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Archive for the ‘Spinning’


Episode 65 — It’s a Squid. Really.

HI, ALL – sorry the blog hasn’t been updated for quite some time. We’re having some technical issues paired with lives so full we haven’t had time to connect with the support team. We hope to resolve this sometime soon.  In the meantime, check our discussion group at Ravelry.com for links to the more recent episodes. 

Thanks, The TwinSet

In which we discuss how short was the interval between this and the last episode (and yet in which we manage to create almost an hour of audio), jumping the broom, work interfering with knitting, and the fact that Squishy the Squid truly is a squid (and not what others have intimated). Plus, we have another visit from Dr. Yarn!

Listen here: Episode 65 — It’s a Squid. Really.

Episode 55 — Traveling with Friends


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

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

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen is looking forward to TwinSet Summer Camp in July, the 10-12th to be exact.  The registration form can be found here. Life might just slow down a bit for a nice long weekend in the woods.  Jan is watching many birds return to her neck of the woods. But she flew west to Seattle where she got to visit So Much Yarn. This lovely shop is at 1525 First Avenue, Suite #4.  This is in one of the buildings of Pike Place Market.

Ellen returned to Mexico for work and enjoyed the collaboration and the food, while Jan enjoyed the collaboration at knit night at So Much Yarn.

Finely or Finally Knit

Ellen’s successfully complete her Iknitarod project a few hours before the final musher crossed beneath the burled arch.  She made a Baby Sweater on Two Needles by Elizabeth Zimmerman (aka February Baby Sweater), calling hers March into February. It is out of Sea Star Handpaints Super Foot in Sea Glass Blues.  A baby-to-be-named-later will be the recipient.

And while traveling, Ellen worked up a set of her own design Tunisian crochet-in-the-round cowl and mitts, Paving Cowl and Paving mitts. Worked out of Frog Tree Alpaca Meriboo and Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight, she is calling them Meriblue Cowl and Mitts.

On the Runway

While only Ellen had finished items, both twins have stuff in progress. Jan continues prototyping her Top Stitch Mittens and is very happy with the design now.  She’s working a sample set out of Kihoo Kenzie 50% Merino, 25% Nylon and 10% Angora, 10% alpaca and 5% silk noils in Tekapo, a dark teal color 1013 and Kiwi, a yellow-green color 1007.

She is also working on prototype validation of the Tangled Vines Socks out of Pediboo from Frog Tree Yarns, an 80/20 merino/bamboo blend in colorway 1164 light teal, a semi-solid. Could it be that we will see some patterns from Jan in the near future?

Ellen continues work on a simply stole.  The pattern name: Stole.  Yep, that simple.  Ellen is up to stripe six of nine colors of Rach-Al-Paca Suri alpaca in lustrous colors ranging from deep orange through creams and on to greens and blues.

She’s also working on Abria, a Bonne Marie Burnes or Chic Knit pattern, knitting it out of Straight fork Farm 60:40 huacayo:wool, on size 5 Signature circulars.   The yarn is really a dream – lovely color, Cool Depths, and it brings back memories of the TwinSet Summer Camp market at which I bought it from Cathy of StraightFork Farm.

Bitten by our Knittin’

Neither twin was bitten too hard, but Ellen did have to toss her superwash mitts into the dryer to get the yarn to tighten back up and not feel so sloppy after a wet block. Jan deluded herself into thinking her sock was knit too big so she tore it out, then discovered that she had knit it the right size in the first place.

Design Aesthetic

Jan and Ellen discuss Judy Becker’s book, Beyond Toes: Knitting Adventures with Judy’s Magic Cast-on. The patterns got the twins riffing about how they might apply similar approaches to other garments.

360 Degrees

Ellen is spinning on all sorts of spindles – supported spinning on a Russian spindle, walking spinning on a Peruvian spindle, and fine lace spinning on a small Golding spindle.

Fiber Jargon

Jan proposes that the fiber that is applied to a center strand in the core spinning technique be called cladding, much as the coating of the center of fiber optic cables is covered by cladding. We haven’t been able to find other terms for that outer fiber, so at least for us, cladding it is.

Embellishments

Ellen enjoys a purchase from a few years back – her Tom Bihn 3D Organizer cube for travel – no messy baggy to go through airport security.   Jan loves new podcasts and suggests Knitting Pretty with Em Galati and Woolful with Ashley Yousling.

Fun Fur

Ellen and W are enjoying the irreverent Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Dark humor, let it be said. The theme song is, well, incredible. Jan suggests another earworm – the Narwhals music video. Listen at your own risk.

Slick Trick

Two slick tricks this week – Ellen has been using knitting needle tip protectors to turn double-pointed needles into tiny straights. And Jan makes the recommendation of being sure to use a long float over the intersection between double-pointed needles being used as double-points. Flip the piece inside out so the float is stretched longer to avoid challenges.

You May Already be a Wiener

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

Fashion Forecast for 2015

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

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

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

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

We hope to see you there.

Enjoy the show!

**************

Pennywise, pound of fleece foolish…

Hey, Jan,

I hate to waste good wool.  I used to hate to waste wool, period, and that is how I learned the difference between good wool and not-so-good-well-let’s-admit-it-actually-bad wool.

Case in point – remember that I bought two Columbia fleeces several years back?  Big Columbia fleeces – something like 11-12 pounds each.  I stored them in the garage, and mice nested in one.  Maybe both, actually, I just can’t quite remember.  I do recall sorting the wool into 2 piles – a keeper pile and a toss pile.  I processed the keeper by hand, and a lovely blue sweater was the long term result.  The toss pile I bagged for later use as mulch.

Then I got an idea.  I was sending another fleece in to be processed, why not sort the toss bag into “hopeless” and “gee, maybe this can be salvaged” fiber.  Can’t processors do magic?  When it came back, there was still a lot of veg matter in the fiber, in very tiny bits, but my naive heart kept insisting it would spin out.

Fast forward a couple of years and much more experience in spinning.  I’ve realized there is lots of really nice fiber out there.  Fiber that doesn’t need excessive effort to turn out decent yarn.  And this fiber, now that I returned to it to spin, well, it was giving me decidedly dirty yarn no matter how much effort I put into it.

First I spun it fine.  Yuck.

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Then I spun it finer, hoping that would release more of the VM.  It did, but it still looked yucky to me.

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Besides, I had a heck of a lot of fleece to spin at such a fine gauge.  I would rather spend my spinning hours enjoying the process.  Especially when, for just a few dollars investment rather than a few dozen hours investment, I can have all the clean fiber to spin that I could want.

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Rather than beat myself up for foolishly paying to process such a dirty pile of fleece, I’m congratulating my good judgment on not continuing forward with this misguided thriftiness.

Good judgment, you know, comes from experience.

Experience, you know, comes from bad judgment.

May you learn from my experience!

Love,

Ellen

Episode 35 — Show Notes to Follow


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yarn A

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

Yarn B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, enjoy the show!

A Finch of a Different Color…

Dear Jan,

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I’m not sure if this is a house finch or a purple finch.  We usually get house finches, but that bill looks pretty conical and the coloring went all the way down the bird’s back.

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I am sure this is Rambioullet fiber, dyed by the expert hand of Erica at DesigKnits.  A different color combination than you might expect for this time of year, but it is tickling my fancy.

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Our Ostara eggs didn’t need dye this year.  They are a different color right from the get-go.

Whatever color your springtime celebration comes in, I hope it is joyous.

Love,

Ellen

Big yarn…

Dear Jan,

Many people hold two strands or even three together to emulate a heavier weight yarn.  How about 4 plyed together?

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The green isn’t really that yellow, but my iPhone did a fine job of capturing the twist, I mean the gist of this yarn.

It wasn’t until I started this 4-strand cable that I realized that the Waterlily I’m using is itself a 4-strand cabled yarn.  Each strand is a two ply, so this yarn has a total of 32 plies.

For each skein, I used 4 balls of Waterlily.  I added extra twist to each skein on my wheel, filling all four of my bobbins.  The bobbins aren’t big enough to ply this much yarn onto them anyway, so it didn’t matter that I used them all up.  To ply them together, I pulled out one of those big bottom whorl spindles you gave me a number of years ago.  It took a bit of time, but it did the trick.

I’ll cast on tomorrow.  After the 8 inches of snow that we shoveled today, it is apparent a big cowl could still find some use here.

Love,

Ellen

Buffalo cowls, won’t you come out tonight?

Dear Jan,

I crack myself up.  I have named the most recent new project in my list “A cowl for George Bailey“, because it is a “buffalo” cowl.  Say it fast and with a gutteral “c” and perhaps you will chuckle a bit.  Kind of seasonal, eh?

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Oh, why buffalo?  It isn’t, actually.  It’s bison, the bison 2-ply I spun last winter.  Every since the spinning it had been telling me it wanted to  become Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Pretty Thing, and now I am granting that wish.

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The long and heavy snowstorm of Sunday has made for some good knitting time and I am 70% of the way through the knitting, partly because it is so enjoyable.  This yarn is wonderful fun to knit – it feels like petting a well-muscled but very soft and fuzzy cat.  Weird description, yet that is what pops in my head every time I pick it up – there is a substance and suppleness to the yarn covered up by a lovely halo of soft.

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Like a fluffy cat, no?

(I’m not sure I have complete buy-in on this.)

Love,

Ellen

The hat in the cat…

Dear Jan,

I’ve been experimenting with another fiber in my spinning.  It is pretty rare; thus far I’ve only gotten my hands on barely over a gram of the stuff.  But it is soft and just my favorite color.

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The staple is very short – hardly an inch to an inch and a quarter.  I spun it from the cloud with very light take up, using a semi-woolen draw similar to what I used for the bison.

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The resulting yarn, a 2-ply, was extremely fluffy and haloed.  Because this is a double-coated breed, it has some itchiness behind the very soft down, so I’m not sure it would do for a cowl, but perhaps a hat?

Whatever one knit from it, I know it would pair well with jade-colored buttons.

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So what are you spinning up these days?

Love,

Ellen

A fair start…

Dear Jan,

Erica’s comment on the last post reminded me that indeed I intended to enter a skein of my Columbia yarn in the state fair.  That meant a rush job on washing was needed.  No problem there, some good swishing in a sink with a gentle shampoo, lots of squishing and squeezing to full the yarn together, thwacking it and rolling it in a towel and we were almost ready.  Almost.  It wouldn’t do to deliver it in its still damp state, but I only had a few hours to get her nice and dry.

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Have I mentioned how much I love the warming drawer on our relatively new range?  Gentle heat, the drawer cracked for circulation, and it was all dried up, lickety split.

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I reskeined it for beauty and delivered it along with my other entries last Sunday.

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I’m very happy with the washed yarn.  SO sproingy!

I’ll let our readers in on what I did with the rest of those skeins very soon.  I am afraid it has turned out to be a treacherous undertaking…

Love,

Ellen

Starting the weekend with some finishes…

Hi, Jan,

Technically, I started the week with the admiration of this first finish – Lisa’s Swirl Spiral Scarf, during our Monday knit night. Yes, it is as luscious as it looks.

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She knit it out of Jade Sapphire cashmere, after all.  I’ll be dropping it off at the state fair this weekend for her as she is traveling, along with my Greek Swan which I finished well in time to medal for the Ravellenic Games.

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This hat, knit from a kit of merino/angora yarn hand-dyed by Solveig Gustafson to reproduce the original colors used in  Bohus Stickning haute couture knitwear, is in the original Bohus design Large Swan by Karin Ivarsson.

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Solveig has had kits available for The Swan for sometime now, but the Large Swan, a more complex design though still relatively simple by Bohus standards, has only recently been recreated.

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Another finish, just taken care of this morning, is all of the plying from those many storage bobbins of Columbia fleece singles.  Here is what I learned from all of this spinning:

  • Resting singles on storage bobbins is so helpful.  They are so much easier to handle after letting the twist set up for a while.
  • At 5 plies, the yarn is beautifully round and even (grist average over 14 skeins is 977 yds/lb with a standard deviation of 56 yds/lb).
  • I could have put more twist in the singles and would have been able to get an even tighter twist in the yarn, but it is sproingy as is.
  • Fiber prep is very important.  Second cuts and sections with significant vegetable matter must be culled mercilessly before washing and a second culling before carding.  It just isn’t worth saving a bit of fiber to have to fight with nepps and bits in the spinning.  Virtually every time I had an issue drafting, I could chalk it up to this sort of irregularity in the fiber.
  • When one hits a nepp in spinning, especially long draw woolen, just leave it.  I tore a bunch of them out, despite having heard Judith MacKenzie say to leave them, thinking it would make the yarn better.  It didn’t – it left a ratty bit in the singles.  I belive much of this will disappear when I wash and full the yarn, but next time I’m leaving them alone.

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Total yardage is 2,452 yds, plenty for a cabled sweater and the hat to go with it! The yarn isn’t finished completely.  There is still the washing and setting of the twist, and I believe I am going to kettle dye the whole bunch, too.

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I have another finish that makes me kind of sad – the finish of my row crops garden by this guy.  Yes, we have our very own grizzlyhog* (probably a whole den of them as I’ve seen two at once cavorting in the back yard).   Got any spare wolves you could send my way?

Love,

Ellen

* A groundhog** of unusual size.

** AKA woodchuck.

*** AKA whistle pig.