Episode 209

The gift of a pattern and inspiration from a new book are just what I needed to revitalize my making this week.

The Back Porch

For the second time, I’ve completed the Lotta dress.  I’m much happier with the result after making a repair to correct color and extend the length of the dress.  First, is the “before” photo, taken in August.  Note the pink band at the hip and the tunic length.

After snipping into the dress below the part I wanted to remove, and unraveling, I knit 5″ of stockinette fabric, alternating skeins.  Then, I grafted the pieces together.

The Front Porch

I’ve begun knitting Kate Davies’ Doocot design, and hope to complete a dress  or perhaps tunic-length garment by the end of November. The yarn is dreamy Blacker Yarns Brushstroke in a plush purple color and the pattern was a surprise gift from thejasperpatch.

And Sew Forth

Progress on Haremere, a jacket design from Merchant & Mills.  I hope to complete the project this weekend.  I just love some of the details of this quarter-lined blazer: lined pockets, finishing details, and a loop to hang it up.

After collecting the materials for visible mending this summer, I did nothing on the project until paging through Katrina Rodabough’s Mending Matters. Since then, I’ve been making repairs and refining my technique. Though I had been familiar with the work via Rodabough’s IG feed and her interview on the Love to Sew podcast, I was missing the “how to” steps I needed to get going.  For those who are confident stitchers, this is a pretty book of quotes and pictures, but for the true beginner, it can be a useful guide.

Off the Shelf

The Joins” by Chana Block mentions the Japanese art of kintsugi — repairing precious pottery with gold


Episode 208

Success mending one garment gives me the courage to snip into another on this week’s episode.  I talk about new patterns in my queue, yarns I’m itching to knit with, and my adventures at NYS&W with Samuel. Mending is a theme, but I forgot to mention that I purchased Katrina Rodabaugh’s new book.

The Front Porch

  • KnitSpinFarm‘s Targhee fingering in RAD-ish
  • Hog Island poncho


  • Humulus: add shaping and fabric to the neckline to bring it closer to the neck
  • Lotta: snip into dress, unravel pink haze (2″), pick up all stitches, continue knitting (alternating skeins) for 5-6″ inches, graft sections of dress together

Upcoming Projects

Rhinebeck Haul

The World’s Cutest Sheep

Off the Shelf

Mending Time” by David Mason

Episode 207

Lovage is complete and I absolutely adore it.  I’m so pleased with the fit and the clarity of the colorwork.  Hopefully Rhinebeck Weekend will be suitably chilly so I can wear this sweater all day long!

Humblebee Mitts Pattern Available! 

I hope this design for a quick and versatile pair of mitts inspires you to make an impulse purchase of farm yarn at a fiber festival.  I use the funds from pattern sales to cover the costs of this podcast, so your purchase helps to keep Yarns at Yin Hoo on the air.  This pattern has been tech edited and test knit; I’m so grateful for the work of Ellen, Marybeth, Holly, Rachel, and Amy. They are pictured here in Carole Foster’s Romney-Wensleydale X yarn, held double. You can find this yarn as well as Carole’s new Blyth yarn, in the Foster Sheep Farm booth, Building 31, at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend.  The sample mitts will be on display, and you can purchase the printed pattern.

Spring Session of Fleece to Finished Object scheduled at Hope’s Favorite Things in Richmond, PA

The Back Porch

Lovage, designed by Marie Wallin — knit with Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme and Shetland Jumper Weight yarns.  I made a variety of modifications to get the fit I wanted.

The Front Porch

Knitting an improvised texture pattern using Carole Foster’s Northumberland Sock yarn.  I just love the way this yarn knits up.  It’s plump and substantial, and Carole’s colors are a dream.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

Impossible Coconut Pie

Preheat oven 350.  Butter a 9″ pie dish.

In a blender, combine:

  • 1 c. half and half
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tblsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

Blend on high speed for one minute to mix ingredients.  Pour into prepared pie dish. Sprinkle an additional 1/2 c. coconut into dish and add a liberal amount of freshly-grated nutmeg.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  This pie is best if cooled completely before serving.

The Pumpkin Bread I Can’t Stop Eating — that’s how to find the recipe on Food52’s website.  The genius ingredient is a grated apple in the batter! I cut the sugar to 1/2 cup, and added another few tablespoons cinnamon-sugar to the top of the loaf, along with a liberal sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.  The recipe calls for walnuts, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I substituted coconut chips. This is a moist and delicious bread that’s sure to please on a crisp fall day.

Episode 206

How yellow is too yellow when it comes to the colorwork in Marie Wallin’s Lovage sweater?  That’s what I’m trying to decide this week as I work my way up the yoke after attaching the sleeves to the body.

On the Porch

The Front Porch

Off the Shelf

  • No Makeup by Sharon Olds — this link includes an audio file of the poem read by the author

And Sew Forth

Here you see the completed Forager Vest, designed by SewLiberated.  Complete except for the little loop we added to hang it.  I’m also wearing my first Curlew Dress.  Mom and I made several modifications as we sewed this vest, including doubling up on the fabric for the yoke, and adding some fusible interfacing to the tops of the pockets. It’s a very utilitarian garment, but I found the pattern directions (text only) to be confusing for the beginning sewist.  I think some diagrams or photo tutorial, either in the magazine itself or online, would have been helpful.

Episode 205

Thank you for your generous donations to Elysa’s Knit Happens to Help project.  They have been coming in all summer until I took a trunk full to school.  Elysa  will accept donations until Halloween.  If you want to learn more about the project, give Episode 198 a listen.

Your purchase of the Humblebee sock pattern during the August sale enabled another donation to Heifer International. Thank you!

Look for the Humblebee Mitts coming in early October!  I will need a few very quick test knitters to try out this design at the end of September.  You need DK weight yarn and US 4 needles.  Let me know if you’re interested by sending me a PM on Ravelry.

I’ll be facilitating a Fleece to Finished Object course at Hope’s Favorite Things in Richmond, PA.  Over a series of four sessions, we will work with beautiful Jacob fleece from nearby Spring Hills Farm, and develop a garment or accessory of our own design.  We will honor process over product, and learn together.  Contact me if you have questions, or call Hope’s shop to sign up!

The Back Porch

My Lotta dress is complete.  I love the fit, and all of the beautiful ktbl details; I love the fabric created by Beaver Slide Dry Goods’ wool / mohair blend — but can you see the fuschia blush around the hipline? Head smack!  I’ll be running through solutions as I work on my Rhinebeck sweater, and with any luck, I’ll have time to fix this dress!

I’ve been playing around some more with the back detail of my Humblebee sock pattern, incorporating it as a side panel on some shortie socks for my mother.  This time, I made anatomically-suitable toe decreases on each sock. I’m quite pleased with the result and intend to work on this more for a future sock design. The yarn is Foster Sheep Farm‘s Northumberland Sock.  I love this yarn, and Carole’s amazing colors.

The Front Porch

My objective is to finish Lovage by October 16 and wear it proudly to Rhinebeck. To accomplish this task, I’ve set a number of mini-goals, including completing the sleeves by Labor Day.  Next, I need to knit the MC body and start the colorwork by mid-September.  Despite the self-imposed pressure,  I’m really enjoying this knit with Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland Supreme and their 2-ply jumper weight.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

There’s still some work to do before the year of fermented foods comes to a close, but one constant has been my batch of water kefir, that I’ve been putting to a second fermentation and harvesting every week since January! By far my favorite flavor is blueberry-ginger.  Just look at the gorgeous pink color.  And it’s refreshing and delicious, not as sour as kombucha.

And Sew Forth

I’m working my way through the patterns in Merchant & Mills Workbook.  This is my second Curlew dress, and I’m enjoying the challenge of working with fabric that has been cut on the bias. I’ll be posting daily to the #sewphotohop and #sewphotohop2018 hashtags during the month of September, sharing my story and meeting other sewists from around the globe.

Episode 204

In this very special episode, I join my friend Hope at her shop and we talk over our visit to Quiet Valley Farm, where we spent the day in period costume and learned about the harvest and preparation of flax to make linen thread. The photo series here is a companion to our description of the process on the audio episode.  If you have any questions or wisdom to share, I hope that you will participate in the discussion thread on Ravelry.

Flax harvest: Quiet Valley’s extensive gardens included a small planting of flax plants. These photos also show the period clothing that Hope and I wore so that we could really take part in the hands-on activities of the day.

Here is Mr. Oiler harvesting flax.  Once harvested and dried, flax can be stored indefinitely before retting and the remainder of the processing.  It just needs to be kept dry and protected from rodents. Large scale flax harvesting involves stooking (tying the flax in bundles for easier handling) and rippling (removing seeds from stalks).

Something we didn’t see here, but is an essential part of processing, is retting.  After the initial thorough drying of the plant, it is then retted (rotted) so that the outer fibers break away from the inner core.  There are two methods of retting: dew retting, in which the flax is spread over the ground and left to wet and dry over a period of a few weeks; or vat retting, in which flax is submerged in a tub or pond. Vat retting is risky in that it is easy to overdo it and start rotting the inner core.  There is also the consideration of where runoff from vat retting ends up because some of the enzymes can be harmful to farming or animal life. Another consideration is the finished product: vat retted fibers are pale in color; dew retted fiber is often brown or green in appearance.

Here we see a flax break in use.  It’s a simple lever, a reproduction made by Mr. Oiler.  The top is lifted and then lowered as a bundle of flax is drawn through it.

You can see the difference in the flax from the previous photo to this one as the outer pith breaks away.

Next comes scutching, in which a scutching knife is used to scrape unwanted fibers away from the desirable flax.

The hackling process involves repeatedly pulling a handful of fibers over some very daunting nail combs to remove more unwanted waste and to straighten and soften the flax.

In the photo sequence above, Hope’s distaff is prepared, or dressed, with flax and tied with a ribbon to secure.

Here I am taking a turn at Hope’s wheel.  Can you see the little water pail at my right knee? In this photo, I appear to have the hang of it, but mostly, I struggled to keep the wheel spinning in a counterclockwise direction to achieve the S twist that is recommended for flax singles.

Most of my spinning was on my Jenkins Aegean, a Turkish spindle.

This was my view for the afternoon: an assortment of smart and very interesting women in period dress, sharing knowledge, and working at various stages of the process.

As you may have guessed, flax processing yields much more waste than beautifully-spun linen. One of the stations was devoted to turning this waste into toe rope.

Several strands of spun toe can be plied together on this wheel to achieve various strengths of toe rope.

Some resources that we discussed on the episode.

a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills