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#Findyourreason by 5pm Central Time on March 17, 2015 (USA)

My reason – StevenBe is more than The Glitter Knitter(TM).  He is creative support, helping those in his store, in his classes, heck, just in his presence, branch out and be all they can, create all they can, feel great about what they’ve done.  He shares his inspiration so that we can share our talents with the community — the knitting community, the charity community (check out the StevenBe Creative Community Foundation!) He makes us laugh, at ourselves, at life, and with joy.

If that isn’t a reality show worth funding, I don’t know what is.  So why don’t you check out the promo above and then check out the Kickstarter campaign that can make a reality show featuring Steven a, well, a reality.  Even if you have just a buck or two to add to the pot, you’ll be telling Steven you appreciate his positive and creative approach to knitting and life.

Cheers,

Ellen

What’s going on?

Dear Jan,

Something’s up.  Not only did we get an episode from the podcast up (with show notes!), but I’m blogging for the second time in a week AND launching a second pattern, to boot!  Something is in the air.  Maybe it is the snow that is coming down as I write this that is both in the air and inspiring me to send warm wooly wear out to the world.

The pattern for this post is my Diana’s Quiver sock pattern, designed for Modeknit Yarn.

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The Little Tent Stitch I used for the pattern not only reminded me so much of a series of colorful darts filling a quiver, it ended my hunt for the perfect pattern for a variegated sock yarn.  “Darts”, “quiver”, “ended my hunt” – get it?  Diana, goddess of the hunt, seemed to need a pair of these socks.

Yarn floats carried across the fabric both highlight the color changes and subdue any unwanted pooling or flashing.  This is a simple pattern with complex effects.

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Knit on US Size 1 (2.25 mm) needles out of Modeknit ModeSock, these have a firm enough fabric to wear nicely.  The wool/bamboo/nylon blend of ModeSock is great.  The wool (60%) provides warmth, the bamboo (30%) drape and luster, and the nylon (10%) is just enough for some strength without squeak.

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The pattern is available on Ravelry (you don’t have to be a Ravelry member to click through to the pattern) or you can get it free with purchase of ModeSock.  Please, if you want to try this yarn, do get the pattern that way – I want Annie Modesitt, co-owner of Modeknit Yarn, to come back to me with more requests to design in this great yarn!

Love,

Ellen

And don’t miss the younger daughter…

Dear Jan,

The purported reason for this blog post is to publicize the availability of my newly released pattern set, Paving Mitts and Cowl.  The real reason is to share my lovely model (and elder daughter) with you all.

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Tunisian crochet in the round creates beautiful colorwork. Working in two colors, one tonal and one variegated, creates an effect of tiny colorful pavers laid in even rows. I was inspired to design these after a class in Tunisian crochet entranced me, but existing mitt designs didn’t have a shaped thumb gusset.  These do.  And the cowl is shaped, too, designed to dip down and cover the throat and keep that little gap where your coat is open nice and warm.

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The mitts are a small enough project that experimenting with color combinations is possible – heck, Lisa says it takes her all of 6 hours to work an entire pair!  (Caution – your mileage may vary.  They don’t call her turbogal for nothin’!)

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Note that working these, as for any Tunisian crochet pattern in the round, calls for a double ended crochet hook.  I used a size H with fingering weight yarn for mine, but others have used a size up for the hook and various weight yarns.  It’s easy to experiment and do a bit of the cuff and try it on for gauge. Yarns shown include Claudia Handpaint Addiction and The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze Peppino.

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Did I mention that these are super fun to work?

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Video tutorials, including several I prepared to teach the needed techniques for the Paving Mitts pattern, are listed in the pattern.

Oh, as long as I’m showing off my beautiful (and very talented) eldest daughter, here’s a link to a story about the restaurant at which my equally beautiful and talented younger daughter works – with a photo of her in action.

Yes, I’m insufferable, but since they are your nieces, you have to be supportive.

Love,

Ellen

P.S. Thanks to Lisa, Cindi, and Vicki for test crocheting!

Paving Mitts Tutorials ONE, TWO, THREE – from twinsetellen’s YouTube Channel

An incredible autumn…

Dear Jan,

This autumn has been one of the most gorgeous in memory here in Minnesota.  After a cool start, we’ve had many warm and sunny days.  The cool, wet summer may have been worth it, setting us up for intense fall color.  When I had the chance to do some colorwork at the Sisu Lost in the Woods retreat up near Ely, MN in late September, I had to follow my muse.  My color choice – the gorgeous crimson maples against the autumnal deep blue sky.

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The project was Norwegian mittens, led by the talented and prolific Jan Bilden. You got a peak at these a couple of posts ago – here they are in detail.  We chose cuffs and mitten backs….

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…and we chose mitten palms….

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….and mitten thumbs.

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I know I’ll be glad of these this winter, both for the warm wool and the warm memories.

Love,

Ellen

P.S. Yarns were Rauma Strikkegarn 3-ply and  Kenzie by Hikoo by Skacel.  Knit on US 1.5 dpns.  Pattern improvised.

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

TwinSet Summer Camp is a Go!

 

TwinSet Summer Camp

 Camp will be from Friday afternoon, July 11 – Sunday, July 13.

Register by downloading the 2014 TSSC Reg Form(link now broken) and mailing it in so it will arrive in Quarryville, PA no later than June 30.

Philosophy — low key enjoyment of each other and the venue. Swimming, canoeing, nature walks, campfires, campfire songs, s’mores, relaxing, and of course, fiber arts. Next year will be more structured.

We will work to have several area vendors set up their wares on one of the days. Also, on Sunday morning we’ll leave camp and head for the farm for a farm lunch and a chance to meet the animals.

Location:
Friday afternoon to Sunday just after lunch: Ramblewoods Resort Campground, Darlington, MD
Sunday afternoon: Fair Winds Farm, Quarryville

Cost: $190 per person – includes meals, bed, general supplies. For optional classes (still TBD if we are offering classes) there may be an additional charge.

Closest airport is BWI, about an hour or so…closest AMTRAK station is Aberdeen, MD, about 25 minutes or so…and by the way, AMTRAK serves BWI. We will make some arrangements for one or two runs of a shuttle service to and from the AMTRAK station (there may be a small additional charge for that service).

You’ll Need to Bring:

  • Sleeping bag or bed linens and towels — the cabins have regular beds with excellent tempurpedic mattresses. Don’t forget your pillow!
  • Camp clothes including rain wear in case of wet weather.
  • Swimsuit!!
  • Toiletries including sunscreen and (if they bug you) bug repellent.
  • Other stuff that we’ll list as I think of it.
  • Knitting, spinning, crocheting, weaving — whatever you want to play with!!!

We’ll work to make a small marketplace part of the event — and possibly a yarn crawl for those who want to come into town a day early (your own lodging arrangements, but I can come up with some recommendations).