Episode 195

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of Humblebee, my first pattern for knitted socks.  Your purchase funds Heifer International‘s effort to provide gifts of honeybees to agrarian communities.

Local Yarn Shop Day

I’ll be hanging out at Hope’s Favorite Things in Richmond, PA with printed patterns for Humblebee socks. Hope is dyeing up a special colorway and we’ll celebrate with honey-themed drinks and snacks.

Yarn Lover at Large

I met up with Amy, Svea, and Laura on Sunday, where we did some shopping at the Allentown Fiber Festival and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the car. It was such a pleasure to finally meet Jen and Scott of Turtlemade in person.  Just look at that fun array of 3D-printed Turkish spindles. I also visited Colleen and Sean of Mulberry Hill Farm and picked up some fingering weight yarn from their very own sheep.  I’ve been wanting to try spinning a fiber blend with flax, and this braid from hipstrings is just the thing. Last year, I was entranced by the natural dyeing of Spencer Hill, so I was sure to pick up a beautiful skein of Ruth’s “Bruised Ego” in the Harriet base.

Iris KAL

Join me and Emily of the FibreTown podcast as we knit Iris, a shrug designed by Melody Hoffmann. Iris is the perfect warm weather garment, and we’ll be knitting with dreamy Samite yarn from Blacker.

Cast on: May 5
FOs: by July 5

You are welcome knit along with any yarn you like, but if you’d like to use Samite yarn from Blacker, Claire of The Woolly Thistle is offering 10% off your purchase until May 5th.

Post in the Iris KAL thread on Ravelry to knit along with us and for a chance to win prizes.

And Sew Forth

I’ve been dreaming of all the possible tunic and sweater possibilities in UNIFORM, a very special collaboration from Madder and Grainline Studio.

Episode 194

The Humblebee pattern will be available on Ravelry on Saturday, April 14th.  Knit from cuff to toe, these socks feature a beautiful textured pattern on the front, a column of bees down the back, and several design elements to give you a great fitting sock. Check out my IG feed for a chance to win the pattern, yarn dyed by Julie of Sweet Sparrow Yarns, and a set of stitch markers from A Lovely Homemade Life.  Each pattern purchase will benefit efforts of Heifer International to supply agrarian communities with honeybees.

Yarn Lover at Large

Ever-expanding Skill Set

In this episode, I share some of the techniques I learned from my sister Jessica when she tutored me in making injera.

And Sew Forth

I’ve had the pattern and fabric for two garments and finally settled in to do some sewing.  Part of the holdup was the fact that both of these patterns are only available as pdf downloads.  Since I don’t care for printing out and taping together pattern pieces, I stalled on these projects.  But once I got started, they really moved along.

Floaty and feminine, the Ogden Cami from True Bias is sure to be a wardrobe staple. I’m dreaming of the fabric for two more of these dreamy tops. A little nerve and a few extended  lines and even a novice sewist could turn this top into a sweet summer dress.  For my next version, I plan to lengthen the top to just above the hip.  I stitched a tag to the facing in order to tell the back from the front.

I made the Metaporphic Dress from Sew Liberated with very lightweight fabric in two solid colors.  The skirt in this photo has been lengthened by 2″, and I wish I had added another inch to the bodice as well.  The straps around the top are a bit ill-fitting, but the gathers worked beautifully in this fabric. The pattern description specifies that this is a layering piece and that is certainly how I intend to wear it–under my Deschain sweater or my Tegna top (when I complete it).  There is an excellent video tutorial for completing the burrito method.  I may have another go at this pattern with the same fabric since I have enough to make one more.

Off the Shelf

Bees Were Better” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Episode 193

I’ve decided to seize the opportunity to record a short episode on a Tuesday afternoon so that I can fill you in on some of my recent projects.

The Back Porch

I love these mitts, improvised with SpillyJane’s design for Mushroom Kelliemuffs.  I used millspun yarn from Battenkill fiber mill as the main color, and bits of my handspun, hand-dyed yarn from Eloise’s beautiful Shetland fleece for the motifs.

The Front Porch

After many long thinks, debating whether or not I had enough yarn to knit Tegna, I took the plunge and have made it through the lace section feeling optimistic.  This beautiful wool/mohair blend, called Taconic Twist, was dyed with logwood by Tammy of Wing and a Prayer Farm.  It feels sticky and stringy as it’s being knit, but the lace looks beautiful after it plumps a bit with steam blocking.  I will have my work cut out for me rinsing the excess dye from the garment, but for now I’ll concentrate on knitting.  Tegna is similar in fit and drape to the Deschain sweater, which I’m wearing a lot, so I think the finished garment will be a wardrobe favorite.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

I’m still having fun making water kefir — about three batches every two weeks.  But I needed an additional challenge and decided to try two recipes from Sandor Katz’ Wild Fermentation: Sweet Potato & Groundnut (peanut) Stew and an Ethiopian staple bread called injera.  The stew is delicious.  I even incorporated some leftovers from the freezer: turkey gravy + water to substitute for some of the broth and a container of very concentrated tomato in place of the stewed tomatoes.  I used very finely ground peanuts in place of peanut butter because for some reason there are peanuts in my freezer, too.

The injera was another story.  What you see above is my first attempt at a crepe or pancake.  It was edible.  The remaining attempts were not edible.  Injera is supposed to be a soft, steamed, spongy-yet-strong staple in Ethiopian cuisine — used to scoop up other foods.  My version was more of a stiff buckwheat pancake. I did enjoy the deep and somewhat sour flavor, but the texture needs a lot of work. Hopefully, I’ll get some tutoring from my sister Jessica this weekend.

Episode 192

Winter Storms Reilly and Quinn sent us packing for a few nights, and we were grateful for the warmth, coziness, and good food of my mother’s house.  While there, I was drawn to the many textures and textiles she has collected over the years.

I got to help out a little with the farm chores, like collecting eggs and picking up sticks that came down in torrents during the storm.

The Back Porch

I am so pleased with the finished result of the Humulus design by Isabell Kraemer. This was my first time knitting with lettlopi and I love the warmth and thickness of the sweater. In this episode, I discuss some of the modifications I made to accommodate my loose gauge and create a subtle feminine shape.  The best news: I only used half of my lettlopi stash, so there is another sweater in my future!

The Front Porch

  • Tegna by Caitlin Hunter
  • colorwork mitts for the New Hampshire Knits mitten kal
  • a scrappy project for on-the-go knitting

The Woolly Thistle Giveaway

I announce the winner in this episode!

Off the Shelf

“It’s about more than just making. The goal, in being cræfty, is not to use as much as possible of the technology and resources you have at your disposal, but to use as little as possible in relation to the job that needs undertaking.  This is the resourcefulness in cræft . Having physical adeptness, strength and fitness represents the power in cræft. And finally, understanding the materials, making critical decisions about how to approach the work, and factoring in wider financial and time constraints represents the knowledge in cræft.”

— Alex Langlands

Episode 191

This episode features updates of my stitching on several projects, a new design ready for test knitters, adventures in fermentation with paneer and water kefir, as well as a book recommendation.  At the end of the episode, I announce a giveaway sponsored by The Woolly Thistle.

The Back Porch

Stitching this sampler from Rebecca Ringquist’s line of dropcloth samplers was a meditative exercise and a chance to brush up on some of my stitches.  Ringquist has some excellent tutorials on Creativebug, and is issuing a new sampler and daily stitch instruction during the month of March.  The most recent Crafty Planner podcast features an interview with Ringquist and the history of her developing interest in embroidery.

source for organic soy knit: The Confident Stitch

On the Porch

I’ve been working on Humulus, a colorwork yoked sweater from by Isabell Kraemer. I love the beautiful design of the intertwining hops. This is my first sweater in lettlopi. I love the way the stitches relax into one another after a gentle steam blocking.

Test Knitters Wanted!

If you’re interested in testing a sock pattern during the month of March, check out the details on this thread and send me a PM on Raverly if you’d like to participate.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

Start to finish paneer.  Though I wish we had added a bit of salt to the cheese before pressing, our first experience making this fresh cheese yielded a firm product with a very pleasant texture that held together in a curry sauce with mixed vegetables.

Off the Shelf

I’ve been reading this book by Alex Langlands after seeing an IG post from Curiosity Cabinet’s Meg.  Langlands (below on right) is one of three British historians who have collaborated on numerous television projects to investigate the practices of the past. What has struck me most about my reading so far is Langlands’ musings on the etymology of the word ‘craft.’ Old English definitions of the word place more emphasis on the notion of power or strength than we associate with the word these days.  That’s because earlier people were concerned with how to harness energy for producing things with simple tools; these days we have mechanization and electricity and don’t give as much thought to the power we need for our making.


Claire of The Woolly Thistle has offered up a skein of Isle Yarns 4-ply (380 yds) in the Newfoundland colorway as a prize for a lucky Yarns at Yin Hoo listener! The prize pack will also include a TWT tote and enamel pin. To enter, respond to the prompt on Ravelry. I’ll announce the winner when I record episode 192.

Episode 190

This episode includes three completed knitting projects, a lettlopi sweater in progress, a review of Addi’s Flexi Flip needles, and the details of how I’ve been making water kefir.

February is National Embroidery Month.  I’ll be stitching my first cross stitch project in celebration.  It’s slow going for sure, and I’m relying on my drugstore magnifiers and my Ott light with magnification lens.  The book I’m using is Feminist Icon Cross-stitch by Anna Fleiss. I use #embroidermore on social media to tag all of my embroidery projects so that you can follow along.

The Back Porch

This month, I’ve been knitting an array of designs by Caitlyn Hunter, all in Blacker yarns.  Finally, I have knitted items for head, hands and neck to form a matching set.  Well, nearly matching.  I love all three of these projects and I know they will wear well and keep me warm.

The Front Porch

My next project is Humulus, a top-down, colorwork yoke design by Isabelle Kraemer.  I’m using some deep stash lettlopi with added contrast color from The Woolly Thistle that arrived in no time at all. Instead of swatching, I just followed the directions for cast-on and yoke and so far, I’m satisfied with the results and eager to start the beautiful intertwined hops design.

Chin Waggin’

Pictured is a design project in progress knit entirely on US 0 Flexi Flip needles from Addi. I purchased mine from Island Wools in Washington.  I was very pleased to be able to begin my sock project on these needles, which accommodate Ysolda Teague’s tubular cast on method very comfortably.  I find the cable’s flexibility and the pointy and blunt tips helpful features, and I like the sturdy storage tube.  Flexi Flips are easy to knit with, and all stitches stay on the needles during storage and  intense jostling inside my project bag–no needle minder required.  I wish the joins from cable to needle were smoother and I would like the pointy tips to be pointier.  If you are a sock knitter who likes to try the newest thing, I would encourage you to seek out these needles. If you use magic loop to knit socks because dpns frustrate you, these needles may be a good compromise between the two methods.  If you are very attached to pointy tips on your dpns, you will likely be disappointed with these needles.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

I’ve been making water kefir and enjoying the probiotic properties and effervescence of this product. Pictured above is kefir being flavored with fresh blueberries after about 36 hours of a second fermentation on my countertop.  I prefer to do my initial fermentation without flavoring ingredients.  I harvest the kefir and then do a second fermentation on my countertop.  Rubberized lids are very useful for this process because they let gasses escape.  I ordered my kefir grains from Cultures for Health and so far I’m very pleased with their quality; they have nearly doubled in quantity after initial activation and 5-6 batches of kefir.  I’m now doing my fermentation in a 2-quart mason jar.

Though I ran out of time to talk about it on this episode, I made kimchi pancakes and served them with a tangy dipping sauce.  The recipe I consulted is an old one from Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist video series.  My pancakes included some modifications: I used half garbanzo bean flour and half kamut flour.  I created a very thin batter and let it sit on the counter for 1 hour, but I did add and egg and continued thinning with water.  After pouring batter into the skillet and allowing it to set, I added a generous amount of chopped kimchi before flipping the pancake.  These are light and delicious and a great entry-point for those who might be skittish about kimchi or folks who are looking for something to do with kimchi other than use it as a garnish or side dish.

Gratitude Journal 

Thank you for all of your well-wishes, kind notes, and beautiful gifts.  Friends in the fiber community are really helping to ease the challenges I’ve been facing over the past few weeks.  Samuel has commented many times about how fortunate I am to have positive energy coming at me from just about every direction.  You are keeping a smile on my face and reminding me to count all the good things.

a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills