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.

Episode 72: Mud & Molasses

ep72.1I’m thrilled about the warmer temperatures, and have been enjoying muddy walks along the Delaware River.  There’s lots of news to share this week!  I think that the read-along revitalized my interest in books, because I’m now enjoying Sylvia Jorrin’s work — which goes very well with a slice of her ginger bread (slathered with butter, of course).

This episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Sheep to Shawl, Off the Shelf, Ever-expanding Skill Set, and Double Happiness.


LISTEN:


The Back Porch

ashburn.f2I completed Ashburn, a lovely pattern by Melanie Berg. The inspiration for this was Sarah and Claire’s call for #soulfulstash swap participants. I began to think about what soulful stash I already had on hand, and then searched for a pattern to show off its beautiful texture. For this knit, I used yarns from Green Mountain Spinnery and Ross Farm. This shawl is a therapeutic knit and can be adjusted depending on the amount of yarn you have on hand. It’s quite a large shawl, too; you can wrap it in different configurations to expose the colored panels and stripes. I like the slipped stitch striping detail and the picot border.


Sheep to Shawl

ep72.8The third session of my year-long course at the Fiber Craft Studio included some exploration of the water element.  In addition to handling fiber, we’re also doing some biographical investigation. Activities include free-writing/journaling, story telling, movement, and artistic experiments. We created a communal drawing of moving water using pastels.

At this point, I’m  starting to suspect that the biographical work is intended to inform the shawl / garment design we will do later in the year. The afternoon work session was dedicated to techniques for plying.

Each session, the group becomes a bit more ep72.3cohesive. This week, the room hummed with soft conversation as participants helped one another with unruly singles. Even though we are all working with the fleece of Hazel and Fiona (did I mention Fiona?), there are pronounced differences in the yarn we’re producing. It is a joy to engage in the handwork and to watch others working together.

Our homework for the next session is to think about, swatch for, and maybe even get started on, a little knitted bag or pouch. We were also given a reading and a poem by Mary Oliver.


 Off the Shelf

sylviaHosting a read-along and participating in rich conversation about Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson has revitalized my interest in reading. Since becoming so enamored of the fiber arts, I haven’t made time for reading in my life as much as I think is good for me. This re-kindling of interest has coincided with receiving two books I have been wanting to read. Two years in a row, I have given signed copies of Sylvia Jorrin‘s books about sheep farming as gifts, without purchasing copies for myself.  Now that Jessica and my mother have read both books, they are in my hands.  My, are they lovely reading.  In doing a bit of investigation, I found Syliva’s recipe for ginger bread, and baked two versions this weekend.  In each version, I used freshly-grated ginger in addition to crystallized ginger. The bread-like recipe went into my mini-loaf pans (see below). Adding two beaten eggs to the recipe yields a cake-like version. Both are delicious.


Ever-expanding Skill Set

There has been some excellent and informative conversation about kitchen tools on the Ravelry forum. This week, I talk about my top ten useful tools. For this list, I thought beyond the essential must-haves.  Yes, I could can certainly live without these items; however, they are truly #powerpantry tools because they help me get creative and inventive with my ingredients. They also enable time-efficiency.

  • ep72.5microplane
  • kitchen snips
  • metal tongs
  • ricer
  • silicone-coated oven mitts
  • slotted spoon
  • enamel coated bowl with plastic lid
  • mortar & pestle
  • cooling rack
  • mini-loaf pans with extra-wide rim

Post your top ten list and engage in the #powerpantry banter on the Yarns at Yin Hoo thread on Ravelry.


ep72.6Double Happiness

String Theorists have been busy with their spindles and I couldn’t be happier with their progress. On Monday afternoons, we have been making plying balls, plying yarn, winding skeins, and blending rolags — so that we can spin more yarn. Most excellent. Lately I’ve been listening to back episodes of Teaching Your Brain to Knit. Margaret and Catherine converse about their knitting, and they ask brainy questions like, “What has your knitting been teaching you?”  Oh, I love it.  Their episodes are giving me a lot to think about as I envision handwork curriculum for the upcoming year.rolags

ep72.2

Episode 71: Persian Endearment

cover71This episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Off the Shelf and Double Happiness.  I talk about my completed Drape Front Sweater and two new projects (one on the needles and one on my new Kuchulu, a Turkish spindle from Jenkins Yarn Tools). In response to listener requests, I read a longish passage from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, in which there is reference to the book’s title. Finally, I announce a new contest (enter to win on Ravelry) and provide an update on my technology grant.


LISTEN:


The Back Porch

Drape Front Sweater by Roberta Rosenfeld in Bartlett Yarns sport cone

pic1The Front Porch

Ashburn by Melanie Berg                                                                in Green Mountain Spinnery yarns                                                  and Jacob yarn from Ross Farm

Hobbledehoy battlings in the Folklore colorway                              on my new Kuchulu from Jenkins Yarn Tools

Off the Shelf

This week, we’ll be reading the final two chapters of Housekeeping, a short novel by Marilynne Robinson.  Of course, you are encouraged to read at your own pace and take part in the conversation happening on the Ravelry discussion thread.  In this episode, I read a long passage from Chapter 6, in which some important references to the book’s title appear. The passage begins with a reference to a quote from Thoreau’s Walden.

Double Happiness

Thanks to a generous contribution from Deb (L1ttleredhen) there are two skeins of lovely green yarn available for a giveaway this month.  I’ll draw for a winner when the Yarns at Yin Hoo group  on Ravelry reaches 400 members.  If you’ve been listening, but you’re not a member of the group, you should join!