A Red May: Strawberry Marmalade

Before we discuss red, May and jam, I want to tell you that Friday is M’s Birthday! Yay! I won’t tell you his age, except to say that the number is the answer to what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything. If you are inclined, you should wish him a happy day in the comments; it will embarrass him greatly, and that’s a lot of fun. He says his favorite hobby is picking on me, so this is quite fair.

I thought I would take part in Project Spectrum this year, which Lolly is running from May through November. The colors for May are red and orange. I tried knitting a red shawlette in some Madelinetosh Sock in Tart. I got this far and completely lost interest. I think I’ll make red socks instead. So that’s that.
Roses are Red WIP
But May was not a red washout, because the strawberries finally came into season here! We have had a very cold and wet spring for Northern California, so the strawberries are a bit late. But they were worth waiting for!

I decided to make two kinds of strawberry jam: strawberry marmalade* and balsamic strawberry jam#. The marmalade has oranges and orange peel (without the bitter pith) and the balsamic jam used balsamic vinegar in addition to lemon juice for the acid. Fresh out of the canner, the jars didn’t look very red.
Strawberry jam fresh from canner
So I took some up to my “photo studio” and tried to backlight them. Not very red.
Strawberry jam pyramid
Because I’m a scientist, I do experiments, so I put the backlight light source right behind the left jar in the middle row. I took the picture, even though I had come to the conclusion that jam is rather opaque in a jar.
Jam is pretty opaque.
You can see in the lighter jars, which are the marmalade, that I have a floating fruit issue. Since I’m not entering my jam in the county fair, I decided I can live with floating fruit, especially since I had done all the “tips” to keep floating fruit from happening. Anyway, my opaque jam photos prompted me to make some toast and to spread on the jams. Up front is the strawberry marmalade and in the back in the balsamic strawberry jam. At last they look red!
Strawberry jams on toast
Once I downloaded the photos, I decided that the I should have used a higher f-stop to get greater depth of field. If I had done that, the balsamic strawberry jam toast would also be in focus, and it might have liked that. But I had already eaten the toast and jam. It was delicious. So that is all.

* The Strawberry Marmalade recipe is from 175 best Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Other Soft Spreads by Linda J. Amendt.

# The Balsamic Strawberry Jam is a variation on the standard strawberry jam recipe in Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.

Happy Birthday, M!!

Tour of the Bead Room

Before we tour my bead room, a note to new commenters to the blog. I love everyone’s comments, except for all the spam I have been getting. Therefore, if you haven’t commented here before, your comment will require my approval before it goes up. If you want anyone else to see your comment, I suggest it not read like this: “Youre the ones with the brains here. Im whaticng for your posts” or “I thank you humbly for snaharig your wisdom.” Weirdest spam, but M said these were “entry” comments to see if I was paying attention. Bad spam was sure to follow.

Let’s tour the Bead Room! a.k.a. my craft room. Last weekend I got it all reorganized and cleaned. I call it the bead room, because when we first moved here, I did beading and no knitting. Now I do 90% knitting and 5% beading/jewelry making and 5% other (sometimes referred to as playing solitaire on one’s iPad). From the door:
Bead Room from door
My knitting books with a yoga bolster in the corner so I can pretend to work on my posture while perusing patterns:
bolster corner
Red leather chair for knitting and reading (when I’ve given up on having good posture):
Red leather chair
Counter-height work space that I use as a standing computer desk, because standing is healthier than sitting (I’m currently typing this while sitting in the red leather chair (with bad posture)):
high counter as computer desk
Low work area for when sitting is necessary for fine motor skill tasks (or I’m too lazy to stand). And I absolutely deny that the white chest of drawers is full of sock yarn. No comment on whether it is 2/3 full:
low work area
Massive shelving storage for beads and beading books (and M’s woodworking and gardening books–orchid growing requires lots of books), a place to stack small project bags that isn’t called a floor, ditto for the camera backpack.
storage shelves
The cool thing is, M helped me get the supplies and make the set up so that shelving storage becomes a small photo studio. I did this set up today in less than 5 min, which included forgetting and then remembering how to set up the light stands so that they wouldn’t fall over.
Bead room as photo studio
With repositioning the lights and the camera a bit, I can then snap photos of yarn (or cocktails if one is trying to make M happy) that come out like this (with minimal tinkering):
DIC Everlasting 8 ply sock yarn


Top: Dream in Color Everlasting 8 ply sock yarn in Passion
Middle: String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Caper Sock in Shale
Bottom: Crafts Meow Gelato in Campfire Marshmallow

I bought a head

Mannequin heads kind of creep me out. I learned this about myself while browsing the 100s upon 100s of mannequin heads available on ebay last week. But I wanted a head to model hats. Originally I thought I wanted a glass head, but they were super creepy, and no one listed the head circumference. Most creepy were the flesh-colored bald heads without any facial features. I decided on a painted head with a neck and shoulders suitable for draping scarves. Meet Harriet!
Harriet wearing Dryad
Harriet is a little fond of make-up, but she doesn’t look scary in a zombie sort of way like the blank mannequin heads. I named her Harriet after Harriet Vane in Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. My Harriet is gaudy in a different way than the meaning of Gaudy Night, which is sort of like a homecoming celebration, but that’s OK. She wears scarves and hats quite well, almost like she was designed to do so!
Harriet wearing Norie and Dryad
Here she is wearing Dryad scarf by Jared Flood knit in Blackstone Tweed and Norie by Gudrun Johnston’s book The Shetland Trader Book One. I knit Norie out of Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport in Corvid that I had leftover from my Frost Diamonds shawl I knit last summer.
Norie side view
Norie is a slouchy beanie, and I have been wearing it since December, and I have received many compliments. Apparently, slouchy beanie is the style for me. The lace pattern is the Shetland cat’s paw lace, which I enjoyed working.
Norie detail 1
Gudrun writes patterns quite clearly, and her book is beautifully photographed, produced and printed. I was quite impressed. The patterns are also lovely, and you shall be seeing more of them on my needles in the future. I also have enough of the Corvid BFL Sport left over to make a cowl, which I think can be knit like the hat without the crown but with two brims.
Norie on Harriet
Yes, I think Harriet will be very useful here. She sits so still and never complains while I fiddle with my camera and lights!