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

Archive for the ‘Design’


Episode 55 — Traveling with Friends


In which we discuss woodpeckers, our recent travels (and our crowded airline seats), the approach of spring, a new to twinsetjan yarn shop, knitting mittens and mitts, Judy Becker’s book Beyond Toes — Knitting Adventures with Judy’s Magic Cast-On, taking spindles for walks and the $25 savings for those who register early for TwinSet Summer Camp!

Episode 54 — Just Ducky!!


In which we discuss connecting with old friends and friends of our daughter/niece, the Iditarod and Iknitarod, cold, snow, trips to the theater and to the emergency room, an interview with Sherill Roi who encourages us to spin 15 in 15, and a review of the book, “Solefull Socks”.

Thanks to listeners, old and new, for joining us!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Both twins are enjoying melting snow - especially as Ellen watches the Iknitarod where the mushers and dogs are dealing with -40F!!!  That kind of weather would make anyone howl. Jan is looking forward to moving out of mud season. Ellen is looking forward to TwinSet Summer Camp in July, the 10-12th to be exact.  The registration form can be found here.

Ellen headed to California for work on water stewardship. She is just about done with the colds that have been plaguing her.  They didn’t keep her from tech editing another pattern for Mary Lou Egan.

Jan has been just ducky - every since her husband, who had resisted having ducks on the farm, fell for the cute little ducklings that were for sale at the farm store.  Four adorable Khaki Campbell ducks are living in Jan’s basement and will soon move out to the duck palace Dale will be constructing. It brought up memories, hard memories, of being pushed to eat duck eggs as children.  We hoped that we could hatch out more ducks, but we only had one duck, so odds of the resulting eggs being fertile were quite low.  Quite low indeed.

Check out Dale’s woodwork at Maryland Sheep & Wool.  Especially since Dale has suffered for his art, in the form of a trip to the emergency rooms as Dale learned not to wear loose-fitting clothing while working with his lathe.

And that lathe can keep running through a power outage as Jan is celebrating a new generator.  Not so much for the lathe, as for keeping water flowing to the animals.

Finely or Finally Knit

Ellen finished a bun and crow - her project, Eating Crow, is a pair of socks knit from her own design, Bunny Socks.  She called it Eating Crow because she found so many problems with this old pattern.  She’s cleaned it up and reposted it - it’s free, so enjoy now that she has improved the pattern.  The bun is the Bun Ellen has knit for one of the many babies to come this summer.  It’s in Swan’s Island organic washable DK - wonderfully soft yarn for babies.

Jan also did a baby bonnet - Béguin de Printemps, a very cute and fast little baby bonnet by Lili Comme Tout. She used Skinny Bugga in the Acmon Blue colorway which is a lovely gray lavender depending on the light. It is superwash MCN, a pleasure to knit with and perfect for a baby. Jan’s project is called Dean of Grandbabies.  It is for the grandbaby of one of her college deans.

Jan finished with her Tilde vest, out of the Ewetopia from Frogtree Yarns and called it Vice Versatile, as she decided to leave the shifted rib on the back of one side - kind of vice versa except not quite. Yes, this is the second project for which Jan has a project page, which pleases Ellen a great deal.

On the Runway

Jan has finished some things, and she finds her existing WIPs are cold. She is working on the reknit of her Top Stitch Mittens and writing the pattern as she goes.  But otherwise, not much else is going since she finished up the bonnet and the vest.

Ellen continues work on a simple stole.  The pattern name: Stole.  Yep, that simple.  Theresa Gaffey’s design is simple but delightful by virtue of understated color work, simple stripes in gorgeous colors, Ellen’s out of Rach-Al-Paca Suri alpaca in lustrous colors ranging from deep orange through creams and on to greens and blues.

Ellen’s other work in progress is for the Iknitarod, a project knit during the running of the Iditarod sled dog race.  She cast on a Baby Sweater on Two Needles by Elizabeth Zimmerman (aka February Baby Sweater), calling hers March into February.  Knit on sock yarn, Ellen added another round of increases so it wouldn’t be a preemie sweater.  That means a lot more stitches, and a bit of an effort to finish before the Red Lantern (the last musher to finish the race).  It is out of Sea Star Handpaints Super Foot in Sea Glass Blues.

Bitten by our Knittin’

Jan’s vest really chewed her up.  A straightforward, simple pattern is a recipe for not paying attention.  She dropped back and crossed cables, dropped back and re-crossed cables the right way, harvested yarn from the back tails of the vest and finally ended with about 18″ of yarn.  She even had to seam the sweater with another yarn.  She loves the project, but admits it was a lesson in the perils of hubris.

Ellen had to replace the bunny’s face on the front of her little hat, but that was easily done and worked out quite well.

Design Principle

Jan extolled the value of prototyping - with the knitter in mind.  Stitch acrobatics that the designer enjoys might not make the most approachable pattern for a knitter off the street.  And a simpler pattern is easier to describe.  Her advice - simplify the design to the critical elements.  And prototype to be sure it all makes sense.  Sometimes that can be done with knitting, sometimes with paper, a la’ Erica Gunn.

Design Aesthetic

Ellen reviewed Betty Slpekar’s Soleful Socks, “the very best book on knitted footwear in the world” according to Cat Bordhi. That may be true, or may be close to true, but the book is definitely wonderful and presents a great new approach to creating socks.

5 Minute Interview

We are joined by Sherril Roi, aka Baabonnybelle on Instagram or Ravelry, who shares with us her thoughts on daily spinning and what you don’t have to do with your handspun.

360 Degrees

Ellen has spun on many different spindles in the last few weeks - spindles are great for traveling.  She’s focused on spinning some baby camel on a supported Russian spindle. She is considering applying some cop winding advice from an industrial spinning site - to evenly wind on for one layer and then run a widely spaced strand back to the beginning to create a separating layer before winding on the next even layer. Jan has signed on for some more alpaca samples - none of them being suri alpaca, which she doesn’t enjoy spinning.

Fiber Jargon

Jan shares huarizo, not chorizo (yum - we wish she’d shared some of that!).   This term refers to an alpaca-llama hybrid, which is a fiber classification that may have no connection to an actual animal.  The fiber is measured at 32 micron per  The Inca Group Classification system.

Embellishments

Ellen loves the new Dansko’s and also loves that Dansko is a B Corp!

Jan recommends
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Fun Fur

Ellen enjoys matching project bags and wonders if there will ever be a project bag perfect for #pocketsulu. FrontRangeBags is offering some Star Trek bags on her Etsy shop - maybe she’ll do some Lt Sulu fabric someday.

Slick Trick

Avoiding second sock syndrome - a tip Ellen stole off the Iknitarod board, posted by smokeyblue, proprietress of the Spinning Bunny. “I have second sock syndrome so I suggest doing the Leap Frog Method which works really well for me. Get one sock started through the toe increases. Then with a second set of circs, do the same to the second sock, only take this one up to the gussets. Then pick up the first sock , take it up to and through the gussets, etc etc etc.”

Jan’s slick trick is to duplicate stitch over worn spots on your socks BEFORE it breaks through and needs darning. Simple, and slick.

You May Already be a Wiener

Watch the Ravelry group for a thread to give away a copy of Judy’s book Beyond Toes or Betty’s Book Soleful Socks.

Fashion Forecast for 2015

Ellen  has signed up for Yarnover class with Susan B Anderson and Myrna Stahman.  Susan is sticking around for StevenBe’s FiberFest, so maybe Ellen will take more than one class in April with her.

It isn’t too early to think about summer.  And with summer comes TwinSet Summer Camp!  July 10-12, 2015.  Registration form can be found here:

https://app.box.com/files/0/f/0/1/f_26386300459

Registration fee of $265 ($240 if registration postmarked prior to April 30) includes:
A real bed for Friday and Saturday night!  With back-pampering Tempurpedic mattresses!
Meals served family style in the camp lodge, Friday supper through Sunday brunch. Special diets are well-looked after, please note requirements on registration form.
Lots of camp activities, like knitting by the river, knitting by the swimming pool, hiking into the woods to knit, singing campfire songs while knitting, making and eating s’mores (no knitting!), and more.  We hope to have some vendors, and we’ll schedule one knitting/craft class, but the name of the game for the weekend is relax in the woods, let someone else do the cooking, and knit and enjoy each other!

We hope to see you there.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 49 — Full Bellies


In which we discuss filling up our bellies at Thanksgiving, podcast endings and podcaster beginnings, cabbages and kings (well, not kings), fine dining in NYC and nights on the town in DC, visitors and the proper pie ratio, new members of the farm family and a bit of farm animal photography!

Thanks to listeners, old and new, for joining us!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen and Jan enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner together - it didn’t include any of the homemade sauerkraut that Ellen has been making in her basement, but it did include lots of pie.  Jan’s work is going very well and so has the associated social life.  Jan enjoyed wearing her sparkly handknit shoulder stole to the National Defense University Gala.  Kind of like prom for the middle-aged, eh?

Jan has a new llama named Saber to guard her ewes, and Ellen has several new inches of snow.  Besides the frozen water, Ellen reported on water in general and her proud attendance in Chicago at The Nature Conservancy Global Water Summit where General Mills’ (her employer) water stewardship work, much of it part of Ellen’s responsibility, was highlighted.

Jan says no water has broken in the alpaca herd - no cria has shown up at Dahlia’s side and Jan is starting to suspect she really isn’t pregnant.  Dahlia, that is, not Jan.

Finely or Finally Knit

Ellen had no finished items, but Jan did finish the stole mentioned above - one of her Streambed Shoulder Stoles knit out of  Art Yarns Mohair Splash Beaded 74% Mohair and 26% Silk in midnight blue.   She also needle-felted a little chickadee to decorate a future holiday gift.

On the Runway

Ellen took advantage of #SKYKNITTING on the way to Chicago and then to Thanksgiving to make great progress on Scotch Tango, her  Shirley Paden Design-along 4  Fair Isle design.  She is working her sleeves flat but in the round - she is working both sleeves at once, joining them at the edges with a steek so she doesn’t have to work fair isle from the non-public side.  She continues to work on a new sock design for Modeknit Yarns out of ModeSock.

Jan has continued work on her socks out of Opal’s Van Gogh Sock Yarn in the colorway Cafe Terrace at Night.  Ruby, her little dog, will appreciate the new dog bed that Jan has started and made great progress on.  And even with all those projects, Ellen was still unable to find project pages for any of them.  Sigh.

Karen, Ellen’s daughter, was nearing the finish of her own Green Mist Bohus reproduction sweater, and this is motivating Jan to get going on her Fog Lights (Janhas made some color modifications to the original design of the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson).

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen swapped techniques in the middle of the corrugated ribbing for her Scotch Tango and the resulting change in tension means she is needing to adjust some of the stitches by giving them a tug with the tip of her needle all the way around the band.

Counting tripped Ellen up, too, or rather not counting - she didn’t decrease the foot of her sock to the proper number and had to tear back a chunk of the foot and rework it.   Tip to listeners - just because you designed the sock doesn’t mean you can ignore the pattern.

Jan wasn’t pleased with the rate of increases on the large gauge dog bed (2 sts/inch!) to create a circle and she needed to pull back and reknit.  At that gauge, it probably didn’t take much more than 5 minutes to reknit, so I’m not sure it is even worth mentioning here.

Ready to Wear:

Ellen introduced the Diana’s Quiver socks - Modeknit Yarns ModeSock, a 60:30:10 merino/bamboo/nylon in wonderful colorways - lots of tonals and near tonals as well as variegated yarns. The pattern is designed for this sort of subtle colorplay - with floats on the surface to create both texture and flickers of a solid color dispersed across the dappled background. Two sizes - a 64 st and a 72st sock on US size 1 needles (2.25 mm). One skein will make the pair. She is selling the pattern on Ravelry, but if you’d like a copy for free, order some ModeSock and let Annie know you’d like the pattern.

She notes that there is another sock pattern out there that uses the little tent stitch - and the sock looks quite similar to hers though she had a very different inspiration. Ellen’s sock does handle the ribbing and the gusset differently, and the details of the heels and toes differ. She just wanted to be up front and acknowledge this pattern, though she didn’t know it existed until she received a comment on the blog that the reader was knitting a very similar sock.

Negative Space

Ellen’s essay, “Bigger on the Inside”, has since been mentioned on the Knit.Theory podcast Episode 31 in the Literary.Theory section (around 32.30 in the recording).  Check out Ammie’s lovely videocast if you’d enjoy seeing lots of knitting and do some thinking as well.  Ammie promises a quiz show theme for 2015, which should be lots of fun.  Thanks for the mention, Ammie!

360 Degrees

Besides finishing a braid up for Jan, Ellen has been spinning up some of her own batts on Catherine the Great Wheel.  That wheel spins so fast that even with lace weight yarn, progress is fast.  She spun from the fold, which prevents locking up of the fiber because the twist has moved back into the fiber mass.  For a photo tutorial, check out Abby’s Flickr display.   She also plied and plied and finally finished off a two-ply laceweight - 1,268 yards!  This was out of Fiber Optic gradient braids of merino:silk - fun to spin and promises to be fun to knit.

Jan mentioned the fun of bringing an old spinning wheel back to spinning condition while Ellen visited.  It was like a puzzle, given that there were more than one spinning wheel.

Fiber Jargon - telekiknitting: from The Knitting Dish’s husband.  When you are so tired that you don’t have energy to actually knit, so you just knit in your mind.  Try it - it really can calm you down or help you be patient when you can’t actually hold knitting in your hand.  (Check out The Knitting Dish - even more enjoyable than telekiknitting).

Embellishments - Ellen’s is a double-pointed needle WIP holder handcrafted by Dale of Fair Winds Farm (yes, that would be Jan’s husband).  Jan’s embellishment is her goody box from the Savvy Girls Swapetition courtesy of crouchingcheese on Ravelry.  What a bounty - everything from brooches, candy, teapots and even hedgehogs (in the form of a teapot cozy)!

Fun Fur

Check out #FeministPrincessBride.  Feminist! Feminist! Feminist!

Slick Trick

The backward loop is a very low bulk cast on. It works well over a few stitches - but when you cast on more than 5 or 6 stitches, it just isn’t snug enough. You probably noticed that as you knit the first round by the time you got to the last stitch of the cast on you probably had a big loop of extra yarn — and a hole in the underarm. One way to resolve this is to cast on a few stitches less than specified - maybe one less for every 5 or 6 stitches called for. Then, as you knit the first round, as you get that extra loopiness, just use it to make a cast on stitch to replace the one you didn’t cast on originally.

You May Already be a Weiner!

hotknitter will have hot hands after winning Laura Rickett’s most excellent ebook of Sami mitten patterns,  Beauties From the Far North - Swedish Sami Knitted Mittens.

Have fun storming the Patriarchy!  (And enjoy the show!)

Episode 48 — Catch Me Up If You Can


In which we offer condolences to the “Car Talk family”, start a new contest for a Boston Jen design, congratulate Wilson for his “Top 100″ chess status, Marie’s debut in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade*, Gale Woods Farm, Jan’s new job, Buddhist housekeeping, NYC visits to daughter’s restaurants (well, restaurants at which daughters play key roles) knitting retreats that bring healing, new playwrites and playing in parks, Dr. Yarn’s anger management techniques, Spinzilla and designing for flow, and try to catch up on many other aspects of life!

*Update!  Marie will not be a Christmas tree — instead she will be a pirate, a treasure chest or a shark devouring a person as one of the wire walkers for the “Pirate’s Booty” balloon.  She hopes she gets to be a shark!

Thanks to listeners, old and new, for joining us!

And thanks to BostonJen for sharing her lovely new shawl, Aila Grace, with us, including a free pattern for one of our lucky listeners.  (Note: contest has closed.) Check out Down Cellar Studio, BostonJen’s own podcast for more knitting and other fun.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen remains proud of the MN Senior Chess Champion - her husband - who is now also on the list of top 100 US chess players over age 50!   She’s also proud of her daughter whose photo was featured in a recent review of the NYC restaurant, Dirty French, at which she works.

While her family pursued indoors activities, Ellen stood outside and nearly froze her ears off.  Maybe that’s what happened to the sheepdogs at the Star of the North Sheep Dog trials held at Gale Woods Farm. These were held on a huge pasture with rolling hills - lots of terrain for the dogs and sheep to roam. It was a really windy day and the wind was just blowing the trainers’ voices back at them and the dogs simply couldn’t hear them. By the way, Gale Woods Farm is our local working farm that is also a metro park. It is such a resource for families, and more and more so for fiber artists. Check out their Ravelry group.  They just introduced their new yarn - Farm Rainbow, a worsted weight Finnsheep/Corriedale blend, hand-dyed by our friend Wendy J Johnson.

While Ellen stood in the wind tunnel, Jan drank from the fire hose at her new job.  She reports that she is getting to share lots of new ideas as the university is undergoing lots of change right now - perfect time to make an impact.

The comfort of knitting played a big role while Jan undertook her new job, and as she said goodbye to a dear friend.  She took solace in retreating with Cat Bordhi on San Juan Island, receiving support from all the retreat goers and the nature that surrounded them.

Ellen continues to amaze all with the state of her housekeeping - when a basket of hats and scarves fell on her head from the hall closet, she was forced to clean off the shelf - and then found her Large Swan Bohus Reproduction cap that she missed all last winter. You just don’t know whether something is good or bad while you are going through it. At least that is what we think the Buddha would say.

In between watching dogs and a tiny bit of housework, Ellen had the pleasure of tech editing another pattern from Mari Tobita - this one the Snowdrop Capelet.   This sweet capelet, with cables that run from the hem to the collar, a few bobbles that vine off from the cables, and a nice foldover collar to keep one’s neck warm is being used for a KAL at Blizzard Yarn & Fiber in Vancouver, WA.  The other pattern of Mari’s that Ellen edited back in August, the Kikyo shawlette, has also been published.  It is a shawlette, starting at one point and growing into an assymmetric lace wrap with a sawtooth edge. Both of these patterns are both charted and written out - the best of both worlds.

How do you make a great cherry pie?  The way they do in Door County, Wisconsin, where Ellen & Wilson and friends spent several days eating several versions of said pie -  The best was the last - over 3 pounds of cherries per pie, they said, and I believe them. To make the pie, they line a big bowl with the top crust, put the cherries in, then invert the pie pan (already lined with the bottom crust) on top and then flip the whole thin over after crimping the edges together. The fruit pies stood 2 inches above the rims!

The fun doesn’t stop - Ellen filled another fun with visits from the wild and crazy chess players and then a visit from Karen and Brandon. The latter included an evening at Mixed Blood Theater to see Collossal, a great play by Andrew Hinderaker, a promising young playwright who also happens to be a good friend of Brandon’s. And Karen finished up the weekend playing with Frances, the Folding Golding. She is a natural - she was worsted spinning a gorgeous yarn immediately, and this only her second session with a spinning wheel. Ellen is very proud.

The most recent weekend saw Ellen and friends Betsy and Alison perusing the wares at the Upper Midwest Fiber Festival. Some of those wares left the festival in our bags, including a knitting sheath which Ellen is inordinately excited about as she believes she will now be such a speed knitter she will be able to finish a Bohus sweater in less than 5 years.

Finely or Finally Knit

Both twins had finished projects - Ellen worked up a pair of Norgie mittens following the recipe from Jan Bilden shared at the Sisu Lost in the Woods retreat. She knit them on size 1.5 needles - 2.50 mm, and used was Kenzie by Skacel (50/25/10/10/5 merino/nylon/alpaca/angora/silk and Strikkegarn from Rauma, a harder 100% wool yarn.

Jan Frogged some items - by which we mean she knit some things out of Frogtree Yarns.

The first, a gorgeous cowl out of Frog Tree Pediboo (80% washable merino and 20% bamboo) in a moebius construction with reversible “Just So” cables from “Versatildes” cable patterns.  She also knit a Mini-Felf out of Frog Tree Ewetopia — to help promote “The Art of Felfs“, Cat Bordhi’s book whose sales go entirely to support cancer research.  


Ellen also finished 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).

On the Runway

Jan has many projects on the needles, but these are the ones that got attention:

  • socks in an interesting rib pattern in a Navy blue and gold colorway
  • mittens in Dream in Color Smooshy leftovers,
  • a Prickly Pear scarf out of Berocco Folio (85% alpaca, 15% rayon) to get a yardage count in a single yarn,
  • a sparkly stole for an upcoming formal event — Stream Bed Lace Shoulder Stole out of Art Yarns Mohair Splash Beaded 74% Mohair and 26% Silk — a midnight blue, 
  • and most knit of all — a Versatilde vest in Frog Tree Ewetopia, one of the medium length vests with the substitution of a modefied Donegal cable pattern for the river. 

Even with all those projects, Ellen was still unable to find project pages for any of them.  Sigh.

Ellen was a little more focused, making progress on her  Shirley Paden Design-along 4  Fair Isle design, a cropped length, truncated front sweater out of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.  Because it is a bit like a bolero yet done in Fair Isle with steeks, she is calling it Scotch Tango. She is also working on a new sock design for Modeknit Yarns out of ModeSock.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Most of Ellen’s mishaps were nibbles, but nibbles in Fair Isle lead to some pretty detailed reworking.  Jan had to really frog - about 25 rows of cables that got misaligned while knitting in a dark airplane cabin.

Ready to Wear:

Ellen introduced the Paving Cowl, partner to her Tunisian crochet-in-the-round Paving Mitts.  Patterns for both are available on Ravelry at $3 each or $5 for the set.

Jan’s Prickly Pear pattern that she designed for the Yarn Barn in San Antonia for their 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl received rave reviews from the yarn crawlers.  She’s finishing up the formal pattern and getting feedback from test knitters, so we should see it in 2015!

Design Principles

Ellen discusses how she aligned the Fair Isle patterns on her DAL4 sweater so they would flow over the shoulder without a mismatch at the seam.  She used careful planning and a well placed side panel to allow some flexibility in placement.  Jan reflected on a similar process for her Tilde vest - placing the cables and angling them for effect, not just letting them fall where they may.

Design Aesthetic

Both twins appreciate the new Cat Bordhi book, Versatildes - a New Landscape for Knitters. As true for so many of Cat’s books, this one inspires knitters to create their own designs, but also provides plenty of guidance and even specific patterns along the way.  Highly recommended.

5 Minute Interview

Dr. Yarn shares his tips on using knitting as an anger management tool.

360 Degrees

Ellen has finished the Spinning Bunny BFL in the Sled Dog colorway!  The singles were all spun on spindles and the plying was done on Frances.  She estimates something like 1350 yards of DK weight 2-ply.  That is a lot of spindling!

Jan turned in over a mile of yarn in her maiden entry in Spinzilla.  She spun two skeins — the beautiful tonal sky blue batt that she bought from Desigknit at TwinSet Summer camp, merino — and a polwarth silk blend from Port Fiber in Maine in the Serengeti colorway — burnt orange, golden sand, sage greens and other colors of the savannah.

Embellishments

Ellen’s - state parks, in particular Peninsula State Park in Wisconsin.

Jan’s - Pool noodles.  Listen to the episode if you are curious.

Fun Fur

Jan’s - Pool noodles again.  Listen to the episode if you are curious.Slick Trick

When transferring the spun yarn from bobbin to niddy-noddy, stand clear across the room and keep tension on the yarn as you wind it. This allows the twist to even out across the stretch of yarn that was held taut - to get twist to travel, you do need to put tension on the yarn, and the longer you can stretch the yarn from bobbin to your hands as you wind the niddy noddy, the more you can create an even twist.

You may already be a Wiener!

The oldest finished project in the Cleaning off the Needles KAL was annarch’s Clapotis - started in 2006!  And the winner of Mystic Shawls was Heather01851.  Congrats!

Fashion Forecast

Lots of personal stuff - but as for knitting, keep your own calendar clear for TwinSet Summer Camp 2015 - July 10-12 in Darlington, MD.

Enjoy the show!

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

Episode 47 — Melancholy Bunny


In which much is out of date, but still interesting…to me anyway.  And probably Ellen.  Hopefully to you.  Sorry!

Thanks to listeners, old and new, for joining us!

We kick off this episode with acknowledgement that by the time it was posted, it was out of date.  Consider it a history lesson and enjoy.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen is proud of a the MN Senior Chess Champion - her husband!   That was about all she had for Patterns of our Lives, but Jan had plenty.

Dale and Jan got away to Virginia Beach for a mini-break before Jan started her new job.  They rented a very nice suite in a nice hotel - and then invited a bunch of friends to join them.  I don’t think they really understand the concept of an intimate weekend away, but hey, whatever floats their boat.  Rumor has it that Fisherman’s Platters were eaten.

Returning from the beach, Jan headed north to the Knitting Pipeline retreat, chauffeuring two VIP’s, Louise of Caithness Craft Collective and Zelia, her mum.  Of course, when you are traveling with Jan, you fit time in to tour Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and visit an alpaca farm (Jan’s).  I think there was some knitting in there, too.  The retreat sounds like it was a blast, lots of yarn, lots of food, lots of talk and fun and learning courtesy of fellow retreat-goers and also Susan B Anderson, artist-in-residence for the retreat.  If you want to check it out, check out #KPMaine on Instagram.  You will be able to follow the story of Sylvia and Flavio Sylvio.

Jan followed the retreat with a full week of naval conferencing and finishing up the Prickly Pear pattern that she designed for the Yarn Barn in San Antonia for their 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl.  She is not resting at all before starting her new job - which is Chancellor of one of the 5 colleges that comprise the National Defense University.

Ellen had some yarn fun this month, too.  Part of that was her autumn pilgrimage to the Sisu Lost in the Woods Knitting Retreat on Burntside Lake just outside of Ely, MN.  The project for the retreat was Norwegian mittens, guided by Jan Bilden. Many colorful mittens got their start that weekend.

Ellen got to spend an afternoon with Jim Pietkowicz and Cat Bordhi, following their class at StevenBe.  Ellen noted that valuing brick and mortar LYS’s is important - enjoy those Etsy shops, but don’t forget your local yarn purveyors.

Finely or Finally Knit:

With so much time between recordings, some knitting got done!

Flavio Sylvio, the Portuguese bunny, was one of the projects Jan finished.  He was made of leftovers from Prickly Pear, a hooded scarf that Jan designed (see above).  She used picture lace to suggest prickly pear cacti, perfect for a Texas yarn crawl.  Jan hopes to publish the pattern in the near future.

Jan also knit a pair of mittens for the charity drive associated with the Knitting Pipeline retreat.  Of course, none of these projects actually have project pages on Ravelry, or we’d link to them for your viewing pleasure.

Ellen also finished a few items.  She finished her Wild Apple tam (#wildappleaday on Instagram) which she started in Sweden (so appropriate to knit Bohus patterns in Sweden!) out of merino/angora yarn from Solsilke (no longer available, but Angoragarnet is beginning to supply kits). It still needs blocking, after which you will undoubtedly hear about it again!

She also finished #11 Eyelet Cowl by Cathy Carron out of her handspun, an MCN blend from Rain City Fiber Arts. A super simple eyelet cowl in a cushy handspun yarn - it was a pleasure to knit.

Jan finished her assymetrical socks, too.

On the Runway, Jan reports that Fog Lights (the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson), is making great progress with just bands remaining.  Likewise, Ellen is almost ready to start the bands for her Bohus reproduction (Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design).

Ellen is also working on Norgie mittens - started in the Sisu retreat class taught by Jan Bilden.  Her mittens are out of Kenzie from Skacel, 50%, 25%, 10% angora, 10% alpaca, 5% silk noils for a crimson red, as well as a nice hard Norwegian yarn, Rauma Strikke-garn in deep sky blue.  Jan has knit boot socks out of Kenzie, so it promises to stand up to wear and so isn’t as odd of a pairing with the Rauma.

Ellen 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).

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Once again, Ellen learns that you should at least read the pattern before going your own way.  She had to frog the crown of her tam when she discovered that she wasn’t following the prescribed decrease rate.

And once again, Jan learned that you shouldn’t knit lace late at night and while drinking, leading to some frogging in the final knit of Prickly Pear.  And she bit her knitting, clipping the fabric by accident when trying to remove waste yarn.  She also misplaced one of Flavio’s arm during the knitting, the first time she knit her bunny, anyway.

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.

Ready to Wear:

Jan offered some of her farm wares at the Knitting Pipeline retreat and reports they were well received.  She has replenished her inventories as she received her order from 84 Alpacas has arrived - yarn in various weights, plus roving both pin-drafted and not.  She hopes to be offering it sometime soon.  We are likely to all fight over the 3-ply DK weight out of the cria fleeces.

Design Principles

Ellen received detailed notes and feedback on her  Shirley Paden Design-along 4  Fair Isle design.  Shirley suggests a 3-needle bind off for a stronger shoulder seam, rather than the mock Kitchener seam Ellen had suggested.  She has also suggested some changes to the armhole shaping, so Ellen is giving that some thought.

Jan asks about whether a thumb on a mitten should carry the pattern to match the hand.  Ellen says, it depends.  Really, it needs to be suited to the mitten.

Design Aesthetic

Jan and Ellen review Laura Rickett’s, Beauties from the Far North - Swedish Sami Knitted Mittens, available for $20 on Ravelry.  The book has 8 mittens - and in a flash contest - you have a chance to win a copy of the book.  Check our Ravelry group for a chance to win - we will close the thread when we record the next time (which will be two episodes from this one, as we did record this morning and this episode was posted late last night - somehow that doesn’t seem very fair).  Here is the TwinSet Technical Review(TM) of this book:

1) Good overview for each pattern — CHECK.
2) Written Instructions — Yes - full descriptions of how to knit these, stitches and materials, but charts are used for color.
3) Charted Instructions — See #2.
4) Words of caution/Tips/Tricks — Notes and special techniques are embedded in the pattern.
5) Photography Styling — Very nice. Includes caribou hides and horns.
6) Photography Clarity — Very clear, several shots of each mitten.

This is a super book of super designs for super colorful mittens.  We recommend you take a look, you’ll enjoy both the designs and the history of the Sami culture.

360 Degrees

Ellen described working with an MCN blend from Rain City Fiber Arts.  She spun the singles with a woolen draw, working hard to keep them fat and puffy, and the resulting yarn is nice and puffy.   A fast, fun spin.

She also gave Valor a bath - Valor’s fleece, that is.  He is the Fair Winds Farm ram, and his fleece is gorgeous.  Ellen recommends Synthrapol, available at Dharma Trading Company, for a low-sudsing, highly effective wash.  She trimmed the tips from the fleece, removing the sun bleached ends and thereby making sure that the dark fleece that Valor produces will still be dark when carded and spun.  She also drum-carded a fleece from Rhinebeck from a few years ago - lots of fiber fun and future spinning to come.

Embellishments

Jan is enjoying her Kindle Unlimited investment - for her, it is paying off!  Ellen mentioned an embellishment that Wilson found - a fitness tracker for cats.  They are called KitBits.  (April Fool’s in October!)

Fun Fur

Ellen’s fun fur is reading blogs - and she is going to start reading other’s blogs again and posting to the TwinSet blog, too.

Slick Trick

Diane (knotjusthats on Ravelry) shared the slick trick she learned in a pattern for making an enclosed edge when picking up a button band.  When picking up the band from the front, work a smooth cotton yarn into the loops formed on the back of the band as you pick up the stitches.  Now you have clearly marked the stitches to use when picking up the backing band of fabric.

You may already be a Wiener!

Many winners in our Cleaning off the Needles KAL - but you were all winners, with so many wonderful projects!  Winners and prizes listed below - please be sure and connect with twinsetellen on Ravelry to figure out how to get your prize!  And THANK YOU to our donors, lotsofhermies, DCAlaneknits, Cat Bordhi, and Fair Winds Farm.

Grand Prize (TS summer camp project bag) — cperrine (Cindi) — Toothless
LOH (lotsofhermies) Stitch Markers –Knotjusthats (Diane) — Fuscia Fantasy hat
LOH Stitch markers — AZknitwit — Market Bag
LOH Stitch Markers — Prairiegl (Leah) Plum Tree Slouch
Versatildes — camanoah (Judy) — Sockhead hat
DCAlaneknites pattern donation — Oldest project

Fashion Forecast

Jan will of course start her new job, but also a trip to the NW for a Cat Bordhi knitting retreat.

Ellen actually got a knitting retreat application in on time.  She is planning to attend the Zombie Knitpocalypse next year.

And both twins plan to figure out how to get out episodes a bit more frequently!

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 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!

Episode 41 — Podcaster Shout Out!


In which we mention many other podcasters, and in which we discuss squirrel kings, sailboats, shorn alpaca and sheep, getting our hackles up, visits by fast knitting friends, not buying a fleece and then buying one after all, a daughter-in-law hiking the Appalachian trail, sealing up our fine fiber and TwinSet Summer Camp!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan had Memorial Day weekend alone as her husband and son sailed a friend’s boat to Maine.  Jan did make new knitting friends in a class on Controlling Your Colors at Flying Fibers .  Her daughter-in-law is hiking the Appalachian Trail - check out her adventures at Adventures of Heidi Galore.

Ellen saw an Indigo bunting at her backyard feeder - quite a thrill.  And she saw an anomaly of nature - a squirrel king.  This is the rare instance where a nest of baby squirrels get tangled tails, possibly because pine resin has stuck them together.  She called the local animal control squads for assistance.

The baby squirrels were cute - but not as cute as baby alpacas after shearing.  Laura (LauraKnitsPA) came and helped Jan shear the herd.  William looks like a cotton swab with his fluffy head on a long thin neck.  His fleece is gorgeous - but filthy!  Valor’s (the Finnsheep ram) is gorgeous and Ellen has already bought it.

Ellen’s keeping those filthy moths away from her precious Bohus kits in gasketed waterproof containers.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan started and finished a project for her Controlling Your Colors class.  She knit a Faux Argyle hood - her own pattern in yarn from Persimmon Tree Farm - “Potluck” which is a 50/50 mohair/wool.

Ellen and Erica (Desigknit) whipped up a cute little Whitfield Shorty Jacket by Anne Hanson.  They worked it in the new Briar Rose yarn of Targhee wool.  Erica knit the sleeves and the pocket, Ellen knit the fronts, back, and collar.  Done in less than a week!

Forever in the Forest is just a block away from being finished!

On the Runway:

Jan continued on her new pair of socks started in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    She’s doing the socks in a staggered all over cable pattern.

Ellen continues working on the second of a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She cast on a pair of baby bootees to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills, and a wrap to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan’s version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool is nearly done and Jan worked on a purse for her little Marie doll.

Ellen is continuing her design, Chain Mail gloves, and is testing the pattern as she goes.  Her Portuguese Baby Booties seam to be done - except for the seams.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen learns, yet again, that it is useful to follow an expert designer’s pattern as her variations to the Whitfield Shorty turned around and bit her. Tiny errors may have crept in, at least until she and Erica actually followed Anne’s directions.

Jan barely had any issues - a mis-crossed cable or two, but that’s all.

360 Degrees:Ellen had day dreams about what she will do with Valor’s fleece. Her plans include a gentle wash followed by combing.  She’ll use a hackle and hand comb. Check out several videos (Forsythe Woolen Combs) on how elegant this fiber prep can be.

Slick Tricks:

Ellen shared how Lisa (turbogal) saved her Black & White sweater that stretched in the blocking - superwash wool will sometimes tighten back up if it is thrown in the dryer.

Jan’s slick trick was to select the perfect size of O-ring from a variety pack to put on the shaft of her bobbin winder to hold various bobbins in place on it.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Jan now has a doll for the Living Doll KAL, though it does need clothes.  Check out the Twinset Designs Ravelry group where we are creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and the prize will be a Susan B. Anderson pattern (single pattern) of the winner’s choice along with a copy of the Pam Allen book, Scarf Style.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast means continuing her crazy schedule - on June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar and plans to visit Natural Stitches near Philadelphia .

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. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 40 — But We Digress

In which we evidently discuss everything whether it relates to the planned content or not.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen enjoyed the end of Fiber Fest, taking in Andrea Wong’s class on Portuguese Knitting and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Knitting for Speed and Efficiency classes, as well as a lecture from Stephanie that was all about smart knitting.  From Andrea, Ellen learned that purling with your thumbs can be easier than using your fingers!  And Steph had many words of wisdom, including to beware swatches that grow as they suggest a serious problem with the fabric contained.  Her class on knitting efficiency included such gems as “petting your knitting is not the same as knitting!”

Jan spent some time at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, where she was very restrained in her fiber purchases, though Dale did buy a spinning wheel.  For her, of course.  Happy early birthday indeed!  The wheel was a Road Bug, made by David of the Merlin Tree.

Ellen eased the pain of going back to work with a work group outing to the Textile Center.  Bevil joined her and they dyed yarn (pink for Bevil, of course, and teals for Ellen, also of course) and tried their hand (should I say fingers?) at kumihimo.

Jan continues her education in alpaca, this time by showing Sweet William and Shrinking Violet at the PAOBA (Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association) show.  Despite being in the wrong color class, William came home with a 4th place ribbon.  Just wait until next year!  But she didn’t have to wait till next year to bring home ribbons for a rug, a hat, and yarn - handspun and commercially spun.

Ellen has been spending some time killing babies (more clothes moths, sigh.  Tip: check old boxes of shoes when you clean out for moths.)  Jan spent time welcoming babies - more chicks, mixed heavy breed chicks, some of whom will grow into laying hens and some of whom will  grow into dinner.

And Shepherd’s Harvest made a nice finish to the fiber season in Minnesota.  Believe it or not, Ellen didn’t buy much - some sheep cheese and an ounce of guanaco fiber.  Yum on both counts!  The Black Welsh sheep farm she mentioned is Chengwatana Farms.

On the Runway:

Ellen continues on Forever in the Forest and is on tier 21 of 21!.  She is also working on the second of a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She cast on a pair of baby bootees to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills, and a wrap to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Reposo, Jan’s version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool took a siesta while Jan worked on clothes for her little Marie doll.   She continued on her new pair of socks started in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    She’s doing the socks in a staggered all over cable pattern.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

The twins toes were nibbled as both had minor issues with socks in progress.  A miscrossed cable here, a tink back to correct pattern there (even if the sock is the 4th in that pattern one has knit, it is possible).

Finely or Finally Knit:

This week it was Jan’s turn to be productive - she finished a Coiled Carpet — hand sewn from rug yarn from her alpaca, and also worked up a new design - Twisted Tocque — 100% alpaca DK hat on size 6 needles; heavily cabled.  Your editor thinks she linked to the right project - but you’d better check with Jan!  360 Degrees:

Ellen continues to spin her top top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  Spinning a sock yarn with laceweight plies does take time.  She is in her final ounce of four, then for some plying fun.  This just might not be a simple 4-ply!

Jan spun up some Falkland dyed by Erica of Desigknit, plyed the alpaca singles she spun at the farm show, and test drove her new wheel with some fiber from MDSW.  She admits to once more buying fiber “seconds” and regretting it - they drafted poorly.  Let this be a warning to you!

Fiber Jargon:

Ellen discussed courses and wales.  Of course, a course is the technical term for a knitted row, and wale, a wale is a column of stitches (think corduroy wales).

Embellishments:

Jan provided the embellishment for the week - Roku 3.  She loves the universal search feature.

Fun Fur:

Ellen’s fun fur is really fun leather - fish leather!

Slick Tricks:

Jan’s slick trick was to select the perfect size of O-ring from a variety pack to put on the shaft of her bobbin winder to hold various bobbins in place on it.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Jan now has a doll for the Living Doll KAL, though it does need clothes.  Check out the Twinset Designs Ravelry group where we are creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and the prize will be a Susan B. Anderson pattern (single pattern) of the winner’s choice along with a copy of the Pam Allen book, Scarf Style.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast means continuing her crazy schedule - she will be teaching a couple of classes at Flying Fibers

  • May 15 — Toe Up Socks, using her Fast Baby Booties pattern (a freebie!) (the pattern, not the class)
  • May 22 — Control Your Colors, working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling

She’ll also be having Shearing Day at Fair Winds Farms on May 27.  Then June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar.

Ellen has another day of Shepherd’s Harvest - we’ll see if she maintains her resistance to adding to her stash.

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. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!