Episode 40: Juxtaposition

juxThis episode includes the following segments: Yarn Lover at Large, The Front Porch, The Back Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set and Double Happiness.






Have you heard?  Yarns at Yin Hoo will be hosting its very first craft along in August. Post to the Asymmetri-CAL planning thread on Ravelry to let me know that you plan to join us. Simone Eich of WOLLWERK designs will give one of her patterns to five lucky people who post to the planning thread. If you’re interested in knitting one of Simone’s patters for the CAL, be sure to link to it in your post. There are also some excellent prizes for FOs. More on that later.  For now, let’s review WHY you should take part in this CAL. Asymmetrical lines can be slimming because the eye moves with them as they cut across the body. Asymmetry also creates a pleasing contrast to feminine curves. Asymmetrical garments and accessories can be quirky and fun, or deeply dramatic. I typed “asymmetrical” as a search term on Ravelry and some fantastic designs came up. Anything asymmetrical will count in the CAL — design, construction, even use of color.

kathleenYarn Lover at Large & The Front Porch

Last weekend, Samuel and I spent some time in Vermont after the Bovine Social Club played a great show at Caffe Lena. On Saturday, we spent the day with family at my sister’s camp near Pittsfield. We had lots of laughs, great food, and a beautiful rainbow. Before leaving the area, I made a point to visit Green Mountain Fibers, a shop in Rutland which I have passed many times. This time, I icelandichad plenty of time for a leisurely visit. It’s a beautiful, well-stocked shop and Kathleen was helpful and very knowledgeable about her yarn and fiber. I purchased some unspun Icelandic yarn, perfect for Emily Estrada’s Shield Maiden pattern and suitable for the Fibertrek’s Island Wool KAL. The color is a bright, icy blue. You need to try knitting with this yarn. Kathleen had a little swatch going near the display. I picked it up to knit a few stitches and was convinced that it was just the thing for Emily’s pattern. At $8.50 for 300 yards, it is also very affordable. This product has more stitch definition than I would have expected for an unspun, un-plied yarn. And Icelandic wool is supposed to be some of the warmest on Earth.

pollinationThe Back Porch

Upon returning from Vermont, I was able to complete the chain plying of Pollination, a gorgeous gradient from Patricia of Beeybee Fibers. I love spinning BFL. Hand-dyed by Patricia, it’s even better. This fiber spun into 353 yards of a chain ply to preserve the gently shifting color. I keep searching patterns, trying to decide what this yarn will become.  I’m thinking about pairing it with a  neutral to knit a Leftie shawl.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

Ginger Amaranth x 3 Muffins

muffinsSoak 2 tblsp. amaranth overnight, or use cooked amaranth in the muffin batter.

Coat a small saucepan with a thin film of oil.  Heat oil on high, and add 1 tblsp. amaranth grains.  Cover and shake to pop the grains like popcorn.  It’s okay if some grains don’t pop.  Toss popped amaranth with a dash of fine sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Prepare a standard 12-muffin pan with butter or muffin papers.

oven 400

In a large bowl, sift together 1 2/3 c. amaranth flour, 1 c. all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp salt.  Make a well in the center of dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 large egg, 1 1/4 c. milk, 2 tblsp. honey, 2 tblsp. sugar, and 3 tblsp. melted butter.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and quickly fold together.  Before the mixture is completely incorporated, fold in 1/3 c. finely diced candied ginger and 2 tblsp. soaked or cooked amaranth.

Drop spoonfuls of batter into prepared muffin tin. Top with reserved popped amaranth.

Reduce oven to 350. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool on a baking rack and enjoy for breakfast or a healthy snack.

patriciaDouble Happiness

The next episode of Yarns at Yin Hoo will feature an interview with Patricia Briceño of Beesybee Fibers. Since I began spinning just over a year ago, I have made quite a few purchases from the Beesybee Etsy shop. I’m never disappointed. I longed to know more about Patricia’s methods of dyeing, and her attitude toward her craft. She agreed to an interview. We’ve been exchanging audio files over the past few weeks and I’m excited to mix down our audio files for YAYH listeners. Check out Patricia’s blog. She’s also teaching a felting class at the end of June. If you live on the West Coast, check it out.


Episode 39: Asymmetri-CAL

west1This week’s episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch, The Front Porch, and Gratitude Journal.


rhubarbEver-expanding Skill Set

I’ve felt a bit uninspired using amaranth as an ingredient, and distracted with rhubarb from my mother’s garden.  This week, I took a break front the #bulkbinscal and tried a recipe for rhubarb cream pie.  It’s more fitting to call this a custard than a cream pie, but the results were delicious.  Look below for the recipe.  I need time to catch up on my plans for using amaranth flour and re-group, so I’m declaring June “wild card” month for the Bulk Bins Cook Along.  You might like to try some of the ingredients that have already been in the spotlight: January – lentils; February – oats; March – spices; April – rice: May – amaranth.  Or you could try something new.  Here’s a cheater-friendly strategy — try some of the items that don’t require cooking.  Granola, carob-covered cranberries, and peanut butter are just a few of the tempting treats you can find in the bulk bins.  Join in the fun and use #bulkbinscal when you post photographs on social media.  You can also post to the discussion thread on Ravelry for a chance to win a pattern of your choice.

Rhubarb Cream Pie

oven 350

Use your favorite pastry recipe to make a single pie crust.

In a large bowl, whisk together until frothy 3 large eggs, 4 tablespoons milk or cream, 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, a dash of salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and up to 1 1/4 cup sugar.  (Note: You’ll need sugar to make the rhubarb palatable, but you can reduce the amount to about 3/4 cup if you’re trying to cut back on sugar.)  Stir in 4 cups of sliced fresh rhubarb.

Roll out the pie crust to a large, unwieldy shape.  Place in pie dish.  Pour in rhubarb mixture. Use an in-elegant technique to fold the outside edge of the pie crust inward over the rhubarb. It should look rustic. Brush the crust with cream or half and half and sprinkle with 1/8 of cup course sugar.

Bake about 45 minutes or until custard filling has completely set and crust is golden brown. Proceed to eat most of the pie and then fight your loved ones for the last slice.

west2The Back Porch

I’ve completed Tripartite, another dynamite pattern design by Stephen West.  I love this versatile, beautiful garment, which can be worn with a flowing drape and delicate collar; with a wide shawl collar and cropped bodice; with both armholes over the neck to make a cowl; and tied about the waist as a skirt.  I used lace weight yarn from Leading Men Fiber Arts in the seaweed colorway, US size 4 needles, and employed the double stitch to do short row shaping.

ikarus5The Front Porch

I’m very pleased to announce the first Yarns at Yin Hoo craft along in August. We’ll be embracing the beauty and versatility of asymmetrical design.  Here are the details:

  • You can knit, crochet, weave, or sew a garment or accessory to participate.
  • Asymmetrical may refer to the design, construction, or use of color.  If you can create an argument for asymmetry — you can enter the craft along.
  • A planning thread will open on June 1.
  • In mid-July, I’ll choose five lucky winners from the planning thread, who will each win a pattern by Simone Eich of WOLLWERK designs.  She has some fantastic patterns with asymmetrical flair.  Here’s a photo of my Ikarus shawl, a pattern I recommend.
  • From August 1 to September 26, we’ll craft along.  Post your completed projects in the FO thread for a chance at winning some fabulous prizes contributed by YAYH listeners.
  • Participants are invited to double / triple dip and find clever ways for their projects to count for as many contests and giveaways as possible.

Gratitude Journal

I’m grateful to the following listeners for contributing prizes for the FO thread of the Asymmetri-CAL.  In coming episodes, I will provide the details of their prize donations.  Please consider supporting their Etsy and brick-and-mortar locations.

Episode 38: Porch Spinning Four Point Oh

pollination3This week’s episode contains the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, On the Porch, Yarn Lover at Large, and Double Happiness. 






amaranth.mushroomEver-expanding Skill Set

Amaranth has been on the menu this week at Yin Hoo.  I used the grain to make a mushroom dish — kind of like a porridge.  Using this recipe as a jumping off point, I incorporated dried porcini mushrooms and sautéed shallots into some frozen chicken stock to make a rich, thick broth in which to cook the amaranth.  This is a good thing, because amaranth doesn’t have much flavor; nor does it have starch to lend a dish a creamy texture. Cooked, it reminds me a lot of quinoa.  I didn’t think it would be very exciting, so I made my own version of a mushroom duxelle — diced Crimini mushrooms sautéed in garlicky butter with a touch of cream and a heavy dose of chopped parsley — to spoon on top of the porridge.  I can’t make a duxelle without hearing Julia Child’s voice in my mind.  Here a decent recipe for mushroom duxelle, but I keep mine quite simple and light.  If you decide to join in the fun, tag your creations with #bulkbinscal on social media.

carrotcakeAnother recipe I made for the first time this week was Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy.  I made this cake adhering strictly to the recipe, and brought it to my mom’s house for Mother’s Day.  If you’re fond of the version with the cream cheese icing, you will not be impressed with this cake.  But if you want something with a light, spongy texture and a great deal of tangy zest, this is one to try.

aegeanThe Porch

Typically, I use The Back Porch to indicate completed projects and The Front Porch to specify projects that I plan to start soon.  This week, I’ve been working on the same few projects without making much progress on any of them.  I’m still knitting the Tripartite vest by Stephen West and The Clincher, an elongated triangular scarf designed by Ash Kearns.  I’m also doing some spindle spinning. My birthday gift to myself was an Aegean spindle from Jenkins Yarn Tools.  I’m really enjoying the lightness of the tool and the delicacy of the singles as I spin battlings from Hobbledehoy.  When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, all I really want to do is take my Louet wheel out onto the porch and spin.  Mixed BFL dyed in the color gradient Pollination by Patricia of Beesybee Fibers has been a fitting project to work on as pollen dusts the porch railings, floors, and even the windows in a violent coat of green.

mikaeYarn Lover at Large

After referencing Renate Hiller and the “On Handwork” video in Episode 32, I’ve been longing to visit the Fiber Craft Studio in Chestnut Ridge, New York.  Last week, I attended their Open Studio session and a demonstration of natural dye techniques.  The instructor was Mikae dyepotsToma, an engaging and informative teacher.  Around the table were six women with a passion for the fiber arts and many, many questions.  We watched and listened as Mikae demonstrated how to dye with onion skin, yellow cosmos, and madder root.  Now I’m inspired to experiment beyond the goldenrod I tried this autumn.  I even placed an inquiry about madder root at my local garden center.

pollination2Double Happiness

Yarns at Yin Hoo’s first craft-along is in the works.  I have waited for our Ravelry group to reach 200 members before launching.  In the next episode, I’ll talk about the theme for the CAL, the start and closing dates, and the exciting prizes that friends and fans of the show have generously donated.  We can even have an informal spin-along during Tour de Fleece if anyone is interested in spinning intentionally for their project.

Gratitude Journal

As I was typing up the blog post for this episode, I received a Ravelry message asking if my ears were burning.  Thank you to The Knitmore Girls for purloining my Ever-expanding Skill Set in Episode 281.  Jasmin and Gigi discuss some tips for spinning that can keep you from running aground with a long-term project, and invite listeners to share how they’ve been expanding their skill set.  Listening to these experience podcasters praise my show was quite a thrill!

A British porch is a musty, forbidding non-room in which to fling a sodden umbrella or muddy pair of boots; a guard against the elements and strangers.  By contrast the good ol’ American front porch seems to stand for positivity and openness; a platform from which to welcome or wave farewell; a place where things of significance could happen.  — Dan Stevens



Episode 37: The Man Who Makes Brooms

MDSWbroomsThis episode contains the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, A Little Bit of Learning, Yarn Lover at Large, and Double Happiness.


amaranthsaladEver-expanding Skill Set

I’m making a slow start of cooking with amaranth this month.  I read that you can pop it like popcorn.  That’s true and it’s pretty tasty. I coated a small pot with olive oil, heated to smoking, then added one tablespoon of amaranth.  Covering the pot with a lid, I held it above the burner and agitated the pot frequently.  Unlike with popcorn, you can eat unpopped kernels.  I seasoned with smoked paprika, dried dill and salt,  then used it as a topping for the first salad from our porch-side garden.  (I also sowed some seeds for new lettuce plants today).  The amaranth tastes nutty and pleasant — it would have been equally good on the salmon I cooked on a bed of sliced lemons in my cast iron skillet.

amaranthpopA Little Bit of Learning

Amaranth was a food crop of the Aztecs and was domesticated as early as 8,000 years ago. It grows on tall, leafy stalks which often have colorful flowers.  Amaranth has gained popularity in recent years because it’s naturally gluten free. The Whole Grains Council has designated amaranth as the grain of the month for May and describes it as a “protein powerhouse” because it is nearly 14% protein.  Amaranth also contains a few things that are rare in other grains: amino acids and Vitamin C. Although whole grains of amaranth never lose their crunch completely, the home cook can achieve a variety of different textures depending on how it is cooked.

MDSWhogsYarn Lover at Large

The day began at 4 am; I had to catch a bus from the Lehigh Valley Mall.  It was really nice to travel on the bus — relaxing, reading and knitting on the way to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  My first stop was the Fingerlakes Woolen Mill, where I met fellow podcaster and Ravelry friend, Sarah (swenstea). Within ten minutes, I completed my first purchase of the day — fiber from Hog Island sheep, a critical conservation breed.  Then we were off to pay a visit to the sheep.  I learned so much while in conversation with Sarah.  See that t-shirt she’s wearing?  Her awesome mother designed it to promote Fiber Trek, her podcast and TV show in the works.  There we are posing with the Hog Island sheep from Mount Vernon.  We spent a lot of time in the barns, and even had a Deb Robson sighting!

MDSWfleeceSpeaking of sightings, we had quite a few podcaster sightings in the building where fleeces were up for sale.  I tried to stick my hand in every bag, and asked questions of anyone who looked knowledgeable.  No, I did not buy a fleece; however, I’m feeling increasingly confident about my ability to deal with one.  I was attracted most of all to the Jacob fleeces, because of the color variations in the fleece, I think they would be the basis of an interesting spinning and knitting project.

MDSWwilletteWhen I asked for shopping advice from YAYH listeners, several of you suggested purchasing a special tool.  In the Main Exhibition Hall, I discovered Stephen Willette, who was demonstrating how to make cording with his beautifully-crafted lucets.  I purchased one in curly maple — it’s gorgeous.  Stephen even gave me a lesson on how to use it, and sends every customer home with a clearly-printed and thorough instruction manual.

lisaI spent quite a bit of time at the Spinners Hill booth, visiting with the proprietor, Lisa Ann Merian.  She is my father’s cousin and I hadn’t seen her for many years.  It was great to reconnect and learn that Lisa has been teaching a Lamb to Loom series for children.  So, we gabbed about the fiber arts, education, and family stuff.  I left with a special fiber batt, the handiwork of Aunt Marie, who’s 91 and chooses the crazy colors for batts and then cards them on an electric carder.  Way to go, Aunt Marie.  We gabbed so much that I was the last to board the bus for the ride home.

Double Happiness

This week, I share “The Man Who Makes Brooms” by Naomi Shihab Nye.  I was thinking about this poem as I watched Bob Haffly of Lone Oak Brooms demonstrate how he makes brooms on his circa-1895 equipment. If you’ve never had the chance to visit Bob, you might enjoy this video. In an interview about her poem, Naomi Nye explains that it was inspired by a trip she took with her father to Jerusalem in the 1980’s.  Her father had remembered the broom maker from pre-1948 days.  The political and personal come together in this extraordinary poem.

Episode 36: Lettuce Pray

lettuceThis week’s podcast episode includes the following segments: Off the Shelf, Ever-expanding Skill Set, Yarn Lover at Large, and Double Happiness.




Off the Shelf

I’ve been intrigued with this book by Deborah Madison, a cookbook organized by families of the plant kingdom.  The chapters cover vegetables, herbs, spices and grains in surprising ways that help the home cook use them creatively.  The author also appeared on this week’s edition of KCRW’s Good Food program.  She talks with Evan Kleiman about the approach she takes in Vegetable Literacy, and explains how plants from the same family can create contrasting depths of flavor and texture.

pistachioriceEver-expanding Skill Set

I was particularly inspired this week by Rice with Spinach, Lemon, Feta and Pistachios from Deborah Madison’s book.  I used a variety of types of rice, cooked in ham stock, as well as bits of ham left over from Easter dinner.  The cheese was a special gift of smoked feta from Vermont.  This was a great meal after Samuel and I worked to suspend a salad bar from the porch railing of Yin Hoo.  I have fantasies about picking delicate leaves of lettuce all summer long.  Let’s hope the squirrels leave it alone. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

fieldbagYarn Lover at Large

On Saturday, I’ll be traveling to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  Thank you to everyone who has made shopping suggestions.  I like the idea of finding a new tool — perhaps a nostepinne or lucet.  I’m also considering some punis for spindle spinning.  Mostly, I’m interested in meeting the talented people who work carefully all year and then bring their hand-crafted wares to the festival.  There will be a podcaster meetup in the Lower Corral at 1:30 pm on Saturday and I’m eager to meet listeners and make new friends.  I’ll be handing out groovy buttons, too.  Hope to see you there!

nerudaDouble Happiness

Thanks to everyone who left comments and shared poems during National Poetry Month.  This week, I’ll be reading an old favorite that was suggested by Rmh258 — “Ode to My Socks” by Pablo Neruda.  In his work, Odes to Common Things, Neruda heaped praise onto the simple things of our everyday lives. Many of the poems in this collection have become favorites. Look for translations by Robert Bly, who maintains elegance and simplicity in English.


Episode 35: Poem in Your Pocket

denimThis episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Double Happiness and Gratitude Journal.



ricepieEver-expanding Skill Set

My contribution to Easter dinner was a rice pie with a custard-like texture.  I’ve made this dish many times, and I’m always trying to find new ways to amp up the flavor.  This year, I used freshly-squeezed orange juice as the cooking liquid for basmati rice.  I also soaked the pine nuts overnight in orange liqueur.  Finally, I scraped vanilla from 1/3 of a fresh bean rather than use vanilla extract.  Farm-fresh eggs and very high quality ricotta are essential. This dessert is not too sweet, light because of the phyllo crust, and a great balance to a salty ham dinner.

farbklang3The Back Porch

Farbklang, (the color of sound) is an asymmetrical design for an accessory by Simone Eich of Wollwerk.  This pattern knits up quickly and lends itself to improvisation and experimentation.  I’m very pleased with the results.





tripartiteThe Front Porch

I’ve heard the yarn and the colors of Leading Men Fiber Arts praised on several podcasts, so I thought I’d try some lace weight to knit Tripartite, a loosely structured Stephen West design.  The color, seaweed, is going to be perfect for summer.  It is a beautiful tonal turquoise, and will look well with natural linen, white, and black garments.

klincherThe Clincher by Ash Kearns could become your new sockhead hat, as long as you don’t mind purling.  I guess a lot of knitters DO mind purling, but this accessory is a great project for a precious skein of sock yarn and some scrap yarn in a contrasting color.  It has a pleasing ribbed texture and can be worn in a variety of ways.  I think it’s pretty easy to work on in a social setting and works well for travel knitting, too.

pocketDouble Happiness

Thursday, April 24th is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  You’re encouraged to select a pocket-sized poem, place it in your pocket, and share it throughout the day with loved ones, co-workers, even friendly-looking strangers.  Here is a link to short, printable poems in case you need some help finding one.

Share the happiness.  Here are some ideas from Poets.org for giving poetry a place on Poem in Your Pocket Day:

  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
  • Text a poem to friends

prize1Would you like to win what’s inside this pretty pink package?  It’s a project bag from Halcyarn Knitting Accessories.  All you need to do is enter the contest in the Yarns at Yin Hoo group on Ravelry by posting your shopping advice.  I’m traveling to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May and I’d like your suggestions for how to make use my shopping dollars.

Gratitude Journal

This week, I read “Thanks,” a poem by W. S. Merwin.  This poem is not new; however, I recently discovered it in my six-week poetry class with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you 

a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills