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

Archive for the ‘Fair Winds’

Episode 37 — Teaser!

In which we discuss the ever continuing winter (in the frigid north), being inspired by new spinners at Gale Wood Farm, bringing home ribbons from the AOA show, the danger of loose dogs, chess party animals, putting the best edge on a garter stitch baby blanket, swatching for socks, colors to dye for, and getting gauge in the worst possible way.

Spring still hasn’t made it to MN, despite being a tease and offering up one warm day that lured Ellen out to run jog walk quickly for 2.5 miles.  The finches in Ellen’s neighborhood are golding despite the temperatures, and  Jan’s spring continues apace.  She is getting the opportunity to see the occasional tundra swan along with the Canada geese that are flying north over her fields (probably heading to Minnesota to poop on Ellen’s lawn).

Ellen continued the family tradition of converting young men/boys into spinners - she snared one at the Gale Woods Farm spring shearing during which she ran a spinning demo.  Jan pondered whether the right alpaca was allowed to become a young man - Dipper, a gelding, won a 1st in the Nationals fiber competition, while Dorito, current herd sire, only placed 6th and is showing signs of developing guard hairs in more areas of his fleece.

Of even greater concern to Jan is a large black dog haunting the chicken coop.  She takes this seriously, and the dog and its owners had better do so, too.  While she doesn’t want to take drastic action, she will protect her livestock.

Jan hasn’t been napping - she has been continuing to work on Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool.  She is well into the second of a new pair of socks in Wisdom Yarn’s Saki Bamboo.

Ellen kept all of her UFO’s on the runway.  Forever in the Forest, a new pair of ModeSock socks, Bambinoo, (a self-designed baby blanket out of Be Sweet Bamboo),  Chain Mail gloves, and her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace.

The 6th UFO on Ellen’s project page bit her really hard.  (One could say the bite was so hard it needed stitches, but that belongs in a later design element.)  After reknitting the shoulders of Zipline, a sweater she is designing to use handspun from her stash, she was able to try it on.  It is apparent she forgot to plan appropriate ease, and now all that is left of the sweater is two sleeves and some hanks of frogged yarn which is washed and ready to rewind into cakes.   Jan’s Bitten by her Knittin’ was much more of the nibble category - some tinks on Reposo and a continued search for yarn to supply her Felfs in progress.  And some challenges in designing an afterthought heel into a lace pattern, but she thinks she has digested that sufficiently.
Jan continues to tease us about the Etsy shop, blaming a camera battery for her lack of posting.  She promises she will be ready by next episode.  Ellen thinks it is a pie crust promise - easily made, easily broken.  She’ll happily eat humble pie if she’s wrong.

In Negative Space, Jan assures us that sometimes quitting is winning.  That is a relief!

One of our favorite Design Principles is to swatch, swatch, swatch.  Ellen shares her approach to swatching for socks - casting on a sock cuff just big enough to hold two different swatch patterns and working one pattern on one half the stitches and the other on the other half.  One can continue with this tube, changing patterns as desired, and getting accurate in-the-round gauge with highly efficient use of knitting time and yarn.

Ellen used Cushing’s Perfection Acid dyes with citric acid to aid fixing the color to overdye several of the skeins of CorriedaleX handspun which she finished plying a few weeks back.  She followed the procedure in Wendy J. Johnson’s Yarn Works, and work it did, just perfectly.  The bobbin dyeing experiment was interesting, but as the dye simply didn’t penetrate far into the bobbin, it probably won’t be repeated.

She is spinning on, this time with a gorgeous top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  The current plan is to spin a 4-ply self-striping sock yarn.  She split the top end to end in 4 long strips.  It is slow going at the lace weight needed for the singles to end up with a 4-ply sock yarn, but the colors are highly amusing.

Ellen Embellished her kitchen with a Wüsthof whetstone .  After learning from a Youtube video, she did a stellar job of sharpening her knives, then she embellished her thumb with half a dozen stitches.  (Gauge was 8 sts/inch, by the way.)

For a bit of Slick Trick advice, Ellen suggests that when working with splitty yarn, think of your needle as pushing open a curtain rather than spearing a fish as you put it through the next stitch.  Leading with the side of the needle rather than the tip will lessen the frequency of splitting the yarn.

Check out the Living Doll KAL on the TwinSet Designs Ravelry group.  We’re creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  Jan is going to work up her daughter as a 4 year-old fashionista, Ellen is going to create her gang as adults, mostly because tiny surgical scrubs will be so amusing to knit.  Not to mention chef’s toques.

The Fashion Forecast is for fiber season.  For Ellen, this includes includes the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop (April 10-13),  Yarnover (April 26), and the same weekend, StevenBe’s FiberFest.  Jan will be teaching classes at Flying Fibers - April 17 she teaches an introduction to entrelac class using the pattern she has long promised us and May 21 will offer a class on working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling.

Saving what may be the best for last, we announce the serious exploration of July 9-13 for the first TwinSet Summer Camp.  If there is interest, we may be scampering through the woods near Havre de Grace, Maryland with lots of fiber friends.  Interested?  Let us know on the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Time to go spin - enjoy the show!

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!

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!

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 24 — Orange is the New Black

In which we discuss the new Knitty, lakes that aren’t lakes, really great spinning wheels, black…err…um…orange cats, more tomatoes, a Swagger KAL, the Ricefield Collective, lack of yarn, failure to read patterns, getting from design ideas to actual written patterns, a prize weiner and busy days ahead.

Ellen and Betsy (aka Bevil on Ravelry) made a trek to Wisconsin and visited Black Cat Farmstead, purveyors of antique spinning wheels, handspun and spinning fiber, and other lovely things like jewelry and soap.  They enjoyed a gorgeous drive through rolling farm country and along the side of Lake Pepin, which is actually a very wide spot in the Mississippi River.

Jan stayed home and processed the harvest - lavender and tomatoes mostly.  Once she gets her fiber sales going, you might get a little lavender sachet in your package, should you buy some!  The farm continues to grow - Jan has bought yet another alpaca, Chena, another female so you can count on the herd continuing to grow.

Ellen is working on the Harmonia’s Rings cowl by Sivia Harding.  She’s knitting it out of Berroco Vintage, a washable wool:synthetic blend, which creates a problem.  The directions for washing say to turn the garment inside out, but this garment is a mobius ring, so how is this possible? (heh!)

She is also continuing work on her  Forever in the Forest stole, out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia.  And she reports that the fabric of her Grey Mountains (Mountain Peaks, a Bohus reproduction) hat (kit from SOLsilke) is luscious knit at the fine gauge of a size 0 needle.

Jan is also knitting a Bohus almost-reproduction.  It would be, except she has swapped out some colors to bring it more to her taste.  Her Fog Lights sweater is coming along nicely; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  She is also working on another misty project - Misty Morning, her version of Paula Emons-Fuessle’s Lullaby Rain shawl.  It may have stalled a bit due to an error in the lace several rows back and some philosophical pondering of whether she needs more yarn.

It seems Jan isn’t wondering if she has enough of that bulky handspun (which we’ve been discussing for a few episodes now) to knit mittens - she certainly doesn’t.  But enough is enough and she has converted to knitting fingerless mitts, for which there was enough yarn, without a single full gram to spare.

Ellen has finely and finally finished Musing, her Shirley Paden Design Along 3 project.  It was knit out of Classic Elite Soft Linen, a warm, dense yarn, so despite being short-sleeved, it will likely be a winter sweater.  Watch for a pattern to come out of this one!

Jan and Ellen discuss various approaches to design in the Design Principles section.  Books that they find useful include Knit Notes: Explore * Design * Create and also Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop.

For a new design challenge, we introduce 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.  More details to come!

In 360 degrees, Ellen talks about how great her wheel is - her new Great Wheel, that is, which was the result of her trip to Black Cat Farmstead.  She hopes a walking wheel will increase the amount of exercise she gets!  Jan got some spinning done - 8 ounces of 50% alpaca/50% wool w/ Blue Magic (angellina) in the Under the Sea colorway from Gurdy Run Woolen Mill ,  a bit of Columbia on the gorgeous painted jasper whorl drop spindle that was a gift from dear friend, Heidi, and she is preparing spin off entries for Dorito and Dipper - not for them to spin, but of their fleeces!

Jan’s embellishment this episode is the Terrace Cowl from the Ricefield Collective.

Ellen used her Slick Trick for the episode in finishing her Musing sweater - when picking up stitches for a band or whatever, use a needle two sizes smaller so that the connection is crisp.  Jan’s ST is to use a smaller needle when executing Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind off to get a bound edge that is stretchy but doesn’t flare.

Jaxie985 won the Design Elements contest that ran all summer - congratulations!

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!

Hitting Restart

Dear Ellen,

My participation in this blog of late seems to be limited only to putting up new episodes of the podcast.  While that in and of itself is a healthy contribution, it seems I’ve not written anything about antics on the farm or within our family for way to long.  As time drags out it is becoming apparent that the massive “catch up” blog post is becoming more and more overwhelming.  So much so that I’ll never do it.  Therefore I am declaring a restart!  I will provide below a photo montage of many things that are happening or have happened in the last three months without much care about chronology or detail.  Once that’s done, then that’s it…the past is behind me.  And maybe my next post will be more manageable!

Love, Jan

2-imag0352.jpg I made gorgeous yarn.














It became Swagger, an almost published design.




1-marie-knits-001.jpgMarie not only modeled for me, but she also got bitten by the knitting bug.  (So proud!)

1-img_0690.JPGI designed the perfect gauntlets with which to feed chickens.

1-fiber-factor.jpgI entered designs in the Fiber Factor competition, but will have to try again next year.

1-imag0435-001.jpg Dorito took up tweeting as doritothealpaca.  He seems unable to use capital letters because of his two-toedness.

1-imag0431.jpg The other alpaca are unimpressed.  (Fun to peek over your mom!)

1-imag0392.jpg We got our farm name established legally…and physically.

1-imag0202-001.jpg I scored an amazing quilt at the Bart Township Mud Sale.  (For cheap!)

1-imag0381.jpgCharlie (Allen and Libby’s dog) met the gang…they were alert, but when they figured out that she’d run off if they challenged her, they went back to grazing.

1-imag0488.jpgWe toured a robotic dairy farm where cows choose when to be milked (and queue up nicely for it) and go to the self-service back scratchers whenever they like.

1-imag0528.jpgI finished the second version of my Entrelac Capelet pattern…minus the closure as I can’t seem to lay my hands on that stupid clasp!

1-dsc06547.JPGDale built the gang a little mountain so they can play king of the hill.  (Amelia is hoping neither of the boys will put the other’s eye out.)

6-_sc06481.JPGWe had a visitor to the farm from a 5th grade class in Illinois.  She liked the chickens but could not figure out how to lay an egg.

1-dsc06507-002.JPGNew babies came home to live with us for eight weeks.  Then they’ll live with our frozen food.  Very cute now…good thing they won’t stay cute long and that there are so many I won’t be able to name them. (I did help the the one on his back regain his footing…at a day old he couldn’t handle it himself.)

1-_sc06471-001.JPGWe made a boomerang trip to help mom celebrate her 90th birthday.

















We are thrilled to see everything on the farm wake up with the arrival of spring.

1-imag0419-1.jpgExcept for Ruby that is.

And with that, that’s it!

Don’t Fence Me In

Dear Ellen,

I surely have felt fenced in of late.  The post-surgical complications (nothing too serious, dear readers) have been a figurative and literal pain in the……okay, okay, I won’t go there.  I was going a bit stir crazy, but I’m very happy to report that in just the last few days I have seen a dramatic increase in my ability to sit upright without doing additional damage or suffering some very discrete yet powerful pain.  This translates directly into my being able to do things with my hands like knitting, doing needlepoint, needlefelting, etc.  One is far less likely to go insane more able to entertain oneself when not limited to lying about on one’s stomach.  This has yielded a number of completed projects on which I’ll focus most of the rest of this blog post (assuming anyone who reads this blog  also listens to the podcast so I don’t need to tell them about Thanksgiving or the chickens).


I will comment on one other item though — Dale, with some help from Allen, Heidi, one of our teenaged neighbors and me (on the very last short board so I could say I helped) has completed putting up the posts and rails for our first paddock.  Isn’t it fabulous?  (Okay, it’s a crappy picture from Dale’s very old phone, but at least you get the idea.) We (and by we, I mean Dale) still have to put in the gates and trim the posts to height, but the hardest work is finished.  I’m now working on the shopping list for halters, water troughs, hay racks and medical supplies.  I can’t wait to see alpaca inside that fence.

1-dsc06234.JPGNow to those finished projects.  I’m really pleased with my Spring Grove Tocque and Mitts.  They’re knit from yarn produced by Spring Grove Alpaca Ranch — our intended source for our first alpaca.  (But you can only see the tocque here, and not yet blocked at that — imagine very similar mitts till I post a picture some day.)  Carl, the owner was so generous with his time and alpaca for the wedding that I wanted to knit him something to repay him.  I think he will appreciate it doubly since they’re made from his yarn — a lovely sport weight in natural fawn and tan colors provided kindly by the alpacas Prediction and Ellamy.  I do so love knitting with alpaca yarn — kitten belly soft (TM).

1-dsc06189.JPGI also created a little menagerie of fiber friends to keep me company in my confinement.  They are all needlefelted, most have a partial or complete pipecleaner armature.  Each one only took a few hours to complete — pretty quick and I think they turned out really cute.  Each is the representation of a well loved pet.  Can you pick out Max and Ruby?  These guys are destined to find themselves under a Christmas tree (or in a stocking).  I’ll miss them, but by then I should be able to be out and about and talking to humans.  (No, I haven’t been talking to these guys….much.)

6-dsc06206.JPG I also knocked out a handful of felted ornaments — 2 sheep, a snowman and a whoopie pie.  I gave the little Wensleydale to my friend Jeri who raises them.  The little snowman went to our knit group ornament exchange.  Dale will get the whoopie pie and I get the little white and black sheep (perhaps a Suffolk?) is for me.  I think I need to add a ribbon to the whoopie pie to make sure Dale doesn’t think he can eat it.

1-show-me-your-larch-pack.jpgAnd Show Me Your Larch Pack is finished!!  Off the needles, pieced and photographed…though not blocked yet.  I do think you can see it’s fantastic potential in these photos — just imagine what it will look like after a good wet blocking.  I am so looking forward to wearing it.

I haven’t cast on Pretty Thing yet, but I hope to before the weekend is over.  I’ve got some other things to get done, so I’d better get to it if I’m going to get this posted and pick out yarn!

Love, Jan

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Dear Ellen,

In further efforts to catch up with blog posting, I give you July…and August…and a bit of September.  My next post will be filled with knitterly goodness as opposed to being a recap of “What I Did During My Summer Vacation.”

Love, Jan


Fourth of July was celebrated at the ball park with a loss for the Lancaster Barnstormers.


But there were some great fireworks!


Much Nature was Admired.


New York City was wandered about to include Central Park (with it’s Manhattan cityscape and unfortunate goat being devoured by eagles, hopefully not fiber goats), Union Square (in whose locale I discoverd a wedding dress made of teaspoons), a funky bar (where the art immortalizes sheep eating lamb carpaccio) and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (where I ate one of the best ice cream cones I have ever had!!).


Vegan food of such delight was consumed at my lovely niece’s culinary school.  So nice to be there in your company as well as that of my daughter and my other niece.  And who knew?…vegan was pretty darned tasty!  (But I was hungry within several hours…note visit to BGIS above.)


August brought the annual pig roast at Mark and Cheryl’s where much enjoyment was had!


More natural beauty.


Visits galore (including Bambi Galore, get it?  Heh!)


And our sad farewell to the best dog ever.


September has brought happier times with a visit to Ohio (where you can attend the Jug Fest and watch barges on the Ohio River with Mom and her companion or have a stare-down with Glenda, the kitty in the sidetable drawer.


And Allen has transferred from duty in Bahrain and has made it home!  He and his fiancee joined me in perusing the SOLANCO (Southern Lancaster County) Fair where we saw animal friends enjoying fair food.  They love it here, which is good as his next duty station is only about an hour away.  That really helps as they can base out of the farm to look for their next home and are close at hand for wedding planning.

Phew!  I’m tired…that was a full summer!

Love, Jan

Images from June

Dear Ellen,

I’ll never catch up with blog posts if I don’t cheat a bit…herewith, images from June during which I retired, we celebrated mightily, the magic shawl of joy was created and I found farm life to be just the ticket, even when it almost got washed away in one heck of a rain storm.  Ruby slept through it all.















Love, Jan