Episode 47: The Capitol Steps

ph11This episode, recorded on location from the steps of the capitol gardens in Nashville, is lightly edited and includes ambient noise. I talk about the final two days of the Super Summer Knit Together, including my fleece processing class with Sadie of the Yarnivore podcast and Knitter’s Knitmare; a trip to the Nashville Night Market to see the Haus of Yarn bus; Helen’s hot chicken; the Try It On room; SSK Market; a visit to Antique Archeology; and some thoughts on fellowship.







Episode 45: Observation Deck

cover45This episode includes the following segments: Yarn Lover at Large, The Front Porch, The Back Porch, and Double Happiness. I also announce the five winners of WOLLWERK patterns in anticipation of the Asymmetri-CAL, which begins on August 1. This podcast is loosely structured and lightly edited.



WebYarn Lover at Large

This episode is brought to you from Nashville, Tennessee. I’m in town for the Super Summer Knit together (SSK), a retreat hosted by TheKnitGirllls. My plan is to record a few episodes on location, and upload them right away–like an audio diary of my experience. I hope you enjoy them. In this episode, I talk about the classes I’ll be taking: spinning with Malia and fleece prep 101 with Sadie.

tdf.progThe Front Porch

“What projects do I take to SSK?” has been foremost in my mind over the past few days. Conventional wisdom demands a simple design that I can work on while socializing, and bright colors or color changes to keep my interest. I’ve decided on taking a pair of yoga socks that will be a holiday gift, the Nymphalidia shawl, which is a bit more intricate, and another skein of rustic handspun to work into cord using my lucet. I anticipate that I’ll spend a lot of time spinning on my Turkish spindle. Seriously, it’s addictive.

hatThe Back Porch

It’s Tour de Fleece time and I’ve been doing lots of spinning. Most of it has been completed on my Aegean Turkish spindle from Jenkins Yarn Tools. I have a personal goal of spinning every day during the Tour de France, and hopefully I’ll complete the battlings I purchased from Hobbledehoy at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. When I have some time at home, I work on my Louet. This week I completed spinning the Papaya braid from Beesybee Fibers. This BFL/silk blend yielded 375 yards of a fractally-spun 2-ply.

Asymmetri-CAL Update

Congratulations to the folks who’ve won WOLLWERK patterns. Please contact designer Simone Eich, wuscheltigger, by sending a personal message on Ravelry. Let her know which pattern you’d like to receive. Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in this craft-along. The official start date is August 1. You’re invited to craft any pattern that is asymmetrical in design, construction or use of color. The Yarns at Yin Hoo group on Ravelry is growing, so join us. Chatter here. Post photos of finished projects here.

For those knitters spinning chunky handspun during Tour de Fleece, you might be interested in the Asymmetricowl, a pattern by Denae Merrill. It’s available for free during the month of July. Thanks, Denae, for this generous offer!

In case you need just one more reason to participate in the Asymmetri-CAL, here you go. Susan, the dyer of Riot of Color, has offered up a skein of cobweb silk as a prize. Check out her shop to see the beautiful colors and dazzling yarn bases.

lentilDuring the week of July 7, I facilitated an Open Institute at Rutgers University. Designed to help participants deepen their experience as writers, the institute is always inspiring. On Friday, we read aloud from writing we’ve produced during the week. I began this poem on Wednesday, when visiting poet Toney Jackson prompted us to write about significant objects from our homes. Immediately, I thought of Gertrude, the vintage dress form that was a Christmas gift from my sister, Laura.

On Being Gertrude

An actor inhabits a character, beginning with her feet.  Mine

are heavy metal, for a start.  I’m an hourglass,

upholstered in grey fabric, fragmented into several parts.


My chest can heave, and float apart, or shift together—no body

type is too trim or too remote for me to assume her shape

if she’s a lady.  Sorry, fellas. My plate tectonics are of the feminine


kind, and are like to drive you crazy.  You’ve seen smooth-skinned

mannequins in department stores—they’re bland as hangers.

Those gals are caged in their pre-ordained proportions,


but my physique says, more is more. My poem is for you women,

not the girls.  We’re shape-shifters. We’re full of surprises.

Look in our closets; we wear many sizes. What I mean is this:  My heart


is full-figured. I’m petite when it comes to petty concerns.

In terms of my singing voice, I’m just about average.  Don’t talk to

me about some salad-eating, calorie-saving—don’t say the word diet.


I’m expansive, not expensive.  And my curves do the talking ’cause

I don’t have a mouth. Vogue, Cosmopolitan, — you’d best keep quiet.

They can dress me up, honey, but they’ll never take me out.


Episode 44: Mother Grain

southernbelleThis episode includes the following segments: Yarn Lover at Large, A Little Bit of Learning, and Ever-expanding Skill Set.








spinneryYarn Lover at Large

On the way back from Vermont, I took a slightly different route in order to visit Green Mountain Spinnery. This worker-owned cooperative is a special destination for knitters. Mom and I were given the informal, but highly-informative tour. We gaped at the vintage machinery and inhaled the sheepy fumes. Then, there was a little time for shopping. I selected a skein of Simply Fine, a single-ply mohair/wool fingering weight yarn.

A Little Bit of Learning

quinoaThe health benefits of quinoa have been making headlines for several years. There’s so much information that it’s all a little overwhelming. Most of the information I share in this episode comes from the Whole Grains Council. I also heard a news story on The Splendid Table about the politics of quinoa. If you think you’ve learned everything there is to know about this amazing pseudo-cereal that grows high in the Andes mountains, you may be interested in Quinoa Quarrel, an interview with journalist Lisa Hamilton, which focuses on the politics of seed sharing. If you are concerned about exploitation of South American growers, and interested in learning more about quinoa grown in the United States, check out this article for more information.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

meezInspired by swentea’s post about a quinoa salad with kale and coconut, I set about combining some of my favorite flavors in a recipe of my own.

Southern Belle Quinoa

In a small saucepan, place 2 cups water or stock, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon sweet curry powder, and 1 cup tri-color quinoa (rinsed and drained). Bring to a boil and cover. Turn off heat and allow to rest (in a hot kitchen) or simmer (in a cool kitchen) for 15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, prepare a small bunch of kale by rinsing in cold water, then removing ribs and ripping into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, toss kale with grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon and a dash of salt. It will begin to wilt.

Coarsely chop 1/3 cup dried apricots and 1/3 cup pecans. Add to kale in large bowl. Add cooked quinoa and toss contents with a few tablespoons of honey.

Garnish warm or cold salad with 1/3 cup whole pecans and 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes.

puddingJust when I thought I would turn my back on amaranth for awhile, I came across a recipe for Chai-Spiced Amaranth Pudding. This preparation is an appropriate match for dense, sticky amaranth. I like the chai spices, too. I don’t keep low-fat milk on hand, so I used 3 cups of whole milk and two eggs, omitting the cornstarch and halving the sugar. I only had a few golden raisins, so I added diced ginger. I also replaced the brittle with roasted, salted pistachios. The texture resembles that of tapioca, but it is not as light.


The poem for this episode is “Morning Swim” by Maxine Kumin. You can find this and other poems on Poetry 180.

My bones drank water; water fell
through all my doors. I was the well

that fed the lake that met my sea

Episode 43: Imperial Girl

imperialThis episode contains the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, and Off the Shelf.







firefliesrisingThe Back Porch

This week I completed Fireflies Rising, a beautiful crescent-shaped shawl designed by Helen Stewart, host of the Curious Handmade podcast. I found Helen’s pattern a dream to knit and I was also very pleased with my yarn choice and my decision to add beads to the shawl. My only disappointment is that the beautiful color of the shawl does not photograph well.

jenkinsThe Front Porch

The school year has finally come to a close and I’m looking forward to a summer on the porch. A summer of knitting, spinning, crocheting, and weaving. The porch at Yin Hoo is a beautiful place to watch the creek below and wait for a cooling breeze on a hot day. If I’m lucky, Samuel will appear with some iced coffee. Or I’ll wander into the kitchen and bring back some fruit to enjoy outside. I look forward to sharing photographs and updates on my projects. Christmas knitting has begun! Check out the details on my Ravelry page.


Ever-expanding Skill Set

pizzaJune has been wild card month for the Bulk Bins Cook-along, and I’ve been experimenting with homemade pizza crust. I’ve had some success with a recipe from My Bread by Jim Lahey. He’s the guy who popularized the no-knead bread-making technique. So far, I’ve made decent pizza that doesn’t stick to the surface of my pizza stone. I would like to perfect the technique and create a pizza with a thin, crisp crust. Our pizza stone fits our Big Green Egg, a ceramic charcoal grill that is modeled after a Japanese-style kamado grill, which can heat to high temperatures without drying your food.

Next month, we’ll cook along with quinoa. It is the perfect canvas for a wide array of fruits, veggies and cheeses available at your local farm stand or farmer’s market — or event the food you’re growing in your own yard this summer. I look forward to seeing your photos and recipes on the Ravelry discussion board and Instagram. Use #bulkbinscal on social media.

Off the Shelf

summerreadsThis segment was suggested by Valerie, who saw how my yarn stash is tucked into my bookshelves and asked me to talk about some of my favorite titles. Thank you, Valerie, for that suggestion, and for mentioning in your letter that you add a “top 10″ books of the year list in your holiday cards. What a great idea! In examining my books in preparation for this segment, I found that most of my collection is contained in four main categories: classic literature, contemporary literary fiction, memoirs by female authors, and poetry / books on writing. I pulled eleven books that have been powerful for me. Of course, there are so many other favorites. I look forward to learning about your summer reading on the discussion thread.

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • What Happened to Anna K? by Irina Reyn
  • Remembering the Bone House by Nancy Mairs
  • Carolina Ghost Woods by Judy Jordan
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • Never in a Hurry: Essays on People and Places by Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Good Woman by Lucille Clifton
  • The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher
  • Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson
  • Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
  • Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink (anthology)

I love the solitude of reading. I love the deep dive into someone else’s story, the delicious ache of a last page.       — Naomi Shihab Nye