Taproot Contributor :: Jennifer Casa, Vintage Made Modern

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Jennifer Casa’s new books is a beautiful collection of past and present. The projects in this book are inspiring. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself remembering favorite fabrics of your childhood and you’ll be craving time at your sewing machine!  In Vintage Made Modern, Jennifer shares 35 innovative projects to “transform time worn textiles into treasured heirlooms.”

Jennifer Casa’s love and appreciation for the history and untold stories of vintage fabrics really shines through these pages. With it’s beautiful photography and touching stories, I got lost in her book and found myself completely inspired. While reading through her chapters, I pulled out one of my grandmother’s quilts and viewed it again with a fresh perspective. Her attention to detail about working with (and care of) timeworn textiles shed light on true appreciation for not just the history but also the women who created these treasures from long ago.  Whether repairing or repurposing, the focus remains on each individual piece and how it speaks to you.

Jennifer’s book is a treasure. You’ll dream of repurposing unfinished patchwork quilts into dolls, hot pads or feed sack charm pendants.  Cutter quilts find a new life as pretty bangles, reusable hand warmers, no-sew wreaths, or a simple shoulder bag. Favorite vintage sheets and pillowcases will extend their life as they become twirly skirts, napkin hampers, and everyday tote bags. Quilt tops and kitchen textiles all have a place in our modern home. Jennifer provides us with the tools and knowledge to move forward with these projects.

Jennifer Casa is a maker of modern heirlooms.  Her Hauschen Doorstep pattern was featured in Taproot MEND (issue 11). She has written several books on sewing, vintage textiles, and crafting with kids. You can find her latest book, Vintage Made Modern, at Roost Books. She works with swoonworthy yarn and fabric stash in her studio in Northern Ohio where she lives with her husband and twin daughters.  Learn more about Jennifer at JCasa Handmade.


errata :: BREAD


Readers, we have a big oops to report and a sincere apology to issue today! On page 48 of our latest issue, BREAD, we posted an incorrect image demonstrating knife carving. The first image on that page (see above) was intended to illustrate how NOT to carve, but was not captioned by us appropriately. As Chris Knapp so perfectly describes in his article, if you ask the question “where’s it going when it slips away?” you’ll see that the knife is headed right for Chris’ fingers in that photograph. No, no, no!

An excerpt from his article:

This is the only question the carver must ask: “Where is the knife going when it goes beyond where I intended?” I tell them the question, then illustrate it with a little game. I say, “You tell me where this knife is going when it slips away.” Then I hold the knife on a piece of wood as though I were about to start carving. First, I hold it over my leg. “Where is it going?” Then I hold it next to my foot. “Where is it going?” Then I place my hand on the wrong side of the piece of wood so that the knife is going toward the hand. “Where is it going?” Then I hold the wood very near whoever is sitting next to me. “Where is it going?” The kids see the pattern right away, it is easy to answer these questions!

Then I hold the wood so that the knife will slip away into open air. “Where is it going?”

“Into the air!” they shout. It is that simple!

To complicate the matter a tad there are very good and useful carving techniques that involve holding the blade vertically and carving toward one’s chest. That is why the rule is not the proverbial always carve away from yourself! Instead of a rule I offer a question that demands attention from the intellect of the carver, “Where is my knife going when it slips away?”



All the other images in the carving article are safe and appropriate! And here are a few more (above) for visual reference. We hope that clears things up and again apologize to Chris and all of you for the error.


P.S. Don’t forget to check out our recently produced video, featuring Chris teaching us how to properly sharpen our knives, with plenty of great carving shots as well!

Come See What’s in Store: Taproot Holiday Pop Up Shop Now Open

The day has finally arrived and the Taproot Holiday Pop Up Shop is officially open!

We’re proud of the selection of hand-picked, handmade and artisanal goods that we have brought together and hope that, regardless of whether you choose to buy, you’ll take a look at each maker’s story highlighted on their product’s page. They are all interesting and talented people creating things of beauty and quality. Remember, supplies are limited and we won’t be restocking, so shop early for best selection.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

Clockwise from Top Left: Over the Knee Socks, Acorn Cap Candles, Family Healing Kit, Veggie Plate Trio

Clockwise from Top Left: 4 Seasons Tea Towels, Salt Water Taffy, Wool Journal, Bud Vases

We’ve also been busy creating a whole new line of Taproot Goods, our own unique items that we’ll have in the shop most all the time (unlike Pop Up items which, when they’re gone, they’re gone). We’re excited to show you what we’ve been cooking up.

Clockwise from Left: Support Local Farmers T-Shirt with an exclusive-to-Taproot Phoebe Wahl illustration; Taproot Recipe Cards featuring our favorites from all 12 issues plus blank cards to add your own, all in a box made of reclaimed barn board from Vermont dairy barns; Phoebe Wahl’s Feminism is Freedom slogan adorns an organic cotton tee; set of lined and unlined journals.

Clockwise from Left: Growth Chart featuring Phoebe Wahl illustration measures children up to 67″; Farm Family Paper Dolls; Taproot Mason Jar with Cuppow lid; set of mini-prints of 2014 Taproot Cover art.

We still have 2015 Phoebe Wahl Calendars as well, but they’re going fast. We sold out of them last year, so don’t miss your chance to pick one up!

2015calendarlifestyle-4Hopefully you can find something in the Pop Up items or Taproot Goods that will tickle someone’s (perhaps your own!) fancy this season. Regardless, I hope that your coming days are filled with plenty of opportunities to connect with friends, family and community.

Keep in touch,


in thanks

Whether you are preparing to celebrate the US Thanksgiving holiday or not, we wanted to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ – for your support as subscribers, readers, and encouragers of the work we are doing here at Taproot. 

And since some of us might soon find ourselves with a pile of turkey leftovers, we thought we’d share with you this favorite recipe of ours from the archives. This salad, by Ashley English and photographed by Rikki Snyder, first appeared in Issue 7::GATHER. It’s become a favorite in the home of many of us on the Taproot team, and we can assure you that while it was written for chicken, it translates beautifully to turkey. It might even be better with turkey! So perhaps on Friday, or this weekend, you’ll find yourself enjoying it as well.

Best wishes to you and yours! 

~Amanda, Jason, Ted, Meredith, Jessie, Jess, and Veronica.


Candied Pecan and Sage Chicken Salad


the meat from one roasted chicken

1 cup crushed pecans

about 3 dozen fresh sage leaves

⅓ cup dried cranberries and/or raisins

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon sea salt

several grinds black pepper



Chop the chicken meat into small pieces; set aside in a
medium-sized mixing bowl.

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over
medium-low heat until melted.

Add the sage leaves; cook for about 2 minutes until they are slightly crispy. Remove the sage leaves from the pan with a fork, and mince them on a cutting board. Set aside.

Put the crushed pecans in the remaining butter in the pan, and stir for about 2 minutes, coating the nuts completely.

Add the maple syrup, and cook for another minute or two until the syrup starts to thicken a bit. Remove the nuts from the pan, and add them to the mixing bowl.

Combine all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl, and stir well. Serve immediately or refrigerate and consume within 2 days.



Greetings Reader!

Do you, like me, feel an anticipation of the coming season? I don’t mean just because we’re already hearing holiday music in the stores (and have been since Halloween!?), but because, regardless of our irritation with what seems to be an ever-earlier commercial onslaught, something real and meaningful does occur this time of year.

Families and friends come together, catch up and reconnect. Frequently, they also share a meal together: they break bread. Which is, of course, what I’m inviting you to do, metaphorically speaking, when you go with me on this virtual tour of the Taproot ISSUE 12::BREAD.

Should what you see tickle your fancy, I’d be really pleased if you’d take the time to subscribe (and get the swell subscriber bonus of mini-prints of our 2014 covers by Geninne Zlatkis). I’d hurry, though, because the number of copies we have with them included is limited.

issue12-1-2Subscriber Bonus of mini-prints of 2014 Cover Art by Geninne Zlatkis.

As you might expect from a BREAD-themed issue, there are plenty of recipes for bread, gluten-free and gluten-rich, yeasted and sourdough. There’s even an article on building your own cob oven. Let’s take a look.


Regular contributor Phoebe Wahl has shared both the art of watercolor and the art of baking in this issue, hand-illustrating her family’s simple bread recipe. As we were putting the magazine together, naturally we had to try it out. It’s so easy to make and vary each time with sweet or savory additions, it’s become one of our family favorites as well.


For the gluten-free gang (celiacs like the author, or those experimenting with their diet), the article by new contributor Tara Barker will show you that the term Gluten-Free Sourdough isn’t oxymoronic, it’s tasty. You’ll want to be sure to try out her bagels and flatbread regardless of your tolerance of that pesky protein.


While this issue is chock full of still more recipes and ruminations on bread, we do veer off to take some time with Chris Knapp (interviewed in ISSUE 5::DREAM) to learn about carving wood. To make wood-carving a joy, you need a sharp knife, so we produced our very first video so you can learn how to do it properly. Take a look.

There’s so much more inside (Even I’m still getting used to 96 pages of ad-free content!), it’d probably best to just head over to taprootmag.com now and take a look at ISSUE 12.


Of course, it wouldn’t be a new issue without a new signed print in the Print Shop. In this issue we have one of Phoebe Wahl’s family scenes depicted in Bakers (I love the father’s bare feet and the flour underneath his helper!). Reproduced in its vibrant glory in an archival format, it’s signed by the author herself, ready to be framed and hung wherever you need bread baking inspiration.


ISSUE 12 marks the end of our third year, so we have a new collection to offer, one that includes all 12 issues published to date, our Year 1, 2 + 3 Collection. It can be a perfect gift for anyone on your list (including yourself). If you order that (and subscribe), be sure to choose to start your subscription with ISSUE 13::SONG coming March 2015.

We’d like to take a moment to thank Geninne Zlatkis, our 2014 cover artist for the amazing work she did for us this year. If you would like additional copies of the mini-prints to share with friends or family, they’re also available in the shop.

That leaves us with one other bit of business to cover, the announcement of our 2015 cover artist. After gracing the interior of Taproot for all of our issues, Phoebe Wahl moves to the front. Look for her inimitable playful and whimsical art on the covers of SONG, WILD, FOLK and SHELTER. If your subscription is up, take the time to renew now. You won’t want to miss a single issue!

As ever, I thank you kindly for your support,


Announcing our 2015 Taproot Calendar


Greetings Reader!

I don’t know about you, but for me it sure feels like 2014 has gone by wicked fast. I know there’s still better than two months to go, but if your household is anything like mine, the holidays are the most breakneck, flat out time of any year. I’m not complaining either; this has been a good year (so far) for all of us here and I hope for you as well. 

All of which to say, it’s time to start thinking about the turn of the calendar. Well, friend, we’ve got you covered. The new Taproot Calendar with art by Phoebe Wahl is available and ready to purchase. Unlike last year (when we sold out in a matter of days), we’ve done our best to make sure there’s enough stock to go around, but I still wouldn’t dillydally about picking up one for yourself or giving one to a friend; supplies are limited.

As well received as last year’s was, we think this one is even better. Better paper, better printing and (saving the best for last) seven never-before-seen new pictures from Phoebe Wahl. I could go on and on in words, but why don’t I show you around instead?





Also new to the shop is the Taproot Tote Bag that visitors to our booth at the Common Ground Country Fair really loved. What’s not to love? It’s organic, made in the USA and sports art from Phoebe Wahl. Take a look at the pic. We hope you like it.


These are just two of the new offerings you can expect from us this fall and winter, in addition, of course to your copy of BREAD in late November (you have subscribed or renewed, haven’t you?), so be sure to keep in touch by watching our website or following us on Ramblings (our blog), Instagram or Facebook. We want you to be the first to know.

Also, remember that we want to hear from you more (wherever you prefer to post). Writers of Letters to the Editor whose missives (or short notes) are published will receive a free one year subscription or subscription extension.

Wishing you a colorful Autumn,

P.S. Your continued (or new) financial support in the form of a subscription or renewal allows us to continue our work. If you know of a friend who would enjoy Taproot, please consider sending them a gift subscription. We’ll even send a handwritten gift card to your friend free of charge (sorry, U.S. only) announcing your purchase before the arrival of their first issue.

THANK YOU for supporting Taproot, an ad-free, independent voice committed to seeking out the stories that connect us all.

errata :: Barn Sweater (from Issue 11::MEND)


Some errata has been found with our Barn Sweater knitting pattern, featured in Issue 11::MEND. Under the raglan shaping, it should read:

Next row inc row: (RS) *Work to 2 sts before raglan marker, p1-f/b, p1, slip m, p1, p1-f/b; rep from * 3 more times, work to end as est (8 sts inc’d)—84 (88, 96, 96, 104, 112, 120) sts.
Work 1 WS row even as est, keeping band sts in garter st and all other sts in Rev St st.
Repeat the last 2 rows 18 (19, 21, 24, 26, 27, 29) more times; and at the same time, when yoke measures approx 1″ (approx 6″ from cast on edge), ending after a WS row.

(The numbers in bold were omitted from the printed pattern.)

We apologize for any inconvenience!


Taproot at the Fair


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We are all settling back into our respective homes after a wonderful long weekend spent at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine. This is Taproot’s third year at the fair, and it just keeps getting better. Meeting new folks, conversing with familiar faces, and talking about all the things we share in common, and what we hope for the future of our little publication. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello to us in the booth! You made our time there so lovely.

(We were happy that our new Taproot Totebags arrived just in time to bring to the fair – those are in the shop now if you’re interested!)

We’re already looking forward to next year at the fair – it’s always a welcome harbinger of the autumn season, and a perfect moment to pause and reflect with likeminded folk. As a magazine, we always feel encouraged and inspired with new ideas by these real-life meetings, and would love to have more of them! As we think about next year’s plans, we wonder if there is a fair or gathering in your neck of the woods that you think we should attend? Do let us know – we’d love to meet you!


on the way to the fair




What a beautiful summer we’ve had here in New England! It’s so hard to believe that September is here, but there is no surer sign of that being true than the country fair. It’s time now for our annual pilgrimage to Unity, Maine for the Common Ground Country Fair! We’ll be there all weekend, in the Taproot booth located in the Media area (hint: right across from the lamb kabobs!). If you’re there this weekend, do stop by to say hello – we’d love to see you! And if you’d like to follow along with us from afar for the weekend, follow us on Instagram at @taprootmag.

Cheers to Autumn!

~amanda (and Meredith, Jason, Veronica and Phoebe)

ISSUE 11::MEND Now Available


I don’t know if you’re feeling it where you live, but here in Vermont and other points Northeast, it’s clear that summer is losing steam and fall is more than willing to pick up the slack. This morning over breakfast I tried to deny it was happening, deny that I’d seen brown or red leaves on the ground or noticed the quickly shortening days. The family consensus was that I had lived in Vermont too long to act so silly.

I suppose then that it’s time to pull my head out of the sand and prep for fall: That means putting away the tools that have been left in the field waiting for the completion of some now-forgotten task, gathering up the last of the tomatoes to can into sauce and paste, harvesting potatoes to cure now that the basement is cool enough and stacking wood that should have been in neat rows out on the deck three months ago.

Not to be forgotten, in this lull between summer and winter, are tidying and straightening, considering and remembering, readying and mending; in other words, the perfect time to cozy up with a cup of tea and take in the latest issue of Taproot Magazine: ISSUE 11::MEND.

Since, if you’re a subscriber it’s on the way, and if you’re not, you’ll need to subscribe to receive a copy, let’s take a moment and look inside.


Regular contributor Schirin Oeding starts off MEND with a thoughtful piece challenging us to work to mend the Earth, even in spite of the possibilities for doubt and cynicism that could leave us stymied. As she says in the close of her piece, “Start where you are. Don’t wait. “

Next comes a lively piece of reportage from Julia Shipley (composed in her effervescent style) about poet W.S. Merwin’s efforts to plant a tree a day for almost forty years, returning a former pineapple plantation to a grove of native trees in Hawaii. Rounding out the Head section are essays on reconsidering our relationship to clothing, learning from failure and the value of meditation.


As ever, the Hands section of this issue is filled with great ideas for things to make and do, so with the theme of MEND, we’d be remiss if there wasn’t a tutorial on clothes-patching. We’ve one from new contributor Em Falconbridge who exchanges the humdrum with clever ideas for making extraordinarily pleasing patches.


I know some knitters who don’t mind wool draping over their legs during the hot summer months (I’m looking at you, Amanda), but I for one can’t do it. That’s why I’m excited about the prospect of getting my needles out and warmed up to take on this charming Barn Sweater pattern from Carrie Bostick Hoge.


Erin Benzakein returns to Taproot with a terrific and timely piece that will inspire you to plan (and plant) so you can harvest beautiful bouquets in the spring. She makes it seem easy and the glorious photos are so inspiring, you’ll want to find a spot where you can poke at least a few bulbs into the soil.


Also returning is Steve Soule with an essay in the Heart section accompanied by a lovely piece of art by Jenn Judd-McGee. Documenting his difficulties with the social attitudes and life-struggles of the Ingalls family while reading the Little House books to his children, he is able to recognize and appreciate the progress we as a culture have made. (Though recent events clearly underscore that we have not come far enough!)


In other MEND news, we’re pleased to offer two new signed prints from this issue, Feeding Time by Phoebe Wahl (left) and Let in the World by Slavka Kolesar (right).

Speaking of Phoebe Wahl, don’t miss out on an opportunity to meet her if you’re in the neighborhood of the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine September 19-21. As we have the last couple of years, we’ll have a booth in the Media area. Please come by and say hello!

One other small point of interest before I sign off is to let you know that we want to hear from you more. Starting with ISSUE 12::BREAD, writers of Letters to the Editor whose missives (or short notes) are published will receive a free one year subscription or subscription extension.