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

Archive for the ‘Finished Projects’

Episode 32 — A Living Doll

In which for some unknown reason we sound muffled. (I did have a stuffy nose and sinuses, but Ellen was healthy so that’s not the reason and I processed the file in the same manner, so that’s not the reason.  Urgh! Sometimes this podcasting stuff is hard!  Well, you can still understand us, so you’re getting it as it is.)  And in which we discuss the cold (maybe that’s it, we were wrapped in scarves and mufflers?), haunted barns (maybe a ghost is choking us?), idea weekends with ideas that Ellen can’t share or she’d have to kill us (maybe she was smothering us with pillows?, but why would she smother herself?), a trip to DC with a stop at a new to me yarn shop (maybe I’m buried in yarn and fiber?), spinning and handling alpaca at the PA Farm Show (maybe an alpaca is sitting on us?), grilled cheese and tomato soup (maybe our mouths are full?), and Susan B. Anderson’s new e-book, “Mary, Millie and Morgan” (that’s it, those dolls are so cute you want to gobble them up…our mouths ARE full!).

We love the comments we get from listeners, especially the ones that make us laugh, like Alison’s on the last episode.  You can find more of her pun-ishing humor at SpinDyeKnit.

And you can find the Mary Lou Egan patterns that Ellen’s been enjoying tech editing on Ravelry – Miss Gulch is a textured cowl and Swales Hat is a textured hat.  Both are quick and fun knits!

Jan found plenty to do at the PA Farm Show, and then she found more fun at Black Sheep Yarns in Cockeysville, MD.  Check that website out – gorgeous shop!
Despite challenges with the on-line registration (the tubes of the innernets seemed to have been plugged up, probably with felted fiber from someone who didn’t wash their Felfs in a pillow case), Ellen did get signed up for the Designing Tesselations class by Franklin Habit at Yarnover which will be on April 26 at Hopkins High School, just a few miles west of downtown Minneapolis.  That same weekend, she plans to take part in FiberFest at Steven Be’s.  She’ll be lucky if she doesn’t get clogged up with fiber! (She hopes if she is, some of it will be the luscious mink yarn from Grinning Gargoyle.) And she’s hoping Jennie the Potter will be there, too. And Wendy J Johnson of Saga Hill Designs with all her fibers and dyes – and her new book, Yarn Works.  Yes, Ellen is glad she only has one class so she will have lots of time to browse the marketplace.

It’s not like either twin needs more yarn.  Though they have been knitting up some stash – Ellen has been continuing progress on her Forever in the Forest stole out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia.  Ellen is also working on a Martina Behm pattern, Lintilla in Rohrspatz & Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in the colorway Skarabäus, which is brilliant clear and limpid blues and greens with streaks of yellow, hence the name of her shawl, Limpid.  And, for variety, Ellen has been designing a pair of socks out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.

Jan  worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  She is working on another pair of Hugs and Kisses Socks and promises a pattern, if she can figure out a name.  And she’s working on a hat featuring Jagger Spun 100% wool and an eye of partridge pattern.  She’s calling it Surface Tension and promises a pattern soon.  More Felfs are on the way, too!

We encourage you to take inspiration from the 2014 Intentions thread on our Ravelry group – you listeners are writing some really good stuff!
The new e-book from Susan B. Anderson is good stuff, too.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan” – you won’t be able to resist dreaming about who you’d knit up as a doll.
Jan is still dreaming about spinning up Briar Rose – or at least, her lovely fleece.  (She is an alpaca friend of Jan’s.)  Ellen is dreaming of spinning up some Briar Rose, too – she has several bumps of BFL dyed by Chris at Briar Rose Fibers that should hit the wheel one of these days!

That’s it for now – enjoy the show!

Episode 31 — Bitten by Our Kittens

In which we discuss our good fortune at Christmastime and in the opening days of 2014, Valor the Ram, a strategy for giving, the great alpaca drop of 2014, getting back to work on some big knitting projects, our review of 2013 and our goals for 2014, how to take stock and why you should eat more beans.

(Be sure to listen to the outtakes if you want to understand the title!)

Happy New Year to old and new listeners.  If you don’t get enough of us on the podcast, find us on Twitter and Instagram as, you guessed it, twinsetjan and twinsetellen.

There were lots of holiday doings for both Jan and Ellen, but we’ll just hit a couple of notable things from the last week.

Ellen and Wilson spent a long evening working out their charitable giving for the year of 2013.  Just in time, too, as they finished up on December 30!  Here is their strategy:

  • We choose a few themes that mean a lot to us.  Generally we focus on the environment, arts and education, human justice and aid, and fair politics.
  • We choose highly rated charities working in these areas by geography – local, national, and global.  Charity Navigator is one site we use for research on the efficiency and integrity of charities we are considering.
  • We narrow down to just a few in each theme/geography, the fewer the better, with the goal of giving larger sums to fewer charities.  This lets more of our dollars get used for program work and less on administrivia.
  • We avoid giving to charities that waste our dollars with dozens of mailings during the year, or gifts of notecards, nickels, stamps, etc.

Jan and Dale made a trip to Syracuse and brought home a new member of the family – Valor, a Finnsheep Ram!  He rode home in Dale’s Dodge Ram and is friendly as all get out.

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia.  Jan  worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  She is working on another pair of Hugs and Kisses Socks and promises a pattern, if she can figure out a name.  And she’s working on a hat featuring Jagger Spun 100% wool and an eye of partridge pattern.  She’s calling it Surface Tension and promises a pattern soon.  Ellen is also working on a Martina Behm pattern, Lintilla in Rohrspatz & Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in the colorway Skarabäus, which is brilliant clear and limpid blues and greens with streaks of yellow, hence the name of her shawl, Limpid.

Jan and Ellen were both Bitten by their Knittin’.  (And Ellen was bitten by her Kitten – Selkie enjoys playing in roving, and played with one of Ellen’s holiday gifts.  Let’s just say that alpaca will be used for blending, not for spinning right from the bump…)  Ellen’s knitting troubles focused around her lack of focus, at least when coming to the edge of her Lintilla shawl. One edge is k2tog, one is kfb – suffice it to say that though they look very different, Ellen mixed them up and then didn’t notice for several rows more than once.  Jan couldn’t quite get the sewn bind off for Dale’s scarf to look just the way she wanted.

You can still get a free copy of Ellen’s Bitsy Baby Beanies , a quick stockinette beanie for preemies and newborns.  Listen to the episode to find the code for a free copy through January, or PM Ellen on Ravelry (she’s twinsetellen).

Ellen added a few more bobbins of CorriedaleX singles to her collection.  She reported 25 at last count with about a half pound of fiber left.

In Design Principles, Ellen discussed the principles she is following in the design of socks out of a variegated yarn – primarily focused on looking for a stitch pattern that will highlight the color changes while obscuring pooling and has a manageable stitch multiple to allow easy sizing.  She is looking hard at stitch patterns that carry the working yarn on top of the fabric at intervals, like linen stitch, but would like to find one that is easier to work.

Our Design Challenge for the episode is to consider 2014 intentions.  Jan sums hers up with an intention to be appreciative, and Ellen twisted that just slightly with an overall intention to be grateful.  Both of us intend to knit and design and spin…and laugh.

Ellen has been spinning a bunch more of that CorriedaleX fleece from Rhinebeck a couple of years back.  She’s up to 25 bobbins with about a half pound of fiber left.  Jan will be doing a bunch of spinning as she takes on judging the entries in the Sunshine State Alpaca Expo, with her results due by February 8th!  In either case, pigtails, our Yarn Jargon for the week, will likely appear.  Pigtails are when an energetic bit of singles (or a plyed yarn) doubles back on itself in a little twist.  Depending on your intention for the yarn, they may be desirable (as in art yarn), or at least a sign of lots of energy for creating a tightly twisted yarn, like a sock yarn.  Just ease them out during plying to release the energy into where you want it to be.

Jan’s Embellishment for the week is Heifer International.  Ellen’s is the iPhone Ravelry app – Yarma.  She uses it to add stash and project pictures without having to download them from her camera. Zombie Alpacas (We want to eat your grains!) showed up on a gift for Jan and she considers them to be Fun Fur.

The episode’s slick trick is a simple one, but still slick.  Instead of hanging one of those stitchmarker row counters off your needle, throwing it out of balance and letting it get in the way, why not just pin it to your project?  It’s there when you need it and keeps the knitting comfortable.  Thanks, turbogal, for that tip!

The contest to win some Blacker Yarns wool has closed and we have a winner!  Holity, aka Terri from IL, was our randomly drawn winner of a skein each of Blacker Yarns Pure Teeswater DK and Pure Dark Wensleydale.

Ellen will be heading to the Knitajourney Midwinter Fiber Retreat in mid-January, and by the time these notes go up, Jan will have been to the PA state farm show  and starting to pack for Tina’s Fiber Retreat in late January.  It’s only 8 months till the MN State Fair!

Stay warm!

Episode 30 — We Believe!

In which we discuss the return of the light (and the owls), ice lanterns, the great Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota fiber estate sale, finally receiving processed fiber from the spring shearing, Christmas visits, what’s in Ellen’s pocketses, the best Christmas card ever,  seeing Santa Claus, publication of Ellen’s pattern “Bitsy Baby Beanies”, successful design modifications and a winner of the Swagger DALKAL, some knitting and spinning and Ellen endures Jan’s singing.

“Come Enhance My Yarn Stash Tonight”
Lyrics (c) Jan Hamby — Free use for non-commercial and personal uses.  Rights to publication reserved.
Instrumental background from the Helen Kane audio recording found in the U.S. National Archives licensed under the Creative Commons. 

Santa Baby, slip some cashmere under the tree, For me.
I’ve been an awfully good girl, Santa baby,
so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa baby, some signature convertibles too,
Size 2.
I’ll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Think of all the things that I might’ve knit,
Hats and scarves and sweaters and fingerless mitts,
Next year I could reduce my queue,
And maybe you’ll find, you’re knitworthy too,

Santa baby, I wanna Schacht,
And really that’s not a lot,
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa honey, there’s one thing I really do need,
The deed
To a local yarn store,
Santa honey, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa cutie, fill my stocking with some rolags,
And project bags   .
Skeins of handpainted too,
Santa cutie, come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With lots of pretty stitch markers bought just for me,
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me too,

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
I don’t mean wandering round,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.,
so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.,
Yarn stash, tonight.

Ellen reported on the stupendous estate sale held at the Weaver’s Guild of MN.  She didn’t buy much, but she did bring home a gorgeous supported Tibetan spindle made by Spindlewood Co.  She baked the few skeins of yarn she bought in her oven warming drawer (temps above 140-160F for several hours will ensure that no clothes moths survive).

Jan brought home fiber from Gurdy Run Farm and Woolen Mill – alpaca from her own alpaca’s fleeces.

Lots of cookie baking going on, including cookies that Ellen’s daughter Jenny created for Red Rooster Harlem.  Ellen’s other daughter, Karen’s, first authorship  on magnesium sulfate and cerebral palsy prevention in pregnancy wasn’t as recent as Ellen had thought – but Ellen is still proud.

Jan tries to convince Santa, Baby to enhance her yarn stash right around minute 15:15.

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole and Jan had Dale’s linen stitch scarf as monogamous knitting.

Ellen finished up Chunkeanie, a reverse stockinette beanie by Wooly Wormhead, knit in Kashmir Aran. Also out of Kashmir Aran, she knit up Entrechat by Lisa Chernery.  She used the Knitters Pride Karbonz dpns in size 8, liked the feel of these needles but found them noisy and clinky. And she finally finished her Fat Soled Felfs.  The double weight soles felted a bit less than the single weight uppers, resulting in very pointy toes and heels – very elvish.  And very good fitting! These were out of Ewetopia, and it felted beautifully.  She dried her Felfs in her warming drawer!

Ellen got a pattern up for sale in 2013!  Bitsy Baby Beanies is a quick stockinette beanie with a wide ribbed edge and simple to execute 4-point decrease.  Listen to the episode to find the code for a free copy through January.

After discussing the design principles used in creating Bitsy Baby Beanies, we challenge our listeners to give thought to their design for 2014.

Jan finished up her cabled yarn, and Ellen added a few more bobbins of CorriedaleX singles to her collection.  She reported 19 bobbins (but a later count gave 20) with over a pound of fiber left.  Spindling on a Kuchulu (Jenkins Spindles) during conference calls gave her about 250 yards of fine laceweight yarn in the last few months, and she also continued spinning on her Lark for a heavier weight yarn.

Both twins agree – a niddy noddy is a useful tool for spinners and knitters alike.

Jan loves her embellishment for the week – the Brother P-Touch label maker.

Ellen discovered that dishcloths made out of Bernat Tizzy is a great way to find a scrubby in a sink of dirty dishwater.

Ellen’s slick trick was the slipped stitch edge in the Entrechat sweater by Lisa Chernery.  Instead of the way Ellen had originally learned, Lisa had the knitter slip the last stitch of a row and knit the first.  Jan’s trick makes linen stitch easier to knit.  She simply always works from the knit side, doing this either by clipping her yarn with about a 6″ end at the end of the row and sliding (on a circular needle) back to the start of the row to work the next row.  The tails at either end make a ready made fringe.  For working in the round, steek stitches can be added that can then be unraveled to create fringe after the steek is cut.

In the DALKAL, woolybear368 aka Mary, from Massachusetts, won for her Keyhole Swagger.  She converted a buttonhole scarf out of a bulky yarn.

Episode 23 — Second Sock Syndrome

In which we discuss our Seattle trip for the fabulous Bohus knitting workshop, the weather, fair food, prizes for knitting everywhere, camelid fiber grading workshops, capturing domestic and wild life, Bohus knitting and reknitting, share a negative space essay about returning home, and learn some more fiber jargon and another slick trick.

We are thrilled that so many of you have chosen to listen, and even more thrilled when we get to meet you in person.  Thanks, Holly and Kathy, for joining us in Seattle to knit and chat a bit!

Seattle was the focus of the Patterns of our Lives for the last few weeks – we both attended a special workshop with Susanna Hansson on the history and techniques of Bohus Stickning, the couture house that produced fabulous and precious sweaters in the mid-decades of the 20th century.  Susanna is a fabulous teacher, and the custom workshop for our small group was fabulous.  Thank you, Susanna!   And thank you to Paula and Marty, Ellen’s SIL and BIL, who hosted the twins for an interlude after the workshop in their gorgeous lake home.

Bohus sweaters weren’t all that were showing up in the Patterns of Our Lives.   Jan turned around from her Seattle trip and headed to Ohio and Magical Farms, the largest alpaca ranch in the country, for a fiber grading workshop.  Ellen (along with Lisa and friends) hit the State Fair and ate her way through to the Creative Activities barn, where they both enjoyed seeing some winning garments, including three second places in the various sock categories. Congratulations to Bevil, Jennifer, and any other listeners who won ribbons at the state fair or in their county or regional fairs.

Jan is done with her garden, or at least all the work of putting up the harvest.  And she is done with the groundhog that took up an abode under her porch – thanks to Dale and his Hav-a-hart trap.  Ellen is just getting into the gardening spirit after adopting a friend’s garden that would have gone unharvested while the friend is out of state this fall.

On the Runway features a Bohus reproduction sweater that Jan started in Seattle – her version of Green Mist which she is calling Fog Lights.  She has swapped out several of the colors to move the design from the original misty version to one that is more vivid and is loving knitting it.  Jan’s version of  Siesta, a T-shirt by Carol Feller, is taking a reposo, but she made some headway on her version of Paula Emons-Fuessle’s Lullaby Rain Shawl which she is knitting out of Knit Picks Galileo, 50/50 merino bamboo in the Sand colorway.  She is also working up a coaster for the Caithness Craft Collective swap.  No details about it until it is in the hands of her swapmate, pgknittingnurse, also known as Andrea.

Ellen said she had less on the runway, but actually had 6 knitting projects going.  All of her recent work on n Musing, her Shirley Paden Design Along 3 project, seems to have clouded her mind.  Other projects that saw the light of day included her Master Knitter Level 2 resubmission,    Forever in the Forest, out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia, and her Bohus sweater,  Rimfrost, aka Many Moments of Grace. She continues to work on a gloves-design-in-progress and cast on a new project, too – Gray Mountains, a hat in the Mountain Peaks Bohus design in the gray colorway.  The yarn is a fine fingering 100% wool yarn – 170 sts on size 0 (US) around the head!  Another new Bohus project for Ellen – a tiny pouch in progress from the Scilla design swatch kit which she received as part of the workshop.

Bohus knitting is featured in the Bitten by My Knittin’ design element, too.  Ellen came to the bitter conclusion that her experimental top down sleeve caps on her Rimfrost cardigan were just not working and frogged the both sleeves back to the armholes.  The yoke tension is also looking a little iffy.  Jan admitted that she didn’t read the pattern thoroughly and jumped ahead to splitting the sleeves and body off from the yoke on her Bohus pullover and had to frog back to correct abnormally short armholes.

Jan has completed her version of her design, Swagger, out of St. Charles’ Luna, a kid mohair/silk laceweight.  Promenade, her project, is being used as a shop model at Flying Fibers.

In the design element, Design Challenge, Ellen thanks Arlen of the Lost Geek podcast for the suggestion to look at the Simpleknits blog for ideas to knit from 1-285 yards of yarn.  Jan has a new design challenge – what sweater pattern would be great for a stylish, athletic young man?

360 Degrees: Ellen reported the finishing of one more yertle from Susan’s Spinning Bunny, a BFL roving dyed in the Sled Dog colorway. Jan’s life kept her spinning enough that she didn’t need any more from a wheel or spindle!

In Fiber Jargon, we discussed combing, carding, and gilling.  No, there was no fishing involved.

For a Slick Trick to avoid forgetting that second decrease in rows where you “decrease one st on each end”, Ellen suggests clipping a st marker in place at the end of the row as soon as you do that first decrease.  When you hit the marker, it reminds you to do the second decrease.

The Fashion Forecast is for a northwoods knitting retreat for Ellen at the Lost in the Woods Knitting Retreat hosted by Sisu Designs.  This one is full, but a second retreat is being offered later in the fall if you are interested.  Jan is returning to Magical Farms for a fiber processing weekend, and both twins will be going to Friday Harbor in October for a Cat Bordhi retreat.  Sounds like a good autumn, doesn’t it?!

There is still one contest running to close out the Twinset Summer – a Design Challenge instead of a KAL for the listeners of Twinset Design.  Take a project you are already knitting and share a favorite design element in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group.  Contest will close soon after the first of September.

Enjoy the show!

Finch Me…I must be dreaming.

Dear Jan,

I’m not sure if I’m dreaming or if I’m having a nightmare.  This morning the thermometer read 9 degrees.  Those are Farenheit degrees, just to be clear.  Wind chill tonight is predicted to be double digits below zero.


And yet this little guy insists that spring is virtually here, proclaiming he is too sexy for his winter feathers, and it is time to show off his bright yellow dating wardrobe.

I am not too sexy for my new cowl, Massive, pattern for which is Decibella by Gale Zucker and yarn for which is by Classic Elite and me (Waterlily, cable plyed 4 strands of this Aran weight yarn into one super-bulky yarn).  In this weather, it is good to look hot warm.


Someone else may feel sexy in another recent FO, Impossible Dreams.  Stats: pattern – Seedling Dreams by Amy Beth Mays, yarns are Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted (gray, 100% wool) and Frog Tree Merino Melange (pink, 100% merino wool).  I knit the medium, and while it fits, it just barely does.  I don’t do much pink, either, so I’m thinking this is likely to be a charity hat.


And I have yet one more FO to share.  This is my Fiber Fusion class project, knit out of various handspun yarns and one skein of fat and funky art yarn. Mostly knit on size 13’s, but I accidentally picked up an 11 and did most of one sleeve so I just repeated that on the other.  The yarns include my handspun Nora (a TargheeX sheep whose fleece I bought at the 2011 Shepherd’s Harvest), samples of handspun Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain and Wensleydale, and a Steven Be Exclusive Handspun, created by Ruby Slippers Studio out of wool, alpaca, fabric, metallic thread, polyester, acrylic, nylon, sequins, mohair, silver, glitz, angeline, and rubber butterflies.  Because glitz AND sequins weren’t quite enough.


The process was and the result is exhilarating.  I explained the process in a prior blog post.  The result is going to be in a showing of Steven’s work at Third Place Gallery in Minneapolis which opens this weekend.  (Yes, I do work well to a deadline.)

I could use the sweater at home to wrap up in and keep warm this weekend – we won’t see anything like real spring temperatures for quite sometime.

I won’t be the only one happy for their arrival.




Don’t Fence Me In

Dear Ellen,

I surely have felt fenced in of late.  The post-surgical complications (nothing too serious, dear readers) have been a figurative and literal pain in the……okay, okay, I won’t go there.  I was going a bit stir crazy, but I’m very happy to report that in just the last few days I have seen a dramatic increase in my ability to sit upright without doing additional damage or suffering some very discrete yet powerful pain.  This translates directly into my being able to do things with my hands like knitting, doing needlepoint, needlefelting, etc.  One is far less likely to go insane more able to entertain oneself when not limited to lying about on one’s stomach.  This has yielded a number of completed projects on which I’ll focus most of the rest of this blog post (assuming anyone who reads this blog  also listens to the podcast so I don’t need to tell them about Thanksgiving or the chickens).


I will comment on one other item though — Dale, with some help from Allen, Heidi, one of our teenaged neighbors and me (on the very last short board so I could say I helped) has completed putting up the posts and rails for our first paddock.  Isn’t it fabulous?  (Okay, it’s a crappy picture from Dale’s very old phone, but at least you get the idea.) We (and by we, I mean Dale) still have to put in the gates and trim the posts to height, but the hardest work is finished.  I’m now working on the shopping list for halters, water troughs, hay racks and medical supplies.  I can’t wait to see alpaca inside that fence.

1-dsc06234.JPGNow to those finished projects.  I’m really pleased with my Spring Grove Tocque and Mitts.  They’re knit from yarn produced by Spring Grove Alpaca Ranch — our intended source for our first alpaca.  (But you can only see the tocque here, and not yet blocked at that — imagine very similar mitts till I post a picture some day.)  Carl, the owner was so generous with his time and alpaca for the wedding that I wanted to knit him something to repay him.  I think he will appreciate it doubly since they’re made from his yarn — a lovely sport weight in natural fawn and tan colors provided kindly by the alpacas Prediction and Ellamy.  I do so love knitting with alpaca yarn — kitten belly soft (TM).

1-dsc06189.JPGI also created a little menagerie of fiber friends to keep me company in my confinement.  They are all needlefelted, most have a partial or complete pipecleaner armature.  Each one only took a few hours to complete — pretty quick and I think they turned out really cute.  Each is the representation of a well loved pet.  Can you pick out Max and Ruby?  These guys are destined to find themselves under a Christmas tree (or in a stocking).  I’ll miss them, but by then I should be able to be out and about and talking to humans.  (No, I haven’t been talking to these guys….much.)

6-dsc06206.JPG I also knocked out a handful of felted ornaments — 2 sheep, a snowman and a whoopie pie.  I gave the little Wensleydale to my friend Jeri who raises them.  The little snowman went to our knit group ornament exchange.  Dale will get the whoopie pie and I get the little white and black sheep (perhaps a Suffolk?) is for me.  I think I need to add a ribbon to the whoopie pie to make sure Dale doesn’t think he can eat it.

1-show-me-your-larch-pack.jpgAnd Show Me Your Larch Pack is finished!!  Off the needles, pieced and photographed…though not blocked yet.  I do think you can see it’s fantastic potential in these photos — just imagine what it will look like after a good wet blocking.  I am so looking forward to wearing it.

I haven’t cast on Pretty Thing yet, but I hope to before the weekend is over.  I’ve got some other things to get done, so I’d better get to it if I’m going to get this posted and pick out yarn!

Love, Jan

Wedding Countdown

Dear Ellen,

The last few weeks have been a blur — podcast recording, podcast editing, wedding organizing, wedding supply buying, wedding contract verifying…and on and on.  Nonetheless, I did finish a few knits and managed to fit in some recreation as well.

5-hiya-brooke.JPGFirst off my needles was my Hiya, Brooke! shawl, the Hyla Brook pattern by Paula Emons-Fuessle.  I made the two sides mirror-image vice as in the pattern, so I was changing gears at the spine on each lace row.  The pattern (which is just lovely and a very fun, fast knit by the way) doesn’t do the mirror image.  If you start a lace row with “YO, K2tog”, then you continue from the spine with the same “YO, K2tog”.  That means that as you go out from the spine on one side you have your eyelet a stitch away from the spine whereas on the other side the eyelet is right next to the spine.  This really isn’t noticeable to the casual observer.  But I’m all about the symmetry, so I made sure that each time I hit the spine I reversed the order of the YO’s and the K2tog’s.   I like the result.

1-on-dress-form.jpgI also moved the closure that was bothering me on Fooling Around, the Devonshire pattern by Pam Powers, and have blocked out the additional bit of lace that is knit after piecing the sweater together.   (This is just the continuation of the front edging around the back of the collar.)  The geometry of this sweater makes it very easy to wear.  The collar lies neatly against your upper back and neck and with the closure in the right place (an scant half inch above the apex of the bustline) it hangs without a perceived need to keep pulling it closed.  I’ve had that problem with other single closure sweaters.  And I need a sweater I can keep open — especially when my own personal summers decide to kick in!  You’ll see this sweater at Rhinebeck for sure — it’s very, very light, but just perfectly cozy warm.  I think it’s the possum in the Kauri yarn.  I bought this yarn while on a work trip to New Zealand — with this pattern in mind.  Take note — perhaps the first time I’ve bought yarn for a specific pattern, put it in my stash and then years later actually knit that pattern.  Until now it has only been when casting on immediately that I have been true to my yarn/pattern matchings.

1-september-2012-003.jpg2-dsc05721.JPGOur playtime was mostly at the West Lampeter Agricultural Fair.  It also was another opportunity for gratuitous ego boosting as I entered seven knitted items and came home with seven ribbons (and also a ribbon for my dilly garlic squash pickles at the SOLANCO Fair!).  I mentioned on the podcast that I won first prize for three — all designs of my own.  I need to get busy on publishing those!  Dale enjoyed riding the practice roping calf.   We both enjoyed watching the ducklings at play (<= video link!) on the water-slide set up by Rohrer Seed Company.  I wanted to take some ducklings home, you would have too.

1-dsc05708.JPGThe fairs both had many adorable goats and Dale is on the verge of readiness for goat acquisition.  One of the farmers assured him that goats will do just fine with only a run-in shelter in our climate.  So, after the wedding we’ve got fencing going in and we’ll be looking for some pygmies…preferably pygmy angoras, but we’re not averse to having a mix.  Dale spotted this guy trying to drive his owner’s tractor — the thought that they could be trained to help with plowing, etc., may have been what clinched his decision that we should move forward.

1-september-2012-004.jpgThe next week will be fully focused on wedding preparations.  Lots yet to do, including the seating chart.  With some of our guests, the results of our decision making could be interesting!

Love, Jan

Knitting and Spinning Catch Up

Dear Ellen,

My needles have been a clickin’ and my spindle and wheel have been a spinnin’ — one reason my blog posts had fallen behind.  Here’s a quick run down of the fiber activities from the summer.

1-4-star-scarf.jpgI knit a scarf that I called my Four Star Scarf as an appreciation gift for Chief of Naval Operations Greenert’s willingness to preside and speak at my retirement.  Navy blue and gold, of course.

1-fooling-around1.jpgFooling Around is almost complete.  You can see some of my mattress stitching mastery in this collage.  The sweater is fully pieced now, but I need to attach the hook and eye closure and get some modeled shots.  Soon.

1-dsc05665.JPGHiya, Brooke! is named for a grad school classmate of mine.   It’s the Hyla Brook shawl pattern by Paula Emons-Fuessle, Prairiepiper of the Knitting Pipeline podcast.  A very relaxing and enjoyable pattern that turns out a most wearable shawlette.  I really like Paula’s patterns, having also knitted Piper’s Journey and admitting I just bought her newest pattern, Ellison Bay.  One thing I love is the background she gives about her inspiration for each.  Hyla Brook is inspired by the hyla, the European tree frog, and a brook named for it’s population thereof.  The lace pattern is called hyla lace and you can just imagine the little peepers all in a row.  I modified mine slightly from Paula’s pattern so that the lace would be symmetrical mirror images from the spine. It’s not blocked yet in this pattern, but will be soon.  You can see an end waiting to be woven in…you wouldn’t have any experience in loose ends would you?  (Heh!)

3-hoof-jam.JPGHoof Jam is my own pattern made from the Alisha Goes Around Marmalade (of Ponies) fingering weight in the Landscape colorway that you gifted me at Christmas.  The pattern is toe up with ribbed horseshoe cables along the outside of the cuffs and eye of partridge heels.  (How could I not use horseshoe cables when knitting with Marmalade of Ponies???)  A sock pattern like this, that has a nice stretch of stockinette with only a short stretch of patterning each round is a nice balance between challenging and boring.  It’s very knittable during social settings and even with adult beverages!  After the wedding this will be one of the patterns that makes it up onto Ravelry for sale.

1-dsc05240.JPGLazy Sunrise, knit from Kauni Effektgarn is a cleverly assymetric shawl in the Lazy Katy pattern by Birgit Freyer that really shows this yarn off well.  It was a pretty darned fast knit too.  Either that or I just couldn’t put it down as watching the colorway work through it’s gradients was so much fun.

2-dsc05562.JPGI finished up a few mitts — the Mrs. Beeton mitts by Brenda Dayne.  (Mine are called Fancy Pants for my Wrists.)

3-dsc05567.JPGAnd I finished the my Beady Ayes mitts based on the Opposites Attract Heavily Beaded Cuff Pattern by Susanna Hansson that I started in the class we took from Susanna at Yarnover.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone and felt compelled to add a bit of ruffle and some eyelet edging to Susanna’s basic pattern.  I still have other mitts in the works — those Bohus mitts for which you gave me the yarn and pattern several years ago.

dsc04139.JPGOri-mommy has been in the works.  I’ve finished my piece — the large rectangle, and Marie is making good progress on her piece — the smaller rectangle.  She hopes to be done by the wedding so she can leave it with me for seaming together and blocking.








1-dsc05647.JPGIteration number two of the Sunny Day at Sea Hat, Mittens and Stripey Neck Gaiter is complete.  A few more modifications and I’ll work on getting this set put together as a pattern.

1-twinboybunting.jpg Twin Boy Bunting was sent off to you for your use in completing your Twin Girl Bunting.  I’m so glad to hear from you that you finished yours (despite my efforts to sabotage my accidental mistake in not providing notes on the color chart) and that Julie loved them!

6-dsc05496.JPG  Summer Skies Tank was finished in time for autumn to kick in.  That’s okay as I need to lose a few more pounds before it would look great on me.  Right now it looks good, but great would be so much better!

1-file0_medium21.jpg Sitting and waiting for me to return to it is Death Spiral.  It will be some great travel knitting for post-wedding events.  Right now it needs to be patient while I finish up the wedding knitting!

1-dsc05792.JPGCountry Gentlewoman is done except for closures and sleeves.  Here it’s drying, having just soaked for about 15 minutes in, well, Soak, of course.  I wanted to wet block the body so I’d be extremely confident about closure placement and sleeve length.   I still have 12 days, so I feel like I’m in good shape.  It fits well, and looks great with the palazzo pants I’ll be wearing…no mother-of-the-groom dress for me!

1-file0_medium22.jpgAnd finally, the Valentine Ring Bearer’s Pillow still has half a backing and the side edging to complete.  I am going to have it done this week so Libby can help add the blue and gold ribbons (her colors) to make it more festive for the wedding.  Those will come right off after the big day and the pillow will be a nice addition to their bedroom decor.

1-dsc05492-001.JPGAs for spinning, my big summer achievement is 1900 yards of DK weight Wensleydale 2 ply.  I love, love, love it.  And have plans for it to become the Larch cardigan.  You’ll see it at Rhinebeck (in process!) for sure!  I also have a nice little yurt of natural colored finn on my lark spindle.  I’m going to chain ply it — hopefully about 100 yards worth for dyeing in my natural dyeing class at Rhinebeck.

That’s all I’m covering right now — believe it or not, there are a few other projects for which I have yet to create Ravelry pages.  At least this clears my backlog of posting, so now maybe I can keep up a bit better.  I’ll try!

Love, Jan

Starting the weekend with some finishes…

Hi, Jan,

Technically, I started the week with the admiration of this first finish – Lisa’s Swirl Spiral Scarf, during our Monday knit night. Yes, it is as luscious as it looks.


She knit it out of Jade Sapphire cashmere, after all.  I’ll be dropping it off at the state fair this weekend for her as she is traveling, along with my Greek Swan which I finished well in time to medal for the Ravellenic Games.


This hat, knit from a kit of merino/angora yarn hand-dyed by Solveig Gustafson to reproduce the original colors used in  Bohus Stickning haute couture knitwear, is in the original Bohus design Large Swan by Karin Ivarsson.


Solveig has had kits available for The Swan for sometime now, but the Large Swan, a more complex design though still relatively simple by Bohus standards, has only recently been recreated.


Another finish, just taken care of this morning, is all of the plying from those many storage bobbins of Columbia fleece singles.  Here is what I learned from all of this spinning:

  • Resting singles on storage bobbins is so helpful.  They are so much easier to handle after letting the twist set up for a while.
  • At 5 plies, the yarn is beautifully round and even (grist average over 14 skeins is 977 yds/lb with a standard deviation of 56 yds/lb).
  • I could have put more twist in the singles and would have been able to get an even tighter twist in the yarn, but it is sproingy as is.
  • Fiber prep is very important.  Second cuts and sections with significant vegetable matter must be culled mercilessly before washing and a second culling before carding.  It just isn’t worth saving a bit of fiber to have to fight with nepps and bits in the spinning.  Virtually every time I had an issue drafting, I could chalk it up to this sort of irregularity in the fiber.
  • When one hits a nepp in spinning, especially long draw woolen, just leave it.  I tore a bunch of them out, despite having heard Judith MacKenzie say to leave them, thinking it would make the yarn better.  It didn’t – it left a ratty bit in the singles.  I belive much of this will disappear when I wash and full the yarn, but next time I’m leaving them alone.


Total yardage is 2,452 yds, plenty for a cabled sweater and the hat to go with it! The yarn isn’t finished completely.  There is still the washing and setting of the twist, and I believe I am going to kettle dye the whole bunch, too.


I have another finish that makes me kind of sad – the finish of my row crops garden by this guy.  Yes, we have our very own grizzlyhog* (probably a whole den of them as I’ve seen two at once cavorting in the back yard).   Got any spare wolves you could send my way?



* A groundhog** of unusual size.

** AKA woodchuck.

*** AKA whistle pig.

Where is Ellen now?

Dear Jan,

This last month seems to see me logging a fair amount of travel to all sorts of places.  Can you figure out the most recent?  Here are some hints.

Crazy good berries and cherries.  The strawberries didn’t even make it into the picture before they made it into our mouths, and there is barely more than color left of the raspberries.


Kites, flown by handsome men.


Insanely lush flowers, including more colors of hydrangea, often on the same bush, than I have ever seen.


Time enough to actually finish a project.  Here is my Glitter Train wrister project out of MadelineTosh Light,  pattern by Susanna Hansson.


Got it figured out?  If not, look just above my index finger in the wrister photo.


Yep, there is little else that looks like the Oregon Coast, where Wilson and I are vacationing with his family.  We are so fortunate.



P.S.  A bit of saturation editing on the last photo as the weather was getting a bit murky, but zero retouching of the first four, it is just that dang beautiful.