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.


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


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.


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!


Episode 70: High on the Hog

cover70This episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, Sheep to Shawl, The Back Porch, Off the Shelf, and Yarn Lover at Large. Thank you to recent listeners who have introduced themselves and contributed star ratings and reviews on iTunes. I’ve been practicing my #powerpantry skills with a yellow pea and ginger soup, served over roasted cauliflower. You’ll hear about the second session of Sheep to Shawl, my adventures in spinning Hog Island fiber (plus some background information on this conservation breed), and a review of Chapters 2-4 of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.


Snow Day Ginger Soup

yellowpeaTaking ideas from several intrepid cooks, I played ‘the pantry game’ and used what was on hand in my kitchen to make this rich and tasty soup. Two handy finds were a partially-used jar of roasted red pepper strips, a small container of frozen kale pesto, and some Greek yogurt for a creamy garnish. What appears to be split pea soup is actually pungent with curry, ginger, and pesto.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp. sweet curry powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. roasted red pepper, diced
  • 3 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. yellow lentils, soaked for one hour
  • 3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 15 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1/3 c. pesto
  • 1 head of cauliflower florets, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces


Preheat oven 350º

Heat 1 tblsp. butter or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté carrot and onion until translucent. Push vegetables to one side of the pot, add salt and spices. Stir gently while toasting — about two minutes.  Add pepper, ginger and garlic. Stir to combine all ingredients and cook for two minutes more.  Transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

Simmer lentils in stock until tender, about 25 minutes.

In the meantime, spread sliced cauliflower on a foil-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and roast in oven for 25 minutes, turning occasionally with a spatula. Cauliflower should be crisp and crunchy, but not burned.

Stir coconut milk, pesto, and onion mixture into lentils. Bring to a simmer.

Serve soup over roasted cauliflower.  Garnish with freshly-squeezed lemon and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Episode 69: Dense & Moist

redbelliedThis episode includes the following segments: Yarn Lover at Large, Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch, Sheep to Shawl, Off the Shelf, and Double Happiness.  I thrilled by the number of folks saying that they plan to participate in the podcast’s first read-along.  Have you secured your copy of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson?  I suggested a read-along because my reading life has dwindled over the past few years, just as my interest in crafting has increased. Now that I’ve begun this novel,  I’m really enjoying it. It’s not too late to join in!


Yarn Lover at Large

sistermaryelizabethBack in September, when I visited the Southern Adirondack Sheep & Wool Festival, I found out about a farm tour that takes place in the spring. The details for the Washington County Fiber Tour are finally available online.

Saturday & Sunday
April 25 & 26, 2015
Washington County, NY
(north of Troy / east of Saratoga Springs)

Two days of touring, sampling local products and specialties, shopping, and adventure. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

I plan to arrive in Greenwich on Friday late afternoon/early evening and depart by Sunday at noon. Would you like to get together for a meal or at a farm? Let me know and I will provide updates in this thread.

My itinerary for the weekend is not firm at this point, but the following locations are a priority:

  • 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

Please contact me if you plan to attend this event. It will be fun to make new friends.

 Ever-expanding Skill Set

This month, we’re playing “the pantry game,” cooking from our pantries and sharing recipe ideas and suggestions. In this segment, I repeat several listener contributions from February’s #powerpantry thread on Ravelry. So many good ideas!  I found myself with 1/3 a container of high-quality ricotta cheese, so I searched for a recipe and the Food 52 blog called up Louisa’s cake. Dense and moist, this cake is likely to become a standby. What and ingenious idea to add one grated apple to the recipe! I substituted orange rind for the lemon, and, as usual, I reduced the amount of sugar by 1/3.

Sheep to Shawl

sample1In preparation for next weekend at Fiber Craft Studio, I’ve spun some samples of Jacob fleece. I sorted the locks into batches according to color. Then, I used my hand cards to prepare loosely-formed rolags.  For these samples, I prepared three distinct colors: white, gray and brown.  But I would like to increase the colors to four or more by working carefully with the gray. I noticed that there is a gray-brown and a silvery gray; perhaps I could also add a bit of white to the gray for additional variations. The carded rolags spun beautifully. I’m amazed and the softness and the loft of my samples. My Jenkins Aegean (turkish) spindle works well with this fiber, so I plan to bring it with me for my class next weekend. Find a collection of photos and details of my Sheep 2 Shawl course on a specially-designed project page on Ravelry.

Off the Shelf / Double Happiness

housekeepingThis week, while reading and re-reading Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, I was struck by the references to textiles. I suppose the title should be a strong indication that the text will concern itself with domestic matters. My first find was mention of the word “embroidered” in Chapter 2. So I went back to Chapter 1 to see what I could find in the way of terms and details associated with textiles. I was not disappointed. These references take two forms: 1) details about textiles themselves (fabric, garments, etc.) 2) words and terms for textiles that are used to describe other things — things unrelated to textiles. This second type is a variety of metaphor, in which unrelated things are connected. Consider this example:

“Their lives spun off the tilting world like thread off a spindle.”

Sometimes, abstract observations can seem obtuse, preachy, or over-intellectualized. Here, the use of spinning terminology keeps the Ruth’s observation grounded in tangible things. It also gives us clues about what is important to her — only someone who knows about spinning and spindles could venture to make such a comparison.

Episode 68: Thrummed

68.3Yin Hoo is covered in snow and there has been a lot of shoveling to do . . . but I’m trying to take advantage of the snow day to release another episode.  Congratulations to canyonwren2 and blisskat — winners of the Kauni yarn giveaway! This episode features the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, Off the Shelf, And Sew Forth. This week I completed the first pair of mitts to actually keep my fingers warm on long walks. Plus, I’ve been washing Jacob locks, swatching for a new sweater, and learning to cut on the bias.


Sheep to Shawl

washedlocks2Here are some of the washed locks from Hazel, a Jacob sheep from Jenny Jump Farm in Hope, NJ.  I used a technique I learned this summer at the Super Summer Knitogether. Sadie of Knitter’s Nightmare explained how to maintain lock formation by separating the tips of locks, placing them in rows in a lingerie bag, then submerging them in a pan of soapy (but not bubbly) VERY warm water for 20 minutes. After carefully removing the lingerie bag and squeezing out excess water with a towel, the locks to dry on an elevated rack. I’m amazed by the softness and the beautiful colors. I cleaned one batch of colored fleece and a separate batch of white fleece. In this photo, you can see that the fleece varies in color as well as staple length (the white fleece has a much longer staple).

And Sew Forth

68.4This weekend, I visited my mom, who supervised while I cut fabric for my Birds of a Feather Maxi Skirt. Though Anna Maria Horner explains a few aspects of the process in her Creativebug tutorial, I discovered that some crucial information has been left out! Cutting on the bias requires special care, as the fabric can stretch out of shape easily. I also learned some techniques to create a double-wide piece of fabric, and to ensure that both front and back skirt pieces could be cut from the fabric. 68.2I was glad to use some of my mother’s sewing tools, including the fold-out cardboard cutting board on the right. There are markings to guide a subtle shaping of the skirt bottom. How clever! Now that the pieces are cut, I can envision the appearance of the hand-applique feathers. My inclination is to place one of the feathers so that it extends down from the skirt waist. Mom disagrees. So, I need to give this some more thought. If I manage to get all of this snow shoveled, maybe I can devote some time to sewing the skirt today!