Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Flapjack recipe and changes afoot...

I made a batch of date and molasses flapjack last night and thought I'd share my recipe. I know flapjack isn't one of the most complicated things to make but it took me a long time to get a result that wasn't rock hard or completely crumbly! The combination of Mum's recipe, good tins (Mermaid ones in our case, expensive but brilliant and made to last forever) and non-stick baking paper means great flapjack every time!

This is the flapjack (or 'flappy' as its known in our house) fresh out of the oven...
Date and molasses flapjack

Date and molasses flapjack recipe

- 4oz butter
- 3oz muscovado sugar
- 1oz chopped dates
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1 large tsp golden syrup
- 8.5oz porridge oats

I tend to use organic ingredients, except for the golden syrup as I can't find an organic one that's as nice as Tate & Lyle!

Melt the butter, sugar, molasses and golden syrup in a pan over a medium heat. Chop up the dates into the mixture. Scissors is the easiest way to do it, chop them as fine or as chunky as you like.

Once the mixture has melted, turn off the heat, chuck in the oats and carefully stir them in. It'll look like too many oats but keep going and make sure the melted mixture is completely mixed in.

Line a baking tin with greaseproof/non-stick baking paper (or use that special reusable stuff if you've got it, I keep meaning to buy some!). My tin is about 6" x 10" and 1" deep but anything vaguely that size should work.

Tip the mixture into the lined tin and smooth it flat with the back of a metal spoon or something. Then put it in a medium oven for about 15-20mins. I put my electric fan-assisted oven to around 160 degrees C. Once you can smell the flapjack and see the surface bubbling slightly it's usually done.

Take it out of the oven and mark out the slices on the surface of the flapjack (I usually divide it into 10). Let it cool in the tin and then remove it and cut it up properly once it's gone a bit more solid. When it's totally cool, put it in an airtight container and it's usually good for a week but tends to be eaten before then!

Mmm... lovely date-y bits!
Close up date and molasses flapjack

If you don't like the idea of date and molasses, leave them out, but put in an extra half oz of sugar and a bit of extra golden syrup instead of the molasses for a plain flapjack.

Other winning flappy combos... cherry and coconut, dried apricot and almond, chocolate pieces with chopped brazil or hazelnuts, three seed (pumpkin, sunflower and sesame), dried apple and cinnamon.

In non-flapjack news, I'm making progress with getting my head around the idea of selling some fibre-related things on Etsy (and maybe other places). I'm thinking batts, yarn, handmade buttons (more news on that once I get some photos!), finished knitted/woven/felted objects etc etc.

I've started to realise that 'skeffto' might not be the best name for a crafty venture. Although it means something to me and a few people who know me, the rest of the world seems to struggle with it. People always look a bit blank when I tell them it and often can't get the hang of spelling it (skefto? skeffko?)!

It doesn't seem like a good plan to have a business name that people can't get their head around! I've decided that I should have the same name for as many things as possible (blog, Etsy, Ravelry, email, Twitter, Craftster etc) so that people can find me easily. This means a bit of work to change my name and a move of blog so I need to get it right!

I've been thinking of 'skeffto' alternatives and have come up with 'flyhoof' and 'giddyhorse', which both relate to the logo that I'm thinking of using - a flying stickhorse. I know, that sounds weird but it doesn't look so bad, honest! I like the idea of flyhoof but don't feel as attached to it as I do giddyhorse. But then giddyhorse sounds a bit 'cute' and childlike to me, which is maybe not so good?

Any input on this would be much appreciated! :)

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Local fleeces and... dog fibre?!

The fleece man rang! I'd started to think that the man I met outside my Mum's house during the Ulverston carnival (with two of his sheep on leads) wasn't going to call me but he did and I went round to rummage around in his garage a couple of days ago.

He had all sorts in there, Greyface Dartmoor (which has a HUGE fleece!), Jacob, North Ronaldsay, Herdwick, Shetland and Wensleydale, plus a couple of random mixtures. I had intended just to get the two Wensleydale fleeces but when he shook three lovely Shetland fleeces out of a sack (one brown, one black and one grey), I had to have them too!

It was nice and sunny when I got home so I spread the Wensleydales out on the grass and had a go at skirting them. Here are the mounds of skirted fleece in the sun...
Two Wensleydale fleeces

They're an interesting orangey-pink colour but unfortunately that's down to the fact that the sheep lived in a field where the soil is really rich in iron and the fleece is stained from the iron oxide.

This is the result of my first efforts washing some of the fleece...
Close up washed Wensleydale

I think it needs another dunking and a good old shake to get the bits of dirt out. Lovely curls though!

Before I got stuck into the fleece washing, I read up on cleaning raw fleece in the Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning. This book was one of the first I ever bought on spinning and it blew my mind a bit at first because there's just far too much information for a newbie spinner to take in! Its more useful now that I've got a bit more of an idea about what I'm doing though and it had more information on cleaning raw fleece than any of my other books.

I particularly enjoyed 'wuzzing' the fleece to get out as much water as possible. Alden Amos suggests using a pair of old tights to 'wuzz' but I just bagged up some wet fleece in an old net curtain and then whirled it around my head in my Mum's back yard to spin out the water. Its good exercise!

No photos of the Shetland fleeces yet because I thought I should pace myself a bit with all the washing. I'm going to try and get everything cleaned this week though because I keep reading that raw fleece doesn't store well and should be washed asap!

My Mum received a sinister package from her friend this week and it turned out that it's actually for me...
The dog is bald

I'm hoping the dog isn't completely bald, although there can't be much left when I've got all this...
Bag of Spencer fur

I'm not sure what I'll make with it yet, or whether to spin or felt it. Its from a Schnauzer called Spencer and there have already been suggestions of a dog cape, or maybe a little dog tank top for him to wear in the winter. I'm thinking of weaving a little wallhanging of handspun Spencer yarn or knitting a glasses case, or a hat if there's enough (human hat or dog hat?). If I was feeling really adventurous I might have a go at needle-felting a tiny Schnauzer from one of the patterns in the Japanese Fleece Dog book that I'm sure I've seen in a local bookshop.

I'll keep you posted! :)

ETA: I've just discovered there's a Fleece Dog website!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

New yarnz and some batt action...

I've been spinning up my Solstice and Dirty Pretty Thing batts, with quite exciting results!

Solstice - Merino, silk and angelina sparkle. 120g and 110m long
Solstice yarn collage

Solstice is corespun and I worked across the batt from one side to the other, meaning that it starts out with lots of orange and gradually goes to purple. I like it! I'm pleased to get 110m from one batt too.

Dirty Pretty Thing - organic Wensleydale, hand dyed mystery wool and Merino. 174g and 39 metres in total
Dirty Pretty Thing yarn collage

This yarn is also corespun and I added in some extra locks and curls, which I left sticking out all over the yarn. Its really chunky and full of texture. I left it hanging on a door in the house for ages to admire it :)

I've also been carding batts...

Neptune Grass - dyed merino wool in greeny turquoises and greys, hand dyed grey merino, black diamond (carbonized bamboo fibre), dyed silk and angelina sparkle. 134g in total
Neptune Grass batt collage

Modern Guilt - hand dyed merino wool, cashmere and silk blend called 'turquoise boy' from Limegreenjelly at Etsy, dyed merino in grey, two shades of turquoise and hot pink, mystery grey wool, carbonised bamboo fibre (Black Diamond) and angelina sparkle. 158g in total
Modern Guilt batt collage

I've already spun Modern Guilt (still got to set the twist) and I've got some new ideas for things to make with my handspun... pictures to follow (if it works!).

In other fibre-related news, I randomly met a man with some sheep whilst watching the Ulverston carnival outside my Mum's house at the weekend. Mum suddenly said 'there's some sheep coming up the road!' and sure enough, there was a man with a lovely Wensleydale ewe and a North Ronaldsay ram on leads. I intercepted him and had a chat about spinning. He's got a garage full of freshly shorn fleeces from his collection of sheep, including Shetlands and various other breeds! I gave him my number and hopefully he's going to get in touch so I can have a rummage in his garage! Whoo! :)