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

Archive for the ‘Contests’


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!

Episode 30 — We Believe!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 26 — More Felfs, Less Chemo!!

In which we discuss the Cat Bordhi Fall knitting Retreat, Frog Tree Yarns, the impressive research of David Krag (who with the help of knitters will eliminate the need for chemotherapy for many cancer patients!!!), Yoda and Red Roosters, Master Knitter II Submission madness and wild and crazy chess players, aquaknitting, The House of Jerky, super food, dressing like twins, the designer Melinda VerMeer (she does not have a pearl earring) and how knitters can do great good in the world.  (More Felfs!  Less Chemo!)

Wow, this is a long episode.  If nothing else, listen to some good folks doing good work - we have an interview with Jim Petkiewicz from Frog Tree Yarn at 59:00, Cat Bordhi and her “More Felfs, Less Chemo!” initiative at 1:08:25, and the lovely designer Melinda VerMeer at 45:25 minutes in.  The rest is Jan and me blethering on about our knitting and lives and maybe we toss a wee bit of useful information in, too, as detailed below.

Thanks, Jay and Judy, for the sweet iTunes review!  It has earned you an invitation to the farm, I think.  And thanks, Sandra, for the Bernat Tizzy dishcloths - a simple garter square, but simply delightful and useful.

In Patterns of our Lives, we didn’t mean to turn you all pea green with envy at the fun we’ve been having, but we did have a lot of fun between the Cat Bordhi Fall Retreat in Friday Harbor, Washington, our Seattle dinner with Paula and Marty, touring at the Pike Place Market and Underground Seattle, a score of Hazelknits Divine in the wild (accompanied by meeting Hazelknits and her dye partner in person!).   Once home, Ellen stayed up late with Lisa getting their Master Knitter Level II resubmissions done, and then stayed up some more with some wild chess players.  They plyed her with New Glarus Brewing Co. Moon Man No Coast Ale.   Jan welcomed Heidi, her daughter-in-law to the farm while she and Marie find a new place to live in the area, and she welcomed the alien Yoda, I mean Yoda, to the farm to play mascot goat to the alpacas.

Ellen admitted to trying Scotch - and liking it.  Louise of Caithness Craft Collective is chuckling about this one.

While on San Juan Island for Cat’s retreat, Jan and Ellen visited Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Island Wools, and the House of Jerky and were visited by Lopez Island Fibers.  Wools that Jan and Ellen enjoyed knitting with included Frog Tree Ewetopia, a 50:50 merino:superwash merino blend (great for felting!) and Lion Brand LB Collection Pure Wool.  Jan was working on a triple-twist mobius felted bowl and a tea cozy in the latter yarn, Ellen worked on felfs out of the Ewetopia.

Jan worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson, Jan has substituted some different colors and is getting great results.  She hopes to finish it by January, but not sure it will be January 2014 or 2015.  Ellen made great progress on her  Great Dayne sweater and it is becoming a real sweater!  She hopes to get it finished soon and written up into an actual pattern.

Another project Jan got going during the retreat is another Swagger version - this one out of her own handspun of Finnsheep fiber, with a lower increase rate to let it have very long “arms” that can be tied around her in the fashion of a working shawl.  Both Jan and Ellen started Felfs! and finished, them, too, during the retreat itself.

Ellen had another bout of knitting everything.   She finished one more (her fourth) Harmonia’s Rings cowl by Sivia Harding, this one out of leftovers from prior cowls knit in Berocco Ultra Alpaca. She finished, as in decided to end, her work on the Domino Muffler by Vivian Hoxbro which she was knitting out of Habu Textiles merino/stainless laceweight.  The colors weren’t working, it was futsy working with a doubled strand - time to move on to better horizons. Nothing wrong with the pattern, just with the particular rendition Ellen was trying.

Forever in the Forest is really truly becoming a stole and got a bit more attention.  Also getting a bit, a small bit, of attention, were her self-designed fingerless mitts (not sleeveless, though it will be that) out of Tunisian Crochet.  She did make good progress on her Chain Mail gloves.  Not so much progress on the spinning, but her BFL fiber she brought did get a daily yard or two twisted out of it.

Ellen’s take on Kelly William’s Strib Hat did get good attention in the form of SKY KNITTING.  All but the last crown decreases were finished on the airplane, and those were finished during the drive to the island.  This hat will be donated to StevenBe’s Hats for the Homeless campaign.

Jan’s SKY KNITTING was the comletion of her version of the Lullaby Rain shawl by Paula Emons-Fuessle , which she calls Misty Morning.

And Ellen did finish one more project - the second poncho from Poncho-mania night at Lisa’s.  With two identical ponchos, the twins had a great time amusing the islanders by dressing somewhat identically for the first time in decades.

After the trip, Jan did finish her tri-fold bowl, her Bohus reproduction and has more Felf’s in the work.  Ellen focused on her Great Dayne sweater and also finished one of her Tunisian mitts.

Jan did get bitten by her knitting.  By her own pattern!  While trying to SKY KNIT during her red eye flight, she smocked an edge far too soon and then worked for another two hours before she realized it.   All she can say is “drat”.   She also decided to frog the design she was working on for the Percasocks and sent the yarn to Florida, in a sense.

Jan also finished a design for the Streambed Lace Shoulder Stole.  Look for a pattern soon!

Melinda VerMeer doesn’t just talk about putting out patterns, she actually publishes.  She recently had Nympholidaea published in Knitty, and she has many other lovely designs available.  Twinset Designs can get a 25% discount on Melinda’s patterns through November using the coupon code, twinset.

Jim Petkiewicz of Frog Tree Yarn shared his story - about the development of their yarns, about the not-for-profit status of Frog Tree and the good they do, and how knitters can share in doing that good.  One way is to register on Goodsearch and shop through Goodshop, selecting the Community Links International charity to receive the pennies that do add up with every click at no additional cost to the searcher or shopper.

Cat Bordhi explained how her new ebook, The Art of Felfs, will support research into targeted cancer therapy - without chemo!  Go buy the book.  Not only are Felfs adorable and fun to knit, you’re doing it for everyone you love.  More Felfs, Less Chemo!

In 360 degrees, Jan got busy upon getting home from the Retreat with a bundle of alpaca fiber samples to wash and spin.  She is evaluating alpaca fiber samples for the Spin Off competition at an upcoming Alpaca Association show.  She got to see quite an array of samples and put a lot of work into it, but hopes handling this variety of fiber will just help her own fiber knowledge development.

Ellen has been spinning more of her CorriedaleX fleece on her Louet Victoria, as well as spinning a roving on Catherine the Great Wheel, using the walking spinning as a cool down after running.  She’s been spinning the CorriedaleX with a long draw and the great wheel spinning is working best, at least with combed top, spun from the fold.

Jan told us more about a previously mentioned Embellishment - Stitch-maps.com.   And one of our listeners has a chance to win a basic subscription to Stitch-maps, courtesy of JC Briar, creator of Stitch-maps.  Just post a comment on the contest thread in our Ravelry group, telling us which of the stitch patterns on the site is your favorite.  Or favorites, if you can’t pick just one.

Ellen’s Fun Fur - Trader Joe’s Pretzel Buns.  (Stop snickering, Jan.)  Jan’s Fun Fur was bunny races.  See the Bunny Hop here.

In Slick Trick’s, Ellen shared a brilliant idea by Dee, also known as PineSlayerDee, which was shared on Ravelry here.  Dee’s No-Twist Circular Knitting Cast On Method creates a little collar which lets you hold your circular cast-on in proper alignment for joining the needles with absolutely no chance of introducing a twist.  Brilliant!

Hurry and sign up for the Carolina Fiber Frolic - all retreat, just relaxed knitting.  Mention Twinset Designs for early registration pricing.  But hurry, the retreat is coming up Nov. 8-10.

Jan’s Fashion Forecast is to see several of our listeners at the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat.  Ellen is jealous, but she’ll comfort herself by visiting the Fall Fiber Festival in Hopkins, MN.

Don’t forget our design challenge, our first knit-along (KAL), and pair it with a design-along (DAL).  We’ll be doing a DAL-KAL based on Jan’s pattern, Swagger.  Two threads are up in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group - one for chatter, one for finished projects.  If you add your own design variation to the project, you get two entries! The big prize is a skein of Wollmeise Twin, an 80:20 merino:nylon sock yarn - an appropriate prize.

Don’t knit like my sister!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 23 — Second Sock Syndrome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the show!

Episode 22 — Otter Nonsense

In which we discuss zoological explorations, tomatoes coming out of our ears, pedicures for alpaca, holographic Kelly Clarkson, biking to work, state fair entries, making a sweater in 2 years, fiber preparations, yertles (fiber turtles), and a meetup in Seattle.

Thanks to Dr. Gemma and Mary for their nice comments on Swagger on their respective pod- and videocasts, Cogknitive and The Knitting Dish!  (Both are worth a listen, regardless of their support of Jan’s pattern.)

In Patterns of our Lives, Jan stayed crazy busy, with guests, produce processing, new sheds (thanks, Dale!), and even a concert at which she got to see a holographic Kelly Clarkson. Jason Aldean was the headliner, but she liked the opener, Jake Owen.  Ellen hasn’t heard of either, and wouldn’t have recognized Kelly.  She is living in the music world of the 70’s and 80’s (thank you, MTV, for getting me through those long colicky nights…).

Ellen and Wilson visited the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.  They had a wonderful day of ogling otters, taking notice of tigers, and beholding butterflies.  They got some biking in, some kayaking, and Ellen got lots of entries in to the MN State Fair.

Jan is moving several projects that she cast on previously - another  version of her design, Swagger, this time out of two skeins of St. Charles’ Luna, a kid mohair/silk laceweight that will show how versatile the pattern really is.  Her tip - weight both skeins and start with the lightest (they may vary by a few grams), and make the end of that skein the center of the scarf/shawl.  You’ll most certainly have enough yarn to finish in that case!   Siesta, a T-shirt by Carol Feller, got some attention, too.  And though she intended to, she hasn’t actually yet cast on for Misty Morning, her version of Paula Emons-Fuessle’s Lullaby Rain Shawl.  Something about a yarn selection problem…  She does have another version of her Summer Turban well underway.
Ellen has many WIPs but was fairly focused this week, getting the most work done on Blue Moons (see later!).   Work continues apace on Musing, her Shirley Paden Design Along 3 project.  You can follow the process in the We Love Shirley Paden  Ravelry group.  Also on her needles, Forever in the Forest, out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia, and Black Spruce, her version of the Sarah Punderson design, Adirondack, in Cascade Venezia (silk/wool).  She found her Bohus sweater,  Rimfrost, aka Many Moments of Grace, and worked on the sleeves during the recording of this episode.

The knitting seems to have been kind of hungry.  Ellen described adding buttonholes to a ribbed band after the fact in her Blue Moons cardigan and also how to fix a mis-crossed cable (or at least make it appear to be fixed).  She also got to fix the edge of her Black Spruce shawl - once again, worked the wrong edge stitch!

Jan’s biggest knitting issues were more yarn issues, causing her to frog her start to a project with her bulky handspun because she realized the color just wasn’t right for near her face; instead of a hat, it will be mittens. She did have to frog back a bit to fix a mis-crossed cable on the edge of her Siesta sweater.

After doing all the fixes on her Blue Moons cardigan, knit out of hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn using the Veronik Avery Forestry Cardigan pattern, Ellen is delighted to report that she finished it just in time for entry into the MN State Fair.   Jan didn’t have any Finely or Finally Finished Objects, but she is close on her next Swagger.

360 Degrees: Ellen reported the finishing of one more yertle (the little turtle shaped (or yurt-shaped) cops of singles that one gets off a Turkish spindle).  She is spinning fiber from Susan’s Spinning Bunny, a BFL roving dyed in the Sled Dog colorway. Jan dyed some handspun - using onion skins and alum plus cream of tartar and got a gorgeous antique gold that even Dale admired.

In a reprise on spinning terms, Ellen did some research and found an Abby Franquemont article from Spin-Off that should be helpful in understanding the differences between top, roving, sliver and more.

Fun Fur - or should we say Fun fur all!  Ellen’s Fun Fur is her rediscovery of the humor in Mathnet, a skit from the Square One TV math education show of the 80’s.  Highly recommended, educational for the kids and hilarious for the parents.  The episode which so tickled her was the pilot, The Problem of the Missing Baseball.

Jan described the Slick Trick of using a green scrubby to deflect the rinse water from a garment or skein of yarn so as to prevent any chance of felting.  Ellen’s contribution to this segment was the crossing of the last stitch in the shoulder with the first stitch in the neckline bind off so as to prevent any gapping at that corner.

Already Wieners - Lakchi won the depiller challenge and promises to report back on her findings.  Congratulations!

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

Both twins share a Fashion Forecast - a trip to Seattle for a Bohus workshop with Susanna Hansson! Meet-up details on the the Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Enjoy the show!

Contest Winners!

Dear Ellen,

dsc03784.JPGHere’s the outbound loot.  It’s heading to Tami (winner of the Claudia Hand Painted sock yarn), Knitnana (winner of the Namaste needle case) and Erica (winner of The New Stranded Colorwork book).  Congratulations to them all!

Love, Jan

Socktober

Dear Ellen,

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I am sitting here typing with chilly fingers thinking I should have been knitting gloves this month instead of socks.  It has been snowing or sleeting all day.   We’ve only gotten a few inches of accumulation, but it is wet and heavy — and the trees are straining under the weight.  From my vantage point in my studio I am hearing the cracks and pops of a limb falling every half hour or so…several are kinda near the house, so enough to get nerves on edge!

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I did accomplish a good bit in the aforementioned sock knitting.  I’m almost done with my Hot Feet socks.  They’re based on the flame rib pattern and they are hug the foot very nicely as a result.  I knit them from this flame-like colorway to add to the thought of nice warm feet.  The heals are in eye of partridge — I love how it works so nicely with this colorway that has longer dark repeats and shorter bright repeats.

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I also got started on a pair of socks in Neighborhood Fiber Company’s Eastern Market colorway.  They’ll be for a young lady who lived in that neighborhood for a few years.  I don’t think she reads our blog that much, so I believe I’m safe to mention it here.  The pattern is the candle flame lace pattern.  I hope that’s not foreshadowing a need for candles if a tree limb takes out our power!

dsc03680.JPGFinally, I blocked the  Spring Lace socks that I cast on during Sock Summit…oh, the memories! The lace pattern is supposedly a floral design and if you look closely you can imagine the stacked rosettes working their way up the leg.  Let me offer that it is not worth it — It is one of those little lace patterns with many centered decreases and a really evil way of making you think you are on a row other than the one you’re supposed to be knitting.  I spent the entire first sock getting it into my head solidly enough to make the second sock easy.  Of course, the fact that I kept putting it down and working on something else may have had something to do with it.

best-of-knitscene.jpgI proved once again that I am a shameless book whore strong supporter of the publishing industry and our fellow designers and picked up both Coastal Knits  and The Best of KnitsceneAs there are many reviews out there right now for the former, I thought I’d offer a quick review on the latter.  This is a really nice little book!  Not only does it have 20 patterns, all of which I’d be willing to knit (and several which I feel I must knit), but it also includes extra articles on the designers and on a number of very useful tips and descriptions to help even the seasoned knitter be more successful.  Two of the patterns have been in my mental queue forever — Connie Chang Chinchio’s Geodesic Cardigan and Cecily Glowik Macdonald’s Michaelmas Mitts.  The first is an open front cardi with a lovely horizontal pleat detail on the front vertical bands and the second are long mitts trimmed with buttons and knit in some wonderful fuzziness.  It’s nice to know that the book includes updates to these (and all 20) to correct all errata found since their original publication in the original magazines.  At least three other patterns are shouting at me to dig out yarn and cast on.  Get this book and I guarantee a case of startitis!

I’m looking forward to drawing our winners from our birthday party celebration.  Till then,

Love, Jan