Episode 78: At the Same Time

cover78This episode includes the following segments: On the Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, and Off the Shelf. The weather has been beautiful, and I’ve been gardening, cleaning up, and spending time on the porch with a variety of projects. I provide an update on my fiber arts progress. I’ve developed an interest in rust dyeing, which seems like an ideal project for the summer — this week I began what will be three different experiments and I’m eager to talk about them. There’s also a review of a new book on my shelf, Embroidery Workshops by Rebecca Ringquist.


LISTEN:


On the Porch

Hane by Kirsten Johnstone

Nunoco fiber — Summer Surprise Challenge hosted by the Jenkins Woodworking Lovers

Hobbledehoy Battlings on my Jenkins Kuchulu


Ever-expanding Skill Set

rustInspired by an article in the Textile Arts Center (TAC) publication that I discovered at Fiber Craft Studio, I’ve decided to make 2015 the Summer of Rust.  This weekend, I took advantage of the fine weather to begin a rusty dye bath, pre-treat some 100% cotton muslin fabric with a vinegar solution, and place objects to obtain a rusted pattern. It’s intriguing work, and satisfies my love of old and decaying things. I think the dye bath would progress more quickly with the addition of steel wool. Later, I will divide the dye bath and add strong black tea to half of it — that should yield a stunning graphite color. On the right, you can see a piece of fabric with rusty objects placed on one half. The fabric is folded over the rust2rusted objects and spritzed with a water & vinegar solution to keep it moist. To keep insects and plant debris off the project, I cover it loosely with heavy plastic. It’s important to allow some air flow around the project in order for oxidation to occur. As the rust penetrates the fabric, brilliant marks, stains and patterns begin to emerge. A salt solution stops the oxidation process so that the fabric doesn’t continue to deteriorate.


Off the Shelf

embroiderywkspRebecca Ringquist is the artist behind Dropcloth Samplers and the host of several embroidery classes on Creativebug.  I enjoy her design aesthetic and her playfulness, so I was eager to take a look at her first book, just released.  Ringquist describes her work as “fractured narrative,” and there is abundant evidence of the artist infusing her pieces with her own story and style.  As she says, “More is more” — there is an emphasis on layering, contrast, and juxtaposition. This book scores better on inspiration than it does on instruction.  It is not a stitch dictionary.  There are only a few stitches explained; there are no photographs showing you how to execute each stitch. Instead, there are drawings and quite articulate written explanations.  If you’d like more help with the basics of how to stitch, I’d recommend one of Ringquist’s Creativebug classes.  However, if you’ve already received an introduction to the basics, or if you’re not concerned too much with the “rules” of embroidery (the subtitle is: a bend-the-rules primer) and you just want to get going with projects — this is the book for you. The ideas are many, uniformly charming, and will result in unique works of art for your home or to give as gifts. This book is ideal for crafters who want to engage in projects that combine their many skills.  (It doesn’t hurt if you have a sewing machine and a stash of vintage fabrics and trims.)  A sampler is included inside the back cover so that you can get out your thread and needles and start stitching right away. Available via amazon and the dropcloth website.

Episode 77: Fill to the Rim

cover77This episode includes the following segments: Sheep to Shawl, Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Front Porch, And Sew Forth.  Oh, there was exciting activity at the Fiber Craft Studio during our May class session — we began our experiments in plant dyeing! I have reporting to do on the Clun Forest and Lincoln fleece samples; plus, I came home with Polypay, Romney and Navaho Churro in addition to more Jacob fleece. Are you wearing hand knits or handcrafted items in celebration of MeMadeMay? There’s an Instagram contest. Listen to learn more.


LISTEN:


Sheep to Shawl

ep77.08During our fifth class session of the year, we were introduced to plant dyeing techniques. Everyone had a jar and a hand full of Jacob fiber that had already been washed and treated with mordant. The choices for dye materials were: yellow and red onion skin, yellow cosmos, marigold, and madder root.  I selected red onion. My jar of fiber and dye material will sit in the sun for a week — then I will rinse and see the results. In the meantime, I purchased some alum and cream of tartar in preparation for more dyeing at home.

Instructors Chris and Sono introduce us to plant dyeing materials.

Instructors Chris and Sono introduce us to plant dyeing materials.

Jars in the sun with a lovely classmate spinning nearby.

Jars in the sun with a lovely classmate spinning nearby.

During our hand work time, I plied the Lincoln (L) and Clun Forest (R) and made rolags from the Jacob.

During our hand work time, I plied the Lincoln (L) and Clun Forest (R) and made rolags from the washed Jacob fiber.


Ever-expanding Skill Set

specialtyIn May, let’s discuss specialty ingredients. Maybe it’s a real financial splurge, maybe it’s something high in fat or calories, or maybe it’s just something simple that is special to you and your family. What do you keep on hand to make something impressive, or to chase away cooking doldrums?

Also, can you share sources for your specialty ingredients?

Chatter here and use #powerpantry to tag your posts on social media.


The Front Porch

ep77.04I have never spun with Nunoco fibers, but I’ve heard about them and I’ve seen some spectacular yarn and finished projects, so when I learned that the Jenkins Woodworking Lovers were hosting a Summer Surprise spin-along, I had to join in. My fiber arrived and the colors were mostly WAAAY outside my usual palette. With input from my student spinners, I used my blending board and created a series of rolags that will become a two-ply yarn.  The spinning begins on May 15. It will be a thrill to see what other spinners come up with and the many blending and spinning techniques we use to make our yarn.


ep77.featherAnd Sew Forth

The feather skirt is complete! Months after beginning the project, I have finally finished the hem stitching to this eight panel skirt. Over time, the project grew to be a blend of the Yard Sale Wrap Skirt pattern by Heather Ross and the Birds of a Feather Maxi Skirt by Anna Maria Horner. Next up: Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberated. I ordered the pattern, but I haven’t purchased the fabric yet!

Are you participating in Me Made May? All month, makers are invited to wear hand made garments and accessories and tag posts on social media.  Yarns at Yin Hoo listeners have a chance to win prizes when they use #yayhmmmay15 to post on Instagram. You don’t have to participate every day — just days when you show the world how talented and amazing you are.  Check the corresponding Ravelry thread for more details and information about the prizes!


ep77.festThe Sheep and Wool Festival at Fiber Craft Studio in Chestnut Ridge, NY is a family-friendly event with lots to see and do.

Episode 76: Farm Tour

cover76This episode includes the following segments: Yarn Lover at Large, The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Gratitude Journal. You will hear all about my trip to Washington County, NY for the annual Farm & Fiber tour. Did you know that Washington County is the most prominent producer of fiber in the state of New York? I didn’t either, until Fernanda and I began our tour. From farms to mills; from sampling local fare to holding a baby goat; from shopping to sipping and making new friends, we thoroughly enjoyed our fiber-y weekend.


LISTEN:


Yarn Lover at Large

ep76.2Washington County Farm & Fiber Tour

One One One Main

St. Mary’s on the Hill

Ensign Brook Farm

Battenkill Fibers: Carding & Spinning Mill

Foster Sheep Farm

Amigos Cantina

Dancing Ewe Farm


Farm Tour Photos

Ready to visit the Cashmere sheep at St. Mary's on the Hill.

Ready to visit the Cashmere sheep at St. Mary’s on the Hill.

Goats are harnessed to a cart.  Each can pull up to one and a half times its weight.

Goats are harnessed to a cart. Each can pull up to one and a half times its weight.

Sister Mary Elizabeth sings to Sir Lancelot and friend.

Sister Mary Elizabeth sings to Sir Lancelot and friend.

Fernanda cuddled this baby goat, which fell asleep in her arms.

Fernanda cuddled this baby goat, which fell asleep in her arms.

The idyllic barn yard at Ensign Brook Farm.

The idyllic barn yard at Ensign Brook Farm.

"There's a sheep under here somewhere," said Joe the shearer, before he began shearing the fleece of this Romney.

“There’s a sheep under here somewhere,” said Joe the shearer, before he began shearing the fleece of this Romney.

Not only does a shearer need to handle the sheep, he needs to manipulate the fleece as he works to keep it on one piece.

Not only does a shearer need to handle the sheep, he needs to manipulate the fleece as he works to keep it in one piece.

The initial work of skirting the fleece is completed immediately after shearing.

The initial work of skirting the fleece is completed immediately after shearing.

Battenkill Fibers

Battenkill Fibers

Battenkill Fibers: spinning singles

Battenkill Fibers: spinning singles

Battenkill Fibers: plying

Battenkill Fibers: plying

Battenkill Fibers: full bobbins

Battenkill Fibers: full bobbins

Words to live by.

Words to live by.

The table prepared for lunch at Dancing Ewe Farm.

The table prepared for lunch at Dancing Ewe Farm.

Contented sheep munching at Dancing Ewe Farm.

Contented sheep munching at Dancing Ewe Farm.


 

Purchases

One ounce of cashmere and hand-carved napkin rings from Malawi.

One ounce of cashmere and hand-carved napkin rings from Malawi.

900+ yards Merino / Romney (DK) from Battenkill Fibers.

900+ yards Merino / Romney (DK) from Battenkill Fibers.

Beautiful DK weight yarn hand-dyed by Carole of Foster Sheep Farm.

Beautiful DK weight yarn hand-dyed by Carole of Foster Sheep Farm.


Gratitude Journal

With pen pal Fernanda.

With pen pal Fernanda.

After delicious Mexican food with Fernanda, Lisa, and Tracey.

After delicious Mexican food with Fernanda, Lisa, and Tracey.

Episode 75: Not Only, But Also

ep75.1This episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, Sheep to Shawl, The Back Porch, Yarn Lover at Large, Double Happiness and Gratitude Journal. I announce the winner of the TurtleMade Contest and introduce two student fiber artists. The photo on the left pictures nine different fibers my Fiber Studio classmates and I were invited to sample: (clockwise from top) Romney, Merino, Lincoln, Columbia, Clun Forest, Wensleydale, Angora goat, Huacaya alpaca, and Angora rabbit. I chose some Clun Forest and Lincoln to spin at home.


LISTEN:


Ever-expanding Skill Set

ep75.5In April, it’s all about condiments, and there is great conversation and recipe sharing going on over on the Ravelry board.  Lately, I’ve been craving Thai chili paste in everything. I put together a quick rice dish with sautéed leeks and Swiss Chard, topped with crispy grated ginger and garlic and a fried egg. To boost the flavor of the rice, I stirred in some chili paste.  Yum.  This dish is an adaptation of Jean George Vongerichten’s Ginger Fried Rice. It’s good as a side or on it’s own for a quick supper.  Tag your creations with #powerpantry.


Sheep to Shawl

ep75.9April’s session was the best yet. There was so much learning and working that I can’t believe we fit it all into one day.  We began by discussing a reading, which I’ve excerpted below. This was followed by a lesson on the drum carder, and then we were off to Eurythmy class. It was my first and I had no idea what to expect, but I really enjoyed it.  So later, naturally, I looked it up to learn a bit of background. Eurythmy is expressive movement as taught in the tradition of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf education system. It uses movement and color to express sound and meaning. During much of the class, as we were repeating rhythmic movements, the instructor was reciting lines of poetry. Our work has been focused so far on wool from Jacob sheep, but this week our instructors placed before us a variety of nine types of washed fiber, and invited us to take some and experiment. Photo above: (clockwise from top) Romney, Merino, Lincoln, Columbia, Clun Forest, Wensleydale, Angora goat, Huacaya alpaca, and Angora rabbit.

Patient repetition — doing again and again procedures that only seem to be the same, entering ever more deeply and intimately into the qualities of the material — this trains the will. The movements of a hand worker are measured, harmonious, well-considered.  It is not only the unevennesses in the substances that are smoothed out, but also unevennesses in character.  The result of his work the product of his own hands, shows a person how far he has progressed in his schooling.
                                                                       from Dr. Gerda Kramer “A Preamble about the Crafts”

ep75.2After lunch, class participants engage in several hours of handwork, trying new skills under the guidance of the instructors and sharing ideas with classmates. This is my favorite part of the day.  The beautiful space of Fiber Craft Studio hums with energy and industry and a constant flow of stories and laughter. I used the hand carder to make three batts — carding together some Hog Island fiber, and hand-dyed fiber on sale at the studio. Someday, I will figure out how I want to spin these batts; right now I’m just having a lot of fun gazing at them.


The Back Porch

reliquary5Our first major assignment for the Sheep to Shawl course was to use some of the yarn we’ve processed and spun so far to design and knit a small bag or pouch.  Inspired by the beautiful variations in the color of Jacob fleece, as well as the transient nature of Ruth from Housekeeping, I came up with a design for a small amulet.  As I designed, I took photographs and recorded my pattern so that I could make it available to others.  Reliquary is available on Ravelry; it includes line by line instructions and a photo tutorial. You can use very small needles and fingering weight yarn to make a tiny little amulet, or thicker yarn and larger needles to knit a small pouch. Decorate with fringe, beads, and a one-of-a-kind button to make a special keepsake.


Yarn Lover at Large

tourNext weekend, I’ll be touring some of the farms in New York’s Washington County.  The farm and fiber tour is free and each farm hosts some kind of interesting event or learning experience. Are you going? You should go! Here are some of my intended stops:

Battenkill Spinning Mill — Greenwich, NY
St. Mary’s on the Hill — Greenwich, NY
Ensign Brook Farm — Greenwich, NY
Dancing Ewe Farm — Granville, NY
Argyle Brewing Company — Greenwich, NY
Dish Bistro — Greenwich, NY


Double Happiness

I’ve been talking about the possibility of recording my student spinners for awhile, but last Monday, at our String Theory club meeting, we actually took the time to record a short segment. Selene and Courtney are experienced crocheters, and now they’re learning to spin. I think you will really enjoy hearing their comments in this segment. We talked about their history as crafters, how fiber arts help them deal with stress, and their fantasy projects.

Courtney's spinning

Courtney’s spinning

Selene's spinning

Selene’s spinning

 

 

 

 

 

 


 Gratitude Journal

This week I read “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.

 

Episode 74: Spindle Q & A

cover74Ravelry membership has exceeded 400, so in this episode, I announce the winner of the Think Green contest!  Yarn from the #soulfulstash swap is already being knit into a shawl, and I made considerable progress on sewing projects during my spring break. My contribution to Easter dinner was tomato tarte tatin, an incredible dish prepared in my cast iron pan. The majority of this episode is devoted to an overview of spindles; I concentrate on Turkish spindles, share listener advice, and respond to questions posted on Ravelry, the blog, and Instagram.


LISTEN:


The Front Porch

aggregate1Using yarn from my lovely swap partner, Gretchen, I’m knitting Aggregate by JimiKnits. The yarn is gorgeous, lustrous Romney from Great Bay Woolworks in Durham, New Hampshire. It’s my second time knitting the pattern, and this time, I’m thinking of adding one red section and maybe a red bind off, for flair. When I began listening to and watching knitting podcasts, it wasn’t long before I heard mention of swaps. I confess that, initially, I didn’t think they were appealing. But Sarah of the FiberTrek podcast and Claire of New Hampshire Knits teamed up to host a swap that was informative and fun. I had just as much fun creating the package I sent off to Gretchen as I did receiving the local goodies she sent my way.


Ever-expanding Skill Set

tartetatinEven though it’s March, and the #powerpantry exploration of cast iron has concluded, I couldn’t resist one more recipe from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook — Tomato Tarte Tatin. Oh my goodness, if you want to impress with a vegetable dish, TRY THIS RECIPE! I sinned a little by caramelizing my onions in bacon fat, but you need not take that step. Tomato halves, diced black olives, and caramelized onions are set in homemade caramel, topped with a pie crust dough (I made my own), and baked in the oven. This recipe is a prime example of cast iron’s versatility: from stovetop to oven, sautéing to baking. When you flip the pan (carefully) and the gorgeous tomato tart is “unveiled,” you will feel like a culinary rock star.


Chin Waggin’ — All About Spindles

This segment is a response to several questions I’ve received recently about spindles and spindling in general, and Turkish spindles in particular. I begin with an overview of the types of spindles, then talk about some of my favorite spindles, and conclude with Q&A from listeners. I have included a summary of the content, plus links and resources, on the Meditative Spindling page of this website.

clockwise from top: TurtleMade Turkish mini;  Jenkins Lark, Kuchulu, and Aegean

clockwise from top: TurtleMade Turkish mini; Jenkins Lark, Kuchulu, and Aegean

Jen of TurtleMade on Etsy has generously contributed a giveaway for this episode. Enter to win your choice of spindles by responding to the contest thread on Ravelry.


 And Sew Forth

ep74.1This week, I regained my confidence in sewing by starting small, and working my way up to the skirt project that I set aside over a month ago. First, I got familiar with my upgraded sewing machine by making a small zippered wedge bag, then enlarged the pattern to make a more expansive version. Next, I experimented with adding buttons to embroidery, something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first sewed the Everything Tote from Heather Ross’ Weekend Sewing. My new spring bag has a sassy orange lining and an embroidered flower patch on the front.

ep74.3Finally, I felt ready to work on my skirt. Instead of going back to the a-line maxi skirt, I decided to try the Yard Sale Wrap Skirt from Heather Ross’ book. Although I did need to lengthen the pattern (which I did from the center this time!) it was comforting to follow a pattern rather than make my own. The skirt falls gracefully and has a nice waistband, although I would like to add a buttonhole so that the waist tie can pass through the garment instead of bunching in an unflattering way. Now, I need to think about where and how to add the strip-pieced feathers I created for the original project.  I have eight, but I think I will just use four across the front of the skirt.

Episode 73: Cast Iron Skillet

cover73It’s been spring for a week, but there are still snow patches on the ground and even flurries in the forecast!  Each day, however, there’s a little more bird song.  Finally, the scent of muddy earth greets me each time I open the door.  How delightful to have spring break — a week to work on projects and spend as much time as possible out-of-doors.  This episode includes the following segments: The Front Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, And Sew Forth. Join the conversation and share ideas on the Yarns at Yin Hoo board on Ravelry, or post your comments below.


LISTEN:


The Front Porch

ep73.2Flickerl by Simone Eich of WOLLWERK designs turned out to be the perfect project to take on an overnight field trip. I had it memorized by the time we arrived, and, at least at the beginning where the rows are short, it’s easy to put down and pick up again between colors.  I can’t say enough about this pattern, perfect for scraps of yarn, in linen stitch. This is my second time knitting the pattern, and it may very well become my tradition to knit one each year. It’s easy to combine light worsted, dk, sport, and even fingering weight yarns together with this pattern.  My preference is for solid an tonal yarns rather than variegated or self-striping ones. That way, you can really admire what’s happening with the linen stitch.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

This week I share my experience of cooking Country Captain — perhaps one of the first instances of fusion cuisine! The dish has an interesting history, and I enjoyed doing a little research on the American Food Roots website.

ep73.1My objective was to combine the old and the new — try a new recipe for the cast iron skillet — a tool on which I rely. I used a recipe from The New Cast Iron Skillet cookbook. Of course, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I put a lot of freshly-grated ginger into the dish, and substituted a container of halved grape tomatoes for the can of diced tomatoes. Rather than sherry, I used some white wine. And, though I love currants, I didn’t have any on hand, so I chopped some golden raisins instead. Can you believe I was out of rice? I served this delicious dish over orzo.  I think it would be better over rice, though.  Even better: coconut rice. I think it would be delicious and hearty over a baked potato.

You can add your thoughts about kitchen tools by posting in the thread on Ravelry or using #powerpantry for posts on social media.  In April, we’ll talk condiments!

And Sew Forth

ep73.4It’s time to get back to my sewing.  Making my own skirt pattern turned out to be a poor choice, so I’m going to salvage the beautiful strip-pieced feathers and use them to adorn the yard sale wrap skirt, a pattern by Heather Ross. Last weekend, a cherry table that has lived with several different family members came to Yin Hoo.  The table has long leaves and space underneath for yoga gear. This summer, it may be refinished.  For now it has been given a nice rub with lemon oil and is ready to serve as a cutting table and a place for other short-term craft projects.