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.

Episode 189

This episode includes introductions, projects in progress, the very short history of my first fermentation experiment, and an update on the Knit Local Getaway. I also announce the winner of the FiberCrafty giveaway.


Thank you, Pam for generously sponsoring this giveaway.  FiberCrafty is an online marketplace for fiber lovers, and received a writeup in Yarn Market News.


I’m using handpun yarn from a set of Hobbledehoy battlings as the weft of this scarf project. The warp is a combination of handspun and alpaca yarn from Spinner’s End Farm, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Creating knit garments with a combination of machine and handstitching.  The tunic is an interpretation of the Endless Summer Tunic.  I’m also stitching a bolero using the pattern from Alabama Chanin’s Sewing + Design.

The knitting on my Ohra shawl is almost complete, so I started experiments with the technique of adding fringe.  I anticipate that the fringe will require a lot of yarn, so I’m concerned about having enough of the colors I want to use!


I like the texture of these biscotti . The recipe by Ashley English is from the SHARE issue of Taproot magazine.  I used fig and almond for one batch, and then pulled together some flavorings from my pantry to created another batch of chocolate-orange-cranberry-walnut.

To begin my year of fermentation, I ordered a water kefir kit, which includes cheesecloth, strainer, thermometer, and sugar in addition to the kefir grains.  I also ordered milk kefir grains. Cultures for Health has been impressive in terms of the education it provides for customers.  When I ordered, I was immediately given access to a selection of ebooks on the fermentation process.

Pictured is the activation stage of water kefir.  The water and grains are a brownish color because of the organic can sugar that is used.  My current concern is whether I my home is warm enough to maintain the 68-85 degree temperatures needed to achieve fermentation.  This topic seems to have wide appeal among Yarns at Yin Hoo listeners, and there is already some great conversation on the #powerpantry thread in our group.


Meet the cashmere goats of Saint Mary’s on the Hill, shop for local products, and have fun with friends at the Knit Local Getaway, April 27-29, 2018.  Carole Foster of the Foster Sheep Farm Yarn Shop and Mary Jeanne Packer of the Battenkill Fiber Mill have generously stepped up to host this year’s event.  If you want to receive registration information and updates on the retreat, contact Carole. For general information about the Washington County Farm and Fiber Tour, visit the website.

Episode 188

This episode features contest news, The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, and Sew Forth.

Enter to win this beautiful handspun laceweight yarn, project bag and lip balm — all in a prize package from Pam of Fibercrafty. Details for entering the contest are provided in the Yarns at Yin Hoo group on Ravelry.

The Back Porch

The Front Porch

  • Ohra — in Blaker Yarns’ Samite
  • Oulu Mitts — in Blacker Yarns’ Brushwork
  • Cardamom Coffee (hat) — in Blacker Yarns’ Brushwork

Ever-expanding Skill Set

We used wonton wrappers as a quick and easy option for homemade ravioli.  Minced pulled pork is give a little additional heft and texture with leftover baked potato.  We made a rich and delicious mushroom cream sauce to accompany these savory squares. The flavor and texture were perfect, but I think the ravioli were a bit too large.  Next time, we’ll try wonton shapes (more like tortellini).

I’ve been thinking a lot about approaches to my skill set for 2018, and decided on a year-long theme of fermented foods.  To date, my experience with fermenting at home consists of brewing kombucha. I received two books that will provide ideas for this journey, and I look forward to learning along with you in the new year. I’ve begun a new thread in the Ravelry group for discussion on this topic.

And Sew Forth

The Dress Shirt by Merchant & Mills, sewn in a wool blend fabric. I love the drape and the warmth of this fabric as well as its wrinkle resistant properties.  I wore it for two days in NYC, and it traveled well under my coat.  The bib neck is great for showing off bold jewelry pieces.

Episode 187

In this episode, I talk about my recently completed Deschain sweater, pictured above.  I love it!  In January, I plan a series of knits designed by Caitlin Hunter.  Finally, I announce a giveaway sponsored by the FiberCrafty marketplace.

The Back Porch

  • Deschain by Leila Raabe, knit with 4 skeins of Green Mounain Spinnery’s Cotton Comfort in the Aubergine colorway.

The Front Porch

2017 has been the year of garment knits; it’s been one year since I’ve knit a shawl, so naturally I’ve been plotting and planning for months about what I will cast on this New Year’s Day.  You are welcome to join me in starting Ohra by Caitlin Hunter.

  • Ohra — in Blaker Yarns’ Samite
  • Oulu Mitts — in Blacker Yarns’ Brushwork
  • Cardamom Coffee (hat) — in Blacker Yarns’ Brushwork
  • Tegna — in Wing and a Prayer Farm’s Taconic Twist

On Friday, my fiber arts students worked with hand cards to create ghost batts from their scoured Cheviot X fiber.  Ghost batts are a semi-worsted preparation, which works very well with the amazingly long (6+”) of this fiber.  Our next step will be to focus on spinning with suspended spindles.


Pam has provided this very generous prize package from her 24-hour fiber marketplace called FiberCrafty.  I’m hosting a giveaway on Ravelry.  Follow this LINK to enter!

Episode 186

This week, I announce the prize winners for the #embroidermore stitch along.  There’s a new project on the needles, plans for a reversible dress, an overload of holiday coziness, plus–filled and stuffed recipes to underscore the feeling of abundance and surprise.

I stitched and glued together these adorable gnomes using indigochickengal’s tutorial.  These are easy and fun to make — and you already have the supplies on hand, I’m sure.

I’ve sewn an improvised version of the Endless Summer Tunic that Sarah Hunt developed for knit fabric.  The pattern pieces are sewn together by machine. I was able to achieve a beautiful seam using the overedge foot and a stretch stitch on my Janome Sewist.

On the advice of Alabama Chanin, I applied 1 1/4″ tape to the arm and neck openings using embroidery — in this case the feather stitch. It is time-consuming, but very therapeutic stitching and finishes the knit fabric beautifully.

Here’s a very unsatisfactory photo of a new project in progress, Deschain, a sweater design by Leila Raabe. I plan to sew the Metamorphic Dress, designed by Sew Liberated, to pair with this sweater.

Episode 185

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m sharing a series of food-related poems and provide an update on my latest projects.

On the Porch

  • Another layer to the #fleecewise collaboration is our article explaining our different paths to a love of working with fiber and how craft has drawn us together and continues to fuel our work.
  • READ “Of Fleece and Friendship” on the Wovember blog.

  • Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova
  • Butter” by Elizabeth Alexander
  • “Ode to the Table” by Pablo Neruda
  • The Traveling Onion” by Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “Beans” by Mary Oliver
  • video of Naomi Shihab Nye reading “Arabic Coffee” at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

“Stay, be seated.  Follow the talk wherever it goes.”

— from “Arabic Coffee by Naomi Shihab Nye

a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills