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Milling and Baking Our Own Homegrown Bread

Hello friends,

After harvesting and processing the 2023/2024 season's wheat, we were ready to mill our grain, and then bake our own homegrown bread.

The first step was to mill the wheat grain using our Mockmill Stone Mill which attaches to our Kitchenaid stand mixer. You can find out more information about our Mockmill milling set up in last year's blog post.

It only took a few minutes to mill all of this year's grain into flour (and some of last year's leftover grain), in the stone mill using a fine milling setting.

The next step was to separate the white flour from the majority of the wheatgerm and bran. Last year we used the sieve we have at home, but the sieve was too coarse, and most of the wheat germ and bran still got through. So this year we invested in a super fine manual flour sieve from Flour Power Mills. When sieving was completed we were left with a light brown super fine flour, which still contained some fine wheatgerm and bran. The coarser wheatgerm and bran is now stored away for other baking and cooking projects during the year.

All that remained was to bake a loaf of bread. After milling we had 4 cups of flour, which we used in our standard wholegrain bread recipe.

Wholegrain Bread Recipe for use in a Bread Maker

Ingredients
1.25 cups of hot tap water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (canola or any other neutral seed oil)
1/3 cup of milk (can be from milk powder, but the liquid volume is important)
1/3-1/2 cup of 7-seed-mix, whole-grain, or other similar tasty grains (we get ours from Bin Inn)
3 cups of strong/bread flour (or in our case homegrown and milled flour)
2 teaspoons of supabake yeast (i.e. mixed yeast with bread improver)

Recipe
(1) Place in the baking tin in the order above, it is important to have:
       * The grains *in* the liquid (to soak)
       * The flour on top of the first 6 ingredients
       * The yeast on top of the flour (so it's not in the water, or in contact with the salt or sugar until it starts mixing)

(2) Place the baking tin in the bread maker, and set the bread maker to the "wholegrain" program in your bread maker. Start baking your bread.

(3) We have a 10+year old Sunbeam bread maker, but we have reports this recipe works well in others. The bread maker should have a first period where it keeps the water warm to soak/soften the grains (which is why you do not want the yeast in the water, with warmth and sugar it'll activate far too soon).

And two hours and twenty minutes later our homegrown bread was out of the bread maker. It wasn't quite as fluffy as commercially grown bread, but the bread had a wonderful nutty flavor which was great fresh, as well as toasted.

We've found that growing our own wheat, and then processing and milling our own flour is a very fulfilling thing to do. It's nice to see how processed food is made, and to appreciate the hard work that goes into making flour and bread.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

April Handmaiden Spinning Fibre Club

Hello friends,

Up until a few months ago, I got into a spinning rut. I didn't really have anything fun to spin, and so my yarn spinning fell by the wayside. After hearing about Handmaiden NZ's monthly fibre club, I decided to sign up for a couple of months, to see if it would help me get back into spinning. Every month Handmaiden, Amy Hughes, dyes a 100 gram braid of yarn in a new colour, and with a new fibre blend to try.

Eager to get back into spinning, I signed up for the fibre club and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

When April's fibre club showed up, and it was a soft and fluffy 100% merino braid, in pretty shades of white, green, blue, and purple, and it came with a small candle from the Bluebird Candle Company, in the scent Beautiful. The candle scent was very floral and pretty, and not too overpowering. Very excited about getting into spinning, I got to work. I unraveled the braid and split it lengthwise down the middle so I could make a two ply. In an experimental mood, I chose to spin each half braid from different ends. This would make the colours overlap in the middle.

I decided to spin the braid on my trusty Majacraft Suzie Pro, with the spinning wheel set up on the middle whorls, and aimed to spin at my default width, which would end up with approximately DK yarn once plied. It didn't take very long at all to spin up both singles and then ply them.

Once plied and rested, I set the yarn by washing it with wool wash. Unfortunately the wool wash we have at the moment has been making dye run, so the wash and rinse water was in shades of blue.


With the yarn fulled and washed, it was left to dry. I ended up with a total of 175 m of DK knit weight yarn at the end of spinning and processing. I don't know what I will do with it, but for now I'm just happy to squish it and enjoy the pretty colours. Have you been spinning anything pretty recently?

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

This Year's Wheat Harvest and New Harvesting Methods

Hello friends,

We grew wheat again in the 2023/2024 season with the hope to grow enough flour to make a loaf of homemade bread. We planted out our wheat seeds back in November 2023, and had a great harvest in February 2024 this year. If you want to learn more about growing wheat at home you can read it in this blog post.

With the wheat harvested, I dried it in readiness for processing. This year I wanted to try some new processing methods, to see if they would be more efficient than last year's methods. The first new method was to try removing the wheat heads from the stalks using a garden chipper/shredder. You can see footage on Youtube of this happening here.

Luckily we had a garden shredder in our garage, so we got to work. It didn't take very long at all to harvest the wheat heads from the stalks. The wheat heads fell into the hopper below, and the stalks were dug back into the garden bed from where they came from. I had hoped that the garden chipper would break open the wheat heads, but unfortunately they were still mostly intact afterward.

The next step was to thresh the wheat. Last year we just bashed the wheat heads with a piece of wood, but it was a lot of work. But I found this video on YouTube recently of someone threshing wheat with a flail.

Eager to try this method out, I bought two broom handles from Mitre 10 (broom handles are much cheaper than dowel), two metal eyes, and a length of rope. Once I got home I sawed off the ends of the two broom handles so that one handle was 1.5 m long, and the other 1 m long. I then tied them together with a length of rope.

Hubby got to work threshing the wheat heads on an old sheet. It turns out that the 1 m length of flail that was hitting the wheat heads was too long, so we cut it down to 75 cm. Another problem was that the wheat heads were flying off in every direction when hit, so we wrapped the wheat heads up into the sheet like a burrito, to keep them all in one place. After a couple of minutes of threshing using this method, it was completed. We separated the bigger pieces of plant material by hand, and then used a large sieve to further remove the medium-sized pieces of plant material.

When we thresh the wheat again next year I think we will alter the flail, and use leather strips to connect the two broom handles. The rope had a tendency to come undone, and the short piece of broom handle doing the threshing would fly off. I would also love to invest in a seed saving screen from Crafty Gatherer NZ, but it's pretty pricey.

After that, all that remained was the wheat berries and the chaff. The next step was winnowing. After watching the videos above, we saw that most people used small fans to separate the wheat from the chaff. Luckily it was now autumn, and most places were selling off fans very cheaply. Hubby took a trip to our local Mitre 10, and purchased a fan at a decent price.

He set up the fan, and got to work winnowing. The videos above suggested working a slow speed for the first pass, to remove dust, and then work your way up to faster speeds to get rid of bigger material. With the help of the fan we got the winnowing done a period of less than five minutes. With a constant breeze, it made the job so much easier.

With the winnowing done, the processing of the wheat was complete. Overall, these new wheat processing methods saved us a lot of time, and it also made the process so much easier. We'll be using this method again next year when we grow our own wheat. In a future blog I will be showing the wheat milling process, and also our recipe for making bread in a bread maker.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

A Road Trip, A Fibre Festival, and A Raffle

Hello friends,

It's been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, but I've been busy, with a friend coming down from Wellington to visit us for a week. We got up to a lot of crafty things while she was here, and we spent many relaxing afternoons sitting on the couch watching disaster movies and knitting and spinning.

One of the highlights of the week was a road trip from Dunedin to Gore for the 45˚Fibre Festival in Gore on Saturday the 4th of May. We got up early on Saturday morning and headed off on our road trip down south.

It was cool but dry morning, and two hours later we made it to Gore, and excitedly found our way to the Gore Town and Country Club for the Fiber Festival.
Outside the venue we were greeted with some great fiber based art installations.

Once inside the fibre festival we were overwhelmed with a large number of yarn and fibre traders waiting for our patronage. There were local farmers selling raw and processed fleeces, indie dyers and yarn traders from all over the country, and other traders selling all sorts of yarn and fibre accessories.

After wandering around and getting an idea of what was for sale, it was time to shop. I had saved up a lot of crafty pocket money for this event, and it was time to fulfill my wish list.

First up was purchasing some more Unicorn Power Scour from Unicorn Fibre Cleaners NZ. I'm currently in the middle of processing two raw fleece projects (blog posts to come), and I've found that Unicorn Power Scour is the most gentle, easy, and efficient fleece cleaner I've ever used. I'll never process fleeces any other way now.

Next on my shopping list, was a skein of 4 ply yarn for making a pair of socks. After wandering around for a while, I found the perfect colour at Dye Studio 54, who had 100 grams of Sparkle Sock in the colourway Belladonna. It was a perfect combination of purple and sparkles, and I can't wait to knit it up so I can have sparkly warm feet for winter.

As a spinner I always like to pick up some dyed fibre to spin, and I found two preparations at the Handmade Fibre Crafts stall. I picked up 100 grams of dyed merino combed top with silk and viscose in shades of orange, white and pinks. I also grabbed 50 grams of dyed Corriedale combed top with mulberry silk in shades of orange. I figured the two preparations would work well together in a future project (unknown project at this time).

Next up it was time to check out two of my favorite fibre processors. I also love to dye my own fibre, so I headed first to Tally-Ho who prepare the most amazing combed white Merino. It's always so fine and white and clean, which makes it the perfect fibre to dye with. I grabbed a total of 500 grams of fibre, and was very happy with my purchase.

And lastly I stopped in at Fine Fibre Farms, where they were selling 500 gram bags of white Polwarth Combed Top, which I could not resist. Polwarth is my favorite fibre and yarn of all time to work with, and it is relatively hard to get as undyed fibre in New Zealand. I am very much looking forward to dyeing and spinning this polwarth fibre.

And with that done, I had spent all my crafty pocket money, so I visited the sheep and alpaca animals on display outside the venue, and even got to pat them.

After all that, we were quite hungry, so we enjoyed some Thai chicken noodle soup and wontons for lunch from one of the food vendors, and it was so perfect and spicy and warm to eat outside on a cool autumn day.

After lunch it was back into the venue, and we wandered around the traders some more. At this point we visited Purple Sprouting, where they had a wonderful selection of sock yarn. I fell in love with another sock yarn colourway, but had no money left to buy it. My wonderful friend then stepped in, and bought me a skein of 4 ply Bluefaced Leicester sock yarn in the colourway Meadow Mornings (Almost) as a thank you for me hosting her for the week. I was so excited about this, and the yarn is already on my knitting needles to knit a pair of socks.

And just when I thought it was all over, we happened to walk past Spinning Wood Designs, who handcraft spinning drop spindles and fibre tools in South Canterbury. And it was there I found the wrist distaff I've been searching for in New Zealand for the past two years. And before you could blink an eyelid, I'd picked out a distaff and handed over my credit card, overjoyed that I'd finally found one. I knew hubby wouldn't mind that I overspent my crafty budget for this, as I have been talking about getting a wrist distaff for a long time.

And with that done it was nearly time to go home. All that remained was staying for the raffle drawing, as I had used the $1 I had left in my purse to buy one raffle ticket for the spinning prize. And after telling my friend that I never, ever won raffle prizes, I won!

I was so happy and excited and grateful to win the raffle, as it was filled with lots of goodies I knew I would love to use. Once we got home, I unpacked the raffle prize, and shared my spoils with hubby and my friend.

I gave hubby the giant Toblerone chocolate bar gifted from Unicorn Fibre Cleaners, and I gave my friend the Purple Sprouting sock yarn pack, and kept all the spinning goodies for myself (my friend isn't a spinner). My prizes included a 1 kg bump of naturally dyed romney from Tally Ho Carding, a 1 kg Carousel Collection of Merino also from Tally Ho Carding, a packet of Ashford Angelina silver sparkles to add to fibre projects, and an Ashford Turkish drop spindle.

I was especially excited about the Turkish drop spindle prize, as it had been on my wish list of fibre tools for a long time. I can't wait to learn how to use it, and thanks to all the fibre I bought and that I won in the raffle, I will have plenty of fibre to practice on.

And with the wonderful fibre festival day at an end, my friend and I headed back home to recover, and play with all our new yarn and fibre goodies...

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Tonight We Ride Cross Stitch Project Finish

Hello friends,

I finally have a cross stitch project finish! I started the Tonight We Ride cross stitch project by Autumn Lane Stitchery back in September 2023, when all the new Halloween cross stitch projects by many designers were released In September. I loved the witchy aesthetic, along with the pretty orange autumnal fabric.

After ordering Fiber on a Whim Aida 16 count fabric in the shade Pumpkin for the project from 123 Stitch, I started in the middle of the fabric, and got to work.

Over September and October 2023 I worked on the main house in the middle. This project requires a lot of DMC 310 Black, and I really mean heaps and heaps of it. Thank goodness I have a huge cone of DMC 310 black that I got from Stitch NZ a year ago. If you're working on projects needing a lot of black 310 DMC, I really advise to buying a cone of it.

By the time it got to the 31st of October, and Halloween for the North Hemisphere, I was done with all the black stitching. I decided to give this project a break over the summer, as I've finally figured out that I am a mood stitcher, and specifically a seasonal mood stitcher. I like stitching seasonal projects in the season I'm currently in.

Over the summer I worked on some other projects that weren't seasonal, and on the first day of autumn in March 2024 it was time to pull out Tonight We Ride again, so I could finally get it finished. I was super motivated to get the project done, and it wasn't long before I had made significant progress.

And I got Tonight We Ride finished and off the hoop on the 9th of April. I love the witchy autumnal feel of the project, and the Pumpkin Aida just adds to the aesthetic.

All that remains now is to wash and hang the project. But that involves finding a picture frame that fits it, and it may take a while of searching at our local op shop to track one down. I've already started another autumnal project, but that's a story for another time.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

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