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Archive for the ‘Family’

Episode 50 — turbogal, AKA Lisa

In which we celebrate the milestone that is episode 50, discuss NYC trips, trip ups with deer, podcaster visits and prank calls, Wilson’s continuing mastery of the chess world, precision dancing viewed at Radio City Music Hall with Jenny and light up swizzle sticks (!), pulling it together when your gauge is all over the place and a special outtake for your holiday merriment….oh, and turbogal.

Thanks to listeners, old and new, for joining us!  We are excited to share our 50th episode with you.  I wonder how long it will take us to get to Episode 100.

Patterns of Our Lives:

It seem that colds are making the rounds – if last episode you tracked voices by thinking “It is Ellen that has the deep husky cold-voice”, note that this episode it is Jan.

Jan could have used her cold to disguise her voice when she played a prank call on Ellen.  Instead she used Melanie of The Savvy Girls.  It is clear who the responsible and kind sisters are from these podcasts, eh?

Jan and Dale met a stranger – with the grill of their car.  Unfortunately, said stranger, a deer that jumped in front of their car, didn’t survive the exchange, nor did their car.  Fortunately, the Subaru Forester protected Jan and Dale and they didn’t even get a bruise.

Ellen had a much more enjoyable meet-up with knitter friends from the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat including turbogal AKA Lisa.  (Lisa is turbogrrl on Instagram) And Jenny, Ellen’s daughter, had a nice meet-up when Jan visited New York City with a group of International Fellows from National Defense University.

Wilson continues his chess achievements – winning the Minnesota Master/Expert championship and bringing home a trophy about a meter tall. And his rating is even higher – the highest its been in his life and higher than he thought he’d achieve – which is really wonderful for him and makes Ellen so happy.

Finely or Finally Knit

Jan has finished several small items – a pet bed for Ruby, a very knit-worthy dog.  She also finished her socks out of Opal’s Van Gogh Sock Yarn in the colorway Cafe Terrace at Night.  One last item – a HappyBath(TM) washcloth out of an unknown cotton yarn.  Don’t bother going to her project page to look at them.  She is further behind in getting project pages done than Ellen is in getting show notes done!

Ellen seams to be done with Scotch Tango, her  Shirley Paden Design-along 4  Fair Isle design (actually, still needs to do the seaming).  She’s contemplating how to handle the raw edges on the steeks (update: they are already felting into place, so she is not going to bind them off at all!)

On the Runway

Jan is very close to finishing Fog Lights her variation on a Bohus reproduction sweater (Jan has made some color modifications to the original design of the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson).  She is also working up a self-designed hat.

And Ellen is now turning her attention to the socks she is working up  for Modeknit Yarns out of ModeSock.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

The problem with doing your own design is you can’t blame someone else when the design doesn’t work out.  Ellen carefully planned where the sleeve ends on her Fair Isle sweater, but should have given some thought to how the design got started at the wrist.  Result – several inches of design frogged after she realized the color pattern wasn’t matching the body color patterning.  She had only accounted for 4 of the at least 5 dimensions that this pattern design included.

Jan found that riding buses to and from NYC gives you lots of knitting time, and it is also great for generating dropped stitches.

What Would Susan Ask?

If you were asked to limit yourself to knitting one type of thing for a year, what type of thing would you knit?  For Jan — socks, because they are her comfort knitting.  For Ellen — gloves in all their variations, so she’d never stop learning.

Design Challenge

A sweater many years in the making makes for many gauges. Ellen, Lisa (AKA Turbogal), and another friend all pitched in to help a new knitter get a long-in-the-making sweater back on track.   A good steam blocking of the wool/mohair blend knit pieces allowed them to get the slightly out of gauge front to match the back and sleeves to match each other.  They used a trick Ellen often uses – layering the top right on the back made sure they were the same length. (Width isn’t as crucial because your front probably isn’t the same width as your back.)  After a cool-down, the pieces were well-behaved, reasonably matching, and ready for seaming.

360 Degrees

The twin-spun two-ply (Ellen spun one ply, Jan the other) worked out well when Jan got it plied up.  Ellen is disgruntled that Jan won’t share half the yarn with her.

Embellishments – Jan swears by the Gmail unsubscribe function.  Let Gmail handle the hassle.

Fun Fur Feathers

Jan has added to her collection of rubber duckies with Bild the Great, a Viking ducky, and a Statue of Liberty ducky.

Slick Trick

See above – stacking sleeves on top of each other when blocking to make sure they are identical.  And if you knit a “super sleeve” – a tube that is both sleeves joined by steeks at the ends, it is super easy to block.  Simply stretch the sleeves on two dowels and get perfectly blocked, perfectly identical sleeves.

You May Already be a Weiner!

Lucky winner of Aila Grace by BostonJen is strid8!  And check out allaboutyarn’s Etsy store to see what made Ellen drool.

Fashion Forecast

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:

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.


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!

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.


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 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 36 — Spring Forward!

In which we discuss the continuing cold weather, alpaca escapades, animal visitors, renewed work on UFOs, extreme knitting repair, four and a half miles of singles, improving the likelihood that a yarn substitution will be successful, the wonderful designs of Aurélie Colas, stick on pockets, Iditaknitting, and in which we enjoy a visit from Dr. Yarn.

Spring still hasn’t made it to MN, despite springing forward into daylight savings time.  Jan continued her grant proposal consulting work and rewarded herself with a little quiet knitting time…enjoying it until she noticed a herd of deer near the house.  And until she realized they were alpaca, not deer.  Turns out if you want to keep alpaca in the paddock, you need to close the gate.  Luckily, a mad dash and some barking dogs warded the alpaca away from the busy road and Jan was able to convince them to go back up the driveway around the traffic circle and right back into the pasture.

Suddenly the chicken’s are egg laying factories – Jan is getting about 8 eggs a day!

Ellen feels better about MN weather by keeping track of the Iditarod.  And the house finches are back and the gold finches are golding up, so maybe the weather will feel a lot better in the near future.

Jan has returned to Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater.  She is enjoying the Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool she is working it up in.  She has cast on for a new pair of socks in Wisdom Yarn’s Saki Bamboo.  She is also working on another pair of Felfs.

Ellen has all of her UFO’s on the runway – 7 in total.  Forever in the Forest, a new pair of ModeSock socks, Bambinoo, Many Moments of Grace, a self-designed sweater and some gloves.

Limpid, which is Ellen’s version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla, bit her, but she bit back.  Using a daredevil approach to fixing an error back in the knitting and around a corner, as well.  She dropped the joining stitches between the edge and the body of the shawlette so that she could then drop back to fix an errant stitch in the body.  It worked – how satisfying!  And the shawl is finished and posted on Ravelry.

Jan had some tinking to do, but nothing as heart-stopping as the Lintilla fix.

Or amputating fingers.  Ellen found that she had misplaced the pinky finger – didn’t have it on the edge of the glove and had to frog back and reposition the needles.

Jan again is running out of yarn for a pair of Felfs for Allen.  She just can’t find that other skein she was sure she had.

In Finely or Finally Knit, Jan has finished the knitting on Marie’s Felfs (if being clown-feet size is finished.  they still need to be fulled.)  Her big finish is her Oxen Soxen. Yes, she has a name for the pattern.  No pattern yet, but at least there is a name.

In addition to Limpid, Ellen has finished some fingerless mitts out of Claudia Handpaint.  She has creatively named the project, Tunisian Mitts.  The pattern is well on its way, and with luck, will soon be test knit.

Jan has been working on lots of different things for the Etsy shop, but she doesn’t quite have any Ready to Wear quite yet.  Shall we take up a pool and bet on when she will actually open shop?

Our sister, bab65, asked about yarn substitution and whether she could simply knit a larger size to account for a tigher gauge in her yarn.  We discussed swatching for gauge and for fabric characteristics, considering the amount of ease in the design to assess how close the calculations need to be, and in fitted garments, to consider the most critical dimensions to match.

Here is an example of checking to see if changing sizes will account for a different gauge in a new yarn.

Gauge in the pattern with specified yarn:  20 sts/4 in (5 st/in)

Gauge in the new yarn 22 sts/4in (5.5 st/in)

Let’s say FINISHED circumference at chest for small is 36″ and for medium is 40″, to fit a person who measures 32″ for the small and 36″ for the medium.

For the small, one would need 36*5=180 sts in the specified yarn and 36*6=216 st in the alternative yarn to go around the chest in the finished size of 36″.

For the medium, one would need 40*5.5=220 sts in the specified yarn to create  the finished size of 40″.

220 sts is really, pretty darn close to 216 sts especially in a sweater with 4″ positive ease.  It is not quite another inch added on.  The alternative yarn will probably work just knit at the size M to create a size S sweater.  If the alternative yarn were of a gauge that didn’t come so close to matching the stitch count in another size, you would want to do more calculations and adjust the pattern – or find another yarn.

Aurelie Colas, aka spinnygonzalez, is our Featured Designer this episode.  Check out her wonderful geometric and whimsical patterns, including Strips of Stripes, Christmas Scot-ing, and Sheepy Draughts and a Wolf, Too.  Check out these and other wonderful designs.  By the way, we said Aurelie is Scottish, but actually while she lives in Scotland, she is actually French.

If you listen to no other portion of this episode, do make time to hear some wisdom from Dr. Yarn, right around minute 40:00.  He tells us why there are so many breeds of sheep.  You can believe it, ’cause it is straight from Dr. Yarn.

In 360 degrees, Ellen was sucked right through the orifice and spun up all of the Enchanted Knoll top in merino:silk we mentioned last episode.  What looked like a mottled top resulted in rather clear color breaks once spun up.  Ellen split it in two and spun it worsted, then plyed the two together.  Surprisingly, the colors stayed clear and the yarn is going to be self-striping.  Ellen also finished up her CorriedaleX plying and has something like 2400 yds of light worsted to worsted weight yarn to play with.

Jan is Embellishing her life with Post-It Note Pockets.  What a great idea!

Ellen’s Fun Fur is Iditaknitting.  She-did-a-knitting on 6 projects!  As the mushers in the Iditarod cleared each of the checkpoints in the race (there are about 2 dozen), Ellen switched to a new project.  As a result, she is now back in gear on all of her UFO’s.

Check out the Living Doll KAL on the TwinSet Designs Ravelry group.  We’re creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.
Ellen’s Fashion Forecast includes  a sheep shearing day on March 15 at Gale Woods Farm, Yarnover (April 26), and the same weekend, StevenBe’s FiberFest.  Jan will be teaching classes at Flying Fibers – March 20 she teaches toe-up socks and April 17 she teaches an introduction to entrelac class using the pattern she has long promised us.

In the meantime, enjoy the show!

Episode 35 — Show Notes to Follow

In which we discuss business trips with drive by yarn shop stops, discover we are both connected to an Indie dyer, alpaca barn parties, yet more snow, class with Abby Franquemont, cranking and spinning, cabled yarns, spinning wheel maintenance, a bit of outside work for Jan and a trip to the MN Closed Chess Championship for Wilson.  (Congrats, Wilson!)

Ellen is hungering for spring after Minneapolis got hit by the biggest storm of the season. But she had a wonderful class with Abby Franquemont to distract her from the weather.  And it was fun spinning through the class with LizzyRae, aka Lisa.  Jan didn’t enter her babies Violet and Sweet William in the national alpaca show, but she did enter photos in the national photo contest.  She’s added to her busy schedule with some consulting on a university proposal.  Ellen’s waiting to see how Wilson does in the MN Closed Chess Championship.

Ellen enjoyed seeing her niece and nephew and meeting a new beer, Hop Knot, while on a work trip in Arizona. She really enjoyed a visit to the Heard Museum of Native American Art and Culture.  And a visit to Tempe Yarn and Fiber where she got to add more beans to her diet – her yarn diet – with sock yarn dyed with black beans.

Jan made a boomerang trip to a party with some good friends in DC.  She forgot her knitting light for the journey back, but as tired as she was, that may have been for the best.  In shocking news, she and Dale made it the first mud sale of the year and didn’t buy anything!

The alpaca have  been having their own party – they broke into the barn and had quite the fiesta.

Jan has been working on socks, just like last episode.

Ellen has another Ravellenics project on her runway.  She’s knitting a chemo cap for a dear friend whose motto is “Knit 1, Kill 1 Billion”.   The cap is Shedir out of Rowan Calmer.  She also has the usual on her runway – Limpid which is her version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla ,and Forever in the Forest.  She also cast on another pair of socks out of Modeknit ModeSock yarn.

Group members have some great items on the runway – check out Scitchr’s Tempest and Turbogal’s Black and White in Motion.

Ellen was Bitten by her chemo cap Knittin’ –  she didn’t cast on the right number of stitches to allow the cables of the hat to flow out of the 1×1 rib so had to fudge a bit, then when it was time to decrease, she inadvertently left one side of the cable formation off the design.  Dropping down, converting some purls to the needed knits to allow a meandering knit stitch which she picked up in pattern, and all was well.  Jan had issues with cables, too – rows between turns and direction of cable turn seem to confuse her, even in her own design.

In Finely or Finally Knit, Ellen confirms that Shedir was finished.  It is a great hat!  And, she finished up her nascent sock design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.

This episode, the twins answered the What Would Listeners Ask question from Paintermom of how to maintain wheels.  Ellen recommended oiling all moving parts – but not sealed bearings.  Check your owner’s manual.  Jan recommended a good cleaning and a wax to prevent drying.  (There has been a good discussion on the TwinSet Designs Ravelry group as to whether this is a good idea – in humid climates, wax may encourage dust and tackiness).

In a discussion of filling the bobbin, we also discuss how to find your lost end.  First, don’t lose it.  When the singles breaks, keep treading, don’t stop.  A few more treadles and the end often is flung away from the wound mass and is easy to find.  And use a life-line – after making one pass of filling the bobbin, start back at the other end.  This leaves a length of singles running nearly perpendicular to the next pass of wound on singles.  If an end gets lost, it can’t be buried further down than that life line.

Jan reports that the fiber judging is finished and shipped.  Ellen talked more about her Abby class, focusing on cabled yarns.  The experiment which she found so intriguing followed this process:

Yarn A

  1. Spin 3 different singles, one wool, one silk and one ramie.  Spin these clockwise (Z-twist)
  2. Create a 3-ply yarn using these 3 singles.  Ply this counter-clockwise, or S-twist. Save plenty of each singles for Yarn B.
  3. Ply that 3-ply yarn back on itself, which is called cabling.  Ply in your original direction, clockwise or Z-twist.

Yarn B

  1. Using the wool single, make a 2-ply yarn spinning counter-clockwise or in an S-twist.  An Andean bracelet will be a slick way of achieving this for a sample length (see below).
  2. Do the same for the silk singles, then the ramie singles.
  3. Now using clockwise spinning (Z-twist), ply all 3 2-ply yarns together.

The difference in appearance of the two yarns is surprising, especially given that the fiber content is identical.

Ellen is also spinning up a skein of fingering weight yarn from a lovely top of silk/wool dyed by Enchanted Knoll Farm in Bruised Ego colorway.

In fiber jargon, Ellen clarified the difference between Andean plying and Andean bracelets.  In short, the people of the Andes use many techniques to  ply and to refer to Andean bracelets as “Andean plying” reduces the breadth of techniques that they use to just one technique which they would typically use for short lengths of singles.

Jan has a great embellishment – a Measuring Bracelet from JuniperGrace.  Ellen enjoys her iPhone app for Lumosity.

Jan’s Fun Fur is really, really fun.  Math with Bad Drawings.  Go look at it and laugh.  Ellen’s Fun Fur is Drive By Yarn Store Visits (see reference to Tempe Yarn and Fiber, above).  Ellen brought home some Sonoran Desert Dyed Fibers from Cheryl Griset – and found out that Cheryl is a buddy of Jan’s from when she lived in the West!

Jan’s slick trick is to tuck her ball of sock yarn into her first sock as she starts her second sock.  It is a just-in-time yarn bra!

The Living Doll contest winner is averill73, also known as Liz!  You can all be winners by buying the new e-book from Susan B. Anderson.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan“to learn how to knit your own doll in a new TwinSet Designs KAL.  Check out the Ravelry Group thread.  The KAL will run through Summer Solstice, which occurs at 6:51 am Eastern Daily Savings Time.

Ellen’s Fashion Forecast includes  a sheep shearing day at Gale Woods Farm, Yarnover, and StevenBe’s FiberFest.  Jan will be teaching classes at Flying Fibers – March 20 she teaches toe-up socks and April 17 she teaches an introduction to entrelac class using the pattern she has long promised us.

In the meantime, enjoy the show!

Episode 33 — Retreat!!

In which we discuss our recent experiences at retreats (Ellen at the Knit-a-Journey Mid-Winter Retreat in Duluth, MN and Jan at Tina’s Fiber Retreat in York, PA), farm medical procedures from which several of the animals would like to have retreated, the dangers of knitting lace after the drams, the value of The Knitting Guild of America Master Knitter classes, the whimsical and classic designs of Ann Kelly, plying yards and yards of Corriedale Cross singles, a slick trick and some other stuff — to include a new spinner!

We are coming and going these days – just catching Jan after a fun weekend at Tina’s Fiber Retreat at Camp Donegal and Ellen is getting ready for some work travel.

The previous weekend, Ellen played with the gang at the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat up in Duluth.  Wonderful company, wonderful food (if you are ever in Duluth, a visit to the New Scenic Cafe is a must; At Sarah’s Table ain’t bad, either), and wonderful yarn (Three Irish Girls, based in the area (Superior, WI to be specific), has Duluth colorways like Hawk Ridge) made for a wonderful weekend.  A Scotch tasting may have contributed to some people being bitten by their knittin’ later, but The Balvenie Doublewood, the Glennfiddich 12 years old, and the Bunnahabhain Islay single malt were highly enjoyable (even if Bevil thought the later tasted like sheep).

Jan spun up a storm – and so did her daughter, Marie, at Tina’s Fiber Retreat, a local tradition.  As always, in both cases, spending time with kindred spirits was the real highlight. The spinning included Jan’s test drive of roving made from her alpaca, Dipper’s, fleece, which we hope will soon available via Etsy.  She also got some knitting in – a bootsock out of a Skacel yarn (sorry, Jan, until you link the project I can’t figure out what yarn this was!) containing a variety of lovely fibers – wool, silk, nylon, alpaca, and even some angora.  She avoided the Second Sock Syndrome by knitting the 2nd sock first.  Hah!

Jan also worked on a second version of her Surface Tension hat, this one for Team Knitmore’s Halos of Hope efforts.  She continues to work on her Socks Previously Known as Hugs and Kisses.

Ellen has the usual on her runway – Limpid which is her version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla , Forever in the Forest , and her nascent sock design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.   Forever in the Forest bit her, but really can’t be blamed as Ellen was working on lace late at night and after the aforementioned Scotch tasting.

And in a case where the knittin’ was bitten, Ellen reported that after almost 4 years of hard wear, she wore a hole in the thumb of her Springtime Sugarplums gloves knit out of Socks that Rock Mediumweight from Blue Moons Fiber Arts.  It is amazing how close in color the replacement thumb is – that is a good dye job!

Jan and Ellen discussed how the rigor and detailed curriculum of the TKGA Master Knitter program is both a bit maddening and really advances your skills.  They recommend jumping in whatever level you are at – the earlier in your knitting career that you do, the more you’ll learn, but you’ll learn something no matter how experienced you are.

Featured designer for this episode is Ann McDonald Kelly, whose Monkey Balls ornament amused Jan no end.  Other lovely patterns in her collection include the Houndstooth Tank and the Kelmscott Throw, among many.  Jan thinks a Nexo Jacket, which is a free pattern that uses mosaic knitting to excellent effect, may be in her future.

Jan shared her spinning during Patterns of our Lives, but Ellen had some content to share.  She has finished one bump of the BFL in the Sled Dog colorway using her Turkish Spindle from Jenkins Spindles, and plans to use a Golding spindle for the second bump.  But first, she wants to continue the great start she has on her CorriedaleX singles.

While on the topic of plying up skeins, Jan clarified the Fiber Jargon of skein, hank, and ball.  Technically, a loop of yarn tied in several places is not a skein, it is a hank, but even Jan agreed that modern use includes skein for this purpose.  A ball is clearly something else – yarn wound into a ball shaped (or cake shaped!) object.  Jan mentioned that you wouldn’t eat that cake from a roving plate, yet one more way fiber is put up for sale, in this case, a large shallow cake of roving.

Check out donniestatzer’s tip for accurate button placement on fine gauge knits, this episodes Slick Trick.
The Living Doll contest is proceeding with some wonderful descriptions of the living dolls our listeners would like to knit up out of the new e-book from Susan B. Anderson.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan“to learn how to knit your own doll.

Enjoy the show!

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!

Hitting Restart

Dear Ellen,

My participation in this blog of late seems to be limited only to putting up new episodes of the podcast.  While that in and of itself is a healthy contribution, it seems I’ve not written anything about antics on the farm or within our family for way to long.  As time drags out it is becoming apparent that the massive “catch up” blog post is becoming more and more overwhelming.  So much so that I’ll never do it.  Therefore I am declaring a restart!  I will provide below a photo montage of many things that are happening or have happened in the last three months without much care about chronology or detail.  Once that’s done, then that’s it…the past is behind me.  And maybe my next post will be more manageable!

Love, Jan

2-imag0352.jpg I made gorgeous yarn.














It became Swagger, an almost published design.




1-marie-knits-001.jpgMarie not only modeled for me, but she also got bitten by the knitting bug.  (So proud!)

1-img_0690.JPGI designed the perfect gauntlets with which to feed chickens.

1-fiber-factor.jpgI entered designs in the Fiber Factor competition, but will have to try again next year.

1-imag0435-001.jpg Dorito took up tweeting as doritothealpaca.  He seems unable to use capital letters because of his two-toedness.

1-imag0431.jpg The other alpaca are unimpressed.  (Fun to peek over your mom!)

1-imag0392.jpg We got our farm name established legally…and physically.

1-imag0202-001.jpg I scored an amazing quilt at the Bart Township Mud Sale.  (For cheap!)

1-imag0381.jpgCharlie (Allen and Libby’s dog) met the gang…they were alert, but when they figured out that she’d run off if they challenged her, they went back to grazing.

1-imag0488.jpgWe toured a robotic dairy farm where cows choose when to be milked (and queue up nicely for it) and go to the self-service back scratchers whenever they like.

1-imag0528.jpgI finished the second version of my Entrelac Capelet pattern…minus the closure as I can’t seem to lay my hands on that stupid clasp!

1-dsc06547.JPGDale built the gang a little mountain so they can play king of the hill.  (Amelia is hoping neither of the boys will put the other’s eye out.)

6-_sc06481.JPGWe had a visitor to the farm from a 5th grade class in Illinois.  She liked the chickens but could not figure out how to lay an egg.

1-dsc06507-002.JPGNew babies came home to live with us for eight weeks.  Then they’ll live with our frozen food.  Very cute now…good thing they won’t stay cute long and that there are so many I won’t be able to name them. (I did help the the one on his back regain his footing…at a day old he couldn’t handle it himself.)

1-_sc06471-001.JPGWe made a boomerang trip to help mom celebrate her 90th birthday.

















We are thrilled to see everything on the farm wake up with the arrival of spring.

1-imag0419-1.jpgExcept for Ruby that is.

And with that, that’s it!