Episode 11

yarnlogofinalThis episode includes segments titled: Yarn Lover at Large, Off the Shelf, and The Back Porch.





The Yarns at Yin Hoo website was hacked over the weekend.  The situation has now been corrected.  Thank you to everyone for your patience.  My site was one of many that were compromised and my server, Machighway, has restored regular service.

icelandYarn Lover at Large

My first trip to Rhinebeck for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival was everything I expected and more.  A sunny October day with a light breeze would be a treat all on its own; but paired with the festivities at Duchess County Fairgrounds, it was dazzling. The place was swarming with my kind of people: artsy, funky, eclectic free spirits — all with huge grins on their faces because seriously, there was nothing to do but walk around happily, among other people walking around happily. When I returned home, I was completely exhausted by my whirlwind of a day, but inspired and encouraged too.  I had little conversations throughout the day with knitters and fiber lovers from all over the world.  In the photo above, I’ve just met four women from Iceland who were questioning me about the welts in my Batad.

Videocaster Malia (rhymeswithmaria) calls Rhinebeck “knitter prom.”  It’s a see and be seen kind of event.  If you’ve ever felt that your knitwear is under-appreciated or even unnoticed, you need to go to Rhinebeck.  My Batad by Stephen West was perfect for the crisp weather.  I was warm when I walked around outside, and comfortable inside the buildings.  The striking architectural design attracted attention and lots of questions.  Best of all, I felt proud of myself for following through on intentional spinning and a challenging pattern with several new techniques.

I stuck with my shopping plan: buttons, new to me fiber, new to me yarn.  If I get to attend Rhinebeck again in the future, I will go even further and concentrate on vendors with which I’m totally unfamiliar.  This time, I did make purchases from a few vendors I knew about, but whose products I had not yet tried.  Purchases included: buttons from Melissa Jean, fiber in the honey to fig gradient from Fiber Optic, mill ends (bargain) sock yarn in Rare Gems from Socks that Rock, and worsted weight yarn in the color Bean from Creatively Dyed Yarn.  I’m attempting to complete all current projects so that I can get spinning and knitting with my new purchases.

sylviaOff the Shelf

I wasn’t thinking too much about a book tent with authors signing their work, but this aspect of the festival turned out to be one of the most rewarding.   I didn’t expect to be doing any Christmas shopping, either, but I left with two signed books that will be perfect for loved ones on my Xmas list.

Sylvia Jorrin is the author of Sylvia’s Farm. Soft-spoken and charming, with piercing eyes, she kindly chatted about her farm, her sheep and her writing process. She’s not very tech-savvy, and sends her handwritten pages off to a typist. So elegant and quaint, right?  Edith Wharton did the same thing.  Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times columnist, was  signing copies of his collection of essays / memoir titled The Rural Life.

trophy1On the Back Porch

The bus trip from Emmaus with Conversational Threads was a great opportunity to get a lot of knitting done.  I completed my 22 Little Clouds shawlette by Martina Behm.   This morning, exhilarated by my exposure to so many knitters, I completed the finishing work on Samuel’s Stringband.  It looks very handsome and it’s incredibly soft and warm.  Finally, I gave the porch a good cleaning, then sat outside for several hours and finished spinning my art batt from Beesybee Fibers. It yielded about 180 yards of lumpy-bumpy singles.  My plan with this yarn is to use it in a weaving project.

prizesTeacher Tribute Challenge

One of my shopping objectives at Rhinebeck was to find prizes for our contest, which ends on Halloween.

For entries to Episode #7 on the Yarns at Yin Hoo website: Batik notecards from Carol Law Conklin.

For entries on the contest thread on Ravelry: a charming little project bag from rock, flower, paper.

“Can you row?” the Sheep asked, handing Alice a pair of knitting needles.  “Yes . . . a little — but not on land — and not with needles,” Alice was beginning to say.     — Lewis Carroll

Episode 10

This episode features segments titled: Ever-expanding Skill Set and Yarn Lover at Large.

rain1Ever-expanding Skill Set

Over the Rainbow Chard: an ideal autumn dish, rich in all the nutrition of leafy greens, that can be served as a main course or side dish.  Try the recipe with rainbow chard, swiss chard, spinach or kale.

In a cast iron saucepan over high heat, sauté 1/8 cup diced dry cured meat until soft.  Add the chopped stems of a large bunch of swiss chard and sauté for about two minutes.  Add the chopped leaves of swiss chard, sauté for a few minutes and cover to wilt.  After five minutes, toss in 1/4 cup of finely diced golden raisins.

rain2In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.

Whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour and cook to make a roux.  Slowly add 1 cup of milk or cream and bring to a slow boil.  Allow mixture to boil for about 30 seconds, then add 1-2 ounces of goat’s milk feta and whisk to blend into the sauce. Combine cheese sauce and swiss chard mixture and pour into an oven-safe casserole dish.

Reheat the cast iron pan.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil and add 1-2 cups of bread crumbs.  Toss to coat crumbs and saute until toasty.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Top the casserole with bread crumb mixture.  Bake in a 350 oven for 20-25 minutes.

mitts2Yarn Lover at Large

My friend Kristy (wisdom wellness) and I did a bit of shopping at the Brass Lantern in Metuchen, NJ.  There we purchased some Noro yarn and dpns (double-pointed needles) to knit Clara Parkes’ Maine Morning Mitts.  It’s a great pattern for beginners, knits up nicely for gift giving, and goes very quickly as you watch the magic of Noro colors between your needles.  Mine were in progress at the time of recording, and now they’re finished.  Can’t wait to pick out my next colors for this pattern.  I’d like to experiment with different kinds of cast ons and bind offs, as well as different lengths from simple wristers to mitts that extend nearly to the elbow.

“Dare to love yourself / as if you were a rainbow / with gold at both ends.”

                                                          — Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

Episode 9

This week’s episode features the highlights of 36 hours spent in Vermont, plus an interview sure to boost your understanding of the term “post-apocalyptic skill set.”

36 Hours in Vermont

Our little road trip to the Green Mountains included several stops and lots of driving around to admire the fall foliage.  We tasted cheese and made some purchases at Plymouth Artisan Cheese.  I highly recommend the Hunter, which is aged two years.  In addition to cheese, the shop offers a variety of Vermont-made wines and beers, as well as maple syrup and other handmade souvenirs.  In the evening, we took a drive out to Ripton Community Coffeehouse to hear a Quebec-based group called Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The performers were enthusiastic young musicians who played fiddle in a variety of styles from traditional reels to classical pieces.  Several of the pieces featured French songs.  Coffee and delicious desserts were on sale.  Proceeds from the evening go to a local charity.  Finally, on our drive home, we stopped by the Dorset Farmer’s Market.  In a charming little valley, this market features locally-grown produce and handmade items.  A lovely little Sunday afternoon market.  Unfortunately, there had just been a downpour before we arrived, so many people were shopping in ankle-deep water.

stringbandOn the Needles

I took three projects on the trip, but worked only on two of them.  I’m nearly halfway through the striped garter stitch main portion of Stringband, a hat/cowl design by Stephen West.  And I’ve begun 22 Little Clouds, a narrow shawl by Martina Behm.  The Lavender & Sage color of Frolicking Feet DK is so pretty and makes knitting go quickly.

carrotsHomesteading: An Interview with Jessica

Much of the weekend was spent visiting with my sister and her partner on their homestead.  This year, for the first time, they plan to spend the winter on their farm, and there are many preparations necessary over the next few weeks.  Snow can come early to Vermont, and it’s not fun to be taken by surprise.  In this interview, Jessica discusses the natural beauty of Vermont, her philosophy on bee keeping, her recent harvest of root vegetables, and butter making.  In the top photograph, Jessica shows off some of her 18 ounce carrots.  In the lower photo, she poses next to tomatoes grown and canned on the farm.  Thoreau almost posed for his picture, but saw something interesting and darted away at the last moment.


“Bees are somewhere between insects and God.” — I don’t know who said it first, but Jessica quoted it in our interview.

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make longitudes and latitudes.” — Henry David Thoreau 

Episode 8

This week’s episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, Yarn Lover at Large, Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Front Porch, and Gratitude Journal.

batad4The Back Porch

My Batad is complete.  I’m calling it Acid & Autumn.  The colors are appropriate for this time of year when the leaves have started to turn many colors, yet some of them remain a bright, vibrant green.  New skills I acquired in completing this project are: spinning with intention, selecting colors for high contrast, knitting in short rows, forming welts, weighing yarn to determine if there’s enough remaining for a pattern repeat, and using an I-cord bind off. I was concerned that the colors would be difficult to photograph, but Samuel has captured them without any trouble.


Yarn Lover at Large

Last weekend I discovered the wonderful artists of Simpatico Fiber Collective when I attended the Highlands Festival at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey to watch Bovine Social Club perform.  Julianne and Rebecca were selling luxurious garments, accessories and yarn at very reasonable prices.  Even more interesting was their comfort in demonstrating their crafts and taking questions from everyone who wandered by. Pictured here is Julianne with a needle felting project and Rebecca spinning on her Louet.

goldenrodEver-expanding Skill Set

My naturally-dyed fiber is all dry and a pretty color yellow.  I am eager to begin spinning it.  The color is very difficult to photograph with accuracy.  When I eventually get around to putting it on my wheel, I would like to pair it with some naturally grey wool.

swatchThe Front Porch

Now on the needles is my first-ever project for Samuel, Stringband.  Yes, it’s another Stephen West design.  We selected alpaca from Strawberry Hill Alpacas.  It’s beautiful, but incredibly fine.  After doing the first swatch of my knitting career, I determined that I should hold the yarn double.  Working on the project has been a challenge in the evenings because I’m not used to such dark yarn.  I’m still a beginning knitter.

Don’t Forget to Enter the Teacher Tribute Challenge

To enter the contest, think of a meaningful teacher in your life.  It may be someone who taught you in a classroom, or someone from whom you learned in a less formal environment.  Write a letter to that teacher and mail it.  Finally, post a tribute to that teacher on the Ravelry thread, or leave a comment by clicking the reply link on Episode 7.  You have until October 31st to post your tribute in a comment or reply.  In early November, I will select two prize winners, one drawn at random from the comments on Episode 7 on my website, and one from the Ravelry thread. I’ll tell you more about the prizes and post photos once I purchase them. I have some priority prize shopping to do at Rhinebeck this year.  Ravelry members can also double-dip by posting on the Ewe University forum.

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”   –Henry David Thoreau

Episode 7


porchToday’s segments include contest details, Ever-expanding Skill Set, and A Little Bit of Learning.

Teacher Tribute Challenge

To enter the contest, think of a meaningful teacher in your life.  It may be someone who taught you in a classroom, or someone from whom you learned in a less formal environment.  Write a letter to that teacher and mail it.   Finally, post a tribute to that teacher by clicking the leave a reply button above to add a comment. You have until October 31st to enter.  A specially-made purchase at Rhinebeck will be awarded in a random prize drawing at the beginning of November.  This contest is a joint venture with Dr. Kelly of Ewe University.  Check out her podcast for additional ways to enter. Ravelry members can also enter by joining the Yarns at Yin Hoo group and posting to the contest thread.

fiberEver-expanding Skill Set

Today was Day 2 of dyeing fiber.  I selected about 100 grams of Shetland from Spinner’s End Farm and another 100 grams of Falkland from Feederbrook Farm.  I’d like to see if there’s any difference in how two fibers take on the same natural dye.  After enhancing the dye I made last week with the addition of more goldenrod flowers, I formulated a mordant for the fiber.  The word mordant comes from the French mordre, meaning “to bite.”  So, a mordant helps the fiber absorb the dye when you introduce it.

dyepotFollowing the directions on Echoes of a Dream blog, I used 40 grams of alum and 35 grams of cream of tartar for each 100 grams of fiber.  I dissolved each powder into boiling water and created a mordant “bath.” After simmering pre-soaked fiber in the mordant solution for about an hour, I gently smushed most of the liquid out of the fiber and introduced it to the dye.  The fiber simmered in its dye bath for about an hour.  Here it is, cooling in the dye pot.

A Little Bit of Learning

After mentioning metaphor briefly last week, in a discussion of Clara Parkes’ The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting, I decided to include a little more investigation of metaphor in this episode.  My resource is I Is an Other by James Geary.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  — G. K. Chesterton

Episode 6

 This episode features segments titled: A Little Bit of Learning, Off the Shelf, Yarn Lover at Large, and Ever-expanding Skill Set.

batad.5A Little Bit of Learning

The word welt comes to us from Middle English; the first known use was during the 15th century.  At first, the term was used to refer to a strip (of leather) sewn into other material as a technique for reinforcement.  Or, a tape or cord sewn into a seam.  Later, the definition expanded to refer to raised or swollen bumps on the skin or other surface.  Stephen West’s Batad capelet includes bands of garter stitch with welts in stockinette stitch.  The welts lend visual interest and texture to the garment, which is reminiscent of the rice terraces in the Ifugao region of the Phillipines. Though the welts in this pattern have been giving me fits, knitting them is teaching me how to read my knitting.

Off the Shelf

I’ve begun reading The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting by Clara Parkes.  In this memoir, Parkes makes extensive use of metaphor and builds connections between her life events and techniques in knitting.  She is the creator and editor of The Knitter’s Review, a free, weekly, online magazine that reviews everything from knitting needles to retreats.  Parkes’ writing is genuine and often beautiful.  She knows and knows how to draw the reader in to her very personal story.

9620976_origYarn Lover at Large

On Saturday, Samuel and I took an afternoon drive to Emmaus, PA, where we visited Conversational Threads, a yarn shop with great selection and a friendly staff.  Sue coached me as I selected a yarn for the Hitchhiker shawl and Cindy wound all of my purchases while we had a nice Thai lunch down the street.  I was pleased to meet some folks from the shop, as I will be joining them for the bus tour to Rhinebeck in October.  This will be my first time visiting the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, so podcast listeners will be hearing more about it in coming episodes.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

meezSweet & Spicy Skillet Stir Fry

Combine equal parts brown sugar, balsamic vinegar (or soy sauce), and chili sauce or chili paste.  Marinate pork chops or any other protein for at least 6 hours.

Prepare a variety of seasonal vegetables for sautéing.  Some excellent choices are sliced onions, corn kernels, bell peppers, broccoli, French cut string beans, and baby eggplant.

sauceChop a big bunch of kale and place in a large bowl.  Sauté the vegetables in a cast iron skillet or wok, using a small amount of olive oil or other fat, and a sprinkle of salt.  Work in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Empty sautéed vegetables into the bowl, on top of the kale.  Keep the bowl covered so that the kale wilts and vegetables stay warm.

Sear the pork chops on each side and cook through.  Remove to a plate.  Pour marinade into the pan and bring to a simmer.  Allow the sauce to thicken slightly, then pour (when very hot) over the sautéed vegetables and kale.  Toss to coat vegetables with a sweet and spicy sauce.

sweetandspicyServe pork and vegetables with a drizzle of remaining sauce and a side of rice pilaf.

For more information on improvisational cooking, check out The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider.

gold5Natural Dyeing with Goldenrod

After harvesting five bunches of goldenrod from a nearby field, I snipped off all the blossoms into a bowl.  After starting a hot fire in our Big Green Egg charcoal grill, I submerged the blossoms in one gallon of filtered water.  The mixture came to a boil – which took awhile – then simmered for about an hour.  I let the liquid cool completely before straining, which is supposed to help the dye intensify in color.  More on this next week, after I do a bit more research on mordants.

“Silence makes the real conversations between friends.  It’s not the saying, but the never needing to say that counts.”   — Margaret Lee Runbeck


a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills