twinset.us

Twins bound by a love of knitting talk about knitting and more.

Knittin’, Bitten…

Dear Jan,

I believe I promised photos of the repair work I did on my Cowl for George Bailey (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Pretty Thing, knit of handspun (mine!) bison, though not by the light of the moon).   Here they are.  Brace yourself.

First the damage.  A cat knocked the cowl to the floor, and a dog had a play with it for all of maybe 7 seconds.

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First thing I did was to delineate the damage - basting lines of slick cotton thread to show where in the lace panel the teeth of that saucy dog had cut, and the same thread to trace an undamaged row above the gaping hole.  It would have been impossible to follow the path of the lace without that pink guideline.

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Happily, the damage was limited to one repeat of the lace motif - I could actually knit a piece to graft right in to the body of the cowl.  I cast on at the bottom - it just seemed too complicated to try to graft top and bottom - and I knit across each row leaving a long tail on either end.

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Then came a bit of crazy - I grafted the top of that replacement bit to the top of the opening….

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…and duplicate stitched the ends into the abutting portions of the cowl.  Here we see it with the right side completed (except for trimming ends) and the left side yet to be done.

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From the front, it was starting to look pretty good.

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From the back, you can see the ends and the damaged flaps - I trimmed these away fairly close.  Because this yarn is very fuzzy and sticky, this technique worked incredibly well.  The halo covered a lot of the transitions, and except with your fingers, you really couldn’t tell there was a lot more yarn where I wove in the ends.

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I hate to brag (really, I do), but I am pretty darned impressed with the result.

Love,

Ellen

Lost in the woods…again…

Dear Jan,

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Theoretically, the Lost in the Woods knitting retreats are about knitting, but I’m here to tell you they are about color.

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And more color.

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Well, maybe some knitting…

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…as long as you include lots of color.

Love,

Ellen

From the top, now…

Dear Jan,

In just over two weeks, I’ve gone from top to bottom with this cowl.  Bottom, that is, if the last thing you do with a knitted item is block it.  Top, because that is what I started with - a beautiful hand dyed top from Rain City Fiber Arts .

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This superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon (80:10:10) top was beautifully prepared.  I was able to do a long draw woolen draft to create an air singles.  I had broken the braid into 3 equal pieces, spun them up and then plied them together with a bit more twist in the plying than needed to evenly balance the yarn, a typical approach for a woolen yarn*.

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With the hope of giving this to a friend on September 21st, I needed a quick knit.  The softness of the yarn said “cowl”; need-it-quick said “existing and straightforward pattern”.  The #11 Eyelet Cowl by Cathy Carron (gotta love those evocative Vogue Knitting pattern names, this one from VK Holiday 2009) was just right, and the simple design was wonderful for this handspun.

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The reverse of the fabric is just as attractive as the purported public side - it has me thinking about design possibilities for this simple welted eyelet fabric.

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With a steam blocking on the hotel room ironing board (hover, never press!), I finished it well ahead of my deadline.   All of 45 minutes!

Love,

Ellen

*To be technical, this would count as a semi-woolen given that I spun from a combed top rather than a batt or roving.

Lost in the woods…

Dear Jan,

It took nearly a decade to knit.  I think it deserves some exposure on the blog.

I’m talking, of course, about my version of the wonderful Forest Path Stole by Faina Letoutchaia, from Interweave Knits, Summer 2003.

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I knit mine in Misti Alpaca laceweight, most of which was a gift from daughter Karen.  Most, not all, because I lost the start of this project while visiting Niagara Falls on our 25th wedding anniversary trip.  Unhappy loss, but happily I had only brought a ball or two along on the road so this stole has lots of gift yarn love in it, plus another ball or so to supplement.

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Were I to knit this again, I would have started out with needles like Addi Turbo Lace circulars. The blunt bamboo circulars I was using are probably much of the reason I both hated working the nupps in the lily-of-the-valley motifs and also put it down not to pick it up again for about 7 years.  I might have worked it in a lighter color, too, making it easier on the eyes to work the detail.  That said, this late summer, deep in the shade green is right down my alley and so will get a lot of use in my wardrobe.

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Of course, now that it is back home from the state fair (where it won a 3rd place ribbon!), the temperatures have gone up and I likely won’t want to wear it for a while. I’m pretty sure, though, that  I’ll be able to wear it before we hit that decade mark.

Love,

Ellen

Pennywise, pound of fleece foolish…

Hey, Jan,

I hate to waste good wool.  I used to hate to waste wool, period, and that is how I learned the difference between good wool and not-so-good-well-let’s-admit-it-actually-bad wool.

Case in point - remember that I bought two Columbia fleeces several years back?  Big Columbia fleeces - something like 11-12 pounds each.  I stored them in the garage, and mice nested in one.  Maybe both, actually, I just can’t quite remember.  I do recall sorting the wool into 2 piles - a keeper pile and a toss pile.  I processed the keeper by hand, and a lovely blue sweater was the long term result.  The toss pile I bagged for later use as mulch.

Then I got an idea.  I was sending another fleece in to be processed, why not sort the toss bag into “hopeless” and “gee, maybe this can be salvaged” fiber.  Can’t processors do magic?  When it came back, there was still a lot of veg matter in the fiber, in very tiny bits, but my naive heart kept insisting it would spin out.

Fast forward a couple of years and much more experience in spinning.  I’ve realized there is lots of really nice fiber out there.  Fiber that doesn’t need excessive effort to turn out decent yarn.  And this fiber, now that I returned to it to spin, well, it was giving me decidedly dirty yarn no matter how much effort I put into it.

First I spun it fine.  Yuck.

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Then I spun it finer, hoping that would release more of the VM.  It did, but it still looked yucky to me.

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Besides, I had a heck of a lot of fleece to spin at such a fine gauge.  I would rather spend my spinning hours enjoying the process.  Especially when, for just a few dollars investment rather than a few dozen hours investment, I can have all the clean fiber to spin that I could want.

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Rather than beat myself up for foolishly paying to process such a dirty pile of fleece, I’m congratulating my good judgment on not continuing forward with this misguided thriftiness.

Good judgment, you know, comes from experience.

Experience, you know, comes from bad judgment.

May you learn from my experience!

Love,

Ellen

Episode 46 — They Say We’re Crazy (but we have a good time)


In which we discuss trips to the ball game, trips to Sweden, trips to France, trips to the state fair, trips up north and trips to DC and we get plenty tripped up trying to explain an improvement on last episode’s slick trick.  Much other merriment ensues.

Be sure to check out Cat Bordhi’s new book, Versatildes - a New Landscape for Knitters. And the new Frog Tree yarn, Llambrosia. I checked with Jim Petkiewicz of Frog Tree Yarn and the pronunciation is as we suggested - think llama, not lamb.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Dale took Jan out to the ballpark for a minor league game that featured cheap beer and a winning team. Wilson took Ellen out for Vietnamese food and jazz piano. Both husbands win major points.

Jan wins major crazy points - she is going back to work! She’ll announce the actual position later, but it is a dream position for her, one of two jobs for which she said she’d consider coming out of retirement. It will keep her in Washington, DC during the week, away from farm and family, but she will be able to fund some farm improvements and give Dale flexibility to pursue his own dreams.

Ellen spent a lovely Northwoods knitting retreat with several knitting buddies. The weekend featured a visit to Lucette, Paul Bunyan’s sweetheart and a swim, a hike, great food, and lots of knitting.

Wilson continued competition in the great spouse category by volunteering to go to the MN State Fair. Turbogal’s TwinSet Living Dolls won a blue ribbon - check them out in the Ravelry group. Best food - Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich. Get one next year!

Ellen got to visit yarn stores represent her company at the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. The yarn stores in town included Ljundqvist’s and Garnverket. The yarns she picked up at the Phildar store in Versailles, France, later in the visit, were Phildar’s Laine Mohair Soie and Laine Cachemire Soie.
Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan was the winner in this category, but only by a tiny cosmetic puff. Really, it is almost embarrassing that she considers it a complete object. On the other hand, Ellen had nothing to show in this category herself, so perhaps she should be grateful.

On the Runway:

Jan is making good headway on her Bohus reproduction (with some customization of the colors) which she is calling her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson. She has finished the sleeves and is nearly done with the body, then on to the steeking and the button bands.

Ellen left her Bohus reproduction (Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design) at home as she didn’t want to risk losing it, but a trip to Sweden demanded some Bohus knitting so she started a Wild Apple tam instead. She got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on). She is well into the leg of the second sock.

Jan continues working on some very colorful socks out of Fluormania - wildly neon! She is also working on a design for the Yarn Barn in San Antonia for their 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl. It is a hooded scarf with lots of options for wearing it.

Ellen is being a rebellious student and has started on the knitting of her Shirley Paden Design Along sweater, Scotch Tango.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

It turns out that knitting in the daytime when your body is in another time zone means you are likely to get bitten by your knittin’. Ellen had hoped to finish her Bohus tam while traveling in Sweden, but had to frog back after misreading the chart.

Design Principles

The Shirley Paden Design-along 4 is continuing well. Ellen discusses the challenges of laying out Fair Isle designs and calculating yarn amounts needed - complicated by a limited supply of a key color of yarn. Sometimes constraints are excellent stimuli of design innovation. At least that’s what we’re saying now.

Design Aesthetic - Anna Dalvi’s Mystic Shawls. Here is the TwinSet Technical Review(TM)

1) Good overview for each pattern — CHECK.
2) Written Instructions — Nope. This isn’t the book for you right now if you can’t read charts. BUT, take a look at it anyway. It’s going to make you want to learn how.
3) Charted Instructions — In my book, the clearest instructions, they are often advanced, but they are clear…CHECK.
4) Words of caution/Tips/Tricks — Anna does a nice job warning us wear you need to be particularly careful. And her instructions regarding set up and inclusion of charts is solid.
5) Photography Styling — Very nice. You can see how these shawls could be part of your wardrobe.
6) Photography Clarity — Excellent closeups of detail and birds’ eye view of completed shawl

Embellishments

Ellen mentions and Jan recommends checking out the creative endeavor of Sarah aka swenstea on Ravelry - a nascent fiber show called Fiber Trek. Episode One features Starcroft Fiber Mill and Mary Jane Mucklestone. Great stuff. Jan also recommends de-embellishing. She is doing the minimalist challenge - trying to delete one item from her home the first of a month, two the second, three the third and so on. It is motivating her to finally get rid of some things that have just been cluttering up the joint.

Fun Fur

Because Jan doesn’t have enough on her plate, she is taking part in the Soak photo-a-day challenge.

Slick Tricks:

As is so often the case, we learn improvements to our tricks from our listeners. Diane from Kenosha, WI pointed us to the excellent Techknitter(TM) blog post on flat knitting swatches for garments worked in the round which is a clear improvement over Ellen’s technique shared last episode.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Just mention on the forum thread which of the Mystic Shawl designs you’d like to knit. Check them out on Ravelry, tell us which one you’d knit first in our forum, and you will be entered into a competition for an e-copy of the book donated by Cooperative Press.

We just closed a similar contest for the Dishcloth Diva Knits Again e-book - congratulations zelator!

And, we are hosting a

Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL! Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes, including stitch markers donated by lotsofhermies and a project bag and yarn just like the ones from TwinSet Sumer Camp AND a pattern up to $7 value donated by DCAlaneknits. Check out the thread on our Ravelry group.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen gets to go to Ely - a space opened up for the Sisu Lost in the Woods Knitting Retreat. Jan is looking forward to chauffeuring Louise and her mom to the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in late September. They will visit Boston, Philly, and even Fair Winds Farm. And Jan is joining the Flying Fibers team for Spinzilla.

Don’t forget the TwinSet Living Doll Tour! Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 45 — You Say Potato


 In which we struggle with our pronunciations, sip coffee from drip free mugs, observing wild life at work and at home, avoidance of camnesia, home grown peaches, traveling for business, tech editing for nice designers, overdone bike rides, learning along, mouse melons aka cucamelons aka Mexican Sour gherkins, pickling pots of pickled peppers, projects cleaned off the needles, managing to avoid being bitten by our knittin’, discuss the value of discipline and accurate measurements, enjoy a visit from Dr. Yarn, practical fractals, and some other fun stuff!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan is very happy with her new coffee maker, a Cuisinart which does not drip, no matter how you pronounce it.

Dale is getting involved in the fiber education - he and Jan took a course on Fiber as a Business.  Of course, an Etsy shop would help with that concept.  Regardless, they both enjoyed the classes, especially learning from Tara Swiger.  And Jan loved giving the owner of 84 Alpacas with the thanks-for-finding-my-keys hat.

Ellen has been having fun watching wildlife at work - a fox and a juvenile ferruginous hawk (a special sighting! thanks, Paula, for the identification).  He had feathered legs - wearing sox?  like the fox?

Wilson got involved with the nature on a kayak outing on Lake Nokomis. And the Minnesotans grabbed a chance at a nice 20+ mile bike ride, trying to hold onto summer even though the light is definitely changing and the days are getting shorter.

All play and no work makes Ellen a poor lady, but happily she’s had a bit more fibery work, tech editing a pattern by one of her favorite designers, Mari Tobita.  You’ll hear more about it when the pattern becomes available.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan finished up her Greek Keys hat out of alpaca - the thanks for the finding of lost keys.  She’s also finished the Shifting Ribs Toque, her own design, out of Wensleydale that she spun some time ago.  Of course, there are no photos of these on Ravelry, so they may be mythical.

Ellen finished her Bloodroot Hat.  She likes the size and shape, but her colorwork design didn’t really make her blood flow.  It will be a great design swatch - for future and better designs.

Ellen continued teaching the Paving Mitts class at StevenBe’s.  They are a great class of students, especially as they put up with her first shot at this class.  Jan has her own learn-along going - she is teaching her son, Allen, to knit!  Ellen will no longer be able to lord it over her sister for having 100% knitting offspring, but she’s happy that Allen has jumped in and of course, that Marie continues to develop her expertise.

This summer has  been a poor one for tomatoes in Minnesota, but it’s been a bumper year for pickled peppers from the farm share (recipe from the Ball Blue Book).  And in Pennsylvania, Jan is growing teensy weensy watermelons.  (Actually, they are cucamelons!)

Finely or Finally Knit

Ellen created a new cowl using the Tunisian simple stitch in the round - just like the Paving Mitts.  The pattern for the creatively named Paving Cowl will be up soon.  The cowl is designed to cover the lower part of the throat and upper chest as well as keep one’s neck warm.

Jan proudly announces that her Death Spiral shawl is off the needles!  She does not plan to knit another item so detailed in gossamer weight yarn any time soon.  As a bit of a contrast for work input, she also finished up some tiny washcloths for face washing or even for use as washable cosmetic puffs.

On the Runway:

Ellen got a lot of sleeve knit on her Bohus reproduction (Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design), and reports that the sleeves now seem to be the same size. She got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

Jan is continues working on some very colorful socks out of Fluormania - wildly neon!

Bitten by our Knittin’:

No significant chomps this episode, but we had to share a quote from one of our favorite people (and designers):

 

I don’t frog unless I really need to, but when I do, it’s a relief. — Alison Hyde

In Ready to Wear, Ellen announces the availability of the rest of her videos for techniques for the Paving Mitts pattern in Tunisian Crochet.  You can find them on YouTube - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Design Challenge

The Shirley Paden Design-along 4 is continuing well.  Truth in advertising, or at least in measurement, was assured by doing the measurement with a friend, Lisa (turbogal on Ravelry).
5 Minute Interview

A special treat this week - Dr. Yarn talks about spinning dog and cat.  He gives us a moment of paws (thanks,Knitallthestuff for that pun!)

360 Degrees

It wasn’t dog or cat, but Ellen has had fun with a top from Abstract Fibers in the  Chocolate Rainbow colorway in 50:50 silk merino.  She is spinning it as a fractal, what a potato chippy way of spinning. The first third pulls you through because you want to get to the next color, then the next third is broken into two bites so each one seems to whiz by, then the last third is 4 morsels. The yarn that resulted is so colorful - and actually, because she was working with a rainbow, is inspiring as a source of color studies because she have so many different combinations in one yarn.  Dare we say, it’s fractally impossible not to enjoy this spinning method?!

Fiber Jargon

Ewe Hogg!  No, not an insult, it simply means a young female sheep between weaning and first shearing, and the source of the term “hogget fleece”, which is the result of shearing a ewe hogg.

Embellishments

Jan is enjoying the Kindle Unlimited option from Amazon.

Fun Fur

Ellen has taken a liking to mutton jerky which she purchased at Ingebretson’s (while playing with Laura Ricketts who was in town to teach on Sami knitting).  Jan’s lambs had better watch out!  (Luckily, she loves fleece, too, so I think those lambies are safe.)

Jan’s Fun Fur is donut peaches!

Slick Tricks:

Doing her swatching for a Fair Isle sweater in the Shirley Paden DAL4, Ellen developed a way to work as though she is knitting in the round without leaving a long strand across the back of the fabric and still keep reasonably long lengths to the yarn in case she needs to frog the swatch to use the yarn.  (Otherwise, she’d just cut the ends.)

Use double pointed needles or circs - whatever needle you will use for the project - and figure out how long a piece of yarn you need to work your row. Double it, then start knitting your row in the middle of that yarn. When finished with that row, slide the stitches back to the other end of the needle and pick up the yarn aagin where you started it
You can now knit a second row. This gives you a smooth edge on the right side of your swatch, a fringe on the other, and yarn strands that are twice as long as if you were breaking them every row.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Just mention on the forum thread which of the new Dishcloth Diva designs you’d like to knit.   Check them out on Ravelry, tell us which one you’d knit first in our forum, and you will be entered into a competition for an e-copy of the book donated by Cooperative Press.

And, we are hosting a

Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes, including stitch markers donated by lotsofhermies and a project bag and yarn just like the ones from TwinSet Sumer Camp AND a pattern up to $7 value donated by DCAlaneknits. Check out the thread on our Ravelry group.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen continues to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.  She will have a knitting weekend up north with a few friends, but has to head to Sweden for work right when Wisconsin Sheep and Wool happens - so once again, not this year.  Jan is looking forward to chauffeuring Louise and her mom to the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in late September.  They will visit Boston, Philly, and even Fair Winds Farm.

Don’t forget the  TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 44 — Back At It!!


In which we thank our camp supporters, have a great time chatting about the success that was TwinSet Summer Camp, discuss making play out of work on the Snake River, being surprised by San Antonio yarn shops, shared birthdays and harmonious gifts, taking daughters to birthday dinners, welcoming Heidi back from the trail, various knitting bites (including a real doozy for Ellen and the recurring theme of ignoring pattern instructions), spinning many yards of yarn and using many wheel ratios, inspiration from Abby Franquemont, the Lost Geek Challenge Along and some other stuff.

Yes, it’s a LONG episode — enough for 3 half hour runs or for Louise to clean all the toilets in Mey.

Patterns of Our Lives:

It was wonderful taking a break, and it is wonderful being back.  Before jumping in, a special thanks to the vendors who supported TwinSet Summer Camp.

Straightfork Farm Alpacas - Cathy Moore creates gorgeous yarns from her own alpaca and sheep fleeces, blending in wool and dyeing them to delightful colorways.  You can buy them for yourself at her website.

A Riot of Color - Susan Eiseman Levitan dyes yarns and rovings that are truly, a riot of color.  Visit her Etsy shop!

DesignKnit - Erica Gunn designs, dyes, and more.  Visit her blog to find out when her life will allow her to get back to fulfilling our fiber dreams.

Fair Winds Farm - I’d link to an Etsy store, if one existed.  Jan will be selling yarns, fibers, and alpaca clothing when it does open, and you can bet we’ll let you know about it.

A lovely yarn donation from Barbara of Eggy Johnson Yarns.  At this point I don’t have a link, but if I get one, I’ll let you know.

A cloud of vicuna-alpaca  fiber from Bob at Cloud Hollow Alpaca, compliments of jaxie95, our very own Linda.  I really had to work hard not to hide this.

And a special, special thanks to Modeknit Yarns who provided a ball of either their Modeknit Modewerk or Modesock for every camper, not to mention a beautiful mini-skein set of Modeknit Fingering in the Midwife Speaking colorway as a door prize - gorgeous!  Check  out their other beautiful yarns on their website, Modeknit Yarn.  I can personally vouch for Modesock and for Modewerk - loved knitting both of them.

And thanks to Laura (77threads on Ravelry) who arranged a destash charity drive that benefited the S.D. Ireland Cancer Fund and Community Links International.

TwinSet Summer Camp was a huge hit, even if the audio quality of the play back wasn’t perfect.  It still brought back great memories.  The TwinSet toddlers had a great time, too.  And so did all the Bruce’s.  (Here is the Monty Python skit that was the source of our nicknames.)

Ellen went fly fishing - for work!  She was learning about the geology of the Upper Snake River Basin in Idaho and floating down the river is a great way to do it.  Jan traveled to San Antonio to celebrate the retirement of a friend.  She visited vineyards and then made sure and bought plenty of yarn to pad it in her luggage on the way home.  The yarn came from The Yarn BarnUnravelled, and Yarnivore, where she enjoyed the Wall o’ Cascade 220.

Both twins got amazing birthday gifts from their husbands - Ellen received a Folding Golding spinning wheel, and Jan received the four lambs we discussed last episode.  Ellen then went to New York City to visit her daughter who has moved to a new restaurant, working front of house once it opens.  Since it wasn’t open yet, the family dined for Jenny’s birthday dinner at Kajitsu for a wonderful fine dining experience of vegan Japanese.  Equally delicious were the dumplings at Prosperity Dumplings.

Jan’s daughter-in-law is back off the Appalachian Trail, having finished about half of it this year.  She’ll return and finish the rest in a future season.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan finished up her Greek Keys hat out of alpaca - the thanks for the finding of lost keys.  She’s also finished the Shifting Ribs Toque, her own design, out of Wensleydale that she spun some time ago.  Of course, there are no photos of these on Ravelry, so they may be mythical.

Ellen finished her Bloodroot Hat.  She likes the size and shape, but her colorwork design didn’t really make her blood flow.  It will be a great design swatch - for future and better designs.

On the Runway:

Ellen got a lot of sleeve knit on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design, but more to come on that in a later segmant.  She got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

Jan is also working some very colorful socks out of Fluormania - wildly neon! And in other wild knitting - stainless steel/merino as a fiber - she is knitting a scarf she is calling Steely Cables.  Can you find a picture (or even a project entry) of it on Ravelry?  I can’t!

Jan will work next on her Death Spiral shawl, she promises.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen tells how she knit most of a sleeve on a 00 needle instead of a US size 0 (1.75 mm vs 2.0, for those playing at home), and it cost her 15,000 stitches, give or take.

Jan’s brain wasn’t playing nicely with math and she wasn’t able to get her decreases right on a hat - until she checked the number of decreases she actually needed.  No 15,000 stitches worth!

Some dirty dishcloths tripped Jan up once or twice.  Again, not to the tune of 15,000 stitches!

In Ready to Wear, Ellen announces the availability of her videos for techniques for the Paving Mitts pattern in Tunisian Crochet.  You can find them on YouTube - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Design Challenge

The Shirley Paden Design-Along 4 has started.  Jan didn’t get a sketch submitted, and admits that she is relieved.  Ellen sketched her design on the back of a hotel notepad and took an iphone picture of it to get hers in!  You can follow the fun at the Shirley Paden Ravelry Group.  The group has posted swatches - you’ll be amazed at how different people interpret the same design inspiration.

And as part of the Lost Geek Challenge-along, the TwinSet campers learned all about tablet weaving and dyeing, as well as other skills, like using a bead and head pin Looper.

Linda discussed lichen dyeing and sends us to a 44 Clovers for a reference to this simple and gorgeous dye source.

Design Aesthetic

The twins enjoyed Dishcloth Diva Knits On!  available for $14.95 in print or electronically via Ravelry for $9.95, published by Cooperative Press.  Deb Buckingham, The Dishcloth Diva, brings us new patterns and new fibers - using her designs for a throw when worked up in wool.  We note that the wool fiber information could be fact-checked, but that didn’t take away from the great designs. Cooperative Press provided us with the review copy of the book.

360 Degrees

Tour de Fleece spinning went well.  Ellen worked on the Spinning Bunny top in colorway Sled Dog and hit her goal of spinning every day, even if only for a few seconds.  Jan is knocking it out of the park with over 1800 yds of 4-ply alpaca, spun from a spin-drafted roving from Sherri at Morro Fleece Works. She spun enough for Mishka, Julie Weisenberg’s great sweater, which she plans to knit for the Knitmore Girls Spin along, Knit along (SPAKAL).

And to top off Tour de Fleece, we have an interview with Abby Franquemont on the importance of spinning to our cultural and industrial histories.  As Abby says, “one way or another, it’s all about yarn.”

Ellen’s new wheel is called Frances, because she is the “quietest thing in the room”, like Frances the Badger is in the Russell Hoban (illustrations by Garth Williams) classic, Bedtime for Frances.   “Frances stood by Father’s side of the bed very quietly, right near his head.  She was so quiet that she was the quietest thing in the room.  She was so quiet that Father woke up all of a sudden, with his eyes wide open.”

Fiber Jargon

Whorl ratios - which the Folding Golding has in spades.  The whorl ratio is like the gear ratio on a bicycle - a higher ratio means that for one turn of the wheel, the flyer turns more times than for a low ratio.  For instance, an 8:1 ratio means the flyer turns 8 times for one turn of the wheel.

Ellen’s embellishment was radish greens for eatin’!  Just saute’ them in butter (wash them first!).  Jan is searching an embellishment - a drip-free coffee pot.  What is it with coffee pot designers? (note: since this episode aired, listeners solved this one!)

Slick Tricks:

Jan is modifying her afterthought heel slick trick from a few episodes back. She is going to try to knit a shorter waste flap on her afterthought heels and use a dpn to make it taught instead of her fat fingers (Jan’s words).  Thanks, Gigi, for the push to improve this and reduce the amount of waste yarn knitting Jan will be doing.

Ellen’s slick trick is to use a slip knot to attach a leader to the bobbin - then doing a second slip knot in the opposite direction.  This prevent slippage in either direction so you can start spinning either way.  She learned this one from Judith McKenzie.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Just mention on the forum thread which of the new Dishcloth Diva designs you’d like to knit.   Check them out on Ravelry, tell us which one you’d knit first in our forum, and you will be entered into a competition for an e-copy of the book donated by Cooperative Press.

And, we are hosting a

Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes, including stitch markers donated by lotsofhermies and a project bag and yarn just like the ones from TwinSet Sumer Camp. We’ll start a thread for both chat and FOs.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen continues to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.  Jan is looking forward to chauffeuring Louise and her mom to the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in late September.

The twins are going on a tour - the TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 43 — We Can Haz Math Skillz!!


In which we discuss the kindness of Susan B. Anderson, the TwinSet Dolls World Tour, quiet Independence Days, an abundance and a dearth of cherries, biting off more than one should chew, a new to Dale sailboat, drinking rum punch (possibly to excess), the arrival on the farm of Hedy, Ada, Grete and Grace, and Ellen’s compulsion to calculate.

Patterns of Our Lives:

The twins are going on a tour - the TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Jan reports on a fiber festival at Flying Fibers.  Ellen failed to post show notes in time for you to learn about it in time for you to attend, but if you’d care to read about it as a history lesson, HERE is the link.

Jan has been processing cherries, Ellen has been a tiny bit relieved that her tree didn’t bear much this year (weird winter?) so she doesn’t have to.  Luckily she had a backup in storage, as she bap-bap-bapped until she actually broke her Norpro cherry stoner.  Maybe she learned something from this experience.

Jan taught a class on two-at-a-time, toe-up, magic loop socks.  She reports that this class with more than one or two concepts in a class, you need to plan more than two or three hours.  Maybe she learned something from this experience.

Six minus two equals four lambies who came home in the back of Jan’s Subaru to live at Fair Winds Farm.  Ada Lovelace (world’s first computer programmer), Grete Hermann (established algebra used in computer logic), Hedy Lamar  (developed algorithms used in frequency hopping) and Grace Hopper (mother of COBOL and the term “computer bug”) — her own little STEM cell — are all gamboling about on the pastures.  Her own Fair Isle sweater on the hoof, given the range of colors.  Maybe we’ve all learned something from this experience.

Dale has his own fun - a 16 foot Hobie Cat sailboat.  He has the experience and the learning.

Etsy store?  Is Jan really going to get it open?  She says she will do it and Ellen said she’d get the show notes up before she does.  (As I type, I wonder if I will click publish before she activates, because she hasn’t opened it yet!)

Time for Ellen to jump in with something - she went to a luau at a friend of Wilson’s.  That’s really about it - work, exercise, knit.  Hey, that sounds OK!

Finely or Finally Knit:

Ellen finished and blocked  a wrap which she used to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.  She comments that superwash yarn (Modewerk Fingering) really stretches long and wide and drapey.

Jan finished her Holbrook Shawl in The Uncommon Thread Silky Merino Fingering in the Zitouni colorway.  Zitouni means “My olive” in Arabic. She used size US 5 needles and about 1 1/2 100gram skeins for somewhere around 600 meters. She aggressively blocked it.  (I’m sure she enjoyed that.)

Jan has also worked up Sweet Baby James — a new design. It is top down and incorporates a fascine braid for a faux saddle shoulder. She also use an i-cord cast on that forms a nice little collar before joining to work in the round. It is named for her soon to be born great nephew.

Apparently, Jan hasn’t slept recently as she also finished 2 pair of baby booties and a baby hat. One pair will go with the little sweater to Florida for James.

On the Runway:

Ellen is down to three WIPS - her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design, a pair of socks, a hat, and another sweater (that hasn’t seen any work for quite a while). She’s focused on Rimfrost and has finished 9/16 of a sleeve.  We won’t bore you with what fraction of a sweater that is.

Jan is working on her Greek Key patterned hat to thank the hero in her lost item story from last episode, working in alpaca yarn.   Another hat is on the needles, this one out of Wensleydale handspun, and she also has unearthed her Death Spiral shawl, her version of Erica Gunn’s Spiral Shawl, which she is knitting out of  Touch Yarns Mohair Merino.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen admits she has knit something like 1.2 sleeves, not 9/16, truth be told.  She decided the sleeve was really too large of a circumference, so she frogged back to the underarm and added a gusset to sharply decrease the sleeve.  And in frogging Wrapsody, she found two dropped stitches.  It took 60 rows to drop down to one of them, but it was a successful endeavor.

Jan’s knitting was well-behaved.

360 Degrees

Both twins have started their Tour de Fleece spinning.  Ellen is still working on the Spinning Bunny top in colorway Sled Dog.  Working with a Golding spindle has really sped up her rate of production.  Maybe she’ll finish that fiber yet!

Jan is spinning alpaca on her Kromski Sonata.  She plans to spin enough for Mishka, Julie Weisenberg’s great sweater.

Fiber Jargon:

A fibershed is a regional textile supply chain.  Kind of like Jan’s backyard.

Ellen’s Embellishment is the FitBit - great for inter-marital competition. It is sad to open up one’s dashboard after a day when one forgot to wear the Fitbit and see ZERO steps.  Jan embellishes her Fitbit by using the app, MyFitnessPal.

Slick Tricks:

For afterthought heels Jan suggests knitting a flap with that waste yarn before you continue on with the working yarn of your project. It will give you something to use to put tension on the sock stitches making it far easier to put them on needles before you remove the waste yarn.

You May Already be a Wiener!

We are hosting a
Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes. We’ll start a thread for both chat and FOs.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen is doing some travel for work and then comes home to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.And don’t forget…TwinSet Summer Camp!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 42 — Cleaning Off the Needles


In which we discuss pre-summer vacation (for some of us), 3 blind mice sightings, multiple LYS visits to include the wall of Cascade (Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, PA and Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA), the PA Women Veterans Symposium, family gatherings, nature hikes wherein all appendages are retained, achieving apprentice grader and sorcerer status, losing one’s car keys and the kindness of strangers who are now true friends and our living dolls.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen and Wilson took a tour through some of the eastern States - spending time in West Virginia with Wilson’s parents, stopping in Athen’s Ohio (Ee-yow, Bobcats! Sock it to’em!), visiting Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Jan while there), and then took the family to Washington, DC and then on to the Shenandoah Valley.  Highlights included a double sighting of Pileated Woodpeckers (Wilson’s uncle says when someone comes to him, a known avid birder, to tell him about the really weird bird they saw, his instant reply is “Pileated Woodpecker”), visits to the Heritage Farm Museum, and visits to the Smithsonian, seeing sights including Julia Child’s kitchen and the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”.  Best part was all of the family who gathered, and this included another intersection with Jan when she and Dale were visiting the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

Jan came to Pittsburgh for the symposium she has been planning, visited the knitting community found at Natural Stitches along with their wall of Cascade 220 AND several listeners(!), visited Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Ellen while there), and reports that her PA Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs symposium went very well - its purpose, to bring together women veterans throughout Pennsylvania to help them understand their status as veterans and to what benefits they are entitled.  She and Dale then visited  the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, which ended up allowing another intersection with Ellen. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

While Ellen continued vacationing (driving the Skyline Drive - GORGEOUS! and yum, blackberry cobbler at the Big Meadows wayside), Jan went back to the farm to get a cutting of hay in, manage her chicklets (the little cockerels are getting quite, um, cocky), and then got on the road again to Ohio for another class in fiber grading and sorting at Magical Farms.  She is now an apprentice grader sorter. We are all so proud.

Both twins admit to losing and then finding items under embarrassing circumstances.  I’m not writing about it here - you’ll have to listen to it on the episode.  That said - we can’t recommend enough that you take your fiber to 84 Alpacas Mill to process any fleeces you have.  These folks are incredibly kind and generous.  And if you lose your keys, check your vehicle’s roof.  (Or down the side of your chair.)

Finely or Finally Knit:

Forever in the Forest is STILL just a block away from being finished.  But she did finish the second of a second pair of socks in her own design (Diana’s Quiver) out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She also finished a pair of baby bootees which she used to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills.

And Chef Jenny is all knit up! Her chef’s jacket is gusseted under the arms and even buttons, for real.

Jan was a finishing fool.  She completed her  version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool  and also finished her little Marie doll.  Her glasses are removable as is her purse, such nice detail!  Jan needs to protect her from her grown daughter, Marie’s, sticky fingers.  It seems she wants to bring her effigy home to live with her.

Jan also finished a new pair of socks  in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    They are staggered all over in a cable pattern.  She is thinking of calling the pattern (when it comes out - hah!) Snake Socks.  Watch for them, but don’t hold your breathe.  And she finished her Faux Argyle hood, which she is using as a class sample for her Controlling Your Colors class.

On the Runway:

As always, Ellen continues work on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design. She is quite proud of how the sleeves are going (note: pride goeth before a fall - as these show notes were written several weeks after the recording, we know of what we speak). And, she is working on a wrap which she used to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan is working on a Greek Key patterned hat to thank the hero in her lost item story.   She is also working on the Holbrook Shawl in the yarn, The Uncommon Thread Silky Merino Fingering, which she purchased at Fiber Space with Ellen’s encouragement.

Is it possible that the twins could really and truly Clean Off their Needles???  They sound like they are making a bit of a commitment to do so…

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen re-finished her Forever in the Forest stole.  After nine years, she had learned a lot about how to use a long-tail cast on as an elastic edge, but she started the stole before she learned all that and so, the sewn bind off was much stretchier than the cast on edge at the other side of the stole. So, she picked up one leg of each st in the first row of the stole and then very carefully snipped and unravelled the cast on edge. She then used what were now the equivalent of live stitches on the needle to do an equivalent sewn bind off and now both edges are truly identical in stretch and appearance.

She also did a lot of repair work for knitting bitten by dogs and cats - executing a detailed and pretty darned good repair to a major gash in the Cowl for George Bailey she had knit for her sister-in-law, if she does say so herself.  This entailed knitting a new lace panel and weaving each and every row into the undamaged portion of the cowl.  She also repaired a friend’s mitten after stealing a bit of yarn from the inside of the mitten cuff facing so the repair wouldn’t be visible.

Jan barely had any issues - nibbles on the I-cord edge of Reposo, pulling out the i-cord edge after working about 15 inches and working it from the other side of the garment, which she liked better.  And it seems that working lace late at night remains a bad idea, as she had to correct some mistakes in the working of the edging on the Holbrook shawl.

Fiber Jargon:

Jan talked about guard hairs - primary hair, kemp, and gare.  Primary and secondary hairs are simply hairs coming from a primary or secondary follicle.  This doesn’t determine whether the hair is fine or stiff - medulation (being hollow) does.  Hollowness makes it rigid.  Guard hairs are fibers that support the softer fibers and protect them from the elements, kemp shows up mixed in with the fleece and is flat and coarse, and gare is quite similar, but is more associated with particular regions of the animal’s body. Jan points out again that the feeling of fineness is more related to the consistency of the fibers one to the next than specifically to the diameter of the fiber. If two samples are equally consistent, then the smaller diameter fiber will likely feel finer, too.  But if one sample is consistent and the other, though having finer diameters of fibers, is inconsistent, the former sample may feel softer and finer.

Slick Tricks:

Jan’s slick trick is to substitute another yarn or binding off and save a bit of yarn if you are running short and playing Yarn Chicken.  Ellen’s trick is to reduce the bulk when cinching the remaining stitches on a hat crown or a finger-tip by using the tip of a needle to tighten each stitch on the yarn cinch before tightening the loop.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Congratulations, Gayle, on her selection as winner of the Living Doll KAL.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast is exciting but not as crazy as some weeks.  She will be adding some sheep to the farm soon - 4 new lambies!  Ellen is doing some travel for work and then comes home to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.

And don’t forget…TwinSet Summer Camp!

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Enjoy the show!