Thursday, September 17, 2009

Living Dangerously

This has absolutely nothing to do with crafts, or anything much, to be honest, and I can't even claim to be the originator of this particular piece of froth, but lets live dangerously for a few minutes.........................



the five minute chocolate cake in a mug!

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Please pass this on to skinny people, and anyone who's diet you want to sabotage.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Too Busy to Blog?

Its not so much I'm too busy, but that by the time I've read and answered emails, caught up with the groups I'm in, checked ebay etc, blogging comes a very poor last and sometimes I think its better not to blog at all, than to babble on about nothing.
So, what have I been doing for six months?
Despite my rushed entry into the Bothwell Longest Thread competition, I managed a creditable 4th with my little toy wheel spindle, which gives me something to aim for next time as I know I can do better - I just can't actually see what I'm spinning! Coloured fleece is a must with my home decor.
I've read a lot of other peoples blogs, and indulged in my favourite blood sport - shopping for books I can't get here in Australia. And in case you think its not a blood sport, you should see the bloody scratch marks down my computer screen when I discover a book-seller won't send over-seas, or makes the postage so unrealistically high, that its far beyond the means of the average person. Trophies include some Harriet Tidball and Mary Atwater monographs, two precious but slim volumes on Nettle spinning, and Weaving in Nepal, Collingwood on tablet-weaving, the new Amy King spinning book, and some past copies of weaving and spinning magazines. At less than AUD15.00 for 4 lbs of books, I made sure I had my money's worth, and am waiting on another batch from my favourite ebay seller:
My "wish list" at Amazon is over 2 pages now, and it doesn't cover half the books I'd love to have on my shelves, like the new Amelia Garripoli book on Productive Spindling. It can be an early Christmas present to me, along with a few more on my "hit" list. You can find Amelia's book at:
I have a new spindle, from a market stall in Bolivia. I can't make it dance yet, but I'm getting better!
and I have a new loom, not one I've made, but the lovely and simple Journey Loom from Weaving a Life:
It comes with a book of philosophy, but don't be scared that this is some crack-pot theory - quite the contrary! This is about grounding yourself, something most spindle spinners do as a matter of course, and finding yourself in your weaving. I'm not into New Age theories, but this is not New Age, its echoes from the past that we instinctively recognise, whether we can put words to it or not. Part of this voyage of self-discovery involves weaving certain "key-forms" and I am on my second. To my delight I have met fellow weavers on Weavolution who are doing the same, so we have an impromptu weave-along!
Weavolution? well, I was coming to that......... Its a new social networking site for weavers, along the lines of Ravelry, and its still only in its beta form, not that you'd notice really! gets you to the front page, but after that you are on your own, it could/can/will become very addictive!
I have also re-discovered an interest in primitive weaving - its how I learned to weave back in the Dark Ages, and to my delight, I still have my old backstrap loom and tablets. We have a lively back-strap weaving group on weavolution, and are planning a weave-along shortly to learn pick-up and double weave, based on south American techniques. Amazon, my book is overdue, grrrrrrr!
So you can see, blogging comes very low down the list of "Must Do's".
One last link: This will get you into the most amazing archives I have come across! Books, articles, videos and home movies on virtually any subject you can think of. The spinning and weaving searches bring up some gems, so if you don't hear from me for a while, you know where I'm to be found!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

spinning hamster floss

I've been busy - family affairs, the holidays (did we all overindulge at Christmas and vow not to ever again in the New year?), re-organising, and for me, a belated entry to the Bothwell Spin-In longest thread competition. I actually started spinning nearly a year ago, just to see how thin I could get my thread. I then hunted out the experts like Sue Macniven who holds the world record on a spinning wheel (and its very scary!), and a wonderful blog on spinning hamster floss.
I also found a very interesting article on-line from Rita Buchanan's husband taking a purely scientific approach to the subject, as well as the frightening statistics on cotton spinning in Bette Hochberg's book on spindles.
I started out using a tahkli in supported mode, which I find difficult to manipulate, probably because of the arthritis in my fingers, but when I used it as a drop spindle the yarn broke very quickly. I felt it was too heavy for what I was looking for, and my fingers soon cramped up. While shopping in a local discount store I had a brain wave and put together a little spindle from the wheel of a doll's mountain bike, with a plastic paintbrush as a shaft, and this little beauty wasn't just light, but very, very fast!
The total weight is 8 or 9 grams including the removeable tyre, and the total length is about 6 inches - did I say it was fast? It spins like those little dust Willy Willy's you get in Australia, appearing out of nowhere, twirling like a dervish, then moving on as quickly as it appeared, leaving a few unsettled leaves in the dust. Give it a thigh roll, and you have to be careful not to overspin, but once I learned its little quirks I thought there would be no stopping me!
When you reach a certain age of maturity the things we all take for granted start to work less well. Eyes are one of those, and it didn't take me long to work out that the lovely merino ram's fleece I had considered for this would be totally unsuitable - I needed to be able to actually see what I was spinning, and with light coloured walls and a spindle?????????? Ten minutes spinning and I'd be so cross-eyed I could no longer see anything else. Family affairs then intervened and I literally ran out of time, the closing date arrived and I only had about 5 grams spun.
Then came an announcement in one of the spinning groups I belong to that the closing date had been extended as there had been so few entries. I had just washed a lovely multicoloured merino hogget fleece from Jane Vandenbroek, a bit on the short side, but sooo soft, just like hamster floss!
Out came the Willy Willy again, and I experimented - provided I could put enough twist in the fibres, I thought I should be able to manage it, and this time I could pretty much see what I was doing - if I squinted at the right angle!
After a few false starts I had spun sufficient thread to ply up and found my lightest John Reeves spindle, the only one I have with a very long shaft, and that could take the whole amount without having to join. Strength testing was courtesy of Pepe, my fibre fiend, who happily swung off the plied fibre as I tried to wind on!

Its not as fine as the invisible thread I was spinning from the other fleece, and I am NOWHERE near the world record, but I reckon if I start now, I might be able to spin enough thread from the ram's fleece to make up 10 grams without going totally blind, and have it ready for 2 year's time. In the meantime I have given myself a bench mark to work from, and have had a huge learning curve in how to spin fine threads.
Now I have to learn to spin yarn again, hehe!

The Willy Willy spindle can be ordered through this blog or from my Ebay store Spinning Down Under