Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review of a Fancy Kitty Mini Bench Picker for Wool

The sub zero temps in northern Illinois are finding me held up in the house, and I couldn't think of anything warmer to do than pick some wool. :)  For those new comers to my blog, below is a shearing from our ram Brick.  He is a busy guy that taught Farmer Boy to never turn his back on him, even when there was a fence between them.  YIKES!  (You can read about Brick here.)  As you can see by the vegetation, our sheep do not wear jackets.  They live their lives without the hassle of keeping their wool clean... That job is left to me!

There are a few in our flock (in my opinion)  that apparently must love to roll profusely in their bedding.  Those little beasties' fleeces are always hard to pull apart after being cleaned.  A few have been left unprocessed in their holding tubs.  I honestly cringed at the thought of trying to get them fluffy enough to run through the drum carder. (Please check out the Baby Brother Drum Carder here.)   After much research, I decided to break down and buy a wool picker.  After checking out several reviews, I opted for a Fancy Kitty. 

All I simply have to do is push the wool up through the left, make a few passes over it with the sharp projectiles ( located under the handle and on the base) and viola fluffy fleece gathers up at the right.   This piece of fleece went through a few passes, and it was amazing the amount of vegetable matter (VM)  that fell out.   For my high vegetation beasties, the Fancy Kitty will save me hours of picking and pulling by hand.  Makes me wonder how I lived without it!  :)

A matted looking section of Brick fleece before picking...

A fluffy picked cloud of Brick fleece, after the Fancy Kitty Picker got done with it!

A few passes through the Brother Manual Drum Carder, and I have some spinning material!

I was very impressed with the construction of the wool picker from Fancy Kitty.  It really did perform like a dream and will be getting a work out over next few weeks...   I signed up for Amy King's  "Foundations of Spinning" class on Craftsy and am in desperate need of some fiber to spin. ;)

***Note*** If you have the winter humdrums, check out the classes on Craftsy.  They have Quilting & Embroidery, Drawing & Painting, Wool Processing & Knitting/Crocheting, along with Cooking/Baking & Decorating...  Supplies/ Patterns and so much more!   Their classes do not disappoint, and the new ones are currently 50% off.  What better than to learn and ask questions at your own pace?  And your classes become yours to view... even after completion!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller & Drying Rack Review

I have to do a review of the Kitchen Aid pasta roller with spaghetti and fettuccine attachments that arrived just in time for Christmas.  Santa did not have a very big list from me this year.  Not sure if I am really content with my life or am just a boringly lazy individual... I am going with option one! ;)     Anyways, these attachments have interested me for years.  They made the perfect "What the heck" gift.  I needed to channel my inner Julia Child who was a huge believer in embracing new devices for the kitchen.  Well, this is about as new and crazy as I get. LOL
My first batch of egg noodles went very smooth.  It makes me nervous to have such a weighty attachment hanging off my beloved Kitchen Aid.  I was sure her motor would blow to pieces, but she rolled out the dough like a pro.  The motor was placed on the #2 setting (which was fast enough for me), and only bogged slightly when the folded over dough was put in for a second pass.   The pasta roller was positioned at #2 for the first three passes.  A necessary flour dusting was given between each pass.  (My dough was a tad sticky!)   Then, the roller was set at #4 for the final run through.  The whole process went smooth and relatively quickly; even though, I was working through an obvious learning curve.  The final pass yielded some flawless dough-- very thin and even.
On to the fettuccine attachment...  Once all of the strips of dough were dusted and lined up on my kitchen island, the fettuccine attachment was locked onto my Kitchen Aid.  A simple lining up of the dough, a pass through the slotted rollers and I was catching sheets of egg noodles.  Not all of the noodles were cut free in strips, but they fell apart easily upon drying.  Okay, I am impressed with these attachments!    They not only get the job done but are durable, weighty and built to last.  Just as solid as my beloved hand crank machine.

To dry my egg noodles,  I invested in the Kitchen Aid drying rack.  The legs pull down and out like a tripod, and a twist of the top knob sends a flourish of acrylic arms to transfer the pasta onto.  The unit is space friendly and could hold up to two batches of my noodles.  I draped the noodles over the arms by hand, but inside the center of the rack hides a pasta wand that can be pulled out from the top.  The pasta dryer is exactly what this pasta maker has wished for.  Makes me wonder how I got along without it!

The Kitchen Aid pasta roller and attachments are going to be a great addition to my kitchen.  They will be seeing a lot of action during the soup making season and beyond.  While turning some of our left over prime rib into beef and noodles tonight, I noticed how thin the noodles were. The cooked up quickly and were just the right thickness after boiling.  Even Mr. Hollow was impressed.  I would say this gift was a huge success!