success and failure

Posted by on February 23, 2011 in cook, knit, stitch | 12 comments

I just had a four and a half day weekend, and not much happened and it was fantastic. In fact, I barely left the house, and when I did, it was purely on foot, with Winston, to walk through the frosty meadow in the middle of our little valley. I didn't drive anywhere once I got home Friday afternoon. I made sure to run all my errands, and did lots of grocery shopping on Friday so we were well provisioned. Saturday was an official pajama day, so I made a hearty breakfast of bacon, potatoes, and eggs, and then a good, warm pot of soup for dinner (sausage and kale, a favorite around here). There was a nap and a lot of knitting while sitting on the couch watching Netflix. I might have accidentally cast on three new projects, as well as working on that one existing one, but I will save all that for another post. They are all pretty quick projects and one is almost done, so I don't feel bad.  

Sunday morning, we woke up to the sound of the snow plows scraping the street. Finally, we had our first snow storm of the season! It came down heavily all morning, so we decided it would be wise to stay put, and there was still soup to eat, and I also discovered that Downton Abbey was available to watch instantly on Netflix. Have you seen it? Why did they leave us hanging like that? I was happy to read that there will be a second season. If you love a good BBC costume drama, and you haven't seen it, watch it soon, so good! 

So, with all this free time, I spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday in my little house studio doing some general cleaning up, but also a little sewing. I've been keeping all my DPNs collected together in a little ceramic pot, which looks really cute, but is super annoying when I actually want to use a set, and have to shuffle through and find a whole set in the same size. So I made a case that I can easily tuck into my knitting bag, and now I will always have the right size needles as soon as I need them. 

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The new case is the one on the left. On the right is my much-loved case for regular needles from Yvonne from one of our annual Christmas swaps ages ago. And underneath is a binder with page protectors where I keep all of my recently-organized circular needles. Cute, right? Let me tell you about all the things I did wrong with my cute, new case. I should have made some sort of flap to go over the needles, because now, if you turn it upside down, they all fall out. I sewed a piece of ribbon on both short edges, which means that when it's rolled up, one is uselessly rolled up inside.

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I didn't do the best job on my little labels. They're just scrap fabric, with the numbers stamped on. I cut them out rather unevenly, but they are just tacked in place with a tiny bit of fabric glue, so I'm thinking I might remove them and stamp the numbers directly onto the polka dot fabric. Ah well, I can just make sure to store it upright, and the one ribbon is long enough to wrap all the way around to keep it closed, and the number labels are still kind of appealing in their wonkiness. Not every project can come out perfect, and sometimes I can just be happy with 'good enough,' and I really like my new little case, despite it's shortcomings resulting from my inability to think it all through before I sewed it. And it turns out that I have four sets of size 7 needles and no eights or nines. 

 Project number two was to make a batch of marmalade, which is one of Mr. Heylucy's favorite things ever, apparently. I didn't realize he liked it so much, but when I brought home a bag full of citrus on Friday, and told him my plan, he asked me multiple times every day when I was going to make the marmalade. I was greatly inspired by this post from Putting up with the Turnbulls. Heart-shaped bits of peel? Yes, please! I had some organic Meyer Lemons and some mandarins, so I went to work. My heart cutter wasn't quite as cute, but it was just as tiny and blister-inducing, but totally worth the effort.

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So I set to cutting and cooking. I didn't add the cinnamon hearts, I just wanted to do a simple marmalade for my first time. I cooked and cooked and tested to see if it was set. I checked the internet and read that it would set once it reached 220 degrees, so I got out my candy thermometer and watched the tempurature carefully. The recommended 30 minutes passed. I waited another 15 minutes, and still, we were only at 210 degrees. Another ten minutes, and it crept up to 216. Then it started looking a little too golden, and then it was sticking to the pan. Oh no! I stopped immediately, and got it into the jars, and then I processed them to seal. I had been licking spoons and tasting regularly and it was really, really delicious. I made myself some toast this morning, and eagerly opened a jar. Not only had it set, it was set more than any other jam or marmalade I had ever had. I could scoop it out with my knife, but it was kind of hard to spread so I just made due with a few evenly spaced chunks. So, another not-quite-a-success. It does taste delicious, but I obviously need more preserving practice. I think my thermometer is not quite accurate, it's the same one I used to make three batches of caramel, and the first two batches didn't work either. I also wonder if the tempurature thing has to do with our altitude at all. I know water boils at a lower tempurature, so maybe I'll try cooking it to 210 or so next time. I will keep experimenting and figure this out! So it was another failure, but a delicious one, and I will keep trying. 


  1. I missed you earlier this month at the Knitting Meet Up at Panera in the Grossmont Shopping Center and will be out of town for the next two meetings. Hope to catch up with you eventually. Monica suggested I follow your blog since apparently have a lot in common. Saw your projects on Ravelry and they are wonderful!
    I’ve sewn DPN cases with a flap, but not with the cute labels you used or in the bright colors.
    I loved Downton Abbey too. I see you have Netflix. If you have or get Amazon Prime, you can now see all sorts of streaming videos for free with your membership. Downton Abbey is one of the many BBC offerings.
    One area where we definitely differ is that cooking thing you do. That’s my husband’s job and I rarely break out a pot or pan to put together a simple meal.
    Tania (taniasews on Ravelry)

  2. Hey, your photographs are really good. You must have a really nice camera… ūüėČ

  3. I’m glad you tried the marmalade! Your photos are great and the heart-shaped punch too cute. Rachel Saunders book Blue Chair Jam Cookbook has some wonderful photos and great explanations of what a good jam, jelly, and marmalade set look like plus, tons of yummy receipts. I go to it whenever I’m having trouble because the pictures really help. I’ve given up on the thermometer test…because it never works for me. I have more success with the frozen spoons/plate test. Are you going to give it another go?

  4. I'm definitely going to try again, it tasted so good! Thanks so much for the heart idea, I think my husband was really tickled by it too, he was kind of excited when he spread some on his toast this morning, to see all the little hearts I made for him :o) 
    Yeah, I tried the plate test first, but it was so runny after 30 minutes I went to the internet to do more research and I liked the idea of measuring the temperature, you can't really argue with 220 degrees, right? I should have known though, because I had a similar problem when making caramels. We live at 4000 feet, so I should also know that altitude has an effect on so many things I cook. I've adjusted the way I bake, but now I'm seeing that I have to make some other adjustments too. I read that water boils at a lower temperature, so things have to cook longer, so I think that was my problem. Something with a lot of water (like jam or marmalade) might not actually reach 220.  
    I downloaded a sample of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook to my nook, and I think I'm going to get it (a hardcopy!), the little bit I read was full of good information, and I want to start doing more and more canning! 

  5. Funny you should say that, I've been feeling like I haven't been doing great with taking pictures. I actually took some others of another little project and they didn't come out at all. So I do have to give all the credit to my camera right now for anything that works.  :o) 

  6. Nice to meet you! I'm so glad to have found this group, and I plan to keep going, so we'll meet up eventually :o)  I wish I had seen your needle cases before I made mine, I don't know why I didn't put a flap on, but oh well! I'll know better for the next time. I just saw that on Amazon. I just did the free one month trial of Amazon prime, but cancelled and now I'm going to have to re-think that. The only thing is that I have a Playstation hooked up to my TV, and I can stream Netflix through that. I'll have to see if there's a way to stream Amazon to my TV, otherwise I'd only be able to watch on my laptop. Now I'm off to oogle your projects on Ravelry! 

  7. Re: the DPN needle case… Why can’t you make a separate flap and attach it? I topstitched mine to keep the flap down, so who’s to know you’re hiding a seam under the topstitching?

  8. Great idea about the hearts:) I like you blog!

  9. Thanks! The heart idea is from Putting up with the Turnbulls, so I have to make sure they get all the credit! 
    p.s. I loved The House of Elliot too! 

  10. I've thought about that, it's just a matter of getting around to it :o) You're right, though, it wouldn't show, I'd just have to make sure my topstitching is really straight.

  11. Yes, I couldn’t believe that they hardly tied up any ends – especially as they didn’t know that they would be making a second series at that point… pah. Still, I think the next lot is to be aired in the UK in the Autumn, so hopefully it will soon follow over here.

  12. I know! At first I thought that Netflix must just not yet have all the episodes, so I was looking all over to find out when I would be able to see the rest. 
    Plus, were you as irritated as I that the sisters were so mean to each other at the end? 

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