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

Archive for the ‘Design’

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 29 — Hats a Lot of Knitting!

In which we discuss* our Thanksgiving celebration, knitwear on fire, alpaca with trench-o-phobia, cold and snowy weather, planning to make the most of your knitting time, shades of colors, crispy duck skin and foregone conclusions for the outcome of the Army-Navy game.  (Navy will win, in case you are wondering!)

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but when your turkey was 42 lbs, you just don’t forget it very quickly.  Jan and Ellen relate the fun of family and food and more food…and more food.

After getting home, Ellen and Wilson caught Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Ellen ogled the knitwear. The first scene in particular featured a fabulous cowly-shawly thing.  Click on the link - a picture definitely tells more than these words.

Jan is happy to have water in her barn even if the alpaca weren’t so happy about the trenching needed to run the lines.

In Ellen’s knit group, Carrie (aka prjstartercarrie) finished up her version of StevenBe’s Mermaid Shawl.

We get a little competitive over who has donated more to Community Links International (an environmental, service-learning, immersion, volunteer, and international educational organization supported by the good folks at Frog Tree Alpaca) through Goodsearch.  You can join the competition by registering on the site (it’s free, and every internet search you make throws another penny in the till).

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole and gave her  Great Dayne sweater some attention, too.

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 also worked on a scarf for Dale.

Ellen knit lots and lots of hats - using Kashmir Aran and the Purl Soho pattern, Thank You Hat - Simple Rib, for two of them, doing another one in Sirdar Click Chunky with Wool in yet-to-be-published hat design by Mary Lou Egan, and knitting a preemie hat and a baby hat with remnants of that Kashmir Aran and a pattern of her own device.

Jan finished up Stroll, another Swagger version - this one out of her own handspun of Finnsheep fiber, with a lower increase rate to let it have very long “arms” that can be tied around her in the fashion of a working shawl.

And Ellen has finished the knitting of her double-soled Felfs despite a false start… or two.

In the new segment, Ready to Wear, Jan announced that her Stream Bed Lace Shoulder Stole pattern is now available for purchase.

Stephen Robbins of Pelindaba Lavender was our guest for the Five Minute Interview at about minute 28:30 or so.

Jan and Ellen discuss the various types of colorways -variegated, ombres, and tonal.  Examples of these yarns include Morehouse Farms Merino Variegated Morehouse Merino 2-ply (variegated),  Berocco Ultra Alpaca Tonal (tonal), and Wooltopia Ombre Gradients (Ombre).

Check out the details of PineSlayerDee’s latest slick trick (or at least the latest one on which we have reported) - felting in a dryer - at her post on Ravelry.

Don’t forget to get a chance at winning a skein of Blacker Yarns wool!  Make a comment in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group thread for the Blacker Yarns contest - tell us what yarns you like, and for a bonus entry, comment on something interesting you learned on their website in a separate post. (edited 1/5/14 - Contest is now closed.) Ann aka anarch on Ravelry already was a winner of the Stitchmaps contest.*And all in less than an hour!

Episode 27 — Knock, Knock…

In which we extend our thoughts and prayers to those affected by storms near and far, and in which we discuss nasty colds, prolonged podcasting absence, rapid Master Knitter responses and successes, the end of an era in which Solveig reigned in the world of Bohus, responsible use of GPS and liquor, Finnsheep, the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat, visiting with dear friends, Blacker Yarns, designing colorwork mitts and more!!

Wow, this is another long episode.  Getting sick gets in the way of all sorts of things - we are glad Jan is feeling more like her spunky self!

You can help all the communities affected by the tornadoes and typhoons by donating what you can to relief organizations, including for tornado relief at Crossroads United Methodist Church.  And in the line of supporting good causes, don’t forget to check out The Art of Felfs, and consider buying it to support cancer research.

Jan and Ellen’s family grew by leaps and bounds - sister, niece and grandniece added to the gang as the Knitmore Girls joined the family.

The news that Solveig Gustafson is retiring from dyeing the reproduction yarns for the Bohus Stickning reproductions hit the knitting world hard.  Cherish those kits if you have them!  Don’t worry, Susanna Hansson will still be teaching her wonderful Bohus Stickning class.  And Kimmet Croft offers a heavier gauge yarn for many of the designs.

Ellen celebrated her completion of the Master Knitter Level II course.  (Lisa will be done any day now!)

Ellen did more than knit these last few weeks - she sewed, too!  Holiday napkins and also a knitting project bag, nicely lined and zipped.  Tutorial here and here.

Jan’s family continues to grow even more - by one cat as Heidi and Marie move to an apartment that only allows two cats and they need to leave one behind with Jan and Dale and in the spring by 4 or 5 Finnsheep.  The contract on the lamb purchase is signed and Jan gets the pick of the litter.

Jan took a trip east to her buddy Heidi’s where she lolled about Iron Horse Yarns to celebrate her successful navigation without a real map.  Putting one’s trust in a GPS takes faith.

Jan had that faith, and made her way up to Maine where she enjoyed the Knitting Pipeline Retreat with stops at Saco River Farms and Saco River Dyehouse, Tess Yarns,  connections to knitters like Hannah Fettig and Pam Allen, and I understand they all ate Magic Cake.  It seems that if you town is named Portland, you are in a fabulous fiber city.  And that was without even mentioning the wonderful knitters Jan enjoyed at the retreat.  If you want a taste of how wonderful they were, check out woolybear368’s videocast.  She was the perfect roommate for Jan.

Both of us had lots on the runway.  Jan is working on Stroll, another Swagger version - this one out of her own handspun of Finnsheep fiber, with a lower increase rate to let it have very long “arms” that can be tied around her in the fashion of a working shawl.  She’s also working on a linen stitch scarf for Dale.   Jan also worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  And of course, Jan is working on some more Felfs.  Ellen is also doing Felfs, making the sole double weight by using Susan Newhall’s Blended Intarsia technique. She is using Frog Tree Ewetopia, a 50:50 merino:superwash merino blend (great for felting!).

Ellen made great progress on her  Great Dayne sweater and it is becoming a real sweater - now with sleeves!  She has developed an I-cord edging that includes the lacy cable from the raglan seams.   She is well on her way to finishing her Tunisian crochet mitts and hopes to have a pattern out soon. Her friend Cammy brought a blending board to knit group, and Ellen blended, spun and then knit a little holiday ornament.

Forever in the Forest is got a bit more attention from Ellen as well.

Ellen was bitten by her knittin’ when she failed to follow her own design intentions while working on her self-designed colorwork mitts out of Blacker Yarns Pure Teeswater DK and Pure Dark Wensleydale.  She finished an adult hat using the pattern Grateful out of Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran which is a merino, microfiber, cashmere chain-structure yarn that is machine washable.  With the remnants she designed a little preemie or tiny newborn hat, which she calls Grateful for Babies.  She also knit a tiny bag out of a swatch kit for the Scilla Bohus design.  It fits her cell phone perfectly.

In the new design element, Swatcha Doin’?, Jan and Ellen review the yarns Ellen with which is knitting her colorwork mitt design. Both are DK weight, worsted spun, in 50 g skeins that are 119 yds in length.  Lustrous, haloed, and supple and strong - both twins enjoyed the yarns a lot.  Ellen, as mentioned, is designing a colorwork mitt of the two, they worked so well together.  The Blacker Yarns website is a delight and so full of information - go check it out right now!

For a bit of Negative Space, Ellen shared the value of untangling one’s projects as well as one’s life - freeing up space for knitting.

In Design Principles, Ellen discussed the principles she is following in the design of her colorwork mitts - everything from yarn choice to techniques used for what is to be a simple knit and how to adapt for varying gauges by stitch pattern.

There is other designing going on in the DALKAL - the Design-Along, Knit-Along of Swagger.  Check out the Ravelry group for details on this contest for a skein of Wollmeise!

Check out the Knitting Daily post on the Shirley Paden Design-Along to see a photo and the process Ellen finished in creating her SPDAL3 sweater.

Ellen has been very busy with her spinning - much more of her CorriedaleX on her Louet Victoria, a BFL roving on her great wheel, Cat (Catherine the Great…Wheel), and some more BFL on her Turkish Spindle.   Jan has been spinning Corriedale, too, in brilliant greens.  She did these on her Kromski wheel and plans to ply them and then cable those plies.  Fiber Jargon for the week is “liquor”, aka the dyebath.

Ellen is enjoying her new water oven, the Sous Vide Supreme Demi.  Jan is thinking her turkeys will weigh out to 14-24 lbs, probably too big for this.

In Fun Fur, Ellen exclaimed with joy over her Blue Moon’s Fiber Arts Rockin’ Whorl club delivery.  She forgot she’d joined the club! Jan’s FF is Words with Friends, an app for smartphones that let you play word games with friends.

Jan’s Slick Trick saves you from having to figure out where to pick up stitches in a thumb for a mitt.  In the first row after casting to create the thumb, instead of just knitting in the newly cast on stitches, kfb in each. On the next round, separate the stitches and put the purl stitches on one needle, ready to knit the thumb, and the others on the needle that is knitting the hand of the mitt.   You are all ready to knit the thumb!

And you are ready to gain a chance at winning a skein of Blacker Yarns wool!  Make a comment in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group thread for the Blacker Yarns contest - tell us what yarns you like, and for a bonus entry, comment on something interesting you learned on their website in a separate post.

The Stitch Maps contest continues - check out the contest thread quickly, as it is due to close the end of November which technically, already took place.

Thanksgiving will find Ellen and Jan together and recording with a virtual guest for the next podcast.  Tune in and find out who it is!


Ellen and Jan


Dear Jan,

I want a massive cowl. To get this I need a massive yarn. But I don’t want to spend a massive amount of money, which limits me to working from stash.

I tried to spin a super bulky and failed (though I got a gorgeous yarn which will definitely go to another wonderful project), so now I’m going to try to ply a super bulky.


Four strands of Classic Elite Yarns Waterlily plyed together - if that doesn’t give me the massive impact I want, I don’t know what will. But it does eat heavily into my beloved Water Lily stash, Water Lily that is now discontinued. (I remind myself that Water Lily wasn’t made to be hidden in my closet, it was made to be used…)

This will be my Iknitarod project - I will start spinning in just 17 minutes when the mushers take off from the ceremonial start out of Anchorage.  The real start is tomorrow at Willow checkpoint, but I’d better not wait until then or I may not finish before the Red Lantern gets to Nome.

With massive affection,


Do I sound like Ross Perot?

Best wishes to all on the east coast for a quick and safe storm recovery.  I encourage all to donate to your favorite relief agency.  Ravelry members may want to participate in the Subway Knitter fund raising event found here. The Subway Knitter podcasts from Brooklyn, where Jan’s daughter and her wife live and , and where my daughter lived before moving to Manhattan.  Said daughter is in upper Manhattan and stayed dry through the storm and feels very fortunate.

Dear Jan,

I know you’ve heard it, that giant sucking sound when you are knitting.  It happens all the time when you are knitting cables - they really suck up the fabric.  I have just added a cabled panel to the plain stockinette back of a cardigan, so I have data to back this up (no flip charts, sorry).


I knit up two swatches - one in the specified stockinette gauge and one in the cable pattern I wanted to add.  In this photo I’ve marked off 16 stitches on each.  Quite a difference, eh?

To convert the pattern,  I counted the stitches in my cable pattern and calculated how many inches that would convert to, based on my cable gauge.  I then calculated how many inches that would have been if I’d stuck with stockinette stitch.  The difference is the amount of stockinette stitch I need to add back to keep the width of the garment as designed.

For an example (I made these numbers up for ease of demonstration):

  • Cable gauge is 3.5 sts/inch.  Stockinette gauge is 5 sts/inch.
  • Cable panel is 28 stitches wide.  28 sts divided by 3.5 sts/inch = 8 inches.
  • 8 inches of stockinette would have been 8 inches times 5 sts/inch = 40 sts.
  • 40 sts minus 28 sts = 12 additional sts need to be cast on to keep the same width.


My actual pattern specified casting on 114 sts.  Based on my actual numbers, I cast on 134.  The cable sucked up 20 extra stitches!  (Did you hear it?)

If you were doing this for a full garment panel, you could just multiply the cable gauge times the width of the panel and get the proper number of stitches for the garment.

Row gauge can change, too so if your pattern specifies how many rows to knit before executing some maneuver, you will want to convert those in a similar manner.  In my case, I am knitting to specified lengths so can blissfully ignore row gauge.*


While I was occupied knitting swatches, the season seems to be sneaking up on me.  The Thanksgiving cactus prepares to bloom!

And I prepare to go to bed!  I hope you’re having a wonderful retreat out in Washington.



*Can one ever blissfully ignore any gauge?  I may regret being so bold.

Don’t forget that cables also use a lot more yarn.  Plan accordingly.

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

True Colors

Dear Ellen,

dsc04599.JPGDale convinced me that I should have a hand knit thank you gift for the Chief of Naval Operations when he does my retirement.  And he told me it should be a scarf.  And it had to be in navy blue and gold colors for the Navy.  And it needed to be cool looking.  He is convinced that the CNO will never have had anything knit for him by an admiral before.  He is probably right.  So, I agreed.  Then I spent several days searching for a reversible pattern stitch that worked with two colors.  I decided to do slip stitch diagonal stripes.  And I found the yarn at a fantastic little shop in the northern part of Lancaster County.  Since then I’ve been busy on it, but it still has about 40% to go.  I should come in under the deadline without too much fuss.  And I like it well enough that I may modify it and knit another for Dale and to work for a pattern to publish.  I’ll put up a photo of the back side when I think of it.  It is not identical, but is very nice so although the scarf is not truly reversible, it works.

dsc04600-001.JPGHere are some other colors I saw this weekend.  Our ferns are just gorgeous right now.

dsc04603.JPGAnd so are our table scraps.

Love, Jan

Hot Feet and Cold Nights

Dear Ellen,

dsc03770.JPGBrr!  The weather is chilling off here.  We’re consistently in the 30s at night.  Okay, okay, I realize you are likely consistently in the 30s in the day, but for us this is nippy.  We’ve woken to frost and all the other signs of imminent winter are around us.  Leaves are falling and give a nice crunchy accompaniment to walks in the woods.  I got the bulbs into the ground — all 275 of them.  And the corn has been harvested leaving behind the big rolls of silage that remind Dale of Easter Island.


In knitting news I’ve finished my Eternal Flames socks.  I sought out a colorway that would play up the idea I had to use the flame rib stitch in a sock pattern.  I found Lancaster Yarn Shop’s Kettle-Dyed Sock Yarn in the Amish Broomcorn colorway.  You don’t even have to put these socks on to start feeling warmer!  Gorgeous colors in this yarn.  I was a bit worried when the soak for blocking leeched a lot of dye (and took lots of rinses) from the socks, but they still look just as intense as the yarn when it was still in the skein.  The flame rib makes socks that are nice and snug — they hug your foot nicely, not too tight, but snug enough to stay up and stay put.  The heels are done with an eye of partridge stitch and the yarn is perfect for it…the short repeat of the orange and yellow against the long repeat of the dark mahogany red really makes the eye of partridge pop.  I’ll get the pattern together one of these days — I did keep notes!

foggy-coast.jpgI’m also joining in on the Knitting Pipeline’s Rip Van Winkle KAL and the Knitmore Girls’ Coastal Knits KAL and the Stash ‘n’ Burn NaKniSweMo KAl all with the same project. The Rip Van Winkle KAL challenges you to use something that’s been sleeping in your stash or queue for a very long time.  I dug up some skeins of Manos del Uruguay that I was gifted from a friend’s mother’s stash when her mother died.  She asked her daughter to give it all to someone who would use it.  I’ve had it for almost 6 years — it’s about time.  The yarn itself is so old that it’s on old tags, and is simply listed as 100% wool in size D.  It’s a misty colorway — pale pinks and greys and slate blues and creams.  Makes me think of morning fog at sea.  The Coastal Knits KAL is for any of the projects from that book.  I’ve picked out the Rocky Coast Cardigan.  So, for National Knit a Sweater Month (NaKniSweMo), I’m knitting a cardigan.  I’m calling it Foggy Coastline at Dawn.  I only have 1100 yards or so of the yarn, so am not sure it will fit me when I’m done.  Not too worried though.  Dale’s mom has been hinting for a handmade and the colors would look very good on her.  She’s enough narrower than me that it’ll work.  I think I’ll go put in a few stitches now.

Love, Jan