and so begins the month of soup

After a particularly delicious bowl of potato leek soup Alex #2 suggested we try a month of only eating soups when we cook at home (which is 5 or 6 nights a week). I'm a fan of soup and with fall settling in it's the perfect time to get cozy with a bowl and some home baked bread. I've wanted a bread machine for a while now and the month of soup is finally the right time to get one. Unfortunately last Thursday when we were near a Bed, Bath and Beyond with our 20% off coupon we ran out of time due to dinner with friends and knit night, so tonights bread will be baked in the oven. The bread machine will be acquired tomorrow on our way to a game day with friends.

On the menu tonight is Pigeon Pea Soup and Coconut Bread. Pigeon pea soup is a Spanish/Portuguese soup that is full of peppers, sweet and hot, as well as cilantro, butternut squash, and plantains. Because I'm a vegetarian I've substituted the meat and broth with veggie friendly alternatives. I don't buy stock in cans, but instead use my favorite type of vegetable bouillon- Knorr.

It took a little bit of time to chop all of the veggies for the soup, especially chopping up the butternut squash. It's a bit of a pain taking the skin off of it, but I'd prefer that to buying it already chopped up at Wegmans- we have enough of a disconnect with our food sources for squash to come wrapped in plastic. I also had to let the beans soak to soften them up before cooking.

The bread was easy enough to mix together. I did run into a snag though, in that my boyfriend doesn't own a loaf pan and all of my kitchen stuff is in storage. I baked the bread in the pyrex pan i use for cornbread, so it may bake differently.


The flavors meld well together, with the cilantro and "sausage" being the predominant flavors. There's a hint of spiciness from the jalapeno. Alex #2 really liked that the dried beans weren't mushy like canned ones can sometimes be and I really liked that the soup tasted fresh and full of vegetables. The sweetness of the coconut bread went really well with the spiciness of the soup, and not having a loaf pan wasn't a problem when baking it. I'd definitely make this soup again, but won't have to for a while because I made enough to freeze (another benefit of an all soup diet).


a lombard street knit along and contest

I present to you the Lombard Street Shawl.

Back in May when I was in Guatemala I came up with the sketch for the Lombard Street shawl. The main stitch used in the pattern was what inspired the design. I liked the idea of rick-rack ridges radiating out from the center spine of the shawl. I also liked the change from a solid purl background to a lacy mesh one, accentuating its triangular shape. It wasn't until I won beautiful hand dyed yarn from Dirty Water DyeWorks participating in the Couldn't Foot It sock knitting contest that the design came to fruition. I was so happy with the yarn that I contacted Stephanie, the owner of Dirty Water DyeWorks to see if she'd do an interview. She said yes!

Paula in Violet

WK: Tell me a little about yourself.

DW: My name is Stephanie, and I’m the force behind Dirty Water DyeWorks. I live in the Boston area with my husband and crazy kids. I’ve worn many hats over the years, but for the past several years indie dyer is the one that fits best.

WK: How did you get started with dyeing yarn?

DW: Many years ago I started dyeing fabric and clothing - everything from towels to t-shirts to underwear. I’m an avid knitter so the leap to dyeing yarn and fiber wasn’t too difficult.

WK: What’s your favorite part of the dyeing process?

DW: One of my favorite parts of the whole process is the unintended surprises that come along - an unexpected color combination that turns out to be truly delightful.

WK: What inspires your colors?

DW: Life inspires my colors. Living in New England I see a broad range of colors from season to season. But I also find inspiration outside of nature - an amusement park, an art museum, the skating rink, the library. Life is color.

WK: What’s your favorite fiber to work with?

DW: I work mainly with animal fibers, and I do love them all. My current favorites are BFL and Polwarth with a bit of silk.

WK: Your yarn lines are all named for strong, independent women in your family. How did they influence your life to take you in the indie dyer direction?

DW: The women in my family were strong. Times were tough, but they kept going. A few of them never married - not so common back in the day - yet they lived very successful, fulfilling lives. Their determination, independence and positive attitudes inspire me.

WK: What’s the hardest part about running your own business?

DW: One of the biggest challenges of running your own business is juggling many balls - from production to paperwork to promotion. Being able to set priorities is key.

WK: What advice would you give someone who might want to try dyeing their own yarn?

DW: If you have the slightest inclination to try dyeing, go for it. Try it with a friend. You can start simple with kool aid and take it from there. Dyeing will open your eyes to the world of color.

WK: What’s your coolest travel experience? Is there is a place in the world our readers can’t miss?

DW: I love traveling to more remote areas. The coast of Maine, especially Downeast near the Canadian border, is one of my favorites. Also Taos, New Mexico is a special place for me. It’s the exact opposite of coastal Maine. It’s hard to describe northern New Mexico - it’s something that has to be experienced. Taos attracts many artists. The lighting and colors are truly enchanting. And they also have a wonderful sheep and wool festival in October.

WK: Where can we connect with you online?

DW: I have an online shop, DirtyWater Dyeworks. You can also follow me on my blog and on Twitter @DWDyeWorks.

I'd like to thank Stephanie for taking the time to be interviewed. Also, Stephanie has graciously volunteered to give free US shipping (a savings of $6.00) to readers who participate in the Lombard Street Knit Along.

To Participate in the Lombard Street Knit Along

You can find the Lombard Street Pattern here. From now until the knit along ends you can get the pattern at 50% off ($2.50) using the code: LOMBARDKAL50 when you check out on ravelry. When you purchase the pattern you will receive an e-mail with the coupon code for free US shipping from Stephanie at Dirty Water DyeWorks.

To sign up and be eligible for the contest:

  • Post here to let me know you are participating.
  • Add the Lombard Street Shawl to your Ravelry projects page
  • Post a photo of your FO in the Lombard Street Knit Along thread and on your Ravelry projects page.

All FO pictures must be posted by 11:59 pacific time on Sunday, December 4, 2011.


Prizes will be awarded using a random number generator from everyone who completes the three bullets above. Unfortunately because of shipping costs only people who live within the US and Canada are eligible to win.

Grand Prize (1 winner): A sheepy notions bag in the color of your choice, a pack of good intentions knit cards, and a free download of my next shawl, Via Havarre

First Prize (1 winner): A skein of Olmue, the yarn used in Via Havarre, a pack of good intentions knit cards, and a free download of Via Havarre 

Second Prize (4 winners): A free download of Via Havarre and one other worldknits pattern of your choice. 

the sheepy notions bag
good intentions knit cards
a skein of olmue


in search of the perfect potato

Shortly after we returned from our trip to Aspen, Alex asked me if I'd be interested in taking another hiking trip to Idaho at the end of the summer. I thought it was a bit out of left field, but when it comes to travel I'm always game. So in early September we packed our bags and flew west.

Our trip started at the Boise airport where we picked up our rental car. Heading east we drove about 3 hours to our first destination- Craters of the Moon National Monument. An ancient volcanic hotbed, COTM is a vast area (618 square miles) full of ancient lava flows, cones, and lava tube caves, which you can explore on your own with a permit from the ranger station. We explored the massive lava fields, climbed up the cones and Alex explored a tube cave (you needed to crawl around on your stomach to get through part of it with the only light coming from your headlamp- I was too chicken). It was cool to think of the people who had been there before- the Shoshone Indian Tribe, Lewis and Clark in 1805, pioneers of the Oregon Trail in the 1860s, and the Apollo 14 astronauts in 1969 training for sample collection for a future moon landing. The park is definitely worth visiting if you find yourself in southern Idaho.

craters of the moon national monument

into the lava tube cave
After spending a few hours at COTM we got back in the car and headed north-west to Ketchum in the Sun Valley where we would stay the night. We ate an amazing dinner at the Pioneer Salon. I wish I had gotten a picture of the "Jim Spud" I had for dinner. It was the best baked potato I've ever eaten- an enormous, perfectly cooked potato stuffed with caramelized onions, butter, cheese, sour cream, and for the meat eaters, prime rib. Thinking about it now makes me hungry.

The next morning we woke up early to drive to the start of our 18 mile hike in the Sawtooth Wilderness. Our hike began at Pettit Lake, a crystal clear alpine lake surrounded by serrated mountain peaks. The 18 mile loop took us from Pettit Lake past Farley Lake to Toxaway Lake, where we camped the first night. There weren't too many people on the trail, maybe 10 over the whole 2 days, which meant that the trail was nice and quiet. We didn't see any wildlife, aside from squirrels and rock mice, but plenty of footprints and scat. The trail was well maintained and the views were beautiful. We hit an afternoon thunderstorm, which was a great time to take shelter and grab some lunch. We hike with a jetboil and backpackers pantry dehydrated food. For lunch we had an Asian pasta dish, what we didn't have was silverware (oops!). All of our meals would have to be eaten with fingers. I guess it was just an opportunity to build our immune systems.

the drive to the trail head

We set up our tent on a rock plateau overlooking Toxaway Lake, a mile long lake surrounded by mountains. It was so beautiful and clean and quiet. We explored a little bit and spent some time at the lake shore watching fish jump. I was happy we picked up bug spray because around dusk the mosquitoes started to emerge. That night I saw my first ever moon rise. Our hike coincided with the full moon and we watched as the it broke between the cleft of two mountains and rose high into the sky.

Toxaway Lake

quiet, scenic trails
camping on Toxaway

Toxaway Lake

the moon rise

The next morning we packed up our camp site, refilled our water bottles and made our way to Snowyside pass. The trail brings you around the lake and up a mountain where you have great views of the lake and surrounding area. After about hiking for 2 miles we arrived at the pass at the same time we started to hear thunder. I was pretty terrified- we were totally exposed, above the tree line. We stopped for only a few minutes to admire the view of the Twin Lakes on the other side of the pass. The clouds above were menacing and the loud thunder chased me down the mountain as we ran the trail. We made it to the bottom safe and sound and dry- it never actually rained on us.

the view from the top of Snowyside pass

the trail from Snowyside to Twin Lakes

A short walk later we arrived at Alice Lake around 1 pm. We broke for lunch and a rest from the running. We had originally planned on camping here, but what would we do for the rest of the day? So we decided to hike the remaining 7 miles after lunch. The hike was pretty gentle, mostly downhill, but you did have to cross lots of rock fields. The last bit of the trail meandered through forests and fields, crossing a creek numerous times. We arrived back at Pettit Lake around 6:30 and decided to camp along the banks of the lake, about 1/4 mile from the car. The gentle lapping of the water put me right to sleep after dinner.

Alice Lake

The next day we drove further north to our next stop- Redfish Lake Lodge. Our accommodations were simple but clean and we had hot water! After a shower we ventured out to the marina where you could rent all kinds of boats. We took a paddle boat out on the water to explore the lake. I think if we wanted to go any great distance a canoe or kayak would've been a better choice. When we returned to the dock Alex went for a swim. The afternoon was filled with knitting and reading. We enjoyed potato nachos and a beer in the lodge's bar for happy hour. The potato nachos were amazing- coins of fried potatoes covered with cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, tomatoes, and wing sauce. So good. For dinner we had rainbow trout and asparagus.

staying at Redfish Lake Lodge

the marina

Our last day in Idaho we drove back to Boise stopping at some hot springs right on the byway. The drive was very scenic, nearly all of it through national forest land. When we got back to Boise we checked into our hotel and then checked out local knitting shops. Fuzz was the closest to my hotel. The woman who owned it was really nice and the selection was pretty good, lots of Manos del Uruguay and they had a ton of things for embroiderers. The second yarn shop I went to was called the Yarn Shoppe. It was a bit of a drive, but totally worth it. Imagine a yarn shop that stocked like every brand of yarn in a million colorways. This is that shop. I came home with four skeins of fingering weight yarn that will one day become shawls. Two of the skeins were hand dyed by The Sassy Sheep and Mountain Colors.

the hot springs
For dinner we went to Boise Fry Company. You get to choose your potato (russet, gold, white, sweet, yam, purple, okinawa) and your fry style (regular, homestyle, shoestring, curly, po' balls). They had a salt and sauce bar. Because we got there at the right time, happy hour, our fries were buy one get one free. The fries were really, really good. I have to say Idaho knows how to cook a potato.

After dinner we went for a walk around the capital. Alex asked me if I wanted to check out one more knitting store but I said I was too tired. He insisted and we walked to a place called the Knitting Factory, not a knitting store at all, but a concert venue. He said, "Let's look who's playing." We walked over to the poster and saw that my blast from the past was on the bill- Bush! Surprise, this is why we were in Idaho. Alex had seen that Bush, my favorite band from my high school years, was playing at the Knitting Factory, a smaller, more intimate venue than the one they would later announce in DC and got us tickets. The concert was amazing. I stood one row back from the stage and rocked the night away. The concert was like a best of show with a couple of songs from their new album. It was an awesome night.

with Lewis and Clark at the statehouse

The next morning we went to the airport and caught our flight home. I had such a fun time. One thing I forgot to mention is the cell reception, or lack there of in the areas outside of Boise. Don't plan on being in communication with anyone. Sometimes a forced break from e-mail, twitter, and facebook can be nice though. I'm looking forward to our next hiking trip- the Inca Trail in Peru May 2012.

alex and alex setting forth


a late summer hiatus

on our way to the lake house that's only accessible by water

One of the perks of being my own boss is that I don't have to ask for time off to travel. Summer is the time I usually travel within the United States and this summer I was lucky enough to visit my dad and brother in Aspen, meet my boyfriend's family in NH, and get surprised with a blast from the past on a camping trip to Idaho.

I've only been to New Hampshire once before, during the frigid winter. I must say, I prefer a NH summer. After flying into Boston and meeting Alex's parents, who were wonderful, we drove to Lake Winnipesaukee, where we stayed with his aunt and uncle at their lake house. The lake is beautiful, calm, and relaxing. We spent the week playing games, cards, and dice with Alex's extended family- aunts, uncles, cousins- it was so much fun.

Alex and I are really into hiking at the moment and New Hampshire didn't disappoint. On our first hike, we went to a trail near the lake. After an hour or so hiking up we reached the top to see a full view of Winnipesaukee.

the view from the top

One of my favorite parts of this hike were the wild blueberries that grew along the trail. We stopped and snacked on the way up. Next year if we get up there earlier, when the blueberries are at their peak, we can pick some to pack home with us.

wild blueberries
Our second hike was an all day event up Mt. Jefferson in the White Mountains. Climbing 2,700 feet to the top was a challenge. Unlike trails on the west coast that have switch backs, Mt. Jefferson was pretty much straight up with plenty of exposed rock scrambles and a dramatic weather change as you reached the first ridge. We summited (total elev. 5712 feet) in thick fog, strong winds and a freezing temperature. After grabbing a quick bite we started our descent on the opposite side of the mountain down the Castle Trail. I was thankful when we reached the tree line so that the biting wind was no longer blowing right through me. When we finally reached the end of the circuit we piled into the car and stopped at a brewery on the way home to grab dinner and ice cold beers.

the foggy view from the top, wishing i had some wool with me

we didn't see this sign until the way down. the weather was indeed scary at the top

One of the other exciting things I got to do was visit the Patternworks Store. They had a lovely collection of yarn and the store was set up beautifully.

Next week I'll share about my trip to Idaho and a really nice surprise that I received while there.
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