantasy 40's era wedding with examples from all the top designers of the day and Kate's reason for why she had chosen each sample for the character (Bride, Mother-of-the-Bride, etc.). The 40s are more modern than my preferred styles, although I don't hate them like some even more modern "ironic" styles that I feel are an insult to both fabric and wearer, so the thread was very educational. Hopefully at some point the entire thing will have the "thread unroll" done to it, I don't know how, and it will be even easier to read.
Who wants to skritch that belly? Super safe. Promise!
No photos again this week. I made a couple more flavors of "mochi chews". The watermelon pickle brine was a surprising success. Sweet and tangy with a hint of baking spices. The lychee syrup would probably have been a success if I had put the fruit and liquid into another container in the fridge instead of leaving them in the can. It ended up causing a "tinny" flavor that comes through in the sweets. The flavors I want to try next are matcha tea, I will probably use the prepared tea as the water for the mochi, and pandan which is an extract of the screw-pine plant and apparently is used in Asia much as vanilla is used in the west.
The other thing finished is much less satisfying. The board has voted to shut down Knit'n Kitten Fiber Arts, Inc. due to problems with the formation papers and a misunderstanding on my part about public vs. private charities when the organization was formed. I will continue maintaining this website, donating to abolition organizations and generally supporting needlework and liberty in my capacity as a private person. I still hope to see a strong organization in the future, but it is important that it have the right foundations and what we had didn't qualify.
It is definitely worthwhile to read the entire story of Tebby Kaisara's journey from Botswana to what she thought was to be a university education and part-time job, to abused and unpaid domestic help for another student from Africa, and eventually to not just freedom for herself but helping others learn how to avoid trafficking situations. Her life will probably never be simple or easy, and there will always be both physical and emotional scars, but she is moving forward in a life of liberty with the help of others who walk alongside her and offer support on a path that, although not of her choosing, she has made the decision to face with courage and hope.
Started on the weaving in (right side of photo). I'm using a small crochet hook and it's slightly less awful than I anticipated.
It was time to cut back the mulberry to keep the branches manageable for next year's harvest and I wanted to try to keep some of the bark for cordage and weaving baskets. Both of my forefingers are sore two days later as the bark * had to be peeled from the branches on the day of so it didn't dry and become impossible to remove. There are nearly a dozen peeled branches of which Son peeled one and I did the rest. The removed bark is the long, medium length strips that are prepped for being split further.
The small pile in the top right area is the strips that have been thinned sufficiently to be used in projects. I forgot to have EK get a photo of the packets of wide (half or whole circumference of the branch) bark that I had set to the side to decide what to do with later.
A two - part series explores the stories of Kenyan families who have had loved ones die under unclear circumstances while working in the Gulf States as well as the personal stories from women who experienced physical and sexual abuse only to finally return home broken in body and spirit and with their salary having been spent on the return ticket so that they had nothing but scars to show for their time. The second part of the video led a woman to share in the YouTube comments her own traumatic experience and to add her voice to those warning young women to look for other ways to support their families. The final part of the second video shows that the Kenyan government has at least started to try to shut down unethical recruiters and to guard the safety of their people when abroad as workers, but it is uncertain how much they can do when the Saudi, Omani, Qatari, etc. employer views the women as purchased slaves as many of the women relate that they were told by their employers.
I've been watching a series on YouTube Called Japanology that is produced by NHKWorld. As a needleworker and person with interest in history, this episode about a particularly intricate form of weaving that was developed in Kyoto, Japan. Of exceptional note is the portion starting around minute 21 about a gentleman and his family who have used this technique to *exactly* replicate a 900 year old series of scroll paintings that tell the Tale of Genji. It was a nearly 40 year project to replicate what the colors would have looked like when the paintings were fresh and took an average of 10 years to weave each of the 4 scrolls. the finished pieces included both the script and the figures in meticulous detail and surely deserve a place as national treasures alongside the originals.
The disembodied cat head is judging you. Or perhaps Yuu just wants to finish her nap.
I actually have a photo!
At least all the chain stitch is finally completed. I'm still trying to decide how I want to do the edges, apparently too tight of a fold can cause the jute fibers of the burlap to break after a while. Creating the fold over a piece of yarn is supposed to help prevent that. I also think I'm going to do some sort of yarn technique that encases the edging. My choices are crochet, which I have a lot of practice at, or a herringbone stitch that I have almost no experience with. Guess which one I'm likely to try on something I will have to use and look at every day. Yep, good thing YouTube has tutorials on how to do the herringbone (that's actually how I found out about it).
On the food front, I made a watermelon granita (pureed watermelon and simple syrup) because we had a watermelon that was still tasty but over-ripe enough that it was mushy and disagreeable in texture. *I* think it's tasty enough but the kids aren't sold on it. I also made mulberry sherbet (mulberries, a tiny bit of fresh tamarind, a little simple syrup, a *little* heavy cream) . I had to add the syrup and cream because I'd taken the juice out to make syrup and it left the fruit too thick for my blender to handle. Because I'm not using an ice cream mixer (we have one but it's old and very loud, and I didn't want to deal with it) the end product is rather heavy, but I still like it.
I've also been making mochi, and I noticed that when I would move a piece on the silicone pad there would be a thin layer left that dried and was tasty. This has lead to me experimenting with making "mochi leather" because I quickly get tired of dealing with the stickyness of traditional mochi. The first version was "Samurai Chai" flavor from the now defunct (bought and killed by Starbucks) Teavana. I used part regular rice flour as well as the glutinous rice flour and I think I spread it too thick. I did eventually get a dried sheet that I made into "roll-ups" and I like them (although they are very mild flavored). The batch I made most recently was tamarind (glutinous rice, sugar, water, processed tamarind concentrate). It is also very mild in flavor, but sharp and refreshing. This batch is less "chewy" than that with the regular rice flour. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to use either recipe exclusively or trade off.
Accounts vary, not surprisingly, between prosecution and defense as to the exact circumstances, but what is known is that the son of a former Guinean "strongman" president-for-life and his wife have been arrested on federal charges of holding a young woman from their homeland in captivity and forcing her to work for them. The couple doesn't appear to be disputing that the girl was generally kept out of school, just whether or not she'd been kept out since the age of 5, or that they hadn't renewed her visa after it expired and were causing her to be in the US illegally so the main question seems to be one of how severe the penalty will be.
I'm very happy to see cases like this as it's been a known issue for quite a while that "important" foreign visitors were treated much more leniently than "normal" foreigners when it came to issues of breaking American cultural expectations on American soil. I hope this case is a signal that being related to someone powerful somewhere doesn't exempt visitors from our laws while they are here.
Not quite done after all. It would help if I worked on it more than half of the week instead of procrastinating because I think I'm going to find the next bit even more unpleasant.
The next step will be tucking all these ends under the stitches so that the loops on the front don't pull out. Then there is finishing the edges and I'm even more concerned about that since it's something I haven't done before. I'm fairly confident that the edges *won't* end up square and am not looking forward to finding out just how badly crooked they will be.
The Herbarium Manchester tweeted this interesting find. According to later tweets, the selection of 151 skeins was donated over 100 years ago by a physician. The clear labeling makes it even more important as a reference.
I can't remember if I posted this photo before and am being too lazy to go look. It's a pretty accurate depiction of the cats as Yuu is being active, and talkative, while Eevee looks like he wonders what he did wrong to be treated like this. We've never had more than one cat at a time before so it's been interesting watching them interact.
Which brings me to the thing I find both funny and incomprehensible when they "fight". What is it about toes? They'll be in a stand-off for a bit and then each will try to nip the toes of the other. Neither succeeds, but it gives the impression that it is an attempt to score points in the contest, or something like that. EK and I tried to look online to see if any cat experts had an explanation, but it wasn't a topic that others seemed to have thought about so there weren't any answers.
No pictures this week either. I'm still working on the rug to the exclusion of any other needlework and need a time when the kids will be out of the house before I can finish the shrinky plastic items.
Maybe I *should* start getting photos of the food I make, but in general the items aren't particularly photogenic even though they are tasty. They are often semi-experimental and could be called "rustic" if one were inclined to be kind. This week's food was roti, which is made almost exactly like tortillas except for forcing the air pockets to expand (I even got a couple to expand correctly which felt like victory). When I learned that naan also had baking powder in the recipe like bao I set aside a little of the dough from the chopped ham bao and made a naan for each person in the family. EK likes her naan with the cheese sauce from the Welsh rarebit (which she call "were-rabbit" because she can).
The importance of training students to recognize when they are being recruited/groomed for trafficking was underscored recently when a standard trafficking awareness program in a California high school led to a tip from a couple of students who were being urged by a Facebook acquaintance to perform sex acts for money. Upon investigation, it turned out that the woman recruiting them was *actually* a man using an alias and that he had, sometimes successfully, attempted to recruit nearly 100 girls and young women in the area. The students new-found awareness, and bravery in speaking up, led to a predator being stopped for a long time as he was given a sentence of 122 years. While there will always be predators and exploiters this instance shows that, with proper information and training, it can be made *much* harder for them to prey on the people around them.
I guess this means I'm about three-quarters done with this thing now. Not sure how I feel about it other than that I will be *very* happy to finally be finished with it, once I am.
EK is working her way through the backlog of handspun. A lot of this batch was spun from shredded blue jeans and another skein is from shredded silk fabric from a worn-out dress. Now that I know about pojagi and sakiori I don't think I will do shredding any more as each step is very time consuming.
What we are *not* at the end of, much to my surprise, is the mulberries. I expected there to be berries for only a week or two, but after a month there are nearly as many unripe as there were to start with. If I pick any more I think I'll just freeze them and decide what to do with them later. In the meantime, the squirrels and mockingbirds are enjoying themselves very much.
Thomas Reuters Foundation reports that there are approximately half a million people trapped in bonded labor (a form of debt slavery that often makes repayment of the original debt impossible) in the Tamil Nadu region of India even though the practice was outlawed in 1976. To help fight this continuing crime, a number of rescued former bonded laborers have created the Released Bonded Labourers Association and engage in the difficult, and often dangerous, work of going undercover into businesses suspected of engaging in the practice. They are starting to see definite results and the organization reports that they are gaining many new members as local residents begin to see that there is a possibility to take positive action and make a real change.
No photos this week as the only thing I've finished is a food item. I *have* finished one side of the carpet and am moderately hopeful of finishing the rest of the main work in another week. After that will be working the edging and weaving in all the ends on the back, which I expect to take at least another week.
The food item this week is an Indian sweet called "ladoo/ladu". The type I made uses farina (cream of wheat) and condensed milk as a base. I think ladoo might be a possibility for people who are gluten intolerant as there are recipes for many different grain, nut, and legume bases (I'm considering making my next ones with rice flour) but, as with many Indian sweets, would definitely not be an option for those with lactose issues. I used a couple cardamom pods and a little orange zest to flavor mine, which makes them taste like a very mild chai, as well as less than the usual sugar called for because Indian sweets are often *too* sweet for a modern American palate. It should be noted that, while many Indian sweets are shaped like the cookies or bars that westerners are accustomed to, they are frequently cooked in a pan on the stove-top instead of baked and thus have a soft, dense texture instead of being crispy. They also tend to be closer to candy in sweetness, if made as instructed, which can be a surprise for those expecting a cookie. The closest thing I can think of would be the "Variations" that my family made when I was a kid. Those were also made on the stove-top and had chocolate, oatmeal, and peanut butter as the main ingredients.
After a week of weather forecasts calling for rain, Saturday dawned cool but nearly cloudless. Approximately 200 volunteers had worked together to make Free the Captives' 5K run a reality and Houston showed up in a big way to support the cause of freedom from sex slavery for local teens. Close to 600 runners attended the event and $50,000 were raised to support the endeavor. There are pictures at the link in the title and the goal is to post more to the same Facebook page over the next couple of weeks.
Almost finished with the one side. I strongly suspect I *won't* be using this technique again as it is simply too time consuming. I also don't know if I will be able to get the edges relatively straight. Hopefully it will be taken care of in the edging, but I won't know if it will work until it is started.
Showing this photo again because it's what I have of the styrofoam. The shapes are cut out and I've started shrinking them. Turns out that, unlike the clear number 6 plastic, styrofoam doesn't shrink evenly. It has a grain line that it shrinks along. Sometimes this works with where the holes are punched and sometimes it just makes for an awkward lumpy mass. With everything being cut out before having the hole punched I have no way of determining what that grain line is so I will probably need to do some experiments, unless I decide that it isn't worth the trouble at all.