Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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14 September 2006

Going to the Fair

I finished Sampler M pattern 10 last night, and knitted about two rows of pattern 11. No new photo of that until you can see what pattern 11 looks like.

We are going to the county fair today, and I am looking right at the camera. If I actually remember it, check this space tomorrow for pictures of draft horses, oxen, bunnies, and so on. Maybe ribbons, if I have won any!

Monday my husband bought the 2x4's and 2x6's for our son's loft bed. It looks like Saturday my dad (the man with all the tools) will help us cut pieces and drill straight holes in them. If I'm lucky, I'll get to clean Shetland fleeces with my mom. Then the following week I'll be assembling the bed.

I'm sure I've mentioned that in our family, I'm the one who fixes stuff like dishwashers, mows the grass, and other mechanically-minded things. My husband is the cook and homebrewer.

Here is the red raspberry mead (raspberry melomel) he started at Havoc in Hastings. I know that when some people hear "homebrewer", they think "big beefy guy who drinks a lot", but truthfully D. hardly drinks any of what he brews. He does give away a lot.

And me, I'm your basic non-drinker mead authority!

You can see the thick frothy raspberry layer on the top of this batch. That's the danger of fruit meads -- the fruit likes to float and clog up the bubbler, then the bubbler blows off and fruity, sticky proto-mead spews all over. (Strawberries are even worse than this!) The tan layer on the bottom is mostly raspberry seeds that the yeast has eaten all the pulp off of.

This batch is sitting on top of the dishwasher with a plastic bag protecting it from fruit flies until it gets past the dangerous stage. Then he will siphon it ("rack" it) into another carboy, put a bubbler on it, and lug it into the basement to do its long-term fermentation thing.

How do you make really good mead? Set it up and forget about it (after that "spewing out the top" stage is over). Okay, cleanliness is important, too, like not starting with dead moths or anything in the bottom of the carboy. But D. is pretty strict about bleaching carboys and storing them sealed so nothing can crawl in.

The other batch, the "black mead", made with black patent malt, passed the dangerous stage quicker, since it didn't have any frothy fruit layer, and is already in the basement.

What is mead? People always ask that. Is it like wine, or beer . . . ?

Really mead is only like mead. When making beer, the yeast consumes fermentable sugars from a sprouted, roasted (that's "malting") grain. In wine making, the yeast consumes the fermentable sugars from the grape juice. In mead making, the fermentable sugar is the honey. You don't see it in US stores very often because mostly the alcohol regulations (and tax laws) were written to cover beer, wine, and spirits. (If you do find something labelled "mead" in the US, often it is either made out of the country, or else it is white wine flavored with honey. Or else you are at an SCA -- Society for Creative Anachronism -- event.)

From your basic mead (honey, water, yeast), there are a bunch of varieties. Add pears and it's perry. Apples (or cider), and it's cyser. Grape juice, and it's pyment. Any other fruit, and it's called melomel. Add a fermentable grain and it's braggot. If you add herbs, it's metheglin. Obviously at one point it was popular enough to bother to name all these subcategories!

And speaking of subcategories, suddenly I have a blank in my Blogger dashboard to add labels to posts. Cool!

I apologize if you have tried to comment and run into the "Blogger & beta Blogger aren't speaking" problem. I only switched to beta Blogger because otherwise I couldn't log in at all, not to shut anyone out!

Now off to knit pattern 11, just in case I forget to take the camera to the county fair after all.

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