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

Archive for the ‘Master Knitter’

Episode 56 — Ellen Takes a Break While Jan Yammers On

In which we discuss stuff.  And a big surprise!

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.




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