Monday, December 31, 2012

Pygora Goat Fleece

Jack and Mackenzie both have beautiful fleeces that are nearing "harvesting". I am watching the two of them closely, since the fleece must be shorn just at the right time, since it WILL begin to felt on the hoof within a week or two of it being ready to sheer. The cold weather is an issue, since I don't want to shear too much off. They need to keep warm in this cold New England climate! If I can leave a good inch and a half or so on them, they will be warm and toasty. But, I run the risk of felting the fleece if I leave it on too long, in an attempt to grow it longer. Ideally, I would like at least a three inch staple on the shorn fleece. That means they need about a for or five inch staple growth...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Italian Ricotta Christmas Cookies

These Italian Ricotta Christmas Cookies are fabulous. Enough said.


1 cup butter, softened
1-3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 15oz. Whole milk ricotta cheese
2 tsps vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup butter, softened
3-4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tablespoons milk
Sprills or chopped nuts

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and blend. Add ricotta and vanilla. Blend in the dry ingredients gradually. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined pan. I like to lightly roll the dough into 1" balls, to keep them consistently sized. They should be about 2" apart on the pan. Bake @ 350 degrees about 10 minutes, watching carefully, as they burn on the bottom quickly if left too long. Cool on racks. Mix frosting ingredients with a mixer to a fluffy smooth consistency. Frost cookies when cool. Add sprills or nuts immediately. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

German Gingerbread House

A"Lebkuchen Hauschen" stands in the keeping room this year for the holidays. What fun, and how wonderful the house smelled during the baking process. This gingerbread becomes rock hard, as does the frosting, as it sits. I plan on storing it, to save for as long as possible. I cut a plywood base the size of the bottom of a large plastic storage tub. That way, I can seal it up, and pop it in the tub for the next year. Of course, you cannot store it in extreme temperatures, but as long as it is sealed against moisture and humidity, it should be fine in the basement. I made the dough in three batches, over the course of several days, cut the pieces while slightly warm, then assembled it over the course of several more evenings, with three batches of frosting.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mohair and More!

This weekend, I had a chance to try out a scouring product that I won as a door prize this past November at the "Gathering" (a Handspinner's conference, held biannually throughout the Northeast Handspinner's Guild)! I gave the mohair locks I had washed a couple of weeks ago another bath, since they were so very soiled. The product is called Power Scour, put out by Unicorn Products. I was pleasantly surprised. The mohair came cleaner, and I was able to use water from the, of course. I usually use Orvus WA Paste, available from livestock or farm and garden establishments, generally used for washing sheep before showing them. Also a good product, but I like the fact that Power Scour can be used with a slightly lower temperature, and it is lightly scented, which I personally like.The mohair is ready for some sampling. Before I wash any more mohair from this particularly soiled fleece, I will attempt to remove more of the chaff and loose dirt and debris, by willowing it (beating it with sticks, for the uninitiated!). I found a Rambouillet cross fleece, in dark chocolate, in my cellar this morning. I confess, it is one of the casualties of my fleece stashing habit, which many handspinners are privy to! A lovely fine soft fleece.....I cleaned some of it with the Power Scour, and as you can see, it looks great! Smells nice, too! A couple of rinses and no agitation, yielded good success with both fleece samples.