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Episode 45 — You Say Potato


 In which we struggle with our pronunciations, sip coffee from drip free mugs, observing wild life at work and at home, avoidance of camnesia, home grown peaches, traveling for business, tech editing for nice designers, overdone bike rides, learning along, mouse melons aka cucamelons aka Mexican Sour gherkins, pickling pots of pickled peppers, projects cleaned off the needles, managing to avoid being bitten by our knittin’, discuss the value of discipline and accurate measurements, enjoy a visit from Dr. Yarn, practical fractals, and some other fun stuff!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan is very happy with her new coffee maker, a Cuisinart which does not drip, no matter how you pronounce it.

Dale is getting involved in the fiber education - he and Jan took a course on Fiber as a Business.  Of course, an Etsy shop would help with that concept.  Regardless, they both enjoyed the classes, especially learning from Tara Swiger.  And Jan loved giving the owner of 84 Alpacas with the thanks-for-finding-my-keys hat.

Ellen has been having fun watching wildlife at work - a fox and a juvenile ferruginous hawk (a special sighting! thanks, Paula, for the identification).  He had feathered legs - wearing sox?  like the fox?

Wilson got involved with the nature on a kayak outing on Lake Nokomis. And the Minnesotans grabbed a chance at a nice 20+ mile bike ride, trying to hold onto summer even though the light is definitely changing and the days are getting shorter.

All play and no work makes Ellen a poor lady, but happily she’s had a bit more fibery work, tech editing a pattern by one of her favorite designers, Mari Tobita.  You’ll hear more about it when the pattern becomes available.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan finished up her Greek Keys hat out of alpaca - the thanks for the finding of lost keys.  She’s also finished the Shifting Ribs Toque, her own design, out of Wensleydale that she spun some time ago.  Of course, there are no photos of these on Ravelry, so they may be mythical.

Ellen finished her Bloodroot Hat.  She likes the size and shape, but her colorwork design didn’t really make her blood flow.  It will be a great design swatch - for future and better designs.

Ellen continued teaching the Paving Mitts class at StevenBe’s.  They are a great class of students, especially as they put up with her first shot at this class.  Jan has her own learn-along going - she is teaching her son, Allen, to knit!  Ellen will no longer be able to lord it over her sister for having 100% knitting offspring, but she’s happy that Allen has jumped in and of course, that Marie continues to develop her expertise.

This summer has  been a poor one for tomatoes in Minnesota, but it’s been a bumper year for pickled peppers from the farm share (recipe from the Ball Blue Book).  And in Pennsylvania, Jan is growing teensy weensy watermelons.  (Actually, they are cucamelons!)

Finely or Finally Knit

Ellen created a new cowl using the Tunisian simple stitch in the round - just like the Paving Mitts.  The pattern for the creatively named Paving Cowl will be up soon.  The cowl is designed to cover the lower part of the throat and upper chest as well as keep one’s neck warm.

Jan proudly announces that her Death Spiral shawl is off the needles!  She does not plan to knit another item so detailed in gossamer weight yarn any time soon.  As a bit of a contrast for work input, she also finished up some tiny washcloths for face washing or even for use as washable cosmetic puffs.

On the Runway:

Ellen got a lot of sleeve knit on her Bohus reproduction (Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design), and reports that the sleeves now seem to be the same size. She got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

Jan is continues working on some very colorful socks out of Fluormania - wildly neon!

Bitten by our Knittin’:

No significant chomps this episode, but we had to share a quote from one of our favorite people (and designers):

 

I don’t frog unless I really need to, but when I do, it’s a relief. — Alison Hyde

In Ready to Wear, Ellen announces the availability of the rest of her videos for techniques for the Paving Mitts pattern in Tunisian Crochet.  You can find them on YouTube - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Design Challenge

The Shirley Paden Design-along 4 is continuing well.  Truth in advertising, or at least in measurement, was assured by doing the measurement with a friend, Lisa (turbogal on Ravelry).
5 Minute Interview

A special treat this week - Dr. Yarn talks about spinning dog and cat.  He gives us a moment of paws (thanks,Knitallthestuff for that pun!)

360 Degrees

It wasn’t dog or cat, but Ellen has had fun with a top from Abstract Fibers in the  Chocolate Rainbow colorway in 50:50 silk merino.  She is spinning it as a fractal, what a potato chippy way of spinning. The first third pulls you through because you want to get to the next color, then the next third is broken into two bites so each one seems to whiz by, then the last third is 4 morsels. The yarn that resulted is so colorful - and actually, because she was working with a rainbow, is inspiring as a source of color studies because she have so many different combinations in one yarn.  Dare we say, it’s fractally impossible not to enjoy this spinning method?!

Fiber Jargon

Ewe Hogg!  No, not an insult, it simply means a young female sheep between weaning and first shearing, and the source of the term “hogget fleece”, which is the result of shearing a ewe hogg.

Embellishments

Jan is enjoying the Kindle Unlimited option from Amazon.

Fun Fur

Ellen has taken a liking to mutton jerky which she purchased at Ingebretson’s (while playing with Laura Ricketts who was in town to teach on Sami knitting).  Jan’s lambs had better watch out!  (Luckily, she loves fleece, too, so I think those lambies are safe.)

Jan’s Fun Fur is donut peaches!

Slick Tricks:

Doing her swatching for a Fair Isle sweater in the Shirley Paden DAL4, Ellen developed a way to work as though she is knitting in the round without leaving a long strand across the back of the fabric and still keep reasonably long lengths to the yarn in case she needs to frog the swatch to use the yarn.  (Otherwise, she’d just cut the ends.)

Use double pointed needles or circs - whatever needle you will use for the project - and figure out how long a piece of yarn you need to work your row. Double it, then start knitting your row in the middle of that yarn. When finished with that row, slide the stitches back to the other end of the needle and pick up the yarn aagin where you started it
You can now knit a second row. This gives you a smooth edge on the right side of your swatch, a fringe on the other, and yarn strands that are twice as long as if you were breaking them every row.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Just mention on the forum thread which of the new Dishcloth Diva designs you’d like to knit.   Check them out on Ravelry, tell us which one you’d knit first in our forum, and you will be entered into a competition for an e-copy of the book donated by Cooperative Press.

And, we are hosting a

Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes, including stitch markers donated by lotsofhermies and a project bag and yarn just like the ones from TwinSet Sumer Camp AND a pattern up to $7 value donated by DCAlaneknits. Check out the thread on our Ravelry group.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen continues to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.  She will have a knitting weekend up north with a few friends, but has to head to Sweden for work right when Wisconsin Sheep and Wool happens - so once again, not this year.  Jan is looking forward to chauffeuring Louise and her mom to the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in late September.  They will visit Boston, Philly, and even Fair Winds Farm.

Don’t forget the  TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 44 — Back At It!!


In which we thank our camp supporters, have a great time chatting about the success that was TwinSet Summer Camp, discuss making play out of work on the Snake River, being surprised by San Antonio yarn shops, shared birthdays and harmonious gifts, taking daughters to birthday dinners, welcoming Heidi back from the trail, various knitting bites (including a real doozy for Ellen and the recurring theme of ignoring pattern instructions), spinning many yards of yarn and using many wheel ratios, inspiration from Abby Franquemont, the Lost Geek Challenge Along and some other stuff.

Yes, it’s a LONG episode — enough for 3 half hour runs or for Louise to clean all the toilets in Mey.

Patterns of Our Lives:

It was wonderful taking a break, and it is wonderful being back.  Before jumping in, a special thanks to the vendors who supported TwinSet Summer Camp.

Straightfork Farm Alpacas - Cathy Moore creates gorgeous yarns from her own alpaca and sheep fleeces, blending in wool and dyeing them to delightful colorways.  You can buy them for yourself at her website.

A Riot of Color - Susan Eiseman Levitan dyes yarns and rovings that are truly, a riot of color.  Visit her Etsy shop!

DesignKnit - Erica Gunn designs, dyes, and more.  Visit her blog to find out when her life will allow her to get back to fulfilling our fiber dreams.

Fair Winds Farm - I’d link to an Etsy store, if one existed.  Jan will be selling yarns, fibers, and alpaca clothing when it does open, and you can bet we’ll let you know about it.

A lovely yarn donation from Barbara of Eggy Johnson Yarns.  At this point I don’t have a link, but if I get one, I’ll let you know.

A cloud of vicuna-alpaca  fiber from Bob at Cloud Hollow Alpaca, compliments of jaxie95, our very own Linda.  I really had to work hard not to hide this.

And a special, special thanks to Modeknit Yarns who provided a ball of either their Modeknit Modewerk or Modesock for every camper, not to mention a beautiful mini-skein set of Modeknit Fingering in the Midwife Speaking colorway as a door prize - gorgeous!  Check  out their other beautiful yarns on their website, Modeknit Yarn.  I can personally vouch for Modesock and for Modewerk - loved knitting both of them.

And thanks to Laura (77threads on Ravelry) who arranged a destash charity drive that benefited the S.D. Ireland Cancer Fund and Community Links International.

TwinSet Summer Camp was a huge hit, even if the audio quality of the play back wasn’t perfect.  It still brought back great memories.  The TwinSet toddlers had a great time, too.  And so did all the Bruce’s.  (Here is the Monty Python skit that was the source of our nicknames.)

Ellen went fly fishing - for work!  She was learning about the geology of the Upper Snake River Basin in Idaho and floating down the river is a great way to do it.  Jan traveled to San Antonio to celebrate the retirement of a friend.  She visited vineyards and then made sure and bought plenty of yarn to pad it in her luggage on the way home.  The yarn came from The Yarn BarnUnravelled, and Yarnivore, where she enjoyed the Wall o’ Cascade 220.

Both twins got amazing birthday gifts from their husbands - Ellen received a Folding Golding spinning wheel, and Jan received the four lambs we discussed last episode.  Ellen then went to New York City to visit her daughter who has moved to a new restaurant, working front of house once it opens.  Since it wasn’t open yet, the family dined for Jenny’s birthday dinner at Kajitsu for a wonderful fine dining experience of vegan Japanese.  Equally delicious were the dumplings at Prosperity Dumplings.

Jan’s daughter-in-law is back off the Appalachian Trail, having finished about half of it this year.  She’ll return and finish the rest in a future season.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan finished up her Greek Keys hat out of alpaca - the thanks for the finding of lost keys.  She’s also finished the Shifting Ribs Toque, her own design, out of Wensleydale that she spun some time ago.  Of course, there are no photos of these on Ravelry, so they may be mythical.

Ellen finished her Bloodroot Hat.  She likes the size and shape, but her colorwork design didn’t really make her blood flow.  It will be a great design swatch - for future and better designs.

On the Runway:

Ellen got a lot of sleeve knit on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design, but more to come on that in a later segmant.  She got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

Jan is also working some very colorful socks out of Fluormania - wildly neon! And in other wild knitting - stainless steel/merino as a fiber - she is knitting a scarf she is calling Steely Cables.  Can you find a picture (or even a project entry) of it on Ravelry?  I can’t!

Jan will work next on her Death Spiral shawl, she promises.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen tells how she knit most of a sleeve on a 00 needle instead of a US size 0 (1.75 mm vs 2.0, for those playing at home), and it cost her 15,000 stitches, give or take.

Jan’s brain wasn’t playing nicely with math and she wasn’t able to get her decreases right on a hat - until she checked the number of decreases she actually needed.  No 15,000 stitches worth!

Some dirty dishcloths tripped Jan up once or twice.  Again, not to the tune of 15,000 stitches!

In Ready to Wear, Ellen announces the availability of her videos for techniques for the Paving Mitts pattern in Tunisian Crochet.  You can find them on YouTube - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Design Challenge

The Shirley Paden Design-Along 4 has started.  Jan didn’t get a sketch submitted, and admits that she is relieved.  Ellen sketched her design on the back of a hotel notepad and took an iphone picture of it to get hers in!  You can follow the fun at the Shirley Paden Ravelry Group.  The group has posted swatches - you’ll be amazed at how different people interpret the same design inspiration.

And as part of the Lost Geek Challenge-along, the TwinSet campers learned all about tablet weaving and dyeing, as well as other skills, like using a bead and head pin Looper.

Linda discussed lichen dyeing and sends us to a 44 Clovers for a reference to this simple and gorgeous dye source.

Design Aesthetic

The twins enjoyed Dishcloth Diva Knits On!  available for $14.95 in print or electronically via Ravelry for $9.95, published by Cooperative Press.  Deb Buckingham, The Dishcloth Diva, brings us new patterns and new fibers - using her designs for a throw when worked up in wool.  We note that the wool fiber information could be fact-checked, but that didn’t take away from the great designs. Cooperative Press provided us with the review copy of the book.

360 Degrees

Tour de Fleece spinning went well.  Ellen worked on the Spinning Bunny top in colorway Sled Dog and hit her goal of spinning every day, even if only for a few seconds.  Jan is knocking it out of the park with over 1800 yds of 4-ply alpaca, spun from a spin-drafted roving from Sherri at Morro Fleece Works. She spun enough for Mishka, Julie Weisenberg’s great sweater, which she plans to knit for the Knitmore Girls Spin along, Knit along (SPAKAL).

And to top off Tour de Fleece, we have an interview with Abby Franquemont on the importance of spinning to our cultural and industrial histories.  As Abby says, “one way or another, it’s all about yarn.”

Ellen’s new wheel is called Frances, because she is the “quietest thing in the room”, like Frances the Badger is in the Russell Hoban (illustrations by Garth Williams) classic, Bedtime for Frances.   “Frances stood by Father’s side of the bed very quietly, right near his head.  She was so quiet that she was the quietest thing in the room.  She was so quiet that Father woke up all of a sudden, with his eyes wide open.”

Fiber Jargon

Whorl ratios - which the Folding Golding has in spades.  The whorl ratio is like the gear ratio on a bicycle - a higher ratio means that for one turn of the wheel, the flyer turns more times than for a low ratio.  For instance, an 8:1 ratio means the flyer turns 8 times for one turn of the wheel.

Ellen’s embellishment was radish greens for eatin’!  Just saute’ them in butter (wash them first!).  Jan is searching an embellishment - a drip-free coffee pot.  What is it with coffee pot designers? (note: since this episode aired, listeners solved this one!)

Slick Tricks:

Jan is modifying her afterthought heel slick trick from a few episodes back. She is going to try to knit a shorter waste flap on her afterthought heels and use a dpn to make it taught instead of her fat fingers (Jan’s words).  Thanks, Gigi, for the push to improve this and reduce the amount of waste yarn knitting Jan will be doing.

Ellen’s slick trick is to use a slip knot to attach a leader to the bobbin - then doing a second slip knot in the opposite direction.  This prevent slippage in either direction so you can start spinning either way.  She learned this one from Judith McKenzie.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Just mention on the forum thread which of the new Dishcloth Diva designs you’d like to knit.   Check them out on Ravelry, tell us which one you’d knit first in our forum, and you will be entered into a competition for an e-copy of the book donated by Cooperative Press.

And, we are hosting a

Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes, including stitch markers donated by lotsofhermies and a project bag and yarn just like the ones from TwinSet Sumer Camp. We’ll start a thread for both chat and FOs.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen continues to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.  Jan is looking forward to chauffeuring Louise and her mom to the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in late September.

The twins are going on a tour - the TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 42 — Cleaning Off the Needles


In which we discuss pre-summer vacation (for some of us), 3 blind mice sightings, multiple LYS visits to include the wall of Cascade (Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, PA and Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA), the PA Women Veterans Symposium, family gatherings, nature hikes wherein all appendages are retained, achieving apprentice grader and sorcerer status, losing one’s car keys and the kindness of strangers who are now true friends and our living dolls.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen and Wilson took a tour through some of the eastern States - spending time in West Virginia with Wilson’s parents, stopping in Athen’s Ohio (Ee-yow, Bobcats! Sock it to’em!), visiting Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Jan while there), and then took the family to Washington, DC and then on to the Shenandoah Valley.  Highlights included a double sighting of Pileated Woodpeckers (Wilson’s uncle says when someone comes to him, a known avid birder, to tell him about the really weird bird they saw, his instant reply is “Pileated Woodpecker”), visits to the Heritage Farm Museum, and visits to the Smithsonian, seeing sights including Julia Child’s kitchen and the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”.  Best part was all of the family who gathered, and this included another intersection with Jan when she and Dale were visiting the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

Jan came to Pittsburgh for the symposium she has been planning, visited the knitting community found at Natural Stitches along with their wall of Cascade 220 AND several listeners(!), visited Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Ellen while there), and reports that her PA Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs symposium went very well - its purpose, to bring together women veterans throughout Pennsylvania to help them understand their status as veterans and to what benefits they are entitled.  She and Dale then visited  the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, which ended up allowing another intersection with Ellen. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

While Ellen continued vacationing (driving the Skyline Drive - GORGEOUS! and yum, blackberry cobbler at the Big Meadows wayside), Jan went back to the farm to get a cutting of hay in, manage her chicklets (the little cockerels are getting quite, um, cocky), and then got on the road again to Ohio for another class in fiber grading and sorting at Magical Farms.  She is now an apprentice grader sorter. We are all so proud.

Both twins admit to losing and then finding items under embarrassing circumstances.  I’m not writing about it here - you’ll have to listen to it on the episode.  That said - we can’t recommend enough that you take your fiber to 84 Alpacas Mill to process any fleeces you have.  These folks are incredibly kind and generous.  And if you lose your keys, check your vehicle’s roof.  (Or down the side of your chair.)

Finely or Finally Knit:

Forever in the Forest is STILL just a block away from being finished.  But she did finish the second of a second pair of socks in her own design (Diana’s Quiver) out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She also finished a pair of baby bootees which she used to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills.

And Chef Jenny is all knit up! Her chef’s jacket is gusseted under the arms and even buttons, for real.

Jan was a finishing fool.  She completed her  version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool  and also finished her little Marie doll.  Her glasses are removable as is her purse, such nice detail!  Jan needs to protect her from her grown daughter, Marie’s, sticky fingers.  It seems she wants to bring her effigy home to live with her.

Jan also finished a new pair of socks  in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    They are staggered all over in a cable pattern.  She is thinking of calling the pattern (when it comes out - hah!) Snake Socks.  Watch for them, but don’t hold your breathe.  And she finished her Faux Argyle hood, which she is using as a class sample for her Controlling Your Colors class.

On the Runway:

As always, Ellen continues work on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design. She is quite proud of how the sleeves are going (note: pride goeth before a fall - as these show notes were written several weeks after the recording, we know of what we speak). And, she is working on a wrap which she used to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan is working on a Greek Key patterned hat to thank the hero in her lost item story.   She is also working on the Holbrook Shawl in the yarn, The Uncommon Thread Silky Merino Fingering, which she purchased at Fiber Space with Ellen’s encouragement.

Is it possible that the twins could really and truly Clean Off their Needles???  They sound like they are making a bit of a commitment to do so…

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen re-finished her Forever in the Forest stole.  After nine years, she had learned a lot about how to use a long-tail cast on as an elastic edge, but she started the stole before she learned all that and so, the sewn bind off was much stretchier than the cast on edge at the other side of the stole. So, she picked up one leg of each st in the first row of the stole and then very carefully snipped and unravelled the cast on edge. She then used what were now the equivalent of live stitches on the needle to do an equivalent sewn bind off and now both edges are truly identical in stretch and appearance.

She also did a lot of repair work for knitting bitten by dogs and cats - executing a detailed and pretty darned good repair to a major gash in the Cowl for George Bailey she had knit for her sister-in-law, if she does say so herself.  This entailed knitting a new lace panel and weaving each and every row into the undamaged portion of the cowl.  She also repaired a friend’s mitten after stealing a bit of yarn from the inside of the mitten cuff facing so the repair wouldn’t be visible.

Jan barely had any issues - nibbles on the I-cord edge of Reposo, pulling out the i-cord edge after working about 15 inches and working it from the other side of the garment, which she liked better.  And it seems that working lace late at night remains a bad idea, as she had to correct some mistakes in the working of the edging on the Holbrook shawl.

Fiber Jargon:

Jan talked about guard hairs - primary hair, kemp, and gare.  Primary and secondary hairs are simply hairs coming from a primary or secondary follicle.  This doesn’t determine whether the hair is fine or stiff - medulation (being hollow) does.  Hollowness makes it rigid.  Guard hairs are fibers that support the softer fibers and protect them from the elements, kemp shows up mixed in with the fleece and is flat and coarse, and gare is quite similar, but is more associated with particular regions of the animal’s body. Jan points out again that the feeling of fineness is more related to the consistency of the fibers one to the next than specifically to the diameter of the fiber. If two samples are equally consistent, then the smaller diameter fiber will likely feel finer, too.  But if one sample is consistent and the other, though having finer diameters of fibers, is inconsistent, the former sample may feel softer and finer.

Slick Tricks:

Jan’s slick trick is to substitute another yarn or binding off and save a bit of yarn if you are running short and playing Yarn Chicken.  Ellen’s trick is to reduce the bulk when cinching the remaining stitches on a hat crown or a finger-tip by using the tip of a needle to tighten each stitch on the yarn cinch before tightening the loop.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Congratulations, Gayle, on her selection as winner of the Living Doll KAL.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast is exciting but not as crazy as some weeks.  She will be adding some sheep to the farm soon - 4 new lambies!  Ellen is doing some travel for work and then comes home to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.

And don’t forget…TwinSet Summer Camp!

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 41 — Podcaster Shout Out!


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

Patterns of Our Lives:

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

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

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

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

Finely or Finally Knit:

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

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

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

On the Runway:

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

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

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

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

Bitten by our Knittin’:

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

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

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

Slick Tricks:

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

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

You May Already be a Wiener!

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

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

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 40 — But We Digress

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

Patterns of Our Lives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Runway:

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

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

Bitten by our Knittin’:

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

Finely or Finally Knit:

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

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

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

Fiber Jargon:

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

Embellishments:

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

Fun Fur:

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

Slick Tricks:

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

You May Already be a Wiener!

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

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

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

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

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

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 39 — The Wolf Closest to the Sleigh


In which we discuss the craziness that has been our lives in the last month, fiber classes, fiber judging, birdies at our feeders, finally seeing signs of spring in Minnesota, Yarnover and Fiber Fest, visiting family and friends, healthy animals, paying taxes, wearing jelly beans and harvesting golf balls.

Patterns of Our Lives:

It turns out that when you let a month slip past between recording sessions, one’s life patterns get pretty complicated. Jan in particular has been crazy busy.  Not that we’re  saying that her past is checkered, but it is highly patterned!  We slipped in some microphone time right in the middle of the Yarnover/StevenBe Fiber Fest weekend for Ellen and Jan’s schedule of volunteer duty at the MAPACA weekend show - and we amazed each other with how much had happened since we last spoke.

Ellen saw two snowstorms, despite the suggestion of the calendar that spring should have arrived in Minneapolis.  At least when the snow melted, the grass was green.  And at least she doesn’t live in Duluth, where they got 28″ compared to the mere 16″ in the Twin Cities.  Luckily, she records from the bedroom in the basement and was covered in warm fleece - 16 samples of rare breed samples that she got washed up while snowbound.  She recommends Synthrapol as an excellent fleece scour - low sudsing and boy, does it get that fleece clean.

Both twins have been seeing lots of birds at their feeders (Ellen’s juncoes needed  snow shoes as they foraged on the ground during one of those storms, sinking in up to their bellies).  Jan has heard and seen evidence of pileated woodpeckers in her woods - that is a serious bird.

Another serious bird, Jan’s broody hen, is brooding golf balls no more.  It turns out that a little airing of her behind by being kept in a wire cage for a couple of days cooled her down and got her interested in hanging out with her barnyard buddies once more.

Yoda is blowing his down coat, and Jan is picking it up off the fence-line as it turns out to be quite soft.  Who knew Yoda was a cashmere goat?  (Editors note: any goat can produce cashmere - it simply refers to the fineness of the undercoat.)  Jan does know that Finnsheep will make a great addition to the farm and is eagerly anticipating the arrival of her reserved ewe lambs.  If only Valor, her ram, knew about the impending arrival, he’d be eagerly anticipating them, too, but he will have to be patient!  Jan is making her final choices and may end up with one grey, one white, one black, and one brown - a spinner’s dream.

Easter Sunday was warm and sunny in Minnesota and Ellen and Wilson went walking in the woods, their way of recognizing the season of rebirth.  Ellen wore jelly beans - socks that were cranked by her buddy, Lisa, in Knit Picks Felici sock yarn in the colorway, Jelly Bean.  Jan had family in for a fitting dinner - leg of lamb.  Hmmm, more anticipating of a flock of sheep on the farm!

Jan also had a house party of 8 total for a weekend of good food, good drink, and amazement that friends who met almost 25 years ago all looked exactly as they did when they all taught at the West Point U.S. Military Academy.   Maybe if you drink enough…

She’s also been spinning more alpaca samples, hosting other guests, working on a conference for women veterans, and teaching knitting classes at Flying Fibers.   And making Ellen feel like a lazy lout, but actually, Ellen is OK with that.

Jan took part in an alpaca handling clinic with Marty McGee Bennett, the alpaca whisperer, from the sound of it.  She then acted as  judging scribe at the MAPACA (mid-atlantic alpaca association) Jubilee.  We may need to send Jan some earplugs to keep her brains from oozing out of her ears - how can one head absorb all that new knowledge without something giving?

Phew, can we get to the knitting now?

On the Runway:

Ellen continues on Forever in the Forest and is well into tier 19 of about 21.  She is also working on the second of a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon.  And she knit on Many Moments of Grace, her reproduction of the Bohus Stickning design, Rimfrost while recording the show. She returned to her Chain Mail gloves.  The first is done, with all the gussets that Ellen loves (on the thumb, between the fingers).  She will carefully knit the second according to her notes and write up the pattern at the same time (at least that is what she intends).  And this being Yarnover/Fiber Fest weekend, she has a class project going now, too - a colorwork hat designed in a great class with Mary Scott Huff, stand up comic and colorwork designer.

In between all of her activity, Jan has been continuing to work on Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool.  She has also gotten a new pair of socks started in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.  Jan reports that the  Karbonz 1.5s she is knitting them with aren’t her favorites as she does not like the the join between tip and shaft of the needle. She won’t be using them after these socks.  She’s doing the socks in a staggered all over cable pattern, toe up as she is wont to do. (Ellen loving some archaic English here.)

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen discovered, make that re-discovered, that lace knitting goes much better during the day when one is alert than at night when one is drowsy.  She discovered, make that re-discovered, this by knitting lace when it was night and she was drowsy.  Perhaps you figured that out?  At any rate, she notes that when knitting entrelac, if you fail to do the joining stitch at the edge of your module, you don’t get a coherent piece, you get little flaps.

Ellen also knit a cowl-sized swatch, which later became a gaiter-sized gaiter, the appropriate sized project for the amount of yarn which she had.  As she knit the “swatch” while practicing ergonomic walking knitting in Carson Demer’s Fiber Fest class on that topic, she wasn’t really discouraged.  (Carson Demers - a physical therapist who doesn’t tell you to stop knitting because your knitting is hurting you.  Instead, he helps you knit with less damage to your body and hunts for other things in your life for you to change.  Because he knows not knitting will hurt even more!)

Jan learned that if one doesn’t knit much, the chance to be bitten by it is slim.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Ellen finished one more pair of her Paving Mitts.  This one is named Paved in Gold and is worked in The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze  Peppino.

And that gaiter-sized gaiter - also finished, in less than a day thanks to bulky yarn (Sirdar Click Chunky) and not that much of it.  Because of the limited yarn, Ellen worked her chosen pattern, Mary Lou Egan’s Miss Gulch without the edging and with a much shorter cast-on and with a shorter pattern repeat.  It’s a small Gulch, so she has called it Gully.

Jan knit a potholder.  That’s nice, Jan.

Ready to Wear:

The Paving Mitts pattern is published!  Thanks to test crocheters, Cindi (cperrine) and Vicky (vicksbear) who made beautiful samples and helped me improve the pattern.  And to unofficial test crocheter Lisa (turbogal), who has made two pair of the mitts already.

The pattern is in Tunisian crochet simple stitch in the round, a natural for fingerless mitts. Worked in two colors, one tonal and one variegated, an effect of tiny colorful pavers laid in even rows is created. A perfect project for using up leftover sock yarn!  It requires a double ended hook. The pattern includes useful links to techniques needed to complete mitts including Tunisian crochet techniques and crab stitch or reverse single crochet.

5 Minute Interview:

Dr. Yarn returns.  We aren’t sure about his advice on substituting yarns…it just doesn’t jive with all that we’ve been told by other experts.  Wait, what am I saying?  I mean, it’s Dr. Yarn, it must be right.  Right?

360 Degrees:

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

Jan spun up alpaca samples she was judging for the MAPACA Jubiliee show, and despite the crush to get them done, found it very rewarding to be able to compare  the spinning scores to the scores which the actual fleeces earned in the show.

Fiber Jargon:

Ellen discussed what a quilted fleece is, and Jan explained why it is a defect in fleeces to be commercially processed.  This  excessive quilted appearance to the fleece (where the dark fibers are shorter than the white or vice versa), occurring after the first shearing, is something a hand spinner can deal with by separating the colors, but in a commercial process, the disparate fiber lengths would result in a lower quality product or lower yield.  Ellen found the term in an article on Jacob sheep by Alison Pacuska in the 2nd issue of Ply magazine.

All the talk of quilts reminded Jan of the term, cotting, which refers to the matting together of a fleece during growth, such that it sticks firmly together and becomes difficult to process.

Embellishments:

Jan provided the embellishment for the week - the amazing ceramic work of Charan Sachar at Creative with Clay. He is a clay artisan who has recently learned to knit and is very clever. His homemade swift is very ingenious and very inexpensive. And his pottery — oh my, it is fantastic. His patterns are inspired by Indian textiles and embroidery as well as the henna tattoo tradition. His process if really cool — www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4v2JcZ1g18 — like decorating a cake, but it’s clay. Jan bought one of his cheese/butter holders to use as a notions tray on my end table and he’s pondering how he would make his version of a yarn bowl. Beautiful colors and textured patterns, check him out at his blog and his Etsy shop. Through May 21st using the code TWINSET will get you a 15% discount on beautiful ceramic art.  (If TWINSET doesn’t work, try TwinSet.)

Fun Fur:

Ellen fell prey to i-device gaming this time - 2048 is fun to play for a bit, but it may be time for her to delete it.

Slick Tricks:

This one stolen shamelessly from a recent KnitSpot newsletter - using oatmeal canisters or bread crumb or potato chip cans to hold the ends of a cowl open and prevent creases during blocking.  Jan suggested that if one wanted the cowl stretched, one could suspend it from a short length of pipe and weight it with a water bottle.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Both Jan and Ellen admit to a lack of focus on their dolls for the Living Doll KAL.  Jan’s version of her daughter, Marie, does have a head now.  Ellen’s dolls at least have yarn chosen for them.  Check out the Twinset Designs Ravelry group where we are creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and the prize will be a Susan B. Anderson pattern (single pattern) of the winner’s choice along with a copy of the Pam Allen book, Scarf Style.

The Fashion Forecast is for continuation of fiber season.  For Ellen, this means Shepherd’s Harvest.  For Jan, it means continuing her crazy schedule - she will be teaching a couple of classes at Flying Fibers

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

She’ll also be attending (and hopefully showing little alpaca in) the PAOBA (Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association) show on 9-11 May at the York County Fairgrounds; and she’ll be having Shearing Day at Fair Winds Farms on May 27.  Then June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar.

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 38 — Marco…Polo!!


In which we discuss ongoing winter, the first signs of spring, a broody hen, a great knitting class with Candace Eisner Strick, insane activity in Jan’s life (that ended up preventing her from getting this episode edited for THREE weeks…yes, that’s right, three weeks), the languishing effort to get the Fair Winds Farm etsy shop open, our knitting and some tunisian crochet, the availability of the Paving Mitts pattern from Ellen, choosing yarn colors for a multiple yarn project like those mitts, the Living Doll KAL, a trick, an embellishment and some more information about a possible summer camp this July.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan’s broody hen is trying to hatch golf balls, while Ellen broods about the ever-lasting winter of Minnesota.  She is encouraged to know that NASA has apparently made an important discovery in her state.

Jan continues to be the tease regarding getting her Etsy shop open, but for good reason - she is in the middle of a perfect storm of work and volunteer and homefront needs.  Ellen feels low energy in comparison, but also has the time in her schedule to jump on opportunities to take impromptu knitting classes.  She can recommend the class she caught with Candace Eisner Strick at StevenBe - full of material and quick-paced but fun.

On the Runway:

Ellen continues on Forever in the Forest and is well into tier 16 of about 23.  Or maybe 21 if it seems long enough (she’s been knitting it long enough!)  She is also working on a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon.  And she knit on Many Moments of Grace, her reproduction of the Bohus Stickning design, Rimfrost while recording the show.  Her main focus, though, has been more Tunisian crochet mitts, and she’s now working a pair in The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze 100% merino Fingering (which searching on Ravelry shows that the skein bands haven’t caught up to the marketing, as the name there is Peppino.   The mitts require two color ways and she is using Marco Polos (rich golds and browns) and Diva (deep purples and the same browns).  These are her own pattern for Tunisian crochet in the round, which is being test-crocheted and will be available soon.

Jan has been continuing to work on Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool, and she knows she will be done soon as she is running out of yarn!  She took a peak at her Death Spiral shawl, her version of Erica Gunn’s Spiral Shawl, which she is knitting out of  Touch Yarns Mohair Merino.  No sign of Felfs this week.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Suffice it to say that neither twin needed stitches this week.  Ellen did note that in Tunisian crochet, you can’t easily drop back to fix a stitch several rounds below - you have to unravel.  And Jan did the odd tink or two, but nothing major.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan has finished the second of a new pair of socks in Wisdom Yarn’s Saki Bamboo.  She is calling them Toes in the Sand.  And with the leftovers, she made a sweet little preemie hat.  You can find a picture of that on Instagram, where she is twinsetjan.  (Ellen is twinsetellen on Instagram, but you already had that figured out, didn’t you?)

The pair of mitts on Ellen’s runway is her 3rd pair - she started and finished another one in the days between podcast recordings. This pair is out of Socks That Rock Seduction, a bamboo/wool blend with luster in a grey colorway that sets off the Claudia Hand Paint Addiction (previously Fingering) in Lemon Ice, a gray, yellow, electric green and white variegation.

Ready to Wear:

It’s Ellen’s turn to tease.  She believes she will have the pattern out for the Tunisian mitts very soon, possibly before this episode airs.  Was she right?

Design Principles:

Ellen discussed how she approached choosing colorways for the Tunisian mitts, looking for a yarn that would pick up one of the colors in the variegated yarn and serve as the grid that lays on top of the variegated background.  Using a tonal yarn for that grid adds more visual interest without being too busy.   She lucked out that her leftover Seduction was perfect for the Claudia Hand Paint, but she had it easier when choosing two yarns from the same dyer for the third pair of mitts.  (That dyer, Rhichard Devrieze, used to dye for Shibui, by the way, and his new yarn is every bit as gorgeous.)

360 Degrees:

Ellen continues to spin her top top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  Spinning a sock yarn with laceweight plies does take time.  It is surprising that Jan has time for it, but she has taken on more fiber samples for judging for MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association, not the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association, though spinning is certainly becoming more popular.

Embellishments:

Ellen reports on the beauty and usefulness (and safety) of her new wooden OXO citrus reamer.

Slick Tricks:

Jan gave scitchr credit for a slick trick she reported in the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group - the use of an i-cord edging to hide the loose ends in a striped project.  That’s slick!

You May Already be a Weiner!

Both Jan and Ellen admit to a lack of focus on their dolls for the Living Doll KAL.  Nancyswerner has focused - check her Living Doll out on the group thread. Adorable!  The group is creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan, the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and yes, there will be prizes.

The Fashion Forecast is for fiber season.  For Ellen, this includes Yarnover (April 26), and the same weekend, StevenBe’s FiberFest, followed two weeks later by Shepherd’s Harvest.

Jan will be teaching a raft of classes at Flying Fibers

  • April 10 — Swagger, based on her shawl pattern (4/20 note - this is in the past!)
  • April 17 — Intro to Entrelac (4.20 note - this is being rescheduled!)
  • May 15 — Toe Up Socks, using her Fast Baby Booties pattern (a freebie!) (the pattern, not the class)
  • May 22 — Control Your Colors, working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling

So many other events coming up for Jan, with lots of farm-related stuff - MAPACA 25-27 April; Harrisburg Farm Show Arena — PAOBA 9-11 May York County Fairgrounds; and Shearing Day at Fair Winds Farms on May 27.  Then June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar.

We’d like to hear from you if you’d be interested in attending the first TwinSet Summer Camp from July 9-13 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!  Let us know on the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We will sign the contract for the camp if we get enough interest soon.  And we mean soon - we’ll be deciding in just the next week or so.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 34 — Of Buns and Birds

In which we discuss buns of the bunny variety, birds of the painted variety, quick trips to Mexico and the Sunshine State, Spin Off judging, ice storms, back spasms, cast-ons and cast-offs, marking hanks of handspun and Russian Joins in honor of the event taking place in Sochi.

Ellen had a warm interlude in Mexico for work.  A highlight was a wonderful breakfast prepared by volunteers at the site she visited, featuring huevos, chicharrones, and salsas; the only disappointment was that the small Mexican airport security staff took away her metal needles (no, they weren’t Signatures).

Jan has been kept off the streets by all the fiber judging she is doing for various alpaca shows.  She appreciates the job because it is a chance to educate breeders on hand spinning quality for fleece.  She did get a brief respite at the Lebanon Rabbit Breeder’s Show where she helped in a vendor booth and didn’t come home with a bunny, believe it or not.   She is proud to say she has no extra buns.

Another warm interlude for Ellen was a Sanibel Island retreat.  She saw aligators, roseate spoonbills and wood storks Ding Darling National Nature Refuge, and nesting woodstorks and a painted bunting at Corkscrew Swamp, all highlights for this casual birder (well, not the alligator so much).

Though Ellen sighs at being back in the cold, at least she didn’t have to deal with the ice storm that Jan and livestock dealt with in Pennsylvania.  She sighs with pleasure to be able to share the news that Bohus Stickning reproduction kits will be available again, with Pernille at Angoragarnet receiving the mantle from Solveig Gustafson herself.  Given the angora content,  you know more buns are involved!

Jan made contact with a nurse friend who shared that their NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is looking for preemie caps - not teeny tiny, but a bit smaller than newborn.  Ellen’s pattern, Bitsy Baby Beanies would fit the bill perfectly.

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.  She did hit some milestones, though - moving to a 3rd ball of lace yarn on the lace stole (over 1,000 yds knit!), on to the final edging of Lintilla, and into the 2nd sock of the Modesock socks.

She added her sweater  Great Dayne to the active group, too, as part of the Ravellenic Games.  She just needs to lengthen the sleeves and that will do it.

Jan is working on Felfs for her family, continues to work on her Hugs and Kisses Socks and has made progress on some more hats.

Ellen was bitten, not so much by her knittin’, rather by her failure to take notes on a design change she made on the fly in her own pattern.  She also decided her sleeves on her Great Dayne sweater were just too short and surgery was in order.  Jan’s own design bit her, too, as she would frequently find herself out of sync with the eye of partridge stitch pattern in her soon to be released hat pattern.  She’s also run up short in the amount of yarn needed for a pair of Felfs.

In Finely or Finally Finished, Jan reports that she did master that hat design, her Surface Tension hat, and has one to offer to Team Knitmore’s Halos of Hope efforts.  Ellen experimented with what amounted to a drinking game but for knitting, creating a cowl from a pattern designed for a scarf in which one changes the design as different elements of the Sochi Olympic opening occurred - it probably worked better as a scarf, because as a cowl it was really bad and will likely be frogged.  Jan also finished some boot sock’s for keeping her feet warm during barnwork.

This episode, the twins answered the What Would Susan Ask question of what have they gotten from their podcast.  They concur, being part of the global knitting conversations is a huge gift, and they admit, the nudges to get a bit more knitting done so they have something to discuss has been a gift, too!

Design principles for the episode included a discussion of cast on’s - including the long tail, the German twisted, Judy’s magic cast on, and the variations of the tubular cast on - and bind off’s - including a suspended bind off (scroll down in this link), Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, a 3-needle I-cord bind off, and the sewn bind off.  Many other options are available in books and the web.  Cap Sease’s Cast On, Bind Off compendium is an excellent source.

Ellen has been spinning a full 360 degrees - she is up to 11 hanks of her milk chocolate CorriedaleX, with 18 bobbins of singles remaining.  She gave a description of how she ties her hanks so that they don’t tangle in the washing or dyeing.

Jan took us through the details of the process of judging alpaca fiber.  She took us through the stages - first impression, condition of sample (cleanliness, vegetable matter), checking for soundness and uniformity, assessing fineness and texture, presence of guard hairs, how the fiber reacts to carding and how it spins.  She gives plenty of comments and recommendations to the breeder of the fiber to improve the fiber for hand spinners.

Ellen used a Russian join to splice in her next ball of yarn for her lace shawl and described this term in Fiber Jargon.

Jan’s Embellishment for the week is a rain chain -it’s even pretty in the ice.   And for a slick trick she described how she is labeling her hanks of alpaca.

The Living Doll contest will close soon (contest is closed).  The 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.

Ellen’s Fashion Forecast includes a class with Abby Franquemont and then a sheep shearing day at Gale Woods Farm where she will be doing a spinning demo.

Jan’s forecast includes thinking about a possible TwinSet Designs retreat someday.  Let us know on our Ravelry group if you have interest in this.

In the meantime, 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!

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!