Episode 61: Warping & Weeping

cover61This week’s episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, Chin Waggin’, The Front Porch,  A Little Bit of Learning, and Double Happiness. You’ll hear about my disastrous attempt to start a scarf for Samuel. I have some before pics, but no after, because I don’t believe in photographing carnage. Also, there’s a bit of investigation about types of flour. I’ll be taking a digital detox this week. I typically refrain from shopping on Friday, but this year I plan to go a step further and spend Friday in quiet contemplation and reflection. I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.



Here’s the warp at about 3:30 pm.  I enjoy this setup on my porch.  But the temperature was near freezing and it started to get dark VERY quickly.  I’ve learned my lesson.  Porch weaving is for much warmer temperatures. Now that I’ve found another gift idea and I’m well into the knitting, I feel much, much better!

Here’s a link to “Butter” by Elizabeth Alexander. You can listen to an audio file of the poet reading her work.

Episode 60: Another Door Opens

cover60This episode includes the following segments: The Front Porch, The Back Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, A Little Bit of Learning, and Gratitude Journal. This week, I talk about developing my very first shawl design, Another Door Opens. I’m so pleased that the pattern is complete and available on Ravelry. The Bulk Bins Cook-along continues — November is devoted to flour and we’ve been talking about pies. I’ll go into a little more detail about blind baking crusts, a topic my mother touched on in Episode 59, but which needs a bit more explanation.


A Shawl Design Comes to Life


The idea for Another Door Opens has been living with me for about a year. I am fond of visiting a very large ginkgo tree on my daily walk. The golden color of the leaves as they turn, their gently sloping ridges and scalloped edge, the way they form a soft carpet beneath the tree — every aspect of the tree and its leaves inspired me. This summer, I tried to bring my ideas together into a pattern, but grew frustrated. Finally, my beautiful skein of spindle-spun yarn, made with fiber from Three Waters Farm, provided the push I needed to try my ideas again. The result is a shawl that begins with a triangular shape, but quince2finishes with a soft border. The wingspan edge is nice and stretchy. Slipped stitches along the spine create a strong visual center. Recording the sequence of rows and stitches was one thing; devising a method of presenting the pattern was another challenging task. I’m pleased to offer a pattern in table format, with written directions and stitch counts for every row, plus percentage information so that you can use every bit of your selected yarn. The pattern has three sections, plus a border. Adding additional rows in any of the sections will result in a larger shawl. After completing the shawl design with my handspun, I worked it again with Quince & Co. Tern in the colorway beaverDusk. I added a border in Claudia Handpaints fingering-weight yarn in the color Cabin Fever. I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of the pattern, plus a beautiful skein of yarn (458 yards of 2-ply 80% fine merino / 20% kid mohair in the Wild Geranium colorway) from Beaverslide Dry Goods. Join the Yarns at Yin Hoo group on Ravelry and post a message in the contest thread for a chance to win.

My Kind of Apple Pie

 pieslice                        My Kind of Apple Pie

This version of an American classic has a crunchy crumb topping that doesn’t sink into the apple filling — that’s because of a unique double crust.  Use a variety of apples from your outing to a local orchard or farm stand. This pie is perfect with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of maple syrup. It is also a valid breakfast item, if you ask me.

Double Crust

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tblsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c shorting
  • 1/3 c butter (cubed / cold)
  • 2 tblsp vodka
  • ice-cold water

In a large metal bowl, combine first three ingredients. Use a pastry cutter to cut in fat until mixture has a rather sandy texture and there are no large clumps.

Sprinkle vodka, then ice-cold water by the tablespoon. Use a fork to stir. Add liquid until the mixture comes together into a dough.

Form two disks (one slightly larger than the other), using the heat of your hands to shape. Do not knead the dough! Wrap each disk in parchment paper and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Crunchy Crumb Topping

  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tblsp flaked coconut
  • 6 tblsp butter

Cut butter into dry ingredients until the mixture has a course, crumbly texture. Set aside.

Apple Filling

  • 8 – 10 medium-sized apples of different varieties, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • lemon juice
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 2 tblsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon OR
  • garam masala
  • dash freshly-grated nutmeg

As you peel, core, and slice apples, keep firmer and softer varieties separated into different bowls. Add lemon juice to sliced apples to prevent browning.  Add flour, sugar and spices. Toss to coat.

Heat 1 tblsp oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or stock pot and cook apples gently over medium heat until they start to soften. Add a few spoons of water to prevent sticking if necessary. Cook firm apples first; and softer/sweeter varieties later. Very sweet or soft apples do not need to be cooked at all. Remember, you are not making apple sauce; you’re simply starting the cooking process for the apples. Allow mixture to cool slightly while you roll out pie crusts.

Preheat oven 375°

Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly-floured surface. Place first (larger) round of dough in a deep pie dish, pour in apple filling and make sure there are no air pockets. Place a second round of dough on top. Cut off excess dough and crimp. Cut several large vents in the top of pie, brush with maple syrup, honey or a beaten egg white, then heap crumb mixture on top.

Place pie in center rack of oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for another 40-50 minutes or until filling is completely cooked through and bubbling in the center.

Episode 59: Known for Pie

cover59This episode is devoted to an interview with my mother, Kathleen. She is an experienced baker and is respected for her beautifully-presented and delicious pies. I learned most of my kitchen know-how from close observation of my mother — observation which began when I could climb onto a stool and sit at the end of the counter. My sisters and I were always invited to participate. From finding vegetables in the refrigerator and stirring ingredients together, to using sharp knives, we were expected to pitch in and we were never too small to take part in food preparation. I’m especially grateful to Mom for this interview. I hope that you will share your questions and your tips on flour and baking in the Ravelry thread for the Bulk Bins Cook-along.


Episode 58: Fire, Fiber & Friends

cover58This episode contains the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch, and Yarn Lover at Large. I talk about developing a recipe for seeded crackers, completing my Rhinebeck “sweater,” and all about my day at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival.


Who Needs Cookies?

Who Needs Cookies?

Check out my recipe for seeded crackers. These tasty treats are crunchy, salty, have a hint of sweetness, are low in fat and gluten-free. I recommend doubling the recipe and be sure that you don’t skimp on oven time.






Yarn Lover at Large — Rhinebeck


Fiber Basics class with Abby Franquemont


Our Nelkin-inspired attack on Artichoke French










excerpt from The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall

He packs wool sheared in April, honey

in combs, linen, leather   

tanned from deerhide,   

and vinegar in a barrel

hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.



Who Needs Cookies?

seedsI found myself craving a very crisp cracker that is healthy but doesn’t make me feel like I’m eating health food. These crackers are gluten-free, loaded with nutritious seeds, can stand up to a spread or dip, but are fabulous on their own. They’re crunchy, salty, seedy and with a hint of sweetness too. I recommend making a double batch. They make an excellent snack and would be excellent for holiday gifting. Don’t rush the oven time and store in an airtight container.

Who Needs Cookies?

Oven 300°

  • 1 tblsp amaranth seeds popped in oil over high heat
  • 1 tblsp chia seeds
  • 1 tblsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tblsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tblsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c amaranth flour
  • 1/2 c quinoa flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tblsp olive or coconut oil
  • grated rind of 1/2 orange
  • juice of 1/2 orange, plus water to equal 1 1/4 c
  • 1/3 c flax seeds
  • 1/2 c pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c sunflower seeds
  • maple syrup or honey
  • coarsely ground sea salt

Mix first five ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, salt, oil, orange rind, orange juice and water. Stir in flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, plus one tablespoon of the five-seed mixture. Allow to rest at room temperature for ten minutes.

Pour batter (it will look alarmingly thin) onto two parchment-lined baking sheets and spread evenly. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the five-seed mixture on top of each.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the crackers have a bit of a crust. Brush the surface with maple syrup and immediately sprinkle the remaining five-seed mixture and sea salt over the top.

Return pans to oven and bake for another 30 minutes.

Reduce oven to low / warm. Crackers will continue to crisp over the next hour or two. Break each large sheet of crackers into squares or shards and store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.