Wednesday, 15 August 2018

WOYWW 480 Felt and Sourdough

I’ve been really tired this week and still getting intermittent headaches so I’ve rested as much as I can. I finished knitting the striped scarf (one of my famous UFOs – UnFinished Objects!) and sewed the ends closed, and when I did the ironing at the weekend, gave it a good press so it’s now looking OK.

To finish it off, I’ve decided to add lots of fun embellishments instead of a regular fringe. Ages ago I found a brilliant image somewhere online which inspired this idea, and now I can’t find it for love nor money – I had an idea it was on Pinterest but I think it must have been taken down, and I didn’t download it, so I shall just have to remember the impression of how it looked. This is probably a good thing because I won’t be tempted to copy it, but make it my own from a memory that inspired me.

The first step was to make lots of felt balls. I’ve started these off to the pre-felt stage, using needle felting, which is more time-consuming than wet felting, but at least I can do it sitting on the recliner. I made quite a lot, and then decided it was a waste of the coloured Merino wool tops so I started making white ones, which will have coloured wool needle-felted on top.

They are in a variety of sizes and after wet-felting they will be smaller. I can string these on crochet chains and also attach tassels to them. I am also thinking of adding a bit of embroidery to the larger ones.

I have also started making a few needle-felted flowers, some of which will also be suspended, and others will be sewn on the scarf itself.

I’ve chosen colours as close to the knitted colours as I could manage. I think the effect will be quite striking.


Esmeralda, my sourdough starter, has been quite active in the fridge, where she is supposed to be asleep, and after I fed her she started going bananas again so I took some out, and made pancakes again. I didn’t make any sourdough last week, but just fed her and put her back in the fridge.

Last week I was doing some more research into improving my sourdough technique and found a superb Youtube video which showed how to get a good texture from a relatively low-hydration dough. The higher the hydration (very wet dough) the more difficult it is to handle, especially for beginners like me, but if the dough is too dry, you don’t get the characteristic sourdough texture.

This man had a different technique which involved folding the dough several times over a period of six hours, after having chilled the dough and then leaving it at room temperature overnight, so quite a long process. I was able to do things in between, of course. When I turned it out ready for baking, it maintained its shape brilliantly and didn’t subside into my usual flying saucer! I baked it using the Dutch Oven technique, using my mum’s old iron casserole which creates a micro-climate around the dough and keeps it moist during the first stage of baking, allowing for what they call good “oven spring.” – the final rise in the oven.

This was the result.

From the side, you can see how much it has risen, and what a good shape it is.

Cutting it, I was slightly disappointed that the crumb wasn’t quite open enough, but this can be improved upon with higher hydration.

Following along with the Youtube video while I was folding the dough, mine was a lot stiffer than his, even though the hydration was the same. I think this is because I used a combination of white and rye flours, and the rye flour is a lot more absorbent than the normal bread flour. Next time I shall increase the hydration and I think it will be easier to handle, and also give a better crumb.

Unfortunately I had to make this into a single, larger loaf in order to use the Dutch Oven method, because I couldn’t get two small ones in the casserole side by side. My bannetons are too small for a loaf of this size so I had to use a bowl for the final proving. I shall either have to buy a bigger banneton, or revert to the original method of baking in the oven on a baking sheet, with a tray of boiling water underneath to produce the steam to prevent the dough drying out too much initially, and stopping it rising in the oven. Even when pre-heating the baking tray in the oven, it doesn’t stay hot enough when you take it out to turn the dough out onto it. The casserole, being solid cast iron, remains incredibly hot – I had to get out my old fashioned oven gloves in order to be able to handle it at all! The Dutch Oven method is definitely more successful, but without the banneton, I don’t get the traditional spiral pattern on the loaf. Appearance? Quality? It’s a no-brainer, really… However, the main thing is that this bread tastes absolutely fabulous. This is Real Food. Watch this space.

Other fermentation

The kaanji I attempted to make was revolting, and ended up being poured away. Can’t win ’em all.

This week my large fermentation vessel and bottles arrived, along with a Scoby (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeasts – looks a bit like a dead jellyfish) so I started some kombucha (fermented tea) which is going very well in the airing cupboard – I can see definite evidence of fermentation activity. It takes about a week to ten days. After this, it can be bottled with a bit of fruit for second fermentation which will flavour and carbonate it. I can’t wait to try it.

(It looks a bit like a kid playing a shepherd in a Nativity play!)

I tasted the kimchi I had had fermenting on the kitchen counter and it’s delicious, but really fiery! I think I might have put in a bit too much of the Korean chilli powder. I stirred a little into the sourdough starter pancake batter and it was great, but next time I’ll add a bit more to give more of a kick. It’s now in the fridge, to arrest any further fermentation.

This week my hubby brought in the first crop of apples from our tree, and I’m attempting some fermented apples. I’ve added dried fruit (dates and raisins) and some spices (cloves, cinnamon) and it’s doing its thing on the floor of the pantry. I am very interested in how this might turn out.

Apples on the left (fermenting) and kimchi.

We are still continuing with the kefir. I start a new batch every night. The grains increase, and I put the excess in a jar in the fridge in some milk, and I’ve given the first lot away to a wholefood shop in Totnes – she was very grateful as she often gets customers asking if she has kefir starter kits.

I’m running out of jars. I’ve got half a dozen 1-litre Mason jars on order from Amazon. As for fridge space, that’s now at crisis point!


Just one picture of them this week, taken with the zoom from the bedroom window.

They don’t like the rain and have taken to coming in and out throughout the day, and sleeping more in the daytime.

For some reason quite beyond my understanding, last night Ruby suddenly decided she’s gone off kitty biscuits and started trying to eat her sister’s wet food, so we’ve started giving them both the same food again! When they were quite small, Ruby made it quite clear she hated wet food and would only eat biccies. What has suddenly changed her mind again? Can anyone fathom what goes on in the kitty mind? The question remains unanswered, along with what happened to the ill-fated Marie Celeste, who killed Cock Robin, and whether the moon is made of cheese. (Funny, even after putting men on the moon, NASA didn’t tell us this. You’d think they’d know.)

Health Update

When I was in hospital, my surgeon said he wanted to see me two weeks after my discharge, which was at the beginning of May. The NHS runs on a different time-scale from the rest of us. Two weeks = three months. My follow-up appointment is tomorrow. Oh well. It’s a good thing I’ve been OK, isn’t it. I rang the stoma team a couple of days ago to see if I could see the nurse while I was there, and was told they are very short-staffed (two on holiday, and one with a broken wrist) but they’d see what they could do. Not too impressive. My surgeon told my GP months ago that I couldn't go back on the Rivaroxaban (anti-coagulant) until I’d seen him in clinic so I’ve been off it all this time, and am not sure what effect this is having, and whether I still need it or not. If I do, my health could have been put at risk all this time. No doubt I’ll get the chance to discuss this with him on Thursday.

My studio remains a total tip. Hopefully in the coming days I shall have more time and energy and actually get back in there. I don’t understand how mess multiplies when one isn’t even using the room. Another conundrum to go with the kitty mind one.

Happy WOYWW everyone.


  1. Wow the scarf is gorgeous! The felt flowers are so tiny, can't wait to see the finished result.oooh sourdough ! Looks good to me :) lovely to see the kitties. Aww that's frustrating about the lack of staff but I'm pleased you are feeling okay.
    Ellie #10

  2. Well done on getting your scarf completed it will look amazing when you have sewn on all those hand felted embellishments. I hope you did not prick your fingers too many times whilst making them, you sure do know about it when you do Ouch!!
    It's good to experiment with different ways of making things just like your breads, if it tastes good that is all that would matter to me. Those dutch ovens really do hold some heat.
    I've not heard of fermented Tea before, I must look that one up. Sweet little Shepard head wear.
    Wishing you all the best at the hospital tomorrow, the NHS is extremely stretched but I sympathise with you regarding appointments and not being seen by those you should have before those said dates. My Husband has poor Lung function and has been under the hospital for 5 years now but he has not seen his consultant for nearly a year, even with the intervention of his GP it does not seem to move his appointments along any quicker sadly.
    Hope you have a restful day and maybe feel less tired today.
    Thank you for sharing WOYWW
    Creative hugs & wishes Tracey #5

  3. LOVE the colours in that scarf - just gorgeous!!
    Hope the appointment goes OK x
    Claire no. 1

  4. Oh I love the felting you have done. I am fascinated with that, have yet to checkout our hobby stores and try it. I like the idea of using that rather than fringe. And your bread looks so yummy, I need something right now, but don't want to awake DH.. My sleep was totally distrubed by heat too early. Enjoy a good week and your rain. We need some badly. #18

  5. Hi Shoshi, I hope you get the answers you need tomorrow. Scarf looks amazing, all those additions will be fab. Love the kitty pic, and yes they can be contrary, can't they? Have a lovely week,Hugs, Shaz #3 XxX

  6. Great post today Shoshi. Kitties look well, bread looks scrummy and loving the scarf. Wishing you a happy relaxing woyww, Angela x12x

  7. Happy WOYWW. I love sourdough bread (I buy it in our local Coop supermarket) and always wanted to try making some. One day! Your scarf is gorgeous and all the embellishment is going to be wonderful. I used to do a fair bit of needle felting, and keep meaning to try some again (hubby actually like what I made and keeps trying to persuade me to do more). I only seem to do yarn crafts in the winter, but it is already feeling like autumn, so perhaps it will be soon that I get the wool out. Hope the hospital appointment goes well. I was meant to have a blood test every 6 months after having most of my thyroid removed several years ago. I had to chase them up after 8 months, and never had a test since! Oh well, it doesn't seem to have affected my health, but you do wonder how much gets missed because of their poor admin. Ali x #16

  8. you have been a hive of creativity again, both in the kitchen and your recliner! hope the appointment tomorrow goes ok and also that you can see the nurse too. Helen #4

  9. One never can tell with kitties...
    I really admire your scarf. Hope I am around in time to appreciate the finishing touches.
    Happy WOYWW !
    Rose #28

  10. Ooh I love your scarf - the colours are gorgeous and the embellishments are going to look fantastic - I have tried needlefelting but find the results are very variable! Your flowers are so pretty, I really ought to get the felting bits out again. Good luck tomorrow with your check-up, I hope it all goes well and your questions get answered.
    Loving the sourdough bread, it's one of my favourites but I'm fairly low carb at the moment so bread is a no-go - I'm not extreme like Keto, I'm more moderate but it's definitely making a big difference to me.
    The kitties are so funny aren't they, I bet you wish you knew what was going on in their minds - it would be fascinating to know wouldn't it!
    Diana x

  11. Thanks for your return visit and information about the sourdough - I didn't know it had such beneficial properties - it's certainly something to look into. I forgot to mention in my last comment that the effects I achieved with alcohol inks can be done on any glossy card as far as I'm aware - Yupo is stronger and doesn't tear (and it's more expensive!). The new Alcohol Lift-Ink can be used on Yupo but not Yupo card which is porous. I've recently treated my self to the Lift-Ink pad so I'm planning on having a bit of a play with it this week.
    Diana x

  12. I laughed out loud at the Little Shepherd jar - it reminded me of a character straight out of Michael Bentine's Potty Time, if you remember that!!! I'm glad you're enjoying the fermentation projects, your kitchen is more like a science lab at the moment :-D
    Hugs LLJ 9 xxx

  13. Lovely scarf, and I love your further plans for it, I think I’ve seen something similar on Pinterest too, but I wouldn’t have pinned it because I dont knit!as I’m late, hope your hospital visit was a positive one; I feel for you over the stoma clinic, but really you have to take it into your own hands and give them notice...they probably really deserve their holidays and it;’s just timing!

  14. Gosh Shoshi, you have been busy with the fermented foods, that loaf looks yummy. And the felted flowers are gorgeous.
    Cats .... is an absolutely normal feline phenomenon that one day a cat will eat one food as if he was completely addicted to it, next day, as you put the same food down, they will accuse you of trying to poison him. They are so beautiful though, you'll still love them.
    Chris #2

  15. I do hope that your appointment went well Shoshi. I'm glad that the sourdough bread making is going in the right direction. Your shepherd comment made me laugh out loud; so right. Meow to Lily and Ruby and happy WOYWW (belatedly). Sarah #19


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