Thursday, January 31, 2008


I just finished spinning this lovely Blue-faced Leicester roving in colorway "Goldenrod" from Pigeonroof Studios. I actually can't believe that I managed to snatch this one up, Pigeonroof's rovings tend to sell minutes after they are listed...but I just happened across this one on a weekday and I guess I just got lucky! I used to avoid painted rovings because I really don't like the "barberpole effect," when you get a really dark color and a light color plyed's just too contrasting for me, I like a more subtle effect. But I have to say that Pigeonroof's colorways are pretty amazing, and the prevalence of white fibers in the roving made all the colors mute out a little bit, and I ended up with a beautiful subtly variegated yarn.

I almost gave up on this one too...I plied a few yards and did not like what I was getting...I thought I had spun too thickly, the yarn felt I just let it sit for a few days. That is unlike me because once I start plying I usually can't wait to get it done! Anyway, when I finally finished the plying, I was amazed at how it turned out. And once it was washed, it turned into a really soft and fluffy yarn, exactly what Blue-faced Leicester should be. The only bad thing is that now I'm hooked on Pigeonroof Studios, and I'll likely be among the crazy crowds snapping up rovings the minute they are listed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

handwoven huck towels

This is another project that should have been finished a long time ago...these towels were on my loom when we moved from Portland, Oregon to New Hampshire last summer. In fact, even before we moved from Portland, they had been on my loom long enough to collect a fairly thick layer of dust. That's pretty bad...graduate school has made me a very unproductive weaver, it seems!

They are done now though, and I really like how dainty and fine they are. They are woven in 4-shaft huck lace threading can make a variety of subtly different patterns. The threading is from Handwoven magazine January/February 2001. Below are two of the different patterns I made. I especially love the ladder hemstitching at the bottom of the towel on the right.

They are woven from a 70/30 cotton/linen blend yarn that I got from Webs years ago. They don't have this yarn anymore, but now they have a 50/50 cotton/linen blend that I would love to try. The more linen the better, in my opinion. Even the 30% linen in the yarn I used makes the huck pattern shine. The hems had to be hand finished, which took me about the length of two full movies to complete...but they look so much more elegant than if I had just been lazy and used the sewing machine. I have yet to keep any of my weaving projects for myself, so I am definitely keeping two of these towels...but the other two may become gifts one of these days.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

whole grain pancakes

Yesterday we had Mark Bittman's whole grain pancakes for breakfast, and they were really great! I love anything with separated eggs, and the beaten egg whites in this recipe really made the pancakes fluffy and light despite that they were all whole wheat and buckwheat flour, which would usually make for a dense pancake. I was really excited about the buckwheat too, since it is so high in fiber and iron. I used ground coriander and cinnamon according to the recipe, and they were very good with a slightly exotic time I might eliminate the coriander and use some vanilla extract for a more traditional pancake flavor. I also like the idea of adding some ground flaxseed to the mix. The recipe, as written, makes a LOT of pancakes...I was surprised because Adam and I are so serious about food that usually a recipe that is written to serve 4 serves the two of us quite nicely. I made 15 good-sized pancakes from this recipe and about half of those are now in the freezer. I'm not sure how they'll freeze, but it is worth a try!

Update: To satisfy my morning maple syrup craving, I just had some of the frozen buckwheat pancakes and they were great!! I thawed them in the microwave and then put them in the toaster oven...nothing frozen is as good as it is when it was fresh, but it is definitely worth freezing the leftovers of these pancakes!

Friday, January 25, 2008

poetry in stitches

This is a knitting project (sorry for the backlit photo!) that I completed years ago, but I haven't knit anything as involved and time-consuming I thought it was worth posting. The pattern is from Poetry in Stitches, an out-of-print knitting book, but I had to majorly rewrite the pattern because I knit this sweater with handspun yarn that was much thinner than what the pattern called for. The original pattern was on page 120 of the book, and had accents in black instead of brown, as well as "lice," a dot pattern, all over.

The yarn is handspun Blue-faced Leicester in natural and brown. The colored yarn is the same Blue-faced Leicester that I naturally dyed with fustic, osage orange, cochineal, madder, and indigo extracts. Looking back at the original picture of the sweater, it seems I managed to match the colors pretty well with my natural dyeing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

embossed leaves socks

I didn't intend for this to turn into an all-knitting blog, but I have another finished knitting project to post! The pattern is "Embossed leaves socks" designed by Mona Schmidt from the Winter 2005 Interweave Knits. Embarrassingly, I started these in 2005 when this magazine came out! I got about half of one sock knit and then they sat around for 2 years until I picked them up again. They are done in Koigu Premium Merino, as the pattern calls for. The leaf motif was easily memorized so knitting went quickly, and I'm happy with the results!

Also...yesterday there was a new post in The Ladybug Letters, a wonderful and eloquent collection of stories pertaining to farming and food. Their site is also great because of the hundreds of recipes for every vegetable imaginable!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

myriads of mushrooms

This weekend I knit and felted some mushrooms based on the free patterns designed by Kathryn Ivy. I used Patons Classic Wool, the yarn that the patterns were written for, because it was on sale at JoAnn fabrics! For the mushrooms on the right, I knit the large and small rounded caps with the tall and medium stems. After felting, I cut a notch in the cap of the large mushroom. For all the mushrooms, I affixed the cap to the stem using glue.

The red & white mushroom was also knitted as written in the pattern. I made the large flat cap and the medium stem. I needle-felted the white spots on the caps after felting using my scrap pieces of the white wool yarn. It took a while to figure out how to needle-felt a nice crisp dot (check out the spots on the red & white mushroom on the Kathryn Ivy website...they're amazing!), but eventually I came up with a method that worked for me. I just used a length of yarn, felted the end to the cap, then folded the yarn and felted again in the same spot. I repeated this folding once or twice more to create a more three-dimensional and saturated spot of white.

I really wanted to make morel mushrooms, because they are my favorite mushrooms to eat! I used the large and small bell-shaped cap patterns, and for the larger of the morels I made a stem that was the width of the medium stem, but the height of the tall stem. For the small mushroom, I made a stem that was the height of the medium stem, but I decreased the width by 3 stitches. Then I needle-felted patterns on the caps to mimic the folds and crevices on a real morel cap. I'm not sure I got the colors right, maybe the contrast between the caps and the needle-felted folds should have been less extreme, but I guess if you use your imagination they kind of look like morels!

These last mushrooms are my favorites. I decreased the diameter of the large flat cap to make smaller flat caps. I think the mushroom on the left has a diameter of 48 stitches, and the one on the right is 36 stitches. I also made the stems much narrower (9 and 6 stitches around) but about as tall as the tall stem. Obviously stems this narrow (even felted ones) do not provide much support, so I knew the mushrooms would not stand up on their own. Adam made me this cool base for these mushrooms. He got a piece of wood...this piece happens to have the bark attached, and drilled two small holes in the wood block. Then he put lengths of wire (from a clothes hanger) into the holes and trimmed them to the correct height. We slipped the mushrooms onto the wires, and bent the wires into a pleasing mushroom configuration. I glued a piece of felt to the bottom of the wood to protect the surface where we placed these mushrooms.

These patterns are really great, and there are lots of great ways to subtly change the patterns to make nearly any kind of mushroom imaginable! I spent a lot of time looking through my mushroom field guide, trying to find ideas for different mushrooms to make. This was a really fun project!

Friday, January 18, 2008

saartje's booties

A lot of bloggers have featured these totally adorable baby booties from an online free pattern designed by Saartje Breit. Here is my version, which I knit for a friend's baby who was born just before Thanksgiving. I did not make any changes to the pattern...I made the larger of the two sizes and I used Bristol Yarn Gallery's Buckingham, which is 80% baby alpaca and 20% silk. I used size 2 needles, and I think my gauge was slightly smaller than the pattern specified, which is why I made the bigger size. I topped them off with four small shell buttons, and they were very well received. I sent the picture to my sister and she requested some in an adult's size! Somehow I don't think I'll be getting to that project anytime soon...

On another note, fifteen wild turkeys visited our backyard a couple days ago. They are actually pretty entertaining to watch and I love seeing all the turkey tracks in the snow. We got another couple inches of snow last night and I think I'm going to head out for a quick cross-country skiing break!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

a good egg

On Thursday mornings I work at Fat Rooster Farm in exchange for almost all the meat and eggs that we consume. Today I cleaned garlic and washed and packaged eggs that will be sold at the next winter farmer's market. Cleaning garlic is a dusty unpleasant chore, but I could wash and package eggs all day. I get to be creative when I put them in the cartons, and I have fun making all sorts of beautiful color arrangements: rows of brown alternating with rows of white, all brown with a single green egg, and my favorite of the day...a gradation of color starting with the darkest brown, then medium brown, then light brown, then ivory, then white. In the cartons I take home with me I usually just put an assortment of eggs: speckled, green, white, many shades of brown...and they are so beautiful, they make me smile nearly every morning when I open the carton!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

glowing hearth

Here is some yarn that I spun with some gorgeous batts I bought on etsy from loop. It is a blend of pumpkin-colored merino, burgundy alpaca, and gold bamboo fiber, and the bamboo just makes it glow! You can see all the colors better in the singles yarn before I plyed it:

It ended up being such a soft and luscious yarn, and I can't wait to knit with it. I've been wanting to make some fingerless gloves for a while now, and I think they'd be so luxurious in this yarn!

Monday, January 14, 2008


bûr'jəning : Putting forth new buds, leaves, or greenery; sprouting.

Naming a blog is hard. I mused over many names, trying to accomodate my various interests...and all were either already taken or vetoed by my husband, Adam. He was flipping through a Pablo Neruda book and blurted out the word "burgeonings." Embarrassingly, I had to look it up, but it really seemed fitting for a new blog starting in a new year.

I am a little behind the times, and hadn't even read a blog until a few months ago...but I figured I'd start this one as an assemblage of my projects, activities, and ramblings. We'll see where it goes!