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

Archive for the ‘Master Knitter’


Episode 60 — Father’s Day Surprise Visits


In which we take forever to actually start the show, are visited by two delightful guests, and discuss new babies, knitting for new babies, surprise father’s day visits on the farm, snack foods and cat discipline.

Episode 56 — Ellen Takes a Break While Jan Yammers On

In which we discuss stuff.  And a big surprise!

Thanks to listeners, old and new, for joining us! And Ellen sends a special thanks to Mary of The Knitting Dish for her sweet comments on Ellen’s design, Diana’s Quiver socks. To all of our listeners, we send the encouragement to consider attending TwinSet Summer Camp in July, the 10-12th to be exact.  The registration form can be found here.

Ellen and Jan discuss a fantastic charity project –

Kiley is a senior in high school and as her capstone community service project, she is taking on the very serious issue of Shaken Baby Syndrome. She’s using knitting to bring it to parents’ attention in the form of handknit purple baby hats. She sent me a note about it: “I’m writing to ask if you could possibly knit or crochet a purple hat for my Click for Babies project for my senior year capstone. I need to collect 50 hats by the end of May and I could really use some help. I will also be writing a brochure to hand out at a local hospital to parents of new babies. If there’s anyway you could make a hat with at least 50% purple yarn, I would be very appreciative. Kiley is MiniPurlGirl on Ravelry and you can PM her there to get her address if you’d like to send a hat. And if you do, your name will be thrown in a hat for a chance to win a skein of purple Wolmeise. And I’m going to sweeten the pot – tell Kiley you heard about her project here on TwinSet Designs and I will have her do a second drawing from our listeners who knit hats for a skein of Wolmeise from my stash!

(Ellen adds: Even though Kiley needs your hats by end of May, if you are reading this a bit too late, consider checking out the Click website above to find other ways to contribute to this great effort.)

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen and W took a wonderful nature hike at Carver Park Reserve near Victoria, MN, seeing ospreys, a big ol’ snapping turtle, a pair of swans – maybe trumpeters!, a cute little chipmunk, and a beautiful common garter snake.  Jan didn’t see the nature (probably a raccoon) that made away with one of her ducks and took it on a trip to Florida. Jan also wasn’t there to see the shearing, but her gratitude to D was present as he managed it all. Jan had a good excuse – graduation at her university. I guess the Chancellor should be present for graduation.

Finely or Finally Knit

If you can count them, and Ellen does, she finished Master Knitter Level III swatches 1-3. Jan finished her very own Paving 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  simply stole.  The pattern name: Stole.  She is up to stripe eight 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 StraightFork Farm 60:40 huacayo:wool, on size 5 Signature circulars.  She’s about 8″ below the armscye.  3/4 length sleeves will finish the sweater just in time for heavy air-conditioning season.

Finally, she is doing a reprise on a pattern knit several years back for a really special baby, one that had been longed for over years by the mother and whose birth was a wonderful celebration. This is the baby Norwegian sweater, Geilo, from Dale of Norway. It takes a very special baby to get her to knit this sweater again, and boy, howdy,does she have a very special baby to knit it for.  And a boy at that. That baby boy is Jan’s grandnephew, due in late September!

Jan is working on more Felfs out of Paton’s Classic Wool Roving, her Tangled Vines Socks out of Pediboo from Frog Tree, and she is grading her designs for the Fast Baby Booties out of  Schoppel Wool Reggae Ombre.

Bitten by our Knittin’

Ellen’s provisional cast-on got away from her. That isn’t very easy to pick up, but it can be done with patience. A bigger issue is when one misses one of those dreaded “at the same times”. She had to frog back a few inches of her Abria sweater so she could do both the short rows and the decreases specified on the cardi front at the same time.

Jan suffered a dropped stitch in her Pediboo socks and that has held up her progress while she figures out what next. And she isn’t sure she loves the thumb on one of her mitts – the fit isn’t quite right, so that may be a bite that needs medical attention.

Ready to Wear

Ellen is excited to be working with some great designers, Gale Zucker, Kirsten Kapur, and Mary Lou Egan, as their tech editor for an upcoming book. The details are under wraps, but you can be sure you’ll hear more about it later!

Jan developed a mini-sock to show off the RTW from Dale – his sock needle storage tubes, available at Maryland Sheep & Wool.

What Would Susan Ask?

If you could be a knit designer to anyone in the world, who would it be? Well, heck, this was easy to answer. Ellen would knit for Jan’s impending grandnephew and Jan would knit for Ellen’s impending grandson.

360 Degrees

Ellen continues spinning on all sorts of spindles. Her supported spinning on a Russian spindle, using baby camel, has resulted in ~545 yards after it was plied with Pagewood Farms Artesana merino singles. Jan finished the spinning of alpaca judging samples.

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

Jan acquired a Mother Hen at a local mud sale — it’s her new cast iron bank.  It has a momma hen on it with a little chick that can move on a spring loaded rail.  When extended away from mom the chick will lock in place and you can put a coin in a groove set in it’s chest.  Pull the little lever and baby chick goes running to momma and deposits the coin in the bank.  And when I say it goes running, I really mean it goes slamming into momma!  I put a little video on Instagram and you can actually see the bank jump when chick meets hen!

Fun Fur

Mini-cheeseburgers.  ’nuff said.

Slick Trick

When working stranded knitting while purling, it is not possible to catch the floats in the stitches as you go, as you can with knitting. If the next row has a knit stitch in the vicinity of the long float, just make the float a bit looser than usual and catch it the next round.

And for podcasters – if your pop filter goes missing, try putting a sock on it. On your microphone, to be specific, to prevent your P’s from popping.

You May Already be a Wiener

Watch the Ravelry group for the contest thread for a copy of Judy’s book Beyond Toes. Marciaviola won a copy of Soleful Socks.

Fashion Forecast for 2015

Ellen  has signed up for Yarnover class with Susan B Anderson and Myrna Stahman.  Jan is visiting with her niece (and Ellen’s daughter) before heading to Maryland Sheep & Wool where her husband, Dale, will test the market with his wooden knitting tools, sold in the Flying Fibers booth.

Both twins point out – 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!

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

Episode 33 — Retreat!!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the show!

I hope Dr. Yarn gives me a filing extension…

Dear Jan,

Lest you think Dr. Yarn let us down, let me set the record straight.  He delivered his column per our contract well before January ended; indeed, he shared a draft with me over the holidays.

I let him, and his readers, down by not getting it edited and published.  I hope the quality of his insights which I now share will assuage some of the frustration I’m sure you have been feeling.

Love,

Ellen

__________________________

This question just came in from a reader from Virginia.
Q. What is this I hear about a special tax on knitting?
A. I’m sorry to say that what you heard is true. I was invited to a closed-door, by-partisan* hearing in Washington on the Fourth of July, of all times. Our Congress is so desperate to balance the budget that some members are considering taxing anything they can get away with.

tax-forms.jpgA five percent tax on yarn patterns, a ten percent tax on needles, and a fifteen percent tax on domestic yarn were discussed. Imported yarn would be taxed at twenty percent!  (Note the use of passive voice, a true indicator that someone is trying to get away with something.)

Devastating to knitters who depend on travel knitting to stay calm on extended trip, it was suggested that our country levy a tax on any yarn that left the country. To make it worse, if you knitted something while on vacation overseas, there would be a value-added tax when you returned to this country! (Though this would depend on the choice of pattern – some decrease the value of the yarn they are knit in, we must admit.)

I am not naming names, but the idea to start an annual tax on one’s yarn inventory could seriously impact several of my readers**. Such a tax would undoubtedly hurt the economy – conscientious knitters would reduce yarn inventory thus causing a slow down in yarn sales.

One senator suggested a simple but disturbing approach.   He proposed adding check-off boxes to each 1040 income tax form that ask if you — never knit, — only occasionally knit, or — were a Knitter with a capital K. This would result in a zero, five percent, or fifteen percent additional tax, respectively, on page 2, line 44, of your adjusted taxable income.

I soon realized that these legislators were completely out-of-touch.  During Q&A I asked for a show of hands of the members of Congress who have actually knitted. Not a hand went up!

Think about that. It makes you wonder what kind of people we are sending to Washington, doesn’t it? . I encourage you to subscribe to our new publication, Knitter’s Voice. We will keep you posted on who is on our list to vote out of office in 2012. We love single issue politics here (really, who doesn’t?), and anyone who doesn’t want to  tax the rich but is perfectly willing to tax poor knitters will make that list.

Thank you for your timely question,

Dr. Yarn

*This is not a typo.  I am not referring to a hearing held by both parties; rather, to a hearing held behind closed doors to get it by any objections of partisans of knitting.  Yes, I agree, quite the nefarious strategy.

** Tax tip in case this is enacted: Hide your inventory in the trunk of several Cadillacs, or perhaps knit some pullover V-neck vests out of it and avoid some of the taxation.

________________________________________

img_0815.JPGP.S. One extension I won’t get is to the end of the Iknitarod – the fiber challenge to complete a significant project during the course of the great sled dog race, the Iditarod.  I’ve cast on for the vest I am required to knit for the Master Knitter Level II certification program.  Believe it or not, though my stash is large enough to trigger my immediate subscription  for Knitter’s Voice, as I sure can’t afford that stash tax, I did not own enough of the “smooth, light-colored, non-heathered ” yarn required. I ran out and got some nice simple Cascade 220 in a periwinkle that I hope is light enough.  It is definitely smooth and non-heathered.

img_0800.JPGPoison is smooth, non-heathered, but definitely not light colored. :-)

Getting Started

Dear Ellen,

dsc00728.JPGI’ve pulled together the materials I needed, got the instructions and have moved forward on  certificationas a Level I Master Knitter.  The first three swatches are complete and I may knock out another one or two today.  My intent is to have swatches complete by fall, the questions all answered by Christmas and the project hat done by New Year’s.  We’ll see if I stay on track for that.  If I were to knuckle down and just work on this, I’m pretty sure I’d be done in a dsc00729.JPGfew weeks, but there are so many other fun knitting opportunities that I can’t do that.  I am most definitely NOT monogamous.  And I just made promised to several folks for hand-knit items — most for Christmas gifts, but they’ll still need to be underway soon as I just can’t crack out 3 pair of socks and 2 pair of fingerless gloves overnight.  I’m not entirely sure about the yarn I’m using.  It’s elann Highland Wool.  The issue is the amount of spin.  It’s not spun quite as tightly as dsc00727.JPGI think I’d like for helping to even out tension in areas like ribbing.  In the body of the swatches, I’m very happy with it, but the ribbing maintained unevenness, even after wet blocking.  I realize that ribbing can be like that, but I’m wondering if I’ll end up repeating those swatches as a result.  We’ll see.  If I’m energetic later in the process I may redo them anyway — and take extra care to maintain even stitches for that little bit of ribbing there.

dsc00725.JPGI also hand washed and then machine dried my german knee socks.  They do fit fine now, but the ease at the top makes me wonder how long one would wear them before they started drooping.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding the elastic thread.  That’s okay, it won’t take long.  The hardest part will be getting out to find the elastic.

Those kittens keep getting cuter and cuter!  I hope I get to meet them sooner than later.  There might be a small treat in your birthday box intended for them.  I hope they’re “crunch lovers.”

Love, Jan