Bakin’n’smokin’ Day Part 1

As I’m sure many of you do, I love reading cookery books, I’m not an experimental cook by any means – I want to see a photo, my mouth water, I cook it and eat it.  So when I came across this book, The Gentle Art of Preserving by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi I couldn’t wait to give it a go.


So I made an arrangement to spend the day cooking with my dad.  We decided that smoking mackerel out of the Caldesi book was a simple place to start, while we were at it we smoke some garlic bulbs.  Seeing as we had the day, we decided to make some loaves of bread.  Good job we started early.

The mackerel were gutted and filetted by the fish man at Taylor’s Farm in Lathom near Ormskirk. (I’m not Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall, I don’t know the fishmonger by name). They were super fresh.  Although I also had a couple in my freezer from the cheap section at Tesco so it’ll be interesting to make a comparison.


The smoker we used was from Lakeland an impulse buy from a couple of years ago when our wonderful weekend away in Windermere was scuppered by …….., well it just was.  Ask me and I’ll tell you, but I can’t write it down.So we nipped over to Lakeland and blew our B&B money on some foodie treats.  It’s a Nordicware Kettle Smoker, not available from Lakeland anymore but sold here on Amazon.


We covered our mackerel in a layer of sea salt. (we used salt). Then, what with it being chilly, we covered it and put it outside on the garden bench.  High tech.


Before moving on, the skin has to firm up somewhat, the recipe says about 20 minutes, we found it took a little longer, but considering we didn’t really know what we were looking for and got tired of poking it, we could have been wrong.

After washng the salt off and patting it dry, the mackerel had then to be left to form a pellicle.  This is a skin that forms over the fish.  It’s good if the fish can be left outside to form this and again, we weren’t really sure what we were looking for.  We covered the bowl in a piece of netting that I found in the garage that turned out to be something to do with washing clothes.   It became obvious when the pellicle formed with a visible sheen over the mackerel, and then we were ready to go.


See the sheen – that’s the pellicle (word of the day)

The fish was smoked for 15-20 minutes over Jack Daniels Whiskey chips, the temperature at around 140 degrees. The smoker has a thermometer so it’s very easily controlled.


It was wonderful, obviously the most expensive and labour intensive smoked mackerel I’ve had in my life but also the best ever.  While warm it melted in the mouth and then reheated with a salad and bread it was still more moooorish with every bite.


We even peppered some of them – get us!

So, if you’re every stuck in Windermere, feeling bitter about your lot in life, and you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, you couldn’t do much better than invest in a smoker.

I’ll be back to wool next time!


Eclectic Dye Day

Saturday was the first ever Lazykate dye day and what a wonderful day it turned out to be.


20140218-105118.jpg                                            Little pots ready for mixing



One of the things that I find intimidates a lot of people when they come to dye is the use of colour. It can be particularly overwhelming to be faced with a room of unfamiliar people and a range of colours that could turn into a pot of mud.

So we started with a visit from Tamzin Williams from Wickerwool. An experienced artist, Tamzin led us through the basics of colour theory, how colours work together in the dye pan, how we can use them to our advantage when painting yarn.

Then we hit the kitchen, pots were simmering, yarns were painted and microwaved, we had Bluefaced Leicester fibre, DK skeins of undyed yarn, BFL/trilobal nylon, it certainly was busy.


20140218-105131.jpg            Gemma painting her practise skeins, we practised first on less expensive yarn so that we didn’t feel overwhelmed with pressure

20140218-105138.jpg                      Rosie and Jane, painting with brushes and syringes

20140218-105145.jpg                    Poor Emily. This is what happens when you forget your apron.

20140218-105151.jpg                          Gemma using the state of the art drying rack.

20140218-105157.jpg                  Wool trying not to be blown of the rack in the hurricane

20140218-105205.jpg                  The skeins the ladies produced.  Absolutely stunning.

20140218-105212.jpg                                         Fibres longing to be spun up

20140218-105221.jpg                         Emily, me, Jane, Gemma, Fran and Rosie.  What a day!

The ladies all seemed to get on well and sparked an inspired each other and (I hope) connections and friendships were begun.

Despite my worries about burning, scalding or poisoning my guests, everything went swimmingly and I can’t wait for the next one.

I’ll post on here and also on facebook when we have a date set, but it won’t be too long off.

This week is the beginners class at Wickerwool at Cedar Farm. Seven ladies are on their way, hopefully fledging as spinners at 4pm. Pictures will be posted!<

Facebook Highs and Lows

I spent a wonderful day at Pendle Stitches in Clitheroe on Saturday. Diana, Mari and Isobel came to spin, Mari was returning for an Improving Day.

The great buzz I get from teaching is when I can see there is a connection with the craft. And that happened on Saturday, I’m pretty sure these ladies will go on to become enthusiastic proficient spinners.

There’s more Beginners workshops coming up over the next few months, please, if it’s something you’ve ever thought about trying, come along and give it a go, we want to meet all the potential spinners on our area, let’s encourage each other!


Having passed the 200 likes mark on my Facebook page I decided to have a celebratory giveaway. These are my new fibres, the competition involved naming them.


These shades were unusual, the dyes hit the fibre in a different way than I expected so I was interested to see what others would make of the colours.

The winner was Rosie Tyler who chose Nimbus, something my independent adjudicator (daughter) thought was a fabulous title. The minute the winner was announced, back down again to 199 likes! Lol. Who knew it could be so offensive. Can’t say I’ll be having another giveaway the next time I get to 200 likes – I’ll be bankrupt before I know it.

I’m actually in the process of spinning up some of these fibres myself, for I don’t know which project – possibly involving navajo plying, not great light but it gives you an idea of how the fibre is spinning up



Rosie’s handspun yarn – can’t wait to see what she makes with it


Back to School

Welcome to the new look Lazykate Handspun Yarn blog.  I’m still learning but am excited about the posts to come.

Today I’ve been teaching in a local school, children soak up information about wool and spinning, it’s wonderful to let them play on the wheel.

What’s even better is meeting an enthusiastic teacher who is willing to spin, felt and create!  What a fabulous morning we had. (and payment too).



Continue reading “Back to School”